246. DR. MICHAEL GRAZIANO LIKENS NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE RESEARCH TO ASTROLOGY RESEARCH

#3
That isn't a scientific study, it's an article on a NDE website that has similar problems to Skeptiko in terms of editorial commentary; Kevin Williams is more polite than Alex, but he is far worse when it comes to extrapolating beyond reasonable conclusions.

If your point in putting that link up was to undermine the notion that NDE research is far more solid and worth the time of day than astrology, you'll have to better than this.
 
#5
Astrology is interesting given its relationship to the skeptical movement's history.

There was the time Shermer accidentally demonstrated that astrology might have some basis in reality.
And of course the Starbaby scandal.
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https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/search/?cat=all&q=flashblock

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/adblock-plus/?src=search
 
#6
I'd really like to discover what skeptics think of this podcast! I mean once again, you have an avowed skeptic who simply hasn't studied any of the literature related to NDE's! I mean, it isn't that he wants to argue that the brain is still ticking over while an NDE is happening, or that he wants to argue that NDE's are confabulated later - he just doesn't seem to care about the challenge that this phenomenon creates for his interpretation of consciousness!

I used to expect Alex to discover someone who would seriously challenge the idea of non-materialistic consciousness, I am still amazed that this doesn't seem to be possible! Do any of you skeptics have any suggestions as to whom he should interview, who could make an even half reasonable case for materialistic consciousness, given that fact that people certainly experience NDE's, and often these involve viewing the resuscitation scene?

David
 
#8
I'd really like to discover what skeptics think of this podcast! I mean once again, you have an avowed skeptic who simply hasn't studied any of the literature related to NDE's! I mean, it isn't that he wants to argue that the brain is still ticking over while an NDE is happening, or that he wants to argue that NDE's are confabulated later - he just doesn't seem to care about the challenge that this phenomenon creates for his interpretation of consciousness!

I used to expect Alex to discover someone who would seriously challenge the idea of non-materialistic consciousness, I am still amazed that this doesn't seem to be possible! Do any of you skeptics have any suggestions as to whom he should interview, who could make an even half reasonable case for materialistic consciousness, given that fact that people certainly experience NDE's, and often these involve viewing the resuscitation scene?

David
Consider carefully the quote from Graziano in the recent podcast:

Graziano in the interview said:
There is, I sense, a desire to maintain mystery – maybe partly because if the mystery is cleared up the field of consciousness studies goes away, and that is a whole line of work that many people rely on. Or maybe there are personal reasons or emotional reasons or religious reasons why people love this notion of an unexplainable mystery. And my approach to this entirely mechanistic, entirely rationalist, and the question I am asking in a sense is how far can we go in an entirely rationalist approach? How far can we get and be able to explain as much as possible? And I think that kind of is the mission of science, not to explain everything because I don’t think that will ever happen, but to see how much can be explained and in particular, to see how much can be explained by entirely rational and mechanistic means and testable means, to give a shot at that. And that is kind of the mission of science, that’s how I approach this question of consciousness. So that’s kind of what I mean by the unashamed rationalist.
This is an intelligent, honest approach. He sets out clearly his remit:

to see how much can be explained by entirely rational and mechanistic means and testable means, to give a shot at that.
Is that not a worthwhile goal?
 
#9
Consider carefully the quote from Graziano in the recent podcast:

This is an intelligent, honest approach. He sets out clearly his remit:
Is that not a worthwhile goal?
Not if you close your eyes, ears and turn your head to the other side for ever piece of evidence that doesn't fit in your pre-conceived tool-box.
Also it is pretty much a non rational approach.

A more rational approach, which should be paramaount to an unashamed rationalist, would be to look at the entire spectrum of phenomena that you are trying to explain and not just the convenient bits :) The latter is just plain silly.
 
#10
What should he do with the pieces he has though? What does taking in the entire spectrum mean in practice? How should he modify his experiments?
 
#11
What should he do with the pieces he has though?
Claim that he's interested in a partial, incomplete explanation of the phenomena that is willfully ignoring entire trucks loaded of evidence contradicting his position.
This premise would be more honest than the one he used in the opening of the interview.
 
#12
Claim that he's interested in a partial, incomplete explanation of the phenomena that is willfully ignoring entire trucks loaded of evidence contradicting his position.
This premise would be more honest than the one he used in the opening of the interview.
But he is interested in a partial, incomplete explanation at this point. He doesn't have any illusions that his experiments are going provide a complete understanding of consciousness from what I understand. He!s narrowing in on an area that he thinks he can shed some light on, designing and performing experiments to explore that area to test his hypotheses. His findings will get added to the "entire spectrum" just like NDE studies.

Do we really want everyone approaching the study of consciousness - or any topic for that matter - from exactly the same perspective?
 
#13
Do we really want everyone approaching the study of consciousness - or any topic for that matter - from exactly the same perspective?
No of course not. No two people would tackle the same problem with exactly the same perspective.
This is not an excuse to say that you can willfully ignore stuff of the highest importance to help your investigation.

It's a short sighted outlook. And constructive criticism is due :)

Speaking of which I would highly question the sketchy and cartoonish ( to borrow his own adjectives ) premise that Dr.Graziano does, as a foundation for his arguments.
That premise alone renders his subsequent reasoning very weak, imho.

cheers
 
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#14
No of course not. No two people would tackle the same problem with exactly the same perspective.
This is not an excuse to say that you can willfully ignore stuff of the highest importance to help your investigation.

It's a short sighted outlook. And constructive criticism is due :)

Speaking of which I would highly question the sketchy and cartoonish ( to borrow his own adjectives ) premise that Dr.Graziano does, as a foundation for his arguments.
That premise alone renders his subsequent reasoning very weak, imho.

cheers
But again: with regard to the particular aspects that he's looking at, how would he integrate the things you want him to?

I don't know if his hypothesis is correct, from what I can tell- neither does he. That's why he's doing experiments. Unfortunately, Alex didn't ask him any questions about those experiments so we didn't get a chance to learn more about them. He stated that he based his hypothesis upon a large body of research - while not NDE research it would have been interesting to have heard more about that as well.

My approach to him is the same as the approach I take to the parapsychologists: he's got a hypothesis he thinks is promising, I'm curious to know what his results are. If the pilot studies produce results supportive of the hypothesis hopefully they will lead to higher quality studies that will really contribute to the knowledge base. No doubt in the progress of his research his views will morph in one way or the other. I could be wrong, but I got the sense he still considered the work to be in the relatively early stages.

Whether or not mind=brain there is pretty widespread agreement that the brain is involved one way or the other. Narrowing in on brain processes, testing them, trying to figure out how they function is going to be part of the process - or it should, I believe. If there is some kind of interface with some outside of the brain "stuff" at narrowing in on the brain seems to have as good a chance as any of discovering it. But until then, my sense is that neuroscientists should continue to deal with what they have in front of them, to see what they can understand based on what they see.

I really don't know the answer to this question: even if a neuroscientist believed that the mind =/brain would they formulate their neuroscience experiments all that differently? Won't they still have a lot of work to do with the physical components of the brain?
 
#15
I really don't know the answer to this question: even if a neuroscientist believed that the mind =/brain would they formulate their neuroscience experiments all that differently? Won't they still have a lot of work to do with the physical components of the brain?
Haven't people like Greyson or Van Lommel formulated an hypothesis based on their observations and then proceeded to run experiments the results of which have been published? So they aren't hunting fairies, right?

So, my proposal in a few words... "let's do more of that" :)

As regards Graziano, he's a lost cause. Might be harsh, but the interview speaks for itself.
 
#16
One more thing even though I keep repeating myself: it's not an either / or argument.
Let's keep investigating the brain, there're centuries worth of discoveries ahead of us. But we need to look at this huge amount of psi, nde, obe, spiritual awakenings, precognition, RV etc... because they will never go away and we can't keep making excuses and turn our head the other side.

In one word: integration.

cheers
 
#17
Haven't people like Greyson or Van Lommel formulated an hypothesis based on their observations and then proceeded to run experiments the results of which have been published? So they aren't hunting fairies, right?

So, my proposal in a few words... "let's do more of that" :)
Right - I support their efforts as well. That's why I wrote: "My approach to him is the same as the approach I take to the parapsychologists: he's got a hypothesis he thinks is promising, I'm curious to know what his results are. If the pilot studies produce results supportive of the hypothesis hopefully they will lead to higher quality studies that will really contribute to the knowledge base." That's exactly my approach to Greyson and Van Lommel.

As regards Graziano, he's a lost cause. Might be harsh, but the interview speaks for itself.
He considers his hypothesis falsifiable. He's running experiments. I'm not sure what you object to there. Alex spent very little time probing him on the details of the reasons behind his beliefs or how he got to them. He referred generally to what they were based on but wasn't asked to elaborate. So I'm not sure how you are able to so confidently evaluate his thought process. For myself, I have no idea whether his hypothesis is good or not. I suspect his research will be useful whether or not mind = brain.
 
#18
One more thing even though I keep repeating myself: it's not an either / or argument.
Let's keep investigating the brain, there're centuries worth of discoveries ahead of us. But we need to look at this huge amount of psi, nde, obe, spiritual awakenings, precognition, RV etc... because they will never go away and we can't keep making excuses and turn our head the other side.

In one word: integration.

cheers
Sure - but they need to move towards the higher quality, more reliable studies to really get a foothold. It might be a dollars and cents issue to do those studies, but catch 22s aside, until that time comes I'm not sure how they should be integrated any more than any other pilot level research. I'm not saying this rhetorically - if someone disagrees please chime in!
 
#19
Sure - but they need to move towards the higher quality, more reliable studies to really get a foothold.
We're talking about the nature of consciousness here, not brain physiology. It's not that mainstream neuroscience have much better to offer.
And that's why it should be a joint effort instead of the usual belittling game from the academia.

ETA: Plus you do realize that what you are saying could be applied to "dark matter", "string theory", "Everett's interpretation of QM" and so on and so forth... no need to start that whole argument again, right? :eek:
 
#20
We're talking about the nature of consciousness here, not brain physiology. It's not that mainstream neuroscience have much better to offer.
And that's why it should be a joint effort instead of the usual belittling game from the academia.
I have no issue if any of them want to collaborate - though again, I'm not quite sure what that would entail. That said, I think his stated intention of trying to figure out what we can learn just by studying the physical infrastructure seems like a sound approach to advancing understanding how the brain is involved in conscious processes.

ETA: Plus you do realize that what you are saying could be applied to "dark matter", "string theory", "Everett's interpretation of QM" and so on and so forth
I would certainly hope so!
 
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