View Full Version : Science Saturday: New Beliefs for a New Year

01-05-2008, 09:15 AM

01-05-2008, 11:06 AM
That's when it all began
There was cowboy Neal
At the wheel
Of a bus to never-ever land

from "That's It For the Other One" (http://arts.ucsc.edu/GDead/AGDL/other1.html) by the Grateful Dead

I had an experience similar to John's. It was way back in 1976. A LSD fueled experience which became known as the Night of the Smoking Crater. At some point well into the trip, I had an incredible hallucinatory experience. I had a vision of something that I KNEW was the meaning of it all. I saw an episode of Star Trek that has a scene that that reminds me of that hallucination. There was a massive single cell creature that was eating everything in its path. My hallucination resembled that creature - continuously pulsing, occasionally exploding and reconstituting itself. During the trip, I was convinced that THIS WAS WHAT IT WAS ALL ABOUT!!!!!

At some point the next day, after I had come down, I was taking a shower. I felt like crap. I drank over a case of beer during the trip - which had lasted almost 24 hours. I had not slept. I was suffering from heavy metal aftertaste. The water from the shower was hitting my body with what felt like incredible force. I began thinking about the experience of the past day. I thought back to the hallucination - which now made absolutely no sense to me. I could not figure out what, if any, meaning I had assigned to it. I think that is when I finally gave up trying to find any transcendent meaning to life.

Spanish lady come to me, she lays on me this rose.
It rainbow spirals round and round,
It trembles and explodes
It left a smoking crater of my mind,
I like to blow away.
But the heat came round and busted me
For smilin on a cloudy day

01-05-2008, 11:24 AM
An interesting lecture (http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6127548813950043200&q=why+less+is+more&total=44828&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=0) about happiness and choice...

01-05-2008, 12:17 PM
If I remember correctly from my reading in the past about NLP, looking up and to the right is supposedly an indication that you are processing information visually. I think looking down and to the side is supposedly an indication of processing information auditorily. I can't remember what looking to the side means, and I think there is some differentiation between looking left or right. Supposely, people have a default information processing preference that is revealed by where they look. Could all be bunk, but it was interesting bunk. Have you ever noticed how disconcerting it is to have a conversation with someone about ideas and they never look anywhere but at you? I always get the feeling they are hearing me but not thinking at all about what I'm saying. I don't think you should change your style, John - I agree with George that it conveys the sense that you are pondering the issues.

01-05-2008, 03:59 PM
Bill Richardson is a Democrat, not a moderate Republican.

01-05-2008, 04:29 PM
Mr. Johnson:
It is not true that blood pressure pills have 'little or no' side effects.
In my case
(and I've tried virtually every permutation and combination of pills)
they leave me almost totally incapacitated.
It's like having a permanent dreadful hangover
24 hours a day
without having had any of the initial benefits
that alcohol can provide.

George Johnson
01-05-2008, 04:55 PM
Bill Richardson is a Democrat, not a moderate Republican.

Yes, indeed. I hadn't noticed that John said he was a Republican. Ouch. And I misspoke early on when I said the universe is 13 billion miles instead of light-years in radius.

01-05-2008, 10:21 PM
Horrible Sound Quality from John

I listen to a lot of internet audio and this is so bad it's painful to listen to.


01-06-2008, 06:10 AM

Have you ever noticed how disconcerting it is to have a conversation with someone about ideas and they never look anywhere but at you?

Yes. When the other person is listening, I can't help but be hyperaware for indications of eyes glazing over or the twitch of a sardonic smile. Even more off-putting is someone who looks too steadily at you while talking. To me, that screams "LIAR!" Next time you're dealing with a salesperson, notice how much more often this occurs compared to people you know you can trust.

It's a funny thing -- the old rule of thumb was, and maybe still is, "I could tell he was lying because he couldn't look me in the eye." But there's a real difference between the right amount of eye contact and too much.

So, I also agree with you about this:

I don't think you should change your style, John ...

It never bothers me when diavloggers aren't looking into the camera. Let's recall that Founding Father Wright often does not. Glenn Loury and Eric Alterman are two others who come to mind -- I like the off-axis positioning. Some diavloggers seem comfortable looking right into the camera all the time, but quite a few others have a bit of a deer in the headlights look.

Come to that, if George weren't otherwise such a great guy, the fact that he's always looking at his computer screen might put me off. In general, it's hard to think of something that conveys "I'm not really listening" more than not looking away from a computer screen, book, or TV.

01-06-2008, 06:13 AM

And I misspoke early on when I said the universe is 13 billion miles instead of light-years in radius.

I caught that, too, and just posted a little dig, but then I noticed you beat me to the punch with your self-correction. Good for you. So, I deleted my previous comment, and your record remains unblemished.

01-06-2008, 06:15 AM

I listen to a lot of internet audio and this is so bad it's painful to listen to.

What part of garage band science do you not understand?

01-07-2008, 09:10 AM
I remember that from psychology, I think something like that is a real phenomenon. I don't recall what the exact meanings are, though.

One thing I do remember is that it is different for naturally left-handed people (like me); because a different side of our brain is dominant. If you notice the person you are talking to has disconcerting eye-directionality, look for clues they are left-handed (like Barack Obama; a curled-over-the-top writer; he writes with his hand in the upper case Gamma position).

01-07-2008, 09:14 AM
I agree completely! Man, John sounded like his voice was going through two speaker-phones and then amplified to the rail.

C'mon, guys, is it so hard to equalize average volume level in the post-processing stage? I have to keep my thumb on the volume control this entire diavlog, in order to hear George and not get an eardrum shattered by John.

Happy Hominid
01-07-2008, 07:55 PM
I think I'm the "commenter" John was referring to. In my defense, I wasn't asking that he stare into the camera. That would bother me, as Brendan indicates. What bothers me is that he can go for long periods looking off in the direction of his wife's birds! Worse, he has a tendency to lean off in that direction, with his head going off the screen. He has been much better about that part of it, so if he wants to look for what he's thinking about, it's fine with me!

01-07-2008, 08:48 PM
I think I'm the "commenter" John was referring to.

Glad we got that cleared up. ;^)

Question of style: Why did you use quote marks around commenter? Is it because you don't think this is a real word?

01-08-2008, 05:10 PM
I tend to think it is a real phenomenon, too, but only based on anecdotal evidence with friends and family. I once tried the NLP thing on my boss with great results. Very interesting about the left hand right hand difference. I'll have to look for that.

01-08-2008, 06:20 PM
I had to catch up on my Science Saturday by simul-viewing the last two episodes at the same time (that's a trip), so apologies if I pull comments from the episode before this one.

My first thought on the subject of expert knowledge was - The more significance the information has for you personally, the more of your own judgment you should rely on in evaluating it. Ex: I can rely on an expert to tell me about sub-atomic particle structure because, for the most part, that knowledge does not affect me in my daily life at all. But I wouldn't rely completely on an expert to tell me whether or not to have a risky surgery, how I should live my daily life, or which decisions to make about career or relationships. I would expect the expert to be able to (and willing to) tell me what information they are basing their recommendations on, and then I would investigate that information and/or other options myself and possibly consult my intuition. But I subscribe to a strong philosophy of individual responsibility, so... (I haven't read Glasser's book yet, but I think that's the point he gets at - take responsibility for yourself and don't look for others to blame.)

If the status of the 'expert' is in question, evaluate the information. If the information or argument does not stand on its own, then the fact that an 'expert' said it should count for relatively little. (Doubly true if said information is found on the internet.) A good 'expert' can formulate an argument and present evidence that will stand on its own.

George seems to express a dislike for knowledge dissemination via blogs and the internet. I've got one word for you, George - Google. :) Those who are interested in the topic will find the information and evaluate it according to their own standards. Again, it's up to the writer of the blog to command and keep the attention of the audience, and to win them over to a particular viewpoint/idea. If the writer can do it, great. If not, better luck next time. Survival of the fittest - hacker-style.

Good shows, guys! Nice to see John backing away from that atrocious 'mysterian' philosophy. ;)

frontier_sally, disseminator of ideas via the blogosphere