Re: Attempt to put Paranormal discussion in context

From: Jef Allbright (
Date: Sun Jan 01 2006 - 11:33:24 MST

On 1/1/06, Damien Broderick <> wrote:
> I think the key to the credibility problem, at least among thinkers
> characteristic of this list, is the difficulty in retaining a distinction
> between inanimate physical systems that are highly reliable, even if
> entirely novel, such as x-ray machines, and purposive, complex, opaque
> cognitive/emotive systems ("human beings", for short). It seems completely
> reasonable to some people to expect that if humans can do Y, and you know
> how to do Y, you should be able to do it every time you're asked to. That
> is largely true of such tasks as tying your shoe laces, but it breaks down
> badly when an artist is challenged to "Go ahead, then, if you're so
> `creative', write a book/paint a painting/compose a symphony, and make a
> million dollars with it!" Even so routine a human experience as falling in
> love has proved to be unpredictable, even zany. Those humans! So much more
> irritating than simple machines.

Thanks Damien for highlighting what I see as the great and perplexing
divide between those who tend to emphasize the subjective and those
who emphasize the objective as their framework for describing reality.

Personally, I see all of it -- us and our subjective experience, and
the unpredictability that accompanies insufficient context -- in
mechanical terms, and strangely, I feel that my viewpoint enhances,
rather than diminishes, the mystery and romance of human existence.

- Jef

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