• christian2017
    1.2k
    I don't even trust personal testimonies when it comes to deciding the veracity of the humdrum theories of behavioural psychology, let alone for deciding the veracity of pseudo-scientific mystical hypotheses.
    — sime

    Most everything you believe has come from the testimony of others, if you doubted most of it you would be reduced to silence. Professors, books, language, science was given to you by others, you probably had little to do with creating the information yourself.

    The argument is logical (inductive argument), don't give your opinions, give reasons why the argument fails.
    Sam26

    Good point. Math and all rational thought is reduced (or deduced?) to basic definitions. Definitions build on definitions. Intuitive thought can't be proven (even if correct) until it is proven with defintions. Everything can be quantified whether it should or shouldn't be quantified.
  • christian2017
    1.2k
    In trying to revisit some theories relative to EM fields of consciousness :

    "My hypothesis is that consciousness is the experience of information, from the inside. There is a postulate in physics that information is neither created or destroyed – the conservation of information ‘law’. It is however just a postulate, nobody has ever proved it. But, if true, it would suggest that awareness (associated with that information) – in some form – might survive death." JJ McFadden

    There have been some new studies (2007) in physics that I'm looking at now, which I'll report back later on to see if there are some other clues... .

    In the meantime, we all know William James. He had this feeling that the brain filters our access to a vast consciousness that extends beyond the limits of neural activity.

    I guess in both instances, one could analogize to the computer 'cloud server' idea... .
    3017amen

    thats actually pretty cool. You actually couldn't prove it whether that is true or false. The only way to prove that was false is if all "intelligent" life forms on earth were wiped out... wait it is possible to prove it is unprovable or it is possible to prove it is true, but you can't prove it is false because if all life forms were wiped out, no one could confirm. lol.
  • sime
    491
    Most everything you believe has come from the testimony of others, if you doubted most of it you would be reduced to silence. Professors, books, language, science was given to you by others, you probably had little to do with creating the information yourself.Sam26


    I'm specifically referring to the trustworthiness and reliability of the verbal reports of experimental subjects in psychological experiments where they are tasked with giving self-reports, possibly including explanations for their own behaviour. A testimony of a subject taken at face value can be terribly misleading when it comes to understanding the actual underlying proximal and distal causes of the subject's verbal behaviour, for there is no reliable mapping between a person's use of sentences and their psychological state, and people don't possess introspective access to the causes of their own behaviour.
  • Sam26
    1.4k
    I've been wanting to write a book, but medical issues have been a problem. I want to write something that an everyday person would be able to easily follow. I will post some of the beginning of the book and would appreciate comments about clarity, not necessarily what you think about the argument, although that would always be welcome.
  • Sam26
    1.4k
    I'm specifically referring to the trustworthiness and reliability of the verbal reports of experimental subjects in psychological experiments where they are tasked with giving self-reports, possibly including explanations for their own behaviour. A testimony of a subject taken at face value can be terribly misleading when it comes to understanding the actual underlying proximal and distal causes of the subject's verbal behaviour, for there is no reliable mapping between a person's use of sentences and their psychological state, and people don't possess introspective access to the causes of their own behaviour.sime

    I agree with this, but my argument doesn't rely solely on these kinds of reports, if it did I would say the argument is very weak. Note that the inductive argument as I've put forth has a variety of criteria that make the testimonial evidence strong. I think people forget that not only can testimonial evidence be very weak, it can also be very strong.
  • Sam26
    1.4k
    Here is part of the beginning of my book. It hasn't been completely edited, but you get the general idea.

    Does Consciousness Survive Death?
    (Do We Survive Death?)



    The primary goal of this book is to establish whether we can have knowledge of the question at hand, as opposed to an opinion, speculation, or a faith based religious belief. The two subjects of this book include the subject of epistemology and the subject of near death experiences (NDEs). The subject of epistemology, or the subject of knowledge, has been a subject that mankind has grappled with for millennia, at least as far back as Plato. Not only can epistemology be traced back to Plato, but one of the oldest accounts of an NDE can also be traced back to Plato. It is the account of Er, which is about a soldier who awoke on his funeral pyre, and his account of the afterlife. The point is that the subject matter we are investigating is nothing new. What is new, is the amount of data we have on NDEs, that is, we have access to millions of firsthand NDE testimonials. A 1992 Gallup poll found that 5% of Americans have had an NDE, that is roughly 16 million people in the United States. This does not include the millions of people from around the world, which would make the numbers in the hundreds of millions. Having access to so many testimonials can help us determine if the testimonials have any merit, namely, it will help us determine if the testimonial evidence is strong or weak. We are not striving for knowledge in absolute terms, no more than we need to strive for absolute certainty in most of our knowledge claims. Most of what we claim to know, is known with a high degree of probability; as such, we will strive for the same kind of certainty as we examine the testimonial evidence of NDEs.

    Given that the two primary subjects of this paper are epistemology and NDEs, and since epistemology plays such a foundational role in what this book will claim, it will be examined first. For many of you the subject of epistemology will be something new, or something you heard of in some philosophical discussion that seemed far removed from anything practical or useful. In fact, this thinking is probably how most people feel about philosophy in general, that is, people discussing esoteric subjects that have no practical application, and in many cases this is true. However, in this book we will endeavor to show just how practical the subject of epistemology can be in terms of what we can claim to know.

    So, the first question is, what does it mean to have knowledge? We will be using one of the oldest definitions of knowledge, namely, justified true belief. This definition is used in a variety of ways, or in a variety of contexts. First, we can come to know that something is the case through sensory experience. For example, I know the orange juice is sweet because I tasted it, or I know there is a palm tree in my backyard because I see it. Second, knowledge is acquired through linguistic training. For example, I know that the object on my desk is a cup, because that is what we mean by cup in English. So, within any language there are correct and incorrect uses of words. Third, much of what we learn and claim to know, is based on testimony. People who are experts in their field tell us that such-and-such is the case. For example, this happens through books, the classroom, multimedia applications, etc. The fourth way of gaining knowledge is through the use of logic, that is, deductive and inductive reasoning. A deductive argument is one in which the conclusion follows with absolute necessity. They are commonly referred to as deductive proofs. In such an argument, if the premises are true, then the conclusion follows necessarily. The second type of logical argument is an inductive argument, an inductive argument is one in which the conclusion follows with a degree of probability, which is why inductive arguments are often referred to as either strong or weak. These are just some of the ways in which we come to have knowledge.

    In this book we will be concerned with three of the above four ways of attaining knowledge, namely, sensory experience, testimony, and logic. All NDEs are experienced through subjective sensory experiences; and, if others are seeing the same things, then this lends credence and objectivity to the experience. This is also the case in our everyday experiences, that is, we share the same general sensory experiences; and we conclude, at least generally, that something is veridical if others are seeing or experiencing the same things.

    So, how do sensory experience, testimony, and logic play a role in determining whether we can claim to have knowledge about whether consciousness survives the death of the body? The claim of this book, is that in the same way these three ways of justifying a belief inform our everyday knowledge claims, they can also be used to justify other kinds of claims, more specifically, the claims of NDEers.

    People who have NDEs claim that what they are experiencing is veridical, that is, what they see, feel, hear, etc., is just as real, in fact, more real, than their everyday experiences. This is the first part of the argument, people’s subjective experiences, which by itself is generally not enough for us to conclude anything, especially that consciousness survives death. One must keep in mind (and this is crucial) that this argument, which is supposed to give us knowledge, combines three ways of justifying a belief (sensory experiences, testimony, and logic). These three combined, form the foundation of the argument, and we will claim in the end that they give us a good justification to conclude that consciousness survives death.

    Part of the argument that relies on sensory experiences is dependent on the fact that generally we can trust our sensory experiences. If this was not the case, the argument would fail to support the conclusion. In fact, much of what we believe about our everyday lives would also fall apart, including science, which relies heavily on our sensory experiences, and draw conclusions based on sensory observations.
  • 3017amen
    1.5k


    Hahaha... the mysteries of living this life are not only worth experiencing, they are alive and well!!
    We should have no fears...
  • Sam26
    1.4k
    This is a continuation of some of what I'm writing in my book entitled "Does Consciousness Survive Death?" A couple of things to remember. First, this is written for the man on the street, so in many ways it's very basic. Second, these pages are not completely edited.

    Post #2

    The second part of the argument is based on testimonial evidence, that is, what makes testimonial evidence strong. This is an important part of the argument, because generally testimonial evidence is looked at rather suspiciously, and rightly so. We will examine the criteria that makes testimonial evidence strong. The criteria that makes testimonial reports strong overlaps with the criteria that makes good inductive arguments. For example, a good inductive argument is based on the following criteria.

    (1) number
    (2) variety
    (3) scope of the conclusion
    (4) truth of the premises
    (5) cogency

    The number of cases cited to support the argument, directly supports its strength. Compare, one person testifying to seeing Joe shoot Mary, as opposed to ten people seeing Joe shoot Mary. It’s obvious that the more people you have that witness an event, the stronger the evidence to support the conclusion.
    There are literally millions of accounts of NDEs in the United States and around the world. Hence, in terms of numbers the argument is well positioned, but numbers are not enough, which brings us to the next yardstick used to measure good or strong testimonial evidence, variety.

    Variety has to do with the cases cited, the greater the variety, the stronger the evidence, and thus, the stronger the conclusion. If we again consider a murder case (Joe shooting Mary). If we have an eyewitness account, or even multiple witness accounts, the evidence is stronger if it is from a variety of sources. For example, not only eyewitness accounts from different sources and positions, but fingerprints, DNA samples, the victim’s blood found on the accused’s clothing, etc., this variety of supporting evidence gives strength to the argument that Joe is guilty of murder.

    In NDE cases, unlike the murder case above, we do not have physical evidence, so we will be relying on a variety of other factors. For example, NDEs occurring from the points of view of those in car crashes, operations, heart attacks, cancer patients, suicide, etc. Variety also includes NDEs from different age groups, different cultures, different times in history, and although rare, people sharing the same NDE. The variety in the accounts of those who testify to their NDE is another point of strength.

    The third criterion is the scope of the conclusion. The broader the scope of your conclusion, the more difficult it is to prove. The narrower the scope of the conclusion, the easier it is to prove. In other words, the more you claim in your conclusion, the more evidence you will need to support the claim/s. Therefore, a conclusion that is narrower in scope, and more conservative, is easier to defend.

    The fourth criterion is the truth of the premises. In other words, the truth of the statements used to support your argument. Obviously if your supporting statements are false, then the conclusion may be false, at least it is more likely that the conclusion is (inductively speaking) false.

    Finally, cogency, which means the statements used to support the argument (premises), are known to be true. This is often overlooked in arguments. It seems obvious that if the person or persons to whom the argument is given do not know the premises are true, then no matter how good your argument, it will ultimately fail.

    So, we will be using the three methods described earlier (sensory experience, testimony, and logic) to infer that consciousness survives death. Which brings us to the value of inference, namely, the value of drawing a conclusion based on our evidence. Moreover, in terms of epistemology, if you can infer or prove (inductively prove) that your conclusion follows, then you know your conclusion follows. In this case, we are trying to inductively prove that consciousness survives death. What does it mean to inductively prove your conclusion? It means that the inductive argument is strong. How strong depends on the criteria given earlier. Again, it should be stressed that the criteria must be taken as a whole, not isolated from each other. In isolation the criteria diminish the strength of the argument.

    As stated earlier, the definition for knowledge used in this book is justified true belief. We have already spoken about the ways in which we justify a belief (linguistic training, sensory experience, testimony, logic, etc), but now we want to say something about the nature of truth. The general definition for truth used in this book is the following: A statement is generally true if it corresponds with reality. Thus, if I make the statement that the Earth has one moon, the statement either matches reality or it does not. If it does not, then obviously the statement is false, if it does match reality, then the statement is true. Einstein claimed that space was curved or warped, and that this could be demonstrated as starlight passed by the sun. Thus, Einstein made a prediction about what could be seen by observation, namely, what is happening in reality as starlight passed by the gravitation pull of the Sun. Einstein’s prediction was confirmed in 1919 by Sir Arthur Eddington’s experiments. The point is that Einstein’s claim turned out to be true based on what was happening in reality, so Einstein’s statements corresponded with reality (our definition of truth).
  • 3017amen
    1.5k
    So, we will be using the three methods described earlier (sensory experience, testimony, and logic) to infer that consciousness survives death. Which brings us to the value of inference, namely, the value of drawing a conclusion based on our evidence. Moreover, in terms of epistemology, if you can infer or prove (inductively prove) that your conclusion follows, then you know your conclusion follows. In this case, we are trying to inductively prove that consciousness survives death. What does it mean to inductively prove your conclusion?

    Sam!

    Good job. I certainly agree with your thoughts about inductive reasoning there. However, as a critique, in your subsequent paragraph you mention the nature of truth and reality. The constructs of subjectivity, objectivity, and abstract truth's come to mind here. And you used Einstein as an example. All that said, because we are essentially referring to Metaphysics and Phenomenology in the NDE experience, how have you reconciled those?

    For example, there are mathematical truth's that are essentially a metaphysical language (of truth) that underlies or is the essence of physical existence or properties of existence (a structural beam can be created/described through a mathematical formula). And so those truth's are abstract yet real, and are also a part of our reality.

    Then there are Objective and Subjective truth's. Though not always mutually exclusive, Subjective truth's are truth's someone cares about, while Objective truth's nobody cares about (Love versus 2 +2 =4 respectively).

    Then there are also paradoxical truth's like the nature of time and change, and consciousness itself, when describing the nature of reality.

    And so, I would suggest adding a chapter to your book that could speak to other relevant phenomena that we experience as a kind of truth from our reality. And how that kind of truth results in a belief system that can be analogized to the NDE experience.

    When you said in the last paragraph, "A statement is generally true if it corresponds with reality", that is what made me think of the forgoing. Also, maybe attack part of the issue with experience relating to causation and/or determinism, associated with reality. Otherwise, the reader might be left with an incomplete understanding of truth's and reality (not that that is a comprehensive analysis).
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