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Tags cnn , god's voice , hear god

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Old 20th January 2013, 05:54 PM   #1
jimtron
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Crazy to audibly hear god?

My Take: If you hear God speak audibly, you (usually) arenít crazy


Quote:
Thereís an old joke: When you talk to God, we call it prayer, but when God talks to you, we call it schizophrenia.

Except that usually itís not.


Hearing a voice when alone, or seeing something no one else can see, is pretty common. At least one in 10 people will say theyíve had such an experience if you ask them bluntly.
It's common, therefore not crazy.
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Old 20th January 2013, 05:58 PM   #2
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Crazy to audibly hear god?

One in ten is not common.

Nine in ten is common.

Are we to draw from this that 90% of people do not ever hear God's voice? Why don't we ask these 10%ers (individually and isolated from other responses) what the voice sounds like and compare responses?
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Old 20th January 2013, 06:03 PM   #3
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And Audio Paradolia is not uncommon, but concluding you actually heard a voice with evidence the contrary IS uncommon. You're WIRED to hear voice in any kind of sound. It's deliberate, it's how we can communicate via speech.
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Old 20th January 2013, 06:07 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by jimtron View Post
I think a lot of people have auditory hallucinations. Have you never thought someone had suddenly called your name? I'm sure there's pretty solid science on how auditory hallucinations occur and there is absolutely nothing crazy about them. If someone is already religious I could see how they might genuinely believe there was some supernatural thing going on.

Originally Posted by Good Lt View Post
One in ten is not common.

Nine in ten is common.
Really? If I said one in ten people in the US have syphilis, you wouldn't think that makes it a common disease?
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Old 20th January 2013, 06:08 PM   #5
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I'd say one in ten could be considered pretty commonplace.

It's common to see a mail carrier.

I've heard (not from an inner voice) that long-term solo sailors and others who experience isolation hear what they think are voices.

I don't think it's always a mental disorder (though it often is). It's sometimes just pareidolia, or seeing faces in clouds, an effect we can know is erroneous but are hard-wired to do.

Voices alone aren't always a disorder. If it was full conversations, I'd suggest getting some help.

Edit: My points were all made as I was typing.

Last edited by appalling; 20th January 2013 at 06:09 PM.
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Old 20th January 2013, 06:29 PM   #6
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My point in the OP quote is that the article's author appears to be making a logical fallacy: hearing god's voice isn't crazy, because it's common.
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Old 20th January 2013, 06:30 PM   #7
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I once had a conversation with a religious friend. He was exploring just what it would take to make me believe in a God. After tossing the idea around, it came down to me requiring proof of some kind; a Burning Bush routine or something equivalent.

"So then, you'd believe."

I said, "No, then I'd assume I'd gone around the bend and check into a clinic."

We concluded there is no proof that would sway me. I don't know how I feel about that.
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Old 20th January 2013, 06:45 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by jimtron View Post
My point in the OP quote is that the article's author appears to be making a logical fallacy: hearing god's voice isn't crazy, because it's common.
I took from it that the argument was that hearing voices does not necessarily mean "schizophrenia", which isn't fallacious at all, it's true.

The article goes on to talk about situations I wouldn't characterize as "hearing voices".

Quote:
In fact, my research has found that these unusual sensory experiences are more common among those who pray in a way that uses the imagination—for example, when prayer involves talking to God in your mind.
This is interesting, because it means they aren't "hearing voices" in the way we have been discussing it. They are outright allowing themselves to imagine them. It's the way an author hears characters while writing.

It's still not a mental disorder. But it shows that there is an interesting difference between non-voluntary common hallucination and desired and abetted (while not predicted) imagination.
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Old 20th January 2013, 06:50 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by appalling View Post
I took from it that the argument was that hearing voices does not necessarily mean "schizophrenia", which isn't fallacious at all, it's true.

The article goes on to talk about situations I wouldn't characterize as "hearing voices".
You're right, as a whole the article does make valid arguments.
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Old 20th January 2013, 06:54 PM   #10
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Having a dialogue with Mark Twain in my head isn't the crazy part, basically.

Convincing myself that he was actually talking to me is the part it gets "crazy", though I don't like that word here, as it always conflates "mental disfunction" with "stupid or bad idea".

I don't think religious people are "crazy", I think they're wrong, I think they're unsupported. I think they've deeply confused a metaphor for various understandable human reasons, sometimes profiting by it, sometimes not.
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Old 20th January 2013, 07:13 PM   #11
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There's a whole lot of difference between "isn't crazy" and "is sane."
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Old 20th January 2013, 07:22 PM   #12
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I can induce certain auditory hallucinations in myself. I guess the difference is is that I know they are just that.
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Old 20th January 2013, 09:29 PM   #13
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I have experienced something like an auditory version of the Tetris effect. If I've been listening to something for a long time (like a room full of talkative people) during the day, I might hear it again at night when I'm close to falling asleep and the room is quiet. I wouldn't call this crazy either, because I know it's not real.
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Old 20th January 2013, 09:43 PM   #14
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Hmmm... I hear a voice and have conversations in my head every day. In fact, I'm doing it right now.

It's always me.
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Old 20th January 2013, 11:09 PM   #15
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Thinking you hear a voice is one thing. Hearing the voice tell you it is god and what to do next is crazy. For more than one reason.
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Old 20th January 2013, 11:24 PM   #16
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To have an occasional auditory hallucination is not crazy. I've heard my name before when no one was around to say it, and other things like that. I just chalked it up to background noise and an overactive pattern-seeking brain.

"Hearing voices" however is not even remotely the same thing. It's like the difference between hallucinating water on the horizon in a desert, and hallucinating a sleuth of bears balancing on beach balls rolling down your street.
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Old 21st January 2013, 05:04 AM   #17
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The author of the OP article, Tanya Luhrmann, is well known and has done extensive research in cultivated halluncinations. These are not necessarily religious in character. She helped Stanford students experience Leland Stanford, Jr as a a presence in their lives. Although developing the skill to expereince secular but meaningful hallucination was suggested to her by a colleague, the idea is not original with her. She is, however, innovative in studying the phenomenon within a controlled experimental investigative design.

http://uncertaintist.wordpress.com/2...from-stanford/

In other words, Professor Luhrmann's larger point is that hallucinations are not only common, but having hallucinations is an easily learned skill. A few years ago, as a personal experiment and before I knew anything about her work, I taught myself to have a specific (and I think "safe") closed-eyes visual hallucination. It is the "afterimage" you would see if you looked at a black letter "X" on a brightly lit white field for a minute or so. I mastered the skill inside of an hour. I still do it almost every day.

That I learned it and have maintained the skill is "proof of comcept." It is a skill, however strange that might sound, and so its exercise is not necessarily a clinical symptom. Other people want more ambitious hallucinations than I do, in other sensory modalities, The literature richly attests that they can learn to have those, too, whether self-taught or taught by someone else.

I wasn't interested in anything more ambitious. Just about any skill is subject to dissociative performance, which concerned me. That is, mastered skills will often operate without conscious direction. A familiar example is that so many people can drive "without thinking about it," and yet drive successfully.

Just the other day, for example, I was thinking about a document handling problem, and decided I would place a yellow-fluorescent "X" marking on certain papers. I didn't do anything about it, I just thought about the problem.

I then happened to close my eyes, and there was my now-familiar after-image hallucination, vividly displayed, attesting to the operation of the mechanism which I had developed. I had elicited the image, and its appearance was meaningfully related to my conscious activity, but I hadn't "invoked" it nor "asked for it." It kicked in "on its own."

If I had been interested in something more ambitious, it is reasonably clear that I could have had an autonomously appearing God, or an autonomously appearing Leland Stanford, Jr. Well, OK, if I had been interested in that, then it would be Keira Knightley. But the principle is well established. Halucinations are not necessarily of pathological origin.

If I may add some remarks on other comments,

Quote:
My point in the OP quote is that the article's author appears to be making a logical fallacy: hearing god's voice isn't crazy, because it's common.
That is not the article author's position, and what Professor Luhrmann says, she can back up with extensive field work and experimental investiagtion, much of it prominently published, peer-reviewed and all of it thoroughly mainstream anthropology and psychology. Perhaps the article did not fully develop her argument, but this can hardly be surprising in a popular and non-scholarly outlet.

The anthropology of mental health practice is, by the way, another of Professor Luhrmann's research areas, in addition to "religious" expression. Therefore, I am confident that she, more than most people, could do without an introductory level exposition of "logical fallacies" as they apply to the problem of defining mental illness, with all due respect. Your later ackowledgment of Professor Luhrmann's cogency is noted with approval.

Quote:
The article goes on to talk about situations I wouldn't characterize as "hearing voices".
However, what the author means by "hearing voices" combines at least two separable phenomena: a halucinatory experience and the dissociative quality of the experience. The combination is what interests her. So, it is not just that the subject "sees" or "hears" Leland Stanford, Jr, but also "interacts" with him, not as a ventriloquist interacts with a dummy, but rather as one sentient being interacts with a different sentient being.

Quote:
Convincing myself that he was actually talking to me is the part it gets "crazy", though I don't like that word here, as it always conflates "mental disfunction" with "stupid or bad idea".
That would be a third possible component to this kind of experience, the failure to connect the skill-building phase (the effort to learn to encounter Mark Twain, in your example) with the subsequent productive exercise of the skill.

Luhrmann's research is ethical (and human-subjects regulated!). A religious entrepreneur would not neessarily disclose to "subjects" the potential of learning hallucinatory skills from engaging in well-crafted "devotional" activities. Basically, that would parallel a malefactor secretly putting a hallcinogenic drug in somebody's drink.

In such a case, the victim is not reasonably suspected of mental illness because they fail to figure out what was done to them, and especially not for failing to figure it out while the experence is unfolding.

Last edited by eight bits; 21st January 2013 at 05:11 AM.
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Old 21st January 2013, 06:28 AM   #18
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My wife used to "hear" her deceased mother calling her name. Auditory hallucination... Random neuron firing.
If you're conducting a conversation... Something more is going on. That "more" is unlikely to be direct communication from a deity.
How would you know? Most devout Christians would be immediately suspicious that it was in fact God's opposite number, trying to lead you into temptation.
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Old 21st January 2013, 03:20 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by eight bits View Post
However, what the author means by "hearing voices" combines at least two separable phenomena: a halucinatory experience and the dissociative quality of the experience. The combination is what interests her. So, it is not just that the subject "sees" or "hears" Leland Stanford, Jr, but also "interacts" with him, not as a ventriloquist interacts with a dummy, but rather as one sentient being interacts with a different sentient being.

That would be a third possible component to this kind of experience, the failure to connect the skill-building phase (the effort to learn to encounter Mark Twain, in your example) with the subsequent productive exercise of the skill.
I quite liked her focus on the creative aspect of her examples.

As I've said, I've read similar accounts with authors developing characters through internal dialogues, actively creating while being genuinely surprised at what their characters "say", all while knowing it is self-generated.

It's an interesting field for the study of consciousness and creativity, these self-generated hallucinations.
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Old 22nd January 2013, 03:16 AM   #20
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Quote:
As I've said, I've read similar accounts with authors developing characters through internal dialogues, actively creating while being genuinely surprised at what their characters "say", all while knowing it is self-generated.

It's an interesting field for the study of consciousness and creativity, these self-generated hallucinations.
The procedure is recommended to playwrights by Aristotle in his Poetics.

I know at least one author who is very proud of the "autonomous voice" of his fictional characters, supposedly cultivated through dissociative means. He is apparently sincerely and utterly oblivious to how much his "autonomous" characters all sound just like him .

Obviously, I think that what Professor Luhrmann does systematically, and what many before her have done spontaneously, is all fascinating. I also think that understanding these showy aspects of truly ordinary human psychology will support great practical advances in woo eradication.
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Old 22nd January 2013, 04:23 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by jimtron View Post
My point in the OP quote is that the article's author appears to be making a logical fallacy: hearing god's voice isn't crazy, because it's common.
The two of you need to define 'crazy' and 'common' so that you are talking about the same specific thing before you can go and inspect the logic of the relationship. Otherwise you are just arguing semantics.
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Old 22nd January 2013, 11:45 PM   #22
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Science has shown that our 'inner voice' of self is located in only one side of the brain. The corresponding area in the other brain hemisphere is inactive. (I don't have the link at the moment.)

That to me indicates that the inactive area can in some cases become activated and that explains "hearing voices in the head" that are not the ordinary self-dialogue of thinking.

Also, it may be that both inner voice centers should be active and become integrated into a unified self. Just like how the input from both our eyes are integrated into a single field of vision, and both inputs from the ears are integrated into a single unified experience of hearing.

So, our next evolutionary step as humanity is to activate and integrate both inner voice centers.

ETA: I found this:

"The left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG) has been shown to be reliably recruited during inner speech production." -- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3462327/

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Old 23rd January 2013, 01:41 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Monketey Ghost View Post
I once had a conversation with a religious friend. He was exploring just what it would take to make me believe in a God. After tossing the idea around, it came down to me requiring proof of some kind; a Burning Bush routine or something equivalent.

"So then, you'd believe."

I said, "No, then I'd assume I'd gone around the bend and check into a clinic."

We concluded there is no proof that would sway me. I don't know how I feel about that.
I don't like that kind of reasoning, because it basically legitimises the canard that, see, the atheists just don't want to believe no matter what. In reality, while for some things a hallucination is the Occam-conform explanation, enough data can tilt the balance in any direction.

Let me see, if I saw a burning bush talking to me...

Well, first I'd probably hit record on my phone, so I can check later if there actually is a voice and it isn't mine. If there is a voice outside of my head, it can't be a hallucination. It may not be God, but it's probably not a hallucination.

I'd put a thermometer close to the flame. If it shows way too hot for plant life, it probably is burning. If it happens regularly, I might even get an infrared thermometer or better yet, a spectroscope. And at the very least, I'd take a pic or two to examine later. If it actually looks like a flame in a photo and I can get a friend or two to confirm it looks like a flame to them, then it's not a hallucination.

I'd come next day or at least a few hours later, to see if the bush still exists or even better is still burning. Some simple calculations of combustion rates and whatnot can tell me that the bush should be gone in a fairly short-ish time.

I could bring a metal detector to make sure some prankster didn't hide a speaker there or some such.

I could take recordings from various points and make sure the sound actually originates from said bush.

Etc.

Basically an omnipotent god -- or even a slightly powerful third-rate god for that matter -- COULD give a sign that's not easily mistaken for a hallucination or pareidolia. That we have a God that only speaks to epileptics and schizophrenics and substance abusers... well, that kinda IS a sign. And not in the right direction.

For that matter, a god with ANY power at all, probably wouldn't need to even talk to me. The simple fact that he actually intervenes on SOMEONE's behalf would be visible in statistics. You'd see stuff like that patients prayed for recover significantly more often. Or that people of the right religion die much less often in random accidents. You'd hear news like that an airplane smashed into the side of a mountain in Peru, but luckily all three Zoroastrians on board survived.

Or you'd notice that some country like India where they had literally almost 3000 years to learn about karma (all religions there have it one way or another), and learning their lessons, and ascending a bit further for their next reincarnation, and all that, would have a lower homicide rate than us Europeans who never even heard of that and certainly don't feel we need to learn anything towards our next reincarnation. In reality, India has almost 3 times the intentional homicide rate of the UK, and nearly 6 times that of Norway. Heck, it's almost 4 time that of Italy, which is perhaps unfairly stereotyped as the place where the Mafia runs loose. So I'd say it's not working.

So, yes, there are things that would convince me that there is a god, or several gods, or some reincarnation wheel, or just some social effect of religion. Plenty of them in fact.

What I get instead are rationalizations for why God or gods try hard to get a message to us, but somehow just can't do those things that would actually be evidence.

Edit: basically it's not that I don't want to believe in spite of evidence, it's that a God that, as I'm told, is basically trying to be indistinguishable from hallucinations and random noise (to not influence my free will, yada, yada), IS indistinguishable from hallucinations and random noise, and there is no reason to take it as anything else than hallucinations and random noise. If he started giving signs that are distinguishable from that, then we'd be getting somewhere.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 05:59 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Monketey Ghost View Post
I once had a conversation with a religious friend. He was exploring just what it would take to make me believe in a God. After tossing the idea around, it came down to me requiring proof of some kind; a Burning Bush routine or something equivalent.

"So then, you'd believe."

I said, "No, then I'd assume I'd gone around the bend and check into a clinic."

We concluded there is no proof that would sway me. I don't know how I feel about that.
Sane, burning bushes are notoriously unreliable about lifestyle information.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 06:18 AM   #25
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It's an interesting epistemological problem, Hans.

Quote:
Basically an omnipotent god -- or even a slightly powerful third-rate god for that matter -- COULD give a sign that's not easily mistaken for a hallucination or pareidolia.
Omnipotence is, at least among the sophisticated theologians, constrained to the possible. In a hypothetical divine message received by a human, we re-encounter the receiver operating characteristic situation. Whatever can detect a signal by physical means when it is present must have some positive probability of detecting a signal when none is present.

There is no "solution," it is an inconvenient fact, not a proper "problem." The proper problem is what do you do about it, and that's typically based on some variety of a cost-benefit analysis.

Monketey Ghost's resolution is an admissible solution. If the estimated expected cost of a false alarm outweighs the estimated expected benefit of a warranted alarm, then it is rational to turn off the alarm apparatus. Period.

If this creates some rhetorical problem for MG, then it is easily defused by observing that even a non-omnipotent being could frustrate her resolution, and force her to attend to its message for a finite interval. What would happen in that case is speculative.

If you find it troubling to read "there is no proof that would sway me," then the concern is misplaced. A rational person's confidence in any proposition is inversely related to their estimated probability that they will ever be proved wrong. It simply cannot be otherwise.

"Paralysis by analysis" is a familiar name for a well-known mistake. If MG has already considered an uncertain question to her satisfaction, then she need make no apology for dismissing any invitation to inquire further, no matter whose name appears on the invitation.

Quote:
That we have a God that only speaks to epileptics and schizophrenics and substance abusers... well, that kinda IS a sign. And not in the right direction.
But thanks to the OP entry's author, we also have a Leland Stanford, Jr who speaks to ordinary Stanford students. OK, Stanford University is an Americans with Disabilities Act compliant place, but the students in question cannot plausibly all be epileptics, schizophrenics and substance abusers.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 07:06 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by eight bits View Post
It's an interesting epistemological problem, Hans.
I think it becomes more of a problem if one starts from the mindset that religion makes certain testable predictions about the world, and therefore one treats religion like a scientific hypothesis.

From that point of view, it's a hypothesis that there is an omnipotent creator god who sporadically communicates with humans through certain phenomenon such as disembodied voices, burning bushes, etc.

But I think that's starting the wrong way around. Instead, if one starts only with actual phenomenon, and then looks for the most reasonable hypothesis based on current knowledge, the problem fades.

Phenomenon: some people hear disembodied voices.

Hypothesis: the voices are not from an outside source and instead are caused within the brain, even though they seem subjectively real.

We can test that and use evidence to come to a conclusion, just as we do about everything else. It's not a unique problem--it's the same way we learn about anything. It only becomes a puzzle if one gets into solipsism, but then everything becomes an untestable problem.

Some older hypotheses are left over from when we had less data, but I don't see any reason to continue proposing them as the best solution.

Phenomenon: Fire and molten rock sometimes shoot from a mountaintop.

Hypothesis: Sentient creatures live underground and when they feel a lack of virgins, they shoot up fire.

It may have sounded like a good hypothesis at one time, but not so much, anymore. So I don't see the point of giving it any special weight, any more than giving special weight to the hypothesis that an omnipotent creator-god is behind any other phenomenon.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 07:20 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by jimtron View Post
Can you get him on tape?
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Old 23rd January 2013, 09:41 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by eight bits View Post
It's an interesting epistemological problem, Hans.



Omnipotence is, at least among the sophisticated theologians, constrained to the possible.
You'll notice that not only did I restrict myself to what's possible in my burning bush scenario, but the same part you quoted didn't actually require an omnipotent god. In fact, as usual, I'm willing to allow gods that are a lot less than omnipotent.

But actually the bar was set very low anyway. I was just requiring a God to make a sound and a flame in that example, both of which are in the realm of what even humans can do. I wasn't expecting even some eldritch cosmic powers, much less something that pushes the explores the conceptual problems of literal omnipotence.

Plus, expecting a god to at least be able to make a sound is also pretty baseline, when that god is also expected to then cure diseases, prevent accidents, and divert bullets or artillery shells in flight in a war. If he can't even make a vibration in air, why would one bother praying for the other things I listed there? So if you want to make a philosophical question out of it, I'd say it isn't even as much 'what is omnipotence', but rather 'how impotent can a god be, and still be worth the bother'

Originally Posted by eight bits View Post
In a hypothetical divine message received by a human, we re-encounter the receiver operating characteristic situation. Whatever can detect a signal by physical means when it is present must have some positive probability of detecting a signal when none is present.

There is no "solution," it is an inconvenient fact, not a proper "problem." The proper problem is what do you do about it, and that's typically based on some variety of a cost-benefit analysis.

Monketey Ghost's resolution is an admissible solution. If the estimated expected cost of a false alarm outweighs the estimated expected benefit of a warranted alarm, then it is rational to turn off the alarm apparatus. Period.

If this creates some rhetorical problem for MG, then it is easily defused by observing that even a non-omnipotent being could frustrate her resolution, and force her to attend to its message for a finite interval. What would happen in that case is speculative.

If you find it troubling to read "there is no proof that would sway me," then the concern is misplaced. A rational person's confidence in any proposition is inversely related to their estimated probability that they will ever be proved wrong. It simply cannot be otherwise.

"Paralysis by analysis" is a familiar name for a well-known mistake. If MG has already considered an uncertain question to her satisfaction, then she need make no apology for dismissing any invitation to inquire further, no matter whose name appears on the invitation.
I'm not disagreeing with the analysis of a given (hypothetical) event, but just with a conclusion like, and this is a direct quote, "We concluded there is no proof that would sway me." That's a false and unsupportable conclusion. Just because one inconclusive scenario wouldn't sway one, doesn't mean that any possible scenario wouldn't sway one. There are plenty of other imaginable scenarios where the same analysis, based on probabilities, costs, and whatnot, would in fact lead to the conclusion that it's exceedingly improbable to be a hallucination.

It's, if you will, like concluding that if I'm not swayed that some dice are loaded because they rolled sixes twice, then nothing would sway me ever that dice are loaded. That's false. There are plenty of scenarios that would. E.g., if someone took an ultrasound device to it, or just suspended it from a corner and showed that the centre of gravity isn't where you'd expect it.

The conclusion that if some BS doesn't convince you, then nothing will, is a self-flattering canard of those peddling the BS. Suddenly they can feel like the problem isn't with their 'evidence' being BS, but just your not accepting any evidence.

Originally Posted by eight bits View Post
But thanks to the OP entry's author, we also have a Leland Stanford, Jr who speaks to ordinary Stanford students. OK, Stanford University is an Americans with Disabilities Act compliant place, but the students in question cannot plausibly all be epileptics, schizophrenics and substance abusers.
Err, no. Just no. That's a bit of a bait and switch.

Yes, auditory hallucinations are somewhat common and auditory pareidolia is even more common. In fact most of it is actually pareidolia, with most of the rest being illusions, not hallucinations, but that's splitting hairs. But yes, it's common, and we even know that even plain old coffee makes people more susceptible to auditory pareidolia.

But that's a different thing from actually hearing God talk to you. When you actually hear God telling you to do X, Y and Z, that's a bit different a situation from, basically, 'Huh? I thought I heard something.'

Trying to make the hash of the two as being the same, well, that's a bait and switch, rather than valid logic.

But yes, if a whole class claimed to be actually receiving genuine messages from God -- as opposed to illusions they had or even produced themselves -- then, yes, I would have to wonder in all earnest if said class is composed of epileptics, schizophrenics and substance abusers
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Old 23rd January 2013, 11:36 AM   #29
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You'll notice that not only did I restrict myself to what's possible in my burning bush scenario, but the same part you quoted didn't actually require an omnipotent god. In fact, as usual, I'm willing to allow gods that are a lot less than omnipotent.
I did notice. But if an omnipotent being can't do it, which he can't if logical constraints bind, then we never reach the question of whether a less than omnipotent being can. Obviously, he can't either.

But just to be clear, the issue isn't whether a sentient being can send a signal, but rather whether the possible recipient could ever rule out an endogenous origin. She can't. Thus, what the other poster proposed was an admissible policy for signals of purported supernatural origin.

Signals were the only offer of proof discussed by the other poster, and first-person signals would be a perfectly fine thing to require of a being who, if unable to signal, isn't as advertised.

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There are plenty of other imaginable scenarios where the same analysis, based on probabilities, costs, and whatnot, would in fact lead to the conclusion that it's exceedingly improbable to be a hallucination.
Yes, but the issue was the rationality of the policy. That only requires one coherent analysis in its favor. It would be rational for you to disagree with the other poster's conclusion based on a different coherent analysis, but that's true of every contingent uncertainty whatsoever.

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It's, if you will, like concluding that if I'm not swayed that some dice are loaded because they rolled sixes twice, then nothing would sway me ever that dice are loaded. That's false.
I don't will. That's absurdly unrepresentative of the quality of the investigation already undertaken by that poster so far. I base that on other posts of hers that I've read, any one of which displays more investigative effort than a pair of dice tosses.

Also, your discussion of this scenario completely ignores the costs of gathering information and the benefits of knowing about your dice, along with any specification of what the alternative hypotheses are, and what their inherent credibility (prior probabilities if you're Bayesian) is, in the opinion of the decision maker.

Finally, on information and belief, on many past occasions when the other poster "tossed the dice," I'll bet they didn't "come up six." So, it might well be that some scepticism about the dice being "loaded" is justified. Your example is thus probably back-end-to about how the hypothesis of interest has fared so far. That, too, might make some difference in someone's purchase-of-information decisions.

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But that's a different thing from actually hearing God talk to you.
I don't think you understand what Professor Luhrmann's experiment and field work entailed, or what its many less systematic predecessors entailed. It is precisely actually hearing God, or Leland Stanford Jr, or Abraham Lincoln, or poor dead Aunt Myrtle... or a perennial favorite, a character whom you know is fictitious ... talk to you. Talk to you, at the very least.

It is a learnable, teachable skill. It has nothing to do with pareidolia, nothing to do with illusions, nothing to with the ROC-inevitability of a positive probability of being convinced by a hallucination ... nothing to do with drugs and nothing to do with mental illness.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 02:03 PM   #30
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No. There's a difference between doing some trick yourself, and actually believing you talked to God. It doesn't even matter if you did it in your head or on a computer screen or whatever.

I could easily model a guy on a cross and have him say whatsoever, but neither of us would buy it that it actually means Jesus talked to me. Heck, I can even do it in my head, and actually even better, since, as I may have mentioned a long time ago in a galaxy far awa... err... in another thread I'm one of the relatively few who actually start dreaming a few seconds before actually starting sleeping, and given enough years, I've gained some control over it. (Although on occasion it seems to veer in random and often disturbing directions out of my control.)

At any rate, rest assured that, yes, I have at least some understanding of what it's like to roll your own hallucination, for lack of a better word.

The difference is that I know I'm doing it. There is no moment I think I'm actually flying over an alien world, or whatever I was twisting my brain into producing at the moment. I don't wake up the next day thinking I've actually seen Ferenginar or whatever.

And I don't think those guys are taking it seriously as actually talking to God or to dead people either.

In fact, I'm pretty sure that whoever does, is by definition delusional. And quite possibly a textbook case of paranoid schizophrenia, if they can't differentiate between stuff coming from within and the real world outside their head.

Hence it seems to me that my statement stands. The only people who do offer such vision or auditory hallucinations as evidence of God ARE sufferers of various mental conditions or have a substance abuse problem.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 03:01 PM   #31
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No. There's a difference between doing some trick yourself, and actually believing you talked to God.
Not if you didn't know that that is what you learned to do. The root folk-report on this is Alexandra David-Neel's (searchable). She knew that she was learning to do something from Tibetan Buddhists she encountered, but she had only a hazy idea of what that something was exactly. So, when she "made" a monk phantom, she thought she had really made an autonomous monk-like not-quite-physical being.

So, how hard would it be to go one step further, and tell her what's she learning to do is to summon the ghost of some real, now-dead monk? Based on Luhrmann's field work, probably not too hard at all. (As I noted in an earlier post, there's probably no way to get the direct experiment on that past an American human subjects committee.)

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The difference is that I know I'm doing it.
Then you appreciate that that is a difference which can be manipulated or removed, or spontaneously misunderstood.

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And I don't think those guys are taking it seriously as actually talking to God or to dead people either.
Luhrmann's recent fieldwork studied the Vineyard churches, also searchable. They take it very seriously that God talks with some of them. Her dissertation work was with British witches. Gods plural talk with some of them. They're very serious about it, too.

Pup

I didn't mean to pass over your message. I think it's easier to be bloodless about a volcanic eruption than a fluent personal conversation, especially a "call to adventure," as Joseph Campbell named the type of communication that the Exodus burning bush was.

The burning bush doesn't ask Moses to believe in it, it recruits him into a plan of action. Why should it ask about his beliefs? Moses isn't a Protestant. God doesn't care what Moses believes, as long as he does his job, and doesn't oversmote the rocks.

Moses, for his part, doesn't care why the advice he's getting from a bush is good advice, nor why his staff turns into a snake. The bush proposes a good mission, and Moses is getting the tactical support he needs to carry it out. The only question Moses needs to answer is "Are you in or not?"

So, the problem posed by an experience like that may be very different in kind from choosing between a horny god and thermodynamics as explanations of a volcanic eruption.

Maybe you disagree; I don't know.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 04:01 PM   #32
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Now however you've moved from the class of students being teached, to stuff like witches who were the subjects of the study. I don't think you can just treat the two as any more equivalent, than it would be to make the med students dissecting a corpse equivalent to the corpse.

I will grant that a bunch of "witches" (and Christians, and ancient Jews, and whatever) ARE indeed delusional. In fact, they are so by definition. I don't see what it has to do, though, with the earlier claim of yours that basically all those students at Stanford University can't be all crazy.

We're talking about different groups of people, for fork's sake. It's like saying that some guys in Africa can't be all black, because some students at Stanford University are predominantly white. It's nonsense.

And I will grant that some people basically taught themselves whatever skills they needed to perpetuate their delusions. It's not even that complicated, if you're willing to allow any skills to that end. After all, finding some LSD dealer and avoiding the cops is also a skill some people taught themselves the hard way.

I don't see what difference does it make.

Yes, the brain is a flexible tool, and what you can't just conjure out of thin air, you can confabulate and retrofit as a false memory within a short while. So even if you can't actually see ghosts on demand, never fear, within mere hours you can make yourself a false memory that you actually did. So if you were just trying to say that the brain functionality is there, yes, of course people don't sprout a whole different brain when they go insane. (Well, ok, ok, so some abnormal wiring does happen in schizophrenia.)

And yes, Alexandra David-Nťel sounds like a profoundly delusional person. And, I dare say, deranged and illogical. The difference between the non-anthropomorphic non-soul of Buddhism and actually seeing a ghostly monk is so great and fundamental, that one just has to wonder WTH happened there. Was she even listening at all? And if she didn't understand, why not ask? WTH sanity or logic is there in just imagining something completely different, in fact, a polar opposite, than what several people tell you on a topic? It sounds to me like she was more like out fishing for some confirmation of whatever delusional woowoo she already wanted to find, than actually trying to learn anything about Buddhism.

I mean, fer fork's sake, exactly what in Buddhism's explicit rejection of an European style soul, or their other ideas fundamentally at odds with her delusion, would even suggest to ANYONE sane that what they need to do is try real hard to see a ghost? No, really, I'm open to suggestions. And why not ask?

It's like trying to learn about PETA and concluding that they like fur clothes.

So, yeah, I'm not sure how that helps make the case that you don't need to be crazy. Maybe you don't, but she's not an example.
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Old 24th January 2013, 12:11 AM   #33
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Now however you've moved from the class of students being teached, to stuff like witches who were the subjects of the study.
The OP proposes an article written by Stanford anthropology Professor Tanya Luhrmann. That's what her research history is.

It appears we differ about terms. Delusional is a kind of mistakenness, mistakes with a pathological origin. People make other kinds of mistakes. As to religious mistakes, some people likely are delusional. Other folks, I think, are healthy enough, but unwary and incautious.

Studying the kinds of mistakes people actually make is a dismal description of anthropology and psychology. Misdiagnosing mistakes predictably limits the chances of correcting those mistakes. It is good, then, for counterapologists and other sceptics to attend to anthropology and psychology.

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I don't see what it has to do, though, with the earlier claim of yours that basically all those students at Stanford University can't be all crazy.
That wasn't what I said. I offered rebuttal rebuttal to your assertion,

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That we have a God that only speaks to epileptics and schizophrenics and substance abusers... well, that kinda IS a sign. And not in the right direction.
My rebuttal was that it was implausible that that would be so, based on Luhrmann's results,.

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OK, Stanford University is an Americans with Disabilities Act compliant place, but the students in question cannot plausibly all be epileptics, schizophrenics and substance abusers.
You offered no evidence that God only speaks to epileptics, schizophrenics and drug abusers, and your burden did not shift to me because I objected. A plausible counterexample invites you to produce evidence for what you have asserted. So far, you have declined that invitation.

Quote:
I mean, fer fork's sake, exactly what in Buddhism's explicit rejection of an European style soul, or their other ideas fundamentally at odds with her delusion, would even suggest to ANYONE sane that what they need to do is try real hard to see a ghost? No, really, I'm open to suggestions. And why not ask?
On information and belief, it is within the scope of Tibetan Buddhism to imagine what could be described in English as the ghost of a dead monk. David-Neel, by the time she is writing her memoir, knows that some students of techniques like the ones she learned are manipulated to believe various things about their phantasms, things which their teachers know to be false.

As to actual practice, the ostensible purpose of monastic exercises of this kind is to demonstrate for the student the limited reliability of his or her own perceptions and inferences. While the specific pedagogical practice may be unusual, the lesson itself is mainstream Buddhist, as is the idea of advocating adherence to Buddhist principles based on practical demonstration.

It is also overkill. My own little "X's" would serve the ostensible purpose. Then again, I'm not in the business of selling religious experiences. Maybe if I were, I'd offer something flashier. Well, I'd have to; my competition already offers better stuff than that.

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So, yeah, I'm not sure how that helps make the case that you don't need to be crazy. Maybe you don't, but she's not an example.
"She" wasn't offered as an example. The example was the inferential problem she faced. Her solution to that problem was entirely rational, based on the information available to her. David-Neel misconstrued something she knew she had wrought.

The hypothetical was that her available information could easily have been manipulated to compound her misconstruction. Had it been, and had she drawn the expected inference, then that, too, would be entirely rational.

We never reach the question of David-Neel's health, because all of her relevant behavior is facially rational. The weirdness resides in unfamiliarity with that kind of data. In fact, such data are easily arranged, even if unfamiliarity may cause many people to underestimate how easily. Nevertheless, the inference, given that those are the data, is untroubling and not of pathological origin.
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Old 24th January 2013, 02:34 AM   #34
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A delusion is by definition a belief held firmly, against superior evidence that, basically, you have no grounds or rational reason to hold that belief. In psychiatry it's also sometimes used for a hallucination or illusion.

E.g., if I were to hold the belief that some girl on an ad billboard is winking specifically at me, to give specifically me a sign, that would be a textbook delusion of reference. E.g., if I were to hold the belief that I am a walking dead, that would be a textbook Cotard delusion. If I were to believe that my co-workers have been replaced with identical automatons by some super-villain, that would be textbook Capgras delusion.

Why? Because there is no rational reason to infer that, much less be certain of it, and in fact there is solid evidence saying that that's at the very least incredibly improbable.

There is technically no requirement for it to be pathological, because it's basically a symptom, not a disease. Of course, in most cases it IS pathological, but there is no requirement for it to be.

Now let's get back to having God talk to you.

ESPECIALLY when there is solid evidence that the human brain can produce hallucinations on demand, that, as you say, it's even possible to teach yourself to hallucinate whatever you wish, holding the belief that, no, see, it really was God telling you what to do... it seems to me like that's a delusion right there. By definition.

The existence of that evidence doesn't make it less of a delusion. In fact, it makes it more of a delusion for someone to insist that it really was God, in spite of the evidence that the brain produces that kind of thing and it's a more rational explanation.

That said, for the rest:

1. Well, then decide whether your argument is based on the cases studied by the professor or her students.

2. Regardless of what it is, equivocating between some people who know they trained themselves to hear voices and people who genuinely think gods talk to them, is still bogus. Role-playing something is not the same thing as actually being/doing that. I can put on makeup and pretend to be a zombie, and it's a trainable skill, but that doesn't make me equivalent to an actual Cotard sufferer.

Your whole case and supposed "rebuttal" of what I said, seems to be based on pretending that it's just the same whether you know you trained yourself to hear voices, or just think God is actually talking to you. And it's not. Not any more than learning to look for interpretations that are about you in everything is the same as an actual reference delusion.

It's the mistaking it for a real thing that makes it a delusion. No matter what skills you train or how good you become at it, if you lack that, it's not a delusion, thus it's not the same thing.

Hence excuse me if I'm not impressed by a "rebuttal" that is based on that kind of making a hash, not to mention personal plausibility considerations... based on picking the wrong group.

3. Ok, if it makes you feel any better, let me amend the claim: I'm not aware of anyone claiming that God genuinely speaks to them, who wasn't delusional in some way or another. And in fact, I don't see how they can be anything else.

Again, I'm not interested in your picking other groups that aren't actually doing the same. Since, you know, the claim was about who God supposedly speaks to. Not which people learn to fake it, but know it's just their imagination.

But if you can offer some example of anyone doing that without being delusional, be my guest. I'll be more than willing to amend my opinions if evidence demands it
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Old 24th January 2013, 08:53 AM   #35
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A delusion is by definition a belief held firmly, against superior evidence that, basically, you have no grounds or rational reason to hold that belief. In psychiatry it's also sometimes used for a hallucination or illusion.
As I said, we differ about terms. I would avoid a homonym for medical jargon when it could be mistaken for the medical term. That's a foreseeable hazard in a discussion like this one, whose title asks about whether exercising a skill is reliably a symptom of mental illness, Crazy...?

Or do you have your own special definition of crazy, too, something non-medical?

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Of course, in most cases it IS pathological
Yes, that clears it right up that you didn't mean the medical term.

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The existence of that evidence doesn't make it less of a delusion. In fact, it makes it more of a delusion for someone to insist that it really was God, in spite of the evidence that the brain produces that kind of thing and it's a more rational explanation.
That evidence exists tells me nothing about the mental condition of someone who doesn't know about that evidence. Some part of Professor Luhrmann's no doubt impressive paycheck can be attributed to there being a lot of people who don't know as much about this as she does. It is implausible that all such people are epileptics, schizophrenics and drug abusers.

I suppose you didn't intend those as medical terms, either.

Quote:
Role-playing something is not the same thing as actually being/doing that.
I don't know anything in the Luhrmann research that fails to distinguish role-playing (which is featured in experiments that did pass human subject review) from people who believe that they are actually "being/doing" something or are uncertain about whether or not they are (who might be encountered in anthropological field work, where fewer investigator ethics concerns arise).

As it happens, however, vicarious practice is effective in acquiring this skill, probably because it so closely resembles "actually being/doing." But regardless of why, the effectiveness is a fact, which can be used to investigate the phenomenon experimentally, even though it would be unethical to do so in a situation where a subject was persuaded that they were "actually being/doing" almost the same thing, with the same results.

If anything, you are simply emphasizing what the difference so often actually is: the information available to the person about the nature of what they are "being/doing." Missing information and dissembled or otherwise false information will reliably lead rational people to mistaken conclusions.

Quote:
Your whole case and supposed "rebuttal" of what I said, seems to be based on pretending that it's just the same whether you know you trained yourself to hear voices, or just think God is actually talking to you.
Then it seems incorrectly. My case is that rational people resolve uncertainties according to the information available to them, something over which one individual may have less control than another. It follows that healthy rational people will sometimes draw conclusions that disagree with a healthy someone else's equally rationally held personal opinions.

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It's the mistaking it for a real thing that makes it a delusion.
No, it's mistaking it for the real thing when you have enough accurate and relevant information, and the computation cost of using the information is low enough compared to the cost of making a classification mistake, that makes a mistake a candidate for being delusional.

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Old 24th January 2013, 10:53 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by eight bits View Post
Hans



As I said, we differ about terms. I would avoid a homonym for medical jargon when it could be mistaken for the medical term.
Then feel free to avoid it. I'm using the medical definition. E.g., see here,
http://www.medterms.com/script/main/...ticlekey=26290
Or for that matter:
http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/292991-overview
http://www.mdguidelines.com/delusion...der/definition

Originally Posted by eight bits View Post
That's a foreseeable hazard in a discussion like this one, whose title asks about whether exercising a skill is reliably a symptom of mental illness, Crazy...?
Well, that's another "sorry, nope" case. You jumped into a conversation that pretty much had nothing to do with the thread title -- yes, it was a derail, I confess -- and tried to shoehorn it into something that would have to do with WTH you want to talk about, without rhyme, reason, or apparently even deciding exactly which mold you're trying to shoehorn it into.

Sorry, but sometimes I talk about other things than whatever you think I should be talking about. Even worse, I will continue to. If you want to pretend it's about something else, it's your building a strawman, not my problem.

I don't really care much about whether you want it to be about "whether exercising a skill is reliably a symptom of mental illness, Crazy". I was explicitly drawing the line between just exercising a skill and actually having a symptom. In fact it's exactly that pretense that the two are equivalent that I've been having a problem with for the last couple of messages. Plus, the original message you pounced on had nothing to do with people just learning to hear voices in their head anyway. But ok, let's skip that.

I can learn to cough very convincingly and exercise that skill, but that doesn't make me equivalent to someone with an actual respiratory infection. I can learn to spew profanities at random times, but that doesn't make me equivalent to someone who actually has Tourette's. Etc.

The idea that someone's basically learning to produce a symptom on demand makes it cease to be a symptom across the board is patently absurd.

Plus, again, see the medical definition linked above. Or any other medical definition you wish. The key ingredient is actually holding a belief. Just exercising a skill is not it. The very notion that you can talk about someone NOT fitting the definition as a way to refute the symptom is bogus.

Originally Posted by eight bits View Post
Or do you have your own special definition of crazy, too, something non-medical?
You mean do you have any other mis-understandings you wish to ascribe to me? I'm sure it makes your case so much easier if you can just postulate BS about what I mean instead of making your own case

Originally Posted by eight bits View Post
Yes, that clears it right up that you didn't mean the medical term.
Nope, it just shows you have no idea what you're talking about, if you think all delusions are pathological.

Originally Posted by eight bits View Post
That evidence exists tells me nothing about the mental condition of someone who doesn't know about that evidence. Some part of Professor Luhrmann's no doubt impressive paycheck can be attributed to there being a lot of people who don't know as much about this as she does. It is implausible that all such people are epileptics, schizophrenics and drug abusers.
Even without being a professor, someone would have to have lived under a rock to still somehow miss the fact that there are more people having hallucinations than actual messages from God. In fact, if anything, the very presence of the popular perception that, basically 'hearing voices=crazy' is enough to give one reasonable doubt that just in their case actual divine messages are the best explanation for hearing voices.

Sure, actually knowing that one can produce those hallucinations would add more evidence against their being real messages from God, which is what I was saying. But it's not like that's the only data that makes it unreasonable to conclude that hearing stuff means divine intervention.

Plus, I don't think having access to academic-level information was ever a condition in diagnosing any other delusion. One doesn't have to have a Ph.D. in cellular biology to be diagnosed with Cotard delusion if they think they're the walking dead, for example. It suffices that such a belief has no rational reason to be held, and is against any common sense.

And one doesn't need an academic study in why it's impossible for their wife to be replaced with an identical copy, to be diagnosed with Capgras delusion. Indeed it would be impossible to prove it impossible. Their wife could have an unknown twin, or could theoretically have swapped places with her double from another universe, or could actually be an impostor who had plastic surgery, or whatever. But as long as there is no rational basis to assume that such a swap actually happened, or that they'd actually be able to detect something which actually is an identical copy in all aspects, it's a delusion anyway.

Originally Posted by eight bits View Post
I suppose you didn't intend those as medical terms, either.
Actually, I did.

Originally Posted by eight bits View Post
I don't know anything in the Luhrmann research that fails to distinguish role-playing (which is featured in experiments that did pass human subject review) from people who believe that they are actually "being/doing" something or are uncertain about whether or not they are (who might be encountered in anthropological field work, where fewer investigator ethics concerns arise).
Well, that's just as well, since it's not the good professor who makes a hash of it in this thread

Originally Posted by eight bits View Post
As it happens, however, vicarious practice is effective in acquiring this skill, probably because it so closely resembles "actually being/doing." But regardless of why, the effectiveness is a fact, which can be used to investigate the phenomenon experimentally,
I'm sure one could also train people to cough on demand and study that. It still wouldn't be an investigation of actual respiratory infections, nor deny its status of a symptom in such infections.

Originally Posted by eight bits View Post
even though it would be unethical to do so in a situation where a subject was persuaded that they were "actually being/doing" almost the same thing, with the same results.
Probably, but I don't think you could persuade someone to actually believe they're paranoid schizophrenic, for example. One key thing there is that those with actual schizophrenia think they aren't. A major problem for example is that people don't take their medicine precisely because "they're not crazy", or because the medicine makes those voices that made them feel special go away.

But be that as it may, then you're still just studying how a symptom can be faked, not the actual cases when it's an actual symptom. It may be for ethical reasons, and it may still be praise-worthy that people stop short of crossing such ethical boundaries, but then basically they're still just studying someone taught to fake a symptom, not someone actually having it.

Originally Posted by eight bits View Post
If anything, you are simply emphasizing what the difference so often actually is: the information available to the person about the nature of what they are "being/doing." Missing information and dissembled or otherwise false information will reliably lead rational people to mistaken conclusions.
I'd say that it remains to be proven whether that's what makes the difference, or rather, how much of the cases it accounts for.

It still seems to me like a patient's lack of an academic degree doesn't prevent them from being diagnosed with other delusions. The fact that someone doesn't have the knowledge to know why it's absurd to assume that billboards and TV news anchors are sending secret messages to/about them, doesn't prevent us from diagnosing people with delusions of reference.

Originally Posted by eight bits View Post
Then it seems incorrectly. My case is that rational people resolve uncertainties according to the information available to them, something over which one individual may have less control than another. It follows that healthy rational people will sometimes draw conclusions that disagree with a healthy someone else's equally rationally held personal opinions.
That's a bit of a truism. It still doesn't say exactly why can you jump in a talk about people thinking God talks to them, and think that someone else's faking the symptom adds anything relevant.

Even granting that, yes, sane people do reach different conclusions from different data, it doesn't mean I'm going to think my pal Jake is anything but delusional when he thinks the world's led by a cabal of people so rich that they somehow slid upwards off the top X richest people lists, and they're onto him specifically. In fact, he's not going to a psychiatrist because he thinks the psychiatrists want to kill him. (True case, sadly.) One would first have to show how that would follow from any sane kind of data or reasoning, before we can just shrug and file it under different people reaching different conclusions.

Same here. One would have to first show how the heck does it count as anything else but delusional, if one thinks he's genuinely hearing God talking to him, even under the most common cultural stereotypes and baseline knowledge. THEN we can file it under different people reaching different conclusions.

Originally Posted by eight bits View Post
No, it's mistaking it for the real thing when you have enough accurate and relevant information, and the computation cost of using the information is low enough compared to the cost of making a classification mistake, that makes a mistake a candidate for being delusional.
We could split hairs about that, but it still wouldn't change the fact that someone who doesn't hold the false belief doesn't qualify for the delusion either. Moving the bar higher for who qualifies for it, doesn't change the fact that at the other end, someone who doesn't have the false belief isn't qualifying anyway. Basically it's like splitting hairs about whether someone qualifies as a midget at 3 ft tall or 4 ft tall, while what was actually being said is that someone 6 ft tall isn't a midget. It's a red herring at best, for what I was actually saying.
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Old 24th January 2013, 03:56 PM   #37
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Hans

Quote:
Well, that's another "sorry, nope" case. You jumped into a conversation that pretty much had nothing to do with the thread title -- yes, it was a derail, I confess -- and tried to shoehorn it into something that would have to do with WTH you want to talk about, without rhyme, reason, or apparently even deciding exactly which mold you're trying to shoehorn it into.
The current thread is about a popular article written by an academic researcher who has an opinion which is different from yours. We who post here might well discuss that professor's work, including how it relates to the larger body of human knowledge.

To do so is not shoehorning in on your private bandwidth. The other poster's report of how she would react to a hypothetical "burning bush" event was completely on-topic, as was your medicalization of such experiences, as was my dissent from both your view and some of hers, with the reservation that her policy is rationally admissible, even though I disagree with it.

That is my view, and it stands independent of who first raised the possibility that her policy might be rationally inadmissible or otherwise unattractive because of some of its consequences. Perhaps you really do see no relationship between questioning whether something implies craziness, as the title does, and exploring what is rational to do in the circumsatnces which the title asks about. I do see a relationship, and will post accordingly.

It also appears that you and I intractably disagree about the value of studying experimentally a phenomenon which has been observed in anthopological field work. Obviously, the experimental model will differ from the wild occurence. First, that is rather the point of competent experimental design, and second, ethics prevents reproducing the phenomenon without obtaining informed consent and scrupulously performing a duty to care.

That neither of those constraints binds in, say, religious hucksterism in no way diminishes the value of studying the skills and cognitive capabilities which the hucksters exploit. That remains true even if the exploitative aspects must remain outside the lab. That's my view; other views are possible.

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Old 24th January 2013, 05:57 PM   #38
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Hearing the voice isn't the crazy part. The crazy part is actually believing the Master Of The Universe would actually bother to talk to one of us. Anything He might say would be no more than baby talk from His prospective, and entirely beneath His dignity. And a waste of time. If He wanted to influence our behavior, He could simply influence our behavior directly, without resorting to baby talk to talk us into it.
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Old 25th January 2013, 02:13 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by eight bits View Post
It also appears that you and I intractably disagree about the value of studying experimentally a phenomenon which has been observed in anthopological field work. Obviously, the experimental model will differ from the wild occurence. First, that is rather the point of competent experimental design, and second, ethics prevents reproducing the phenomenon without obtaining informed consent and scrupulously performing a duty to care.
Again, that may be ethical and all, but one must first show how many people are just learning to fake the symptoms, before acting as if it explains everyone who has them. I mean, it could also be careful experiment design to study people learning to cough on demand, and it would be unethical to just give them a pneumonia instead, but nevertheless there are a few more steps before one can act as if the fact that one can cough on demand can be used interchangeably with actual people with pneumonia in a discussion. Just because some learn to fake a symptom, doesn't mean you can basically jump in a talk about pneumonia and act as if you can just replace that with people coughing on demand. Nor can you here just act as if you can simply replace paranoid schizophrenia with people teaching themselves to hallucinate, as if they were equivalent. There are a few more steps needed before you can do that.

You need to show inclusion in both directions before they're equivalent, not just in one direction.

Originally Posted by eight bits View Post
That neither of those constraints binds in, say, religious hucksterism in no way diminishes the value of studying the skills and cognitive capabilities which the hucksters exploit. That remains true even if the exploitative aspects must remain outside the lab. That's my view; other views are possible.
But you first need to show that indeed that's what those hucksters did. Concluding that everyone hearing gods taught themselves to, just because it's possible to, is akin to concluding that everyone who coughs taugh themselves to, just because it's possible to. It's illogical nonsense to do that, until you have data showing that indeed there is an inclusion in that direction.

In fact, it even has a name. It's the fallacy of the undistributed middle. It looks like this:


1. All Zs are Bs
2. Y is a B
3. Therefore, Y is a Z

E.g.,

1. All students carry backpacks.
2. My grandfather carries a backpack.
3. Therefore, my grandfather is a student.

Or in our case:

1. All people who taught themselves to hallucinate God are hallucinating God.
2. My neighbour is hallucinating God.
3. Therefore, my neighbour is one of those who taught themselves to hallucinate God.

Do you understand that? It's a textbook fallacy to do that. You have an undistributed middle there. You can't just act as if obviously the religious nutcases are doing that, just because it's possible to do that.

And that said, kindly stop acting as if I were obviously talking about a group that's connecting only by that fallacy to what I was actually talking about. The whole 'but all those students can't be that' is implicitly assuming that that group of students are equivalent, but you haven't shown that at all. You can't act as if I'm talking about those, when actually so far you've never even shown that they're equivalent, much less that I know them as equivalent in my argument.

In fact, so far nobody even showed overlap between those learning that skill and those actually claiming genuine messages from God, much less equivalence. You know that some people can fake it, but you haven't even shown that any of those actually take it seriously. Yes, ethics, bla, bla, bla, but nevertheless the result is that you're missing some data even to claim overlap. It's plausible that there is overlap, but then it's also plausible that I have a sister, yet I don't. Just being plausible doesn't mean it's supported.
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Old 25th January 2013, 02:20 AM   #40
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That said, it occurs to me that I've been going in an irrelevant direction with this debate anyway. Here, let me amend the original statement, to include your group of students:
That we have a God that only speaks to epileptics and schizophrenics, substance abusers, and people putting their own words in God's mouth one way or another... well, that kinda IS a sign. And not in the right direction.
I think the highlighted addition covers your group that learned to hallucinate, and a few more. Happy now?

And it still makes my point just the same.
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