Mod+ UPCOMMING INTERVIEW: DR. MICHAEL SHERMER, THE MORAL ARC

#21
I don't think he's all bad. But he has what Nagel calls a Cosmic Authority Problem - he can't stand the idea that there might be a God. That, and the materialist cults' bigotry against religious belief, has led them to all sorts of questionable tactics and Multiverse silliness.

The intellectual dishonesty stemming from skeptics' political aims (end goals I partially share) is rot on the souls of science and philosophy. Better to say we don't know anything about God than to sow the seeds of the nihilism materialism entails.
I actually would love it if Alex could kind of bond with the personable Dr. Shermer and get invited to debate with Shermer and colleagues in a more public setting. I would definitely allow Shermer his moment to push his book and please ask about his important role in helping to create the famous endurance cycling sport 'Race Across America'.He was personally involved in inventing some of the common cycling gear we use today. He does report it was on an endurance ride that he fleshed out his skeptical materialist POV.
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#22
For Shermer most likely does very much believe what he is doing is "righteous" - to frame his and his colleagues actions in theological terms. For materialism is just another kind of truth and belief about reality, just as any theology has been. And Shermer appears to me to have faith in materialism just like any devout theologian would have faith in some religion. What is however morally contemptible, and you are correct, is the kind of tactics Skeptics have been known to engage in. Though certainly not as severe as the tactics of priests during the Spanish Inquisition, such as burning heretics at the stake, there is certainly an echo of absolute faith and the willingness to censor and character assassinate other human beings in order to maintain the integrity of their righteous materialistic cause.
Definitely agree the skeptics are driven by a sense of objective morality they profess to not believe in. Problem is the materialist cults' style of self-righteousness is how you get people to harm one another in the name of promoting a particular faith.

Humanists who are also genuine/legitimate skeptics like myself - and if I've read you correctly your self - accept there's some Mystery, and that our shared place in this Mystery is why we should be compassionate to one another. And because this Mystery will not yield all secrets to any one strategy, we should support secularism as well as open science. Some reality tunnels - to use Robert Anton Wilson's lingo - are better gambles we should take, especially compared to the nihilistic conclusions materialism entails.

"We look on the same stars, the sky is common, the same world surrounds us. What difference does it make by what pains each seeks the Truth?

We cannot attain to so great a secret by one road alone. There cannot be but one answer to this great question."
--Symmachus, (c. 340-c. 405)
 
#24
I don't think he's all bad. But he has what Nagel calls a Cosmic Authority Problem - he can't stand the idea that there might be a God. That, and the materialist cults' bigotry against religious belief, has led them to all sorts of questionable tactics and Multiverse silliness.

The intellectual dishonesty stemming from skeptics' political aims (end goals I partially share) is rot on the souls of science and philosophy. Better to say we don't know anything about God than to sow the seeds of the nihilism materialism entails.
IMO Shermer's intellectual dishonesty may stem from the fact he's a former fundamentalist Christian and therefore a void was created from the transition. His need to fill this void translates into a militant atheist behavior where science is now "God". From one extreme to the other or in this case from God to nihilism. There is no middle ground, but the problem, in cases like this, is that people in this situation have had their brains wired to require some immutable foundation and framework to wrap their worldview around. They will then vigorously and ruthlessly promote and defend, but will never see or admit fault within echoing the previous life.

I've seen this particular attitude with former religious atheist. They are typically the most ardent and outspoken, but still proselytizing and crusading, just under a different banner.
 
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#25
Is Shermer - someone who has always struck me as an intellectual lightweight - talking about science, or "science" resting on philosophical assumptions that he conveniently thinks will lead to a utopian Age of Reason? Does he mean Freedom as an intrinsic right part of an objective morality, or materialist "freedom" as defined by particular cultures in particular times where the civilization in Orwell's 1984 is only as tyrannical as cultural norms in the time period decide it is?

What does he have to say about the materialist Rosenberg's argument in Atheist's Guide to Reality that science leads to nihilism? Or that since matter can't be about anything our thoughts are not about anything at all? What about the research that suggests telling people they have no free will undermines morality?

It seems to me the materialist cultists in groups like JREF and CSICOP have no definitive argument that justifies the spread of their faith since they've never genuinely dealt with the nihilistic implications. As for the catechisms of their religion, they can't provide anything that addresses the quantitative-qualitative leap at the heart of the Hard Problem, nor do they have a solution to how matter can be about something in the way neurons supposedly are about thoughts. Even the "laws" of physics are observations of regularities extrapolated into exclusionary, universally applicable certainties.

Would also be amusing to see if he appeals to the Multiverse when asked about the issues relating to fine tuning and intelligent design that made the atheist philosopher Anthony Flew into a theist.
I think this gets to the heart of his new book. Has anyone read it and have an opinion?
 
#26
Ask him if he's ever been involved in any scientific work himself, such as participated in NDE or parapsychological research. Or if not, has he visited any good mediums? I assume this is what a real Skeptic would do. Right?

And if he says no, then why not? Some famous Skeptics such as Richard Hodgson, James Hyslop actually did visit mediums, even debunked them.

My Best,
Bertha
good stuff... but I want to stick kinda close to his new book... in fairness to him.
 
#27
Alex, there are increasing reports of how meditation causes positive shifts in behavior, (not just as a stress reducer but kids report feelings of anger dissipate) especially demonstrated in California school systems. As a Neuroscientist, does Dr. Shermer consider meditation a science based strategy or a spiritual based strategy. Why would the practice of 15 minutes of meditation cause a child to feel compassionate?

http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/openf...transforms-roughest-San-Francisco-5136942.php

http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/01/should-schools-teach-kids-to-meditate/283229/
excellent! I think this gets to the "moral" angle of his book. BTW his PhD is history.
 
#29
Definitely agree the skeptics are driven by a sense of objective morality they profess to not believe in. Problem is the materialist cults' style of self-righteousness is how you get people to harm one another in the name of promoting a particular faith.

Humanists who are also genuine/legitimate skeptics like myself - and if I've read you correctly your self - accept there's some Mystery, and that our shared place in this Mystery is why we should be compassionate to one another. And because this Mystery will not yield all secrets to any one strategy, we should support secularism as well as open science. Some reality tunnels - to use Robert Anton Wilson's lingo - are better gambles we should take, especially compared to the nihilistic conclusions materialism entails.

"We look on the same stars, the sky is common, the same world surrounds us. What difference does it make by what pains each seeks the Truth?

We cannot attain to so great a secret by one road alone. There cannot be but one answer to this great question."
--Symmachus, (c. 340-c. 405)
I should add that during my credulous allegiance to materialism science years, that figures such as Shermer and the four horsemen; Hitchens, Dawkins, Dennet and Harris were who I rallied behind. And IMO it's not so much intellectual dishonesty, but rather an inability to consider beyond the materialist bubble. Anything beyond would imply a mysterious hierarchical reality that dethrones scientism (humanity itself) and their rigid framework they wrap their academia constructed ego around and cling to desperately.

One of humanities most crippling behaviors, fear of the unknown.

I have confidence that Alex will bridge the divide thoughtfully resulting in a rich exchange of ideas. I hope Shermer takes the same approach.
 
#30

Dr. Michael Shermer will be joining me next week to talk about his new book, The Moral Arc. Any questions?
In his "book trailer" he has a graphic that lists all the major scientific thinkers as he waxes about science being the force that drives out superstition from our world view. I would like you to pick a few of the famous quotes from some of his "heros" which directly refer to the non-physical "substructure" of our reality.

He may filter out those who he views as uninformed or deluded, but I'd love to see him refute Einstein or many of the other giants who pointed to a less deterministic basis of our existence.
 
#31
Also how about asking about how one makes the transition from fundamentalist to materialist. I would assume that at some point he was faced with facts that flew in the face of his core beliefs. What might have been those things that changed his mind?

Given that he was open to new information and subsequently changed his mind, is he familiar with the evidence disproving his current world view? And is he still open to perhaps change it again?

The core issue for me is:
I can see how those with a lifetime of reliance on a foundation of scientific materialism have a hard time breaking out of that rut. I know it took me over 50 years to really look closely at the huge amount of data demonstrating phenomenon which invalidated many of my core beliefs. I simply hadn't known all the data existed. I was just too busy living my life to take the time to really look. But once I objectively considered the details, the engineer in me forced me to acknowledge what I was seeing.

Deciding that his fundamentalist belief system didn't hold water should have inoculated him from irrationally ignoring the data. I'm just trying to figure out if he is ignorant of the multitude of facts (like I was), or is actively ignoring the facts (such as Randi and most other hard core skeptics) in order to maintain control over his world...

Looking forward to the interview...

P.S.- After spending some time on the Skeptics Society Website where they state their mission as "examining extraordinary claims and promoting science", it seems clear to me that he is not ignorant of the facts that contradict his thesis... No,, he is so wrapped up in the fabric of his mission to defend science that he MUST deny anything that is in contradiction, or else his whole life purpose will crumble. Sort of like what I imagine fuels many accomplished scientists: where leaving the door open a crack to these things puts at risk a whole lifetime's investment of thought, energy, reputation, money, job security etc etc.

Objectivity doesn't stand a chance against so numerous a list of downsides... Good luck Alex.
 
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#32
Looking forward to the interview...

P.S.- After spending some time on the Skeptics Society Website where they state their mission as "examining extraordinary claims and promoting science", it seems clear to me that he is not ignorant of the facts that contradict his thesis... No,, he is so wrapped up in the fabric of his mission to defend science that he MUST deny anything that is in contradiction, or else his whole life purpose will crumble. Sort of like what I imagine fuels many accomplished scientists: where leaving the door open a crack to these things puts at risk a whole lifetime's investment of thought, energy, reputation, money, job security etc etc.

Objectivity doesn't stand a chance against so numerous a list of downsides... Good luck Alex.
In the early years of the Skeptics society, there were members who argued for the scientific study of "extraordinary claims" or psi research. And the society actually did conduct some studies. But from what I have read, the early studies by the Skeptic's Society caused a schism because some of the results actually came back positive in support of the validity of psi phenomena. This caused a break away from the society by some early founding members, and also, consequently, an actual amendment of the Societies charter prohibiting members from conducting any further scientific research of psi phenomena in the Societies name. There is a very good write-up on this by the George Hansen from the SPR here: http://www.tricksterbook.com/ArticlesOnline/CSICOPoverview.htm

So for starters, the Skeptic's Society is not even a scientific organization. It actually conducts little or no science today on "extraordinary claims" or unusual phenomena such as psi or NDE phenomena. Sure, the Society boasts of having some well-known scientific members - but as far as I know, almost none of these big name scientists have been involved in any science studying paranormal phenomena or anything that does not follow the strictures of the philosophy of materialism. There may be one or two exceptions, but the rule is, no actual scientific research.

The Society is far more like a militant think tank for materialism than it is for the actual progression of science. It depends heavily on rhetoric and by attacking the integrity of scientists who have spent years in scientific research that does not fit the Societies' materialistic agenda. Instead of an objective open-minded examination of scientific data, and additional scientific investigation, the Skeptic's society instead is more of a propaganda organization that has relied heavily on unscientific means to promote its ideology of materialism. It is by no means a scientific organization and should not be called one.

My Best,
Bertha
 
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#33
Now that Shermer has his own "anecdote" re the experience at his wedding, does this soften his stance on the standard position that Skeptics have with regard to these experiences. Namely that they are JUST anecdotal and can be dismissed.
 
#36
Ask him why turning his back on Christianity because it's so easy to ridicule, means that there is no paranormal possibility outside of Christianity. It's like his whole stance is, Ok Christianity doesn't make sense, therefore God doesn't exist.

I know the interview has passed, but just wanted to add that.
 
#37
Ask him why turning his back on Christianity because it's so easy to ridicule, means that there is no paranormal possibility outside of Christianity. It's like his whole stance is, Ok Christianity doesn't make sense, therefore God doesn't exist.

I know the interview has passed, but just wanted to add that.
My position on the God debate is that we don't know either way, but that doesn't in any way demean personal faith in a Creator, God etc.... People seem to forget that faith has always existed. Organized Religion(OR) is relatively recent and hijacked faith in an attempt to create this inseparable connection. Faith is exclusive and encompasses OR. Not the other way around as OR would have you believe. I'm sure this isn't something your not familiar with, but my point is that creates the fallacy you're observing Shermer is attempting to argue.

Personally I feel there is something more and my faith is based on that. Not what anyone has indoctrinated or instructed me with.
 
#39
Michael Shermer sounds like a specific character from the Muppets, but I can't place exactly which one.
Anyone have any ideas?

It's true, it's really true, I don't normally partake in personal attacks, but when I listen to Shermer I feel like I'm listening to a Disney channel presenter where the presenters voice sounds like he is acting really silly and really having fun, but he isn't really having fun, he is putting on an act for the kids.
 
#40
My position on the God debate is that we don't know either way, but that doesn't in any way demean personal faith in a Creator, God etc.... People seem to forget that faith has always existed. Organized Religion(OR) is relatively recent and hijacked faith in an attempt to create this inseparable connection. Faith is exclusive and encompasses OR. Not the other way around as OR would have you believe. I'm sure this isn't something your not familiar with, but my point is that creates the fallacy you're observing Shermer is attempting to argue.

Personally I feel there is something more and my faith is based on that. Not what anyone has indoctrinated or instructed me with.

I see what you're saying, but I've came to the conclusion that authorised religion really does contain an indepth knowledge of God, that is if you're lucky enough to be inspired by the cream it offers instead of rubbing up against the sludge.

Most knowledge is inductive and passed down, just like we go to school or university to recieve knowledge from a teacher about certain subjects, concotion of our own thinking is most times not enough to understand a topic, it helps to find a genuine and bonafide teacher to pass on his knowledge so you get the best understanding of a subject.


But each to his own I guess. :)
 
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