Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mea Culpa

In a recent discussion, I casually tossed off a reference to the God Helmet in reference to one of the ways human beings can be deceived about their experiences.  I said something like "you can stick magnets on people's heads and make them see God."  I was remembering when I saw it being covered on Nova or some other science show.

As one can see from reading the Wikipedia page on it, let alone the actual scientific studies, the god helmet effect is not conclusively proved as of yet, and there are some problems in replicating the initial results.  It needs a lot more study before one can draw conclusions based on it.

Now, the God Helmet isn't the only example I used, I also mentioned various forms of chemicals by which I meant DMT psychoactive drugs that seem to have better supported evidence about the kinds of effects they can produce, but the fact remains that I was not using the best reasoning I could.  This is an obvious limitation of debate, at least over short term timescales.  It's also an example of how even proponents of a standard can fail to live up to them.

What this says to me is that I need to remember to strive to be more humble when presenting my own claims, especially when criticizing others about theirs.  It doesn't make me less of an atheist or a skeptic, it's just a reminder of how sometimes I can be a dick about it.


  1. This parallels one of my own currently unverifiable insights
    regarding the application of the theory of multiple intelligences:
    and as an extension of Carl Sagan's concepts in
    Broca's Brain and the Dragons of Eden.

    That what we call 'consciousness' is an emergent property of Brain,
    and that it can be 'out of focus', or prismed.
    That all gods, Gods, Jungian animus and anima,
    and other numinous nonverifiables,
    are merely a small section of Brain 'talking' out of turn.

    Maps such as the Ba Gua, the Sephirotic Tree, or Yggdrasil merely
    show how others have successfully prismed their consciousness.

    Manifestations of such are merely indicators that
    certain sections of Brain
    have been independently activated outside of the
    default Emergent conscious personality, the "me' or 'I'.

    Nothing really New, of course. But:

    Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences
    allowed me to formulate the concept in purely secular terms,
    and the 'God Helmet' appears to be strong evidence
    in support of the research along those lines.

  2. I think consciousness as an emergent property of the brain is a (rimshot) no-brainer, because where else would it be? Although I'll stretch that to the entire nervous system.

    I'll have to spend some time with the multiple intelligence thing, it's new to me, and I haven't read those Sagan books. The newer stuff I am familiar with suggests that that theory might be a bit obsolete.

    The God Helmet is interesting, but as in the post, until his results are reproduced I'm not going to rely on it.