My point of view about what does the word "real" exactly mean

Discussion in 'Consciousness & Science' started by tarantulanebula, Mar 19, 2018.

  1. tarantulanebula

    tarantulanebula New

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    [Part 01]
    Approximately several years ago, inspired by the many narrations told by near death experiencers which mentioned their experiences were "very real", I pondered carefully about "What does the word real exactly mean when we use it", then I figured it out clearly to myself.


    [Part 02]
    Actually, I think I, perhaps also many other people, when referring to that something is real or not, mingle with two semantic concepts subconsciously often without noticing, thus causing confusion.

    I call these two semantic concepts to which we might actually refer when we talk about something is real or not real, as:
    1, true real.
    2, the realness we can sense, probe, and try to verify.


    [Part 03]
    I will elaborately explain these two semantic concepts as following:

    [Part 03-01 Semantic concept of the word "real" - 1]
    The first semantic concept of the word "real" is that, something which is absolutely objective rather than subjective, something which is irrelevant as to how a person might observe it, examine it, view it, think about it, or describe it. Something which exists and specifically exists in its own way no matter how a person or many persons deny it or describe it in some other way. Thus, if something is real, then it exists and presents the same appearance to all people, on the opposite, if this thing is not real, then it either doesn't exist or the epithets used to describe it might be deviant or incorrect.

    For convenience, when I will use the first semantic concept of the word "real", I will use "real-sc1", as distinguished from "real-sc2" which I will explain further.

    I believe that, I, also many other people, perhaps all people, can never say with 100% certainty that anything is real-sc1. Because we use our eyes to see things, use our thoughts to think about things, everything we refer to is subjective rather than truly objective, no matter how hard and carefully we try to be neutral when making statement, how many diverse possibilities we consider and include as we describe a thing, ultimately we only will have explored our own sense about it. We can never touch a thing "directly" without using our own unreliable sensory systems, and we can't prove that we see and describe a thing completely objectively and be in the exactly same way as all people should see and describe it.

    But, this doesn't mean that talking about something is real-sc1 should be considered meaningless. Because though I believe we can't prove anything is real-sc1 with 100% certainty, we can infinitely approach the possibility of its realness to 100% as we examine it more and more. In a sense, in our mundane lives and scientific researches, when we examine a thing to a degree, we can say it is highly probably real-sc1. For example, I see the moon, and the people surrounding me all see the moon, human scientists' acceptance of the cosmic view of our universe has spent a long history, astronauts also have seen the moon from outer space, there were probers which were sent to moon to collect data and materials and had come back, and many other examinations, then I feel free to say I'm almost 100% sure that the moon is a real-sc1 thing, though there still are some possibilities that some of us have been deceived, or the whole world is only an illusion, and not truly real-sc1. These possibilities don't disturb me, since we have so many examinations on moon's existence, the possibilities which overthrow its existence are quite trivial.

    [Part 03-02 Semantic concept of the word "real" - 2]
    Foregoing is the first semantic concept usage of the word "real" which is often used by us when discussing serious scientific topics. However, we often refer to the real-sc2 meaning when we use the word "real". Now I explain further.

    Many times, when we talk about something (or some other people's narration) is real or not real, we are actually talking about "whether the epithet or description for this thing exceeds its true capacity of information", or, in other words, "whether the epithet or description for this thing mentions some additional information which exceeds the information this thing actually has". In short, it is all about "information amount" when we talk about something is real or not real, with a subconscious referring to the real-sc2 meaning of the word "real".

    [Part 03-02 Semantic concept of the word "real" - 2 - An example]
    I didn't explain my meaning clearly, and I will use an example:

    For example, let us talk about a desert mirage. Whether a desert mirage is real? It is real, because the travelers actually saw it, it exists as something rather than nothing. The problem is, how should the travelers view and explain it? Traveler A says: "Oh, see, over there, a seemingly oasis and golden city, but it is only an atmosphere phenomenon, a desert mirage. This kind of atmosphere phenomenon actually truly exists, and it's nice to really have witnessed one happening." Traveler B says: "Oh, see, over there, an oasis with limpid water, palms and delicious fruits, and a golden city where you can find boisterous marketplace, dancing ranees, monarch who sits on a serpent throne, with camelry patrols, halberdier guards, crescent sentinels and veiled priests protecting his palace. Soon we won't need to suffer from thirsty, hungry, drabness any longer."

    When describing the existent objective thing, travel B adds more information than the objective thing actually has. When he uses the words "oasis", "golden city", there comes an expectation that "the thing they saw" contains many information that an oasis and golden city ought to contain, which is not the case actually happening. Therefore, we state that, what traveler B says are not real, as we subconsciously refer to the real-sc2 meaning, that is, "not real" means judging a narration which claims excessively expected information than all the information which truly exists. The traveler A is correct, the mirage is real, as it happens, then it happens, it is seen as it is, it may suggest that there is an oasis somewhere, but not at the location where the mirage optical phenomenon actually generates and appears. And this optical pattern caused by some atmospheric conditions might reflect a distant real oasis with some distortion, like adding a seemingly golden city beside it.


    [Part 03-02 Semantic concept of the word "real" - 2]
    Near my start of this whole post, I gave the definition of the second semantic concept of the word "real" as this:
    2, the realness we can sense, probe, and try to verify.
    It is the same meaning as talking about "information amount", as it is a fact that the more information a thing actually contains, the more realness we can sense, probe, and try to verify about it.


    [Part 04]
    So, in summary, the second semantic concept of the word "real" we use, is actually all about the "information amount". When someone uses epithet and description which imply some excessively more information than the objective thing which he is referring to actually has, we state that what he says are "not real". This usage of word real's meaning should be distinguished from the real-sc1, as real-sc1 refers to the objective thing's realness irregardless of anyone's observation and consideration. We are not saying traveler B's statement is not real-sc1, as anyway, we can never prove anything's realness with 100% certainty. Nonetheless, we can make the judgment that traveler B's statement is not real-sc2 for sure, as he hasn't gotten the sufficient information amount which could have backed up his claims.

    In other words, a narration which claims information more than it provides, it talks about something which is not real, more specifically using my idea, not real-sc2.


    [Part 05]
    For example, whether some saint in some religion is real? As for the real-sc1, no one can be sure, and perhaps no one will ever be sure. You haven't seen the saint, you can't say it's not real. If you actually see a saint, you still won't be 100% sure that it is real. You can't strictly prove anything objectively anyway, including the object which is currently nearest to your left hand. But, as for the real-sc2, if you claim that a saint must exist, before you ever actually see him, recognize him, know what his visage should look like, know what his temperament might be, know what garment he used to wear, talk to him, know his deeds, his history, his concerns, his purposes, or any of his familiars, his relationships, his emotions, how could you claim that what you said is real?


    [Part 06]
    I can't say that our mundane world is real-sc1, since I can't strictly prove anything with 100% certainty. Carefully being as prudent as I can, I would like to say that our mundane world seems very real-sc1 to me, because it has so abundant information, thus so many things tangible to explore, investigate, interact, and try to verify, making us be able to infinitely approach 100% certainty to its realness. I would like to say that there is no doubt that our mundane world is relatively real-sc2, as long as I do not try to view it with some expectation that it should contain more information than it actually already has. Also, I subconsciously use the overall amount of information in our mundane world as a kind of gauge or contrasting standard. When anyone claims that they have discovered a new continent, a new planet, a new dimension, a new world, I will listen how much information they could shed, if the information amount sounds too scarce compared to that within our mundane world, I will consider it is highly likely not real as a new world, but actually something with less information, such as a plot of novel, an imagination, a dream or hallucination of someone.


    [Part 07 Dreams]
    To apply my point of view of what does real mean to the discussion on our dreams, as following:

    A dream has content, i.e. what we sense in it. A dream also has a generation and proceeding mechanism, i.e. what biochemical, neurochemical process going on behind it. A dream's scientific mechanism is complex, requires science research information everlastingly evolved in our waking reality to explain, but its content is obscure, almost always contains less information than what we receive in our waking reality.

    We often talk about a lucid dream or a vivid dream. Lucid dream or vivid dream is only a sense that our brain is alert and vigilant, approaching the degree of our full sober state, with none ~ only slightly clearer scene and event details in the content of dream. Even if in the lucid dream or vivid dream, the information we perceive can't compare to our waking reality.

    In our waking reality, we have all our past memories (relative to dream), and we have a focus, which is currently the most concerned thing by us, now and here, nonce, we know the things happened not long ago, and wait for the things will possibly happen soon, we have a purpose whether for leisure or work or some other types. In waking reality there is always infinitely more information to excavate if you feel necessary.

    On the opposite, in our dreams, our memories and knowledge are temporarily unavailable, we don't remember the things happened not long ago, we have no idea what will happen next, we don't have a concern or purpose, we preserve a minimum sense that our consciousness exists, we try to proceed in thinking or reminiscing sporadically but with nothing reasonable to think. All these serve as a background for that we are set at a "less or no information commence point" when we start to dream.

    When the dream commences, the scenes or other identities we thought we are seeing are all obscure, we often jump from one place to another, or jump from a district to another within the same rendezvous we thought we are in. The events tend to discontinue at any time, often interrupted without allowance for precaution. These are all the bolsters for how our brain strives to be at least partially active simultaneously putting up with its own limited power to generate information. When we are awake, our brain's activity is driven by the surrounding information input, whereas in our dreams, our brain receives no information input (except for some vaguely comfort from some part of our body), and is temporarily unable to access our memories for reasonably fetching whatever the current concern should be. In this situation, in order to be as active as it can, our brain could only generate information using its limited power and process the information by itself, all the information is as drastically scarce as not much more than zero information, not mention to making a comparison with our waking reality which has infinite information only if we feel necessary to seek.

    In a word, the above description was emphasizing the difference on "information amount".

    When I interpret a dream, as long as I keep loyal to admitting that its limited information can't suggest some other world, and I do not extend its implication at my ease, then my dream is "real(real-sc2)" as consistent with its actual "information amount". If I try to over interpret my dream, for example, thinking it might contain some premonition, a contact with alien, or I actually left my body and visited another world, then my dream is "not real(real-sc2)" in this sense, because there is no further detailed information to sustain these epithets and descriptions. And my dream is constantly less real than waking reality, just because the difference on "information amount".

    [Part 08 Fiction and fantasies]
    In our waking reality, fresh, nouveau discovered, and meaningful information hasn't been seen to be fetched to exhaustion. Though our mundane world seems drab and plain compared with various fiction, fantasy stories, art, etc., all its information still far surpasses any whimsy work. While the fiction and fantasy works seem abundant of information, their history and future remain not completely conceived, their progress won't spontaneously continue. Some of their stories remain unexplained and mysteriously omitted, some of crucial scenario transference nodes remain unreasonable. An author just presents the aspects of his works as needed to present, leaving many backstage factors nonexistent. Many novels' scenarios rely heavily on coincidence and unfair dumb luck of protagonists which lack detailed information of causes. On the other hand, our waking reality contains far more information than we have perceived or imagined, some hidden factors are always working, responsible for the causes behind the curtain of every sensible phenomenon, drab and plain as it looks, it has an explanation for everything, filling every space in the history and is able to continue on its own.

    [Part 09]
    Next, let me get into the paranormal, in specific, near death experiences. I found it is strange, like a puzzle, that why many nders claim there is someone beyond there, there is a beyond world which can't be not far more abundant than ours, yet, without providing even the reasonable same amount of information as we narrate a mundane affair? Someone would argue that many nders have provided amazingly abundantly informational details. I would like to say, thinking carefully and you will find it is not this case for the most.

    "These beings communicate telepathically, and they can read my thoughts."
    The above sentence is often seen in nde narration. But how could they know those beings could read their thoughts?

    "I saw a man coming to me and recognized that he is Jesus."
    How could they know he is Jesus?

    "Those light beings know everything and all my questions were answered by them."
    What specific question and answer?

    There are many gaps which severely lack information to make those experiences reasonable as to be said visiting another world which is beyond our physical world and our flesh body.
     
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  2. Wormwood

    Wormwood Member

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    My lord. That's a lot of effort over a word there my friend ;)
     
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  3. hypermagda

    hypermagda Member

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    Correct me if I'm wrong but I think you may have been inspired to post this after reading my latest post on the Sheldrake podcast thread - in that case, thank you for you contribution Tarantulanebula! :)

    I appreciate your trying to get to the bottom of this issue! Many interesting points in what you wrote. Of course technically we cannot be 100% sure of anything, and I am in fact quite open to the possibility that we inhabit some kind of simulation (not in the sense that this reality is not 'tangible' and hence "real for us all", but that there is also a meta-level beyond it, which totally or partially controls it).

    However, within the framework of this "consensus reality" (whether it is a simulation or not, and let me point out once again that "simulation" is just a metaphor here - unfortunately there is no better word for what I'm trying to express) there are things that are far, far more (demonstrably) real than others.
    In fact it seems to me that (and this, intriguingly, applies to most concepts, if not all), rather than two neat categories (real and unreal) the concept of "real" spans a continuum, from "definitely demonstrable in consensus-reality" (a wall is real because you can't walk right through it), to your very good example of seeing a mirage of an oasis and insisting that there is actual food and water in it (a definitely and demonstrably delusional idea). Obviously, drawing the line is not always easy, because one cannot always physically go where the person said the oasis is and show them that there is nothing there. This is why it is impossible, ultimately, to prove a specific metaphysical statement wrong (but this does not mean that it is right!!!! It's only unfalsifiable, which is a completely different thing): one can only examine its logic, consistency and any evidence of its tangible influence (if any) on shared consensus reality - but ultimately it's a subjective decision to believe or not believe in something, this is why some people believe in Unicorns (among other things), and all the rest of us can do is place such a belief somewhere on the real-unreal continuum, based on the extent to which such belief has a demonstrable and visible effect on consensus reality, it seems to me. Another clear example of how it is possible to test the reality of a certain belief is to see if a precise prediction actually materialises on a certain date (gazillions of people have stated and/or believed that the End of Times would happen on a specific date based on their metaphysical beliefs - it hasn't happened, hence one is justified to conclude that their individual visions/intuitions/beliefs are objectively unreal based on their lack of effects in this consensus reality, no matter how much they still believe in them - Alex made this example in a recent podcast and I think it's a very nice example to differentiate between real and unreal)

    Bottom line: maybe nothing can be considered 100% real or unreal in absolute terms, but surely there are clear degrees of real and to simply maintain "every belief, no matter how bizarre, is equally valid because we can't know that anything is real 100% and in any case that belief has an impact on that person's consciousness" seems to me to be too "generous" and facile. I think we can all agree here that there is no Father Christmas actually physically travelling on a sledge pulled by reindeers across the globe distributing presents in millions of homes in one single night, even though lots of small children happen to believe this for a relatively short period of their lives during which Santa has a clear impact on their consciousness.
     
  4. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    A lot of people think that ultimately we live in an Idealist reality (and it is hard to think of any other consistent alternative) - i.e. that everything is actually a manifestation of consciousness. From that point of view, an hallucination is something stored in one person's mind, something located in a group of minds is a bit more real, and something stored in most minds is definitely real!

    I.e. that sliding scale of reality may itself reflect how things work! (I almost wrote "really work")

    David
     
  5. tarantulanebula

    tarantulanebula New

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    Hello hypermagda:
    I'm sorry I was trying to understand all what you said and all in that Sheldrake podcast thread, before replying to you, but I failed. My writing was indeed partially inspired by what you posted in that thread. I say "partially" because I can only understand partially up to this time. I will endeavor further.
    It is very difficult for me to understand these "unusual English sentences", and I now need to reply to you immediately lest if I postpone too long, you would have not been interested in this topic.

    I find I roughly agree with most of what you say (but it is obscure because I can't be sure that I completely understand your writing ;)).
    But I want to add and emphasize this:

    When someone says: "religion is real as a placebo, unicorns are real as a fantasy", he should expect less information he could explore if he wants to make his statement correct. In other words, if he expects more information he could explore from "placebo, fantasy", he is not honest. So I emphasize, sometimes "real or unreal" are used all about "information amount". (I used to say "information quantity" but it seemed that no one understood me, since "information" is a noncount noun, an uncountable noun, I don't know which word to use to describe its "quantity".)

    It is all about "information amount".

    For example, if someone says: "unicorns are real as fantasy" and simultaneously he keeps being honest, he should expect less information from a "unicorn", because it requires more information for a unicorn to be real than to be just a fantasy.
    A unicorn in fantasy is very easy, because it contains very little information. First unicorn is only a word consists of 7 alphabets, nothing more, no information further. Our imagination of what it looks like, a beautiful white horse with a spear horn, is mostly borrowed from the horse in our reality, and very little spontaneously more information.
    But if there could be a true unicorn in our world for us to physically ride, it shouldn't only contain information of only "7 alphabets" plus everything borrowed from horse, it should have parents, coming source, genetic systems, ecologic structures, it should snore probably in a uniquely way that has some similarity with horse but somewhat differently and specially, it should have its own temperature. How would it interact with a man? A girl? How would it enjoy leisure? How it charges? How clever it is? Can it understand a human's meaning? How it would respond?
    A fantasy just left all these information empty.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2018
  6. tarantulanebula

    tarantulanebula New

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    Continue to the religion. When we talk about the difference between "taking religion as a placebo" and "taking religion as real", we are actually talking about the difference of "information amount".

    A placebo contains far less information than a reality. At the same time, when a person claims that he is taking religion only as placebo, he should expect very little information, otherwise, he is not honest. But most of time he is not satisfied by the information provided by a placebo, he expects more, he expects real effect to solve his problems, then he tends to wish religion to provide more, but wish is wish, the truth is, religion never provides so much information as something as real as our reality.

    For example, when I see a desert mirage, I take it only as an atmospheric optical distortion and visual misjudgment, I won't expect to find food or monarch and ranee, or golden city, genie in a bottle, etc. all requiring more information, then I'm still correct and honest.

    We shouldn't say that "a religious person who takes religion only as a placebo is not honest", but many times, people who "believe" in a religion are not really satisfied by a placebo which contains very very very very very very scarce information amount, they want some real effect, that religion could bring them justice and relieve them from agony. But that requires something which entails much more information than a placebo could provide. "A unicorn as a fantasy residing in our brain" is only something containing information amount as much as a "7 alphabets", which is feeble and futile to satisfy any urgent wish.

    If you want a unicorn to ride onto, you need to find information that is astronomically larger than just an imagination. A unicorn is not like imagination which is unable to provide and shamelessly slides away from providing many necessary information. An imagination is irresponsible in providing sufficient information. A story could provide many detailed information but is still far less than our reality. That is why when story seems very vivid and intriguing, when you ask more and more questions you will find the plot and scenarios in it are just unreasonable, since no one can conceive a story containing every tiny bits of information as our true reality entails. The information in our reality is huge and often is underestimated by us. Such large information amount is a prerequisite that we "feel" it is real. When we consider a thing out of our mundane reality, like religion, unicorn, etc. we delude ourselves that, as if it held information as detailed as, or beyond our mundane life. This is not true, stories lack information, not abound with them.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2018
  7. tarantulanebula

    tarantulanebula New

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    I mean, hypermagda, I agree with you on that, we can't say what we see as real, and we can't say what we haven't seen as not real.

    But, I want to emphasize that, one should claim a thing's realness, as much as the information that he has already collected, and shouldn't extend this thing's realness to the information still hasn't been fetched.

    For example, one can say he believes Jesus only as a featured person in a legendary, in this regards, he shouldn't claim "excessive information" like as if he had seen Jesus. If he claims "he had seen Jesus as a real person", he should subsequently provide more information that "a real person" should provide, like how tall Jesus was? what it looked like when he smile? whether he liked smile or kept serious when you were talking with him? what his temperament? what he talked with you? did he mention his deeds? did he talk with you about your purpose? what he said about the difficulties of your life? what he was wearing? did he touch you? was he wearing a pair of glove or bare hands? so how it felt like when you touched the skin of his hands? are the things in Bible all true? where did you meet him? is there anybody else in vicinity? what he was doing before talking with you? what he lived for? did he say that he would meet you again in the future? did he walk fast or slowly? did he have beard? wrinkle? on his face.

    If he can't provide any of these information which a real person should contain, then he shouldn't claim "he had seen Jesus as a real person", otherwise he is not honest. He can still keep claiming and believing "Jesus is only a featured person in a legendary", as "a person in a legendary" doesn't need to provide those information. But beware, in this regards, he also shouldn't expect "Jesus" to help him cope with his problems about the questions relevant to religion or his agonies and justice, etc. since there is no such large information.
     
  8. tarantulanebula

    tarantulanebula New

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    Sometimes, when we talk about real or not real, or when we judge whether the others claiming something's realness is true, it is all about how much information we expect and how much information there already has.
     
  9. tarantulanebula

    tarantulanebula New

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    Oh, dear hypermagda:

    I also want to add that, just several minutes ago, I rethought your referring to the idea on "simulation", and I found my "information amount" gist also applies to this "simulation" idea of yours.

    It is still relevant to "information amount".

    Under your idea, our reality is a kind of "reflection or duplication" of partial (if not all) information in that "beyond world" in which someone simulates our world, just like a game programmer simulates our reality into a screen video game.

    It is about the information injection from a higher (more information) reality to a simulated (partial and less information) reality.

    I want to emphasize, unless anyone has provided sufficient information, I won't believe any beyond world, because our reality has already contained very large information amount which we often underestimated (some people often think a story contains more information than our mundane reality, this is not true), so without astronomically even more information amount - extraordinary information boost than our mundane reality, one can't honestly claim an other world.

    It is all about information amount. If something is real, then provide information, everybody will reasonably believe you. As we believe in "sufficient information amount". On the opposite, if one can't provide information but claims something which requires excessive information to be true, then he is not honest.
     
  10. Wormwood

    Wormwood Member

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    Yea, I think that the only thing that we can say is "objectively real" is consciousness.
     
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  11. tarantulanebula

    tarantulanebula New

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    Dear hypermagda:

    I now think, one gist of your idea is that: when we judge whether someone's statement is real or not real, there probably isn't a strict line between "real" and "unreal", but it is about a continuum, am I right?

    I partially agree with your idea. But I do think there is one kind of statement by someone, which is nevertheless incorrect: to claim a statement which requires more information to be true than the information he is sure of.

    In other words, I think many people are claiming something they haven't fetched sufficient information to justify, this is a behavior that is not honest to themselves. But also, this "bloated boast statement" is also a sign of consciously deceive.

    For example, if one claims he had talked with Jesus but provides almost no information about his conversation with his claimed "Jesus", then he is not honest, to himself or to the others. Except this explanation I can't think any other reasonable.
     
  12. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Well objective real is consensus consciousness.
    I think that concept needs a bit of reformulation, for example, suppose I am certain that X=42, but I have no idea what value Y has, then I also know that

    -x = -42
    10 x = 420
    100 x - 4200

    Etc.

    I.e you must exclude any information that can actually be deduced from what a person can be sure of!

    David
     
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  13. tarantulanebula

    tarantulanebula New

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    Dear David Bailey:
    Thank you for your correction and complementation!
    I'm glad also that from your correction and complement, I know I'm able to achieve your understanding of what meaning I wish to express.

    This is something I wish to talk about further, the information and the deduced information.
    I think deduced information requires more information to produce. In your example, if we know X=42, we can deduce 10 x = 420, 100 x = 4200, etc. This deduction requires information from knowledge of mathematics.

    Similarly but more complicatedly, we often need information from human's achievement of biology, chemistry, physics, etc. research, to draw conclusions from a phenomenon to its explanations.

    Certainly we also can often get deduced information from our common sense, but that's very limited and unreliable. For example, back to the ancient times, if a person believed the sky is round, the earth is flat, then he might use his "common sense in that time" to deduce his conclusions which is what most of people in his time were doing. But he thought too simply, because in his time he lacked sufficient information like those in today, accumulated by human's advance in scientific research. I want to express that, common sense actually goes not very far from what we see, so something that our eyes can't explain, neither can our common sense, in order to obtain an explanation, astronomical larger information are required.

    This same idea applies to nde, if this phenomenon really implies there is a world beyond of our mundane earthly life, then there should be astronomical large information to sustain that claim. However, we haven't found sufficiently large information, we shouldn't believe that "another world is real". The same applies to religion, unicorn, etc.
     
  14. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    OK - maybe this is almost saying the same thing - if you know mathematics, you implicitly know all possible deductions, though they may not be obvious!

    David
     
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