Science of Reincarnation?

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  • #1
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Does any such research exist?
 

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  • #2
Drakkith
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I doubt it. What kind of evidence would be acceptable? Knowledge of previous lives? Acting a certain way? I really can't think of anything that wouldn't have another explanation that is much more likely.
 
  • #3
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imho, anything called "science of reincarnation" is nothing but pseudoscience.
 
  • #4
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Does any such research exist?
About as much as the science of magical, flying unicorns.
 
  • #5
Ryan_m_b
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There probably have been simple experiments (such as questioning people who say they remember past lives) but nothing thorough or conclusive. Remember that science works by observing a phenomenon, reading/learning all current knowledge on the subject, making a hypothesis, experimenting to test the hypothesis

As we have never observed reincarnation, life after death or any mechanism by which consciousness survives after brain death there really isn't anything to study.
 
  • #6
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Suppose hypothetically that reincarnation was real. Now, how you would even begin an experiment to research its details?

If you can come up with one, good for you. Even ignoring expense and ethical issues, I certainly can't.
 
  • #7
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Suppose hypothetically that reincarnation was real. Now, how you would even begin an experiment to research its details?

If you can come up with one, good for you. Even ignoring expense and ethical issues, I certainly can't.
Easy. No ethical issues required - unless of course you are talking about killing people to 'reproduce' it, which is just non-sense. There are plenty of people born / dying each day to work with.

You'd need accurate records of people's lives and then you'd simply check what people report about their 'past lives' against those details.

If it matches with relative accuracy, particularly details that the person couldn't have picked up themselves, then it's job done.

Of course there are assumptions, a) it's only with humans, b) you could find the person amongst the 6 billion on the planet who was reincarnated and finally c) it happens instantly or within a useful time period of death (not tens or hundreds of years apart).

Frankly, this is all extraordinarily speculative and I see no useful discussion coming from going down this route.
 
  • #8
Ryan_m_b
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Easy. No ethical issues required...You'd need accurate records of people's lives and then you'd simply check what people report about their 'past lives' against those details.
With respect I disagree, we can't assume something is true and go looking for the evidence. By this I mean that if we had evidence that a percentage of people had knowledge of previous peoples lives that itself would be the observation requiring investigation. It wouldn't itself be evidence for reincarnation because we have not demonstrated that the knowledge is passed through reincarnation. The only way to investigate such things is to develop all our sciences and wait to see if there is any mechanism in existence for life after death
 
  • #9
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With respect I disagree, we can't assume something is true and go looking for the evidence.
I was directly addressing the post saying if it is real, how would we test it. So I was working on the basis that we somehow knew it existed and weren't assuming it.
By this I mean that if we had evidence that a percentage of people had knowledge of previous peoples lives that itself would be the observation requiring investigation.
True.
It wouldn't itself be evidence for reincarnation because we have not demonstrated that the knowledge is passed through reincarnation.
No, it wouldn't mean reincarnation is real. But, it would be a potential mechanism for it. If reincarnation is the only thing that explains it, then let's just stick with Occam's Razor for now, until something better comes along.
The only way to investigate such things is to develop all our sciences and wait to see if there is any mechanism in existence for life after death
Non-sense. If we had to wait until technology developed to investigate we wouldn't get anywhere. It's by investigating we develop. Computers didn't just jump into quad core existence.

Of course, until our technology is capable of doing so, we may not be able to answer it fully. But that doesn't stop us investigating and producing theories.
 
  • #10
Ryan_m_b
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Non-sense. If we had to wait until technology developed to investigate we wouldn't get anywhere. It's by investigating we develop. Computers didn't just jump into quad core existence.
Of course, until our technology is capable of doing so, we may not be able to answer it fully. But that doesn't stop us investigating and producing theories.
Very true, hmm I'm not sure how best to put it. If we have no current explanation of how something could even be possible (i.e. life after death) we've got to first rewrite the principles we've already discovered before addressing that subject.
 
  • #11
GUS
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There was some program about a boy who knew his past life and the director of the program took him to his past life village thousands of km away and it was exactly as he described or something.
I think it is possible science will prove we have something akin spirit one day - but it would be in the realms of quantum mechanics, organisation of light and electro magnetic waves into coherent patterns or something. After all - all our consciousnesses are is a collection of electrons rattling around - so its not that great a leap to make that such complex organisations of electrons could exist without being tied to matter. Nothing any sensible scientist would touch at the moment of course but then they insisted the world was flat at one point. Anyway even if they did scientifically prove the existance of non material intelligence religion would still be bollocks.
 
  • #12
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There was some program about a boy who knew his past life and the director of the program took him to his past life village thousands of km away and it was exactly as he described or something.
Of course, this is on the assumption that child couldn't possibly have visited and/or researched the place. Along with a whole host of other possibilities for how the knowledge of the place could come to exist.
After all - all our consciousnesses are is a collection of electrons rattling around - so its not that great a leap to make that such complex organisations of electrons could exist without being tied to matter.
It is a great leap, as it is observed no where.
Nothing any sensible scientist would touch at the moment of course but then they insisted the world was flat at one point.
Did scientists insist that? Or was it a general belief?
Anyway even if they did scientifically prove the existance of non material intelligence religion would still be bollocks.
Let's not go there, forum rules and all.
 
  • #13
Ryan_m_b
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I think it is possible science will prove we have something akin spirit one day
How could you possibly know that?

but it would be in the realms of quantum mechanics, organisation of light and electro magnetic waves into coherent patterns or something
Same reply as before with the addition that I'm getting sick of hearing quantum physics used as an excuse for magic

After all - all our consciousnesses are is a collection of electrons rattling around - so its not that great a leap to make that such complex organisations of electrons could exist without being tied to matter.
Our consciousness is an emergent property of brain electrochemistry. The idea that we are just electrons rattling around is massively oversimplified to the point of ridiculousness. There are no examples of patterns of electrons floating through space with no relation to matter, even if there was we could detect it.

they insisted the world was flat at one point
I advise you read The Relativity of Wrong, an essay by Isaac Asimov. If to the best of our knowledge and measurements the world was flat then it is sensible to say it is flat. Though its an urban myth that people thought the world was flat

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myth_of_the_Flat_Earth
 
  • #14
GUS
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How could you possibly know that?

Absolutely cant old boy - wild conjecture at best.
 
  • #15
GUS
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Of course, this is on the assumption that child couldn't possibly have visited and/or researched the place. Along with a whole host of other possibilities for how the knowledge of the place could come to exist.


It is a great leap, as it is observed no where.

Did scientists insist that? Or was it a general belief?
I dont know - it depends whether you consider some of the ancient greeks scientists, certainly they also proposed that the Earth went round the sun and that it was also a globe - but there was debate about this and experiments to prove it so in a way I consider them the first scientists. What I mean is things that were once viewed as impossible by science are now viewed as fact or at least possible. The great oppression of science by religion means that to even consider the existance of consciousness without matter is bound to be rejected out of hand . Complex patters of electromagnetic wavs may be somewhere out there even if we havent observed them.
Then theres Carver Meads theory that subatomic particles are not particles at all but in fact wavs - some consider that matter itself is not solid at all but electromagnetic fields at the most fundamental level.
I think theres lots of things in the universe that we still know very little about - dark matter for instance - and quantum physics does seem to show the universe behaves in irrational ways (at least from the physists I have spoken to such as my stepmother - I am trying to improve my maths at the moment to deepen my own understanding which I am the first to admit is limited). There are a lot of things in the universe we have not observed - and when you get right down to it what is matter - what are neutrons, protons, gluons , quarks etc actually made of - are all particles waves as well ? Does matter even exist ?
That would make all physical things kind of an illusion anyway and the idea of consciousness without matter moot . This is a welcome discussion but.... I have a lot of work to do .
 
  • #16
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I dont know - it depends whether you consider some of the ancient greeks scientists, certainly they also proposed that the Earth went round the sun and that it was also a globe - but there was debate about this and experiments to prove it so in a way I consider them the first scientists.
Eratosthenes of Cyrene proved that the Earth was round, and even gave a pretty accurate measurement, within a few percentage points of the true number. And yes, he was one of the first scientists. So, contrary to what you stated, scientists have never insisted that the Earth was flat.

What I mean is things that were once viewed as impossible by science are now viewed as fact or at least possible.
Name some.

The great oppression of science by religion means that to even consider the existance of consciousness without matter is bound to be rejected out of hand .
I can't make sense out of this statement at all.

Complex patters of electromagnetic wavs may be somewhere out there even if we havent observed them.
Almost certainly, but what do you mean by that?

[quoteThen theres Carver Meads theory that subatomic particles are not particles at all but in fact wavs - some consider that matter itself is not solid at all but electromagnetic fields at the most fundamental level.[/quote]

Subatomic particles ARE waves... and particles at the same time. This is de Broglie's theory, and if he were alive, I'm sure he wouldn't be happy with this Carver Mead character.


I think theres lots of things in the universe that we still know very little about - dark matter for instance
To steal a quote from Dara O'Briain, "Science knows it doesn't know everything, or else it'd stop. But just because science doesn't know everything doesn't mean you get to fill in the gaps with whatever fairy tale most appeals to ya."

- and quantum physics does seem to show the universe behaves in irrational ways (at least from the physists I have spoken to such as my stepmother - I am trying to improve my maths at the moment to deepen my own understanding which I am the first to admit is limited).
Quantum Mechanics behaves in a very rational way. There is a set of rules which everything follows. You can't get any more rational than that.

There are a lot of things in the universe we have not observed - and when you get right down to it what is matter - what are neutrons, protons, gluons , quarks etc actually made of - are all particles waves as well ? Does matter even exist ?
Take a class in Quantum Field Theory and get back to us.

That would make all physical things kind of an illusion anyway and the idea of consciousness without matter moot . This is a welcome discussion but.... I have a lot of work to do .
That's philosophy, not physics.
 
  • #17
GUS
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Eratosthenes of Cyrene proved that the Earth was round, and even gave a pretty accurate measurement, within a few percentage points of the true number. And yes, he was one of the first scientists. So, contrary to what you stated, scientists have never insisted that the Earth was flat.
Incorrect.

Many pre-Socratic philosophers considered the world to be flat, at least according to Aristotle.[17] According to Aristotle, pre-Socratic philosophers, including Leucippus (c. 440 BC) and Democritus (c. 460–370 BC) .
http://www.mse.berkeley.edu/faculty/deFontaine/flatworlds.html

The Greek belief that the Earth was a sphere was the result of an preceding dialectic.

Name some.
going back to the ancient Greeks the idea that the earth went round the sun was an anathema to them including many Greeks who you have just said you considered scientists. Although it wasnt until much later the geocentric model was discredited, Hypatia was perhaps the first to suggest otherwise.

A more modern example is : Time travel - regarded as impossible by many scientists but regarded as possible by some such as Ronald Mallett. The fact that these ideas have been taken seriously enough to warrant any sort of debate at all amongst the scientific community (including the likes of Stephen Hawkin) is in stark contrast to the one way ticket to the looney bin it would have won him 130 years ago.

Im pretty sure the idea of quantum teleportation of information would have seen like magic to some earlier scientists as well - come to think of it if youd proposed the existance of mobile phones to Eratosthenes of Cyrene he probably would have considered that a wild fairy tale.
I can't make sense out of this statement at all.
Its pretty self explanatory really.

Almost certainly, but what do you mean by that?
I mean that consciousness is to the best of our understanding (which is poor) a complex interplay of electrons in the brain. Therefore it is possible that other complex structures of energy in the universe might represent a form of intelligence, though they the way such complexity arises and is generated may be different .

Subatomic particles ARE waves... and particles at the same time. This is de Broglie's theory, and if he were alive, I'm sure he wouldn't be happy with this Carver Mead character.
Yes I am aware of that. However some scientists have suggested that particles do not exist at all - are in fact purely electro - magnetic fields that appear to be particles .

To steal a quote from Dara O'Briain, "Science knows it doesn't know everything, or else it'd stop. But just because science doesn't know everything doesn't mean you get to fill in the gaps with whatever fairy tale most appeals to ya."
Ill see your Dar O'Briain and raise you a John Dewey

: Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination. ~John Dewey, The Quest for Certainty, 1929

Quantum Mechanics behaves in a very rational way. There is a set of rules which everything follows. You can't get any more rational than that.
Yes but the rules are not rational, , at least according to my friends (two of whom are proffesional physicists ) , like a particle being in two places at once until you observe it. They all assure me that quantum physics is very curious indeed Schrödinger's cat and the observation affect being the most obvious. At the very least its a contraversial area. Still its great you understand it so well.


Take a class in Quantum Field Theory and get back to us.
Really - so you know what quarks are made out of ? Pray tell and pass the info on to this guy - you may save him years of research :

http://blogs.uslhc.us/but-what-are-quarks-made-of

I am getting their slowly but surely in my spare time - when I have done so I look forward to discussing the matter more in depth with the people I know who are physicists - I am quite aware of how superficial my understanding is . I am still wading through calculus at the moment.

That's philosophy, not physics.
It is neither - it is conjecture.
 
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  • #18
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Incorrect.



http://www.mse.berkeley.edu/faculty/deFontaine/flatworlds.html

The Greek belief that the Earth was a sphere was the result of an preceding dialectic.



going back to the ancient Greeks the idea that the earth went round the sun was an anathema to them including many Greeks who you have just said you considered scientists. Although it wasnt until much later the geocentric model was discredited, Hypatia was perhaps the first to suggest otherwise.
Wrong. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristarchus_of_Samos

A more modern example is : Time travel - regarded as impossible by many scientists but regarded as possible by some such as Ronald Mallett. The fact that these ideas have been taken seriously enough to warrant any sort of debate at all amongst the scientific community (including the likes of Stephen Hawkin) is in stark contrast to the one way ticket to the looney bin it would have won him 130 years ago.
Time travel isn't shown to exist (except for forward), so you cannot use this as an example of something where science said couldn't exist but does. I'm also not 100% convinced that time travel was ever considered "impossible" by science.

Im pretty sure the idea of quantum teleportation of information would have seen like magic to some earlier scientists as well - come to think of it if youd proposed the existance of mobile phones to Eratosthenes of Cyrene he probably would have considered that a wild fairy tale.
Again, these are things that science has never said "this cannot happen."

Its pretty self explanatory really.
No, the first part of your sentence has apparently no connection to the last part of the sentence, except the physical proximity of the words.


I mean that consciousness is to the best of our understanding (which is poor) a complex interplay of electrons in the brain. Therefore it is possible that other complex structures of energy in the universe might represent a form of intelligence, though they the way such complexity arises and is generated may be different.
There you go again, making up fairy tales to fill the gaps in your knowledge.



Yes I am aware of that. However some scientists have suggested that particles do not exist at all - are in fact purely electro - magnetic fields that appear to be particles .
Fields perhaps, yes. Probably not electromagnetic fields. You can't hope to explain gluons in terms of electromagnetism. In any case, I can't see how this can possibly be related to anything in this thread. It sounds to me like you wanted to throw out some pseudoscientific mumbo-jumbo, and you felt that "electro-magnetic fields that appear to be particles" sounded like a good phrase.


Ill see your Dar O'Briain and raise you a John Dewey

: Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination. ~John Dewey, The Quest for Certainty, 1929
There's a HUGE difference between imagination within the confines of science, and the wild mass guessing that people like you do.

Yes but the rules are not rational, , at least according to my friends (two of whom are proffesional physicists ) , like a particle being in two places at once until you observe it. They all assure me that quantum physics is very curious indeed Schrödinger's cat and the observation affect being the most obvious. At the very least its a contraversial area. Still its great you understand it so well.
Those rules are perfectly rational, they're just not intuitive. Quantum Mechanics is NOT a controversial area. At all. It hasn't been controversial for decades. It's one of the most well-tested theories in the history of science. Where's the controversy?


Really - so you know what quarks are made out of ? Pray tell and pass the info on to this guy - you may save him years of research :

http://blogs.uslhc.us/but-what-are-quarks-made-of
Do you want to address what I actually said, or do you want to just keep putting words in my mouth? If you just want to put words in my mouth, I don't need to be here, you can just argue with whatever fictionalized version of me your imagination can come up with.
 
  • #19
Ryan_m_b
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There's a HUGE difference between imagination within the confines of science, and the wild mass guessing that people like you do.
Bravo! This line made my day
 
  • #20
GUS
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You haven't actually to read your own reference. As I said before the idea of the Earth going around the sun was an "anethema" to the ancient Greeks - anathema means : a person, idea or thing detested or loathed - so that means the idea has to have existed for it to be rejected. Aristarchus of Samos was considered radical by the Greeks "fringe science" even and was rejected even ridiculed in favour of Ptolemys geocentric view. From your own reference :

His astronomical ideas were often rejected in favor of the geocentric theories of Aristotle and Ptolemy

and :

Aristarchus from Samos (250 BC) - Theorized the "radical" view that the Earth and all the Planets revolve around the Sun: The Heliocentric model. The model was not accepted because it contradicted the "Great" Aristotle and predicted parallax;
http://www.davincisworld.com/Astronomy/HistoryOfAstronomy.htm

Got to admit the guy was a genius - without scientific equipment at the time it must have seemed like everything revolved round the Earth (path of the stars, sun, moon etc) - to think otherwise took an incredible amount of lateral thinking.


Time travel isn't shown to exist (except for forward), so you cannot use this as an example of something where science said couldn't exist but does. I'm also not 100% convinced that time travel was ever considered "impossible" by science. Again, these are things that science has never said "this cannot happen."
"Science" does not consider anything - scientists do - and their opinions are diverse. You could of course be talking about mainstream opinion which is different - and of course mainstream science is not always correct. There are scientists who consider time travel impossible even now as there are scientists who consider the possibility of disembodied intelligence or even God possible now (for the record I am not religous).


No, the first part of your sentence has apparently no connection to the last part of the sentence, except the physical proximity of the words.
I just showed it to my girlfriend - she understood it easily within the context of the thread.

There you go again, making up fairy tales to fill the gaps in your knowledge.
A gap in everybodies knowledge. We dont know how consiousness works (my fathers words - and as one of the foremost psychologists in the world he should know what hes talking about) . Again if you read my second post I openly admit that what I said was "wild conjecture at best" .

Fields perhaps, yes. Probably not electromagnetic fields. You can't hope to explain gluons in terms of electromagnetism. In any case, I can't see how this can possibly be related to anything in this thread. It sounds to me like you wanted to throw out some pseudoscientific mumbo-jumbo, and you felt that "electro-magnetic fields that appear to be particles" sounded like a good phrase.
Actually its because I have taken a keen interest in physics form an early age. You also seem unaware of the meaning of the word pseudoscience - I have never claimed that what I said was science or anything other than conjecture - some of it is however informed to a degree by what I have read of different physics theories. There are phycisists who propose a wave only view or matter :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wave–particle_duality#Wave-only_view


There's a HUGE difference between imagination within the confines of science, and the wild mass guessing that people like you do.
Many physicists and people have let their imaginations run wild far beyond the the bounds of science - Isaac Newton for example was a keen alchemist - there is even evidence that some of his most famous theories came from his work on alchemy. I know several proffesional physisists who entertain ideas that make those expressed on this thread seem conservative.
Of course they dont present their ideas as anything other than wild speculation and neither do I. Their ideas have also influenced me .

Those rules are perfectly rational, they're just not intuitive. Quantum Mechanics is NOT a controversial area. At all. It hasn't been controversial for decades. It's one of the most well-tested theories in the history of science. Where's the controversy?
That quantum physics works, is well understood, and is one of the most succesful theories in the history of science is not contraversial - however the philisophical implications of quantum physics are still to this day extremely contraversial - there are in fact several threads on the physics forum where people debate its implications. If you take the Copenhagen interpretation for example - the idea that a particle can exist in many states at the same time is something most people would consider "irrational" in an everyday sense of the word.

Do you want to address what I actually said, or do you want to just keep putting words in my mouth? If you just want to put words in my mouth, I don't need to be here, you can just argue with whatever fictionalized version of me your imagination can come up with.
It would be nice if you could do the same. I asked what quarks were actually made of - your reply was to instruct me to "take a class in Quantum Field Theory" implying that the answers could be found within such a course - they are not - nobody knows.
As a final note I would like to say I DO respect the enormous amount of work and study that it takes to gain a real understanding of physics and realise this is something you are probably studying yourself and I am only to aware of my own lack of understanding s, I am currently studying physics myself - in a way your vitriol has served a good purpose in that it causes me to redouble my efforts to get through calculus. What I do not respect however is your inability to disagree with somebody without insulting them - I also dislike the way you seek to speak authoritavely on subjects that greater scientists than you openly admit they have limited understandings of .
Well I am currently writing to you from a proxy server because as you will no doubt be delighted to hear, my IP adress seems to have been banned from this site - I didnt think anyone would take it that far - but I will not be replying to any further posts of yours.
 
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  • #21
Ryan_m_b
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GUS I appreciate you wanted to respond to Jack but do you think you could answer my points in post 13? Thanks
 
  • #22
GUS
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Surte Ryan - but my IP adress has been banned an its a bit of a fiddle to find a working proxy server so I cannot promise an ongoing debate.

How could you possibly know that?
I cannot - its just an idea .


Our consciousness is an emergent property of brain electrochemistry. The idea that we are just electrons rattling around is massively oversimplified to the point of ridiculousness. There are no examples of patterns of electrons floating through space with no relation to matter, even if there was we could detect it.
I am not a fan of reductionist theories at all myself. However many psychologists view consciouness as a pattern of thoughts thut ultimately have an electrochemical basis. Thoughts themselves I would argue are complex patterns of electrical activity spawned by neurons etc . Such complex electrical activity may exist elsewhere in the universe even if we havent observed it (or even looked for it)a and even if it isnt produced by matter (ie neurons) - this of course is entirely speculative . An example would be that scientists looking for alien life often look for Earth like planets - If we look beyond the biological definition of life (respiration etc after all if machines one day became self aware they would never fit the biological definition of life) and define it instead as consciouness - why would life/consciouness develop the same way it has on Earth - it might be completely different - so it would make more sense to look for complexity rather than a copy of ourselves.
Consciouness itself is very very poorly understood - and many argue there is a big difference between "consciousness" and "neural activity" :

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20527427.100-you-wont-find-consciousness-in-the-brain.html

Full article :

http://preventdisease.com/news/10/010710_consciousness_not_in_brain.shtml



I advise you read The Relativity of Wrong, an essay by Isaac Asimov. If to the best of our knowledge and measurements the world was flat then it is sensible to say it is flat. Though its an urban myth that people thought the world was flat

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myth_of_the_Flat_Earth
There were ancient Greeks who believed the world was flat - I was refferring to them - please read my reply to Jack.
Welll I have to go ... really.
 
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  • #23
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Surte Ryan - but my IP adress has been banned an its a bit of a fiddle to find a working proxy server so I cannot promise an ongoing debate.
Your IP address has been banned but your account hasn't?

You should contact the admins.
 
  • #24
Ryan_m_b
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Ok my main contention is the point about electrical activity and thought. Whilst I agree that sentient life could possibly arise in non-Earth like conditions (cores of gas giants? surface of Neutron stars?) I'm not sure that the electrical activity can be solely attributed as thoughts. If you took the neurons away (and somehow the signal continued, perhaps because you are replicating the conductivity with synthetic components) I'm not convinced that we have enough evidence to say that the mind would still be there

And also how this relates to reincarnation?
 
  • #25
GUS
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Your IP address has been banned but your account hasn't?

You should contact the admins.
To be honest if it prevents me getting into stupid arguments online and neglecting my work - its probably a good thing....
 

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