70 years without food and water

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jeeprs
 
Reply Wed 12 May, 2010 09:54 pm
@Jebediah,
Jebediah;163734 wrote:
jeeprs, if it is interesting to think about the possibilities that science has not yet considered, then it interesting to think about all the possibilities that it has considered that one just hasn't read about. The control of the yogi over his heart rate and body temperature is interesting. The fact that people have natural guessing patterns is interesting. To dispute that the yogi can stop his heart and that people have telepathy is not "boring". It is simply drawing the line between interesting truth and interesting fiction. A sci fi movie is fun, a sci fi movie that tries to convince people of things that are not true is not fun.


Sure. Plenty of people think Rupert Sheldrake a crackpot, by the way. As it happens, I have met him and heard him speak, and am reading his Presence of the Past at this very moment. He is a sane and sober individual and qualified in science. Nevertheless when his first book came out, the then editor of Science (or was it Nature?) said 'this is a book for burning'. Why? Sheldrake believes nature develops habits - that once something happens in a particular way, it is likely to happen again in a similar manner, and this information is encoded and transmited by something he calls 'morphic fields'.

As far as the science community is concerned, this is not science, because there is nothing in the current model of science which provides a basis for any of this. Sheldrake nevertheless works away on producing evidence for his views. It is another interersting case of what kinds of things are considered scientifically plausible, and what are not.
 
Emil
 
Reply Wed 12 May, 2010 09:58 pm
@Jebediah,
Jebediah;163734 wrote:
About Randi, watching him talk, it is clear that he has read the cases of thousands of people who have been hurt by fraud. I have no reason to fault him for being an enemy of that kind of thinking.

If you are a scientist, I think you have to be very careful what you say about your research. The article in the lancet suggesting a link between autism and cancer ended up killing someone. Innoculation rates are down even today. And how many people have gotten sick, and how much was invested in researching the link to show it wasn't there?

Studies that have evidence for very unusual things need to be very careful about what they say. Remember that many of these studies are done on the 95% confidence interval, and can have confounding variables that are missed. There are two kinds of error (type I and type II). Type I is where you report a real effect when there is one (this is called scientists worst nightmare--the lancet autism thing is an example). It is worse than type II (saying no evidence for a real effect--like the bats thing) because once the info is out there, it is hard to stamp out. Some people will believe that vaccines are bad for the rest of their lives. With type II, you can do a new, better study and find the result if there is one.

In summary, it is better to be doubtful. I find it bizarre that people who would emphasize that we should not live by the rules of science, also jump on poorly done scientific studies as proof of their ideas. Reading sheldrakes account above, I get the impression that he is very biased ("generic", "seemed uneasy" and "polemic" stand out) and that his study sounds very questionable. Checking wiki, I see that the criticism of his studies is that he did not randomize properly--he mirrored the pattern on peoples natural guessing patterns. Similar to how you can beat some people in rock paper scissors better than chance--which, I would think, no one would suggest is telepathy.

jeeprs, if it is interesting to think about the possibilities that science has not yet considered, then it interesting to think about all the possibilities that it has considered that one just hasn't read about. The control of the yogi over his heart rate and body temperature is interesting. The fact that people have natural guessing patterns is interesting. To dispute that the yogi can stop his heart and that people have telepathy is not "boring". It is simply drawing the line between interesting truth and interesting fiction. A sci fi movie is fun, a sci fi movie that tries to convince people of things that are not true is not fun.


My mother still believes that vaccines are bad. I suppose she was listening back when this was up in the media. The result is that I am not vaccined against a couple of diseases. One of them can make me sterile if I get it as a grown up. I used to believe that vaccines could cause autism too. My mom told me when I was young. It is not surprising that I believed it too.
 
Pyrrho
 
Reply Wed 12 May, 2010 10:05 pm
@Emil,
Emil;163745 wrote:
My mother still believes that vaccines are bad. I suppose she was listening back when this was up in the media. The result is that I am not vaccined against a couple of diseases. One of them can make me sterile if I get it as a grown up. I used to believe that vaccines could cause autism too. My mom told me when I was young. It is not surprising that I believed it too.


You might want to check out the possibility of being vaccinated now against them, depending upon what they are.
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Wed 12 May, 2010 10:10 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;163743 wrote:
Sure. Plenty of people think Rupert Sheldrake a crackpot, by the way. As it happens, I have met him and heard him speak, and am reading his Presence of the Past at this very moment. He is a sane and sober individual and qualified in science.


I don't think Rupert Sheldrake is a crackpot. I think he is biased in favor of his own studies, and that they are poorly designed. The fact that some people think he is a crackpot, and that you know he is not, is no evidence that his theories are correct. Many non crackpots have had false theories.
Quote:

Nevertheless when his first book came out, the then editor of Science (or was it Nature?) said 'this is a book for burning'. Why? Sheldrake believes nature develops habits - that once something happens in a particular way, it is likely to happen again in a similar manner, and this information is encoded and transmited by something he calls 'morphic fields'.
That someone said the book should be burned is not evidence that it's critics are narrowminded, much less that the theory is worthwhile.

Doesn't nature usually find a niche, aka a way of doing things that hasn't been done before?

Quote:
As far as the science community is concerned, this is not science, because there is nothing in the current model of science which provides a basis for any of this. Sheldrake nevertheless works away on producing evidence for his views. It is another interersting case of what kinds of things are considered scientifically plausible, and what are not.
I think this is false jeeprs (that science rejects it because it is not in the current model). Most likely the reject it because it contradicts the current model. Sometimes the model is wrong, but something that contradicts the model is contradicting a lot of contrary evidence, and there are many false studies which contradict the model.

For example, the "stopped heart" is rejected because of all the evidence saying the brain cannot survive without oxygen, etc. There is no reasonable alternative explanation given (imagine if bats did not have ears, and echolocation was suggested) and the study is so far from comprehensive that is rejected.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Wed 12 May, 2010 10:29 pm
@jeeprs,
This is an account of why the then-editor of Nature reacted to Sheldrake in the way he did (from Wikipedia):

"When the book A New Science of Life by British biologist Rupert Sheldrake was published in 1981, proposing the theory of morphic resonance instead of DNA as the basis for shapes and behavior in nature, Maddox denounced it fiercely in an editorial titled "A book for burning?" He elaborated in a 1994 BBC documentary on Sheldrake's theory: "I was so offended by it, that I said that while it's wrong that books should be burned, in practice, if book burning were allowed, this book would be a candidate (...) I think it's dangerous that people should be allowed by our liberal societies to put that kind of nonsense into currency. It's unnecessary to introduce magic into the explanation from (sic)physical and biological phenomenon when in fact there is every likelihood that the continuation of research as it is now practiced will indeed fill all the gaps that Sheldrake draws attention to. You see, Sheldrake's is not a scientific theory. Sheldrake is putting forward magic instead of science, and that can be condemned, in exactly the language that the popes used to condemn Galileo, and for the same reasons: it is heresy."
 
Rwa001
 
Reply Wed 12 May, 2010 10:35 pm
@Emil,
Emil;163741 wrote:
I don't think anyone here claimed that less improbable implies impossible, so I don't know why you mention that. Maybe I missed something.

And, sure, 10 days is not miraculous and still not what I'd call physically impossible. Though I've never heard of anyone being able to do it under strict conditions. 100 days would be physically impossible I think.

---------- Post added 05-13-2010 at 05:54 AM ----------



I wouldn't say that "there is no real evidential support", but I'd say that there is insufficient evidence to be epistemically justified in the believing it.

Clifford is right in the passage you quote above, and it is very hard to free oneself from bias. It is no wonder that most people fail at it most of the time. I also fail at it from time to time.


No you're right, I just don't want to discount something that is possible only because something else is more reasonable. I'll withhold judgment on the truth value of this until all the facts are in.

They have done studies where people whose grandfathers went through a period of food deprivation went without food and they didn't suffer as severe effects as those people whose grandfathers didn't go through a famine. So an adaption that allowed this man to go several days longer than the average American could without food and water makes sense if a length of generations before him suffered from a similar lack of access to food. Still, 70 years sounds a little out there.
 
TuringEquivalent
 
Reply Wed 12 May, 2010 11:27 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;162338 wrote:
A story has been posted in the Sydney Morning Herald about an Indian yogi who claims not to have taken food or water for 7 decades.

Source

Of course, this is not possible according to science. But Indian yogis have a track record of doing things that are impossible according to science.


I blame the news paper for putting these crap up.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Thu 13 May, 2010 10:51 pm
@jeeprs,
More on the same story:

Yogi beaten by bear necessities of life without food

A nutritional scientist says it is impossible, which of course it is. If it weren't impossible, it wouldn't be a story.

---------- Post added 05-14-2010 at 02:55 PM ----------

Here incidentally is an index of Catholic Saints who were said to have possessed 'the charism of inedia' i.e. no physical sustenance aside from (in most cases) the communion sacraments: Saints.SQPN.com Blog Archive inedia
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Thu 13 May, 2010 11:07 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;164094 wrote:
More on the same story:

Yogi beaten by bear necessities of life without food

A nutritional scientist says it is impossible, which of course it is. If it weren't impossible, it wouldn't be a story.


Maybe if people hadn't died trying to follow in the footsteps of these fakers it wouldn't be a story:

Quote:
Australian woman Ellen Greve, also known as Jasmuheen, claims she practises "breatharianism", a belief that people can live with little to no food or water.


But three followers of the former Brisbane financial consultant died when they tried to live on light.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Thu 13 May, 2010 11:27 pm
@jeeprs,
I know about her and have no respect for her or any of her kind. Ridiculous. I am still interested in the phenomenon though.

---------- Post added 05-14-2010 at 03:39 PM ----------

An elaboration: this notion of 'inedia' is a cross-cultural belief associated with religious traditions. In the Catholic tradition, it is associated with various saints, as per the index given above. There are also, as we know, some accounts of it in Indian religion. I am not the least bit interested in 'trying to be a breatharian' in fact I think it is completely ridiculous notion. But I am interested in the phenomenon itself. If it does occur, then there is, by definition, no natural explanation for it. It can't be a result of the clever retention of bodily fluids, etc. Those who exhibit this alleged ability all say that it is 'a gift of the spirit'. There are many accounts of supernatural phenomena in the lives of Catholic saints, Hindu yogis, and so on. Most people will simply dismiss all of them out of hand, but I am not so sure. I shall wait and see what, if anything, develops. If Prahlad Jani (if that was his name) is a fraudster, so be it. But that is not proven yet. So I guess I am saying, I am prepared to think it might be true. Most others will think, it just cannot be true. As one of the newspaper articles said, some of us would rather like to believe that miracles occur. But I am not going to be holding vigils alongside weeping statues anytime soon.:bigsmile:
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 14 May, 2010 01:13 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;163569 wrote:


---------- Post added 05-13-2010 at 07:27 AM ----------



It is interesting that one will offer 17th century philosophy by way of rebuttal of actual physical evidence gathered by scientific instruments in controlled conditions.

---------- Post added 05-13-2010 at 07:46 AM ----------



Hume is 18th century, not 17th. I don't understand what you mean. What do you think Hume was rebutting?
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Fri 14 May, 2010 07:21 am
@jeeprs,
OK - the story so far. Sydney Morning Herald publishes story about experiment in which subject is an Indian yogi who claims to have subsisted without food for 70 years. Story alleges said subject was kept in controlled conditions for 15 days during which he consumed no food or water. The account of this story is challenged on the basis of what one 'David Hume' (18th century philosopher) says about what should or should not believed. Hume's rebuttal is challenged by poster of the OP on the basis that 'empirical evidence trumps philosophical argument'.

And that is the story so far.
 
Emil
 
Reply Fri 14 May, 2010 10:12 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;164219 wrote:
OK - the story so far. Sydney Morning Herald publishes story about experiment in which subject is an Indian yogi who claims to have subsisted without food for 70 years. Story alleges said subject was kept in controlled conditions for 15 days during which he consumed no food or water. The account of this story is challenged on the basis of what one 'David Hume' (18th century philosopher) says about what should or should not believed. Hume's rebuttal is challenged by poster of the OP on the basis that 'empirical evidence trumps philosophical argument'.

And that is the story so far.


Only if you have no clue in what way what Hume wrote is relevant.
 
bmcreider
 
Reply Fri 14 May, 2010 11:12 am
@jeeprs,
This thread sure took a couple of turns while I was away.

Does anyone here, without me reading the other posts I admit, actually believe this guy?
 
Emil
 
Reply Fri 14 May, 2010 03:03 pm
@jeeprs,
J. maybe. He believes in all kind of nonsense. Why not this too?
 
HexHammer
 
Reply Fri 14 May, 2010 03:40 pm
@jeeprs,
...uhmmm..yearh we all know that all these yogis and stuff NEVER cheats, never make up fake pictures of levitation, takes money for exorsism and preventing curses, why so many of them drive around in expensive cars, have private jets ..etc, all due to supersticious idiots.
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Fri 14 May, 2010 04:19 pm
@HexHammer,
jeeprs wrote:
Most people will simply dismiss all of them out of hand, but I am not so sure. I shall wait and see what, if anything, develops. If Prahlad Jani (if that was his name) is a fraudster, so be it. But that is not proven yet. So I guess I am saying, I am prepared to think it might be true. Most others will think, it just cannot be true.
I think belief works on two levels. You have, on some level, made up your mind whether you think the yogi survived 70 years without food or water. That seems kind of automatic--a brain function that works at making sense of what it sees. So you have an implicit belief about it. Then you have the belief arrive at by thought, which says things like "it hasn't been proven that he can't, therefore it is still a possibility, however it is very likely that he is a fraud".

The people you are tacitly accusing of close mindedness would, I think, acknowledge that it is a "possibility". So, they are just as open minded as you are, the difference is that their implicit beliefs are in agreement with their rational thoughts, while yours are not. Instead it seems that you implicitly believe it, and grasp at the fact that it isn't disproven as justification for that belief.

I don't really appreciate you trying to paint "others" as close minded about this subject :nonooo:

(I came up with this implicit/explicit belief thing on the fly mind you. I might search around for some research into it, it's intuitive though. Now that I think of it, I do remember a study where they found that people who rated themselves as having a 55% chance of picking a certain option (in other words, just slightly more likely) ended up choosing that option 95% of the time. )
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Fri 14 May, 2010 04:23 pm
@Emil,
Emil;164280 wrote:
Only if you have no clue in what way what Hume wrote is relevant.


Of course I understand why what Hume wrote is relevant as a matter of principle. But philosophical reasoning can't over-rule empirical evidence. You can say that something can't happen, but if it happens, the argument that it can't happen is completely irrelevant. That is why I find the use of this argument ironic. Hume himself was a skeptic. Now his argument is being used to support a view of what kinds of things are possible, and what are not, a priori. That is not the view of a skeptic. Skepticism is the suspension of judgement (or used to be.)

As to whether 'I believe': this particular case was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, which is not like The National Enquirer. It certainly interests me. On investigating it further, I discovered a bit more about the doctor doing the investigation, and I am suspicious about his motives, as he has apparently been engaged in trying to prove this phenomena for a long while. On the other hand, the report as far as I can determine, at this time, still stands.

Emil, as to what I do or don't believe, you have no idea.

---------- Post added 05-15-2010 at 08:31 AM ----------

I see your point Jebediah. I own up to being provocative about it. I also admit, part of me wants to believe it, in the same way that I would really like to believe that there are yetis or other 'unexplained phenomena'.

But I am also trying to steer the conversation in the direction of attitudes towards what is possible and not possible. My argument is with the characteristic attitude that because science tells us something is or isn't the case, then it must be so. But I suppose to be fair, this is also a case which is against common sense as much as it is against science.

I have been meaning to start a thread on 'investigation of the paranormal' for some time, so I guess this has become it.

---------- Post added 05-15-2010 at 08:43 AM ----------

I mean, whenever I see a story about so-called 'church miracles' where some statue of the Virgin is weeping and there are all these people camped outside hoping their sick child will be healed, I react the same way that the skeptics have reacted to this post - it annoys the c*** out of me. I don't consider myself as gullible or wishful, in that sense.

But if you study the history of religions, there are many inexplicable occurrences. To rule all of them out is almost as tendentious as to rule all of them in. In other words, skepticism in that sense can be as much an obstacle as credulity. So I have arrived at the view that paranormal phenomena do have some basis in reality. The fact is that anyone who admits this is automatically accused of 'believing nonsense', as we have just seen.
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Fri 14 May, 2010 05:02 pm
@jeeprs,
I do think skepticism is a tough topic. It's a balancing act.

But the odd thing to me is that a lot of the unjustified beliefs in paranormal type things are actually a result of not being skeptical about the accuracy of scientific study. There are countless studies that have come to false or misleading conclusions. The things that science is most sure about have had hundreds or thousands of different studies done on them, and are still debated.

We have to make the decision about what kind of evidence we will let sway our beliefs about a subject. I think the solution lies not in open mindedness as "not rejecting the implausible". I think it's ok to reject the implausible. The trick is to minimize the personal investment in the results (I think you would say that Dawkins is invested in these kinds of things being false, for example) and in continuing to learn about the world.

Treating claims about the paranormal in the same way we treat claims made by corporations about their products may reject things that shouldn't be rejected, but it is a very sound strategy, and we are forced to use a fairly simple strategy by our own limitations.

"Skepticism as a suspension of judgment"--I don't think we really do suspend our judgment. I think skepticism has to do more with our judgment about our judgments. More of a "I believe it is false--but don't yet have good reason to do so" than a "I don't have good reason to judge it false, so I will make no judgment". That's just words.

-edit-

If I understand your feelings, you are criticizing the kind of arrogant way in which many people reject paranormal claims based on nothing but "only stupid people believe in it". I'm with you on that one.
 
Emil
 
Reply Sat 15 May, 2010 12:12 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;164402 wrote:
Of course I understand why what Hume wrote is relevant as a matter of principle. But philosophical reasoning can't over-rule empirical evidence. You can say that something can't happen, but if it happens, the argument that it can't happen is completely irrelevant. That is why I find the use of this argument ironic. Hume himself was a skeptic. Now his argument is being used to support a view of what kinds of things are possible, and what are not, a priori. That is not the view of a skeptic. Skepticism is the suspension of judgement (or used to be.)


I see that you do not understand what Hume wrote. Maybe you should read it or reread it. It is odd that you don't understand since iy has been explained in this very thread. One wonders if you read posts at all!

What Hume wrote has nothing to do with what is ontologically possible, but only with what one ought to believe, that is, his reasoning is about epistemology not ontology. Similarly, people continue to misrepresent him as arguing that miracles are ontologically impossible. That was not what he argued.

If you wish to misrepresent him as arguing something else, you are free to do so. Freedom of speech.

Besides, I wonder if you ever studied logic when you write things such as "But philosophical reasoning can't over-rule empirical evidence. You can say that something can't happen, but if it happens, the argument that it can't happen is completely irrelevant.". I wonder if it means anything at all or if you are simply just writing words for the sake of it.

Anyway, discussing this is a waste of my time. Another one bites the dust.
 
 

 
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