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Science Deals with the Intangible

Spectrum
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Newsweek

Science Deals with the Intangible

This discussion has been going on for a bit now. How might you see it in this corner of the world??


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Timebandit
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Sven
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As I would expect, Sam Harris's refutation is excellent.


Spectrum
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I guess I have the subject double up in terms of the value of how consciousness research and how it may be seen in relation to the perspective shared by Arthur Young- Consciousness Emerges From Light

IN a sense thinking about the persepctive here had me also wondering about how something massless can be affected.....so in a sense the pathway of the photon in terms of the analogy seems appropriate when affected by the grvaity of things. I might have provided the perspective of lensing/dilation as well here as to that affect when consciousness chooses? An attachment to things?


Aristotleded24
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I remember once reading a Reader's Digest aritcle about prayer working, and one line seemed to sum it up accurately: "If you believe it does, no amount of proof is necessary. If you don't, no amount of proof will convince you." I think it's a similar thing here. Clearly many people who have had near-death experiences have described them in vivid detail, but I'm not sure the question of life after death is a subject that can be studied scientifically. For one, we'd need to find a way to die and then come back and talk about it.


kropotkin1951
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"For one, we'd need to find a way to die and then come back and talk about it."

 Actually it seems that is what this author is claiming and yes one either has faith or one doesn't.  I have friends who get way more out of sugar pills than I have ever experienced. I call it chasing the placebo effect they call it homeopathy.  Some may call it heaven but not me, I call it a hallucination.

What causes specific hallucinations is of some interest but I don't see them as providing proof that a white man lives in the sky and has a nice pad next door waiting for me if I spout the right nonsense while alive.


Aristotleded24
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kropotkin1951 wrote:
"For one, we'd need to find a way to die and then come back and talk about it."

 Actually it seems that is what this author is claiming

Fair enough. I didn't read either the article or the rebuttal by Sam Harris, I was just making a general topic on the idea of life after death.


Slumberjack
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Aristotleded24 wrote:
Clearly many people who have had near-death experiences have described them in vivid detail, but I'm not sure the question of life after death is a subject that can be studied scientifically.

I'm pretty sure that it can be studied scientifically, with the first statement of inquiry being a summons to 'bring forward the evidence.'  If the evidence doesn't hold up, or a run is put on the evidence to the point of total rout as Sam Harris demonstrates with his article, then scientific inquiry is suspended until further evidence is presented.  Evidence of life after death remains non-existent.  This is not to say that the proposition can't studied using other methods, but the serious part of the conversation is over at that point.


Spectrum
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yep babble gook.. nope....changed my mind


Timebandit
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A science journalist's review of Alexander's "memoir".

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2012/10/proof_of_heaven_heaven_is_real_author_eben_alexander_is_a_neuro_evangelist.html

The rest of what you've posted, Spectrum, is a load of bafflegab based on unsupported assertions and wild extrapolations from work that's being done or speculations that have been made.  You're dealing with "what if" rather than "what the evidence supports".  Slumberjack is absolutely on the ball - pony up the evidence.  Until you can, it isn't a scientific question.  It remains an unknown, and an improbable one on the face of the lack of substance.

It's not up to "science" to prove or disprove life after death.  It's up to the people who make the claims to show us the evidence.  You can't just claim that there are pink sparkly unicorns on Antartica and then say "Prove there isn't!".  You made the claim, you support it.  Meanwhile, if you want to play What If, go write a sci fi novel.  That's where this kind of rank speculation belongs.

Oh, and let's not forget Dr Alexander's profit motive.  I'm sure his bank account will be much fatter after all this bullshit.


Spectrum
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Know what Time Bandit.......don't waste your time. You seem young to me in spirit, yet,  have a long way to go. Anyway, enough of your banter.:)



What we have learned

We have found consciousness can be described as an emergent property of the complex electromagnetic process generated from predictable biochemical and biological processes. Although the terms soul and mind may have been useful at one time to describe this process, they are no longer required. They are more like the term "phlogiston" that was employed to describe why things burned before modern chemistry emerged. When there is no electrical current moving through the parts of a television, there is no picture. When the specific electromagnetic patterns are not generated within the brain structures there is no consciousness or awareness.

Some individuals with very different brain structures show different electromagnetic correlates that are associated with their ability to discern stimuli others cannot detect. Counter clockwise rotation of weak magnetic fields around the skull at specific rates of change (derivatives) can affect subjective time and allow the average person to experience many of the altered states reported by practitioners of mystical traditions as well as "paranormal" phenomena. The critical variables, like any chemical reaction, are the complexity and specificity of the temporal parameters. One component of consciousness may be "sequestered" within second or third derivatives of very narrow bands of changes in frequency within the theta range. Our calculations of resonance, based upon the power changes within quantitative electroencephalographic measures, suggest that one electromagnetic source of consciousness may actually exist within the 10 cm region outside of and surrounding the cranium.

Link now dead.

Spectrum
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Spectrum
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What happens when you create this Self Awareness along with the experience of when you are dying?


Fidel
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Timebandit wrote:

Oh, and let's not forget Dr Alexander's profit motive.  I'm sure his bank account will be much fatter after all this bullshit.

The profit motive is something I pointed out to certain people in thread discussions of the Interphone study partially funded by big cell phone companies, but certain babblers were having none of it. 

Apparently scientists are corruptible but never when on the take from big bizness known to have very deep pockets when it comes to "marketing" and lawyering-up, which is an odd rule of thumb if you ask me. Yes, there is an odour of hypocrisy wafting in around here and spoiling this thread.

Yes science rarely gets it wrong except when cash payments and other inducements are involved. People were warned by top scientists of the day that heavier than air craft would be impossible to produce. And they kept saying within weeks of the Wright bros' historic flight. Sometimes science requires engineers of the hands-on variety to test the boundaries.


Slumberjack
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Fidel wrote:
Sometimes science requires engineers of the hands-on variety to test the boundaries.

Sure...as long as it doesn't involve the laying on of hands.


Timebandit
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Spectrum wrote:

Know what Time Bandit.......don't waste your time. You seem young to me in spirit, yet,  have a long way to go. Anyway, enough of your banter.:)

Oh, boo hoo hoo.  I don't get to be in the old souls club.  Wah.  I "have a long way to go", evidenced by my tendency to look at evidence rather than participate in the wanky-boys' circle jerk.

Yeah, missing out big time.

Or we could just take it that you simply don't want to actually address anything of substance.  I think I'll go with that hypothesis.  Unless of course you'd like to prove me wrong.
 

Spectrum wrote:

What we have learned

We have found consciousness can be described as an emergent property of the complex electromagnetic process generated from predictable biochemical and biological processes. Although the terms soul and mind may have been useful at one time to describe this process, they are no longer required. They are more like the term "phlogiston" that was employed to describe why things burned before modern chemistry emerged. When there is no electrical current moving through the parts of a television, there is no picture. When the specific electromagnetic patterns are not generated within the brain structures there is no consciousness or awareness.

Some individuals with very different brain structures show different electromagnetic correlates that are associated with their ability to discern stimuli others cannot detect. Counter clockwise rotation of weak magnetic fields around the skull at specific rates of change (derivatives) can affect subjective time and allow the average person to experience many of the altered states reported by practitioners of mystical traditions as well as "paranormal" phenomena. The critical variables, like any chemical reaction, are the complexity and specificity of the temporal parameters. One component of consciousness may be "sequestered" within second or third derivatives of very narrow bands of changes in frequency within the theta range. Our calculations of resonance, based upon the power changes within quantitative electroencephalographic measures, suggest that one electromagnetic source of consciousness may actually exist within the 10 cm region outside of and surrounding the cranium.

Link now dead.

Attribute your quote?  Who said this?

ETA:  A link that works - http://home.primus.ca/~remedy3/Persinger,%20Michael.htm

Careful - much of Persinger's work is currently under debate because there is difficulty with replication.  Peer review hasn't been particularly agreeable.  The jury is still out on this one.


Timebandit
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Fidel wrote:

Timebandit wrote:

Oh, and let's not forget Dr Alexander's profit motive.  I'm sure his bank account will be much fatter after all this bullshit.

The profit motive is something I pointed out to certain people in thread discussions of the Interphone study partially funded by big cell phone companies, but certain babblers were having none of it. 

Apparently scientists are corruptible but never when on the take from big bizness known to have very deep pockets when it comes to "marketing" and lawyering-up, which is an odd rule of thumb if you ask me. Yes, there is an odour of hypocrisy wafting in around here and spoiling this thread.

Yes science rarely gets it wrong except when cash payments and other inducements are involved. People were warned by top scientists of the day that heavier than air craft would be impossible to produce. And they kept saying within weeks of the Wright bros' historic flight. Sometimes science requires engineers of the hands-on variety to test the boundaries.

If you read the links I've posted, you'll see that Alexander is a surgeon.  He doesn't deal with the workings of the brain beyond cutting into it.  Now, if I wanted a tumor excised, he'd be the right guy to talk to.  Brain chemistry and hallucinations, not so much.  He's claiming expertise he doesn't have in the first place, and postulating conclusions that are not critically examined or thought through.  In fact, even if he was a neurologist or neuroscientist, I'd question his conclusions based on the information that both those links point out. His experience was no hands-on scientific test - it was a subjective experience that can be better explained than he's bothering to - and there'd be a whole lot less $$$ involved if he explained it with science rather than airy-fairy bullshit.

Yes, scientists can be swayed by profit motive.  I guess you have to look at things critically and see what jibes with what we already know.  Alexander's conclusions don't. 


Spectrum
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God Helmet

The "God Helmet" refers to an experimental apparatus originally called the "Koren helmet" after its inventor Stanley Koren

 

Yep be careful.....Behavioural Neuroscience

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a technique for noninvasive stimulation of the adult brain. Stimulation is produced by generating a brief, high-intensity magnetic field by passing a brief electric current through a magnetic coil. Compared with the growing number of clinical trial with rTMS, there are surprisingly few animal studies on its basic mechanisms of action, constraining the ability to perform hypothesis-driven clinical studies.

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a technique for noninvasive stimulation of the adult brain. Stimulation is produced by generating a brief, high-intensity magnetic field by passing a brief electric current through a magnetic coil. Compared with the growing number of clinical trial with rTMS, there are surprisingly few animal studies on its basic mechanisms of action, constraining the ability to perform hypothesis-driven clinical studies.Transcranial magnetic stimulation

 

Of course this is information that when linked too had been changed and when you put up quote link to source it did not come up with original so I say dead. It still belonged to research work being done by Persinger

So, Link does not follow to its origination. So I guess the odds are that you select the first part of the wording and chances are you will come to a selection of what correlates in the wording used. (2000-2007 Neuroscience Research Group Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada)

One's cynicism is obvious even before you start the discussion and having dealt with this over and over again one tends to push aside for those who want a serious discussion. I do not want to waste my time with those who do not want to provide for evidence other then what they can comment on readily and not do their own work. Provide something that is contrary then and stop being so lazy. Show the science that said's it contrary and you may convince by such evidence.  Stop being a chorus of "the group?" Does not make you any more in good standing other then to say what's always been said and you never move forward.

I learned that such bias has been well formed.

With regard to the injustice of it all by corporation and such, it can wear on a person so you tend to see the profit motive coming up and you understand why when you are exposed over and over again to the same ole rhetoric you actually stop moving and are treading a vicious circle that is not healthy. Especially for the young ones here. It not just about the science here. It is about exploring our potentials and doing this for sometime I have no ready answers as one pretends to think I do.


Spectrum
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So explain how such fields can affect consciousness, or, why they do not?

Can you concertize brainwaves to allow for experiences which others can see as well? Of course Persinger was not successful in terms of providing for a full blown Skeptic......so what is wrong with the method of inducement? Can it be done?


Timebandit
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Whether these fields affect consciousness or not is still being debated. As I pointed out, there has been difficulty in other neuroscientists replicating Persinger's results, which is a part of the peer review process. Basically, it's too early to explain why they do or do not - the underlying conclusion has not yet been established one way or the other. I'm not sure you can claim to be having a serious conversation if you aren't even clear about the basis of what you're talking about. I don't consider myself cynical, but I do expect claims to be backed up with evidence. If all you've got is a bunch of assumptions, overstatements and bafflegab, I'll call you on it. So far, that's all I've seen here. See, I'm not the one making grand claims, you are. So back 'em up, rather than demand that I (or anyone else, i do recall Slumberjack disagreeing with you and a much less narsty reeaction from you) put a bunch of work into debunking your bafflegab. Not bring impressed over guys wanking about what ifs isn't cynicism.

Fidel
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Timebandit wrote:

If you read the links I've posted, you'll see that Alexander is a surgeon.  He doesn't deal with the workings of the brain beyond cutting into it.  Now, if I wanted a tumor excised, he'd be the right guy to talk to.  Brain chemistry and hallucinations, not so much.  He's claiming expertise he doesn't have in the first place, and postulating conclusions that are not critically examined or thought through.  In fact, even if he was a neurologist or neuroscientist, I'd question his conclusions based on the information that both those links point out. His experience was no hands-on scientific test - it was a subjective experience that can be better explained than he's bothering to - and there'd be a whole lot less $$$ involved if he explained it with science rather than airy-fairy bullshit.

Yes, scientists can be swayed by profit motive.  I guess you have to look at things critically and see what jibes with what we already know.  Alexander's conclusions don't. 

I can just imagine how you might try to discredit Alexander had he not been a neurosurgeon for 25 years, was not trained in the scientific method, like all medical professionals are, and never worked at BYU and Harvard medical centres and racked up more hands-on practical experience with brain injuries and illnesses than very many scientists knowing didley about consciousness will ever acquire in their life times doing most of their research from inside university libraries. 

Of course the other alternative is to consider what Alexander has to say about his hands-on experience, and yes, it is a highly subjective experience which most people will not actually have until their expiry date arrives. But appealing to the authority of a bunch of academics no more enlightened about human consciousness than a surgeon in the dark ages knew anything about bacterial infection isn't very convincing imo. Science has a long way to go before it can tell us anything useful about grey matter and what occupies it. My TV set might be broken similarly, but I have no delusions that the sitcom Seinfeld will resume a 10th season if I have it repaired by the greatest electronics engineer alive today. It's just a plastic case with some circuit boards and other stuff, and I realize that the comedians themselves are nowhere near my living room let alone my cheap tv mass produced somewhere in Asia. They\ve been slicing up brains for centuries and aren't much wiser for it today. And don't hold your breath waiting for big pharma to discover the holy grail of consciousness or the mind-body paradox - those guys are happy gouging us for Tylenol version XXXVIII and laughing al the way to the bank with their 20 and 30 year patents on old drugs. So don't try to appeal to the authority of a bunch of greedy drug company CEO's and their shareholders, either, because we'll tear a strip out of them and all.

It seems that whenever capitalism is on its ass, and typically during ideal times of peace and trading freely with the rest of the world, that the money spigots are turned wide open for corporate welfare bums and bankers in general while the rest of society is told to tighten their belts including the people most capable of discovering breakthroughs and new technology. Capitalism is all about investing the least and extracting the most in good times. Beyond harvesting the lowest hanging fruit under ideal conditions it's a piss poor way to run things in general.


Slumberjack
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Timebandit wrote:
 i do recall Slumberjack disagreeing with you and a much less narsty reeaction from you.

For our part though, the piece by Sam Harris that we've both endorsed does describe the assumption being made in the OP as the stuff of celestial butterflies and pink unicorns in Antarctica.  I was going for subtlety to try and balance things out.


Slumberjack
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Aristotleded24 wrote:
I remember once reading a Reader's Digest aritcle about prayer working, and one line seemed to sum it up accurately: "If you believe it does, no amount of proof is necessary. If you don't, no amount of proof will convince you." I think it's a similar thing here.

Not at all. The fact of the matter is that for many believers, a request for proof is sometimes taken as an insult, or in some cases, outright blasphemy. Its often difficult to navigate under the condition that we enter into yet another test of endurance after we've exhausted our own inquiries into the matter. But we're not discouraged in the least with our search for evidence because its such an important question.

Quote:
Clearly many people who have had near-death experiences have described them in vivid detail, but I'm not sure the question of life after death is a subject that can be studied scientifically. For one, we'd need to find a way to die and then come back and talk about it.

It doesn't mean the question can't be taken up altogether. We can definitely study the societal effects of consciousness after death as a pathology, leaving aside for the moment the question of whether it exists at all. We have a subject involving millions, if not billions of people; we can take certain measurements across the vastness of a social landscape that encompasses thousands of variations; we have treasure troves and dungeons of evidence regarding the beneficial and negative effects. We have ourselves the basis of an inquiry.


Timebandit
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Fidel, your latest post is a beautiful example of how people rationalize confirmation bias. The neurosurgeon, who is saying something you like, is a "good" expert who deals with brain injuries, etc, (although he doesn't actually, he is a surgeon whose published papers focus on surgical technique, no illnesses themselves), but the neuroscientists who actually study the workings of the brain, like Harris (whose field of inquiry is focused on this particular area) know absolutely nothing. Worse, they're lumped in with the big baddies - the pharmaceutical industry (Harris is not, actually) and the curse of capitalism. Fascinating. But still irrational.

6079_Smith_W
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Seems to me the title of this thread is a contradiction. If it is intangible, then it cannot be scientific..

Even theoretical physics is built on a foundation of hard evidence, and that is far different than what we are talking about here.

The fact that some fellow has a degree doesn't give his hallucinations any more weight than anyone else's.

Seeing as Newsweek (the print edition anyway) is going the way of the world weekly news, and will soon exist only in the imagination that cover is somehow appropriate.


Timebandit
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There is also the fact that Alexander dismisses causes alternate to his conclusion out of hand, rather than examining what other causes might have factored in to his experience. I'd expect anyone who is in the sciences to at least consider Occam's Razor.

Fidel
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Yes, well, I think the traditional Newtonian view of mind and matter was quietly overthrown since Darwin, Bertrand Russell and Thomas Huxley's time in the sun. I refuse to believe that we are all just sacks of neurons ruled by so many electro-chemical exchanges. I think that the reductionist-materialist view of reality and human biology was found to be lacking something some time ago.  I refuse to believe that my skin colour and ethnicity give me evolutionary advantage over black people and other ethnics as the old world view of science once professed.  If all that reductionist-materialist mumbojumbo  was still thought to be true today, then my being white and male and conscious on par with automata should get me a pass at the club house for masters of the universe. And I could argue at length using logic and common sense to show that it's  just not true. We've tended to reverse engineer and break things into smaller components to understand them better since childhood, but scientists have said that at some level of reduction individual parts of the physical brain no longer make sense apart from the whole.

Mario Beauregard wrote:
The brain can be weighed, measured, scanned, dissected, and studied. The mind that we conceive to be generated by the brain, however, remains a mystery. It has no mass, no volume, and no shape, and it cannot be measured in space and time. Yet it is as real as neurons, neurotransmitters, and synaptic junctions. It is also very powerful.
—from Brain Wars

I can't physically see gravity or even "dark energy" for that matter. I wouldn't suggest that these phenomena are not real, though. I think science just isn't able to fully explain them at this point in time. Could it be that human consciousness eludes direct audio-visual detection similarly?

 


Kaspar Hauser
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Chomsky pulls the rug out from under the mind-body debate in this video. His argument is that there can't be a mind-body question because, since Newton, there hasn't been an intelligble concept of the body against which to contrast mind.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5in5EdjhD0


Spectrum
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Some use there own subjectivity in order to justify their belief of what is needed when they are incapable of knocking themselves out of the loop they put themselves in. While appealing to the rationality and demands of science they can not provide any further points other then to show what limits them to such a discussion. Show not only their cynicism but there inability to speak on it to any degree thus reduce them self to that pixe dust explanation. Just get out of the way or at least try and have a serious discussion.

Scientists have speculated that the human brain features a "God spot," one distinct area of the brain responsible for spirituality. Now, University of Missouri researchers have completed research that indicates spirituality is a complex phenomenon, and multiple areas of the brain are responsible for the many aspects of spiritual experiences-Distinct 'God Spot' in the Brain Does Not Exist, Study Shows

The site referenced of Persinger was archived so original link was not function able so I said link dead. The fact is current article from 2012 underscores previous research work.

This is a directional point I infer as to the basis and exploration of consciousness by means and correlations to demonstrate biological sensitivity signals where focus of consciousness is understood in terms of spirituality. So ya, it could be a belief system.

How ever you say it, the fact that such governance is provided across the board is to look at the issues of the Larger consciousness system and how it is used. Even though I do not stand by (within the scope of that theoretical design) the belief system of the larger consciousness system, I reference for ease of statement to imply universality provided by the fact consciousness does exist or we just would not be talking.

So one is looking for a method and measure at the time of the NDE to monitor experience....and measure brain locations used while undergoing that experience. If no such measures exist then what areas are being measured that would relay such experiences?

In this sense then I am providing a fundamental question to what may be possible by experimental design to work the areas of consciosuness suspected used at the time of dying or dead. This maybe a ethical question at or about the time of death? When to call it?


6079_Smith_W
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@ Spectrum

The onus is not on disbelievers to disprove the existence of fairies, Zeus, or the Easter Bunny. Nobody here is limiting anything.

But human spirituality does not prove that supernatural realms exist, nor does end of life research. Research has also shown that some motor and cognitive function is not located in one part of the brain, or that it can sometimes rewire itself to function elsewhere. That doesn't make it magic. By contrast, brain damage can also sometimes cause radical changes in personality. How does that happen if the spirit is an entity independent of the body?

I don't think anyone is saying there should not be legitimate scientific trials into things which are unknown, but if there is something there, well then let's see the money. Then we can talk.


Fidel
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That's right, and no one is suggesting you show us the money, either. Bla bla blah! Just because the crappy economic system failing in lab experiments around the world since 14th century Italy and mired again in corruption and stagnation in the 21st century doesn't mean it's immune from criticism, either. Some logicians would say it's high time we changed tack.

The bad socio-economic system will not produce the money you suggest is required for basic research of consciousness. Big drug companies and their bought and paid-for politicos don't care about mental illnesses or brain disorders in general, like PTSD in soldiers they've used to murder innocent people on their behalfs.No pill can fix fucked-up. They are thinking now that brain-fuck induced by imperialism is probably permanent no matter how many electric shocks are applied to Frankenstein's patient. Yup, he's fucked, doc. We could try lobotomy, but we don't think his wife and kids will be too happy about it. And they still can't do head transplants as if a bad kidney or heart. Your noodle is so special that you should wear a safety helmet when cycling it's that irreplaceable.

Big pharma doesn't give a shit about anything but squeezing every last penny of profit from Tylenol v.98.621. white powders and potions, and other snake oil remedies while resting on their 20 and 30-year drug patent laurels handed them by Reagan and Mulroney and a parade of corrupt stooges after them. They tell us no one should have guarantees in this life, but kaputalists secretly love socialism for themselves and wouldn't have it any other way if they were to tell the truth.

Kaputalism is about picking the lowest hanging fruit as a rule. Don't hold your breath waiting for serious money to be invested in this one, either, Sparky. Much will have more, and that generally means less for the many. It's another unwritten rule of kaputalism. If they continue down the road of austerity for their corrupt governments and the poor while demanding more and more socialism for western world bankers who should be forced to attend gamblers anonymous meetings and the superrich, it probably means the end of the age of enlightenment and scientific inquiry into the hard questions in general. If unbridled kaputilism is the way forward, then we're prolly looking at a new dark ages. God help us.


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