Skepticism

Wednesday, January 19th, 2000

YOU ARE CURRENTLY SEEING BLOG POSTS IN PROPER CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER. While in this mode, the links at the bottom and top of each page are not correctly labeled. However, the left pointing arrow always advances forward in time, and the right pointing arrow retreats.

Skepticism given pause

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

I was born a skeptic.  I’m the opposite of a conspiracy theorist, and  I don’t ever believe this sort of thing.

Not that I believe it now.  The existence of immortals in the world certainly  hasn’t been proved true.  Far from it. But it’s been proved possibly true.  And as much as my skeptic’s heart ridicules the entire theory, my reason tells me I have to consider it.

On this blog, then, my contributions shall record the progress of our investigations as seen from a thoroughly skeptical perspective.   I hope (but do not quite trust) that we soon shall show this all to be nonsense.

– Stephen

A natural phenomenon, certainly

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

I hasten to add that I don’t mean to suggest there are supernatural beings in the world. Rather, it is simply the case that there is an “aging clock” built into organisms that makes them get old on a certain schedule depending on the species. A mutation might shut down the clock. Such a person would grow to maturity, and from then on have the appearance of someone in their mid-20s forever. (That is to say, unless they are injured.)

I’m going to interview some biologists to get more information on this essential topic, which I will post soon. — Stephen

Just for the record.

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Just for the record, I personally don’t believe in any of the “conspiracies” my friend Glenn talks about.  And that’s with or without the people we’re calling “Immortals.”

I’ve never fully understood the fascination with conspiracy theories. Sometimes it seems that people just want to believe in them.  However,  I suppose that (like Stephen Pinker and Richard Dawkins often say  in the context of religion) the human mind is such a good pattern detector that it sees patterns even when they aren’t there.  In the case of conspiracy theories, there’s also what I call “misplaced puzzle solving.”  It’s as if people want to be mathematicians, but apply that natural human desire in the wrong place. Mathematics is all about solving intricate puzzles and finding subtle patterns.  Conspiracy theorists use the same mental skill in a place where there are no puzzles to be solved and no patterns to be found.

Finally, on the subject of “immortals,” I want to say that we don’t have any reason to think these people we’re tracking are immortal. They just don’t age normally.  I’m sure they don’t actually live all that long.  Disease, accident and plain bad luck would catch them up eventually. — Stephen

The round world made flat

Thursday, March 11th, 2010


The mind works that way from birth,

in some people.

The ocean is tossed water,

The stars bare bulbs.

But they keep us honest / and so we love them. — Kate

Imaginary Patterns

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

The above is a photograph of a tree near my house.  Doesn’t it look as if the branches curve around the lamp? But that ‘s an illusion.  Seeing concentric highlights from the lamp, the mind imagines concentric branches.

The mind imagines conspiracies in much the same way. — Stephen



Skepticism given pause (again)

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

On a personal note, various things today have given my skepticism pause: What Flyss saw at the factory site. That  latest hidden message.  And even (though it makes no rational sense that I should be affected by it*) Glenn’s anagram post.

I’ve always found conspiracy theories laughable. But if you read immortal people into the stories, they no longer seem so ridiculous at all.  – Stephen

*It makes no rational sense because there are literally dozens of intelligible anagrams of “Trilateral Commission.” Nonetheless …

Not necessarily

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

I’m not convinced it would work that way.  You mention the capacity to manipulate possessed by other great leaders/politicians of history.  But such great manipulators are selected by Darwinian forces out of vast populations. Maybe only one person in a million is a Franklin Delano Roosevelt; only one in a hundred million is a Napoleon.

On the other hand, there are likely only a handful of people who don’t age. The laws of statistics suggest that they are otherwise mediocre people.  This has always been a problem faced by ruling elites. One simply can’t count on a brilliant monarch having brilliant offspring. For every Queen Elizabeth there’s a King George, dull-witted, unimaginative, incompetent, ultimately fatal to the needs of his own class. Even with all his inherited advantages of wealth, education, connections and prestige, he was unable to control the upstarts overseas. —  Stephen

It seems like you’re giving yourself way too much leeway

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

I don’t know … it seems to me that you’re giving yourself enough wiggle room to arrive at almost any interpretation.  – Stephen

I’m not sure which shocks me more

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

I’m not sure which disturbs me more: that you doubt me, or that you doubt rationality itself.

No, that’s not true.  It’s only reasonable that you should consider alternate  possibilities about the nature of my personal agendas and loyalties. You’ve never met me in person, nor has anyone you know. A rational, intelligent being should always interrogate their own assumptions.

But to doubt rationality itself — to seriously consider supernatural explanations of the world — to allow, even hypothetically, that there might be such creatures as vampires — to wonder whether you were only persuaded of skeptical materialism when under the temporary influence of my (for lack of a better word)  charisma — I had thought you were much too intelligent for that. — Stephen

Paths to immortality

Friday, July 9th, 2010

As I mentioned in my last post, I am confident that physical immortality (more accurately: indefinite lifespan) is on its way. In this and my next few posts, I intend to sketch out how I see this happening.

To begin, I am laying aside all “theories” that involve achieving immortality by changing one’s attitude. These seem to be incredibly popular, even accepted as true, on many websites devoted to life extension. I don’t mean to be impolite, but these ideas are absurd Among numerous objections, it seems implausible that modern people are more spiritual than the ancients. Rather, I regard these as an extension of the “New Thought” movements that began in the late 19th century. Some of the earlier forms include Religious Science, the Unity Church, and, in a way, Christian Science. It seems that Deepak Chopra is responsible for their recent resurgence in a slightly new guise. I shall not get started on Chopra.

I’m also laying aside all “theories” that involve eating a special healthy diet and/or taking supplements. In my opinion, this is a dead end. I would be happy to discuss this at length, but right now I will move on to what I see as genuine. (Continued in my next post.) — Stephen

Mechanistic view of the universe

Friday, July 9th, 2010

To continue my last post:

I shall now  turn to what I believe is a broadly realistic path to physical immortality. It involves no magic, but a lot of hard work; it is based on a purely mechanistic view of the universe; it builds on the discoveries of a field that has perhaps just moved out of its infancy: Medicine.

To those who don’t believe in a purely mechanistic view of the world, I would say, which method do you use for communicating long distance, psychic powers or a cellphone? The technology in a cell phone involves scientific discoveries so sophisticated that the average person would have to spend a lifetime learning the background to be able to understand, but it is purely mechanistic. (Contrary to what Deepak Chopra says, quantum mechanics, used extensively in everyone’s little cell phone, is a fully mechanistic approach to the universe. It is only those who do not use QM in their daily lives who think that it is magic.)

The magic that there is in developing paths to physical immortality involves the only variety of magic commonly found in science: the fruit of hard, dull, painstaking work. For, what scientists do is mostly dull, repetitive and slow moving. There are breakthroughs, but each one depends on hundreds of entire lives devoted to work that proves a dead end. No surprise, then, that people want magic instead. How much nicer than hard work!

But hard work is leading us to the brink of actuarial escape velocity, and that really will feel like magic! (continued in my next post) — Stephen

Too far out on a limb

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

As frequent readers of this site know, I am by nature highly skeptical. This has advantages and disadvantages; some, in fact, seem to regard it as almost a type of inborn psychological disorder.

Be that as it may, I cannot help viewing a number of recent posts with a skeptical eye.

I have no objection to JD’s analysis, for here we are analyzing the symbolic resonances of a symbol that a group has chosen for its emblem. This is a matter of poetic understanding, not deduction. But the attempt at a deductive train beginning here seems to me much too loose.

The decorative gate that begins the thread is a common enough style. I once owned a very similar one myself. That it should be taken to indicate a tunnel is far fetched, as even Flyss admits.. And while I do agree that the isolated rock it leads is charming, the carving found on it looks to me like no more than graffiti. Even if it does contain a snake, that snake looks little like the ouroboros. Furthermore, In JD’s analysis, the ouroboros was only a symbolic resonance of the Illuminati symbol. However, it is an explicit component of many other symbols. What justification is there for deciding it references the emblem of the Blue&black?

No disrespect meant, but I think we have gone too far out on a limb here! — Stephen