The real problem with first hand experience

Discussion in 'SCIENTIFIC and ANECDOTAL research' started by fiziwig, Oct 26, 2005.

  1. fiziwig

    fiziwig moderator emeritus

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    There are some things that cannot be proven to another person, but have to be experienced to be understood. You can't explain "green" to someone who has never seen anything of that color. The person has to be shown something green so he can experience it for himslef.

    The real problem with that is what I've seen happen on numerous occaisions to careful and objective researchers in the fields of spirituality, parapsychology, or any other subject frowned upon by "conventional" science. For example, suppose that meditators make the claim that it is possible to experience pure consciousness, or consciousness without content. Main-stream psychology says this is not possible, but any experienced meditator knows that it is possible. But if a respected main-stream psychologist takes the time and effort to learn the proper meditation techniques, and then experiences pure consciousness for himself, his colleagues immediately respond with something to the effect that "Old Joe has gone mystical on us. Clearly we can't believe a word he says any more. He's lost his grip on reality." or, if "old Joe" is getting up there in years they will likely blame is obvious senility, or the fact that as he gets older he has become frightened by the approach his own mortality as is turning to squishy fantasies to calm his fears.

    Like that defining moment in "Dances With Wolves" when the soldier looks at Kevin Costner and says "You turned Injun, didn't you?", once our distinguished professor of psychology (or physics, or philosophy, or...) experiences what convention says he cannot experience, the establishment is through with him. He is branded an outcast and a traitor. And as long as that mind set persists then mainstream science will never even admit to the existence of common phenomena that anyone can experience if he or she invests a little time in pursuing those personal experiences.

    It's really sad to see mainstream academia being left further and further behind as the spiritual frontiers are explored by the "traitors" and "outcasts". What is even sadder is to see those from the main-stream trying (with the best of intentions, I might add) to convince us "traitors" and "outcasts" just how foolish we are for believing what we have experienced first hand. If only they would take the time to explore the possibilities for themselves. But of course to do so would be to risk becoming an outcast, and in science, consensus is king, conformity is law, and the illusion of certainty is the security blanket they all wrap themselves in.
     
  2. tommcfearsom

    tommcfearsom Senior Registered

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    Flight

    Hello Fiziwig
    I was born and raised in Ohio. The Wright brothers were told that they would never fly. They patiently made scientific insights changing the engineering tables of Otto Lilienthal ( the leading expert on flight of the day. They were told that a scientist in Washington with the backing of a military contract was better positioned to acheive flight first, if at all. By intuition and hard work they solved the problem of yawl, pitch and roll thru balance and wing warping (a method that many flight enigneers are now returning to). By looking at nature and seeing how a bird could move its feathers they saw the means that led to the modern air foil. Interestingly there was a documentary on PBS about the flight of a Leonardo Da Vinci flyer using the same insight developed centuries before.

    I think that the forums subject material on reincarnation is part of the natural world and will eventually be accepted by traditional science when we under go a natural paradigm shift from the cumlative force of evidence that science has already gathered(there are some very impressive meta-analysis of NDE,Ganzfelt ect). In the mean I think private experience, evidence and anceldotal evidence consitute a legitament means for the invidual to come to insights on spiritual matters for themselves and others of their peers. The standard of " Truth is an Idea that Works". is high enough for Spirituallity at this time for the private individual, eventually (and perhaps already) it will meet the "Truth is an Idea the Works as described". I have seen the One White Crow a long time ago:)."Science is the Scribe that documents what God already knows"
    Yours Truly
    John R.
     
  3. Chelle

    Chelle Probationary

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    Very true. If we look through history, it has always been the outcasts or nonconformists that have made the big strides in science and other academic fields, not the mainstream academia types. That hasn't changed. To this day it is still the outcasts and nonconformists who revolutionize our world with new discoveries.

    The other problem is that different fields of, say science, don't want to work together. Perhaps it's because they are always competing for funding so they carry that over into their professional relationships with each other, but it seems to me that it takes more than one part to make the whole.

    It doesn't make sense (at least to anyone with an ounce of true logic) that the research that is considered "paranormal" has to go well beyond what would be considered "enough" research in any other field. Much in the "paranormal" fields have been "proven" by the same scientific methods used in other fields with far more evidence than many of those fields, yet mainstream science still rejects that research. Obviously mainstream scientists are just as guilty of rejecting evidence that contradicts their theories as the theoligians are. :rolleyes: Okay I'm done ranting now. Thanks for posting that, fiziwig. :thumbsup:
     
  4. Rod

    Rod Senior Registered

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    True enough, but...

    Fiziwig,

    You have, as usual, made a useful obervation. I agree with much of what you say and what Chelle point out about the higher standards of proof required for "paranormal" research. However, this problem should not be insurmountable.

    Toward the end of improving relations between the "reincarnation community" and "science", I would posit the following:

    1. Our differences are not insoluable. Some "paranormal" occurences, even if true, may never be proveable. Reincarnation, however, involves cases where people gain specific a priori knowledge of the events surrounding the life of another in an earlier time. Sufficient proof of this would show, at minimum, a sequence of events inexplicable by convential means.

    2. Many who have an interest in reincarnation developed it though "new age" or "paranormal" or religious inclinations which do not seek truth through logic and science, but rather on faith and perceptions. Others have stumbled into a reincarnative interest because of personal experiences. The former group may be fundamentally incompatible with scientists due to epistemological differences; the later will be more representative of the population at large. When science and the first group must communicate, each should attempt compromise and understanding of the other's needs. (e.g. A person with a case should refrain from adding his own guesses about astrology, while a scientist should frame explanations in terms that are readily understood by those with the experiences.)

    3. We all need to separate fact, theory, and opinion. When discussing what has happened, start with the specifics of what was observed, then clearly note any assumptions, then cotinue with any conclusions.

    4. Don't accuse scientists of being "way behind" because they do not embrace the reality of reincarnation. The body of scientific research and evidence is compelling, but not sufficiently large to create any widespread acceptance of past lives or life beyond bodily death. Only when this is resolved will the larger scientific community study the details of how, when, where, etc.

    5. Let's not get hung up on terms. You may have a personal bias against some words or phrases such as "reincarnation", "past life", "soul", etc. We don't care! I am sorry to be so blunt, but it is easy to spend time and energy on whether the part of you that survives death and goes on should be called a "soul", or whether alternative lifetimes follow a time sequence, etc. that we avoid the real questions of proving the obervable and learing the mechanics of how it works.

    6. It is okay to "filter." There are many cases that follow the same patterns, of a human having lived previously as a human in one or more non-simultaneous earthly lives. A few people insist that were cats, or aliens, or angels, or groups, etc. We need to analyse the common variety of cases. Only after they are better understood and accepted can we even start to look for exceptions or special cases (many of which may be disproven or unsubstiantated by facts learned).

    7. Scientists need to consider the statistical levels of probability that are accepted as "proof" of other things and apply them to the data from reincarnation cases. Many commonly-accepted "facts" are only known from statistics -- looking at volumes of data to determine probabilities of an occurence. For example, one cannot prove individually that smoking causes lung cancer. However, one can find that out of an entire population smokers are 10 times more likely to deveop the condition. From this we conclude a strong correlation which we accept as fact, yet any individual smoker still may or may not ever develop health problems as a result. With a large-scale study of reincarnation cases it should be possible to show that patterns emerge that are almost infinately unlikely by random chance and to thus conclude reincarnation is a fact.

    ...Rod
     
  5. Kimba W. Lion

    Kimba W. Lion disguised as a human

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    I found it interesting that those promoting their "scientific" viewpoints often accuse those such as us of turning to religion to support our ideas of spiritual matters. I found religion--specifically, Christianity, since that was my background--completely closed to the phenomena I experienced. Apparently I'm a traitor to them as well, "deceived by the Devil" as I am.

    So apparently we are outcasts from the two largest, opposing factors in our society, materialism and religion. And this hampers progress on these subjects, since people who have first-hand experiences are usually unprepared to deal with them, and have no place to turn.

    Not that I really mind the "outcast" role, but it would be nice to be able to have a good face-to-face discussion on such matters once in a while...
     
  6. fiziwig

    fiziwig moderator emeritus

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    Rod,

    A terrific list of suggestions. I agree wholeheartedly.

    I would like to add that for real progress to be made in our understanding we have to more or less ignore the true believers from both extremes. The people who think they know everything because they took physics 101 in college won't be open to ideas that contradict what they feel so certain of, and likewise, the people who know all there is to know because they channel the ascended master Gumbaya from the planet Zeta-Beta-Crouton, not only give the whole field a bad name by making a laughing stock of themselves (and us by association), but also refuse to consider any ideas that are contrary to what they hold so dear.

    It takes the kind of person who is willing to be considered a crackpot by the skeptics, and to be considered a skeptic by the crackpots.

    I think that's the essence of what Kimba said about being outcasts in both camps.
     
  7. tanguerra

    tanguerra Moderator Emeritus

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    I was having this exact conversation the other day when the 'r' word came up in a discussion, as it has a way of doing lately. One fellow was saying. '"Oh, pooh pooh! Reincarnation, what a lot of bosh!" etc. etc. My friend X was there and he suggested to the fellow that I had an opinion on this subject...


    I put it to him that the scientific method, (hypothesis, experimentation, repeatability, and so on) is a terrific tool for working out what is going on in the material world, but not much use for matters in the 'immaterial' world. Of course, he did not believe there was anything other than the material world which started a whole other discussion!


    "Prove it!" he kept crying.


    We went on to have a lengthy debate as to whether western science was the completely neutral intellectual tool that it is claimed to be by its adherents, or a rather heavily defended dogma. We discussed that there is no 'scientific proof' for reincarnation (although, actually there is quite a lot of evidence) because 'scientists' are not looking into it for fear of ridicule, on the whole.


    I did not convince him, but I made him think. :)
     
  8. johnpineal

    johnpineal Probationary

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    Green or not?

    That sometimes doesn't even work as far as past lives are concerned. Once I was recalling a past life as a woman and suddenly I realized that the colors were off. The greens were not green.


    It literally left me feeling shaky but I said there had to be some physical basis for it. I did research and found out that about half of the women have an extra rod and are tetrachromatic rather than trichromatic. They literally see colors differently than 'normal' people and I was one of them in a past life.


    It was most pronounced in the yellow regions. I see gold color as most men do and it's just an off yellow but not very different than yellow. When I was a woman in that previous life gold was a color by itself and very distinct. I guess I could say that I could have distinguished several times as many shades of red, yellow and green than I can in this life.


    It's been hypothesised that half the women developed this extra rod in order to help them find fruit and berries when we were hunter gatherers.
     
  9. Kirby

    Kirby New Member

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    Science is a neutral tool but the people who use it aren't always neutral themselves. The scientific method is very simple.


    1. Look at your experience.


    2. Make a hypothesis.


    3. Test.


    What's so objectionable to that? How does it not apply to the immaterial world?
     
  10. ButterflyPsyche

    ButterflyPsyche Senior Registered

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    In my opinion, the scientific method is definitely applicable to reincarnation, to a certain extent. The main problem with it, is that because it deals with souls, life and death, there is a huge amount of patience and waiting involved. In addition, we have to wait for the experiment in many ways, rather than schedule it on our terms.


    I agree with what Rod said:

    With researchers like Stevenson, Weiss and Bowman, slowly this idea is gaining ground.
     
  11. Indian

    Indian Senior Registered

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    I miss Fiziwig. Wonder where he went?


    I just watched a Google seminar on Youtube with a terriffic english scolar, Rupert Sheldrake, who was trained in the scientific method, but "turned Injun" while working on a project in India in the 70's.


    He has the integrity to stand up against the scientific establishment with heretic theories - and to top it off, experimental evidence to prove his points.


    When you have an hour and a half free, enjoy


    If you only have a few minutes to spare right now, have a look at his telephone telepathy experiment with the Nolan sisters:
     
  12. Phoenix

    Phoenix Forgot to play nice

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    Of course it does. I have a hypothesis regarding reincarnation. I prefer the scientific method, because I'm an atheist, and therefore none of the religious belief systems regarding reincarnation need apply.


    My hypothesis: Reincarnation Happens.


    It's not a belief, nor is it a proven fact. It is only my hypothesis. And thus far although I've found plenty of observable data that is suggestive of reincarnation, I've not managed to conclusively prove it. However, I've not found anything that can conclusively disprove it. And therefore, unless someone comes along with a way to conclusively prove that reincarnation doesn't happen, I'm accepting that reincarnation happens.


    Skepticism isn't disproof any more than Belief is proof.


    Phoenix
     
  13. Deborah

    Deborah Executive Director Staff Member

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    An interesting thread. ENJOY!
     
  14. dlorde

    dlorde Senior Registered

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    The hypothesis isn't open to disproof (i.e. isn't strictly scientific) until you have some means of falsifying it - i.e. something that would falsify not just an individual example/report, but the hypothesis itself.


    What do you suggest could/would falsify it and how would you test it? also, what would you accept as conclusive proof?


    AFAICS, the best we can do at present is to look at the quantity and quality of evidence for and against, and come to a personal conclusion about what the most plausible explanation is.
     
  15. Nightrain

    Nightrain Senior Registered

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    It seems to me that first-hand experience, when compared to scientifically-controlled experiments, can sometimes be thought of as the most dependable criteria that is physically possible within the framework of anything pertaining to the existence of extra-perceptual realities. The reason I suggest this pertains to actual experiments which cast doubt upon our perception of time and the intent of experimenters, which invariably affect the outcome of all investigations involving quantum mechanics.


    I happened upon this very interesting article by Dr. Robert Lanza, M.D., in the Huffington Post, entitled, "Is Death the End? Experiments Suggest You Create Time".


    If we base our reality on time and space, it is possible that we have immediately embarked upon a premise that is faulty, for experiments increasingly cast doubt on the existence of time as we know it.


    And, if we base our reality on the findings of scientists and experimenters, we may be overlooking that the very act of observation prevents things from changing at the quantum level, for The act of looking at an atom prevents it from changing.


    Of course, critics proclaim that what happens at the quantum level has nothing to do with what happens at our personal objective level. However, quantum behavior extends into the everyday realm, and can nudge into the ordinary world of human-scale objects.


    Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow state, "There is no way to remove the observer -- us -- from our perceptions of the world ... In classical physics, the past is assumed to exist as a definite series of events, but according to quantum physics, the past, like the future, is indefinite and exists only as a spectrum of possibilities."


    Of course, Robert Lanza's background is Medical, and he is listed only as a Scientist and Theoretician; but his statements are grounded in references to current experiments, which suggest that the choices made by experimenters seem to be able, somehow, to determine the past. In some sense, I perceive that no matter how the experiment is planned and no matter what equipment is used or how it is set up; each experimenter has the capacity to change the outcome of certain experiments depending upon their intent.


    Where does that leave us? I think that science may provide us with adequate proof that the world is a very strange place. But, it will not be able to adequately provide us with an exact picture of all that life entails including death and reincarnation. But, this also means that science cannot adequately explain the existence of what we can universally see, hear, and feel.


    Scientists say that 70% of the universe is composed of dark matter. We can't see it, hear it, nor feel it. Yet, its existence helps us to understand why matter behaves the way it does. By the same token, the existence of reincarnation and a spiritual or "parallel" realm can explain why many people remember other lives, and why many can perceive the thoughts and feelings of others without using their "normal" senses.


    Science can explain the existence of only a small portion of our world. But, first-hand experience can help to explain a great deal more. Neither, by themselves, are suited to survival.
     

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