Truth, objectivity, science, reincarnation?, beauty

4/14/17

As I journey to find the truth, I must be open-minded and I must trust myself, according to Sagan. However, I can’t exclude the world, and I don’t mean to. I journey about, picking up different ideas and learning different perspectives, and I cannot find the truth if I am not truly objective. True objectivity may be hard. I may get emotionally attached to certain ideas and ways of looking at the world. I may not want my views to be turned around. But I must be accepting of change.

Even religion, which keeps knocking on my door and which I have consistently scowled at, must be allowed inside, and must test my objectivity. I must give it all a chance, because I don’t really know. Just because orthodox science disagrees with something or refuses to give that something a chance doesn’t mean that something is wrong. Absence of evidence is not the same as evidence of absence. The fact I don’t have much evidence for religions being true does not mean there is no evidence to be found. It feels a bit like betrayal to be considering more-speculative realms. To consider reincarnation and  parapsychology.

“par·a·psy·chol·o·gy

ˌperəˈkäləjē/

noun

noun: parapsychology

the study of mental phenomena that are excluded from or inexplicable by orthodox scientific psychology (such as hypnosis, telepathy, etc.).”

But it’s what Sagan would have wanted. I will remain skeptical as I am, and I won’t leap to a conclusion I haven’t enough evidence for, no matter how much I want it to be true. My mom’s been “messing” with radical ideas. She’s just begun to dip her feet into the water. She’s listening to different perspectives, and is constantly changing her model of the world. She’s very open-minded. (The Transcendentalists wouldn’t have disagreed with her constant change—they believed there shouldn’t always be consistency—they believed change should always occur.) I’m hesitant to believe everything she says because I haven’t heard that before, and I wonder how much truth there is to it. She says it’s science, but what if it’s just pseudoscience? She says I’m too skeptical but I don’t think so—I think one must be very skeptical, and one must listen to different ideas, not just reject them, but be truly objective. Maybe she believes easily without verifying the science behind others’ perspectives because she is religious, or at the very least has this idea that everything happens for a reason, and that there are no coincidences—which may cause her to think that the perspectives she’s receiving are being sent to her from God, and that she doesn’t need to check them because God would not betray her.

That’s just one of the problems with blind faith…

Sure, the idea of an afterlife appeals to me, and the idea of reincarnation is also better than the prospect of death. So I’m curious, and I want to see what evidence there is. I want to explore those areas and see if those things could be. I’m not giving up on science. I’m doing what a scientist ought to, actually—which is to consider things objectively, even things which one does not think one will believe. I doubt I’ll believe in reincarnation, but I have to give it a chance. Objectivity aligns with my values.

“pseu·do·sci·ence

ˌso͞odōˈsīəns

noun

a collection of beliefs or practices mistakenly regarded as being based on scientific method.”

I’m wary of people who have blind faith. I assume that the people drawn to these speculative subjects want these things to be real—which is perfectly understandable—(and all fields become corrupted) and I worry that the desire to discover that something is true will influence a person, make them biased, and have that bias affect their conclusions. I don’t want lack of truth, in other words. We are imperfect. I understand that, and I have compassion. But still, I am a bit hesitant to just trust in someone whose objectivity I am not certain of.

I used to be afraid of even being exposed to ideas that I automatically thought were “poisonous” because they were untruthful. That caused me to close myself to talk of religion or other unfounded or too-speculative things. and that was not objective. I didn’t even realize that was wrong (according to my values) until Sagan pointed it out to me. He said to listen to listen to all sorts of different ideas and perspectives, as many as possible—to not trust anyone’s ideas without making sure they were reasonable… and whatnot. He’s made me reevaluate myself, because he was better. I think. Not that I don’t have potential, but he had grown more in some areas than me, and it’s like I said—better people sharpen you. And he’s made me grow because he made me look at myself and compare us both—without envy or sadness—and I took from him and improved myself and my life.

Someone once said that comparison was the thief of joy. Well, it doesn’t have to be. It took a bit to get over myself, because I avoided it, I guess. I’ve avoided unpleasant things before and I always come back to them. I didn’t want to accept I wasn’t the best. But I did, and it doesn’t hurt at all. I think I’m capable of amazing things—but I think everyone else is, too. Everyone has fantastic potential. Everyone is special. Why should I be the only one? It took a bit to accept others were just downright better than me. But now that I have accepted that, I’m not so afraid of being confronted by those who are. And now that I’m not afraid of that, I’m going to experience a lot of personal growth. I want to find people who are better, and learn from them. I turned the reality into something positive. You can’t deny the reality, but you can choose what you’ll do about it. Make the best of it, or not?

The following information (aside from the definitions, which I’m getting from Google) come from an article you can find here. I made the article words bold, just like the Google definitions—but whereas the definitions are within quotation marks, the article words are within brackets {}:

{CARL SAGAN: “REINCARNATION DESERVES SERIOUS STUDY.” YEARS LATER & THE RESULTS ARE IN

Carl Sagan, the well-known American astronomer, astrobiologist, cosmologist, astrophysicist, and author passed away in 1996. He was very skeptical of non-mainstream work, and was the same when it came to many topics within the realm of parapsychology. Almost 20 years later, we now have substantial evidence to confirm that various phenomena within the realm of parapsychology are indeed real. Some of these include telepathy, psychokinesis, distant healing, ESP, and many others, including reincarnation.}

“psy·cho·ki·ne·sis

ˌsīkōkəˈnēsis,ˌsīkōˌkīˈnēsis

noun

noun: psychokinesis

the supposed ability to move objects by mental effort alone.”

I don’t know if I trust this article, but I’m giving it a chance. I’m listening and considering. I won’t walk away with a conclusion. I don’t form conclusions that quickly.

ESP is extrasensory perception—the perception of sensations not through the 5 physical senses (smell, sight, hearing, touch, taste).

{Sagan did not brush off the scientific study of these phenomena, in fact, he felt that some of them deserve “serious study.”

“There are claims in the parapsychology field which, in my opinion, deserve serious study,” with [one] being “that young children sometimes report details of a previous life, which upon checking turn out to be accurate and which they could not have known about in any other way than reincarnation.” (source) (1)}

Something has bothered me. The scientist within me cannot brush aside even evidence that is ignored by the orthodox scientific model of the world that I have reason to believe in. I don’t know how this can be, but before something nasty happens in the family, my mom has a dream about it. My mom’s family is in South America, and we live in the U.S. I’m talking about unexpected things, such as the sudden death of a family member. Even people she’s not directly related to—she had one such dream before my dad’s dad passed away, unexpectedly. He died in China, on his way to the U.S. I was going to see him. It was the 4th of July.

It was worst for my dad. I was too young and I didn’t even realize. I was so detached from the world, focused on objectivity to the point of questioning everything and not allowing morals to make me human. When he died, I didn’t understand it was sad. I still gave my dad a hard time like always. I was completely unaware of his feelings. I saw his distress, but I couldn’t feel any empathy.

Only recently have I begun to change my ideas and allow morals to hit me. And I don’t want to go back, because whereas I didn’t want to be human and imperfect, now I’m glad of my humanity and I cherish it.

I saw being human as getting in the way of finding truth. I saw being human as having morals and emotions and not being a perfectly logical machine. I wanted to accept sense alone. Not things that didn’t make sense, not things like culture and feelings and opinions. When I had to write about my opinion in school, I felt no motivation, because opinion didn’t matter to me.

I was cold and insensitive. I had no regard for my family’s feelings because they didn’t matter to me. I closed myself off to the point of not being able to connect with them, and not being able to feel empathy.

This was ages ago. I’m not that way anymore. I’ve changed so much and I understand what I did not always. I was never trying to do anything wrong. I was doing what I thought was right.

That’s my history. I can’t deny it, I sometimes regret it, I don’t want to hide it.

But that’s not who I am anymore. Now I care about others. I used to find beauty in the cold—in being detached. Now I find it in the warmth. Please forgive what I can’t erase.

Anyway, she dreams of something awful the night before related to them, and she has this unshakable feeling that something is wrong. She’s always right. But there’s no explanation for this that I know of within today’s science. How can that be? How can it be merely coincidence when it is so consistent and reliable?

Of course there’s a reason that makes perfect sense. But what is it that we don’t know? We must explore to answer the questions we have.

{He also mentions two others. One is that, by thought alone, humans can affect random number generators in computers (you can read more about that here), and the other is that people under mild sensory deprivation can receive thoughts or images “projected” towards them (you can read more about that here).

If Sagan were alive today, he would see that the serious scientific study of reincarnation has indeed been undertaken, despite the fact that it is a touchy subject, and the results challenge the belief systems of many.}

But the universe (AKA all of creation) is so beautiful that all its truths are marvelous.

I’m not afraid to learn of how things really are. Because I can’t escape reality anyway, and I’d rather have my eyes open.

The truth is magnificent. You do not need magic as it is in the stories to be real—you need only to be willing to content yourself with the magic of what is. We are so used to it that we can easily become blind to its preciousness and beauty.

{When looking at these topics from a scientific standpoint, it’s a good idea to suspend all belief systems and simply examine the information that’s been gathered from a neutral standpoint (which is, of course, easier said than done).

The Results & What These Reincarnation Cases Look Like

This topic has been studied by numerous scientists who belong to various academic institutions from all over the world, so in the interest of a short on-line read, choosing which studies/examples to share can be a difficult process, given how many of them exist. Worldwide, more than twenty-five hundred specific cases have been examined in great detail, more so where these notions are more culturally accepted (in the East), although cases have been documented on every single continent. For this reason, if you are interested in this topic from a scientific standpoint, we suggest you further your own research beyond what you read here.

One great example comes from University of Virginia psychiatrist Jim Tucker, who in 2008 published a review of cases suggestive of reincarnation in the Journal Explore. (source)

In the article, he describes a typical reincarnation case, where subjects start reporting a past life experience. One common denominator of these cases is that they all involve children, with the average age being 35 months when subjects begin to report their experiences. The experiences reported are often detailed and extensive, and Tucker points out that many of these children show strong emotional involvement when speaking about their claims, some cry and beg to be taken to what they say is their previous family.}

That’s crazy. I’m baffled. I’m glad I read this interesting article. 36 months = 3 years, so the average age at which children begin reporting this is just under 3 years of age. That’s extremely young, which makes it unlikely this could be lying of any form. Their information is accurate, and for them to be emotionally affected in this way… these characteristics make it less likely that it could be a hoax. Yet if not a hoax, how does one explain this?

This is fascinating, but I’d like to move on to something else for the moment. Even fascinating things get monotonous. I’ll end the post here for now. You know where to go if you want to read the full article without my interruptions. Thank you for your time!

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Truth, objectivity, science, reincarnation?, beauty

  1. I can relate to this post a lot. Perhaps my case is the other way around — I grew up in a considerably religious family, and studied in a religious school. I believed it all, until I gained intellectual independence and realized I was slowly becoming more and more skeptical of religious and other unscientific ideas. It took some time for me to admit this to myself, though, because I was surrounded by people who made me feel that such skepticism is a serious crime.

    I’m now quite comfortable with my beliefs, and while I personally do not believe in any religion, I try not to have issues with religious people as long as they don’t impose their beliefs on me too strongly. I do understand the role of religion in society, why it exists so rampantly, and how it actually does some good to those who believe in it. It gives their lives a lot of meaning, purpose, and guidance, and I wouldn’t want to take those away from them.

    On your shared article about reincarnation — it is indeed interesting, and if what it claims is indeed true, then it could potentially be groundbreaking. However, I have my own share of skepticism. The article is almost entirely based on a source article that I can’t read, because the link on the site is invalid; could its main reference article have been removed by the site that published it? Such experiments need to be performed in the presence of trusted members of the scientific community who can attest to its veracity, but I cannot check if this is the case because the article isn’t there.

    Anyway, I’m probably especially skeptical of such articles because I’ve read a lot of similar ones that turn out to be less than scientific. I’d like to share with you a particularly interesting Wikipedia article that’s slightly related: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Million_Dollar_Paranormal_Challenge. It’s a very interesting read, I hope it fascinates you as much as it fascinated me!

    Despite all this, I’ve long been really wishing for any proof of “supernatural” phenomena that’s achieved through a scientific approach. I have yet to see one, but if I ever do, I would happily embrace the idea. 🙂

    Anyway, thanks for sharing your views on this interesting topic!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. First off, thanks for reading my post!
      “I do understand the role of religion in society, why it exists so rampantly, and how it actually does some good to those who believe in it. It gives their lives a lot of meaning, purpose, and guidance, and I wouldn’t want to take those away from them.”
      Hmm, I agree with you there when you say it gives their life purpose. Relating to my most recent comment on your color-perception post, when people reach the developmental stage where they’re seeking for ways to contribute on a larger scale, when they want to feel their work has an impact, religion helps. Throughout all of humanity’s history, we have searched for a story whose grandeur gives our lives meaning. People who are religious are capable of doing good, and sometimes their religion causes them to do more good than they would without it. They may be more inclined to be encouraging and kind, forgiving and patient–they may be more inclined to think of others before them, to volunteer, to donate. You say you don’t want to remove religion’s benefits from people, so I’m guessing you wouldn’t remove religion at all if you could? If so, my uncle disagrees. We’ve discussed this more than once, and he thinks unfounded faith is irrational, and encouragement of irrationality in this area causes irrationality to be more widespread in other areas. There’s irrationality everywhere in our society. None of us can be perfectly rational, but we can be better… and it bothers me when my mom takes me to church (my dad’s agnostic like me and doesn’t go) and I see the priest encouraging people to /pray/ for the world’s problems. Prayer never did much for me when I did believe. Besides, people have always prayed, and nothing’s really… happened. When my mom is asked why God /allows/ us to suffer–doesn’t do anything to stop it–she says it’s because God wants us to have free will. Well, if God’s never interfered because he wants us to have free will, why do people think that prayer will sudden compel God to go back on that and change things as we desire? You know? I don’t agree with unfounded faith. I understand that it has its benefits, but atheists can still find purpose and meaning–not that I think atheism should exist, either, because that belief is equally unfounded…
      I’ve addressed this in a previous post, but maybe if people didn’t believe in things they couldn’t prove, and for which there was too much controverting evidence, they would appreciate what /is/ more. Sagan wanted to believe. It’s natural. But as a scientist, he couldn’t just do it, because faith in something unfounded went against what he believed.
      (Okay, here’s the post where I expanded on that, if you’re interested: https://amagdalum.wordpress.com/2017/04/10/the-universe-meaning-appreciation-optimism/)
      He said that his lack of faith had made him appreciate things more. I talked about my weird feeling that there is hope, that there is something, that we are special. But I considered that maybe without that hope, I would appreciate the preciousness of life more…
      There is a chance that this is it.
      “The article is almost entirely based on a source article that I can’t read, because the link on the site is invalid; could its main reference article have been removed by the site that published it?”
      I used the correct URL. I don’t know why you couldn’t access it, but the article (I just checked) is indeed there. Let me give you the URL, and let me know if you have any problems: http://www.collective-evolution.com/2015/06/18/carl-sagan-reincarnation-deserves-serious-study-years-later-the-results-are-in/
      If it helps, the website is called Collective Evolution, and the article name is: CARL SAGAN: “REINCARNATION DESERVES SERIOUS STUDY.” YEARS LATER & THE RESULTS ARE IN
      “I’d like to share with you a particularly interesting Wikipedia article that’s slightly related: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Million_Dollar_Paranormal_Challenge. It’s a very interesting read, I hope it fascinates you as much as it fascinated me!”
      Thank you! I will get around to it–however, I have no idea when. It’s not that it’s not important–it’s just that I have this long list of things to get around to, some of which take priority (like informing myself of colleges, doing homework, preparing for the SAT, reading the driver’s manual…). I will read it, though!
      “Anyway, thanks for sharing your views on this interesting topic!”
      No problem, thanks for commenting!

      Like

      1. “I’m guessing you wouldn’t remove religion at all if you could?” I personally won’t completely remove it, though I’d definitely set some solid boundaries to it. After all, religion is really just a belief in something that’s not verifiable by scientific means; by itself, there’s nothing really harmful about it. The belief reincarnation, for example, is part of a religion, and although unscientific, people should be free to believe it if they want. It may be irrational, but people can be irrational without religion anyway. I personally think striving to remove religion completely would be unfair to many and quite hypocritical of me, because that would mean I’ll be imposing my own beliefs on religious people, when I’ve been wanting them to stop imposing their beliefs on me all this time. All I really want is for religion to stop imposing its ideals on others; to stop interfering with matters that affect even a single person who is not part of it. For one, this means religion should stop interfering with social issues, period.

        Maybe an analogy I can think of is this: people can be allowed to like books, and people with similar book interests can form book clubs. However, the rules of these book clubs should in no way be imposed on people from other book clubs, let alone on people that are not a member of any book club. What’s happening now, though, is that members of different book clubs fight with each other (and with non-members), claiming they’re the superior book club and that the whole world should follow them, which is completely out of line.

        Regarding the article, the link you shared itself is indeed working; what’s NOT working is the link inside the article which points to the reference that the author of the article used. (particularly, this: http://www.medicine.virginia.edu/clinical/departments/psychiatry/sections/cspp/dops/dr.-tuckers-publications/REI37.pdf — it just redirects to the psychiatry home page.) Since the link is broken, I can’t check the details of the actual published article itself, of which the article only presents short excerpts.

        Anyway, don’t get pressured on the article, it’s really just a little Wikipedia article I found very intriguing. Go do your school stuff, it’s infinitely more important! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s