[Fwd: Re: virus:"other reality"]

Ken Pantheists (kenpan@cortex.axionet.com)
Sat, 04 May 1996 14:05:32 +0000

Reed Konsler wrote:

> In this forum we have been discussing tarot cards, art, fantasy, and other
> manifestations of conciousness....

....the key to truth we must be careful not to become
> "greedy reductionists" (this term from Dennett's "Darwins Dangerous Idea") who
> attempt to explain everything observed without taking into account the true
> complexity of the situation.

Very well put. I agree!

> Conciousness is incredibly complicated. Reason dictates that eventually we
> will be able to reduce any system into it's easily understandable, algorithmic
> components. We are not there yet. We can be positive there are several layers
> of complexity and currently counterintuitive interrelations which we will be
> required to elucidate on the way.

I still hold that reason is an instrument with limited use.

An algorythm ( I'm assuming) has an observable and interpretable

Algoryhtmic thinking is useful for real world stuff like figuring the
trajectory of a cannon ball.
> I cannot emphasise is stronger terms, however, that the primacy of observation
> is axiomatic to science.

Observation also has it's limitations.


Say I'm sawing some wood. You ask me what I'm thinking of. I say "a
flower". I continue to saw wood. Then I start crying because I am
thinking about a close friend who has recently died.

Certianly, the hypothesis that alternate realities,
> or no one reality at all, may exist is a tenable philosophical position. It is
> even possible to construct a logical chain of reasoning based on such a
> premise.
> Such logic, when applied to concepts of "truth" is, however, spurious.

Truth is a problematic term. My experience of sawing wood, thinking of a
flower and crying *may* have a logical chain. It is certainly a
"truthful" experience (to me). But you could not reproduce it and
observe it in an experimental situation.

> The triumph of reason as a system of understanding is that it is successful in
> providing generalizations useful in interacting with the universe by REQUIRING
> VERIFIABLE EVIDENCE that something exists before entertianing the possibility
> that it does exist.

Yes it does, and that it why it is a useful tool.

> I don't mean to beat a dead horse, but way back when we were defining belief I
> was very serious when I said that:
> One observed to act as if X were true is said to believe X.

again, I side with Dave. Observation does not penetrate deeply enough to
understand a person's belief. In the above example, I could be crying
because I miss my friend, or I could be crying because I blame myself
for his/her death. Or a combination of the two. These could not be
necessarily observed.

> Is the most precise definition of belief because it explicitly indicates the
> primacy of observation. I felt (and feel) the need to continue to restate this
> position because I know from conversations here and elsewhere that in people's
> minds still lurk the remnants of previous memes and ideologies which CANNOT
> COEXIST with scientific rationalism.

I agree. They are in the realm of emotion. Gene Redenbery (sp?)
addressed this when he created the character Spock. He polarized emotion
and logic. I think this is because one cannot discuss emotion without
using metaphors, fantasy, storytelling. That is (IMO) the function of
stories. They give us a formula through which we understand our
emotions. Some stories (I guess all of them, really) fuse our emotional
responses to political ideals- ideas about race, gender, morality,

> I know, with as much ontological certainty as is possible, that God does not
> exist.
> I know that aliens do not visit this planet.
> I know that Cold Fusion is a hoax.
> I know there was no continent of Atlantis.
> I know there are no "alternate realities"
> Becuase there is insufficient verifiable evidence that these things exist. If
> it is not observed then it is not real.

BUT- now admit it- in moments of abstract fantasy you imagine a city
under the sea and gateways to other worlds.

> ...the kind of thing one might consider on
> a lazy Sunday afternoon while lying in the summer sun. It is vital that we be
> very careful in our language to distinguish between what we know to be true
> from that which we speculate might be true.

Yes. But one thing we know to be true is that there is a meme (no not a
meme, a part of our very being) that allocates a certain amount of RAM
to fantasy, to creating silly little stories.

> The problem is these TV specials like "Alien Autopsy" which clothe themselves
> in the language and method of reason while making a mockery of it.

Case in point. Given the tools of science- we make stories out of them.
I agree, the hard sell that this is fact comes from the drive to create
ratings for the show. But I think most people are prepared to say that
the Alien Autopsies of the world are entertaining and speculative, not
hard fact.

> My GOD! What are these people THINKING? Do they think they have reaced a
> conclusion of any utility?

No. I don't think people think any conclusion is reached.

As for the utility of it. Here's my idea-

If you know there are no aliens and you absolutely believe this to be
true beyond a doubt- wouldn't you just shit your pants if one landed in
your back yard? You would probably go into shock. Your ability to adapt
to the new environment would be limited.

The fantasy allows you to be prepared to adapt.

In a less severe model. If you were put in a situation of crisis you
might think "What would Indaina Jones do in this situation?" and you
would use indy's model of behavior to inform your present crisis. You
would leap around shooting Nazis and your girlfriend would sprain her
ankle trying to run in her high heels.

Products of irrational thought have utility because they apprehend a
truth. (bad word) how about "ideal" . They inform our readiness to adapt
and our abilty to fit in with the herd. I heard a story about einstein:
that he thought of the theory of relativity after dreaming about

Science has valorized observation. I think the microscope and telescope
are fetishes of observation. When we say we understand or know something
we say "I see". But to understand something do we also not "stand under"
it? That is, place ourselves, ontologically, inside it as a "truth"- as
a virtual reality?

That involves a process that is hard, if not impossible to discuss
rationally because it comes down to what you are talking about- belief.
And that has to do with a whole set of unobservables.

People can live their whole lives and never fully disclose their
beliefs. People can live in a totalitarian state, never for one day
believing that it is true or just, and never outwardly display

You can talk about it metaphorically. You can infer someones beliefs by
how they interpret a story, for example. But hard-scientific
observation? Hmmmmmmm- I think not.

> Anyway, I'd simply like to point out that such lines of reasoning are
> fallacious.

Yes they are in the "real" world.

A hypothesis must be validated observation; it is insufficient that
> there exists a lack of evidence to the contrary.

It is insufficient if you want to use it immediately. But if you are
simply exercising the mind's ability to fantasize. Then it is valid.

> We really cannot compromise on this point. Presently, we must be explicit. We
> must continiously reinforce in ourselves and those we interact with the meme of
> reason. We must do this until it becomes implicit, as it is not now, in
> everything we think and do. This idea of reason is still a new one,

Not really. :)

and not
> yet fully formed or integrated into the rest of our culture.

Unfortunately it is fully integrated into the aspects of our culture
that are meant to control or kill us.

(This is where I get to go a little crazy)

I went to cross the US border a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to pick up
my PACE lane sticker. When I did this the border policeman said I was
inadmissable to the US. I said 'Why?" He said he couldn't tell me, but
he would detain me and confiscate my car as property of the US. This
surprised me and I became insecure and fearful. Because I had no idea
why they wanted to jail me and take my things. I kept asking them why
and they kept telling me that they couldn't say. (They started to get
very pissed off with me because they thought I was playing dumb.) This
other policeman came over and said he had seen me before and told me
never to try crossing the border again. At this point I started to push
back. I told them I have never seen them before I had no idea why they
were apprehending me. Finally I, with great emotional conviction, asked
them to please double check. One policeman ignored me, but another one-
young (20yo) just starting out I guess- went and double checked. (he
didn't have to do that.) He found that I was not the 31 year old Stephen
Atkins they were looking for. The one cop was behaving rationally by
ignoring me, because as a criminal I was lying and just trying to
obstruct justice. The young guy was following an irrational hunch and
got to the truth. (Luckily) The whole terrible ordeal took about three

P.S. I don't think they were simply playing "good cop" "bad cop". If not
for that one guy going out of his way I might still be down there.

Within this forum
> are a number of people with the privelidge of holding the key to infinite
> understanding.

The key to infinite understanding??? Sounds a little lofty for me. How
about the key to infinite questioning?

> We must not lose it, or allow it to be taken from us.

Or allow those who think they have the truth to veto the possibilty of
other truths.