Emperors new energy
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03-12-2011, 04:49 AM (This post was last modified: 03-12-2011 04:58 AM by Filox.)
Emperors new energy
*Disclaimer: this is an article from TehnoPolis magazine, a Croatian magazine for the new age. Author of the text is dr. sc. Dario Hrupec, a physicist from the Ruder Boskovic Institute in Zagreb, Croatia. I have only translated it for you, because I think it describes some things in the best way possible. Enjoy!*

Quote:...

In the last number of Tehnopolis, form the perspective of a scientist, I have commented so called supernatural beings. Right after that I have gotten an offer for the column. It made me happy 'cause I think that a magazine that writes about new technologies and devices misses a critique view. Arthur C. Clarke said long time ago that every technology advanced enough is indistinguishable from magic. I agree. Today only a small number of people understands how all these modern toys around us actually function. The rest have stopped wondering. They just use them. And so the modern day cheaters (quacks) have been given a great opportunity, maybe the best in history, to make a good sale of - nothing. Naive emperors are everywhere. Only now the story is not about the fine cloth. The key words now are: energy, frequency, quantum and information.

Here is a nice example with energy. Not so long ago our soccer players have beaten the Turkey (thus qualified for Euro 2012). I'm not a big soccer fan (neither is Filox), but I think that this victory is the result of their hard work and great skill. But, our selector Bilic gave us a clue that there was more than meets the eye. He has publicly thanked for the help of one bioenergetic. The same bioenergetic has told the press what he did. Looking at a pictures of the football players (on his iPad), he sent them his positive energy from distance, from Croatia to Turkey. If our selector Bilic is convinced that this works, I wonder how can he not be afraid that the game will be annulled when this gets out. Either we had an extra player, or all 11 players were under some kind of doping.

I do not want to make fun of someones naiveness here. I want even less to claim that the method of "pumping energy" does not work. I know that these alternative guys don't like to prove their claims with scientific evidence, as scientists do. They prove that they are right on one very original way - lawsuits. So I say: I do not know does this method work. I have no clue. But, I can say what every free citizen of this country can say: I doubt it. I deeply doubt it.

Where is this doubt coming from? I understand basic laws of science enough to see that these claims are incompatible with science. You may say: Who cares, as long as it works. That is the problem. How do we know that something works? In science there is a well established method of confirming all claims. Only the claims that pass rigorous, multiple checks are allowed to enter in scientific knowledge base. And that is always only temporary. Not a single idea is immune to the possibility of review. Knowledge that we collected in this way has produced some technology, among other things. Today we have cars, airplanes, electrical energy, Internet and mobile phones thanks to science. We have antibiotics and PET/CT. If we compare us to our not-so-long-ago ancestors, our life span has doubled.

On the other hand, why would we have to check any claim? There are systems of knowledge with great tradition and lots of members who stick to the opposite view - religion. Those systems of knowledge are build on the foundations of truth chosen in advance. That is the way astrology, homeopathy, bioenergy and the rest of the so called alternatives function. Under one common name pseudoscience - the imitation of science presented falsely as science, but with complete disregard to scientific methods. The result? Pseudoscience has absolutely no progress. Astrology hasn't, literally, moved an inch from the original claims made a few thousands years ago. Not a single pseudoscience has ever produced new knowledge, or the by-product of that knowledge - technology.

Maybe I will disappoint technology-fans, but I must say that the goal of science is not technology. It came along the way. The goal of basic science is the understanding of the world around us. The applied science comes only after that which uses the knowledge for practical use (gathered by the basic science), more or less for the good of mankind. Pseudoscience is characteristic for not giving a damn about understanding the world. Homeopaths will acknowledge that they have no idea how homeopathy works. But they believe that it works. That belief is based on the testimony of few separated individual claims.
- "Do you feel better after our treatment?" - "Yes, I do feel slightly better." Bioenergetic: "Did you feel the extra energy during your game?" Player: "Yes, I was running like I had wings." There, it's proven. They have told us that it works. Does an astrologist or bioenergetic know how his method functions? He does not. And what would he do with the knowledge? He is there just to help people. A noble cause, no doubt about it. And it works. But just as long as someone yells: "THE EMPEROR IS NAKED!!"

Besides, have you noticed that the pseudoscience is focused only on those individuals that will say: "Yes, now I feel better."? Pseudoscience has never build a bridge, it didn't make GPS or NMR, didn't transplant a hart, didn't launch a telecommunications satellite in orbit. It never will. It will forever just tell stories about how it helped people, how people are now much better, how evil scientists don't believe and how these scientists have limited minds and they only deal with conspiracies. Conspiracy or plot is just another key word by which pseudoscience can be identified.

P.S.

In Tehnopolis number 7 there was an article about bad energies, pathogen energies, negative energies. There was listed one extremely educated gentlemen, an inventor who has the solution - a device that can neutralize all that. However, it is not stated that the same gentlemen is involved in several lawsuits about his invention. I repeat, I do not claim that his device doesn't work (because I don't want to hang out with him in court). I, as a limited scientist, claim that I don't understand how his device works.

As a matter of fact, as a scientist, my duty is to doubt. And encouraging others to do the same and make them have a critique opinion is an important part of civilized society which has its own name - the promotion of science.

I love this guy, isn't he great?

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05-12-2011, 03:02 AM
RE: Emperors new energy
Really? An article like this and not a single comment in 2 days? You guys are beginning to loose interest in good stuff and you concentrate on just the casual stuff... I knew it's gonna start soon. Ah well, of I go to find more good and interesting stuff, you just continue facebooking on this forum.

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05-12-2011, 03:19 PM
RE: Emperors new energy
I think the problem is he said it all....what more is there to say?
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05-12-2011, 04:21 PM
RE: Emperors new energy
Quote:In Tehnopolis number 7 there was an article about bad energies, pathogen energies, negative energies. There was listed one extremely educated gentlemen, an inventor who has the solution - a device that can neutralize all that.
Dodgy
Think he could invent a device to neutralize religion?

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12-12-2011, 05:21 PM
RE: Emperors new energy
(05-12-2011 03:19 PM)mysticjbyrd Wrote:  I think the problem is he said it all....what more is there to say?
There is more to say, much more, but I am afraid that all skeptics are so disillusioned, that they will dismiss any claims without even looking at the evidence. Maybe they developed a reaction to certain words, not unlike religious people, who under the term 'atheist' imagine all sorts of devilry and it makes them see red once they hear it.

The problem is, the very same thing is done by skeptics, who contribute to journals or even work as their editors. They are not likely to publish anything that might give some leverage to woo claims. They however can and do publish dismissals, even though they're imperfect, for there will be no defense with equal publicity.

I think many skeptics imagine, that once some former pseudoscience will be legitimized, it will start a chain reaction. All other pseudosciences will be revised and standards will be lowered for many of them to gain influence as well. So it's safer to deny everything, than to risk what rationality we have.

I have discussed such topics already, but met with little understanding, interest in the subject or will for change. Most of skeptics do not look at the evidence, they judge superficially. Those who do, lazily search for some authority's reference on the topic. Typically they find nothing, though a few more clicks would make a difference. Then they dismiss the claim as pseudoscience, belief and fraud that avoids peer review on purpose. Most of these armchair skeptics, as I begun to call them, are not interested in the subject or have not enough time to evaluate it for what it really says. I've seen some for whom a money-raking fraud in silk suit is the same as a scientist who conducts experiments for decades and publishes results - if these results don't make it to the journals that they happen to hear of.

I am not yet really sure how to avoid this unfortunate effect. How to get past the defensive reactions of denial and armchair skepticism. The thing I don't like about armchair skeptics is, that they don't bother to investigate things personally. In practice and case to case basis things look differently than in statistical studies. You can find gems of truth and rare people who would get lost in margin of error. But for personal action one must be interested not only in skepticism, but in culture of esotericism as well.
But unfortunately, most of skeptics are skeptical for defensive purposes only, they want to live in a rational world and are not interested in active research of the opposite side. They focus on religion, as the greatest present danger.

By now you surely think, cut the crap and post the evidence! Well, I think I eventually will, but in a separate topic. For now I think I don't really have a chance. Prove me wrong.
I hope I won't have to eventually start activism against armchair skeptical denialists by the tactics currently employed by atheist movement - by making youtube videos, podcasts and wearing a small red pentagram on my shirt Big Grin
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13-12-2011, 11:05 AM
RE: Emperors new energy
(12-12-2011 05:21 PM)Luminon Wrote:  There is more to say, much more, but I am afraid that all skeptics are so disillusioned, that they will dismiss any claims without even looking at the evidence.
What evidence?
Quote:The problem is, the very same thing is done by skeptics, who contribute to journals or even work as their editors. They are not likely to publish anything that might give some leverage to woo claims. They however can and do publish dismissals, even though they're imperfect, for there will be no defense with equal publicity.

I think many skeptics imagine, that once some former pseudoscience will be legitimized, it will start a chain reaction. All other pseudosciences will be revised and standards will be lowered for many of them to gain influence as well. So it's safer to deny everything, than to risk what rationality we have.
That sounds suspiciously like a conspiracy theory.
Quote:I have discussed such topics already, but met with little understanding, interest in the subject or will for change. Most of skeptics do not look at the evidence, they judge superficially. Those who do, lazily search for some authority's reference on the topic. Typically they find nothing, though a few more clicks would make a difference. Then they dismiss the claim as pseudoscience, belief and fraud that avoids peer review on purpose. Most of these armchair skeptics, as I begun to call them, are not interested in the subject or have not enough time to evaluate it for what it really says. I've seen some for whom a money-raking fraud in silk suit is the same as a scientist who conducts experiments for decades and publishes results - if these results don't make it to the journals that they happen to hear of.
Again, what evidence is being ignored?
Quote:I am not yet really sure how to avoid this unfortunate effect. How to get past the defensive reactions of denial and armchair skepticism. The thing I don't like about armchair skeptics is, that they don't bother to investigate things personally. In practice and case to case basis things look differently than in statistical studies. You can find gems of truth and rare people who would get lost in margin of error. But for personal action one must be interested not only in skepticism, but in culture of esotericism as well.
But unfortunately, most of skeptics are skeptical for defensive purposes only, they want to live in a rational world and are not interested in active research of the opposite side. They focus on religion, as the greatest present danger.

By now you surely think, cut the crap and post the evidence! Well, I think I eventually will, but in a separate topic. For now I think I don't really have a chance. Prove me wrong.
I hope I won't have to eventually start activism against armchair skeptical denialists by the tactics currently employed by atheist movement - by making youtube videos, podcasts and wearing a small red pentagram on my shirt Big Grin

You are the one making the claims, the burden of proof is on you.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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14-12-2011, 06:50 AM
RE: Emperors new energy
It is an interesting article.

I believe technology will only take us so far. It will then be replaced with a search inside spirituality. With that I dont mean "god" but I mean energy.

For no matter how much I use these symbols, to describe symptoms of my existence.
You are your own emphasis.
So I say nothing.

-Bemore.
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14-12-2011, 10:00 AM
RE: Emperors new energy
(13-12-2011 11:05 AM)Chas Wrote:  That sounds suspiciously like a conspiracy theory.
Maybe. So what? Conspiracy is a common part of our lives. The strong conspire against the weak. They steal their taxes, protect selfish interests, expand markets, buy their production facilities and then destroy them.
But frankly, most of the time no kind of conscious intent is necessary. The common prejudice, rigidity of thinking, reactions to certain words, no promise of personal gain, all that gets us safely through the day, it keeps our status quo. Of course this is also necessary to not get defeated by lots of commercial woo common in USA. But it's far from fair evaluation of claims.

(13-12-2011 11:05 AM)Chas Wrote:  Again, what evidence is being ignored?
What evidence?
- scientific experiments
- measuring devices
- laboratories
- personal careers of scientists
- articles in journals or not
- books
- reports
- citations
Plus of course a corresponding entourage of non-evidence that appears along the way, like further hypotheses, personal observation and phenomena that could be explained by the above.

(13-12-2011 11:05 AM)Chas Wrote:  You are the one making the claims, the burden of proof is on you.
Yes. But I can't make you look at the evidence, I can't make you interested in it. You'll take a look out of personal decency and benefit of the doubt, but that is probably not strong enough. Soon words like "quackery" and "fraud" will appear as an old habit.

OK, I understand what you mean. You want THE particular evidence that is supposedly ignored, so you can decide by its merits. So you claim. But how quickly will you think "not this crap again!"
- No known academical celebrity had put his name behind that.
- It wasn't published in journals I know.
- Life is too short to be interested in such an obscure research.
- It is all crap and the proposer is a fraud, because I say so.
These are arguments I've received from the more extreme skeptics. First I'd like to find a way around these bad manners and have a serious discussion. So far, most of the best responses was silence.
I think Seth is right, for people to consider some ideas seriously is not only taking them out of their comfort zone, it's like taking them to another planet.
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14-12-2011, 10:19 AM (This post was last modified: 14-12-2011 10:24 AM by Chas.)
RE: Emperors new energy
(14-12-2011 10:00 AM)Luminon Wrote:  
(13-12-2011 11:05 AM)Chas Wrote:  You are the one making the claims, the burden of proof is on you.
Yes. But I can't make you look at the evidence, I can't make you interested in it. You'll take a look out of personal decency and benefit of the doubt, but that is probably not strong enough. Soon words like "quackery" and "fraud" will appear as an old habit.
Please don't presume to know what I will or will not do.
Quote:OK, I understand what you mean. You want THE particular evidence that is supposedly ignored, so you can decide by its merits. So you claim. But how quickly will you think "not this crap again!"
- No known academical celebrity had put his name behind that.
- It wasn't published in journals I know.
- Life is too short to be interested in such an obscure research.
- It is all crap and the proposer is a fraud, because I say so.
These are arguments I've received from the more extreme skeptics. First I'd like to find a way around these bad manners and have a serious discussion. So far, most of the best responses was silence.
I think Seth is right, for people to consider some ideas seriously is not only taking them out of their comfort zone, it's like taking them to another planet.
This is the part thaty sounds like conspiracy theory thinking. You again presume to know what a skeptic or scientist will do or say.
Science is open to other planets and uncomfortable zones. The 20th century had several theories that overturned earlier theories and some were pretty far outside the comfort zones of many people. Relativity, quantum mechanics, plate tectonics, nuclear energy, etc. These were accepted when there was a preponderance of evidence. Many people resisted accepting them, Einstein went to his grave not accepting the implications of quantum theory.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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14-12-2011, 11:15 AM (This post was last modified: 14-12-2011 11:18 AM by kim.)
RE: Emperors new energy
There is of course, controversy regarding the placebo effect, which is what the topic of the original post is referring to, I think. There are whole areas of psychology devoted to this kind of study. Contrary to what one might think, this area of study does present evidence, conduct scientific experiments, produce articles in journals, books, reports, and present further hypotheses, personal observation and phenomena that could be explained. It is really quite interesting and it is a valid area of study, if only to shed light on the workings of the human mind.
However, the verdict is still out on the placebo effect - studies have been conducted to show that it can and does work, but they aren't sure why or how. To be quite frank; we simply do not know a whole lot about the human mind, either physically or mentally.
Dr Ben Goldacre is a physician and skeptic who has written a couple of books on medical & big pharma debunking, and has in fact stated that there is not enough study done on placebo effect to give us a clear picture of how we connect our bodies with our brain and mind. For instance, he's cited evidence that people in very controlled studies have responded more positively to an injection than a pill, even when they knew that both the pill and the injection were placebo -that itself is pretty mind blowing!
I have no problem with studies conducted in areas I like to call, "fringe science", although I doubt that many people want to throw a ton of money behind it; I don't even know if SETI is still on the government payroll, anymore.

But who knows, the human mind may very well be the next final frontier. Smile

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