Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sociopath = broken brain?

The question of nature vs. nurture for sociopaths is controversial. Arguing "nature" seems to give sociopaths a free pass--being "born with it" somehow makes them more pitiable and acceptable by society. Whereas arguing "nurture" suggests that sociopaths can one day reverse their condition through hard work and therapy, or recruit more of their kind by abusing children. Scientists think that sociopathy is a mixture of both nature and nurture, but the real mystery is whether the sociopath's brain is actually physically different from the empath's. I don't have anything more than anecdotal evidence regarding sociopaths specifically, but we know that the brain learns different things at different stages. If you miss the window to learn a particular skill or concept (e.g. empathy), you may never be able to "catch up" or "become normal."

One example of brains missing their learning windows is feral children. This article discusses the story of a 7 year-old girl who was found living in her own filth in a closet. The girl wore diapers, was nonverbal, and was unable to feed herself. Essentially she lived like a big toddler with minimal human contact. The girl had a "normal" brain, no sign of genetic mental retardation, but she behaved as if she were severely mentally handicapped. This girl will never be normal. When she was found, no one expected her to ever learn to speak. The best that could be hoped for is that she would become potty trained, learn how to feed herself, understand simple communication. Her brain had missed too many windows of opportunity--too many neural connections were never made.

Does the feral child story sound like this comment from a reader?
I stumbled across this site while trying to define my own personality traits. I certainly exhibit a fair number of the associated traits of a sociopath, so maybe I am one.

The thing is, I never used to exhibit these traits, in fact as a child i was very empathic - this changed when i went from a loving home to living with an abusive and largely uncaring stepfather, and a mother who just didn't want anything to jeapordise her relationship with said stepfather.

What happens when you systematically abuse an empath?

The answer is simple - they stop empathising and start lashing out once it gets too much. In my opinion, and i could be wrong on this, but the medical definitions don't take into account the complexities of the human soul, sociopathy is simply a natural instinct for survival and even revenge on those that destroyed part of their psyche. I never got justice for the wrongs that were done to me, my child brain at the time "toughened" itself to deal with the situation and went about exacting revenge in lieu of justice provided by those that should have been protecting me from such harm. The problem is, how do you stop?

Having been in such a psychological torment for the formative years of childhood, how do you become "normal" when you've never really known normality?

The moral superiority exhibited by sociopaths was once just that, they did once hold the moral high ground, they knew right from wrong and they knew wrong was being done to them and nothing was being done about it so they adapted their views of the world accordingly - it's difficult to feel empathy for anyone when no empathy is shown to you.

So in my view, and this is just my opinion, a sociopath is probably just a scared child in an adult body, trying to protect themselves from the harm that has been visited upon them by "normal" people. Once the walls go up, it's damn hard to bring them down again and each negative response just adds another brick to the wall - more proof that they are right to mistrust the world and treat it with contempt.

There may be genetic factors involved, differences to the brain even, but largely I think that society itself has created sociopaths and the reason they fear sociopaths is because of the skeleton in society's closet that sociopaths represent.

209 comments:

  1. I read a new article on work being done by a doctor named Kiehl scanning psychopathic inmates. His most interesting and important discovery is that a psychopath processes emotional words in a completely different part of the brain. "Instead of showing activity in the limbic region. . ., which is the emotional center of the brain, psychopaths showed activity only in the front of the brain, the language center." They can't even comprehend; they are just words which don't really mean anything to them. That sounds like a structural problem to me.

    -This is Draxious

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    1. Structure can adapt to circumstance. Individuals with the majority of there brain missing can still be functionally normal. With that in mind I don't think that it is to much of a leap to think that the treatment of a person could affect the way they process language.

      -Sarasti

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  2. Hello, new commentor here.

    Drax, that doesn't necessarily illustrate a structural problem at all. The blog post states that we learn certain things at certain points during early psychological development. As humans, we normally learn to interpret emotions preverbally in the limbic region, then we learn to associate these processes with words. If infantile development lacks proper emotional models to learn from, the child will learn the words and language of emotion first without having learnt to exhibit genuine emotion itself, and will only learn to associate emotion to social language.

    A sociopath learns to structure his thinking process in such a way; there is no genetic defect.

    -Morph

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  3. I don't think "nurture" implies that you can be fixed, generally it implies that you are still not responsible for anything you do, just like nature, only that your actions are the result of parents, peers etc. in childhood. The human brain loses a lot of its plasticity after childhood, and furthermore, after adolescence, so most treatments for conditions thought to be caused by enviroment (Clust B Personality Disorders, mainly) don't actually do much, and patients who are "cured" are on symtom masking drugs.

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  4. Although I see similarities in your theory and the letter you recieved, there are also differences. You are suggesting a sociopath never learns empathy to begin with and therefore, does not form those connections in their brain. However, the person who wrote in had learned- or instinctively experienced- empathy. They lost that trait in part because it wasn't reinforced by their environment from a young age, which sort of agrees with your theory. However, s/he prob. lost his/her empathy in part because they blocked out their own emotions as a self defense mechanism, which is a different reason than the one you propose. They were not shown empathy and were under assault, so to deal emotionally as a sensitive person in an insensitive world, they blocked out that emotion and that ability to connect. Yet, it seems that here, the ability to empathize so well might have made them more susceptible to this kind of blocking behavior and desensitization, than someone who had a lower level of empathy to begin with. I sometimes wonder if some sociopaths can credit this to their condition.

    However, it is possible that the person who wrote you isn't a sociopath. Many people experience periods of emotional blunting and feelings of diconnect for reasons other than sociopathy, and some can recover. PTSD can cause periods of emotional numbness and disconnect. So can depression and bipolar. The brain can shut things out when they are too much to bare, so the person who wrote you could very well be capable of recovering. I like to hope that sociopaths have some hope, but I know it hasn't been proven that they do, yet. I suppose it partially depends on the source of their sociopathy. Of course, at one time, Borderline Personality Disorder was said to be an incurable condition, and now, recovery has been shown to be possible.

    I personally believe the cause of sociopathy isn't one size fits all. OCD has different causes. Depression has diff. causes. Cancer has diff. causes. Sociopathy, in my opinion, probably does, as well. Also, I think that even in a single individual, there might be multiple factors that led up to and caused the sociopathy.

    There are studies showing structural differences. Whether they are born with those differences or developed them, is difficult to say. Depression can alter the brain, for example. Maybe long standing sociopathy alters the brain. Maybe the altered or deviantly formed brain causes sociopathy. Again, it is difficult to say.

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  5. Review of "A bold fresh piece of humanity" A book detailing the childhood of Bill O Reilly.

    This book should be re-titled "The Bad Seed." This book is actually quite good if you're curious about how the psychopathic mind develops over a lifetime. Of course, one must have the ability to read between the lines, as lying is the greatest talent of the psychopath and this book is an autobiography of a psychopath. Rather than using a present day photo, the author cleverly used a photo of himself as a child. This serves to deceive and suck in the good, but naive potential readers who are vulnerable to the face of a cute kid. Do not be fooled by this trick...just look into the eyes of that kid on the cover...and you will see the beginnings of all the hatred, petulant denial of truth, lack of manners and expertise in the ad hominem attack that manifested so clearly in the adult. For those who want to read about goodness and humane personages, avoid this book and read the writings of Mohandas Gandhi.

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  6. ghandi was a wife beater

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  7. It is interesting that Ghandi wanted to be a Christian but went to a Christian missionary church and they would not let him in because he was dark skinned. He turned away from Christianity, understandably so.

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  8. @Missus Kanney

    Did ukan pull that toaster out of his ass? I'm sure you can learn how to tickle his prostate ...

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  9. Themes for SW RegularsDecember 18, 2011 at 5:58 AM

    Theme Song for Caroline



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8GW6N3XYi8

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  10. Theme Songs for SW RegularsDecember 18, 2011 at 6:04 AM

    Theme song for The Chosen One


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQAbATYWrVY&feature=related

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  11. "Snoooooooow! :D"

    Envy you! Slightly too warm here.

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  12. LOL David about the toaster---Burned UKan

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  13. So in my view, and this is just my opinion, a sociopath is probably just a scared child in an adult body, trying to protect themselves from the harm that has been visited upon them by "normal" people. Once the walls go up, it's damn hard to bring them down again and each negative response just adds another brick to the wall - more proof that they are right to mistrust the world and treat it with contempt.


    This sounds more like bpd or a detachment. I want to believe it is possible for the reversal. Aside from being more aware of my detachment, I do have so many moments where I feel just on the verge of being "in the moment" like a normal person. If I cry lots, will I heal? If I cry lots with someone I trust will I heal? If I start to empathize with myself will I love someone long term with abandon? Would I have ever wanted a child? Would I have ever been able to sustain a lasting "love" relationship wherein I didn't feel either boxed in or desperate? I look around at all these people who have lives, but I can't believe what I see. They are really satisfied, and I never will be?

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  14. "medical definitions don't take into account the complexities of the human soul"

    Because there are no complexities in woo woo science. The human soul ?

    I guess it's not to early for BS.

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  15. "Because there are no complexities in woo woo science. The human soul ?

    I guess it's not to early for BS."

    Hehe, I had the same thought reading that.

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  16. Many of us barley even have a personality anymore ;) haha.. that made me laugh!

    I like Sam Harris's take on souls.

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  17. Your soul is your brain thinking it's a soul.

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  18. The soul does not exist. Our 'minds', 'souls', 'spirit' and consciousness are all physical in nature.

    Thousands of years of research have shown that our brains comprise and produce our true selves. Souls and spirits do not exist. Our bodies run themselves. We know from cases of brain damage and the effects of psychoactive drugs, that our experiences are caused by physical chemistry acting on our physical neurons in our brains. Our innermost self is our biochemical self on our physical neurons in our brains. Our innermost self is our biochemical self.

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  19. Concerning self-awareness and cognitive science, I wrote an essay on Daniel Dennett's 'Kinds of Minds' in college, I found that book an extremely interesting read (-tip-).

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  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  21. @David

    Video time...
    Are you wearing your favorite shade of lipstick today?

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  22. "thousands of years of research"

    What? By whom?

    And it's not really snow. It's more like hail that didn't immediately melt so there are little white spots everywhere. But still: snooooooow! :D

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  23. @Eden

    Hi there. No make up today ;) I'm gonna have a lovely cosy evening at home with some American and British comeday and ... white Australian and red Spanish (and ofcourse some nice food). It's been more than two months since I had a cosy drinking evening, so you may expect some crazy messages later today.

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  24. "It's more like hail that didn't immediately melt"

    We had some of that in the early morning over here.

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  25. David lol crazy messages

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  26. Can we please get the weather updates from the other regulars, thank you.

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  27. We know from cases of brain damage and the effects of psychoactive drugs, that our experiences are caused by physical chemistry acting on our physical neurons in our brains. Our innermost self is our biochemical self on our physical neurons in our brains. Our innermost self is our biochemical self.

    Psychoactive drugs make a person sociopathic? I've thought there was numbing from antidepressants, but a permanency?

    I have a friend with bipolar disorder who is older, and really only lives vicariously through others. The drugs she used were the older kind. I think her life is limited. She's self-involved but is good-natured. One friend accused her of being narcissistic, and another friend said that friend just didn't get her sense of humour.

    I think we're similar but I don't want to end up like her. I won't.

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  28. Theme Songs for SW RegularsDecember 18, 2011 at 7:56 AM

    Theme Song for Nothing Man




    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qj--x1Q2ENg

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  29. I'm not sold on the 'scared child in an adult body' metaphor: it implies a residing fear that I personally don't experience, along with the assumption that all children are naturally 'good' - a kind of 'prince-turns-into-a frog' story, regressive not progressive.

    It's incredibly human to adapt and change along with one's experiences. The way I see it, there's a paradox here if the fact that doing so leads to a lack of empathy, something that's seen as naturally 'human', is demonized.

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  30. I am not sold on it either, but it sounds more sympathetic.

    I am more sold on the idea that if a person wasn't shown empathy by their caregivers they had to make it up for themselves.

    I still think some socios are a work-in-progress from birth to death.

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  31. also, by "make it up for themselves" I mean stumble along to hopefully find others later in life to prove they could be valid humans.

    pathetic existence.

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  32. Sympathy is only any good if it's of use.

    To elaborate on what I said above (08:33), the emphasis placed here on causality frames sociopathy as a 'problem' to be solved.

    I find it difficult to understand why another socio would indulge in this. Any answers?

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  33. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  34. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  35. I don't think she's a sociopath but merely disassociated herself from abuse.

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  36. "also, by "make it up for themselves" I mean stumble along to hopefully find others later in life to prove they could be valid humans.

    pathetic existence."

    How heavy did you lose on the 'socio win 1.000.000$ slot'?

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  37. Michael Martin PlunkettDecember 18, 2011 at 9:33 AM

    i have another theme song for caroline check it out its a good 1!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OA9pbqLdrg

    caroline is the night nurse she wants to use my body as scientific experiment

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  38. Michael Martin PlunkettDecember 18, 2011 at 9:46 AM

    heres another god 1 from the same band this is a theme song for eden for obvious reasons

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18G3m-TDbw4

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  39. I think some children are born with a predisposition towards attaining power in general. I think that once those predisposed children experience power in a adverse way they emulate those experiences in order to achieve their goals. If a child sees power coming from violence s/he will use violence to attain it when s/he grows up. It's learned behaviour.

    I think also that children of a sociopathic predisposition take abuse differently. Typically a empathetic person's response to abuse would be shame and guilt. A sociopath's response to abuse is indignation.

    In my own experience my father was really violent. I wasn't spoiled by any stretch of the imagination. Despite that I felt entitled to whatever I wanted since I was young.

    I felt entitled to respect at school. I never let bullies pick on me, even if they were way older. I busted a kids nose five years my senior when I was six years old. He tried to beat me up because I wouldn't get off the swings for anyone and took double the allowed time. This became a pattern. I would taunt kids into fighting me.

    I felt entitled to more and more as I grew. I did whatever I want despite the brutal punishment at home. You can get beat so many times, before it doesn't effect you. I set several fires. I threw paint all over one of the art teachers. I stole things from other kids. Eventually I got other kids to emulate me. I got several people expelled from school. In fact, they got expelled before I ever did even though they were just trying to act like me, because they hung around me so much.

    I think the mix up on the nature and nurture is mainly because people don't think you are a psychopath until you get caught for something off the wall. Most of us doing things that are really off the wall are the ones who went through a violent childhood. That's my theory anyway.

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  40. We've had snow twice already this year. We still have some on the ground from the last time.

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  41. @Micheal Thanks I will keep it in mind that I can use your body for research *wink*

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  42. The difference between an asshole and a psychopath, is that a psychopaths realize they are hurting you, or stealing from you, and do it on purposely. They feel proud of trampling others, they'll even boast about doing it. This, in turn, makes them evil.

    There is hope for the asshole, because he may actually feel bad deep down. It may be unresolved issues.

    I really believe psychopathy is a corruption of the soul, or absence of soul, rather than a disease of the mind.

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  43. My video message of the day;

    The Fabulous mr. Toaster

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0-KxZI0uIs

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  44. Michael Martin PlunkettDecember 18, 2011 at 11:30 AM

    nurses are hot i have the sexual fetish of being tied up in the operating table abused by nurses

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  45. Imo, psychopathy is largely genetic. The OVERWHELMING majority of people who go through abuse don't turn into psychopaths, they become addicts, or social misfits. These people are hardly social chameleons like the sociopath.

    The only socio I knew came from an extremely unstable family. His family was quite poor, and he despised them for not being richer, more eloquent etc. It really bothered me how much he despised his family, even after they treated the guy like a king. The man wanted to wipe out his entire family, how f***** up is that? He hated a part of his family that didn't acknowledge his greatness. I really wish he were in prison. This tool would beat the crap out of his dog while I'm there and expected me to be somehow impressed with him? Why the hell would he think I'd enjoy it?

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  46. Oh yea, and I asked him why he hated his family so much. He answered -- "There is much more they could be doing for me. They treat me as if I'm an average person"

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  47. LOL Micheal Do you like them to wear their hats?

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  48. LMFAO David! That whole cigar smoking bit... you villainous gangster! I had such a laughing fit... I can spend no more time with the memory. I may choke myself to death!!

    Thanks for making my day!

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  49. I got to give it to you sociopaths, you are hilarious. Most of you people don't even have jobs, or achievements, yet you think you are some sort of genius messiah.

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  50. Michael Martin PlunkettDecember 18, 2011 at 11:53 AM

    caroline yes hats uniforms and preferably smoking cigarettes

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  51. 955

    Ukan I hear you.

    I would love a bpd's perspective. I'd love Haven's take on this!

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  52. i found out i was socio, when i asked an aim buddy if he had any tips on how to kill my neighbors dogs without them finding out. he called me a sociopath, i didn't know what it was, but in the end looked up the definition, and it fit my behavior exact.

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  53. I knew I was one when someone told me I was one I played along and pretended I was one then tortured them for a few years just for fun I had a good time made friends took a shit her mailbox and so forth

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  54. nice. i was so convinced that everyone viewed the world as i did. it was a dumb move, but i told this same guy about how i was pretending to be someone else while tricking young girls into exposing themselves for me. i boasted about tricking them to him, thinking we could joke about it, but the guy lost it and called me all sorts of things. how could you get so upset by something so mundane? it's all fun and games :)

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  55. Michael Martin PlunkettDecember 18, 2011 at 1:07 PM

    caroline shoes are not mandatory but they can wear them too shoes are not part of the picture they are not important

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  56. @Mike How about spiked heels with my nurses uniform?

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  57. Michael Martin PlunkettDecember 18, 2011 at 1:48 PM

    that works for me caroline lets have a go at it

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  58. @Mike I knew you would be on it LOL

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  59. Michael Martin PlunkettDecember 18, 2011 at 2:05 PM

    caroline and two of her hottest mates from the hospital wearing their uniforms hats spiked shoes smoking cigarettes abusing me tied up in their operating table

    the dream come true

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  60. Notme and I'll be your assistants.

    It's a little hard to abuse when you have empathy, but who am I to deny a fantacy.

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  61. This moving right along.............. scratches long elegant leg in nurses uniform with slit up the side.........

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  62. Michael Martin PlunkettDecember 18, 2011 at 2:33 PM

    too bad it will have to be just in my head but i dont trust anyone here so its the only way to roll haha

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  63. it's a shame, right, mmp?

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  64. *I* wonder how much grey matter IS left in my brain.

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  65. That last Caroline is not I, but that is how it goes in here lol

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  66. Caroline are you a an empathic person? I am being serious.

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  67. Processing occupy psychopaths video.

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  68. Anon I am an extreme empath. Why do you ask?

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  69. i wonder why you are here.

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  70. I feel like I have found a new arch nemesis. I guess lucky for us the Occupy movement is flaccid, toothless, and rudderless.

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  71. Well, I had personal dealings with sociopaths so sought out answers and found this blog. Why, do you feel I don't belong?

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  72. no not at all. But do you like to be around sociopaths?

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  73. I don't criticize.

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  74. Michael Martin PlunkettDecember 18, 2011 at 3:10 PM

    i welcome everyone here wuld get boring just to be around sociopaths and wannabe sociopaths empaths are people too

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  75. I have sociopaths in my family. I have had them as boyfriends. However, beyond that, even, is the study of the self that everyone has to wrestle with. You can do that, here, and not many other places. So, that would be the biggest reason I am here.

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  76. Michael Martin PlunkettDecember 18, 2011 at 3:21 PM

    it is like the online version of the movie fight club everyone is expected to get attacked every once & a while its part of the game here

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  77. caroline knows 50 sociopaths, none of them being a sociopath.

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  78. @Mike My Sweetheart, relax, I have my bathrobe on.

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  79. Michael Martin PlunkettDecember 18, 2011 at 3:28 PM

    bath robes can be hot too i have another sexual fetish including bath robes

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  80. WoW so playful MMP, it's a nice change in here.

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  81. @Mike I have on a bathrobe with spike heels

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  82. Michael Martin PlunkettDecember 18, 2011 at 3:39 PM

    bath robes spike heels and boxing gloves sounds fun already

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  83. @Tik Mike is such a cutie!

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  84. Boxing gloves?

    Water blasters!

    Make him beg, love it when a man begs even if it's a ploy, all the better.

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  85. I put on my robe and wizard hat.

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  86. Michael Martin PlunkettDecember 18, 2011 at 3:54 PM

    ur forgetting tik that im just the teen aged kid with attention deformity haha as a matter of fact im planning on going to play with my x box reading my japanese hentai manga comics soon thats what teen aged kids do when they have the attention deformity

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  87. LOL VM, my fantacy is with Snape from Harry Potter.

    I only seem submissive.

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  88. WOW that makes me a pervert Mike, lol

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  89. Michael Martin PlunkettDecember 18, 2011 at 4:01 PM

    then again i culd be just pulling ur leg for all ya know i might be 90 year old grand mother living in zagreb with my cat called adolf and gold fish called mr nobody they are my only friends in the world now everyone else died of old age my grand daughter never visits me thats why im in the sociopathic blog

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  90. Then you'll die with a smile on your face Mike.

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  91. @Mike very cute. You are keeping Tik and I guessing lol

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  92. *Tik and me* lest I get the grammar fairy, who lives in the caves of SW attacking me.

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  93. We'll tag team the grammer fairy Caroline.

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  94. Michael Martin PlunkettDecember 18, 2011 at 4:11 PM

    no pulling the leg this time following the example of many before me i am now publishing the real picture of me in the internet

    no kidding this is the real picture of real me check it out arent i the handsome devil

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-bFRcav2SG5c/TmTM35jJLEI/AAAAAAAAARE/V8EVsmhrIGE/s1600/01.%2BGerard-Butler-Smoking-Winston-Cigarettes.jpg

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  95. @Mike Your link has Gerald Butlers name in it. You are slick

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  96. So your Grard Butler?

    Very handsome.

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  97. My spellings off, you got me all excited!

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  98. Michael Martin PlunkettDecember 18, 2011 at 4:17 PM

    i put the name of gerard butler in the link as a smoke screen because people say i look like him i just dont want people to track me down if i use my real name

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  99. Michael Martin PlunkettDecember 18, 2011 at 4:28 PM

    right peeps has been fun but now im off to play my x box feed the cat to the gold fish and chain smoke a pack of winston cigarettes so if ya dont hear from me again dont be sad i will be alive and happy somewhere and just might reappear again when least expected

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  100. Ukan said, "I think also that children of a sociopathic predisposition take abuse differently. Typically a empathetic person's response to abuse would be shame and guilt. A sociopath's response to abuse is indignation."

    Intriguing generalization. I hadn’t thought about it in quite that way before.

    medical definitions don't take into account the complexities of the human soul…

    HA, HA, HA!!!!

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  101. How many people here actually believe in concepts like 'a soul'?

    Anyone?

    Stupid.

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  102. I like to think there is. I like to think there's an afterlife to. Its much more exciting than nothingness.

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  103. You like how I took emotions and belief out of spirituality?

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  104. More exciting? Maybe. Doesn't make it real though.


    I kind of hope you're right. However, Not believing in an afterlife keeps me alive.

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  105. If energy is neither created or destroyed(2nd Law of Thermodynamics) and we are made of energy which even current physics theories would agree, then something of us lives on. I propose it is the soul.

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  106. Some questions can't be answered. I guess i'm soulless. I like Emphatically Challenged better. When I can't be bothered/fathom the truth my delusions will work just fine. We are not that different. We are just both trying to protect ourselves.

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  107. Hate to break it to you Caroline, but that's not how physics works.

    Btw, what you're referring to are the Conservation Laws/1st Law of Thermo. 2nd Law of Thermo has to do with the eventual equilibrium of heat transfer and entropy.

    We are made of matter and energy, but that means absolute zero in terms of metaphysical properties like a soul.

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  108. Your intelligence is intimidating Haven. I read your blog and I feel stupid. Its good stuff.

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  109. Pet Peeve. Trying to apply science to concepts in ways that make absolutely no fucking sense.

    Physics aren't just a handful of worded theories that you can bend to make fit whatever whim you desire. All scientific concepts are formulated from the mathematics used to prove them and apply them.

    1 + 1 does not actually equal a golden goose.

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  110. 1 + 1 does not actually equal a golden goose.

    This.

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  111. Have you studied Quantum physics?

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  112. @vm ... you're gonna make me blush. I've been told that before though.



    @Daniel... next time =)

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  113. @Caroline... I've studied Quantum Mechanics since I was about 12 years old.

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  114. Well, Haven, you may want to study Michio Kaku, one of the top theorists in the field and see what you think. He came up with String Theory, if I am not mistaken, which opens physics up in new directions which you may not have studied.

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  115. Gotta say I am jealous of you guys with BPD. You have a national spokesman and a symbol of hope (ladybug). We need this.

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  116. Thinking about a national spokesperson for sociopaths is funny. Maybe a scorpion can be our symbol off hope.

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  117. Sweet Caroline, I'm 100% sure that none of those mysterious "directions" have anything whatsoever to do with the existence of souls.

    I'm just as sure that you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about.

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  118. @Daniel You have a way of talking to people that makes them give up their arguments.

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  119. I have read Michio Kaku. I have a handful of his books on my shelves.

    And you are mistaken. Very, very mistaken. He's contributed to the field theory, he's written and published many important works on string theory but he didn't "come up with" it.

    And absolutely none of this has to do with metaphysics (which I realize may be confusing b/c it has the word 'physics' in it, however the 'meta' part means its abstract and not actually physics).

    In no way has any form of quantum mechanics offered proof or eluded to mathematically unsupportable ideas like a soul. If you can not quantify it, you can not correlate it to science.

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  120. @vm... we have a spokesperson and a symbol? Holy crap! The ladybug? Really? Haha... that's amusing... especially since the red/black ladybug is actually the male of the species. Maybe that should be the symbol for DID instead. Then again, with our flimsy sense of self, maybe it's perfect. haha.

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  121. And absolutely none of this has to do with metaphysics (which I realize may be confusing b/c it has the word 'physics' in it…)

    This line alone cracked me up. You are full of win tonight Haven.

    Don't you love it when they throw around phrases like "quantum this" and "energy that" to make their woo sound less wooish?

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  122. @Haven I have heard him on many radio interviews where he seems to meld touch spiritual matters with traditional theories.

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  123. oops I meant BPD not Krs One.

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  124. Glad to brighten your night Daniel, haha =) Thanks.


    Throwing around those catch words drives me battier than I already am. I blame the "What The Bleep" movies. People just don't understand that mathematics is the driving force behind all scientific theory. And mathematics has rules. You don't get to make intuitive leaps without proof in math. Which is what people love trying to do.

    The pretty little paragraphs that have been popularized for the lay person mean very little.

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  125. Moneys flowing everything is fine. Got myself an uzi and my brother a nine.

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  126. Anyway, People can listen to Kaku if they want. I don't care to go in to it, further.

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  127. Laila Tov

    As close as one can get to the omnipotent, enjoy:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NIxqHJrL68

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  128. Sweet Caroline, methinks you have a case of the very common "hearingwhatyouwanttohearitus".

    The real question for you is why. What would it mean to you if it turned out that your spirituality has no basis in reality?

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  129. What would it mean, Daniel? Let me think on that.

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  130. @Caroline... This may be surprising to you, but from what I've seen, most scientists are actually human. And like many of the species hold things we call 'opinions'. Now, these things may be ingrained into this one persons belief system, but that does not qualify it as a valid scientific theory.

    Even the most scientific of minds can believe in unprove-able concepts like god and ghosts and the easter bunny.

    What makes someone like Michio Kaku so popular is because he uses language that most people can understand. He makes the material accessible and relates it to his audience.

    He also talks about things like time travel, superpowers, and the theory behind sci-fi technology. It's fun, it's interesting, it's tailored and relatable to a specific audience... but that doesn't mean it's real.

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  131. Well Haven many scientific concepts which were ridiculed 50 years ago are mainstream, today. You have to look from a larger vantage point, with all due respect.

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  132. Remember Abiogenesis that shit was the coolest.

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  133. Many scientific concepts that were ridiculed 50 years ago were still mathematically proveable. By definition of the word 'faith', it means spiritual concepts can not be proven.

    You're holding up one man and his spiritual beliefs as some kind of proof. Most people with ears have heard of Stephen Hawking as well. He'll tell you that heaven is a fairy story and god does not exist. I'm not using this example as proof that heaven does not exist. I am using this as an example that as humans people hold varying beliefs. One man, does not a valid argument make when the argument leaves the realm of mathematics.

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  134. Anyway, I am sick of talking about science.

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  135. For axi and mxxxxa

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhhsBbT1WAE

    Bonne nuit

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  136. Holy shit. Kim Jong Il is dead? Wow.

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  137. Holy shit Haven... I just saw that on the news, minutes before clicking on here, and there your comment was!
    You're not hiding out in my closet till, are you?

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  138. David How can you be a sociopath when you have a heart like that?

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  139. I honestly was considering Jong Il for sociopath spokesman.

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  141. Daniel Birdick said...
    Sweet Caroline, I'm 100% sure that none of those mysterious "directions" have anything whatsoever to do with the existence of souls.


    really? the soul exists as a concept in your mind Daniel. it exists as pure thought, if nothing else.

    i think it's safe to assume that some thought went into the words you typed. now since all thought involves some transfer of energy, some chemical reaction in the brain, then most definitely these mysterious "directions" have something to do with the existence of souls. they produced the beings that created the concept.

    as a concept, the soul is no less real than any other concept. maybe not as real to me as my left elbow, but somewhat more real (to me) than the concept of sociopath.

    the concept of reality is just this collection of concepts that we have, that we created. it's just a map. the only thing that you can say for sure is that mysterious "directions" have something to do with all of it.

    and you can't move beyond the map using thought. it just creates more concepts, more map. it's not possible to comprehend it, only experience it directly.

    there is nothing really to understand anyway. ;)

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  142. @David I don't understand your heart for the Jewish people, Jewish children dying from terrorism, if you are a sociopath. It doesn't fit.

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  143. David ur video says its private wtf?

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  144. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  145. Why do some woman love sociopaths? Was it because they were never mirrored, seen, and the sociopath is the only one who says "I love you no matter who you are, just as you are" and that is as intoxicating as heroin, to the soul who never knew it.

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  146. "David ur video says its private wtf?"

    You can view it again ...

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  147. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  148. LOL im crying from laughing!!!!!!!!!! thx david!

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  149. Zen master Zoe, your comments were nothing more than empty sophistry. You haven’t actually said anything. Which makes me wonder why you bothered, since, per you, “there is nothing to understand anyway”. If there is nothing to understand, then there is nothing to say. Silence would have been much more appropriate, no?

    When following your “transcendance of all maps” can blow a city like, say, Hiroshima, to high heaven or land a man on Mars or cure small pox, then we can talk about uncertainty equaling all knowledge claims being on the same footing.

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  151. Laila tov;

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOqcE7t9yVU

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  152. Daniel Birdick said...
    Zen master Zoe, your comments were nothing more than empty sophistry. You haven’t actually said anything. Which makes me wonder why you bothered, since, per you, “there is nothing to understand anyway”. If there is nothing to understand, then there is nothing to say. Silence would have been much more appropriate, no?


    probably. but not as fun.

    thinking is just playing with concepts. that cities like Hiroshima blow up suggests thinking doesn't always serve us well. we may have cured small pox and landed man on Mars, but millions of people are also starving and live like rats. who knows what they might have achieved?

    physical reality exists. but for a lot of people it's not much more than a platform for the reality in their minds (hello narcissism).

    soul just represents the part of us that continues on after death. i'm not sure how you can say with 100% certainty that there is no soul when we don't really understand what life is or how it is created.

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  153. thinking is just playing with concepts.

    It’s a bit more than that, as this very blog demonstrates. Technology is the child of science. Science is the child of reason. And reason is born of human thought, only refined.

    that cities like Hiroshima blow up suggests thinking doesn't always serve us well. we may have cured small pox and landed man on Mars, but millions of people are also starving and live like rats. who knows what they might have achieved?

    physical reality exists. but for a lot of people it's not much more than a platform for the reality in their minds (hello narcissism).


    Yes, yes, humans aren’t angels. So what? Moral outcomes do not in any way negate the efficacy of reason when it comes to having real understanding of the universe.

    soul just represents the part of us that continues on after death.

    Really? And you know this… how?

    i'm not sure how you can say with 100% certainty that there is no soul when we don't really understand what life is or how it is created.

    Ah, but I did not say that I know with 100% certainty that there is no soul. Within the context of my previous comments to Caroline, I said that I am certain that the direction of findings in quantum mechanics did not substantiate the existence of souls. Context is king Zoe. I know better than to declare that I am certain gods and souls don't exist. I am, however, pretty confident that there is no reason to suppose that they do exist.

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  154. Any of you guys use soulseek?

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  155. daniel, you don't have a psychopathic outlook. you care too much for logic.

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  156. as ukan said, sociopaths live completely in their ego. a sociopath will never come into grips with reality. just as you have a total regard for honesty daniel, a sociopath places their regard on deceit.

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  157. anonymouse #1 "daniel, you don't have a psychopathic outlook. you care too much for logic."

    Makes sense, especially since I don't claim to be a psychopath. I'm starting to think that should be included in the FAQ.

    anonymouse#2 "just as you have a total regard for honesty daniel, a sociopath places their regard on deceit."

    I think 'a sociopath' (way too general that) places their regard on whatever gets them whatever they happen to want at the moment. Sometimes carefully selected truths can mislead better than frank honesty.

    Also, it's true, I do have a high regard for honesty. Self honesty. Reducing self deception is my #1 value.

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  158. Daniel Birdick said.....
    "soul just represents the part of us that continues on after death."

    Really? And you know this… how?


    i meant the word soul represents the part of us that continues on after death. whether it's true or not remains to be seen.

    I am, however, pretty confident that there is no reason to suppose that they do exist.

    fair enough. but reason doesn't make it so. whatever we believe doesn't change what's actually out there. neither does being wrong or right about it.

    i've met many logical types who are more attached to their beliefs than to logic. they mock those who believe in the supernatural, yet get as worked up when their world view is challenged. they are as blind as the religious fanatics. and fear of the unknown seems to drive both. reason that serves emotion can't serve truth.

    this is why i like to switch sides. :)

    i've had experiences that i can't explain, that are supernatural. they aren't real in the way normal things are real, yet are real enough that to dismiss them seems as foolish as to unquestioningly accept them. i see them as pieces of the puzzle that don't seem to fit that you want to keep on the side until more of the picture emerges. or maybe they're stray pieces of some very different puzzle?

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  159. Zoe, Zoe, Zoe…

    Here’s the thing. You think that redefinition makes your view the more accurate one. But the only thing redefining terms like soul, god and supernatural does is ease the cognitive dissonance in your own mind by creating your very own nonconceptual conceptual spirituality. It tells you next to nothing about the world around you and ironically, very little about how your own mind actually works. It impedes intelligent introspection. It’s less a sign of congruence and more a sign of intellectual acrobatics.

    The question, as always, is why. Why go through all that trouble of maintaining a belief system that does not accord with known facts?

    Because you’ve had unexplainable experiences? You can’t personally explain those experiences to your satisfaction, therefore it must be supernatural. You can hear that this sounds very much like the creationist who can’t (won’t) understand evolution, therefore gawd did it, right? Or even better, it sounds like something a schizophrenic could say to defend his paranoid delusions. Who’s to tell him that the CIA really isn’t after him? He heard all those men in black conspiring against him using his tin foil hat after all!

    Which is more likely? That you have had bona fide supernatural experiences or that your brain has tricked you, the way most brains trick most of humanity? If you’re genuinely curious and not just wanting to shore your supernaturalism as a way to keep existential despair at bay, brush up on all the research out there on cognitive biases.

    If I asked you to talk about one of those experiences, you wouldn’t, would you?

    i've met many logical types who are more attached to their beliefs than to logic. they mock those who believe in the supernatural, yet get as worked up when their world view is challenged. they are as blind as the religious fanatics. and fear of the unknown seems to drive both. reason that serves emotion can't serve truth.

    I love this one. It’s such a typical ploy of the nonreligious religious. "Hey look ma, I'm agnostic about everything, ergo, I am better than both rationalists and religionists! HOORAY!" But for shits and giggles, let’s concede the point that rationalist/logical types (of course you weren’t passive aggressively referring to me…) can and do indeed get worked up. So what? Emotional displays in no way means that the rational/logical type does not hold the most accurate view, nor does it place nonconceptual conceptual spirituality on the same epistemic footing as reason/science/technology. It only indicates that the rational/logical type is human.

    Bottom line: one view leads to real and reliable results that apply to and can be used by everyone. The other one does not. Reliably.

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  160. Daniel Birdick said...
    Which is more likely? That you have had bona fide supernatural experiences or that your brain has tricked you, the way most brains trick most of humanity?


    i don't believe in the supernatural Daniel, only in the possibility that we don't yet know everything about reality, that there is more to learn, including tricks of the brain. should we ever be able to prove how these "tricks" work, they may have some useful application. As an example, using techniques to induce lucid dreaming or out of body experiences to provide a virtual reality to individuals locked in bodies that don't function, and perhaps a way to communicate with them. sound crazy? i've experienced both and they're very real - to me.

    with respect to lucid dreaming, researchers have been able to successfully communicate with individuals in this state, by way of pre-agreed signals and responses in the way of eye movements.

    to dismiss an experience that seems supernatural because you believe the supernatural doesn't exist isn't logical to me. if you hallucinate, it may not be real, but what caused the hallucination? the hallucination happened. something was experienced.

    Daniel, sometimes i see sounds. is that a hallucination or a real experience? why would only hearing it be real?

    If I asked you to talk about one of those experiences, you wouldn’t, would you?

    here's a few: near death experience, out of body experience, and a shared psychic experience that occurred during an intense telephone discussion with a friend on the nature of reality (he has avoided engaging me in such discussions ever since)... it was like being thrown into an altered state for a second or two, like being jolted with electricity.

    the first two are subjective and can be dismissed as tricks of the brain. when you share an experience with someone else though it's harder to dismiss. did we share a hallucination? how many people do you need before a shared hallucination becomes accepted as reality?

    ...let’s concede the point that rationalist/logical types (of course you weren’t passive aggressively referring to me…) can and do indeed get worked up. So what? Emotional displays in no way means that the rational/logical type does not hold the most accurate view, nor does it place nonconceptual conceptual spirituality on the same epistemic footing as reason/science/technology. It only indicates that the rational/logical type is human.

    of course i was passive aggressively referring to you...testing. it's the underlying hypocrisy i object to. a former colleague of mine proclaimed one time that there was no soul, that he knew this absolutely as a fact. he was so arrogant about it that i responded without thinking and looking him right in the eyes said perhaps not everyone had a soul. there was this sudden look of pure fear in his eyes, like some frightened animal living in there, being flushed out, and he said in a whiny voice how that wouldn't be fair.

    so then because that wouldn't be fair, either we both had souls or neither one of us did (because of course reality has to be fair now). and because of his certainty that he didn't have one, neither do I? lol.

    i thought it was funny how much of his reality was shaped by and depended on what he thought or others thought. he had to dominate the beliefs of others to secure his reality. as if reality depends on what we believe.

    then there are the atheists who convert to Catholicism on their death beds. don't get me started on them.

    Bottom line: one view leads to real and reliable results that apply to and can be used by everyone. The other one does not. Reliably.

    logic before science, Daniel. you wouldn't be an engineer now?

    i think i would like to continue this discussion over the holidays if you're around. 'nite. :)

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  161. Zoe said, “i don't believe in the supernatural Daniel…”

    You were the one who labeled your experiences as supernatural. I went with the phrasing you used to categorize these experiences.

    As for the experiences themselves, I am not dismissing them. I too have had “experiences”. I know firsthand that anomalous experiences feel very real when you’re having them. What I dismiss, however, is the supernatural explanation for them.

    Take your near death and out of body experiences. Can they be telling us anything real about the universe if they can be so easily induced by administering DMT or ketamine? You acknowledge as much though.

    As for the shared psychic experience, again, I accept that you and your friend experienced something real. I wouldn’t call that experience a hallucination. I’d call it coincidence. Yes, the exact experience itself could be characterized as extremely unlikely. But when you look at your life in toto, the extremely unlikely becomes likely. Oddly enough. I think of it in terms of winning the lottery. Sure, the odds of any one person winning the Powerball jackpot are astronomical. Yet that extremely unlikely event happens as a matter of routine. All it takes is enough time. Given enough time, (the course of your lifetime), incredible coincidences are bound to occur. Also, was this friend of yours a close one? Had you had several conversations like that prior to the mind meld or was it your first one? If your friendship was an intimate one, it is perfectly reasonable to expect you both to be thinking similarly, perhaps even having the exact same thoughts, at one point or another. I’m very good at finishing the sentences of family and friends, or even providing them with better words for what they are trying when they are fishing for words. I often can see where a conversation is headed or what another person’s point is before they can articulate it. Does any of that make me psychic? I’d say no. The more likely explanation is that I am merely very observant. I’m basically practicing cold reading. You’re a smart person Zoe. You’re probably as observant as I am. I bet you can pick up on nuance, subtle changes in tone of voice and body language that other people miss. In fact, I predict that you are as good at seeing other people better than they see themselves as I am. Am I wrong? If I’m right, do you really think that it’s because you may be a tad psychic?

    And btw, I acknowledge that I have said nothing that conclusively disproves the supernatural explanation for your experiences. I have only asserted what I believe is most likely based on everything else we have come to know about the universe, and more importantly, how we came about that knowledge. How we arrive at facts matters. When it comes to knowledge, the journey really is more important than the destination.

    Daniel, sometimes i see sounds. is that a hallucination or a real experience? why would only hearing it be real?

    That sounds a bit like synesthesia. Synesthesia is a documented neurological condition. It does not require a supernatural explanation and it isn’t necessarily a hallucination.

    logic before science

    Logic wouldn’t come before science. Reason-logic-science would all hang together.

    Abstractly speaking of course. In real time, scientific progress is a much more tricky and very human affair.

    Also, I spent a long time thinking through these issues. I was once a believer in all things supernatural. But I couldn’t hold onto that way of thinking because I couldn’t help noticing, eventually, how truly vacuous and unsupported my former worldview was.

    Btw, your former colleague sounds like an imbecile.

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  162. Daniel Birdick said...
    Zoe said, “i don't believe in the supernatural Daniel…”

    You were the one who labeled your experiences as supernatural. I went with the phrasing you used to categorize these experiences.


    i get lazy. using the word supernatural is just easier as it conveys effectively the sort of experiences i'm referring to.

    if i say i believe the soul may be real, i'm not saying i believe in the supernatural. if we were to prove that the soul exists, it would no longer be something supernatural. it would be part of reality.

    however there is one argument for the supernatural that we haven't talked about yet and i don't think was ever posted on the blog, and i would be interested in your opinion, but it will have to wait. i'll answer the rest in a couple of days...

    happy holidays, Daniel. :)

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  163. Nature vs Nurture is a false dichotomy, both can play overriding factors or it can be anywhere between the two.

    I think Sociopaths have always existed, but that in early human history when societies were small and everyone's survival depended on eachother, antisocial and predatory behavior were less common.

    Over the centuries we've created a society that further and further removes us from the consequences of our actions, empaths show great intergroup bias at every level of society.

    And now we have a society that glorifies competition and crushes the weak, and the only moral guidance we get is that we should feel bad (which we can't) or that we should just obey (which is rarely explained) so of course some sociopaths are going to stand out and cause problems.

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  164. Daniel Birdick said...
    Take your near death and out of body experiences. Can they be telling us anything real about the universe if they can be so easily induced by administering DMT or ketamine? You acknowledge as much though.


    the experience involved a tunnel of light, life review etc, but occurred while i was asleep. i woke up inhaling like mad so it's possible that i stopped breathing and died, then came back to life, but who knows.

    here is my problem with dismissing this as a hallucination...

    if the nde is the reflexive action of a dying brain then why not have nde's where you're at home in a familiar environment? why something so out there like a tunnel of light, life review etc.?

    researchers have found that simulating various parts of the brain can produce hallucinations such as the smell of coffee, taste of lemons, hearing music, and feeling emotions, real things previously experienced. there is also a part of the brain that when stimulated triggers spiritual hallucinations. if i'm hallucinating the smell of coffee, it comes from a real experience of coffee. where does the spiritual hallucination come from then?

    this is the part that gets weird to me. it's easy enough to say that only what you can see, smell, taste and touch is what's real. it's when you start asking what is a hallucination that it gets tricky. can you hallucinate something from absolutely nothing?

    that's like trying to imagine a colour you've never seen before. the brain seems to be wired to build from experience, so what does it build it's sense of spirituality from?

    the belief in fairies and monsters may seem to be not much different from the belief in the supernatural. you can dismiss both as fantasy, the human need to explain the unknown, and deal with our fear of things that go bump in the night.

    but fairies and monsters breathe, and walk or fly, and presumably are part of the physical world for those who believe in them. belief in the supernatural is belief in something beyond the physical world when nothing in the physical world supports its existence.

    how can creatures that exist in a purely mechanistic universe imagine anything else? let alone experience it?

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  165. Daniel Birdick said...
    As for the shared psychic experience, again, I accept that you and your friend experienced something real. I wouldn’t call that experience a hallucination. I’d call it coincidence. Yes, the exact experience itself could be characterized as extremely unlikely. But when you look at your life in toto, the extremely unlikely becomes likely. Oddly enough. I think of it in terms of winning the lottery. Sure, the odds of any one person winning the Powerball jackpot are astronomical. Yet that extremely unlikely event happens as a matter of routine. All it takes is enough time. Given enough time, (the course of your lifetime), incredible coincidences are bound to occur. Also, was this friend of yours a close one? Had you had several conversations like that prior to the mind meld or was it your first one? If your friendship was an intimate one, it is perfectly reasonable to expect you both to be thinking similarly, perhaps even having the exact same thoughts, at one point or another.


    we're very good friends, not intimate, but definitely have some weird psychic connection. we joke about it and have rationalized it exactly as you have above. that was the only such conversation that we've had... where it moved from concept to pure experience. but we've both had psychic experiences separately. i think the thing neither one of us is willing or able to do is dismiss them unequivocally as not real, as you have.

    if you think about it, the concept of "not real" is just a concept. by definition it can't exist. there is only experience. tree, hallucination, back pain, dream.. they all exist in their own way.

    i've considered that it could have been a coincidence. but if it had happened to a thousand people at the same time, could it still have been a coincidence? sure. what about the entire human race?

    maybe what we experience as shared reality is just one big coincidence?

    :)

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  166. Daniel Birdick said...
    The more likely explanation is that I am merely very observant. I’m basically practicing cold reading. You’re a smart person Zoe. You’re probably as observant as I am. I bet you can pick up on nuance, subtle changes in tone of voice and body language that other people miss. In fact, I predict that you are as good at seeing other people better than they see themselves as I am. Am I wrong? If I’m right, do you really think that it’s because you may be a tad psychic?


    lol. maybe you're a tad psychic Daniel?

    yeah reading people when you have physical/sensory input is just information processing and extrapolating to predict behaviour. hard to prove anything psychic is going on. but i've noticed people who are not good at reading others also are not very intuitive, open to experience, and do not have many psychic experiences (i like to ask).

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  167. Also, I spent a long time thinking through these issues. I was once a believer in all things supernatural. But I couldn’t hold onto that way of thinking because I couldn’t help noticing, eventually, how truly vacuous and unsupported my former worldview was.

    i'm a believer in all things experience ;)

    Btw, your former colleague sounds like an imbecile.

    not everyone thought so.

    he was part of a circle of former co-workers i hung out with peripherally, and was their king. he treated them like crap, while they worshipped him. it was real life love fraud. he was travelling around europe and would return home to crash and recharge. as he had no place to stay, and his parents either didn't want him or he didn't want them (can't remember), he would stay with a friend, for months, without paying rent, helping himself to their food, wine, cash, dvd's, telling them it was for only another few weeks, until they finally kicked him out, at which point he would move on to the next friend, leaving the previous one stewing in guilt at kicking him out! how they felt made no impression on him at all. he was superior to them. he was like their alpha king or something. i should add he had a pile of cash he was sitting on, reserved for his travels - and they knew it.

    i got involved with him for a nano second, one date. i didn't know him at all but knew that these friends of his thought a lot of him (which in retrospect wasn't saying much). i didn't know it at the time, but he was being kicked out by the latest friend he was living with and was looking for a new place to stay. he stayed one night at my place. i had to kick him out the next day when he made no move to leave and seemed to be nesting.

    anyway during this time we went out with another friend of mine (from a different crowd) who took me aside and wanted to know what was wrong with the guy.

    the point of my long story is, while my friend immediately saw that something was off, the crowd this guy hung out with seemed mesmerized by him. they couldn't understand how he could do what he was doing. it's like their brains couldn't grasp the reality of it. so now when i hear how great sociopaths are at manipulating, i always think of these idiot friends of mine and their king.

    the king is only as good as the sheep let him be.

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  168. Zoe said, “can you hallucinate something from absolutely nothing?

    maybe what we experience as shared reality is just one big coincidence?

    how can creatures that exist in a purely mechanistic universe imagine anything else? let alone experience it?”


    Before I even bother addressing questions like these, I suggest you take it a step or three back and ask yourself what knowledge is. How do we come to know what we think we know? What counts for facts, in your view? For instance…

    i'm a believer in all things experience ;)

    You use the word experience multiple times. Why? What do you mean by mere experience? Is there such a thing? Is experience without interpretation possible? And if interpretation is inevitable for the normal functioning human mind, then how do you decide between various interpretations of experience and why?

    In other words, wrt NDE's and other "spiritual phenomena", let's talk about epistemology before we talk about anything else.

    the king is only as good as the sheep let him be.

    Exactly. It’s why I say power is an illusion. Mesmerize enough people (or just the right ones), and power can be yours.

    The imbecile comment was in reference to your statement about this guy needing to control your view on souls to keep himself from feeling emotionally destabilized. Having read the rest of the story, I can revise my opinion and state that he sounds cunning. Still, there is a difference between cunning and general intelligence. Or rather, maybe there are different kinds of intelligence (ala Gardner, although he didn’t provide much in the way of empirical evidence to support his theory). I’m pretty confident that one can be a quite brilliant social manipulator while being utterly stupid in many other respects. Anyway, you challenged the faux king’s certainties. He probably hadn’t thought through why he didn’t believe in souls, which, in part, made your challenge so frightening to him. Had you made a similar statement to me (Daniel, maybe souls exist, only you don’t have one…) I would have had a very good laugh at your expense rather than feel threatened.

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  169. that's the reaction i expected! instead he just toppled over.

    if i remember correctly he had never had a psychic experience in his life. his belief in the non-existence of a higher power propped up his ego and made it supreme, but nothing much propped up his belief it seems. i imagine the belief alone made him feel superior and that was enough to justify it. his buddies worshipped him so anything that came out of his mouth was golden. anyway, the last thing i heard was he was attempting to experience psychic phenomena. ha.

    he wasn't a very intelligent guy, just very cunning within his own pack. a brilliant social manipulator in the wading pool only.

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  170. Daniel Birdick said...
    Before I even bother addressing questions like these, I suggest you take it a step or three back and ask yourself what knowledge is. How do we come to know what we think we know? What counts for facts, in your view? For instance…


    it's a fact that fire burns and will burn my hand if i touch it. that's been my experience of fire so far. based on that experience i have no reason to believe that a fire can behave in any other way. that fire burns then is a belief, supported by my direct experience of it.

    knowledge is just a collection of beliefs, some supported by experience and some not. these beliefs generate expectations about how the world around me will behave (based on how it has so far). so knowledge is all about my expectations. the more knowledge i have, the more expectations i will have about the world and the way it behaves. and the less likely i will be able to experience it in some other way, should such an experience present itself.

    i fully expect that if i were to walk on live coals my feet would burn. yet i've heard people are able to walk on live coals without burning their feet. so which is fact? to what extent do i dismiss the experience of others to preserve my own beliefs? or do i dismiss what i clearly see and hear and feel for someone else's beliefs, because they are more compelling?

    a fact closes the mind to other possibilities. as soon as you decide what a thing is, you're also deciding all that it isn't.

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  171. Daniel Birdick said...
    You use the word experience multiple times. Why? What do you mean by mere experience? Is there such a thing? Is experience without interpretation possible? And if interpretation is inevitable for the normal functioning human mind, then how do you decide between various interpretations of experience and why?


    experience is so tricky. am i really experiencing or just exercising my beliefs?

    when i feel the sun on my face, that's pure experience, right? lucid dream reality is just like waking reality, special powers aside. so if i feel the sun on my face in a lucid dream is that experience or memory? if i'm hurrying in the street, late for work, and only when i get to my desk and finally sit down think to myself how nice the hot the sun had felt on my face, is that experience or a memory? what if i realize that i'm dreaming and am free to go outdoors again?

    so you're right, experience is interpretation of signals to my brain. even pure sensation is an interpretation. whether i'm awake, dreaming or high, i'm interpreting the signals as some sort of experience, and then interpreting the experience and validating it against my belief system.

    what i meant by experience earlier was when you direct attention toward the interpretation of the signals and away from interpreting the experience. that's as pure as the experience gets. if i'm meditating with the hot sun on my face i can stop all thoughts, but i haven't been able to stop the feeling of "hot" on my face and experience those signals before the brain interprets them as sensation.

    but anyway, the point of directing attention away from thought is to regain awareness, otherwise rather than you living the thoughts, your thoughts are living you. like some sort of Tourette syndrome of the mind. or like the old people who keep telling the same story again and again, that once started can't be interrupted and has to go all the way to the end in exactly the same way. like a recording.

    that's what i meant about being a believer in all things experience.

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  172. Just a quick thing, my father was a Sociopath and I hate him. He showed that when he wants to, he can show perfect self control, but he didn't want to and I am now stuck with the memories of what he did to me and my sisters and Mother. I wish he were dead, no joke.
    When people were watching, he was well behaved, but as soon as no-one was looking, he would shift into the devil himself! He showed that if he wanted to, he could be tolerable, nice even, but he didn't want to!!!!
    By Sophie

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  173. I believe that there are two ways of becoming a psychopath.
    1. Being abused or mistreated to the point that you have so much build up sadness and hate and become emotionally void.
    2. You are born intellectually enough that it all comes natural once you understand what you are.

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  174. Daima güncel film izleyebileceğiniz en iyi adrestesiniz.En iyi yerli filmlerin hd kalitede bulabileceğiniz ve türkçe dublaj film izleyerek keyifli zaman geçirebileceğiniz bir film sitesi üzerinde çalıştığımızı ve sizler için en iyi aksiyon filmleri izleyebileceğiniz güzel bir site yapmaya çalıştığımızı belirtmek isterim. Kaliteli animasyon filmleri izleyebileceğiniz ve en önemlisi tek part film izleyebileceğiniz bir sistem kurmanın gururunu yaşadığımızın bilincindeyiz. Keyifli zamanlar geçirmeniz dileğiyle.

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