27 February 2009

Random Linkage

Alligators in your backyard keep coming back? Don't despair: magnetize!

This morning I happened across an interesting blog at Discover Magazine, called Reality Base. The writer, Adam Frank, seems to be at least somewhat close to my own position on science/religion, though possibly a bit more sympathetic to religion than I am. I hadn't realized how many traditions had claimed Groundhog Day as connected to their own belief systems before reading his post on the movie. I can see the reincarnation aspect, I can see the mindfulness aspect ... I just stare at the screen and go "huh?" on the heavens/hells aspect.

Through that blog, I ran across Kira, which seems to be an organization devoted to exploring what, if anything, might be knowable but outside the reach of science. The little I've read sounds promising, with some epistemological ideas thrown in and some thought-experiments. I'm worried that it might descend into woo at some point, but so far so good.

Last up, Mind Hacks has an interesting post on the phenomenology of car crashes, and also on the brain physiology, but it's the phenomenological aspect that interests me. I've had two experiences that relate. In the first, some idiot was pulling through the parking spaces at the local Albertson's, going too fast and not watching where she was going. My old car, Louis, was nearly totaled. I remember realizing what had happened after I had already stopped the car. Then I became aware of the impact, the noise, the surprised yelp (presumably from me), but I had stopped the car before conscious awareness set in. Likewise, when I had a window blowout on the interstate, I had pulled over to the side before becoming consciously aware of what had happened. The body/mind can respond before the consciousness even knows there's anything to respond to. That's key in push-hands.


John said...

I am suspicious of Kira.

The site mentions "other ways of knowing" a lot, but never actually defines what those ways are. Divine revelation? Drug hallucinations? (OK, thought experiments and contemplation are mentioned, but how is that really knowing without the rest of the scientific method)

It also talks about the limits of science, without ever saying what science means.

The whole idea seems to be to apply the scientific method to areas not traditionally considered part of science. But that isn't another way of knowing, that's bringing those areas into science's purview.

I strongly agree with Bertrand Russell on this:

"While it is true that science cannot decide questions of value, that is because they cannot be intellectually decided at all, and lie outside the realm of truth and falsehood. Whatever knowledge is attainable, must be attained by scientific methods; and what science cannot discover, mankind cannot know. "

Qalmlea said...

I agree, to a degree. The papers that I've read through are mostly epistemological explorations of the limits of knowledge, and what it means to mean something, and whether meaning can be thought of as, in some sense, independent of physicality (in the sense that the same information can be presented through different physical media, and be in multiple places at once). If it stays at that level, it will be interesting. If it heads off into "irreducible complexity" lala-land, I'll give up on it.