An Unquiet Mind Over Matter

Reg­u­lar read­ers of my blog know that I am a die-hard ratio­nal­ist. I am a great admir­er of James Ran­di, and great­ly appre­ci­ate the work being done by Maharashtra’s And­hashrad­dha Nir­moolan Sami­ti (Com­mit­tee for Erad­i­ca­tion of Blind Faith).

Super­sti­tions and mag­i­cal tricks have always been used to manip­u­late the gullible, to gain pow­er over them.

At GodrejSo, when I was invit­ed to an ESP (Extra Sen­so­ry Per­cep­tion) show by HDFC Pri­vate Bank­ing in Pune, I thought it was ‘yet-anoth­er-mag­ic-show’, and passed it off. How­ev­er, my invest­ment advi­sor called me up per­son­al­ly and con­vinced me to attend, so I and my wife went to see this ‘ESP Show’.

I must say, my ratio­nal mind is very unqui­et after that. The show was con­duct­ed by Mr. Deep­ak Rao. He doesn’t have a Wikipedia page of his own (yet), but he is said to be India’s equiv­a­lent of Uri Geller.

So I wait­ed impa­tient­ly to apply my ratio­nal mind to uncov­er his secrets in delud­ing the audi­ence. Dur­ing and after the show, I failed com­plete­ly.

Background

Many peo­ple sus­pect that the per­former has ‘stooges’ in the audi­ence, who’re actu­al­ly con­niv­ing with the per­former. It was not true in this case, as any­one from the audi­ence who raised their hands for a par­tic­u­lar act were invit­ed to par­tic­i­pate. In fact, Deep­ak Rao had only one assis­tant dur­ing the entire show. Every­one else was an invi­tee of HDFC. I can per­son­al­ly attest to this.Telepathy

There were no objects, giz­mos, or equip­ment brought in for the show. He used mate­r­i­al sup­plied by the audi­ence or by the hotel.

He doesn’t term his feats as “tricks”, rather he terms them as “exper­i­ments”. Fur­ther, he nev­er guar­an­tees that they will work, he always approach­es each ‘exper­i­ment’ say­ing ‘let’s see if this works’.

ESP, Telepathy, & Telekinesis

Mr. Rao showed the fol­low­ing feats in front of our eyes.

1. He asked 3 ladies to come up to the stage and asked one of them to write her birth time on a piece of paper, such that the oth­er two ladies could read it. He him­self was turned away dur­ing the whole time. Then keep­ing his hand one by one on each lady’s fore­head, while mut­ter­ing “the birth time is…”, “the birth time is…”, and so on, he final­ly shook his head and turned away. He then took out his wrist-watch, adjust­ed it to some time, and then asked the ladies to say out the birth time aloud. He then showed that he had set the watch to that exact time. Note that the three ladies were select­ed at ran­dom from the audi­ence.

2. Telepa­thy: He asked five ran­dom mem­bers of the audi­ence to get Rs. 100 notes from their wal­lets. These notes were then fold­ed and fold­ed such that their ser­i­al num­bers were per­ma­nent­ly hid­den, after which they were put in a bowl. A child was asked to pick up one of them ran­dom­ly from that bowl, and sep­a­rate ran­dom mem­bers of the audi­ence were invit­ed on stage to unfold that note pri­vate­ly among them­selves. Mr. Rao then pro­ceed­ed to touch the fore­head or engage in a hand­shake with each of these, but didn’t say any­thing. Instead, he “trans­mit­ted” the alphanu­mer­ic char­ac­ters via “telepa­thy” to his blind­fold­ed assis­tant, who read the ser­i­al num­ber aloud. It was per­fect — E498DC80 — some­thing.

3. He asked a ran­dom­ly cho­sen cou­ple on stage to write a name of some­one they knew, with his/her cor­re­spond­ing birth date. He then held their hands, touched their fore­heads, while mut­ter­ing, “the name starts with PQRS/MNLP/etc., ” and then, after a few sec­onds, said, her name is “Suni­ta”. He then pro­ceed­ed in the same fash­ion that declared, cor­rect­ly, that her birth date was 10th June.

Bending Key4. He deter­mined a ran­dom­ly cho­sen lady’s last name (who’s hus­band and fam­i­ly were sit­ting in the audi­ence) by hold­ing her hand and touch­ing her fore­head. He then asked her to walk a bit and then accu­rate­ly guessed her zodi­ac sign, and her birth date. Yes.

5. Telekine­sis: He asked for a key from the audi­ence. A strong key, tied to a key chain. He let us inspect the key. It was strong enough that no one could eas­i­ly bend it, even using both hands. It was a strong, strong metal­lic key, and short enough not to be eas­i­ly bend­ed even using both hands. He then invit­ed a lady to the stage. He kept the key on the lady’s out­stretched palm. He asked her to cov­er it with both her palms. He kept one hand on her palms, one hand behind his back, and con­cen­trat­ed. His hand over the lady’s palms was steady, I watched his oth­er hand behind his back, twist­ing and twist­ing some­thing in the air, as he men­tal­ly con­cen­trat­ed.Bent Key

At one point, he gave up, shak­ing his head as if he as tired after a great men­tal effort. He said he’s try­ing, but didn’t know if he’ll suc­ceed. The lady said she could feel some­thing mov­ing in her hand. He did it again for a few min­utes. After which, he lit­er­al­ly seemed exhaust­ed and shook his head and removed all his hands. The lady uncov­ered her hands, and vio­la! The key was bent in an L-shape. It was returned to the own­er who con­firmed that it was the same key he had giv­en, and now he couldn’t use it to enter his home!

6. He held an ordi­nary light bulb by the base, uttered sounds of vary­ing fre­quen­cies, and shat­tered it. I can imag­ine a sci­en­tif­ic expla­na­tion for this phe­nom­e­non, that the fre­quen­cies of the sound res­onat­ed with the inher­ent fre­quen­cy-struc­ture of the light bulb and hence it explod­ed. But it was ‘mag­i­cal’ to see it, nonethe­less.

Shattering Bulb7. He said that HDFC was going to be a pro­duc­er for a Hin­di Bol­ly­wood film. He placed an enve­lope on the stage. He then select­ed audi­ence mem­bers to choose from each of the movie’s dif­fer­ent aspects. Start­ing from the theme (mur­der mys­tery, com­e­dy, musi­cal, dra­ma), hero (Amitabh Bach­han, Aamir Kan, Shahrukh Khan, Anil Kapoor, etc.), vil­lain (Nana Patekar, etc. I’m sor­ry, I don’t remem­ber all the names), Music Direc­tor (Ismail Dar­bar, A. R. Rah­man, etc.), hero­ine (you know who), etc. He then select­ed (based on ‘mind vibra­tions’) mem­bers of the audi­ence, and asked them to choose each of these dif­fer­ent enti­ties from among a list. After all the selec­tions were done, an audi­ence mem­ber opened the enve­lope to reveal those same exact choic­es that Mr. Deep­ak Rao had pre­dict­ed the ear­li­er day when he wrote that note.

Summary

These are points to note. Mr. Deep­ak Rao doesn’t seem to encour­age super­sti­tion of any kind. There is no reli­gious tone to his show. He says there is a sci­en­tif­ic expla­na­tion to every­thing he does. It is a dif­fer­ent mat­ter alto­geth­er that the sci­en­tif­ic expla­na­tion he talks about is over and above every­thing we’ve learnt in sci­ence!

Mr. Deep­ak Rao’s web site is here. You are free to draw your own con­clu­sions. It seems he has cre­at­ed dif­fer­ent blog­ger iden­ti­ties every time he need­ed to post. This is his blog­ger pro­file with only one post. This is his defin­i­tive post on a defama­tion attempt by the TOI. And this is his offi­cial web site, where you can find his lat­est thoughts and pre­sen­ta­tions, along with a lot of mar­ket­ing col­lat­er­al.

He doesn’t exploit gullible folks. His pre­sen­ta­tions are most­ly tar­get­ed towards intel­li­gent exec­u­tives from cor­po­rate audi­ences. In fact, I don’t think his shows will work with a gener­ic mediocre pub­lic. I don’t seem to have any ratio­nal answers to his feats, do you?

Pho­to Cred­its: Mas­ter Mind — Deep­ak Rao

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  • I have seen/heard of guys like this and I usu­al­ly sort of like like you — shak­ing my head in won­der­ment at the end, still sort of could not believe it.

    This some­how got me into won­der­ing why we think that there ought to be a ratio­nal expla­na­tion to what we view as para­nor­mal stuff. Is it because we are rock-sol­id sure that the mind can­not do these things? Of course in many many cas­es where peo­ple have claimed such things, there have been ratio­nal expla­na­tions or their tricks have been exposed — so per­haps our think­ing is guid­ed in that direc­tion?

    Even oth­er­wise, I think many are still some­how sure of the neg­a­tive (This just can­not be true!. But is that or can that be sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly proven? Or is the best we have “based on what sci­ence knows today, we are rea­son­ably sure this can­not be done and it can­not be proved sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly” ? If that is the best, how “ratio­nal­is­tic” is this view real­ly if it doesn’t rec­og­nize excep­tions and sim­ply dis­miss­es every one of them is sort “guilty until proven oth­er­wise”?

  • yes, this all seems very mag­i­cal.. but with­out doubt they have sci­en­tif­ic expla­na­tions. noth­ing para­nor­mal or god­ly going on in these exper­i­ments or tricks or what­ev­er it is called. para­psy­chol­o­gy stud­ies these. like all peo­ple can­not be hyp­no­tized these skills can­not be mas­tered by all and are very rare. and like quan­tum physics it doesn’t go with com­mon­sense.

    7. body lan­guage, touch, words and empha­sis can cre­ate a mood in the uncon­scious mind. e.g., say silk, silk for 5 times con­ti­nous­ly.. now answer this ques­tion quick­ly, “what does cows drink?”… 98% of peo­ple will answer “milk”. read the book Blink for more. the expla­na­tion is that he manip­u­lat­ed ur sub-con­scious with words & body-lan­guage to pick the ones he chose.

    5. ok, a key does not bend because at the micro­scop­ic lev­el there are bonds between the atoms. even though these atoms move around break­ing bonds & reform­ing con­tin­u­ous­ly, at any giv­en time the num­ber of bonds in the mat­ter is rel­a­tive­ly con­stant giv­ing the key its struc­ture. like quan­tum physics puts it.. if u keep try­ing to walk into a wall, there is a prob­a­bil­i­ty of align­ment of atoms & mat­ter that will make you step into the wall, but you’ll have to be patient­ly try­ing for a mil­lion years. and one more thing.. the sub­atom­ic par­ti­cles behave in a way that nor­mal com­mon sense pro­hibits.. they got par­ti­cles that have to be turned twice or 3/4 th before they come to the same posi­tion it start­ed before turn­ing. and there are what are known as sis­ter sub­atom­ic par­ti­cles which always rotate in oppo­site direc­tions. if one of the par­ti­cle changes it rota­tion for any rea­son the oth­er one, even if it is on the oth­er side of the plan­et, will change it rota­tion instan­ta­neous­ly. how the infor­ma­tion trav­eled between them is still unknown. my guess is his brain is some­how wired to har­ness these ener­gies or infor­ma­tions and trans­fer them to the key to break atom­ic bonds.

    1, 2, 3 & 4 are all some kind of infor­ma­tion trans­fer from mat­ter to mat­ter.. brain to brain. he appar­ent­ly can pick up these infor­ma­tion quan­tum com­ing out of the oth­er per­son.

    recent­ly i read some­where which said.. since mat­ter can bend space-time con­tinum itself, time flowing(from past, present to future) through space caus­es rip­ples or dis­tor­tions in time itself(like a rock on a riv­er caus­ing back­flow of water). and if time is not per­ceived as a con­stant flow, our world would not make any sense. you have ESP.
    i might be com­plete­ly wrong since i’m just tak­ing an wild shot based on some wild the­o­ries.. but im sure sci­ence will come up with bet­ter expla­na­tions in the future.

  • hmm… Reminds me of David Blaine.

    PS: You know, “all girls named Suni­ta look the same”… lol 🙂 Don’t you meet some­one and you know his name is going to be Dipen or Sub­ra­man­ian or Kelkar or some­thing 🙂 In fact, few days back I saw a web­site which had pic­tures of guys in one col­umn and names in anoth­er. Vis­i­tors were asked to ‘match the columns’. Almost 70% peo­ple got same match­es!

    ANS is doing an amaz­ing job in rur­al areas. Actu­al­ly I was unaware of the super­sti­tions until I read about ANS.

  • Very inter­est­ing, but at the same time I believe in telepa­thy and I believe that some humans do have esp. I feel that I have it too to a small extent…now don’t laugh!! But seri­ous­ly some­times, when some­one is pass­ing by, even 5 feet away I feel I can read that person’s mind…at times when a per­son has left a room and I enter it, I get a strong over­pow­er­ing feel­ing of what that per­son felt!! Its unnerv­ing, but ofcourse my feel­ings are most­ly an abil­i­ty to read feel­ings, rather than exact­ly names, num­bers etc. But I won’t blame you if you are skep­ti­cal.

  • Inter­est­ing. I am a ratio­nal­ist too, and I have met some peo­ple who make me down­right uncom­fort­able. There is this per­son in Chen­nai, to whom you can ask a ques­tion about your­self (past, future etc), and he goes off into a trance like state where he speaks loud­ly in an unrec­og­niz­able lan­guage, and he comes out of his trance in about 40–60 sec­onds and gives you the answer. He has pre­dict­ed every­thing from the name of my wife (before I got mar­ried), the address of the house I will buy etc etc. He does not charge mon­ey for this and he makes his liv­ing out of what­ev­er peo­ple can give him.

    Sounds total­ly ridicu­lous right? Me and my broth­er even cap­tured his trance and pre­dic­tions on video. I have a good grasp of how com­mer­cial astrologers swin­dle peo­ple by more or less extract­ing the infor­ma­tion they “pre­dict” pret­ty much from the per­son con­sult­ing him, and then use banal gen­er­al­i­ties, but this man is total­ly unre­al. In fact, the first thing he tells you before you speak to him, is the ques­tion you are about to ask.

    I have had sev­er­al rounds of dis­cus­sions about how some­thing like this is even pos­si­ble. Is there a com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nel that sci­ence is unaware of yet? Seems so unlike­ly, but that man is some­how privy to infor­ma­tion that we are not.

  • I sug­gest read­ers click on the Uri Geller link. A very good read, and explains some of what Mahen­dra saw.

  • Arun: //This some­how got me into won­der­ing why we think that there ought to be a ratio­nal expla­na­tion to what we view as para­nor­mal stuff. Is it because we are rock-sol­id sure that the mind can­not do these things?//
    Yes, we do think that there ought to be a ratio­nal expla­na­tion for every­thing, not just para­nor­mal stuff! Are we rock-sol­id sure that the mind can­not do these things? Well, we do not have a sci­en­tif­ic expla­na­tion yet for how the mind can do these things. I wouldn’t say I’m rock sol­id sure that it can­not.

    I was sure of the neg­a­tive until I saw this show.

    //If that is the best, how “ratio­nal­is­tic” is this view real­ly if it doesn’t rec­og­nize excep­tions and sim­ply dis­miss­es every one of them is sort “guilty until proven otherwise”?//
    Such a view is not ratio­nal­is­tic. A ratio­nal view doesn’t dis­miss any­thing just because it can­not be proven sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly. That is why this post!

    Your point is tak­en, and tak­en very well. We shouldn’t be skep­tics to the extent that we do not acknowl­edge what we see. 🙂

    Smitha: #7: I was espe­cial­ly look­ing for such signs. Was he manip­u­lat­ing peo­ple using sub­lime adver­tis­ing to choose what he want­ed them to choose? But no, he wasn’t. He didn’t con­di­tion them at all. He was only selec­tive of the peo­ple he chose to vote.

    #5: //how the infor­ma­tion trav­eled between them is still unknown. my guess is his brain is some­how wired to har­ness these ener­gies or infor­ma­tions and trans­fer them to the key to break atom­ic bonds.//
    Your the­o­ry of how sub­atom­ic par­ti­cles may be being manip­u­lat­ed to achieve this effect is inter­est­ing. But from what­ev­er quan­tum physics I’ve stud­ied, the mirac­u­lous quan­tum mechan­ics phe­nom­e­na work only at the atom­ic, micro­scop­ic lev­el. They do not work over dis­tances of a cou­ple of feet. Hence, I tend not to agree when you say:

    //but with­out doubt they have sci­en­tif­ic expla­na­tions. noth­ing para­nor­mal or god­ly going on in these exper­i­ments or tricks or what­ev­er it is called. para­psy­chol­o­gy stud­ies these.//
    When you say “they have sci­en­tif­ic expla­na­tions”, whom are you refer­ring to? If this is not para­nor­mal, how is it nor­mal?

    //1, 2, 3 & 4 are all some kind of infor­ma­tion trans­fer from mat­ter to mat­ter.. brain to brain. he appar­ent­ly can pick up these infor­ma­tion quan­tum com­ing out of the oth­er person.//
    Do we have a nor­mal sci­en­tif­ic expla­na­tion for this? If yes, please edu­cate me, I would love to learn!

    //recently i read some­where which said.. since mat­ter can bend space-time con­tinum itself, time flowing(from past, present to future) through space caus­es rip­ples or dis­tor­tions in time itself(like a rock on a riv­er caus­ing back­flow of water). and if time is not per­ceived as a con­stant flow, our world would not make any sense. you have ESP.//
    Yes, mat­ter does bend the space-time con­tin­u­um. But I’m sor­ry I did not under­stand how you have ESP.

    Priyank: I liked the humor, but ‘Suni­ta’ her­self wasn’t even present in the room…:-)

  • Nita: Very, very, inter­est­ing! So can you tell me if the Sen­sex is going to hit 20,000 this year? 🙂 Just kid­ding.

    I envy you that you are able to believe in such stuff. I know you are a palmist too. We unfor­tu­nate folks are con­strained by our lim­it­ed, log­i­cal, ratio­nal, sci­en­tif­ic brains, who need to find a ratio­nal expla­na­tion for every­thing. 🙂

    I knew that women have an uncan­ny abil­i­ty to be able to ‘read’ feel­ings, but that was when the oth­er per­son was present. After the per­son has left the room…wow! I would love to learn more about this uncan­ny abil­i­ty of yours!

    Ashok: //Sounds total­ly ridicu­lous right?// Yes, it sure does!
    //Is there a com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nel that sci­ence is unaware of yet?//
    You said it. I am now involved in an excru­ci­at­ing strug­gle in my unqui­et mind think­ing of such a pos­si­bil­i­ty.

  • Ram­bodoc: I have known about Uri Geller for about 15 years and have smirked at the way he has been manip­u­lat­ing his audi­ences. This expe­ri­ence was how­ev­er, some­thing entire­ly dif­fer­ent. Thanks for read­ing the Uri Geller link. Let us try to study the par­al­lels.

    //There are many ways in which a bent spoon can be pre­sent­ed to an audi­ence as to give the appear­ance it was done with super­nat­ur­al pow­ers. One way is through one or sev­er­al brief moments of dis­trac­tion in which a magi­cian can phys­i­cal­ly bend a spoon unseen by the audience.//
    This is the rea­son (and I was aware of such ‘tricks’) I was minute­ly observ­ing him through­out the key bend­ing exper­i­ment. There wasn’t even a sin­gle moment when the key was removed from the woman’s palms. Mr. Deep­ak Rao did not have any, I repeat, any phys­i­cal access to the key. Mr. Deep­ak Rao only placed his hands over and below the woman’s palms. There wasn’t even a sin­gle moment that he even touched the key him­self.

    //Another way, if a per­former does not bend the spoon with force dur­ing the per­for­mance is by pre-bend­ing them and thus reduc­ing the amount of force lat­er need­ed to be applied.//
    The key was tak­en at ran­dom from the audi­ence. Noth­ing was pre-done.

    //…sometimes blam­ing his appar­ent lack of psy­chic pow­er on some inter­fer­ence, exhaus­tion, or lack of coop­er­a­tion by the subjects.//
    Yes, this sorts of res­onates with what Deep­ak Rao was talk­ing about. He did say that he need­ed “coop­er­a­tion” from his par­tic­i­pants. How­ev­er, that doesn’t explain any­thing sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly, it only goes to sup­port his mind-read­ing and tele­path­ic the­o­ries.

    I mean if some­one proves telepa­thy giv­en the con­di­tion of ‘coop­er­at­ing’ par­tic­i­pants, I will still be aston­ished, right?

    The only real­ly valid con­cept from the Uri Geller arti­cle that applies to what I expe­ri­enced is Cold Read­ing. That applies to #1, 2, 3, and 4 above. How­ev­er, even in these cas­es, it doesn’t explain how he was able to “trans­mit” the infor­ma­tion he had “cold read” to his blind­fold­ed assis­tant.

    Sum­ma­ry: I do not under­stand how the Uri Geller Wikipedia arti­cle explains some of what I saw. To me, it doesn’t explain any­thing of what I saw.

  • Mahen­dra, I have no idea why I have this abil­i­ty but it helps me a lot in my rela­tion­ships. I guess that is why I am one of those lucky peo­ple who have
    very sat­is­fy­ing and deep friend­ships (life­long) and also a good social cir­cle. I avoid peo­ple with neg­a­tive vibes, feel­ings of jeal­ousy, unrea­son­able anger etc. not because I believe they are bad, but because I do not want to get hurt. I am actu­al­ly an extra­or­di­nar­i­ly sen­si­tive per­son, and this used to be one of my most neg­a­tive qual­i­ties as I was grow­ing up. I am extra­orid­nar­i­ly sen­si­tive to sights, sounds and vibes!I have turned this to work for me…I think.
    Unfor­tu­nate­ly this abil­i­ty fails me on the inter­net!
    Also about palm­istry. I prac­tice sci­en­tif­ic palm­istry. Palm­istry has a sci­en­tif­ic basis, but it will take too long to explain here. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, most palmists who make a liv­ing out of palm­istry tend to use tricks…and that spoils the name of palm­istry. It is not pos­si­ble to tell the future by palm­istry, but its pos­si­ble to tell the past and the inner work­ings of the mind, which helps in mould­ing one’s future.
    I reg­u­lar­ly read hands of peo­ple whom I have nev­er ever met. My daugh­ter sent me about 5–6 pics of hands of her col­leagues in Ban­ga­lore (she was doing her train­ing in a design stu­dio for a few months) and I read each and one accu­rate­ly. the only info she sent was the name, age and sex of the per­son. Ofcourse I took no mon­ey as these were her friends. Just recent­ly a guy from the UK sent me his print…and I did not even know his age!

  • Nita: I can per­fect­ly under­stand how it must be help­ing you in friend­ships and rela­tion­ships. And also, how the Inter­net presents a dif­fer­ent chal­lenge alto­geth­er in this aspect!

    I do not know what is ‘sci­en­tif­ic palm­istry’. My only expo­sure has been read­ing Cheiro’s books, and try­ing out the stuff on myself and a few friends. But it didn’t con­vince me. Thanks for clar­i­fy­ing that you can­not read the future, but only the past and more about the person’s mind. That brings it sig­nif­i­cant­ly clos­er (but not with­in, to me) to the realm of the sci­en­tif­ic! But I must say, I am amazed that you can read and under­stand about a per­son just by look­ing at the palm prints!

    I have dab­bled in hand­writ­ing analy­sis. I was quite an expert at it, being able to suc­cess­ful­ly tell the person’s sex, and many crit­i­cal aspects of the person’s char­ac­ter and per­son­al­i­ty. I do believe that hand­writ­ing analy­sis is indeed with­in the sci­en­tif­ic realm. Just like you, I only did it as a hob­by, of course, and not for earn­ing any mon­ey. Once, I even did it of a famous per­son — Dr. Anand Nad­karni, one of the lead­ing psy­chi­a­trists in Maha­rash­tra, and he was quite flab­ber­gast­ed by it! 🙂

  • Cheiro is most­ly rub­bish to my mind. I used to read him in school but only for fun. Ben­ham is the author of the book on sci­en­tif­ic palm­istry.
    As for hand­writ­ing analy­sis, i do believe it has some basis, but the study can­not be learnt by sim­ply read­ing a few books, as with palm­istry. In fact my dad’s uncle was a seri­ous hand­writ­ing ana­lyst and used to work with the police depart­ment. Years ago.
    The ben­ham palm­istry is sci­en­tif­ic because there is are sci­en­tif­ic prin­ci­ples for every read­ing and they apply to everything…its nto like this sign means this and that sign means that…that is rub­bish.

  • I have too much respect for the para and super­nor­mal to rub­bish them.

    Apply­ing our still-devel­op­ing crit­i­cal fac­ul­ties to mat­ters beyond their reach is an exer­cise in futil­i­ty.

    Crit­i­cal rea­son­ing, decon­struc­tion and all the post mod­ern efforts we indulge in are good to a point, how­ev­er I take the view that some things were meant nev­er to be ques­tioned, just believed in.

    We’d prob­a­bly need the sci­en­tif­ic equiv­a­lent of a ‘Vish­wa­roopa’ to ful­ly com­pre­hend every­thing out there.

  • Mahen­drap,

    Ratio­nal think­ing func­tions not at the lev­el of eval­u­at­ing the “ratio­nal log­ic” of con­cretes but at the lev­el of inte­grat­ing the con­cretes in har­mo­ny with prin­ci­ples.

    1) No future dis­cov­ery or knowl­edge can con­tra­dict exist­ing facts and present­ly known truths (I’m using the con­cept “truth” in the specif­i­cal­ly Objec­tivist sense of the word, which pre­cludes uncer­tain­ties.)

    2) Igno­rance of the truth is nev­er an excuse for per­mit­ting or accept­ing any wild­ly claimed hypoth­e­sis.

    3) All knowl­edge is fun­da­men­tal­ly acquired by the sen­so­ry appa­ra­tus of liv­ing beings; for humans, we have spe­cif­ic sense organs with spe­cif­ic iden­ti­ties. Our brain is not one of them, it is an organ of cog­ni­tion and aware­ness.

    4) The onus of proof for a pos­i­tive asser­tion of a hypoth­e­sis rests on the one posit­ing the claim. Until such claim is rea­son­ably val­i­dat­ed or demon­strat­ably proven, the hypoth­e­sis can­not even be enter­tained as a pos­si­bil­i­ty. For exam­ple, to grant the legit­i­ma­cy of pos­si­bil­i­ty to the claim that there is a green rhi­no next to me right now is abdi­cate all meth­ods by which ratio­nal cog­ni­tion is con­duct­ed.

    Giv­en the above, all forms of telepa­thy, ESP, extra-what­ev­er-what­ev­ers must be reject­ed ex cathe­dra as vio­lat­ing fun­da­men­tal laws of real­i­ty, the com­pelling per­sua­sion of such illu­sions to the con­trary notwith­stand­ing. The essen­tial claim under­ly­ing ESP and telepa­thy is that the brain some­how “com­mu­ni­cates” with oth­er brains or objects with­out inter­me­di­ary sense organs; that our brains “sense” or “receive” spe­cif­ic mes­sages. This notion would have to vio­late 1 and 2–not to men­tion, con­tra­dict the cur­rent sci­en­tif­ic under­stand­ing of man’s neu­ro-biol­o­gy. The organ of the brain is char­ac­ter­ized by the phe­nom­e­na of con­scious­ness and cog­ni­tion; the brain may process the data pro­vid­ed by the sens­es, but it in itself–brain qua brain–cannot *sense* any­thing.

    Fur­ther, regard­less of how com­pelling these illu­sions may appear, know that igno­rance is nev­er grounds on which to per­mit any hypoth­e­sis as equal­ly valid.

  • Soundar: //I have too much respect for the para and super­nor­mal to rub­bish them.

    Apply­ing our still-devel­op­ing crit­i­cal fac­ul­ties to mat­ters beyond their reach is an exer­cise in futil­i­ty.

    Crit­i­cal rea­son­ing, decon­struc­tion and all the post mod­ern efforts we indulge in are good to a point, how­ev­er I take the view that some things were meant nev­er to be ques­tioned, just believed in.//

    I am not rub­bish­ing any­thing in my post. How­ev­er, I do not think that apply­ing our fac­ul­ties to any­thing is an exer­cise in futil­i­ty. I am not com­fort­able tak­ing a view that some things were nev­er meant to be ques­tioned. I think what­ev­er progress mankind has made is pre­cise­ly because we have applied our fac­ul­ties to the full, and always tried to under­stand every­thing around us.

  • Ergo: I am with you from your point 2) onwards, and thanks for remind­ing me of 4).

    Regard­ing accept­ing any hypoth­e­sis as valid: Yes, you are right. I am not out to accept any wild hypoth­e­sis. My stand on this is that: “I do not have a sci­en­tif­ic expla­na­tion for what I saw”. Peri­od. It is anoth­er mat­ter alto­geth­er that it does get me think­ing.

    I request you to throw more light on 1). I’m sure you must have encoun­tered this ques­tion before, but what is the dif­fer­ence between a sci­en­tif­ic truth and an Objec­tivist truth? My ques­tion comes from the back­ground that there are sev­er­al sci­en­tif­ic truths that are lat­er proven false by sub­se­quent sci­en­tif­ic study. Are all such sci­en­tif­ic truths ‘uncer­tain’ in the Objec­tivist sense?

    If so, how does one dif­fer­en­ti­ate between uncer­tain truths and truths?

  • Maybe I am mis­un­der­stand­ing some of the basic ter­mi­nol­o­gy here …

    @ergo: Giv­en the above, all forms of telepa­thy, ESP, extra-what­ev­er-what­ev­ers must be reject­ed ex cathe­dra as vio­lat­ing fun­da­men­tal laws of real­i­ty,

    (First, I am not say­ing telapathy/ESP etc. are true etc. …)

    1. What fun­da­men­tal laws of real­i­ty? And how are/were they estab­lished? When? How?
    2. If they are so fun­da­men­tal, then we needn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly put all bur­den of proof on the per­son mak­ing the asser­tions. Do we? One should be able dis­prove them fair­ly eas­i­ly too. But again this would be valid only if #1 above is estab­lished. If not, it is like “Hey. I am very sure of my idea of real­i­ty and its bounds. Your claim is out­side it and hence it does not fit. If you still think it is real, prove why it fits with­in the bounds I have defined”. It is sim­ply your word against his.

    IMO, the bur­den of proof is indeed on both sides — but I agree that it def­i­nite­ly is more on the side mak­ing the asser­tion. For the objectivist’s own sake, some of it ought to be on his side, if the term is meant to imply he is ratio­nal and objec­tive. Oth­er­wise it just seems he is jad­ed and opin­ion­at­ed.

  • Mahen­drap,

    Truth” is a con­cept that refers to the epis­temic grasp of a meta­phys­i­cal fact. It is only the con­tents of a con­cep­tu­al mind that can either be labeled with the con­cepts true or not true. For exam­ple, a burnt crois­sant that appears to have the math­e­mat­i­cal equa­tion 2 + 2 = 4 has not revealed a true state­ment, because “truth” is an epis­te­mo­log­i­cal con­cept and as such can reside only with­in the minds of humans.

    Since a truth is the epis­temic equiv­a­lent of a meta­phys­i­cal fact, a truth is true so long as a fact is a fact.
    Facts are immutable.
    There­fore, the epis­temic grasp of a fact has to be immutable.
    Facts are exis­tents that have rela­tions with oth­er exis­tents with­in spe­cif­ic con­texts. There­fore, all facts exist in har­mo­ny and can­not con­tra­dict any oth­er fact.
    Truths are epis­temic exis­tents that cor­re­spond­ing­ly relate to oth­er prop­er­ly inte­grat­ed truths. There­fore, all known truths–corresponding to facts–exist in har­mo­ny and can­not con­tra­dict or negate any pri­or truth.
    As such, truths are immutable and pre­clude uncer­tain­ties with­in their estab­lished con­tex­tu­al rela­tion­ships.

    Arunk

    1) The laws of real­i­ty were nev­er estab­lished by any­one at any point in time; there­fore, the ques­tion of when and how does not arise. Laws of real­i­ty were appre­hend­ed and con­cep­tu­al­ized by humans.

    2) The bur­den of proof prin­ci­ple is a prin­ci­ple of log­ic: one can nev­er prove a neg­a­tive unless it is proved in rela­tion to a pos­i­tive. One can nev­er prove “noth­ing­ness” except in rela­tion to demar­cat­ing and defin­ing an exis­tent (or the total­i­ty of exis­tence). When you tell me that a green rhi­no is sit­ting next to me now, the onus of proof should prop­er­ly lie upon you because the method of proof is to state a premise and give rea­sons in sup­port of it. The rea­sons can­not be arbi­trary because any state­ment can be regard­ed as “proved” by arbi­trary rea­son­ng. Thus, rea­sons should fol­low log­ic, which is non-con­tra­dic­to­ry iden­ti­fi­ca­tion. But if log­ic is the means to objec­tiv­i­ty, then rea­sons should be derived from real­i­ty.

    Were I to embark on the task of prov­ing a neg­a­tive, it would result in a chain of arbi­trary state­ments ad infini­tum: if I have to prove that a green rhi­no is not next to me, then I’d have to also prove that a fairy is not next to me, and nei­ther a uni­corn, nor a grem­lim, and so on till infin­i­ty (or to the extent of your imag­i­na­tions). This is a fal­la­cy in log­ic.

  • Ergo: //Since a truth is the epis­temic equiv­a­lent of a meta­phys­i­cal fact, a truth is true so long as a fact is a fact. Facts are immutable. There­fore, the epis­temic grasp of a fact has to be immutable.//

    I thought that the epis­temic grasp of a fact is dynam­ic, depend­ing upon man’s lev­el of con­cep­tu­al devel­op­ment at that point in time. When man learns some­thing new that appar­ent­ly con­tra­dicts his pri­or truths, but is still con­sis­tent with facts, he revis­es and refines his truths so that they are con­sis­tent with all oth­er truths as well as facts.

    Let me take an exam­ple. In ancient times, man held that the earth is sta­tion­ary and sun goes round it. From what­ev­er meta­phys­i­cal facts he was aware of at that time, his truth was con­sis­tent with the facts. Lat­er, when he encoun­tered and became aware of new facts, he revised his truth. Same goes for the ear­li­er uni­for­mi­ty and lat­er rel­a­tiv­i­ty of time.

    Isn’t truth muta­ble then?

    I ful­ly agree with you that truths exist in har­mo­ny, can­not con­tra­dict oth­er truths, should inte­grate with all oth­er truths. The only issue or doubt I have is regard­ing the word ‘immutable’. Don’t sci­en­tif­ic dis­cov­er­ies cre­ate a com­plete revi­sion of our truths as in the exam­ples I cit­ed above?

  • Mahen­drap,

    The grasp of a fact is sure­ly depen­dent upon the whole con­text, which as you point­ed out includes the lev­el of one’s con­cep­tu­al devel­op­ment. How­ev­er, so long as a par­tic­u­lar truth is prop­er­ly con­tex­tu­al­ized, i.e., it fits in har­mo­ny with exist­ing truths, is acquired through a scrupu­lous process of cog­ni­tion, and cor­re­sponds to facts in real­i­ty, the truth is objec­tive (that is, absolute in cer­tain­ty).

    When a man learns some­thing new that appar­ent­ly con­tra­dicts his pri­or truth, then it is impos­si­ble for either the pri­or truth or the new­ly dis­cov­ered one to be con­sis­tent with the facts; he has made an epis­temic error at some point. A con­tra­dic­tion can­not be resolved or refined; either one of the con­tra­dic­to­ry per­mis­es have to be reject­ed.

    Let’s exam­ine your exam­ple: in ancient times when man held that the earth is sta­tion­ary and the sun goes around it, it appears that he derived these beliefs from the facts that he was aware of at that time. How­ev­er, remem­ber that facts are mind-inde­pen­dent; there­fore, the beliefs of a sta­tion­ary earth and a revolv­ing sun were not derived from the facts avail­able to man at the time but from his own *error* of per­cep­tion, includ­ing his scarce body of knowl­edge. In oth­er words, the fact even at the time of ancient man was always that the earth was round and it revolved around the sun–this was/is immutable. The fail­ure was in the cor­re­spon­dence of the con­tent of the mind with the fact of real­i­ty. When this cor­re­spon­dence is a fail­ure, you can­not prop­er­ly label the con­tent of the mind “true”. There­fore, the “revi­sion” to this belief that came about lat­er with bet­ter under­stand­ing and more true knowl­edge was not a revi­sion of the “truth” but a cor­rec­tion of a failed cor­re­spon­dence, i.e., the cor­rec­tion of a false­hood, which then estab­lished a valid cor­re­spon­dence between the con­tent of the mind and the fact of real­i­ty.

    Note this impor­tant point: the con­cept “truth” does not apply to a propo­si­tion such as “the earth is round”. This is a pos­i­tivis­tic notion of the truth (from the tra­di­tion of Log­i­cal Pos­i­tivism). Accord­ing to this log­ic, a burnt crois­sant that appear to have vague mark­ing resem­bling 2+2=4 is mak­ing a true state­ment. But Objec­tivism rejects such a notion of the “truth.” The truth is not an attribute of a state­ment or a propo­si­tion but an attribute of the *rela­tion­ship* between the con­tent of a con­cep­tu­al mind and a par­tic­u­lar fact of real­i­ty. Thus, with­out such a mind and a par­tic­u­lar aspect of real­i­ty there can be no cor­re­spon­dence or rela­tion­ship, which means there can be no truth.

    In this sense, no new knowl­edge can con­tra­dict exist­ing truths. And which is why I stat­ed that I use “truth” in the strict Objec­tivist sense of the word; it is the only sense that makes per­fect sense!

  • Ergo: //Note this impor­tant point: the con­cept “truth” does not apply to a propo­si­tion such as “the earth is round”…The truth is not an attribute of a state­ment or a propo­si­tion but an attribute of the *rela­tion­ship* between the con­tent of a con­cep­tu­al mind and a par­tic­u­lar fact of reality.//

    Thanks for the clar­i­fi­ca­tion. Thought it did not affect how I think about this ESP-show, it clar­i­fied my con­cep­tu­al under­stand­ing of Objec­tivist epis­te­mol­o­gy to a greater extent.

    My over­all stand on this post top­ic is: “I do not have a sci­en­tif­ic expla­na­tion for what I saw. The claims made by Deep­ak Rao con­tra­dict all known truths. Either Mr. Rao’s the­o­ries can be right, or most of man’s knowl­edge about the brain and man is right. How­ev­er, these two are irrec­on­cil­i­able and con­tra­dic­to­ry. If Mr. Rao wish­es to dis­prove almost all knowl­edge of man’s brain, he can choose to do that by work­ing with sci­en­tists and researchers, rather than enter­tain­ing cor­po­rate exec­u­tives. I thank him for an enter­tain­ing evening.” 🙂

  • Yea, emerg­ing out of our tech­ni­cal dis­cus­sion on epis­te­mol­o­gy, I’ll add that I enjoy all kinds of mag­ic and “para­nor­mal” per­for­mances! Have you ever seen Criss Angel per­form? Now, That man is the messiah!–And a total­ly HOT one at that! 😉

  • I love mag­ic per­for­mances, but this was the first para­nor­mal one I saw…and nope — I haven’t seen Criss Angel — I’m even sur­prised you watch such stuff! Man, I do need to brush up on my para­nor­mal aware­ness! 😉

  • (sor­ry mahen­dra — if this is too tan­gen­tial and “abuse” of your blog).

    thanks ergo. Maybe I mis­un­der­stand, but cer­tain points do not add up for me.

    When a man learns some­thing new that appar­ent­ly con­tra­dicts his pri­or truth, then it is impos­si­ble for either the pri­or truth or the new­ly dis­cov­ered one to be con­sis­tent with the facts; he has made an epis­temic error at some point. A con­tra­dic­tion can­not be resolved or refined; either one of the con­tra­dic­to­ry per­mis­es have to be rejected…In this sense, no new knowl­edge can con­tra­dict exist­ing truths. And which is why I stat­ed that I use “truth” in the strict Objec­tivist sense of the word; it is the only sense that makes per­fect sense!
    This makes sense per the def­i­n­i­tion of truth you clar­i­fied. I think under­stand the def­i­n­i­tion and its import. If I am not mis­tak­en, the point is the “real” truth (the objectivist’s truth) about some­thing is sta­t­ic and per­ma­nent — now, before and lat­er, for eter­ni­ty. Whether we know it then, now, or lat­er is what that changes and it nev­er affects what the real truth is. I am rephras­ing here — but I hope I got it right?

    How­ev­er take this: Sup­pose at some point of time an objec­tivist asserts con­fi­dent­ly “X is the truth”. Then at a lat­er point in time learns new knowl­edge con­tra­dicts this pri­or truth, then which truth was he refer­ring to when he says “X is the truth”? The strict one or the loose one? So giv­en this does the objec­tivist always know when he is assert­ing about (every) X that “I knows all there is to know about X and thus X is the truth”? You say ““prop­er­ly con­tex­tu­al­ized, i.e., it fits in har­mo­ny with exist­ing truths, is acquired through a scrupu­lous process of cog­ni­tion, and cor­re­sponds to facts in real­i­ty”. Agreed — but if it changed, then was the objec­tivist lying even if he relied on “prop­er­ly con­tex­tal­ized .…”? In any case, my point is has to very care­ful NOT to over­step our idea of how things work here and IMO humans almost always over­step.

    For exampe, before Ein­stein, do you think there was any doubt about the “truth” then that time is absolute minds of humans? Was it “prop­er­ly con­tex­tu­al­ized, i.e., it fits in har­mo­ny with exist­ing truths, is acquired through a scrupu­lous process of cog­ni­tion, and cor­re­sponds to facts in real­i­ty”? I think it was — but it cer­tain­ly turned to be not true. So even the most fun­da­men­tal things which we think we knew all there is to know, can change and has changed (but albeit not fre­quent­ly).

    So when you say: The claims made by Deep­ak Rao con­tra­dict all known truths. Either Mr. Rao’s the­o­ries can be right, or most of man’s knowl­edge about the brain and man is right. If Mr. Rao wish­es to dis­prove almost all knowl­edge of man’s brain, he can choose to do that by work­ing with sci­en­tists and researchers
    I ask — are we real­ly that sure about the work­ings of brain to claim he is “dis­prov­ing” some­thing? Real­ly? Atleast as sure as we were when we assert­ed time is absolute? If we are not, then I claim it is bogus to put all the onus on Mr. Rao and his kind. How are we going to learn new knowl­edge if we always start by assum­ing some­one is wrong in such cas­es? Bu that only indi­cates we assume that our vision of cur­rent truth is the real/objectivist truth, and hence reluc­tant to con­sid­er the pos­si­bil­i­ty that it per­haps could be oth­er­wise — does it not?

    Note that I am not say­ing we have to revise known truths imme­di­ate­ly — but atleast don’t some in the sci­en­tif­ic (or even objec­tivist if you will) com­mu­ni­ty owe them­selves to do some due dili­gence? Again it is okay to be skep­ti­cal but it is not okay to be dis­mis­sive with­out doi­ing due dili­gence in mat­ters we are not rock-sol­id sure about. Mak­ing a default pre­sump­tion about every excep­tion case as “like a fair­ly tale” — is nei­ther ratio­nal nor objec­tive. It is sort of like “you are guilty — now prove you are inno­cent”.

    Plac­ing our faith in what the sci­en­tif­ic com­mu­ni­ty has estab­lished to be the truths is a very safe bet most of the time, some­times a sure bet. But we should nev­er for­get that it is still a bet. Pre­sum­ing them to be the real/objectivist truths in every case is a dan­ger­ous.

  • Arun: this is very much the top­ic of this post, cer­tain­ly not tan­gen­tial! I appre­ci­ate your tak­ing the time to express your thoughts.

    //So when you say:// I’ll respond to this part, since you’re actu­al­ly quot­ing me, not Ergo. I’ll also explain why I’ve this over­all stand on this top­ic.

    //are we real­ly that sure about the work­ings of brain to claim he is “dis­prov­ing” some­thing? Really?//
    First, I didn’t refer to ‘work­ings of brain’, but I indeed under­stand the sci­en­tif­ic prin­ci­ple that the brain is not capa­ble of trans­mit­ting thoughts via space or bend phys­i­cal inan­i­mate mat­ter.

    Sec­ond, nei­ther is he nor am I claim­ing that he is dis­prov­ing some­thing. Note I said “If Mr. Rao wish­es to dis­prove”. My point is, Mr. Rao doesn’t wish to either prove or dis­prove any­thing. He doesn’t wish to inte­grate his knowl­edge with what we con­sid­er sci­en­tif­ic knowl­edge and is quite hap­py doing this show and leav­ing the audi­ence to their own con­clu­sions.

    When Ein­stein proved that time was rel­a­tive to your frame of ref­er­ence, he did not fail to rec­on­cile New­ton­ian physics with his the­o­ries and show how the New­ton­ian physics worked well only in a lim­it­ed frame of ref­er­ence. When the helio­cen­tric the­o­ry was pro­posed, it was not pro­posed in such a fash­ion that would leave every­thing else unex­plained. My point is, when­ev­er new the­o­ries are pro­posed that jus­ti­fy due dili­gence, the the­o­ries do not pro­pose some­thing in iso­la­tion such that they also vio­late and con­tra­dict the then-known truths (using ‘truths’ in a sci­en­tif­ic sense).

    Last­ly, there have been and con­tin­ue to be sev­er­al folks in the skep­tic and sci­en­tif­ic com­mu­ni­ty who are always will­ing to do due dili­gence, if these per­form­ers allow it. I am not able to do due dili­gence in this sit­u­a­tion by sim­ply attend­ing a show as part of an audi­ence.

    I was ini­tial­ly will­ing to con­sid­er these para­nor­mal feats as a hypo­thet­i­cal pos­si­bil­i­ty, but no longer do so, because of rea­sons elu­ci­dat­ed nice­ly by Ergo first in #4) and then in #2) of his com­ments above.

  • mahen­dra — thanks. I got con­fused by the posts.

    I think per­haps you mis­un­der­stand my point about Ein­stein. Before he showed up, we were absolute­ly sure about the absolute nature of time. I would argue that this was (and for many, it still is 🙂 ) a very fun­da­men­tal con­cept. If an objec­tivist said “Time is absolute” then — there is no rea­son to doubt that it is the truth in the objec­tivist sense. But it was not the truth. So even in cas­es we are rock-sol­id sure, there have been cor­rec­tions — or false­hoods if you look at it from the objectivist’s defn of truth and false­hood.

    So while the approach “based on what we know today this does­nt make sense” is indeed a very prac­ti­cal one, one that is bound to be true almost all the time, it nev­er­the­less is not always the cor­rect one. But from a real-world point of view, this is indeed the best approach. No doubt — only thing I some­times don’t agree is the broad and sweep­ing nature of dis­missals. There is (slight to deep) skep­ti­cism, and there is dis­missal as pop­py­ock. I would think the lat­ter requires proof (?).

    Regard­ing #2 of ergo’s post, I can only refer to my point about “safe bets” and “sure bets”. At some times atleast, we should don’t for­get it is a bet 😉

    Actu­al­ly my take on this whole thing is: I am a skep­tic — per­haps intrigued by the pos­si­bil­i­ty. Even if it turns out be just a trick, the fact that it was “dis­guised” so well that one could­nt tell is per­haps the thing that would real­ly impress me. Its like It doesn’t mat­ter how he did it — mir­a­cle or ruse. Wow! That is cool!

  • Arun:

    //Before he showed up, we were absolute­ly sure about the absolute nature of time.//
    I think I’ll para­phrase and redi­rect you to what Ergo has just post­ed:
    “Giv­en that all knowl­edge is con­tex­tu­al, the notion of absolute cer­tain­ty, too, can only be mean­ing­ful with­in a spe­cif­ic con­text. There can be no absolutes that has no rela­tion with any oth­er bit of knowl­edge.”

    You your­self are on one hand terming my approach as prac­ti­cal and from a real-world point of view. That is what mat­ters to me. I will again redi­rect you to Ergo’s post for an insight into the dif­fer­ence between empiricism/skepticism and Objec­tivism, as I can’t explain it as well as he has done. I must say that you are free to con­tin­ue to be a skep­tic, as your well-thought out com­ments clear­ly indi­cate you are! Me — I’ll take a skep­tic over a believ­er any time! 😉

  • :).

    But let me offer one thought. Sup­pose Objec­tivism was around pri­or to Ein­stein, would the pro­po­nents have con­sid­ered the “then cur­rent” ideas of the nature of time to be off absolute cer­tain­i­ty — as in (from ergo’s lat­est post) is that once absolute cer­tain­ty is achieved with­in a spe­cif­ic con­text, no future infor­ma­tion per­tain­ing to and aris­ing with­in that con­text can con­tra­dict the pri­or cer­tain knowl­edge..

    Obvi­ous­ly look­ing at it now post-Ein­stein it does­nt look so. But what about think­ing pri­or to Ein­stein when no one had a clue that Ein­stein would come around and rearrange all the cards? In this mat­ter to me this is the big­ger fac­tor here w.r.t objec­tivism — what was the think­ing about exist­ing knowl­edge pri­or to new knowl­edge. I may be harsh here, but it almost seems like objec­tivism is real­is­able in every case only “after the fact”?

    I guess I am a skep­tic of objec­tivism also :). I am obvi­ous­ly not well versed in it, but based on the taste I have it so far — I am sor­ry I am not entire­ly impressed. There are very sen­si­ble parts but I find too many pre­ma­ture, damn­ing con­clu­sions of things that dont fit the bill. Using the nomen­cla­ture of “objec­tivism” for all that — now that seems iron­ic ;). In short I find parts of objec­tivism and its views to be jad­ed and high­ly opin­ion­at­ed. But, I also think I am being jad­ed and opin­ion­at­ed since it is a pre­ma­ture con­clu­sion on my part and I guess it doesn’t hold enough attrac­tion and inter­est for me to find out at this point 😉

  • Arun:

    Notice that in my com­ment #25 above, I am not refer­ring to Objec­tivism at all. Because you referred to it in your next com­ment, I referred you to Ergo’s post.

    //Obviously look­ing at it now post-Ein­stein it does­nt look so. But what about think­ing pri­or to Ein­stein when no one had a clue that Ein­stein would come around and rearrange all the cards?//
    I will try to reit­er­ate what I said in #25 dif­fer­ent­ly: the cer­tain­ty we had pri­or to Ein­stein, in the con­text of rel­a­tive­ly slow­er mov­ing frames of ref­er­ence such as on Earth, was nowwhere con­tra­dict­ed by Ein­stein when he pro­posed the the­o­ry of rel­a­tiv­i­ty. The­o­ry of rel­a­tiv­i­ty told us that light can bend, time is rel­a­tive, and so on, when there are speeds com­pa­ra­ble to light and grav­i­ty many times what we knew of. It did not say — I will show you light bend­ing here on Earth or time being rel­a­tive at rou­tine speeds.

    Thus, Ein­stein did not con­tra­dict the pri­or knowl­edge we had with absolute cer­tain­ty, if you also con­sid­er the con­text of that knowl­edge — the per­cep­tu­al real­i­ty of ordi­nary life on Earth — we lived in. If you apply the the­o­ry of rel­a­tiv­i­ty to that con­text again — ordi­nary life of Earth — it does not con­tra­dict our ear­li­er knowl­edge. Light doesn’t bend and time is uni­form and con­stant.

    (Again, I’m try­ing to explain my under­stand­ing and per­spec­tive with­out using any Objec­tivist ter­mi­nol­o­gy. If you’re inter­est­ed in know­ing about Objec­tivism, I would say that blog posts and com­ments are not the way to go about it. That is aside from this post and dis­cus­sion.)

    Last­ly, prin­ci­ples and laws regard­ing the bur­den of proof have orig­i­nat­ed else­where — for e.g. the famous Bertrand Russell’s teapot.

  • I’ve haven’t very care­ful­ly read all the lat­est com­ments here, so I apol­o­gize if I’m mis­tat­ing a posi­tion.

    If pri­or to Ein­stein, time was indeed con­sid­ered an absolute beyond any con­texts (although I don’t believe this was the case), then yes, it was a false belief and Ein­stein prop­er­ly con­tra­dict­ed the false premise. If, how­ev­er, time was con­sid­ered an absolute in a spec­i­fied context–for exam­ple, any liv­ing human being on this plan­et will always expe­ri­ence time as pass­ing, then no, Einstein’s dis­cov­er­ies in rel­a­tiv­i­ty did noth­ing to con­tra­dict this pri­or knowl­edge.

    Inci­den­tal­ly, Objec­tivism points out that time is a mea­sure­ment of motion; as such, time is a type of rela­tion­ship that exists with­in a con­text. For exam­ple, if you take the rela­tion­ship of the Earth to the sun in the con­text that one Earth rev­o­lu­tion around the sun is a unit of time, then when you say that you are 50 years old, you are say­ing that you have exist­ed on this Earth over a peri­od of 50 Earth move­ments around the sun.

    It will help to clar­i­fy that “not con­tra­dict­ing pri­or knowl­edge” does not mean that the pri­or knowl­edge will not be refined or mod­i­fied. The point to grasp is this: a con­tra­dic­tion can nev­er be sal­vaged; either one of the premis­es MUST be dis­card­ed. But new knowl­edge in a giv­en con­text will nev­er con­tra­dict pri­or true knowl­edge in that giv­en con­text, which does not how­ev­er mean that the pri­or knowl­edge will be not be syn­the­sized or qual­i­fied or nar­rowed to a greater extent.

  • Ergo: thanks again. You have lucid­ly and clear­ly explained what I strug­gled to explain in my ear­li­er com­ments!

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  • I am the eter­nal skep­tic, who nei­ther believes nor dis­be­lieves. I liked your open-mind­ed approach to the pre­sen­ta­tion. If one remains curi­ous with­out judge­ment, a lot can be learned.

    I also agree with you that we need to be wary of husksters who want to take us for a ride. It’s so com­mon to be fooled,even among the wary.

    A very inter­est­ing, enter­tain­ing report.

  • Mari­acristi­na: Thanks for read­ing and shar­ing your views.