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Stories and reality

by Colman Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 05:45:18 AM EST

As I've written before, I'm a pretty hard-core materialist with a long-term interest in esoterica like martial arts, shiatsu and various forms of meditation. Fitting the latter into the world-view of the former has been an interesting exercise.


I don't have much time for the angels-dancing-on-a-pinhead style of philosophical argument: at some stage we simply have to make a set of assumptions and work with them until it becomes clear that they need revisiting - I try not to believe anything but rather to have working assumptions. We like to call it science: everything I write could be wrong but so far it matches observations reasonably well.

It appears to me that there is an underlying objective reality which each of us perceives  and which our brain fashions into our subjective reality. That reality is entirely material and subject to scientific analysis: there is no higher or lower reality, nowhere for the gods, angels, immaterial soul or cosmic spirit to exist. Here and now is all there is.

Subjective reality is a different thing: all sorts of nonsense can exist in there and always does, in all of us. Not only that, but the rules of subjective reality are not those of objective reality - positive thinking can make a difference in our own personal universe while the real world is only influenced by our acts. Subjective reality is ruled by the baroque, bodged together machinery of our minds and that machinery can be influenced by our own thoughts and feedback.

The martial arts and meditation methods I'm mostly familiar with share a belief in a mystic energy called "chi" or "ki" and in influencing its flow in order to achieve outcomes. There are various explanations about extending chi, building it through breathing exercises, causing it to pool and flow through standing exercises, releasing its flow through massage and other poppycock1.

Except much of it works.

The stories have power even though - or possibly because - they have no basis in objective reality. They can work because our bodies and our minds are one system: an image of balancing the flow of energy from each of your hands into your sword will make it easier to cut straight and smooth because it allows you to tell your body what to do in a way it can understand without the micromanaging that inevitably ruins the flow of the action. Pressing down on certain muscle groups and nerve bundles in certain ways is relaxing and energising and it doesn't really matter what story you tell to explain that.

The systems are based in experience: they continue to exist because they've been found to work. However, humans like explanations and as a rule if we don't know why something works we just make stuff up. I don't believe for a moment that there is a mystic force generated by living things that I can use to move things from across the room. I don't need to explain everything: I'm allowed say "I don't know how that works, but it does".

The fun is in sifting out which parts of the stories are useful and which bits are inventions for marketing purpose, to hide the ignorance of the inventor or to achieve social or political aims. Pretty much every school of Iai was handed down to the founder on a cherry blossom laden hillside by a grotesque demon after the founder proved his worthiness. Japan must have been full of busy demon sword instructors.

Keep the kernels of wisdom, lose the chaff.

  1. (We'll entirely ignore the stories of how practitioners - who are generally dead or afraid to demonstrate except on their disciples - could fling people across rooms with no more than a flick of their eyebrow.)

Display:
I'm afraid I've been unable to find anything except chaff in either astrology or Reiki.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 05:47:09 AM EST
You sound like an intellectual snob :-D
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 05:59:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am amazed that anyone would give you any type of responsibility around here.  
by zoe on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 06:01:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Be amazed, sweetheart.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 06:06:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
astrologer, you're new here and have yet to make a comment. Perhaps you might consider getting to know the place before using a troll rating?

Try the New User Guide to start with?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 07:08:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
you are being a real ass.I saw over 200 comments posted last night and not one confrontation of any type.You add your opinion and world war three starts. And you brag about being a front pager and arrogance drips off your every comment.I don't think I will be hanging around here.
by astrologer (heinrich sauerteig at hot mail dot com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 07:15:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Heh, if you think that that's world war three you should hang around - that's just a spat.

Generally we try to keep 0's and 1's for out-and-out trolling rather than just nastiness in the heat of discussion.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 07:17:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let him read the New User Guide, Colman.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 08:07:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you, astrologer. Please don't hurt yourself slamming the door as you leave.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 08:05:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Since you don't seem to understand or want to understand the rating norms here, and since you seem only to have signed up to inappropriately troll-rate afew I've undone your rating.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Aug 23rd, 2007 at 04:56:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Your zero troll rating for my joky response to your insult is way over the top, mmmm.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 06:54:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder if you could see your way to withdrawing the inappropriate troll rating I could see a 2 as appropriate, but a zero is only intended to kill remarks that are out-and-out trolling, which this clearly isn't.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 07:15:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, since you haven't seen fit to remove the inappropriate troll rating, I've done it for you. That'll remove all your other ratings I'm afraid.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Aug 23rd, 2007 at 04:52:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm that anyone - with the support of the other then-front pagers. And we're happy to have him in our group. I know I am.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 02:05:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Troll-rated for making a personal attack.  There was no call for this nasty comment, mmmm.  Sockpuppetry is also frowned upon.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 04:50:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nah, I'm a reality snob.

More seriously, reiki has at least got the placebo effect going for it.

Astrology has more of the attributes of religion or mythology really: any value it has is pretty indirect.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 06:02:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
LOL, about myself for being here and defending Astrology. If somebody had told me 30 years ago, I would do this today, I would have pointed my finger.

At that time I was teaching big seminars and everytime there were 2-4 people asking me what I think of astrology. I would have loved to say (love the word afew used) piffle! But somehow I felt it was a bad idea. So I started learning astrology to have the prove that it is piffle. Well, I am still learning and am still fascinated by it. However, I would never use astrology to predict the future or make investments with it. :-)

What did learning astrology give me?

It teached me to think in visual, symbolic, 3D, network-thinking. Something that opened up a new world to me.

It helped me to look at my self. I was always fascinated by the question who am I? But found it difficult to think about that. Astrology helped to take on puzzle piece at a time, like for example looking at the combination of Mars in the chart. Then look it up and as is what they say true about me. If I did feel it was not true, I would ask but then how am I different from that. And so piece by piece I become more aware of my strengths and weaknesses.

And I also found after a one year course of psycholocical tests at the University, that a astrology is able to give just as good a profile of a person as do some of the tests. Now you can interpret that however you want to. :-)

Okay, this just the short version.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 06:23:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fran, what type of seminars were you teaching?
by zoe on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 06:25:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mental Training, at that time the Silva Methode! Boy looks like today I have to come out of the closet! :-)
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 06:29:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting stuff.  
by zoe on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 06:33:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
mmmm, I wanted to send you an e-mail, but your adress does not seem to work. Could you send me a mail to my adress - mine should work. :-)
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 07:58:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Blimey, I did silva like a zillion years ago, well 25 but it feels like a zillion.

I never had much use for the tools, but I always found the ideas about mind levels useful.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 10:48:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, that was about that long ago! But you know those tools are really helpful if you use them, you don't even have to believe in them to work. :-)

You remember who you took the course with?

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 10:57:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
John Newman I think

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 11:06:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I can remember him, he was fun.
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 03:17:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't even remember the tools and I threw about the booklet when I was emptying my flat this year.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 11:07:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, if you want a reminder of the basics, let me know.
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 03:18:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Which is roughly what I meant by "indirect benefits". That its narrative is poppycock doesn't mean that there is no wisdom encoded in its practices.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 06:45:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Must you keep expressing what I regard as rare and insightful opinions of mine?
You're eroding my sense of isolation.

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.
by technopolitical on Thu Aug 23rd, 2007 at 03:34:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But maybe the poppycock narrative is necessary to get the benefits?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Thu Aug 23rd, 2007 at 12:35:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Depends: if the benefits are pure placebo effect then probably, but if there's real knowledge hidden in there then probably not.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Aug 23rd, 2007 at 12:39:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
any value it has is pretty indirect.

some of the best things are like that, i've found...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 08:16:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The difficulty for astrology is that it has been seriously debased by the "12 sizes fits all" Sun sign daily forecasts in the newspapers. I'm sure the casters are sincere in attempting to find forms of words that are resonant with what they feel, but they become so vague, with so many implicit caveats that, in essence, they become an art of deception.

Although I have never studied astrology, I am aware that most serious practioners are almost as scathing about these newspaper soothsayers as astronomers are. However, those of us who've had individual full charts done have a different view about what level of insight is available.

As I briefly mentioned last night, I had one done when I was 22. Back then I was a blokey bloke; jeans, scruffy T-shirt wearing beer drinking heavy rock slob (don't anyone dare say little has changed). And this guy told me to my face that I was transgendered. Okay, he fenced it around and approached it on the sly and was relieved when I acknowledged the truth behind his revelation but the fact is that I gave him no clue in my demeanour. He saw it in the chart.

So, far as I'm concerned, there's something in it even if I don't know what it is. It ain't all chaff.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 11:02:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As for reiki, I have a story to tell about that. But I can't tell it here, you have to see the truth of it in my eyes as the tale unfolds. Words can't convey and I'm not gonna try.

See yer in Dublin soon-ish ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 11:05:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah sucks! Would love to hear your story.
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 11:14:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks Helen, for mentioning the daily sunsigns in newspapers, I always forget about them, because they are not astrology to me.

And maybe another aspect that is sometimes ignored. I think most people will agree that the moon affects the oceans, creating ebb and tides - why shouldn't it affect human beings - now with the other planets it might be a little more subtle. I don't know what is true, but just because it can not yet be measured I am not willing to dimiss it - nor am I willing to take it as a full truth. However, I think it is important to stay open, there are still many things we do not know how they work, but they work. And I find that exciting.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 11:12:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But why would it affect people? And how?

It's certainly not gravity. The weight difference caused by the moon passing overhead - which it doesn't, usually - is a gram or two.

It's not light, because otherwise cloudy nights would be the same as new moon nights.

So saying 'But it must!' doesn't really say anything useful about what might be going on.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 02:56:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But how does the Moon affect the oceans? And consider that the human body is almost 80% water.
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 03:17:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mass. Puddles don't change, fishtanks don't change, even lakes don't change. There has to be mass.

However water goes down the Antipodean plughole in the opposite direction to here in Europe. That is caused by the Earth's rotation - just as cyclones and anticyclones rotate in opposite directions. In this case the macro matches the micro - but not with the gravitational pull of the moon.

If you really wanted to look for a potential factor it would be cosmic particles. They are passing right through us all day and all night, passing through the latticework of atoms like tennis balls thrown through scaffolding. They do, very occasionally, hit the structure.

We know roughly how often they hit Earth (and thus us), but we don't know exactly where they come from. There are lots of sources. All active stellar bodies emit them. But trackng any particular cosmic particle back to its source is impossible AFAIK.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 03:36:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you really wanted to look for a potential factor it would be cosmic particles. They are passing right through us all day and all night, passing through the latticework of atoms like tennis balls thrown through scaffolding. They do, very occasionally, hit the structure.

The trouble with linking cosmic particles to astrology is the fact that we are indeed bombarded with them at all times, and that makes a nonsense of the importance attached by astrology to the exact time and place of birth.

It was obvious for some weeks before he was born that my son was a considerably more laid-back baby than his older sister. That there is some sort of cosmic significance to the moment of birth-by that point in development not much more than a (traumatic) change in environment-doesn't make logical sense. How could cosmic particles or forces acting across vast distances be stopped dead by a few centimetres of flesh and amniotic fluid?

Birth time isn't calculably related to the moment of conception with any great accuracy-there's sufficient variation in gestation period that only about 5% of babies are born on their due date.  On a cosmic scale, even within the scale of an individual life, there's a four-week period within which the moment of birth is as near arbitrary as makes no difference.

Unless we postulate that the time of birth is influenced by the guiding stars.  But my own birth was induced early when my mother developed pre-eclampsia.  It altered my star sign, but a generation or so earlier we would probably both have died.  For cosmic forces to account for relatively new medical technology implies a level of predestination rather incompatible with any notion of free will.

by Sassafras on Thu Aug 23rd, 2007 at 04:56:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is an interesting example of why narrative logic and scientific logic are so very different.

Tides -> oceans -> gravity-> people's moods seems to be based on Argument by Similarity - the idea that just because two things look similar, they must be connected in some deep way.  

But how does being made of water change anything? The tides go up and down. They don't have moods or personalities. They're completely predictable and mechanical.

So where do changes in mood and behaviour come from?

The only connection is a poetic one - moods ebb and flow, the sea ebbs and flows (even though tides are mechanical), so therefore, an obvious link.

But isn't this just taking a metaphor literally?

Being made of water doesn't really make anyone moody, surely?

Do unemotional people have less water in their bodies than moody people?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 03:45:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Well done for bringing a touch of astringent rationality to the discussion TBG :-)

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 05:55:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do unemotional people have less water in their bodies than moody people?

great question!

here's an 'indirect' answer:

people with a lot of water in their charts are definitely moodier/more emotionally governed, in my and many others' experience.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 08:20:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Argument by Analogy is always suspect and tends to become an Informal Logical fallacy when it is the only Argument in the ... uh ... argument.  

As a heuristic tool to start an investigation it can be quite fruitful.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 08:31:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
_As a heuristic tool to start an investigation it can be quite fruitful.  
_

brilliant and much better way of saying what i meant about objective reality's being a conversation point.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Aug 25th, 2007 at 04:42:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe women are more attuned to the moon cycles. Before the pill, a \"normal\" menstruation cycle used to be 28 days, and the amazing thing was that many women used to menstruate during the full moon period. Native American women had their moon lodge were they used to go during that time. Same stories can be read about women from other native people in other countries. Now with the pill, it seems women are not as synchronised with the moon anymore.

Oh, and just pay attention to traffic on a full moon day! :-) you know all those lunatics loose in cars.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 12:19:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A lunar month is 29.5 days.

And only around 30% of women have a cycle within two days of the 28 day (not 29.5 day) average.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 07:23:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And who knows what even that cycle is a holdover from. Some ancient ocean-dwelling ancestor to whom the tides mattered?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 07:28:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh no don't say we're straying into Chris knight teritory and his theories of women being amphibious.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 07:46:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was thinking rather further back than that.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 07:49:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good, having read some of his work it sounds like outright lunacy to me. One friend of mine was a student of his, and did a lot of work on the role of the menstrual cycle in childrens fairy tales.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 08:11:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is purely coincidental. The lunar cycle is slowing down. A billion year ago, it was much shorter, may be just 16-20 days, I can't dig a link right now. The Earth-Moon system is gradually transforming its angular momentum from close&fast to far&slow (it's a tide effect, and at the same time, tides and other planets dissipate some of this momentum, but there is also a transfer from the rotation of the earth).

And the Earth days themselves are slowing down, they had fewer hours a billion year ago.

The Moon is already tide-locked with one side watching the Earth. Eventually if the system could go on long enough (it won't, the sun will blast it all earlier), the Earth would also become tide-locked with the moon, with a day that last weeks and the Moon further from the Earth than it is now.

And anyway, it's only western women who have a 28 days cycle, found this looking for a ref. on wikipedia:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=1340049&dopt=A bstractPlus

Pierre

by Pierre on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 08:31:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It needn't be coincidental (although it may be). Nor does it need to be about tides.

City life and brick and mortar dwellings have made us unaware of a very basic aspect of the moon cycle : a full moon means lights. Which may have had very practical effects in the way of life of your basic hunter-gatherer tribesman, especially pre-fire.

The fact that women's cycles are very variable means the adaptation could have been a weak one ; and that synchronisation within the tribe may have helped to adjust the cycles to the moon's cycles. And maybe the synchronicity happened only because once a yearly cycle was too long for reproductive success, another rythm was needed - and the one given by the moon was fairly convenient for biological purposes.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 10:45:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought groups of women living in close proximity tended to synchronise - probably through pheromones?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 07:30:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They do, but I'm not sure who or what they synchronise to, or what the clock rate depends on.

(Aren't metaphors fun?)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 10:50:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's self-organizing, of course ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 11:42:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Like a treefull of fireflies blinking in unison in the Indonesian jungle.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Sep 1st, 2007 at 06:02:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A friend of mine used to be a nurse at the violent offenders assessment centre at one of the major UK secure mental hospitals. (He was the only nurse I know with full police riot training)

He used to take his anual holiday two days at a time over the full moons to avoid the worst excesses, he reckoned that if he worked then, one of these months he'd end up on the other side of the bars because the inmates were just to difficult to deal with during that time.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 07:55:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think I need to write a diary about the tides.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Sep 1st, 2007 at 05:53:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
is a gram or two.

that can be a huge dose of some of the chemicals we produce and carry around in our systems..

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 08:17:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gravity is not a drug.

Not in that sense, anyway.

(I'm not sure levity is either, but the jury is still out on that one.)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 09:04:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know you can get a real hit out of it ;-)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 07:56:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Does the "how" actually matter ? Something does not become real because we can explain it, explanation follows establishment of the real. For decades the western medical profession has dismissed acupuncture as voodoo hedge-witch nonsense on the basis that they don't know how it works. Unfortunately the repeatable & measurable nature of the effects has kinda confounded western notions of the superiority of our understanding of the body. It is only recently that improved and more subtle research has begun to unravel how acupuncture might be understood.

Equally, the fact that there is, as yet, no western scientific theory that might encompass astrology doesn't undermine that, to those who have studied it, the ability to discern useful understanding of individual's personalities is real and discernable. I don't see fit to dismiss something simply because I don't understand how it can work (transistors must be a bugger for people of that persuasion) or because of the lack of credibility of its major proponents.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 09:18:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The how matters because if you have a handle on the how you're not blundering around in the dark bumping into the things and thinking that waving a dead chicken around is what matters - when it could be something else that you haven't been paying attention to. (E.g. my experience of alternative things is that the efficacy is in the practitioner, not the technique.)

With all of these things you have to be sure there's a What before you start asking about the How. Acupuncture built up a fairly solid body of evidence for itself over a long time, and eventually the medical profession grudgingly started to take it seriously.

With something like moon lore, there are two problems. The first is that if you look at crime records, hospital admission records and other hard data there doesn't seem to be any real effect. This could be because studies have asked the wrong questions, but the current state of what's known isn't encouraging.

But assuming there's a real effect - my problem with a statement like 'It words on the tides, so of course it works on humans' is that it's a pseudo-how.

It's fine for people who want to believe it, but if you accept it it closes down further curiosity.

Once you believe you know what's happening, you lose interest in anything that might challenge that - and might also deepen your understanding beyond the usual received explanations.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Aug 23rd, 2007 at 02:55:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Really Fran, it's not as if astrology has been ignored, there have been major studies of it - guess what, they all come up negative, and people tend to be very credulous:

The scientific community,[11] where it has commented, claims that astrology has repeatedly failed to demonstrate its effectiveness in numerous controlled studies. Effect size studies in astrology conclude that the mean accuracy of astrological predictions is no greater than what is expected by chance, and astrology's perceived performance has disappeared on critical inspection.[48] When tested against personality tests, astrologers have shown a consistent lack of agreement with these tests. One such double-blind study in which astrologers attempted to match birth charts with results of a personality test, which was published in the reputable peer-reviewed scientific journal Nature, concluded that astrologers' could not solve clients' personal problems by reading individuals' natal charts and that astrologers had no special ability to interpret personality from astrological readings.[49] Another study that used a personality test and a questionnaire contended that some astrologers failed to predict objective facts about people or agree with each other's interpretations.[50] When testing for cognitive, behavioral, physical and other variables, one study of astrological "time twins" showed that human characteristics are not molded by the influence of the Sun, Moon and planets at the time of birth.[48][51] Skeptics of astrology also suggest that the perceived accuracy of astrological interpretations and descriptions of one's personality can be accounted for by the fact that people tend to exaggerate positive 'hits' and overlook whatever does not fit, especially when vague language is used.[48] They also argue that statistical research is often wrongly seen as evidence for astrology due to uncontrolled artifacts.[52]

In another control experiment conducted by ABC's 20/20 team and documented by John Stossel in his best-selling book Myths, Lies & Downright Stupidity, an astrologer was asked to do a chart on Ed Kemper, a serial killer and necrophile. The astrologer compiled a twenty-five-page report, of which identical copies were made and given to a class of college students. The students were each told that it was their own personal horoscope. "A few were 'amazed' that the astrologer could know so much about them. Some said they had been skeptical of astrology, but [that] detailed horoscope had made them total believers." [53] Needless to say, the students were embarrassed, some angry at the revelation that they've been tricked. [citation needed]

A similar experiment was conducted by professional debunker and scientific skeptic James Randi, in which he gave a class of students identical horoscopes, telling each however that it's their own unique personal one prepared by a professional astrologer based on when and where they were born. He gave the students some time to read their horoscope, then asked them to rank the accuracy of the horoscope; the majority of students ranked it 5/5.[citation needed] . He then asked each student to hand his/her horoscopes to the person behind them. Most students were disappointed to see that they've been had, as they found the horoscopes to be quite telling. They believed the horoscope was true because it contained a plethora of vague and general descriptions that flattered the students, descriptions with many misses but "hits" which impressed the students so much that they overshadowed their doubts with the misses. [54] James Randi describes these kinds of descriptions as cold reading, a technique with which you tell people more things about themselves than they actually do by making countless vague descriptions that could apply to almost anyone. A team of famous clinical psychologists also reached the same conclusion after conducting their own set of experiments on astrology, as well as other well-known pseudosciences [55]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astrology




Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 06:10:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You know Ted, astrology probably helps a lot of guys (and gals) get laid. "Oh, you're a Virgo, I'm a Sage, wanna get it on?" "Sure."
I'd say that's pretty effective.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 08:44:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I remember sitting in my front room several years ago, with about ten people visiting, one of whom had brought a girl down from London, who had a conversation pretty much like the one you mention, and while it carried on gradually the whole of the rest of the room gradually tuned in to this conversation and was watching quite intently. Unfortunately for him, at the end he was blown out, so went off to a caravan at the back of our house in a huff. whereupon we had a hilariouis conversation with all of the women in the room, saying things like "Well he tried Astrology with me" and "Well I had Palmistry".

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 08:55:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now the odds against you choosing that combination (male Sadge, female Virgo) are around 120 to one I think (where is Migeru when I need him?).

I'm a Sadge, Solveig's a Virgo, but I don't recall a conversation QUITE like that.....

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 09:28:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm a Sage too; and my first girlfriend some 40+ years back was a Virgo. So you have to reduce the odds- I can't name all the signs.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 09:38:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
isn't it 144 to 1 (if you specify the sexes) and about half that if you don't?

(I am dredging up some basic statistics from 25 years ago so could be entirely wrong)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 10:01:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru will be back soon. How long can he stay on honeymoon?

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 11:44:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think on Monday or Tuesday we'll get the full cataclysm ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 12:55:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The difficulty for astrology is that it has been seriously debased by the "12 sizes fits all" Sun sign daily forecasts in the newspapers.

Thanks for bringing these up. Most astrologers I've read (one thing you do when you start to look more deeply into this is find as many websites as you can and compare what everyone does) seem to consider these as just entertainment, another income source from a newspaper, etc. In other words, not a lot of them seem to take daily newspaper forecasts seriously either. There are too many influences each day, and it's really only by luck that that astrologer can hit on the influence that happens to get you that day, if any of them do.

There are a couple of daily forecasts I've seen that haven't been bad, but they were either tailored to my specific chart, or were an undivided list of daily influences (e.g., Mars trines Jupiter today; check your chart to see where that might affect you) that weren't really "predictions."

(Which is another image that's made astrology unbelievable in the eyes of many. Vedic aside, Western astrology doesn't predict. It gives you the influences and it's up to you to work with those. Unfortunately, so many people have bought into the prediction idea that when nothing comes to pass, they chalk it up to fraud.)

by lychee on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 03:51:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for this diary Colman. Longtime ago I always wanted to know how things work. Today I just accept that there are things I can't know (blackbox) but if I do A - B will happen.

So, the only prove is the outcome. And I have seen to many things were the outcome was just amazing, but could not be explained. Also in Reiki! :-) Especially with animals. I don't know if there is a placebo effect with animals.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 06:36:38 AM EST
I'm not sure I'd necessarily accept "can't know" in any strong sense for most of this stuff ... "don't know" suffices unless we can prove otherwise.

And animals are complex - there's so much going between us and them that we don't understand.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 06:39:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
:-)
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 06:49:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And animals are complex - there's so much going between us and them that we don't understand.  

Humans are just dumb.  It is really funny to watch a cat or a dog watching a human just fail to get it:  They really get exasperated with human stupidity.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 09:22:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If I understand this correct:

The objective (outside?) is distinct from the subjective. But somehow it "oozes" out, so we can perceive it, and our brain fashion it?

What is active, and what is passive here? Can the objective world be active, and if so how? It appears you would say no. And the objective world only becomes world by us, the subject, making it so? so the "oozing" is an action by the subject?

What is manifest love?

by PeWi on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 09:36:55 AM EST
No the objective isn't distinct from the subjective. In fact each subjective is contained within the objective.

However it doesn't look like that from where I'm standing because I'm inside my subjective.

What is manifest love??

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 09:47:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If each subjective is contained within the objective - how is it then distinct? Is the subjective a part of the objective, or the objective a part of the subjective? I love the theory of sets...

I was also assuming that objective means tangible, like stones or air, but can also mean idea, like capitalism, or love. How is a stone subjective, or its experience? Yes, it is only ever you, that feels that stone, but if you and I feel that stone, we might come to the same conclusion (or to a completely opposite one, but you might agree with fran on it) - so do you and fran then share a objective view, while I am excluded, or is only the summation of our three views/ experiences the real objective view. What happens if Jerome comes along and from our descriptions recreates a perfect copy of said stone, which would cause the same "feeling" within you and me but not fran?

What is manifest love? God.

by PeWi on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 10:02:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
<to the tune of angels dancing>

Who said the subjectives were distinct from the objective? They're contained within it, necessarily.

Your last line is entirely free of meaning for me, by the way.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 10:08:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Your last line is entirely free of meaning for me, by the way

Of course it is.

You are therefore also aware, that angels have only ever spun on top of needles in the spin created by people maligning Thomas Aquinas?

However, this is an important question, as to the distinction of the subjective and objective, and while I am prone to pilpul - splitting hairs (Which I prefere to dancing on needles) I really would like to know.
So, all subjectives are contained within the objective? even those that contradict each other? Within an idea, I can understand, but within the "outside" world? Also how is your subjective experience contained in the stone? Also, are all subjectives accessible to everybody, by looking at that stone?

anyway (-: Maybe just point me to a book, ought to go back to work anyway...

by PeWi on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 10:20:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So, all subjectives are contained within the objective? even those that contradict each other?

Absolutely: the subjectives are the models built (at least) by the various physical humans within the physical, objective universe. They're a property of arrangements of matter and energy within that universe.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 10:22:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The subjectives are perceived qualia, and no one has any idea what subjective perception is or where it comes from.

You can make up stories about it - first there are perceptions, then they organise themselves recursively so that the model includes itself - but you're in the world of metaphor, not of real science.

It would be ironic if subjectivity turned out to be metaphysical after all.

But - who knows?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 03:23:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Also, are all subjectives accessible to everybody, by looking at that stone?

the sensations of experiencing the stone are a good starting point for a conversation.

it's hilarious how people sometimes can't agree what colour something is!!

i think the stone wonders about us too...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 08:24:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh oh - here comes René.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 10:33:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sounds like a song title.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 10:39:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That would be 'Walk away Renee' ;-)

From deep inside the tears that I'm forced to cry
From deep inside the pain that I chose to hide

Chorus 2:
Just walk away, Renee
You won't see me follow you back home
Now, as the rain beats down upon my weary eyes,
For me, it cries


You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 10:53:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Beat me ;-)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 10:58:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Snooze, you fuse... ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 11:18:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
isn't that Walk away Renee?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 10:57:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the association...whitebread whining, gruesome...

one of the awfullest songs from a terrible time....

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 08:26:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and Rene Descarte was a drunken fart,
I drink therefore I am

Philosopher's Drinking Song

Python, Mighty

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 07:55:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You have to back up all your scientific evidence:


"If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles." Sun Tzu
by Turambar (sersguenda at hotmail com) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 07:36:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought PeWi was talking about Immanuel.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Sep 1st, 2007 at 05:46:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Our subjective reality is a distortion of objective reality, as our subjective reality doesn't contain all information contained in objective reality (we don't know everything). Instead we interpolate and extrapolate with the limited amount of information at our disposal to create our subjective reality.

Okay, I have no idea really, I just made all that up.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde

by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 10:13:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Okay, I have no idea really, I just made all that up.

Bingo. :)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 10:43:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
snort....hilarious...funniest comment on the thread!

psst, i think you're sposed to call that 'channeling', dude/ss....

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 08:29:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I could bore you for days telling you - and other innocent by-standers - why:

Our subjective reality is a distortion of objective reality, as our subjective reality doesn't contain all information contained in objective reality (we don't know everything). Instead we interpolate and extrapolate with the limited amount of information at our disposal to create our subjective reality.

is accurate.  I like it so much I'm going to steal it. (But, please to call it 'research'!)

The only quibble I can muster is the use of "distortion" which is emotive and incorrect.  I would prefer the term "range of response to".

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 09:11:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I vote with ATinNM on this.
(Except that I read "distortion" as a more neutral term.)

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.
by technopolitical on Thu Aug 23rd, 2007 at 03:14:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't have much time for the angels-dancing-on-a-pinhead style of philosophical argument: at some stage we simply have to make a set of assumptions and work with them until it becomes clear that they need revisiting

Ah, I do agree! Yes, we must at some point refuse to discuss the point of point, for we could do so indefinitely. I would not necessarily agree to put the 'objective' prior to the 'subjective' as you did. Let me add my ramblings on this topic to yours:

The 'world' according to someone; 'models', 'abstractions', 'narratives', 'stories': The 'things' with which we 'think'.

'Science', 'Religion', etc.

  • 'Science' is a 'better' 'index' of 'reality' than 'Religion' or 'Astrology'.
  • 'reality' == 'material substrate' of 'existence'
  • 'scientific reasoning' -> better understanding of material consequences of actions than other methods

Science will never tell us what to do. Science is amoral. The horrific experiments of the Nazi's were plenty scientific, we reject them for different, more important reasons.

'Objective' 'reality'? Abstractions all the way down!

  • We agree on a shared bit of 'reality'. 'Reality' is defined in the social field, into which we are born.
  • The sharing of 'reality' is always a violent action. It proceeds to subjugate, to impose an order, and a particular one at that.
  • It is useful, we do it. It was already done. There is no other way to proceed
  • One must at some point accomplish a leap of faith. Establish, arbitrarily, a point of reference, a ground for our circuit. Except this was always already done, or we would have no meaning, and therefore not be able to discuss it.

The subjective itself is part of the imposed order, the objective/subjective division as well. When/where was there not such a division??? Some examples from kcurie?? Emotion in ancient Greek texts? External events imposed on the individuals. "Rage descended upon him", is the "descended upon" more than just figurative?

Stories as modelling, modelling as stories

  • Models are 'tools to think with', not 'information', or 'facts'.
  • Ad hoc models are plenty useful, and may be as good as we can do in some cases.
  • One must maintain at least a minimal narrative of context to assert 'meaning'.
  • We proceed by abstractions, not by reductionism. Reducing everything to the 'smallest parts', or the most 'general description' is not the most useful way to proceed. It is in fact quite useless!

Can we derive 'how' a transistor 'works' from quantum-crystalline properties of silicon and dopants, Maxwell's equations and some thermodynamics? Indeed, we can. (With the caveat that one cannot obtain analytic solutions to the resulting differential equations, and a few other things...) We do, as a tool for learning the abstraction hierarchy of our knowledge, but day to day, not so much. Even for this derivation, we approximate, the exercise is illustrative, not practical. It enriches our thinking of electronic devises in a difficult to quantify way. Direct, practical advantages? Well, the engineer should know, our knowledge is but a model. As such, there are explicit limits of operation beyond which the model yields wrong values. We must know the hierarchy of models to remember the limits, to not foolishly predict 1000V output from an op-amp with a 5V source. Yet people make theses mistakes, and not rarely. Never confuse the model with 'what really is', and yes, all we have are models, all the way down, and they have limits. parameterise

To design a circuit:

  1. Transistors are on/off switches. "This one goes on, current through there, voltage up here, that one turns off" etc.
  2. We calculate some things, an operation point of the non-linear approximate equations describing our transistors quite well, as long as they are operated in not too extreme conditions. Then we linearise about this point. Linearise, because we have no useful abstractions for thinking about the behaviour of non-linear systems.
  3. Simulate with a computer, use the computational power of our PCs to refine the results. Here, we include those pesky 'parasitics' that where previously ignored. All those capacitances and inductances and resistances that are always there but to complex to be usefully considered manually. Sometimes the equations help to...
  4. But wait!! All this assumes a lumped element circuit... Maybe our frequency is high, we are approaching that limit where a signal wavelength becomes comparable to the physical component size... More sophisticated tools for this, 3-d continuum modelling. We put in the info, the computer spits out results, input to output relations, dynamic effects... Do we even know how to represent these to ourselves? To categorise, index, organise results in to something with which we can usably think? This is the challenge, a numerical result is very little without.
  5. ...

Even at the lowest, most basic level, there is but abstraction. A model. Equations describing motion, processes, and events.

Where do we draw the line then? When is something 'objective fact'. There is such a point, to be sure, when 'hard' 'reality' asserts itself... For those who would doubt, I encourage you to challenge gravity's effects on you... Then come visit me, and we shall submit your hypothesis to experimental verification. I know the site, I see it from my balcony:


But you don't get a parachute...

'Hard' 'reality'. It is like 'porn'. I may not be able to define it, but I know it when I 'see' it, or fall to my death.

by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 10:15:58 AM EST
Once exposed to a "Metaphysics of Quality", a "Subject/Object Metaphysics" appears entirely artificial.

As J A Wheeler said

 Reality is defined by the questions you put to it


"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 03:11:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Subject/Object metaphysics is incompatible with Quantum Mechanics, as evidenced by the "measurement problem", Schroedinger's Cat, and assorted paradoxes.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Sep 1st, 2007 at 06:01:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This stuff is endlessly interesting to me.  

And I am having one of those moments when various, otherwise unrelated facets of my life are coming together in a common theme.

It's all over the Camus I am reading.  

I have a friend who is a devout Christian and talks about her initial acceptance of Christianity being practical in nature.  It works.  For her, the basic guidelines, etc., just work.  Of course those guidelines aren't limited to Christianity or to religion at all.  One does not need God to understand the benefits of being honest or faithful.  But a leap is required to take something from the "practical" to the "good."  

And it is not just religion which requires a leap of faith.  Take classical liberal ideals to their logical end and you'll still end up like Camus' absurd man in the desert.  The road ends abruptly before you get to the place you ... are now, or the place where you can explain how and why you are now.    

So I think so much of these stories that create subjective reality are just tools.  Story telling has always been a tool to explain what is as yet unexplainable.  And if a tool works for you and does not cause too much harm to others, I see no reason to be hostile toward it.  It's the assumption that your stories and tools are the best stories and tools for everyone and that they deserve priority over really basic factual objective reality when the two come up against each other that upsets me.  And the complete dismissal, to the point of an absence of curiosity or inquiry, of someone else's subjective reality really gets under my skin.  There's an arrogance in it that suggests you alone have to take no leaps or accept no absurdity in your life.  That's why sometimes religion embarrasses us.  We can see when people are lying to themselves and asking us to go along with it.  

But why this idea that admission that something may be interesting or useful implies an acceptance that it is legitimate?  

Anyway, I find astrology interesting.  It touches a nerve, and I can enjoy it without "believing in" it.  

I say I am a Virgo.  What does it mean?  Can the alignment of the stars determine my personality?  Doubt it.  But after growing up hearing about how overly critical and perfectionist and freakishly neat and generally uptight and unsatisfied a child I was, it was comforting to know that just maybe I was meant to be that way.  So rather than trying to change those parts of me, I embraced them proudly.  They are characteristics of my celestial tribe.  lol.  So it is a tool I have for living with myself.  And Virgos find it hard to live with themselves. ;)

And I also think that, you know, if the weather can effect my mood (scientifically proven, you know!), maybe the alignment of the universe can also have a subtle effect on us.  I don't know that it does.  I don't know that it doesn't.  I do know that we live in the universe and are made of atoms like everything else, that we don't know how life began, and that denying we have any connection to anything outside our immediate environment is ... again, arrogant.  And embarrassing.

I don't need God to make me be honest and I don't need astrology to accept myself as I am.  But tools make the job easier.  Stories which connect us to a larger, mysterious realm make us more interesting to ourselves.  And there is room in the world and in our brains for both objective reality and storytelling.  If we have no place for anything outside the realm of rational thought, let's empty our libraries, our museums and theaters, our concert halls and brothels.  Mow down our gardens.  Stop breeding animals as pets.  Don't fall in love.  Don't wear a pretty dress.  Swear off chocolate and wine and drugs and sex and sleeping in.  Stop crying.  Stop flirting.  Stop daydreaming.  Stop dancing.

But we won't give up these things because, in one situation or another, they "work."  They keep working when rational thought reaches the point in the desert where it no longer cares if we are ok.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 03:29:50 PM EST
There appears to be a gender bias in these discussions that reflects a certain problem with ET. ET needs to get in touch with its feminine side ;-)

Helen can referee, and I mean that seriously. Helen is the only one of us to have experienced what it is like to have been both genders. That is a fantastic insight, admittedly seen through a haze of beer accompanied by hearing damage.

"Focus and priority" is what afew me duck is always telling me. Focus on what? Prioritise what?

An army marches on its stomach.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 04:47:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My use of poppycock to describe astrology was possibly ill-advised. I should have said that I can find no possible scientific explanation.

Neither do I have one for acupuncture, but there is evidence that it works - and psychosomatic effects are as important as any other effects. If they work.

I do have a detailed chart reading from about 1978 that proved quite accurate - even ignoring possible generalizations. I also a have chiromantic reading done in 1971 by Ben Paul, that has proved remarkably perceptive - two daughters and their characters described 20 years in advance.

But I also have found Bob Dylan quite predictive.

Energy is a vital subject, but it exists as a problem within a wider context. What are we fighting for? Why do we want to solve the problem? These are questions that can be approached from different philosphical paths, and all are equally valid imo.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 05:00:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Certainly won't argue with you about there being bias.  

But I get the impression you think certain qualities, traits, ideas, are either 1) a result of one's gender or 2) have genders of their own.  I don't know where I stand on that.  I think that often men and women experience the world differently, but often as a result of social norms.  So do we assign ways of seeing the world a gender because we think it might be dangerous for men to stray from their day jobs or for women to have too much power?  Do we assign them genders as a way of judging them (rational v. irrational)?  Last time I checked, men and women had the same capacity for rational thought and for irrational feeling.  They are just encouraged to express them differently.  Still, the day my brother stops falling madly in love with every girl he meets and calling me at 3 am to talk about it, and the day my girlfriend gives up engineering as her profession and political science as her hobby, I'll be a bit more open to the idea that a person's perspective is implicitly gender-based.


"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 05:05:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Social norms are very influential. But the fact remains that males and females have different proportions of drugs running through them. There is a quantifiably different effect resulting from the release of estrogen or testosterone - to note the key biochemical difference. Ask Helen. There are many other semi-hormones that are less easily placed prominently either side of the male/female physiological divide.

My belief system agrees with the yin-yang symbology that the uniting of male and female is what is needed to make the perfect homeostatic world. I am not sure that it depends in implicity, but it is surely the best fit with evolutionary principles.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 05:22:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hormones?  I've been a guinea pig in one hormone experiment after another.  Nothing so radical as Helen's.  But enough to induce severe vomiting and nervous breakdowns.

Through it all, my way of seeing the world did not change.  Fortunately, medicine did.
 

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 05:29:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Doctors- huh! Whadda they know ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 05:40:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
_perfect homeostatic world. _

i was taught that was the definition of death!

from free growth and chaotic change emerges relative order.

absolute order would be death too.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 08:14:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is a dynamic equilibrium state in either an open or closed system.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 02:17:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now that's a lucky brother. Not only does he fall in love a lot but he gets to talk to you about it.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 08:38:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A gender bias ?? Most people who've studied this area believe there are more differences within the genders than between them. There are many aspects to personality that might be posited as tending stereotypically male or female and we can all be placed at different places on each continuum. So within each individual there will be "female" traits and "male" traits that blend together to make the uniqueness of the individual.

Of course, men will tend towards taking stereotypical male traits and women female ones, but it is anything but a black/white position.

Whether each of these is cultural or innate is open to question. To my mind, there are innate aspects, but these reflect as potentials that cultural opportunities can expoit or deny. You might say I am innately female, but culturally male. It makes for a bittersweet experience.

However, as for something concretely experiential, I explained something of this in this diary a year ago.

As to being a referee, thank you for the offer of promotion but I'm not sure there's that much to do that can't be done by honest appreciation on each side. However, whatever my qualities of understanding maleness, experience has taught me that women generally are uncomfortable with/do not accept that I can speak for the female experience. I have no wish to irritate the women of this blog with my assumptions and so must refuse.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 08:45:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You'll just have to wet your whistle in some other manner ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 09:56:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
great comment, poemless..
welcome to the first day of your sunsign..

happy oncoming b-day!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 07:54:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
releasing its flow through massage

i worked 3 days of 2 hour sessions on a client with chronic pain, and she can put her own clothes on without hooking her pants with a stick now, after suffering for many years.

to study ki is to seek the underlying unified theory, just like scientist do, just using different paths, different areas of the brain.

the biggest revelation i have had from this work, continually reinforced, is how to heal the mind, use the body, and viceversa.

united you have the mindbody, or bodymind, which embraces and encompasses both, and much, much more that is most difficult to language.

fact is, blocked ki can ruin your day, week, life...

fact is many, many people are screwing up their bods taking pills for what a skilled rub would remove.

that is sad and highly avoidable...

i really enjoyed this, thanks colman, the comments are great too...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Aug 21st, 2007 at 08:06:32 PM EST
Except much of it works.
No.

/Not for me, at least.

"If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles." Sun Tzu

by Turambar (sersguenda at hotmail com) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 07:46:29 AM EST
Do explain.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 07:49:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm a very skeptic person, probably because I grew up in a truly Christian (American- style) family. I tried many things from which people tend to get "spiritual experiences" or "deeper insights", but I just never had any experience which might be thought of as supernatural, relating to a higher truth or something like that (the only thing coming close to it are drug experiences and being in love). Therefore, I reached a point where I don't believe anything that can't be explained sufficiently. I mean, I still believe that human rights are a good thing, but I'm basing that on being a social animal.
Your theory simply doesn't match my observations. But if there was an all-knowing higher power, I'm sure it would have wanted me to be just like I am. Not that I believe in the invisible sky daddy anymore - or that chunks of matter flying around the solar system can affect our character depending on which moment we're born. Bullshit.
So, I guess that's the story I made up. Something I like to do, I even write novels.

Btw, do you think the objective world is knowable by any means (e.g. Laplace's demon)?

"If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles." Sun Tzu

by Turambar (sersguenda at hotmail com) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 09:14:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're not reading the diary I thought I wrote!

I'm not talking about spiritual insights, higher truths or the great sky mother, none of which I believe in. Hardcore materialist, remember?

If you don't believe in things that can't be explained sufficiently you must have some pretty bad problems with gravity. My point was meant to be precisely that sometimes things work even when we don't quite know why and even though there are all sorts of bizarre stories woven around them. Like gravity. I expect we'll eventually work out why they work, but we don't have to suspend belief in the fact of their efficacy because we don't know why they're efficient. Like gravity.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Aug 23rd, 2007 at 04:41:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, I misinterpreted some things here. As long as you only meant phenomenons (and stories) that come from good evidence instead of shaky evidence created to back up stories, I'm with you.
Btw, gravity is an interesting case. My money is on loop quantum gravity, but I'm really no expert (my father is, though).

"If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles." Sun Tzu
by Turambar (sersguenda at hotmail com) on Fri Aug 24th, 2007 at 04:56:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Might I know your father?

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Sep 1st, 2007 at 06:00:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Btw, do you think the objective world is knowable by any means (e.g. Laplace's demon)?

Only in so far as we can deduce things about it from our subjective experience of it.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Aug 23rd, 2007 at 04:50:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Saw a BBC documentary the other night about bipolar disorder, more commonly known as manodepressivity. Anyway there was a fellow in the program who during his manic periods saw angels (he was not presented as representing anything other then his own experience, none of the others saw angels). He therefore believed in the existence of angels.

And I must say that is highly scientific of him, trusting his own experience of the world.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Aug 23rd, 2007 at 12:53:31 PM EST
Human experience has always been modified, even transmogrified, by biochemical metaprogramming.

Perceived reality is always pattern memory fucked by the hormone, semi-homone and neurotransmitter factories - which are in turn activated by input to the pattern memories.

Without GABA we'd all be nuts, because, deep down, we are all highly inhibited.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Aug 23rd, 2007 at 04:59:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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