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Speaking With Authority

"Men suppose their reason has command over their words; still it happens that words in return exercise authority over reason." -Francis Bacon Sr.

"Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers or elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it." - Buddha.

5 basic tenets of the Common Universal pattern
Basic Syntax of 'is'

A few days ago on a discussion on the Chaos Theory, I postulated on what entitles one to speak with authority as an 'expert' on any given matter. I also speculated on the 5 easy reasons for dismissing an alternative point of view. In yesterday's discussion between Dave and Jay about childhood amnesia, they included a link to what the sceptics have to say about post-life regression and pastlife theories. I followed the link, and found the following quote:

"The practice is given undeserved credibility because of the credentials of some of its advocates, e.g. Brian L. Weiss, M.D. who is a graduate of Columbia University and Yale Medical School and Chairman Emeritus of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami. There are no medical internships in PLR (Past Life regression) therapy, nor does being a medical doctor grant one special authority in metaphysics, the occult, or the supernatural." (from "The Skeptic's Dictionary", by Robert Todd Carroll).

I found that a rather astounding statement to be making, even from someone who professes himself to be a sceptic by trade, which provides a built-in bias to begin with, perhaps. With what authority does he establish that such studies are "metaphysics, occult or supernatural"? It amuses me that he claims there is "undeserved credibility" simply as a result of otherwise credible people disagreeing with his scepticism! Since he maintains a medical doctor does not have authority to speak on these matters, I wondered what type of individual does. So I looked up the background of Robert Todd Carroll himself. It turns out he is a "philosophy professor at Sacremento City College, a long time advocate of atheism, skepticism, and critical thinking. In 1994 he set up the Skeptic's Dictionary online consisting of fewer than 50 articles, mostly on logical fallacies and pseudoscience."

Given a consistent theme in my past several weeks of blogs on synchronicity, here's one for you. When I typed his name into my search engine, the first hit on the list was a site called "A List of Websites related to Synchronicity", which had a link to "Synchronicity and the Collective Unconsciousness" by Robert Todd Carroll, described as "an informative page on Jung". On that page, Mr Carroll states: "What evidence is there for synchronicity? None. Jung's defence is so inane I hesitate to repeat it. The premise of the probability simultaneously postulates the existence of the improbable". Well, folks, I hate to tell you "I told you so", but that's tenet 5c) of my theory too! I've never read anything by Jung before. Shivers! Synchronicity or what?!!

Carroll goes on to state: "Jung maintained that these metaphysical notions are scientifically grounded, but they are not empirically testable in any meaningful way. In short, they are not scientific at all, but pseudoscientific". The conclusion following from this must be that anything that is not scientific is disposable. These, the words from the mouth of a philosopher.

In yesterday's blog, I included what could easily be dismissed as perposterous the notion that 'we' are somehow encrypted in the digits of Pi. A spoofing matter, no doubt. And if a few decades ago, someone were to suggest that 'we' were somehow encrypted in a DNA molecule, or genome, no doubt they would be spoofed out the door. So, I felt the need to attribute the idea to an 'acknowledged' and published expert. I have no way of telling, but I suspect most readers had their thoughts change when they realized it wasn't an idea springing from a bipolar, confused mind, but from that of an "outside-the-triangle" thinking scientist and mathematician. I'm also assuming that you accepted my reference without checking it yourself, even though I could have very easily concocted it to give the idea the requisite threshold of credibility (ah! deja vu...there's that word 'threshold' again!).

So again I ponder. Where does authority come from, who gives it, who recognizes it, and why should it have an influence? You need look no further than the classic miscarriage of justice in the O.J. Simpson case to see the travesty of conflicting expertise.

In conclusion, therefore, let me acknowledge that this blog was written by me with the authority of an observer, a thinker and an idea-holder. And, oh yes, I used to be a computer programmer, a systems analyst, and a teacher of logic and programming in a past life (1967-1998 R.I.P.).

I wonder if that is enough authority to write about my ideas, and if any authority is needed to write about ideas in the first place.

P.S. As an aside, allow me to invite you to check out this link that I wrote today on Digital Dewdrops, a "community" blog site with multiple contributors. Please pardon the mild case of patriotism that is built into it, but I think you'll find it amusing/amazing. It reflects positive pride, but negative nothing.



....and just because I can't resist, here's another fractal I created. Such a soothing pasttime it is....and informative too! I call it "Total Eclipse")



"Classical scepticism has two goals: truth, and PEACE of mind". - a treatise by Peter Suber on the true meaning and value of scepticism.



Very cool eclipse Evy!!!

TAG!!!!!! YOUR IT!!!!!!
(Come to my blog and see what yer in for! LOL!)

I see you've added statcounter.com. George Bush -- and all fans of Big Brother -- will be proud.

Don't be misled by the amount of time you see that I devote to your blog, Rick. Since I'm in the library my time is limited. So what I do is, I log onto my favorite blogs, and save the posts to a disk. Then I read the disk at home on my word processor.

Rick, I wanted to comment on the issue that you raise about the importance of what laymen have to say about technical fields which are usually left to the experts. In my readings I recently came across something interesting about the 19th-century German writer and poet, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Although he had no training in science, he made a contribution to biology that foreshadowed by many years the discoveries of Darwin about evolution:

"At the age of thirty-five Goethe had discovered, by methods which foreshadowed comparative morphology, that the human jawbone contained traces of a structure similar to the intermaxillary [jaw] bone in apes, thus linking man structurally with his animal forbears. Why did Goethe see what eluded the specialists? I think that for one he approached the subject without preconceptions. He had no system, no scientific ax to grind. What he did have was a knowledge, won by introspection, of his own development, how everything in his life had evolved slowly, step by step. This basic psychological law made him clairvoyant to the laws of nature. . . .

One day at a cemetery in Venice, his servant laughingly presented him with what he believed to be a human skull. But Goethe identified it as a split ram's skull, and, recalling his discovery a decade earlier of the intermaxillary bone, he saw what nobody else had seen: that the skull did not consist of planes of bone but of vertebrae. From this he concluded that every bone was essentially a part or fragment of a vertebra. Thus he became the first to lay down a leading concept of comparative anatomy. More important still, he stated that 'a common type, striving for evolutionary development (metamorphosis) goes through all organic life, can be observed at certain intermediary stages, and must also be acknowledged when, at the highest human stage, it modestly retreats into hiddenness.' Seen through the loving eyes of the poet, nature led to living nature, law to form. This insight anticipated the ideas of organic evolution seventy years before Charles Darwin." Maria Shrady, "Moments of Insight: The Emergence of Great Ideas In The Lives of Creative Men."

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  • I'm Evydense
  • From Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • And I'm tired of living in the shadow of narrow-mindedness and ignorance. So here's the fax, Jack! "The Bible contains six admonishments to homosexuals and three hundred and sixty-two admonishments to heterosexuals. That doesn't mean that God doesn't love heterosexuals. It's just that they need more supervision." - Lynne Lavner*** I'm confused; curious; satisfied; realistically resigned to being a frustrated idealist; usually at peace with myself, but not always. Amazed at how little I know, and wondering how much I need to understand.
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