Power of Belief

#1
Recently I read this post (listened on podcast actually) by Sam Harris. Sam is an atheist and skeptic but he is smart and brave and careful. I think what he says is of real value. Anyway, he has done a recent piece on the power of belief and how people can believe crazy things. You can read it here:
http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/through-the-eyes-of-a-cult

There are also videos there of Heaven's Gate cult. These are strange and difficult to watch given that everybody in the video is talking about killing themselves. Yet, these people are ordinary and rational people. They just have unusual and strong (and ultimately fatal) beliefs.

So, my feeling is that it shows something about people. Here, in Heaven's Gate, it is shown at an extreme which makes it easier to see which is why Harris has used it as an example. But the same thing is all around us. It is reflected in the religions of the world. It is especially reflect in the actions of jihadhi suicide bombers.

I think it is also reflected in our conversations/beliefs about the paranormal. I believe in the paranormal but I also think there is a huge amount of "debris" in these topics and there are many folks here with unusual and strong beliefs. This doesn't make them wrong but it is interesting to study belief in general.

So, anyway, I found it very interesting and useful. Check it out.
 
#2
Does Harris examine any of his own beliefs, such as atheism, to see if any of them might be crazy? If not, I would not agree he smart and careful. Why is he immune to the delusions that afflict others? If he doesn't address this I don't see how anyone can take him seriously. Did he discuss the tens of millions of people killed under atheist communist regimes or did he only consider religions? That would be a pretty good indicator that he is blinded by anti-religious bias. Materialism is not a rational philosophy.
 
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#3
I think Sam Harris has much to teach us.

I think the difference between him and me is "admissibility of evidence". He has ruled all the paranormal stuff bullshit (so inadmissible) while I have ruled it admissible.

Anyway, you don't have to agree with him to get value from him.
 
#4
Does Harris examine any of his own beliefs, such as atheism, to see if any of them might be crazy? If not, I would not agree he smart and careful. Why is he immune to the delusions that afflict others? If he doesn't address this I don't see how anyone can take him seriously. Did he discuss the tens of millions of people killed under atheist communist regimes or did he only consider religions? That would be a pretty good indicator that he is blinded by anti-religious bias. Materialism is not a rational philosophy.
That's close to a perfect summation. ;;/? Many people view their own beliefs as "just knowing the way things are" while viewing the beliefs of others as "just opinions." "Scienceism" and the materialism that spawned it of course promote thet belief that they're not all about beliefs as canon.
 
#5
I think Sam Harris has much to teach us.

I think the difference between him and me is "admissibility of evidence". He has ruled all the paranormal stuff bullshit (so inadmissible) while I have ruled it admissible.

Anyway, you don't have to agree with him to get value from him.
and to me you if what you say is true he commits a common fatal error in reasoning. "All paranormal evidence is bullshit" It is a common tactic to attempt to take stories and incidents which have nothing to do with each other factually in any way and throw them all into a box so that the box can be thrown out. For example you cannot dismiss the Roswell incident by demonstrating that Barney Fife's is insane and therefore his UFO incident should not be believed. Yet this is exactly what happens. There is an attempt by so called Skeptics under the guise of their self proclaimed genius to disprove one moment by disproving another unrelated moment and then concluding that all these moments are alike. One paranormal experience has nothing to do with the other and they must be disproven on their own merits.

Of course it would be impossible to disprove all paranormal stories separately, but you what that's not my problem they are the ones proclaiming improbable positions not me.
 
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