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RogueScholar

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RogueScholar last won the day on June 19 2016

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About RogueScholar

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    Skeptic

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    Male
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    Health Care, Science, Education, Outdoors, Mountain Biking
  • More About Me
    I teach allied health sciences and I just completed graduate level studies that focus on pharmacological science in May of 2015.

Previous Fields

  • Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?
    No

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  1. The Ganzfeld experiments that the author heavily relies on have been the target of much scrutiny. An honest assessment of the methods and potential pitfalls in these experiments should uncover concerns. A couple of abstracts of articles that point out some of the issues with these studies: https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Fa0019457 https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0153049 Additionally, other experiments have been done with null results. At this time, telepathy evidence is dodgy at best and not subject to replication.
  2. Good day all. My apologies for the leave of absence. The college has been crazy and I've been working my way through the many committees that will approve or deny my application for tenure. Not to mention I've had a significant teaching load over the past year as our divisions transition and my direct management retires and is replaced by newer and less established folks. This is a tricky issue to discuss because it's so inherently subjective and very difficult to quantify. We've certainly been able to associate perfusion to areas of neuron cell bodies using contemporary imaging methodologies (fMRI) however. So, we know there are certainly changes in the brain that are well correlated to alterations in perception. Additionally, we have good methods for reliably reproducing phenomena that most would describe as hallucinatory or visual. First, we must understand the term "vision" or "hallucination" is very tricky to pin down. This can have several dimensions that cover all the classical senses (touch, taste, smell, vision and so on). However, more interesting may be the alteration in perception that results in reports of highly bizarre experiences. Concepts such as ego death are very interesting and don't fit into the classical narrative of having a vision. In the spirit of disclosure, I will say that I've had a fair amount of experience with substances that are well known to cause perceptual alterations (mescaline, Peyote, DMT and Ayahuasca) over the past couple of years. Many of my experiences have been incredibly harrowing and difficult symbolic journeys of discovery. With that said, we must be incredibly careful about concluding these experiences have anything definitive to say about how the universe can be studied and understood. Unfortunately, in the times of antiquity I can understand how someone could use such an experience to develop a framework for viewing the universe (religion). Likewise, experiences of perceptual alteration are being examined with increasingly serious rigour and tentatively look to be associated with positive attributes such as rescuing people from severe states of depression, releaving the existencial anxiety associated with life threatening illness, treating PTSD and possibly treating certain types of substance abuse.
  3. A hypothesis is more like an "educated guess." A theory is a large framework that typically explains phenomena. Therefore, you can test the predictions that a theory makes. This is what makes theories so powerful. It is in their ability to reliably predict and explain. Do you now understand? Theories explain and furthermore, theories make predictions. We are constantly attempting to test theories to see where they break down or make predictions that do not comport with what is actually observed. For example, the general theory of relativity makes exceptionally powerful and exact predictions. One prediction is that light will bend around massive objects. This prediction was verified during an eclipse when star light was observed to "bend" around the sun. This is now known as gravitational lensing and is observed around galaxies and other objects. Do you see? There is no educated guess involved. The theory makes a prediction and we can test and observe said prediction. Another example is quantum mechanics. The fundamental equation of quantum mechanics, the Schrodinger equation predicts very precise energy levels of electrons in Hydrogen atoms. I can take a Hydrogen atom, excite it with electricity and cause the electrons to jump to higher energy levels. As the electrons fall to lower energy levels, they give off light. The wavelengths of the light had better be at the exact energies that quantum mechanics predicts or the theory is wrong. Guess what? The predictions and what we see agree to an astonishing accurate degree. In fact, a relativistic treatment of quantum mechanics reveals super fine structure to these energy levels. As an aside, my avatar is a picture of a particular set of atomic transitions known as the Balmer series that I took in my lab back when I taught undergraduate biophysics to allied health students. I hope you now understand just how powerful a theory is? It is the ability for a theory to make predictions that can be tested that fundamentally sets it apart from other concepts that fall under the umbrella of "science."
  4. My advisor in graduate school was a pharmD and is a publishing powerhouse. He's an expert in statistics and developing pharmacokinetic models. I would have been hopelessly lost without his guidance as I did my research, particularly when it came to developing a research protocol and navigating the institutional review board, not to mention the quantative analysis of my data. I most certainly would not be published without his help and to give even more credit to him, he allowed me to publish as the corresponding author of the research even though he was the principal investigator. I'm currently working on a project with a PharmD who teaches the primary pharmacology curriculum at a medical school and has published multiple studies on the use of metallic nanoparticles as novel mechanisms for drug delivery. As as already stated, the concept of "scientist" is highly nuanced and not necessarily dependent on a specific degree.
  5. This was something I have pointed out to a deeply religious family member. His retort is "Satan is a deceiver and makes everything look like that." With an argument like that, I simply do not see the need to waste additional time and energy attempting to engage in dialogue with any hope of rational discourse or intellectual honesty.
  6. Had a few experiences in high school that were horrible. Cannot stand the smell of anything containing ethanol, let alone drink ethanol containing beverages, so I'm a complete non-drinker.
  7. RogueScholar

    Thoughts

    Jon, what evidence do you have for these claims? I've already replied to a similar question in another thread. You posit that thoughts and voices come from some "spirit realm." However, we can take people who are hallucinating and psychotic and give them medications that block serotonin and dopamine receptors. In many of these folks, these hallucinations are able to be controlled by said medications. A couple times a year I take large doses of a plant that contains mescaline. I've had incredibly hallucinatory experiences; however, once the mescaline is metabolised and eliminated, these experiences resolve. This sort of experience is common and is being studied in great detail. We even have great fMRI studies of how these substances are associated with neurophysiological changes. However, there's no evidence pointing toward the existence of the devil and his spirit realm. The devil doesn't need to convince me he doesn't exist as there's not even enough evidence to convince me that he does exist.
  8. RogueScholar

    voices

    Are you talking about auditory hallucinations? We have good ideas. Blocking dopamine and serotonin receptors in the brain is a very effective way of treating them in many people. Additionally, administering drugs that agonise these receptors can cause hallucinations. A particularly well studied concept is that of the serotonin 2A (5-HT-2A) receptor. There have been studies where we administer drugs that block these receptors then administer drugs that agonise these receptors. In these cases, hallucinations did not occur or were significantly attenuated due to the blocked 5HT-2A receptors that could not respond to the addition of the hallucinatory agent. You see where all the evidence points Jon? As is the case with much of life, a robust mechanism may not be elucidated, but a large amount of evidence points toward certain conclusions. Said conclusions do not support your notions about how the universe works. How woud an intellectually honest person approach the topic at hand?
  9. Jon, particles don't "notice" being "watched." Unfortunately, we do folks a great disservice when oversimplifying processes with language that is marginally accurate in a qualitative sense let alone anything a bit more quantitatively robust. When we make "observations" of systems this small, we need to interact with those systems using high energy light and other techniques that may use electromagnetic fields. It is this interaction with the system that causes a change in the results. There's no "magic," it's simply do to the fact that to "see" the electron, we need to interact with it and said interaction changes the outcome.
  10. Ninety+ posts, four+ pages, multiple attempts to take a qualitative but nuanced approach toward important concepts that stem from and revolve around probability and what some folks decide to take away is that BAA has a faith based belief system around the unsupported claim that science will reveal "all?" This is astonishing and I cannot help but think this is why those of us who are involved in doing actual science (albeit, a limited number of published papers with my name attached) have not really engaged in this discussion. Clearly, it would have been a waste of time IMHO. BAA, is your inbox full?
  11. Pantheism may pertain to a spectrum of beliefs and you'll likely find individuals who identify with certain nuances. I am not sure about any "spiritual energy," but I can see how someone can hold beliefs that could be considered pantheistic and still have an intellectually honest overall world view. In in a certain sense, I could identify with a pantheistic type of view where the entire universe is "divine" without any specific, personal god that exists separate from the world and actively intervenes with the day to day affairs of said universe. In essence, I can see how someone could identify with the "god of Spinoza" and see beauty, order and wonder as it permeates the entire universe. One thing that I've come to realise is that it's often limiting to attemp to box yourself into a certain "camp." It seems we humans are often desperate to cling onto some label; however, once you start using labels, you sometimes take on all the intellectual and social baggage associated with said label. Sometimes this also leaves out the possibility of nuance in the eyes of some. Of course, I believe I have identified as an agnostic atheist on this site and that label has its own baggage, but I need not let it if I'm willing to self reflect and drill down into my beliefs. This is why I'm able to say that certain pantheistic interpretations resonate with me even though the atheist label has been attached to me. Therefore, to answer your question about death you need to understand that not all pantheistic leaning folks will give you the same answer. This is true of many other folks with different labels. I will say that the most intellectually honest answer at this time is a strong and definitive "I don't know." The persuit of "spirituality" is an important endeavour IMHO, but there's a lot of uncertainty in this universe and perhaps the most important thing we can do is develop some degree of comfort with being uncertain and having some (most) of the "big" questions go unanswered.
  12. I was thirty and struggling through both a back injury and the early stages of deconversion. I gained a significant amount of weight and was absolutely miserable. Some years later, I stopped feeling sorry for myself and took up endurance mountain biking. Now, I'm competing in races and consistently doing better than folks twenty years my junior. You can regroup and become a beast in your thirties and forties. You may need to be smarter about diet and workout routines but it's absolutely doable and this is anecdotal but extreme endurance feats seem to be associated with "older" folks. I don't know but maybe with age and experience we know how to suffer and grind through prolonged physical challenges a bit better? One of my mentors is in his mid 60's and the guy is a freak animal that has no qualms about 20+ mile wilderness rides and will climb up trails that make lesser men like me break down and sob with self doubt and discomfort. He tore his meniscus less than two months ago, had surgery and is already planning on leading a 30+ mile adventure ride in the next week. As already stated, it's not too late man. Also, one thing I've come to realise is that it's not about quantity but quality. I'm in great shape but sometimes I ride like an asshole, so this possibly increases my risk of death. Also, I could have a massive stroke or heart attack tomorrow. Better yet, I could get run over or die in car crash on the way to work. Perhaps that itching in my arm is a rapidly metastasising lymphatic cancer? Point being, my quality of life has been awesome over the past years and I feel I've lived dozens of lives worth of experience so even if my days are limited, at least I've had an incredible ride. Best of luck!
  13. Hey guys, I'd be very careful about strictly adhering to ideas. Unfortunately, when talking about matter and how matter is described, we often use analogies like waves and vibrations to develop an intuitive sense of things. However, when you really drill down into things, intuition really breaks down. In fact, the literal mathematical solutions for phenomena such as electrons in atoms are often in the form of functions that are complex and at their core, use imaginary numbers such as i (the square root of -1). What does this literally mean? Well, that's not easy to answer, but if we multiply these solutions by their complex conjugates, we get a real solution that when plotted, very accurately represents the probability density of said phenomena when integrated over a certain volume of space. These probability density plots plots can be thought of as having wave like characteristics and certainly, the fundamental equation of quantum mechanics is a sort of modified wave equation. Regarding atoms feeling solid: The statistical framework used to describe certain phenomena such as electrons (Fermi-Dirac statistics) point to a fundamental principle known as the Pauli Exclusion Principle that roughly states no two electrons can have the exact same quantum state. This is why only a certain number of electrons can be placed in specific energy levels within atoms. This can also create a kind of pressure when two electrons are brought too close to each other. Some may say electrical charge interactions are responsible for matter having solid characteristics but often, placing atoms close to one and other, may very well make said atoms more willing to bond due to electrical interactions that cause unequal charge distribution. An example of this is something known as London dispersion forces. Perhaps another way to think about the atom is that it's an object or phenomenon that contains many different "force fields." Again, we must be careful about how literal we take this model. How does this relate to the topic of the thread? I think the best answer is that it's not known. There are still many fundamental problems yet to be solved that something as difficult as consciousness is likely a ways off.
  14. This is; unfortunately, a highly complicated discussion filled with nuance. One big issue is concerning the concept of "motion." Most of what I have seen on this topic makes it seem like systems at ground state lack any motion. This is simply not accurate. Even assuming we could cool something to absolute zero, which does not seem possible, there would still be motion. For example, electrons in atoms cooled to near absolute zero in a ground state configuration still have motion as they move around the nucleus of the atom that said electrons are associated with. This is sometimes called zero point energy/motion and is due to a complicated and highly non intuitive quantum mechanical concept known as the Heisenburg uncertainty principle. One thing to remember is this motion just happens and doesn't really need time to define it. It is what we call time independent. In fact, the equation used to describe ground state atoms that are not interacting with other atoms is known as the time independent Schrodinger equation. What appears to be going on here is very different but like the concept of zero point motion, involves quantum mechanics. Subatomic particles have a property known as spin. Unfortunately, there is no way of intuitively describing what spin is. Some may look at it like a spinning planet, but that analogy is incorrect. Spin, in some sense, is a kind of angular momentum. With electrons, they can have of of two spin states. This can either be spin up or spin down. What has been done in this case is to take a collection of Ytterbium ions and place them in a circular configuration using magnetic fields. The Ytterbium ions as I understand have an extra electron (ion = atom that has gained extra electrons or lost electrons) and this extra electron can be put into a specific spin state using lasers. The spin states of the electrons in the ion ring are alternated: up, down, up, down and so on. Then, it was observed that the spin states began to oscillate. Basically, one atom would cause the spin state of an adjacent atom/ion to flip and this cycle would continue ad infinitum. Interestingly, it was observed that the time it took for these spin state changes to occur was longer than expected. This is explained by a violation of time symmetry and that the system was time dependent and exhibiting "motion" that was in a sense, depending only on time. That's the general gist of it and I'm well aware that my reply leads to many more questions. I'm not sure that good answers are available using the limited medium of a message board and the understanding that most of us lack (myself included) the educational framework to dive into complex conversations, but hopefully this reply was helpful on some level.
  15. It was in the autumn of 1997 after completing some military training that I found my self driving home in my 1985 Impala. After tuning into the local late night radio station, an amazing song assaulted my ears. It went by the name of "Ain't Going to Goa." It would take a great deal of searching to find the name of the band but eventually I did. One of the greatest bands in existence, still putting out that sweet, pretty, country, acid, house music all night long with a new album "Blues" to tantilise our senses!
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