THC -- The Higherside Chats: Alex Tsakiris | Scientism, Spirituality, & Why Evil Matters

Alex

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#1

Alex Tsakiris | Scientism, Spirituality, & Why Evil Matters

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Back for a second time, Alex Tsakiris, joins THC to talk about his latest book, Why Evil Matters: How Science & Religion Fumbled a Big One.
As you probably know, Alex is also the host and founder of the Skeptiko podcast, which has been running since 2007. He’s also the author of Why Science is Wrong… About Almost Everything.
Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
Get more Alex @ Skeptiko.com.
 
#4
I have a feeling that the truest definition of evil should be easy to reach with a little bit of work, but that it will have a long caveat to the effect of "when applied as for all life forms having equal value".

Spitballing:
Evil: Some measure of willingness to elevate the value of ones own experience above that of others, especially in regard to an experience that would increase suffering of a person or group or being.

Will revisit this once I finish reading the book.
 
#7
That was a very good interview, and part of that comes from the fact that you weren't trying to force ideas onto someone who wasn't receptive - you clearly have a lot in common with Greg. BTW, I still have about a third of that interview to listen to.

I liked Greg's idea that some AI may work because it gets infested with spirits. There is of course a tradition of apparent spirit communication via electronic devices, so that is an idea worth thinking about.

About AI, as you know I am a bit cautious about that concept. One problem as I see it is that there doesn't seem to be any clear definition of what AI is. In some ways I think the modern definition of AI is some computer program (with or without special hardware) that makes observers exclaim "Gee that is amazing!". Originally people referred to primitive computers running simple programs as "Giant Electronic Brains", if you could demonstrate a SatNav to someone in 1980 you would get the same response, so clearly that definition is awfully time-dependent.

As it happens, there is a new book that I intend to read called "The Myth of Artificial Intelligence" by Erik J Larson. He works in AI and from the blurb I have read, he thinks that modern AI is never going to progress far in its present form. He ties this to Gödel's incompleteness theorems - so it will probably be a tough read. He doesn't rule out real AI, but his view is that some radical new ideas will be needed to achieve that. He points to some of the later writings of Turing, in which he points out that mathematicians work in two modes. In one mode they think creatively to come up with an idea that is worth researching. In the other mode they crunch through to try to supply a proof of the idea. His view, is that parts of the second phase might be performed by AI, but the first phase is very intractable. I infer that he thinks that extends to a whole range of intelligent activities.

Whatever, I am damn sure they grossly underestimated the task of making (safe) driverless cars. The problem is horrendously open-ended.

I guess Greg, you and I all agree about the existence of evil.

Alex, can you give us some idea of what else you discussed in the second hour?

As usual, I will pop back when I have finished listening.

David
 
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#8
I liked Greg's idea that some AI may work because it gets infested with spirits. There is of course a tradition of apparent spirit communication via electronic devices, so that is an idea worth thinking about.
A spirit can act upon any boundary in the mechanism. A pair of gears for example have a boundary between them which is interaction potential and the grain boundaries of metallic crystal within them could also serve as boundaries for interaction. When the ratio of surface area to volume is high and when the boundary is fuzzy rather than thin, there is a large interaction potential. A pair of gears have a very thin rigid boundary between the teeth so they have a very low surface area to volume ratio and very low interaction potential. There is a very small probability the gear tooth will break and disrupt the normal functioning of the mechanism therefore it is very difficult for a spirit to shift the probability creating a meaningful effect.

A light bulb has slightly greater ratio of surface area to volume: long thin wires and filaments and some have chips in them. Light bulbs often go out so the boundary is larger and fuzzier than the gears. I've personally experienced on two occasions poltergeist type of activity where the light bulb next to me went out at the exact moment of a negative emotional spike.

A microchip with billions of transistors represents billions of boundaries between mechanisms. The ratio of surface area to volume is much higher.

The brain not only has billions of neurons, but each neuron contains structures we don't fully understand such as the microtubules so there may be orders of magnitude higher ratio of boundary surface area to volume offering great interaction potential with the spirit world.

We can think of this boundary like the surface of water. The air above represents the mechanism and the abyss below represents spirit. A ball floating on the surface of the water has low ratio of surface area to volume. A sponge floating saturated on the surface of the water with all of its pores has a very high ratio of surface area to volume. The brain is analogous to a sponge and a gear or lightbulb is analogous to a plastic ball.

Boundaries in the mechanism are assigned by choice regarding what is most useful in accomplishing a goal. For the purpose of my thesis above a boundary is a place where the probability that something could go either left or right is closer to 50/50. It is less useful to consider low probability regions as being a boundary.
 
#9
A spirit can act upon any boundary in the mechanism. A pair of gears for example have a boundary between them which is interaction potential and the grain boundaries of metallic crystal within them could also serve as boundaries for interaction. When the ratio of surface area to volume is high and when the boundary is fuzzy rather than thin, there is a large interaction potential. A pair of gears have a very thin rigid boundary between the teeth so they have a very low surface area to volume ratio and very low interaction potential. There is a very small probability the gear tooth will break and disrupt the normal functioning of the mechanism therefore it is very difficult for a spirit to shift the probability creating a meaningful effect.

A light bulb has slightly greater ratio of surface area to volume: long thin wires and filaments and some have chips in them. Light bulbs often go out so the boundary is larger and fuzzier than the gears. I've personally experienced on two occasions poltergeist type of activity where the light bulb next to me went out at the exact moment of a negative emotional spike.

A microchip with billions of transistors represents billions of boundaries between mechanisms. The ratio of surface area to volume is much higher.

The brain not only has billions of neurons, but each neuron contains structures we don't fully understand such as the microtubules so there may be orders of magnitude higher ratio of boundary surface area to volume offering great interaction potential with the spirit world.

We can think of this boundary like the surface of water. The air above represents the mechanism and the abyss below represents spirit. A ball floating on the surface of the water has low ratio of surface area to volume. A sponge floating saturated on the surface of the water with all of its pores has a very high ratio of surface area to volume. The brain is analogous to a sponge and a gear or lightbulb is analogous to a plastic ball.

Boundaries in the mechanism are assigned by choice regarding what is most useful in accomplishing a goal. For the purpose of my thesis above a boundary is a place where the probability that something could go either left or right is closer to 50/50. It is less useful to consider low probability regions as being a boundary.
Thanks for that! However, I am just wondering if microchips should ever work as designed in view of that idea - there will always be a passing spirit ready to mess things up.

David
 
#10
Thanks for that! However, I am just wondering if microchips should ever work as designed in view of that idea - there will always be a passing spirit ready to mess things up.

David
Hasn't someone done a study on computers malfunctioning more often around a person when they're having a bad day? If not, they should.

There is evidently some mechanism that reduces the density of spirit interactions to such a low level that mechanisms mostly behave according to their probable function. In other words, the universe has just enough magic in it to make it interesting and not enough to destroy it which wouldn't be as interesting.
 
#11
Hasn't someone done a study on computers malfunctioning more often around a person when they're having a bad day? If not, they should.

There is evidently some mechanism that reduces the density of spirit interactions to such a low level that mechanisms mostly behave according to their probable function. In other words, the universe has just enough magic in it to make it interesting and not enough to destroy it which wouldn't be as interesting.
Well it would be a fine balance. Certainly, people like Pauli were renowned for causing experiments to crash.

The thing is, a typical AI system is built out of standard computer hardware, so you might expect it to be too robust. OTH perhaps the spirits know to apply more 'force' when they want to achieve something.

I guess some discussion of EVP might help here.

David
 
#12
Part of the problem in this forum is I can never find a thread that I want to comment on directly.
Certainly, it's easy to just grab onto the congo line and respond to the shows that Alex works so hard to put up.
But, I don't think many of us got where we are in this forum and listening to Alex's podcast by not being a little Agin about something. (Thanks to my Scottish Grandma who used to report "Whatever they're for, he's agin")
That being said, I guess here is as good a place as any to share a little epiphany I've had.

Let me begin by saying, Skeptiko and Alex have absolutely been my co-pilot into the world of the Weird. I began my own podcast years ago "North of Reality" but making Audio Drama takes way too much energy for me to keep a podcast going that considers the nature of the universe. So, I stopped.
That being said, I keep discussing various elements with people and as much as I adore Alex, I think I need to start raising a warning flag.
And it is this. I don't think Alex is right about a couple of things.
I don't think he's right about Climate Change.
I don't think he's right about government-run healthcare.
And I don't think he's right about social democracies.

And I think the key for me is talking to my right-tipped friend who speaks in similar ways. And that's when I started comparing both my friend and Alex's rhetoric and I began to notice something.
First of all, there is most definitely the "Look into the Abyss too long, and the Abyss looks back" factor that goes on.
I think the problem is, if you go seeking the truth desperately, you start leaning on the old prejudices you may still have.

What prejudices would I be talking about?
I think Alex is absolutely right about Psy-Ops.
But I think he's wrong about how we go about it. I think the greatest Psy-Ops are those we enclose on ourselves.
In the fascinating book "People of the Lie" M. Scott Peck talks about how the lie is the things we tell ourselves that create the greatest Evil of all, the illusions that surround us.
Once we get to a point of hearing what we want to hear, it becomes a very dangerous place to break out of those places and see some of the variations beyond it.

Of what am I speaking? Well, the great Psy-Op that has been placed on America for many many decades now is that Capitalism GOOD, Socialism BAD. And it's become so ingrained that it has become almost a caricature. It's a Psy-Op designed to stop people from looking to their government to actually be effective, and turn to Corporatism and Big Business to solve problems.
Anand Giridharadas gets this with his latest book "Winners Take All". When he points out that the big Global push isn't some massive communist world-government plot to take over us all. They already have. It's called Disaster Capitalism. It's called Global Corporatism.
It's the billionaires like Bill Gates and Jeffrey Bezos who aren't some kind of blood-drinking pedo cult members (although to be fair I don't know what they do on their free time), but rather greed gone to measures that have exploded and now are out to not just fix the American economy but the world.
Not for any other reason but to make themselves more and more wealthy at the cost of the planet, of national independence, of your local Ma and Pa stores on the corner. There's a reason why the Olympic committee destroys most wildlife and economies of the communities that host them. There's a reason why a man in London was prevented from using "Olympic Pizza" as the name of his business he had decades before the Olympics arrived, and it's not because he was getting orders of children in his basement from Hilary Clinton.
It's because capitalism WITHOUT regulation goes off the rails and devours everything in sight.

Go watch the extremely well-researched "The Corporation" documentary and its most recent unfortunate sequel. Go read "The Shock Doctrine" from Naomi Klein or "One Market Under God" by the incredible Thomas Frank, journalist, and historian and realize that the problem isn't just CORRUPTION, as my friend says, but capitalism unregulated.

So let me first disavow my own beliefs. I'm not a communist. I'm not a socialist. I believe in capitalism. But not in the unregulated form of capitalism that's occurred. I believe in a strong PEOPLE LED government. In Canada, while we do have our own problems with corruption as we become more and more like the U.S., we have our own charter that says something entirely different than "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness". We have "Peace, Order and Good Government". Before you start yelling that Mao would appreciate that, consider first that without those three I just mentioned, there is no effective Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." You have the disorder of the U.S. with hatred, petty squabblings and people picking jerseys and not moralities to follow.

So, my concern is the main problem is being entirely ignored and Hanlon's Razor is ignored.
STOP looking for some vast global conspiracy and look around you. Trying to get various powerful forces to agree on something is nearly impossible. As Jordan Peterson points out, we live on a knife's edge with civilization. It's almost impossible to get anything done because there are so many moving parts. I've been sitting here waiting for the Globalists to take over every country- as promised- because of COVID, or as Alex calls it "The Plandemic", and yet, what do we have? Joe Biden saying there won't be any such thing as vaccine passports from the government, and you should be not wearing the mask outside. Hell, once we get the pandemic under control we'll stop wearing the damn masks although there's plenty on the Left who want us to keep wearing them.

Where's the year-long Dark Forces that were going to take over everything?
I'll tell you where. They are the corporate capitalists sucking up jobs, and malls, and occupations. Planning to make employment obsolete, and profits for their shareholders higher and higher.
Where's Pizzagate? It's a smokescreen to let the Jeff Epstein's and Peter Nygard's of the world who have been enabled- not by some demonic power, but by unchecked obscene levels of wealth that put people in their control.
We already have study after study after study that demonstrates that massive wealth removes empathy. (http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threa...scientism-spirituality-why-evil-matters.4694/)

But we don't want to explore that, because it means challenging the very basis of the Psy-Op... that which is, making endless money is a universal good- EVEN THOUGH NO RELIGIOUS OR SPIRITUAL TRADITION SUPPORTS THAT.

I'm not saying we need to take a vow of poverty. I'm not even suggesting we should get rid of wealthy people.
But, we need to take the focus off of suggesting that there is some grand cabal and start looking at the main threats that are right before us.
And I will put my tent post in the ground here.
It is NOT ethical for someone to be a billionaire. Let's say you can have... 300 million personal wealth and tax 90% off the next dollar from that. When that happened in America before, the middle class flourished... and what's MORE, you didn't have nearly the corruption you have now.
America could possibly be one of the most corrupt First World nations, and it's because their form of capitalism is broken. Their ethical understanding of wealth is creating global insecurity and endangering the entire planet.
If Bill Gates had 300 million dollars net worth. He wouldn't be the power broker in denying patent requests for vaccines. Jeff Bezos wouldn't be wanting to buy up banking institutions and closed-down malls. And the leaders of the free world wouldn't be bought and sold.

A new social democracy model MUST come forward in which capitalism is still the function of commerce, and government is the effective bulwark for the people against the tyranny of the Global Corporations.
There's a reason why Iceland jailed the banksters who crashed the economy in 2008. Because their people demanded it.
And guess what? They are still running a market economy there. Imagine.
J
 
#13
Of what am I speaking? Well, the great Psy-Op that has been placed on America for many many decades now is that Capitalism GOOD, Socialism BAD.
Whether or not they realize it, the people who say "Socialism BAD" are not referring to socialism (they all socialize public school, police, water, roads etc.), rather they're referring to the BAD type of people who want to be in charge of Socialism: Those who subconsciously do not see their fellows as equals, and who by-default only know how to engineer permanent dependencies.

It's the billionaires like Bill Gates and Jeffrey Bezos who aren't some kind of blood-drinking pedo cult members (although to be fair I don't know what they do on their free time), but rather greed gone to measures that have exploded and now are out to not just fix the American economy but the world.
You think Gates and Bezos are free-range billionaires, rather than just players sanctioned(aka socialized) by the state? You think the three letter agencies allow people to have that much influence untethered?

Joe Biden saying there won't be any such thing as vaccine passports from the government, and you should be not wearing the mask outside.
Can't tell whether you buy into this.

A new social democracy model MUST come forward in which capitalism is still the function of commerce, and government is the effective bulwark for the people against the tyranny of the Global Corporations.
"Who would you trust to be in charge of this?..... is exactly the wrong question. The right question is, what kind of constitution(new or updated) could sufficiently check and balance it?
 
#14
I apologize if this isn’t formatted very well I’m sitting in a parking lot as last night my power went out probably because of a storm. So let me answer the questions and points you provide. Yes, most people in America have no clue as to what socialism really is. They operate under some kind of McCarthy ideal of the 1950s. The suggestion that somehow any move towards a social democracy is a win for communism. It’s been 40 years since Reagan said “the most terrifying thing for someone to hear is I am from the government and I’m trying to help”. That’s not the exact quote but I’m having trouble accessing stuff at this point.
I think it’s obvious that Bezos and Gates come from America. Because they come from an idea that just because they were successful, and let’s not forget the fact that they are successful because of a corrupt corporatist government, that everybody needs to follow what they are doing and they need to run the world. Everybody outside of media, which has also been co-opted by big corporative forces, have all been asking the same question: “why is a software engineer the person we are talking to about vaccines?“

but that hasn’t become unusual in America. Whether it is someone who is a celebrity, or someone who is perceived to be a business magnate, America seems to not have hired the best and brightest when it comes to running the ship but rather those who have been successful in the business sector.
running a company has almost 0 to do with running a government. And we are seeing the fallout of trying to run countries based on business models. Hell, we’re seeing the fallout trying to run schools as businesses. It’s harming our universities and our public schools.

so if you were asking if I think they are sanctioned by the state. No. I think government is intended to be a bulwark against massive wealth. And we have studies to show that in America at least the only people who have a say now, is the ultra wealthy. The common citizen has no voice. And that hasn’t been because of socialism. Quite the contrary. That’s been because of the corrosive and eroding powers of wealth constantly pressing to remove regulations and sanctions and lines so that the American government has become a transferal of the citizens money into the hands of the billionaire few.
One of the other great misunderstandings from Americans is that, this is the way of the world. But it is not. Nor does it have to be.

as for “buying into what Biden says“. I tend to take people at what they say until proven differently. There is no evidence. There is no legislation. There is no suggestion that the government is poised to create vaccine passports. On the other hand, corporations are. Airlines. Large scale global businesses are pressing for that. And everybody is focussed on what Biden is doing as “big government“. Once again keep your eyes on the ball and see who is pressing for vaccine passports. It’s the corporations because without doing it you cut into their bottom line. But as for having faith or belief in any governmental officials? Screw that. Actions speak louder than words. I am by nature a progressive – and not a SJW because I called those people regressives. And I have no faith in “the squad“ anymore. They have betrayed everything that they were elected for. And trust me there are progressives who are fighting mad that they have become part of the machine.
Certainly I think that you don’t need to replace the American Constitution. Like I said if you go back to Eisenhower and the way they treated the ultimate rich. Hell, go back to Roosevelt and see why he would’ve been elected forever by the people because his policies set forward the health of the American nation and the rise of the middle class until we saw First Reagan then Bush, then Clinton, then Bush Junior, then Obama, then Trump all erode and destroy everything that was built so that the wealthy have never been taxed less, infrastructure has never been more at a perilous state, and the very nature of democracy is in danger.
One of the other great misconceptions of America is that capitalism equals democracy. But there is very little evidence of that. You can have a corporate squid sucking out all of the money in a Third World nation, paying the citizens as little as possible and operating in a capitalist system. But there is no citizen engagement. There is no freedom. There is no democracy. Our biggest threat, is that this vampiric form of corporatism has overwhelmed how are effective capitalism and replaced it with a plutocracy that sees more wealth inequality, poverty, sickness, and deaths than even the original Gilded Age. What is needed is to look towards Nordic models for inspiration to reverse the course.
After all, such ugly ideas like “taxation is theft“ in the end only seeks to impoverish people and make the wealthy untouchable.
 
#15
Part of the problem in this forum is I can never find a thread that I want to comment on directly.
Certainly, it's easy to just grab onto the congo line and respond to the shows that Alex works so hard to put up.
You can always choose one of the main categories and start your own thread! For example, here is one I started a good while ago:

http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threads/behes-argument-in-darwin-devolved.4317/

Alex's podcasts are important, but there is more going on in Skeptiko than that.

David
 
#16
There is no evidence. There is no legislation. There is no suggestion that the government is poised to create vaccine passports. On the other hand, corporations are. Airlines. Large scale global businesses are pressing for that. And everybody is focussed on what Biden is doing as “big government“. Once again keep your eyes on the ball and see who is pressing for vaccine passports.
not to be crass, but…
If you don’t think the government and Big Pharma are good cop bad copping this one… then there’s definitely nothing I can sufficiently prove to you.

Had to say that.
I appreciate the rest of your responses and regardless of any disagreements I think it’s 100% obvious were on the same team.
 
#17
On the other hand, corporations are. Airlines. Large scale global businesses are pressing for that.
Not quite sure why it's in the best interests of airlines to press for vaccine passports. Wouldn't they result in less people (those who choose not to get vaccinated) electing not to travel? And what exactly would be the advantage for corporations/global businesses? I may be missing something -- if so, please let me know.
 

Alex

Administrator
#18
Part of the problem in this forum is I can never find a thread that I want to comment on directly.
Certainly, it's easy to just grab onto the congo line and respond to the shows that Alex works so hard to put up.
But, I don't think many of us got where we are in this forum and listening to Alex's podcast by not being a little Agin about something. (Thanks to my Scottish Grandma who used to report "Whatever they're for, he's agin")
That being said, I guess here is as good a place as any to share a little epiphany I've had.
thanks for this awesome post, Jack.

specifics:

First of all, there is most definitely the "Look into the Abyss too long, and the Abyss looks back" factor that goes on.
for me personally I have to say I feel more connected to light / spirit then I did before my investigation. a more refined nuanced understanding of evil has helped.

In the fascinating book "People of the Lie" M. Scott Peck talks about how the lie is the things we tell ourselves that create the greatest Evil of all, the illusions that surround us.
Once we get to a point of hearing what we want to hear, it becomes a very dangerous place to break out of those places and see some of the variations beyond it.
I agree, but then that's the journey we are all on... I mean how could it be otherwise. we are trying to break through the illusion.


Of what am I speaking? Well, the great Psy-Op that has been placed on America for many many decades now is that Capitalism GOOD, Socialism BAD. And it's become so ingrained that it has become almost a caricature.
this is kind of a sinkhole discussion topic, but I don't want to totally blow past it.

it seems to me that if there is anything worth talking about regarding the USA it's coming through the constitution. " we the people" is about individual rights in freedoms. so, really really big picture, capitalism good, commie shit ( give me all your rights and freedoms and I'll tell you which ones you can have back) bad.

STOP looking for some vast global conspiracy and look around you.
yada, yada. how about we follow the data.

what did you think of:
Dr. Dan Wilson, Covid-19 Mask Science |490| - Skeptiko ...

I think he got body slammed because he was using poor science to try and prop up the kind of beliefs/ conclusions that you're talkin about.

My logic is simple: dan is wrong... therefore there's a plandemic :)

Where's Pizzagate?
??? wow... watch MouthyBuddha bitchute
#mouthybuddha - BitChute
 
#19
Of what am I speaking? Well, the great Psy-Op that has been placed on America for many many decades now is that Capitalism GOOD, Socialism BAD. And it's become so ingrained that it has become almost a caricature. It's a Psy-Op designed to stop people from looking to their government to actually be effective, and turn to Corporatism and Big Business to solve problems.
My partner started life behind the iron curtain, leaving in her teens. That gives me an interesting perspective about a lot of this. She hated the USSR, but by now I think we both have considerable sympathy with Russia, which seems to be tarred with the brush of socialism, even though it threw off that system of government about 30 years ago! It is totally crazy that the US cannot give up this cold war and simply make peace with Russia.

It also seems to us that the West has allowed its democratic system to crumble - culminating in the farce leading up to the election in the US last autumn.

I think we need a new ism - one that realistically looks at current problems.

David
 
#20
Love this interview, nearly makes up for the pathetic Cowan one! ;)

I recently watched part of the Thrive II docudrama prominently featuring Nassim, (and like Alex), realized I was duped by my first impressions not only of him, but of the original Thrive documentary, which at the time made a big impression on me.

But I just wanted to chime in and start following this thread, adding if I can offer anything or calling out BS if I think I smell it. Like, when Alex is talking about the polio vaccines causing illness which then somehow ‘proves’ viral contagion. Now that we know these studies are flawed and the ingredients variable and highly questionable and toxic, who knows what was causing these issues then attributed to whatever virus was created in a lab. Doctors are misdiagnosing constantly based on what they are hearing from their peers, who are also just guessing, based often on BS data or Guidelines from above. I’ve looked back at studies that have caused huge policy shifts in the US (not only cannabis, but also once popular ingredients like sassafras, poke weed, pine, datura, etc and other popular ingredients and medicinals of native populations) and some of this predates Rockefeller medicine, and they are flawed even to the laymans’ eyes. Force-feeding rats for months saffrole until they die is hardly a relevant indicator of how rootbeer affects the human body, yet these are the kinds of ’studies’ that get such ingredients ‘banned’ for decades. Further research will tell you it’s total BS, because these same ingredients are then exploited in regions like SE Asia (precisely to import to US markets) to create popular illegal drugs like Ecstasy (street named Sass). The Right hand PRETENDS it does not know what the Left hand is doing.

And when you discount Cowan et al as ‘Flat Earth’ types then quote mainstream science as the proof, Alex, how are you not contributing to the ‘see no evil’ paradigm? When you start saying well, “so and so BigWig says . . .” How is this not an appeal to authority? You discount and then reward popular science sometimes in the same breathe!

And, thank heavens for you. :)
cheers
 
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