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Old 18th July 2015, 04:07 PM   #81
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Actually, the first thing to do would be to establish the creaking of the floor actually happening well after it has been walked on.
How would we go about ruling out mundane explanations if the creaking does occur as per the op and what if the creaking repeatedly does not occur when trying to establish it's occurrence?
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Old 18th July 2015, 08:36 PM   #82
Darwin123
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Originally Posted by Daylightstar View Post
Actually, the first thing to do would be to establish the creaking of the floor actually happening well after it has been walked on.
How would we go about ruling out mundane explanations if the creaking does occur as per the op and what if the creaking repeatedly does not occur when trying to establish it's occurrence?
It seems to me that being in a dark room at night in an abandoned house without a hearing aid is sensory deprivation. Under the conditions that he described, he could have had an auditory hallucination due to sensory deprivation.

http://www.wired.com/2009/10/hallucinations/
‘Psychologists stuck 19 healthy volunteers into a sensory-deprivation room, completely devoid of light and sound, for 15 minutes. Without the normal barrage of sensory information flooding their brains, many people reported experiencing visual hallucinations, paranoia and a depressed mood.
“This is a pretty robust finding,” wrote psychiatrist Paul Fletcher of the University of Cambridge, who studies psychosis but was not involved in the study. “It appears that, when confronted by lack of sensory patterns in our environment, we have a natural tendency to superimpose our own patterns.’

http://mindhacks.com/2009/10/19/hall...er-15-minutes/
‘Hallucinations, paranoid thoughts and low mood were reported more often after sensory deprivation for both groups but, interestingly, people already who had a tendency to have hallucinations in everyday life had a much greater level of perceptual distortion after leaving the chamber than the others.
This study complements research published in 2004 that found that visual hallucinations could be induced in healthy participants just by getting them to wear a blindfold for 96 hours.’

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sensory_deprivation
‘short-term sessions of sensory deprivation are described as relaxing and conducive to meditation; however, extended or forced sensory deprivation can result in extreme anxiety, hallucinations,[2] bizarre thoughts, and depression.’

Some people don’t believe that sensory deprivation causes hallucinations. They think is connects you to the spirit world. So maybe these haints aren’t specific to the building.

http://www.crystalinks.com/visionquest.html
‘vision quest may include long walks in uninhabited, monotonous areas (tundra, inland, mountain); fasting; sleep deprivation; being closed in a small room (e.g. igloo). The technique may be similar to sensory deprivation to a rite of cleansing and purification. One objective is to commune with the other side.’

I still don’t understand why he left his hearing aid behind. He he is in an empty room. He should want to hear what he is stepping on.

Maybe it is as simple as he was sleeping. He may have been on a marching sleep. Soldiers on the march can sleep while marching. He was sleepy, in a dark room where he couldn’t hear anything. How did he manage to stay awake?
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Old 18th July 2015, 08:38 PM   #83
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Originally Posted by Alferd_Packer View Post
OK, to begin with, I am an extremely skeptical person. I do not believe in ghosts, EVPs, or any of that nonsense.

Nevertheless, I had an experience not to long ago, that I am struggling to come up with a rational explanation for.

I am a consultant by trade, I specialize in building inspections for environmental, Health and Safety issues. Last year, I had a project that involved an inspection and inventory of all the different ceilings in a large, high school building where portions of the buildings were built in various phases from the late 1800's on.

Even though it was summer, we had to do the work from 3:00 to 11:00 in the evening. With the exception of a few people in the admin wing, the building essentially emptied out at 5:00.

The first two nights, I had an assistant with me and we got about 90% of the work done. The third night I was by myself and trying to finish up some minor areas that we had trouble accessing the first two nights. My client contact had mentioned that the building could sometimes get creepy late at night, but I didn't really pay any attention to that. I'm used to how old masonry and wood framed buildings shift and creak as they cool down in the evening.

Back in the early 20th century it was common to build schools with an auditorium on the 1st and 2nd floor, and the gym on the third floor above the auditorium. This was a 4 story building so they even had a nice balcony on the gym accessible from the 4th floor. It was getting late, and I was on the fourth floor by the gym balcony when I noticed a set of stairs leading up.

Curious, I went up them to see if there was an accessible attic. there was. there was a large space that had at one time served as the school locker room. there was a long gallery with a tongue and groove wood floor and hard plaster walls about 18 feet wide running about 60 feet long with a shower room at the other end. The lights worked, so I went down across the room and inspected the showers, no issues for me to deal with. there was another set of stairs leading down from that end, and something about that area was making me a bit edgy.

Maybe it was just the thought that "If there is a rotted floorboard up here, and I get hurt, it's going to be a while before they find me."

I was planning to just head down the other set of stairs, but there was a problem, the light switches were at the end I came from

So, I reluctantly turned around and began walking back across the old locker room to the other stairwell so I could turn off the lights behind me.

Man that was one creaky floor. Funny, it didn't seem that noisy when I walked across it the first time. I get to the other end and at the top of the stairs and I stop to turn off the lights.

I stopped. However, the floorboards did not stop creaking. For about 6-7 seconds, the creaking sound came towards me as if someone was walking across the floor, following me.

I didn't run, but I got the hell out of there as fast as I could, thoroughly creeped out. Now logically I could attribute this simply to the old floors and joists settling back into place after I walked over them.

But I have never heard that happen that loudly or for that long after you stopped moving.

Structurally, the joists should have been running across the locker room from side to side, not lengthwise, so I doubt that me standing at one spot would have affected the floor 15 feet further down the room.

I found out later that the Engineer was very familiar with the "Ghost." According to him, he has heard footsteps in the building when he knows he is alone.

As for me, it was just plain creepy, and I keep telling myself that it was just a structural issue. . . .
It seems to me that being in a dark room at night in an abandoned house without a hearing aid is sensory deprivation. Under the conditions that he described, he could have had an auditory hallucination due to sensory deprivation.

The 'Engineer' could have experienced hallucinations caused by sensory deprivation if he walked around alone at night.

http://www.wired.com/2009/10/hallucinations/
‘Psychologists stuck 19 healthy volunteers into a sensory-deprivation room, completely devoid of light and sound, for 15 minutes. Without the normal barrage of sensory information flooding their brains, many people reported experiencing visual hallucinations, paranoia and a depressed mood.
“This is a pretty robust finding,” wrote psychiatrist Paul Fletcher of the University of Cambridge, who studies psychosis but was not involved in the study. “It appears that, when confronted by lack of sensory patterns in our environment, we have a natural tendency to superimpose our own patterns.’

http://mindhacks.com/2009/10/19/hall...er-15-minutes/
‘Hallucinations, paranoid thoughts and low mood were reported more often after sensory deprivation for both groups but, interestingly, people already who had a tendency to have hallucinations in everyday life had a much greater level of perceptual distortion after leaving the chamber than the others.
This study complements research published in 2004 that found that visual hallucinations could be induced in healthy participants just by getting them to wear a blindfold for 96 hours.’

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sensory_deprivation
‘short-term sessions of sensory deprivation are described as relaxing and conducive to meditation; however, extended or forced sensory deprivation can result in extreme anxiety, hallucinations,[2] bizarre thoughts, and depression.’

Some people don’t believe that sensory deprivation causes hallucinations. They think is connects you to the spirit world. So maybe these haints aren’t specific to the building.

http://www.crystalinks.com/visionquest.html
‘vision quest may include long walks in uninhabited, monotonous areas (tundra, inland, mountain); fasting; sleep deprivation; being closed in a small room (e.g. igloo). The technique may be similar to sensory deprivation to a rite of cleansing and purification. One objective is to commune with the other side.’

I still don’t understand why he left his hearing aid behind. He he is in an empty room. He should want to hear what he is stepping on.

Maybe it is as simple as he was sleeping. He may have been on a marching sleep. Soldiers on the march can sleep while marching. He was sleepy, in a dark room where he couldn’t hear anything. How did he manage to stay awake?
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Old 19th July 2015, 02:21 AM   #84
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Originally Posted by Darwin123 View Post
...
Maybe it is as simple as he was sleeping. He may have been on a marching sleep. Soldiers on the march can sleep while marching. He was sleepy, in a dark room where he couldn’t hear anything. How did he manage to stay awake?
He switches on the light, crosses 60 foot in a lit space, looks at the showers and then crosses that 60 foot back after his realization that the light switch is at the end from which he entered, under lit conditions, when the creaking s supposed to have happened.

He may have been tired, it doesn't appear to me he was sleeping. The creaking was claimed to occur for 6-7 seconds and to come towards him.
The creaking may have been hallucinatory or just the creaks moving towards him may have been hallucinatory, or both.

Any hallucinatory effects through lack of suggested need for hearing aid might certainly be interesting.
How much signal deprivation did the op really suffer by crossing the 60 foot lit space twice?
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Old 19th July 2015, 02:34 AM   #85
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Originally Posted by Daylightstar View Post
Actually, the first thing to do would be to establish the creaking of the floor actually happening well after it has been walked on.
How would we go about ruling out mundane explanations if the creaking does occur as per the op and what if the creaking repeatedly does not occur when trying to establish it's occurrence?
In addition to that, would such investigation be necessary if the op would have abandoned his ghost suggestion and now would rather think the moving creaks are in fact a rather interesting but necessarily mundane occurrence?
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Old 19th July 2015, 06:34 PM   #86
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Originally Posted by Daylightstar View Post
He switches on the light, crosses 60 foot in a lit space, looks at the showers and then crosses that 60 foot back after his realization that the light switch is at the end from which he entered, under lit conditions, when the creaking s supposed to have happened.

He may have been tired, it doesn't appear to me he was sleeping. The creaking was claimed to occur for 6-7 seconds and to come towards him.
The creaking may have been hallucinatory or just the creaks moving towards him may have been hallucinatory, or both.

Any hallucinatory effects through lack of suggested need for hearing aid might certainly be interesting.
How much signal deprivation did the op really suffer by crossing the 60 foot lit space twice?
It was probably not sensory deprivation. You are right and I was wrong.

However, I still have problems with his hearing problem. For instance, how exactly did he know the direction of the footsteps?

I don't think people with loss of hearing have all that much ability to determine the direction of sound. A person with only one functioning ear can't determine the direction of a sound at all.

High pitched sounds, like creaking, are located by the differential sensation on the two separate ears. It helps in this case to nod the head. Low pitched sounds are located by detecting the phase difference of the sound in the two separate ears. These tricks only work if both ears are working. Further, a person needs practice locating a sound even if both ears are working. If he spent most of his time listening with a hearing aid, his interpretation of sound would be very different without the hearing aid.


Here is what he said:
'I stopped. However, the floorboards did not stop creaking. For about 6-7 seconds, the creaking sound came towards me as if someone was walking across the floor, following me.'

Was he looking at the spot where the sound 'came' from? He didn't tell us what he was looking at when he heard the sound. My guess is that he looked at the floor just because it was the only thing he could see.

I now hypothesize a type of confirmation bias. The floor boards were constantly creaking. He falsely attributed the creaking to his walking, so he ignored it until he stopped. When he stopped, he continued to hear the floor creaking. He was surprised that the creaking was not caused by his walking. He subconsciously assumed that every sound he heard came from that spot on the floor where his eyes rested. He scanned the room from far to near end. Thus, he heard the sound coming toward him.
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Old 20th July 2015, 01:59 AM   #87
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Then I wonder whether his hearing is affected in both ears (equally)?


Originally Posted by Darwin123 View Post
...
I now hypothesize a type of confirmation bias. The floor boards were constantly creaking. He falsely attributed the creaking to his walking, so he ignored it until he stopped. When he stopped, he continued to hear the floor creaking. He was surprised that the creaking was not caused by his walking. He subconsciously assumed that every sound he heard came from that spot on the floor where his eyes rested. He scanned the room from far to near end. Thus, he heard the sound coming toward him.
That sounds even more mundane and likely then the depressed floorboards resettling
If only the op would return and assist with more information.
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Old 20th July 2015, 03:44 AM   #88
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Originally Posted by Squeegee Beckenheim View Post
Well, I think they are an option, just not as described here. The first thing to do is to rule out mundane explanations (which we can't do over the internet, and may be impossible even by revisiting the site, due to things such as the potential for ambient differences which would stop the effect from happening on a revisit). Then we'd need to define exactly what relevant characteristics a "ghost" has, how we can distinguish one from the other potential non-mundane explanations you've mentioned (as well as the others that you haven't), to work out a way to empirically test for those characteristics, then perform those tests in a way which doesn't allow for human bias.

It'd be a lot of work, sure, but there's a million dollars for anybody who could, and it'd open up whole new branches of physics and fundamentally change our understanding of the universe. Worth the effort for anybody who genuinely believes in ghosts, I'd have thought.
I have had too many experiences where weird things happen. Only a couple were in the dark of night so to speak. I have met with and questioned people who claim see spirits. Some were quite solid down-to-earth people.

The mundane just does not come close to explaining the phenomena. While I am prepared to admit that the mind is subject to hallucination, it is hard to believe that one has to use this in situation after situation.

I could understand this explanation if there were non-supernatural examples as well. Such as "The tree just jumped in front of me your honor, and I swerved to avoid it and hit another tree on the side of the road."

The anecdotes are rare, and for the most part do not repeat. I get on with my life, and the laws of physics (and my sanity) seem quite solid.

When I was a teenager and also in my twenties I experienced a few isolated instances of "Alice In Wonderland" syndrome. I only found out recently that it has been studied and documented. I knew that my mind was undergoing a dramatic change in perspective, and that it would not last long. At no time did I think this was supernatural. I have no idea what the "mundane" explanation is.

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Old 20th July 2015, 03:50 AM   #89
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Alferd_Packer:

Did you hear "creaking" sounds only? Or were there also "footsteps" or "footfalls"?
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Old 20th July 2015, 04:03 AM   #90
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Originally Posted by PartSkeptic View Post
I have had too many experiences where weird things happen.
How many is too many? 5? 10? 50? How many experiences which you don't have sufficient information to immediately explain do you need to have before you feel justified in invoking the supernatural?

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While I am prepared to admit that the mind is subject to hallucination, it is hard to believe that one has to use this in situation after situation.
It's a good job that faulty/mistaken/insufficient/misunderstood perceptions + imagination suffices for the vast majority of such situations then, isn't it?
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Old 20th July 2015, 07:00 AM   #91
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Hey PS, I'm enjoying reading your thoughtful posts.

Originally Posted by PartSkeptic View Post
While I am prepared to admit that the mind is subject to hallucination, it is hard to believe that one has to use this in situation after situation.

<snip>

and the laws of physics (and my sanity) seem quite solid.
These sorts of approaches to understanding weird experiences can be quite hard for some to swallow. But it's very important to note that a psychological approach to understanding experiences which seem paranormal isn't (always) talking about full-on hallucinations or anything to do with someone's sanity; nor do they seek to apply a 'special' set of psychological phenomena for anything 'unexplained'.

I find it more useful to think about in terms of how the mind works, and what it's there to actually do. One of the reasons I'm so interested in other people's odd experiences is that often it's the experiences reported as 'odd' which show us how the mind's normal function can sometimes get stuff wrong.

It can all be a bit counterintuitive - largely because the instrument which has collated its data into a particular experience is the very same one we then have to use to analyse that experience. I mean the brain, obviously.

Brains are not computers. They have evolved, not to help us think clearly and logically about things, nor to simply process information; but to help us (or more specifically, our ancestors) survive and reproduce. Oddly, this doesn't necessarily imply accuracy; just usefulness.

To use an old example, our species did most of its recent evolving in a world in which big, fierce creatures waited behind rocks and in the shadows to eat us. They hide from us; we have to try to figure out if they're there or not before we walk on. So, our senses send our brains a bunch of data, and our brains put all that data together to create a subjective experience which will influence our behaviour. In this sort of situation, I'm sure you can see that a decent protective system will not necessarily strive for accuracy; it will tend towards caution. The simple reason being that the two possible sorts of errors that might happen in this situation have very different outcomes: perceive a danger where there is none, and you'll probably just go a different way around and think nothing more of it; fail to perceive a danger where there is one, and you'll get eaten.

This sort of tendency is one of lots of 'cognitive biases' that have been identified, and which underpins the way our brains work in any situation. We have built-in biases which are designed to help us function in a group; to help us protect our own beliefs against new ones; to help us create a coherent narrative out of past experiences so we have a way of approaching future ones; to recognise patterns we'd do better to think are there than not (faces, sounds, meaning); to create memories which remain useful; etc. etc.

The basic point is that this stuff applies to all situations, not just ones which are interesting or weird. If I were to attempt to tell someone about this thread tomorrow, my account would inevitably be littered with inaccuracies; not random ones, but my own *biased* ones. Not consciously biased, just biased. I'd probably overestimate my own contribution to the discussion; underestimate the role my own emotion played in my posts; and would describe my own arguments much more favourably than I would everyone else's. Not cos I'm a liar, but because that's how brains work.

It's also worth emphasising that even when we're talking about actual hallucinations, there's no reason to think that mental illness is implied. Hallucinatory perceptions are often a normal - even positive - aspect of some people's experience; a huge amount of people with no other reason to think that mental illness might be a factor report having experienced sensory disturbance at some point in their lives. Inevitably, we can add to that number the amount of people who have, but don't realise it, or chose not to say.

Anyway, brains are not computers. Our consciousness is constructed moment-to-moment and is not a 'window on the outside world'; memories are not video recordings. These natural misconceptions work in the same way as well: they're usually fine as working models for day-to-day use; they're just wrong, that's all.

I hope you can see why we on this forum might therefore have no problem considering the possibility that every single one of the weird experiences you and your correspondents have had could be in some way inaccurately remembered and/or reported.

It's also why the scientific method is a great way to approach weird experiences - or any phenomena at all, weird or not. It's just a way of ruling out, as far as possible, our collective fallibility as humans.
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Old 21st July 2015, 11:49 AM   #92
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Originally Posted by Nucular View Post
Hey PS, I'm enjoying reading your thoughtful posts.
Great. I get on some serious skeptical forums to find out what the "mundane" explanations could be, and if they could fit some of the situations I have encountered.

Originally Posted by Nucular View Post
I find it more useful to think about in terms of how the mind works, and what it's there to actually do. One of the reasons I'm so interested in other people's odd experiences is that often it's the experiences reported as 'odd' which show us how the mind's normal function can sometimes get stuff wrong.
It is one matter to listen to another person describing an experience, and a very different matter to undergo such an experience personally.

One such experience was to visit a church where “spirits” were inside a room. The person taking me told me little except that she and about few others could see them at any time, and they had been there for a few years. I could not see them. I could feel a containing “wall” at the door. I could put my hand in and out and describe where is started and ended (about 9-12 inches thick). This is in a brightly lit passage and room in the evening (no drinking beforehand). The other person told me she could see what I was feeling.

How did my brain “sense” what I can only describe as “cold”? It was not fleeting or vague, and it was as repeatable as putting my hand in a basin of cool water.

Originally Posted by Nucular View Post
Brains are not computers. They have evolved, not to help us think clearly and logically about things, nor to simply process information; but to help us (or more specifically, our ancestors) survive and reproduce. Oddly, this doesn't necessarily imply accuracy; just usefulness.
Our brains have evolved with functionality for incredible accuracy and logic. I accept that our brains are capable of “constructing” a scenario from tiny bits of information, and that it aids survival, and that we can get an inaccurate scenario due to the necessary bias and assumptions.

When the person is relaxed and not in a life-threatening situation (dark stormy night with wild animals in the jungle), I suggest that the mind is less likely to fill in the blanks. And with maturity comes less tendency to jump to conclusions.

What about people who have the ability to look at figures and do complicated arithmetic operations and get it right all the time? Or people who can listen to a tune and replicate it accurately on the piano? People can knit while talking to others and not get one stitch wrong. Our brains are capable of amazing accuracy.

Originally Posted by Nucular View Post
I hope you can see why we on this forum might therefore have no problem considering the possibility that every single one of the weird experiences you and your correspondents have had could be in some way inaccurately remembered and/or reported.

It's also why the scientific method is a great way to approach weird experiences - or any phenomena at all, weird or not. It's just a way of ruling out, as far as possible, our collective fallibility as humans.
I am sceptical of my own experiences, and more so with regard to others. I found that many months later I had to phone the person I referred to in the incident above and ask if it even happened, never mind happening as I recall it. I question all reality, but allow for most possibilities. If the supernatural only occurs at random unplanned times and places when the mind is not preoccupied then those conditions are a bit hard to replicate using scientific method. I was puzzled as to why the church-goers did not invite scientists, but perhaps they were afraid of negative publicity. Most frauds love publicity.

One may have to take the anecdotes, remove obvious fraud, then the mundane and the vague, and look for patterns. If mind-science can explain them, fine. But we are far from a precise enough understanding, and I do not buy a broad-brushed “fallacy of the mind”. If the supernatural exists, there should be some sort of rationality to it, and not just random unintelligible noise.

With maturity and interacting with others in different countries and cultures I learned that it was hard to say “it is not possible” even in engineering discussions. Truth is stranger than fiction.

The “we of this forum” have a rather unique bias that I think many/most/nearly all (Pixel42 will correct me if am wrong) do not compensate adequately for. It is the assumption that science has all the answers and only has a few gaps to fill in.

The biggest assumption is about possible explanations as to the origins of the universe. Recent research I did for myself shows me that the mystery of the origin of the universe is not as cut and dried (founded in provable fact) as some popular science/atheist authors would have us believe. One could say that (many?) followers of this forum are like church-goers who get positive self-reinforcement of a belief system that excludes the supernatural as an option?

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Old 21st July 2015, 12:08 PM   #93
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Originally Posted by PartSkeptic View Post
The “we of this forum” have a rather unique bias … It is the assumption that science has all the answers and only has a few gaps to fill in.
This is a strawman. I'll be generous and grant that you've not been told this before: science does not have all the answers, if it did it would stop.

Quote:
The biggest assumption is about possible explanations as to the origins of the universe. Recent research I did for myself shows me that the mystery of the origin of the universe is not as cut and dried (founded in provable fact) as some popular science/atheist authors would have us believe.
More of the same. Every credible source I've ever read makes no bones about what is not known. It's okay not to know stuff.

Quote:
One could say that (many?) followers of this forum are like church-goers who get positive self-reinforcement of a belief system that excludes the supernatural as an option?
Leaving aside the question of why you'd prefer a system based on hearsay and fraud, how is disbelief a belief?

You fool me once, my shame. You fool me twice, my bad. You fool me three times, I adapt. You fool me four times, I realize the problem. You start to fool me again, I ask for evidence. So: ghosts. Evidence?
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Old 21st July 2015, 12:09 PM   #94
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To Nucular:

Location: Brane 6, Brahman's Dream

I just saw your location. I might be on Wave Z in the same Dream. We might just be in a simulation in an advanced Universe in the umpteenth cycle, and they are messing with our minds. Pure entertainment, having solved all the mysteries?
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Old 21st July 2015, 12:19 PM   #95
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Originally Posted by PartSkeptic View Post
When the person is relaxed and not in a life-threatening situation (dark stormy night with wild animals in the jungle), I suggest that the mind is less likely to fill in the blanks.
On balance, it's more likely. Even mild sensory deprivation / relaxation can cause hallucinations after a relatively short time period. Read Oliver Sacks for more information and explanations.
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Old 21st July 2015, 12:25 PM   #96
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Originally Posted by PartSkeptic View Post
The biggest assumption is about possible explanations as to the origins of the universe. Recent research I did for myself shows me that the mystery of the origin of the universe is not as cut and dried (founded in provable fact) as some popular science/atheist authors would have us believe. One could say that (many?) followers of this forum are like church-goers who get positive self-reinforcement of a belief system that excludes the supernatural as an option?
I'm skeptical of this research of yours and the conclusions you've so broadly and smugly drawn.

Care to elaborate?
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Old 24th July 2015, 09:06 AM   #97
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Originally Posted by Resume View Post
I'm skeptical of this research of yours and the conclusions you've so broadly and smugly drawn.

Care to elaborate?
Will do. Life is getting in the way at the moment. Multiple commitments. Should have some time tomorrow to post a list. (BTW- Not smug at all. I have no interest in point scoring. Just like to get to the truth.)
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Old 24th July 2015, 09:12 AM   #98
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Originally Posted by baron View Post
On balance, it's more likely. Even mild sensory deprivation / relaxation can cause hallucinations after a relatively short time period. Read Oliver Sacks for more information and explanations.
Thanks for the reference. I will follow up.

Note I said a relaxed situation. Not a lack of sensory input. But you make a good point which I take note of.

My point is that the mind is able to "hear that small voice" which is how I think God/spirit communication might take place.
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Old 24th July 2015, 09:17 AM   #99
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But how is the mind to certify that small source?
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Old 24th July 2015, 03:40 PM   #100
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One should be more than partially skeptical about the voices one hears inside one's head.
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Old 24th July 2015, 11:41 PM   #101
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Originally Posted by Resume View Post
I'm skeptical of this research of yours and the conclusions you've so broadly and smugly drawn.

Care to elaborate?

Let me start with one of the biggest distortions of reality by science. A Universe from Nothing. This is a blatant attempt to redefine “creation” because a Big Bang just might have an Intelligent Creator or First Cause. The physical universe without a cause may yet be eternal (as previously thought), but it is hard to say why it suddenly “decided” to spring into existence, or what series of pre-Big Bang conditions existed to cause the Big Bang.

The laws of physics describe physical happenings. Entities must exist for the laws to exist.

If time did not exist before the Big Bang, then quantum fluctuations could not exist. The Uncertainty Principle (which relies on the existence of time) could not exist and hence there could be no “spontaneous” production of “virtual particles”.

Krauss is the equivalent of a "guru" who dispenses wisdom to the masses. Smart, yes. But wandering into philosophical questions of why we exist, and the correct answer is "we don't know and may never know". I find him speaking as little sense as James Schwartz, a self-professed guru who I heard talking about the "non-duality" of Advaita Vedanta Hindu.

This has been debated in many forums. I am just going to present the essence and summary of my research summed up in the following.

Quote:
http://blogs.scienti...r-than-nothing/
…I'm nonetheless going out on a limb and guessing that science will never, ever answer what I call "The Question": Why is there something rather than nothing? You might think this prediction is safe to the point of triviality, but certain prominent scientists are claiming not merely that they can answer The Question but that they have already done so. Physicist Lawrence Krauss peddles this message in his new book A Universe From Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing (Free Press, 2012).

…Philosopher David Albert, a specialist in quantum theory, offers a more balanced assessment of Krauss's book in The New York Times Book Review. And by balanced assessment, I mean merciless smack down. Albert asks, "Where, for starters, are the laws of quantum mechanics themselves supposed to have come from?" Modern quantum field theories, Albert points out, "have nothing whatsoever to say on the subject of where those fields came from, or of why the world should have consisted of the particular kinds of fields it does, or of why it should have consisted of fields at all, or of why there should have been a world in the first place. Period. Case closed. End of story."
Quote:
Edward Feser: "What part of 'nothing' don't you understand?"

"The 'scientific' 'explanations' of the origin of the universe from 'nothing' one keeps hearing in recent years…aren’t serious physics, they aren’t serious philosophy, they aren’t serious anything except seriously bad arguments, textbook instances of the fallacy of equivocation."

There are more issues that I will deal with in other posts.
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Old 24th July 2015, 11:51 PM   #102
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Originally Posted by Donn View Post
But how is the mind to certify that small source?

Good point. One has to take it "on faith". If you have a problem, and a friend gives advice, you make an assessment as to whether it is worth listening to and acting on.

So far, I cannot say I have been misled. Rather the opposite. You can argue that my mind just produces rational thoughts (inspirations?) that are logical. Although some instances of precognition would be hard to rationalize as simply logical.
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Old 25th July 2015, 12:07 AM   #103
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Originally Posted by Resume View Post
One should be more than partially skeptical about the voices one hears inside one's head.

Maybe. For me they are more like thoughts that are generated by the brain/mind, except that it is like debating with yourself about a subject. But who knows, some people may experience this phenomenon to the point that it appears like a "voice".

On the couple of occasions that this has happened to me, it was as if one part of my mind was getting information from an "external" source, and I could interact with it through the "self-debate".

The brain is hard-wired to be predisposed to hallucinations, dreams and spiritual phenomenon. Science tells us that. Does that mean that all such events are random noise? Or could there be supernatural intelligence (God or spirits) using the brain to communicate?

Some people think so. Take Joan of Arc as a documented historical figure.
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Old 25th July 2015, 12:12 AM   #104
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Originally Posted by PartSkeptic View Post
Good point. One has to take it "on faith".

So far, I cannot say I have been misled. Rather the opposite.
Taking on faith is a resignation of curiosity. It's a nonsplanation which, in this case, opens a world of tedious, run-down fantasy.

You now have the dubious joy of ersatz explanation for all your experiences.

They won't seem to mislead you because you are both experiencing and confirming your faith within the rules of the realm of spirits, ghosts, forces and whatever dull panoply shuffles o'er your stage.
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Old 25th July 2015, 12:29 AM   #105
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You do realise that Krauss's hypothesis is only one of many about the origin of the universe? And that no-one, least of all the cosmologists who speculate about it, claim that anything about it is "cut and dried"? From my own reading I think the idea of an infinite multiverse containing finite universes is the most popular one at present. Each big bang is created by a collision of branes in higher dimensions of space, if I understand it correctly.

Saw a documentary about Joan of Arc recently. She was so convinced she was hearing the voice of God (encouraged by early victories) she thought she was invincible. Even after listening to those same voices got her captured she still (despite a brief wobble) assumed that God would rescue her. I think the question of whether her particular voices were supernatural or not was settled by what happened next.
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Old 25th July 2015, 12:36 AM   #106
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Originally Posted by Donn View Post
Taking on faith is a resignation of curiosity. It's a nonsplanation which, in this case, opens a world of tedious, run-down fantasy.

You now have the dubious joy of ersatz explanation for all your experiences.

They won't seem to mislead you because you are both experiencing and confirming your faith within the rules of the realm of spirits, ghosts, forces and whatever dull panoply shuffles o'er your stage.

Taken on faith in this instance means making a decision without a solid reason to do so. Insufficient factual data.

I have no "faith" in the supernatural. I have experiences which indicate it MIGHT exist. And I have experiences which indicate that it MIGHT all be in my head. I have no "faith" that doctors and physicists always know what they are talking about.

I give "facts" in my experience a probability of "truthfulness", and act accordingly.

You may give the supernatural a zero probability because you have had no strange experiences. You may give the opinions and writings of science "experts" a 90 to 99 % probability because you have no reason to doubt them. I have experienced their fallibility, just as I have experienced the fallibility of people who have a 100% belief in the supernatural.
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Old 25th July 2015, 12:57 AM   #107
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Originally Posted by PartSkeptic View Post
You may give the supernatural a zero probability because you have had no strange experiences.
Everyone has had strange experiences. Sceptics just don't assume that any experience they don't have sufficient information to explain must be supernatural.
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Old 25th July 2015, 01:58 AM   #108
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Originally Posted by PartSkeptic View Post
Taken on faith in this instance means making a decision without a solid reason to do so. Insufficient factual data.
Making a decision in such a case is a choice to step into a story accepted on faith. You should, rather, not make a decision.

I know in day to day life is chaotic and we must often gamble into unknown ventures, but what you described was a more deliberate moment. In your telling, you display no doubt that there is a "containing wall" that you can feel with your hand. You've already decided what it is — that it is connected to spirits — and so on.

Quote:
I have no "faith" in the supernatural. I have experiences which indicate it MIGHT exist.
To read your posts, here and in the past, one would not credit this.

Quote:
And I have experiences which indicate that it MIGHT all be in my head.
All the experiences are in this category, unless you wish to lean on fantasy.

Quote:
I have no "faith" that doctors and physicists always know what they are talking about.
Who does?

Quote:
I give "facts" in my experience a probability of "truthfulness", and act accordingly.
Done properly, this is fair; however, you don't display this probability in your posts. Instead, you lambaste others for "belief" in science and that down-strewn avenue of plucked canards.

Quote:
You may give the supernatural a zero probability because you have had no strange experiences.
I've been bumped in the night; felt chills of fear in empty houses; all that stuff. The one thing I've failed to do is explain it all to myself as supernatural and carry that burden of fiction with me.

Quote:
You may give the opinions and writings of science "experts" a 90 to 99 % probability because you have no reason to doubt them.
I might, but I don't. You enjoy this go-to straw man too much.

I'm not some science-hero dosed to the eyes in learning, patrolling the city at night in my lab coat, enlightening illusions with my fact-ray.

I'm not a scientist and I can't even remember how to do calculus. I'm really very average, even below par.

What I don't do is use my ignorance as a switch to flip my own arguments into predominance — I know enough to know that I don't know enough.

Quote:
I have experienced their fallibility, just as I have experienced the fallibility of people who have a 100% belief in the supernatural.
If you have then you should be far more cautious in your conclusions. I don't see this in your posts.
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Old 25th July 2015, 02:06 AM   #109
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Originally Posted by Pixel42 View Post
You do realise that Krauss's hypothesis is only one of many about the origin of the universe? And that no-one, least of all the cosmologists who speculate about it, claim that anything about it is "cut and dried"?

It was not my intention to reignite a debate about Krauss and his theories, but to point out that he and others often present “theories” as “proven” at times. He then (at other times, unbeknown or forgotten by many of his audience) he offers disclaimers to key points.

What hypothesis does Krauss have?

Quote:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_M._Krauss

Krauss mostly works in theoretical physics and has published research on a great variety of topics within that field. His primary contribution is to cosmology as one of the first physicists to suggest that most of the mass and energy of the universe resides in empty space, an idea now widely known as "dark energy". Furthermore, Krauss has formulated a model in which the universe could have potentially come from "nothing," as outlined in his 2012 book A Universe from Nothing.

He explains that certain arrangements of relativistic quantum fields might explain the existence of the universe as we know it while disclaiming that he "has no idea if the notion (of taking quantum mechanics for granted) can be usefully dispensed with". As his model appears to agree with experimental observations of the universe (such as of its shape and energy density), it is referred to as a "plausible hypothesis".

So here we have two concepts (among others) that are needed to explain cosmological observations. Much like saying “The patient can only be described as being alive, although he has no heartbeat or brain function. We hope to find out how this can be sometime in the future, but state that this condition cannot be ascribed to the supernatural.”

Quote:
Bill Bryson – A Short History of Nearly Everything
Dark energy and dark matter are classified as DUNNOS Dark Unknown Nonreflective Nondetectable Objects Somewhere.

Below is an example of Krauss avoiding the issue despite claiming that the Ultimate Reality cannot be God because science has explanations for the universe, as argued against theists.

The "cannot be God" is the "cut and dried" of atheists who rely on science and proponents like Krauss. Many do BELIEVE science has all the answers. Some (like you) concede that it does not.

Quote:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_M._Krauss
In an interview with The Atlantic, however, he states that he has never claimed that "questions about origins are over." According to Krauss, "I don't ever claim to resolve that infinite regress of why-why-why-why-why; as far as I'm concerned its turtles all the way down."
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Old 25th July 2015, 02:13 AM   #110
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Originally Posted by Pixel42 View Post
Everyone has had strange experiences. Sceptics just don't assume that any experience they don't have sufficient information to explain must be supernatural.
I don't assume it MUST be supernatural.

I just do not discard it as a possible explanation, especially when all scientific explanations (including medical studies of brain and mind) do not seem adequate.
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Old 25th July 2015, 02:27 AM   #111
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Originally Posted by PartSkeptic View Post
Maybe. For me they are more like thoughts that are generated by the brain/mind, except that it is like debating with yourself about a subject. But who knows, some people may experience this phenomenon to the point that it appears like a "voice".

On the couple of occasions that this has happened to me, it was as if one part of my mind was getting information from an "external" source, and I could interact with it through the "self-debate".

The brain is hard-wired to be predisposed to hallucinations, dreams and spiritual phenomenon. Science tells us that. Does that mean that all such events are random noise? Or could there be supernatural intelligence (God or spirits) using the brain to communicate?

Some people think so. Take Joan of Arc as a documented historical figure.
She said god talked to her and the ones who burnt her said they did it according to god's will. who was right?
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Old 25th July 2015, 02:38 AM   #112
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The Casmir effect and Hawking radiation is often used in debates as supporting the “models”. The Casmir effect has other theories, and Hawking radiation has not been reliably observed yet.

You can see these used by Krauss and others. They do not present a balanced opinion in their debates.

Quote:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casimi...tic_van_der_Wa...

Relativistic van der Waals force Alternatively, a 2005 paper by Robert Jaffe of MIT states that "Casimir effects can be formulated and Casimir forces can be computed without reference to zero-point energies. They are relativistic, quantum forces between charges and currents. The Casimir force (per unit area) between parallel plates vanishes as alpha, the fine structure constant, goes to zero, and the standard result, which appears to be independent of alpha, corresponds to the alpha approaching infinity limit," and that "The Casimir force is simply the (relativistic, retarded) van der Waals force between the metal plates.”

Coupled ground-state energy

Finally, a third way of understanding Casimir forces has been suggested, based on canonical macroscopic quantum electrodynamics. In this interpretation, there exists a ground (vacuum) state of the coupled system of matter and fields, which determines the ground-state properties of the electromagnetic field, giving rise to a force. The Casimir force is fundamentally a property of the coupled system of matter and fields, in which the interaction between the plates is mediated by the zero-point fields. In more traditional interpretations, however, the emphasis has fallen either on the electromagnetic field or the fluctuating material in the plates.
Quote:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawking_radiation

Under experimentally achievable conditions for gravitational systems this effect is too small to be observed directly. In September 2010, however, an experimental set-up created a laboratory "white hole event horizon" that the experimenters claimed was shown to radiate Hawking radiation, although its status as a genuine confirmation remains in doubt.

Ironically Hawking radiation in used as an example in explaining logical fallacies. Perhaps many sceptics are taken in by this appeal to authority.

Quote:
http://www.infidels.org/library/mode...hew/logic.html

Argumentum ad verecundiam (Appeal to authority)
The Appeal to Authority uses admiration of a famous person to try and win support for an assertion. For example:
"Isaac Newton was a genius and he believed in God."

This line of argument isn't always completely bogus when used in an inductive argument; for example, it may be relevant to refer to a widely- regarded authority in a particular field, if you're discussing that subject.

For example, we can distinguish quite clearly between:

"Hawking has concluded that black holes give off radiation"
and
"Penrose has concluded that it is impossible to build an intelligent computer"

Hawking is a physicist, and so we can reasonably expect his opinions on black hole radiation to be informed. Penrose is a mathematician, so it is questionable whether he is well-qualified to speak on the subject of machine intelligence.
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Old 25th July 2015, 02:52 AM   #113
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Originally Posted by tsig View Post
She said god talked to her and the ones who burnt her said they did it according to god's will. who was right?
Re: Joan of Arc - I would have thought the way to choose was obvious. Deeds not words.

Joan predicted she would lead France to victory and she did. Amazing achievements for a young peasant girl, even if one uses "luck" to explain it.

The English wished to get rid of her. Religion has often been used by mere mortals to get rich and powerful and to intimidate others. Many a "fake prophet" among the clerics. Some say God is okay with some of that because it gets the "word" out.

God gave no guarantees as to how extensive or sustainable the victories would be. And no guarantees to everlasting protection. To a believer in God and souls, death and suffering are but temporary states.

It is hard to get to the "real truth", or something resembling the truth. Romantic myth, HollyWOOd and so on. But there was at least some documentation, and she comes out as a special person.
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Old 25th July 2015, 03:01 AM   #114
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Originally Posted by Pixel42 View Post
From my own reading I think the idea of an infinite multiverse containing finite universes is the most popular one at present. Each big bang is created by a collision of branes in higher dimensions of space, if I understand it correctly.

I am trying to present the best summaries in some of my research. Wikipedia is a peer-reviewed forum despite its informal nature.

My underline bold.
Quote:
http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Multiverse

For a start, how is the existence of the other universes to be tested? To be sure, all cosmologists accept that there are some regions of the universe that lie beyond the reach of our telescopes, but somewhere on the slippery slope between that and the idea that there are an infinite number of universes, credibility reaches a limit. As one slips down that slope, more and more must be accepted on faith, and less and less is open to scientific verification.

Extreme multiverse explanations are therefore reminiscent of theological discussions. Indeed, invoking an infinity of unseen universes to explain the unusual features of the one we do see is just as ad hoc as invoking an unseen Creator. The multiverse theory may be dressed up in scientific language, but in essence it requires the same leap of faith.

— Paul Davies, A Brief History of the Multiverse
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Old 25th July 2015, 03:09 AM   #115
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These are only some of the problems. See the site for the full list.

Quote:
http://en.wikipedia....lems_in_physics
Cosmic inflation
Is the theory of cosmic inflation correct, and, if so, what are the details of this epoch? What is the hypothetical inflaton field giving rise to inflation? If inflation happened at one point, is it self-sustaining through inflation of quantum-mechanical fluctuations, and thus ongoing in some extremely distant place?
Baryon asymmetry
Why is there far more matter than antimatter in the observable universe?
Cosmological constant problem
Why does the zero-point energy of the vacuum not cause a large cosmological constant? What cancels it out?
Dark matter
What is the identity of dark matter? Is it a particle? Is it the lightest superpartner (LSP)? Do the phenomena attributed to dark matter point not to some form of matter but actually to an extension of gravity?
Dark energy
What is the cause of the observed accelerated expansion (de Sitter phase) of the Universe? Why is the energy density of the dark energy component of the same magnitude as the density of matter at present when the two evolve quite differently over time; could it be simply that we are observing at exactly the right time? Is dark energy a pure cosmological constant or are models of quintessence such as phantom energy applicable?
Ecliptic alignment of CMB anisotropy
Some large features of the microwave sky at distances of over 13 billion light years appear to be aligned with both the motion and orientation of the solar system. Is this due to systematic errors in processing, contamination of results by local effects, or an unexplained violation of the Copernican principle?
Vacuum catastrophe
Why does the predicted mass of the quantum vacuum have little effect on the expansion of the universe?
Black holes, black hole information paradox, and black hole radiation
Do black holes produce thermal radiation, as expected on theoretical grounds? Does this radiation contain information about their inner structure, as suggested by Gauge-gravity duality, or not, as implied by Hawking's original calculation? If not, and black holes can evaporate away, what happens to the information stored in them (since quantum mechanics does not provide for the destruction of information)? Or does the radiation stop at some point leaving black hole remnants? Is there another way to probe their internal structure somehow, if such a structure even exists?
Extra dimensions
Does nature have more than four spacetime dimensions? If so, what is their size? Are dimensions a fundamental property of the universe or an emergent result of other physical laws? Can we experimentally observe evidence of higher spatial dimensions?
Large Scale Anisotropy
Is the Universe at very large scales anisotropic, making the Cosmological Principle an invalid assumption? The number count and intensity dipole anisotropy in radio, NRAO VLA Sky Survey (NVSS) catalogue is inconsistent with the local motion as derived from CMBR and indicate an intrinsic dipole anisotropy. The same NVSS radio data also shows an intrinsic dipole in polarization density and degree of polarization in the same direction as in number count and intensity. There are other several observation revealing large scale anisotropy. The optical polarization from quasars shows polarization alignment over a very large scale of Gpc. The Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR) data shows several features of anisotropy which are not consistent with the Big Bang model.
The lithium problem
Why is there a discrepancy between the amount of lithium-7 predicted to be produced in Big Bang nucleosynthesis and the amount observed in very old stars?
Entropy (arrow of time)
Why did the universe have such low entropy in the past, resulting in the distinction between past and future and the second law of thermodynamics? Why are CP violations observed in certain weak force decays, but not elsewhere? Are CP violations somehow a product of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, or are they a separate arrow of time? Are there exceptions to the principle of causality? Is there a single possible past? Is the present moment physically distinct from the past and future or is it merely an emergent property of consciousness? Why does time have a direction?
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Old 25th July 2015, 03:15 AM   #116
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This sums up the crisis in cosmology. How then can one debate with such a shaky platform?

Quote:
http://www.scienceme.../multiverse.php

More recently, Smolin was even more explicit {Smolin2015}:

Cosmology is in crisis. Recent experiments have given us an increasingly precise narrative of the history of our universe, but attempts to interpret the data have led to a picture of a "preposterous universe" that eludes explanation in the terms familiar to scientists. ...

As a result, some cosmologists suggest that there is not one universe, but an infinite number, with a huge variety of properties: the multiverse. There are an infinite number of universes in the collection that are like our universe and an infinite number that are not. But the ratio of infinity to infinity is undefined, and can be made into anything the theorist wants. Thus the multiverse theory has difficulty making any firm predictions and threatens to take us out of the realm of science.

These other universes are unobservable and because chance dictates the random distribution of properties across universes, positing the existence of a multiverse does not let us deduce anything about our universe beyond what we already know. As attractive as the idea may seem, it is basically a sleight of hand, which converts an explanatory failure into an apparent explanatory success. The success is empty because anything that might be observed about our universe could be explained as something that must, by chance, happen somewhere in the multiverse.


...Paul Davies: Davies, a leading physicist, notes that the multiverse represents an inconceivably flagrant violation of Occam's razor -- postulating an enormous ensemble of essentially unobservable universes, just to explain our own. What's more, if the multiverse exists, then not only would universes like ours exist, but also vastly more universes where advanced technological civilizations acquire the power to simulate universes like ours on computer.

Thus our entire universe, including all "intelligent" residents, are merely avatars in some computer simulation. In that case, how can we possibly take the "laws of nature" seriously?


...Andrei Linde: "Those who dislike anthropic principles are simply in denial. This principle is not a universal weapon, but a useful tool, which allows us to concentrate on the fundamental problems of physics by separating them from the purely environmental problems, which may have an anthropic solution.

One may hate the Anthropic Principle or love it, but I bet that eventually everyone is going to use it."
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Old 25th July 2015, 03:25 AM   #117
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Quote:
Question: Does string theory make any predictions that can be tested empirically? Is string theory falsifiable? Does it have to be falsifiable? If it's not falsifiable, can it be considered a scientific theory?

A - First, physical theories are never proven. They're confirmed by experiments.

…you must come up with processes where _only_ string theory contributes to the observable. So far we don't know of any.

B - But unfortunately, we can't build a Planck scale accelerator, so the verifiability which is always there in principle, is out of reach.

C - String theory describes "beyond standard model" physics. The natural domain of applicability of string theory is Planck scale which is way above the LHC energy scale. In order to directly verify string theory experimentally, you need to build an accelerator of gigantic size which is not feasible because of the unimaginably high expenditure. But nature does not care about our financial affordability. No body can claim that quantum gravity theory has to be financially cheap. This is silly.

If you can produce Planck scale energy you can directly verify particle's stringy nature. The simple minded view that any observation is consistent with string theory is plain ridiculous. This is the kind of false propaganda that has immensely harmed physics in the last decade.
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Old 25th July 2015, 04:19 AM   #118
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Originally Posted by PartSkeptic View Post
Kraus … but to point out that he and others often present “theories” as “proven” at times. He then (at other times, unbeknown or forgotten by many of his audience) he offers disclaimers to key points.
Finding all manner of insufficiencies, even contradictions, in popular science, you flutter your hands prominently to distract and sneak the pigeon from your pocket. Behold, for science is barren so ergo therefore thus propter hoc thence ad lib hence: Super-Nature! And — take a bow.

This argument from ignorance is shallow and plays like a decrepit 80's action film on life support.

Your astonishing alternative, the supernatural, is a catch-all for everything unknown, and more besides — delusions, illusions, hopes, dreams and opinions. One fails to describe or explain anything by patching the unknown with supernatural wording; better, try inflate a balloon with wishes.

And that is all the supernatural is — words. As I can name an absence between two outcrops a hole, so the language bends to every pressure of human will. The babbling nouns have gushed forth since there were tongues to shape air; only in recent centuries has anyone called their correspondence to surrounding fact into question.

Another mere word is God. The ultimate reality cannot be God just as it cannot be Bigfoot. If you hold hope for God then you fill your car's tank with shadows and drive by aping the wheel and shouting, "Vroom."

To be sure, those who believe science has all the answers are as wrong as you. The very substance of honesty running a vein across the ore of science is frank admission of limitations. Indeed, without limitation, whence discovery?

If there is a summary, it is this: the impossible is not an alternative to the unknown.
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Old 25th July 2015, 04:24 AM   #119
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Like I said: lots of ideas, no claims that anything is cut and dried.

Pointing out that there is no need to reach for supernatural explanations when there are plenty of hypothetical natural ones is not the same as claiming that everything is cut and dried either. In the absence of proof people are free to choose to believe supernatural explanations, they are just not justified in claiming they are obliged to do so for lack of natural ones.
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Old 25th July 2015, 04:41 AM   #120
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A concession and clarification.

Although not observed, Hawking radiation is accepted to exist because of the underlying mathematics.

Quote:
http://profmattstrassler.com/article...what-are-they/
Matt Strassler | September 5, 2012 at 9:20 AM | Reply

Hawking radiation isn’t a theory, it’s something you can calculate will happen if you have quantum fields near a black-hole horizon; in classical gravity. It doesn’t require anything tricky and unknown, like quantum gravity. It’s been calculated various ways and been shown to be consistent in various other ways… so it’s certainly true for big black holes and ordinary quantum fields like electromagnetism.

How it works, however, is complicated (which is why it took someone as sharp as Hawking to recognize it happens at all.) This is because what one means by “real particles” is tricky when you have quantum field theory in a curved space (or even from the point of an accelerating observer.) The interpretation of what is going on can become quite observer-dependent.

I think to answer your question correctly and precisely in a nontechnical language is something I’m not able to do without more care. There are two steps required. First, one has to explain how to think about real and virtual particles as seen by an observer undergoing constant acceleration in flat space. Such an observer, even in flat space, sees a horizon and a hot atmosphere of fields and particles {a so-called Rindler horizon and Rindler temperature, which is hottest near the horizon and cools off as you move away.} Second, one then has to explain how, in a black hole, there is a Rindler-like region near the horizon and a nearly-flat region far away, and Hawking radiation can be thought of as particles that boil off the atmosphere at the top of the Rindler region. To explain all this while being very clear about what’s real and what’s not is subtle to do in words; it’s clear in the math but translating it is not so straightforward.

The best I can do today, without more thought, is this: The continual spontaneous disturbances (“quantum fluctuations”) that all fields exhibit have the feature that sometimes, near a black hole horizon, a portion of a disturbance will end up inside the black hole, and another portion outside. Most such disturbances will disappear without a trace. But for a small fraction of them, the inside- and outside- parts of the disturbance will never reconnect; the latter will remain within the black hole, and the other escapes far away. {The larger the black hole, the less likely this is; this is why large black holes have lower temperatures.} For part of a disturbance to escape to infinite distance, it must be (from the perspective of observers far from the black hole) made from real particles, because only real particles can travel such great distances. Again, that’s a very rare thing; for most disturbances that happen to sit on top of the horizon, their outside-parts are not made from real particles and will not escape the black hole.
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