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Jenny
7139.  Mon May 10, 2004 6:02 pm Reply with quote

Thanks to garrick, for drawing this website to my attention:

http://noosphere.princeton.edu/terror.html

See also:

http://noosphere.princeton.edu/

What do we all think about the existence or non-existence of what is popularly known as 'psi'? Can a way into thinking about it be found through the global consciousness posited by these websites?

 
Frances
7143.  Tue May 11, 2004 4:48 am Reply with quote

Fascinating, Jenny. I know from personal experience, not just from report, that there is such a thing as telepathy, though I've no idea how it might be measured or controlled. This egg thing seems to be an excellent first step in at least the measuring bit.

 
Jenny
7151.  Tue May 11, 2004 8:21 am Reply with quote

That's why I thought it was interesting too, Frances. I know telepathy exists - I think I told you about what I experienced the day Rich died, hours before I knew about it but at the moment of his death. But proving something so elusive is another matter. My experience is no more than anecdote and would (I know) be disregarded as such.

 
raindancer
7164.  Tue May 11, 2004 4:22 pm Reply with quote

Jenny - funny, I had a sort of premonition that a thread like this might appear!

I think that most 'aware' people know that the mind is capable of far more than mere outward communication. It's hardly surprising, as we live primarily in a world of thought and share a common consciousness, that we occasionally pick up on what is around us. This can range from merely feeling an atmosphere to realising that someone near us is, for example, unhappy. If there is a special relationship with someone, then there is a ‘link’ between you that creates an attraction. The more sensitive one is, the greater the receptivity. Physical time and space are of no account and one can certainly receive intimations of the other person.

Regarding the ‘noosphere’ sites you've posted, it seems to me that they are positing the idea of a global consciousness and are trying to prove it scientifically. From my point of view, that state obviously already exists since we are all part of a whole and are not isolated units. We are, every one of us, part of the consciousness of all humanity, and ultimately of life itself.

Your own experiences may be ‘anecdotal’, but that should not render them suspect. Why should it? If the whole world disregarded your every word, would it make one jot of difference?

I have to say that I have no great faith in science regarding these matters. They are pursuing their own activities and may, or may not, find conclusive results. I regard that as their affair, and I can see their point of view but, like all branches of knowledge, it is limited.

I do believe there is a tendency nowadays to depend on science. Personally, I abhor this, since it implies that science is the 'God' by which we measure our understanding. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Many people have extraordinary experiences daily, and for the most part they go unreported. The recipients simply keep their understanding in their hearts, and that is good enough for them. It’s hardly scientific, but that’s of no account. The heart doesn’t demand ‘proof’. The proof, if there is one, is how that experience changes the person in their daily life and relationship with others.

Science and consciousness make uneasy bedfellows. The progress of science is not unrelated to the levels of understanding of scientists themselves. I have every faith that, as human beings develop and mature, so the capacities of science in this realm will also widen and deepen.

 
hardie
7166.  Tue May 11, 2004 5:07 pm Reply with quote

I read a couple of months back a long piece in the New York Review on the subject of miracles, coincidence etc but have lost the bloody magazine. The line of argument quoted a study on ‘miracles’ which posited the definition of a miracle as a one-in-a-million occurrence and that the number of significant events we register in out lives is so numerous (can’t remember the figure but you can work out the maths) that statistically we should experience a miracle (viz a one-in-a-million) roughly every 28 days. The way the brain quite sensibly works is to register unusual rather than usual events; and we therefore place no import on the trillions of non-coincidences and unrealised premonitions that fill our days. We are amazed when someone else has the same thought as us at the same moment not realising the statistical probability of this happening. (Sorry about the vaguenes but you get the drift). This neither proves nor disproves the existence of collective unconsciousness etc but seem to me worth factoring in.

 
Jenny
7170.  Tue May 11, 2004 5:43 pm Reply with quote

Yes, it's an interesting point hardie - might be worth checking online to see if the article's there. I seem to remember reading that the odds of - for example - finding another person in a crowded room who has the same birthday as you are much higher than you would think.

Raindancer - yes, the global consciousness eggs are an interesting way of tackling the issue. Although for me it wouldn't make much difference to my opinion, I can see that reducing it to cold, hard numbers is the only way some people are even going to bother paying it any attention. As you say, experiences that are significant to oneself would be significant even if they had no scientific validity.

 
Flash
7172.  Tue May 11, 2004 8:43 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
the odds of - for example - finding another person in a crowded room who has the same birthday as you are much higher than you would think

The chance that two people in a room will share a birthday is better than 50/50 when there are 23 people in the room. You figure out the chance that everyone has a different birthday by performing the calculation (364/365)x(363/365)x(362/365) etc, as many times as there are people (ie compounding up the probability that person number two differs from person number one, and that person number three differs from them both, and so on). Then you subtract the result from 1 to get the probability of the complementary outcome (ie that two or more people share a birthday).

When the number of people is 23 the chance of a shared birthday is 50.7%. With 50 people, the chance is 97%, and with 100 people the odds are better than three million to one that at least two have the same birthday.

Sean, maybe the review you saw was of Beyond Coincidence by Martin Plimmer and Brian King; see http://books.guardian.co.uk/reviews/scienceandnature/0,6121,1185188,00.html
Quote:
We stress horoscope stories that have proved remarkably true and repeat those tales of dreams foretelling the Titanic and Twin Towers catastrophes ... At the same time, we forget the vast mass of prediction that is wrong ...

 
BobTheScientist
7173.  Wed May 12, 2004 3:29 am Reply with quote

I suppose I'll have to say a tentative "Up Science". Richard Feynman has an evocative story of feeling uneeriely certain that his grandmother had passed away while he was at college. Just at that instance there was a telephone call .. which was for another bloke in his dorm (and his granny lived for many years afterwards). As Hardie says, we discount all those cases in the tally. Years ago there was a series of letters to The Times about amazing coincidences and I felt compelled to do some Fermi -like, order-of-magnitude, back-of-envelope calculations to the effect that Major Fossdick meeting an old army friend in a churchyard miles from the home of either was a coincidence but not amazing. If the zone of potential meeting is, say, 50x50m, and the number of potential surprising acquaintances is, say, 200, and they move from square to square at random, and Maj Fossdick has had one such amazing coincidence since the War then the large numbers tend to cancel out and you get the kind of odds that wouldn't be worth walking to the Bookie for. The Times did not publish this enlightening analysis.

Sure there is a certain arrogance about science, but a little training with numbers and statististics is rather useful for tuning the old crap-detector. And without a modicum of informed skepticism we'd all be surprized and delighted that lucozade rehydrates faster than water and that weetabix is a fat free food. Ooops, I think I jumped hobby-horses in mid stream and am probably now wet.

 
Flash
7178.  Wed May 12, 2004 5:03 am Reply with quote

I'm in this camp, too. But that doesn't mean that I can't enjoy a story like this one, taken from the book referred to in my last post:
Quote:
Charles Coghlan, a leading actor in Victorian times, was born on Prince Edward Island, off eastern Canada. After a distinguished career, he died, following a brief illness, in Galveston, Texas, in 1899. Too far from Canada to be sent home, Coghlan was interred in a lead-lined coffin and placed in a local burial vault.

A year later, Galveston was struck by a hurricane that hurled massive waves over the cemetery and washed Coghlan's coffin out to sea. In stately solitude, the weatherbeaten box floated into the Gulf of Mexico, rounded Florida and sailed up the American coast until it reached Prince Edward Island. It was then picked up by local fishermen. He had made it home and was buried in the church of his baptism.

Apart from coincidence, we also have to take into account exaggeration - stories like this one are always going to get honed to a sharper and sharper point with each re-telling.

 
Jenny
7181.  Wed May 12, 2004 7:29 am Reply with quote

Oh I love that story!

Bob - I think a well-tuned crap detector is essential, but I don't think all instances of, say, telepathy, can be accounted for by a random correct guess in the middle of a lot of incorrect guesses. I hope garrick drops into this thread, because he had an interesting story about the 9/11 crashes as well as the link he gave me which I posted at the head of the thread. What did you think of that, by the way?

 
raindancer
7183.  Wed May 12, 2004 8:42 am Reply with quote

Jenny -

There's no reason, it seems to me, why what happens in life cannot be measured or described in scientific terms. It is merely one way of describing an event. I think the chief point is that it happens at all. One point of view may see it in mathematical terms, and another in 'spiritual' terms, but the event is the same. Things only become confused if we begin to make attributons.

For instance, there are stories of brothers and sisters who are separated at birth, and then strangely discover years later that they live in the same street! The more scientifically minded may reduce a happening like that to a mathematical equation of odds, whilst a religious believer may attribute the whole thing to God's will, and so on. Then one explanation argues with the other...

I think the real 'scientific' approach would be simply to note these sorts of events, rather than become embroiled in conflicting explanations for them. Perhaps then patterns might emerge, and one would be able to advance in understanding them better.

 
Flash
7184.  Wed May 12, 2004 9:08 am Reply with quote

Except that the point being made by the mathematical wing of the argument is that these things don't need to be explained at all; taken in context they aren't improbable, anomalous, or mysterious - in fact it'd be more curious if they didn't happen than if they did. So they don't tell or even imply anything at all about the spiritual dimension. That seems right, doesn't it? If you accept the raw data and also the validity of the maths, then you're left with precisely no information on which to base a view about the spiritual side of the issue.

Of course

1) you might not accept the raw data (eg you might have undertaken research which indicates that there are many more coincidences happening than the sceptics can account for); and
2) you might base a spiritual point of view on some other line of thought altogether

but I don't think the mathematical approach is really open to question in principle, is it?

 
raindancer
7191.  Wed May 12, 2004 4:30 pm Reply with quote

Flash -

"taken in context they aren't improbable, anomalous, or mysterious - in fact it'd be more curious if they didn't happen than if they did. So they don't tell or even imply anything at all about the spiritual dimension. That seems right, doesn't it?"

Yes and no. I think there definitely some things in life that go way beyond mere coincidence or chance. That in itself is no reason to attribute them to something 'spiritual'. However, many people would say that they were definitely aware of a 'power' at work when these things happen, call it by whatever name.

"you're left with precisely no information on which to base a view about the spiritual side of the issue. "

Mathematically speaking, absolutely, but the proviso above still applies.

" I don't think the mathematical approach is really open to question in principle, is it?"


No, and personally I'd prefer the mathematical view to some weird 'spiritual' attribution! Mind you, and this was really the point I think, neither view really answers the mystery, does it? I think there's a danger in trying to explain everything away. Life in itself is a mystery, and that frequently shows itself in events that seem beyond our comprehension. Either that, or we just don't understand them yet!

 
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7196.  Wed May 12, 2004 6:24 pm Reply with quote

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7197.  Wed May 12, 2004 6:42 pm Reply with quote

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