7 things @ 11 o’clock (7.4)

1. Robert Morrison of the Family Research Council says marriage equality must be denied to same-sex couples because the Pioneer Plaque clearly shows that humans from Earth come only in pairs of one male and one female.

The odd spectacle of a religious right culture-warrior praising these plaques, which were designed by Carl Sagan, has me thinking of a new theory to explain the Fermi paradox. Maybe the nude figures on that plaque have led to some sort of inter-stellar boycott of Earth by some sanctimoniously prudish intergalactic equivalent of One Million Moms.

In any case, I like the Voyager Golden Record better. So here’s Blind Willie Johnson’s “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground.”

2. For many Americans, today is a holiday, but some of you may still be stuck at work, so here are three personal accounts to make you perhaps feel better about the day you’re having. (At least, I hope you’re having a better day than this.)

• Jason Martin’s Very Bad Day: getting struck by lightning.

• Steve Rankin’s Very Bad Day: getting bitten by a Fer-de-Lance.

• Paul Templer’s Very Bad Day: getting chomped and swallowed by a hippopotamus.

3. And for those stuck at work, here’s an excellent time-waster. Marginal Revolution asks “What’s the most intellectual joke you know?” Read the whole comment thread. Here’s a taste:

Two economists walk past a Porsche showroom. One of them points at a shiny car in the window and says, “I want that.” The other one says, “Obviously not.”

4. Following yesterday’s robust, interesting discussion of psychics and fraudulent psychics, and the extent of the overlap in a Venn diagram of those two categories, let’s further complicate things by mixing in Orson Welles’ discussion of “the shut-eye” and his theory that this may explain much of what we experience as premonitions or intuitive leaps:

Welles’ analogy of the hotel clerk is an apt description, I think, of what is usually at work in what we refer to as “hunches.” That, in turn, suggests that the best response to a “hunch” may be to work backwards, rather than forwards. Instead of setting out to find evidence to support our hunch, we should try to identify the unconsciously calculated evidence that led to our having the hunch in the first place. Figure out where it came from before trying to figure out where it leads.

Welles, I think, was trying to be skeptical without being dismissive. (Since I share his skepticism, I’m unable to judge how well he succeeded at that.) I don’t wish to be dismissive either, but thus far my reason and my experience haven’t given me any grounds for anything other than skepticism when it comes to psychic phenomena. That raises an interesting question: What would it take to change my mind about that? I’m not sure, so let me ask you. If, like me, you’re skeptical of the existence of psychic phenomena, what would it take to change your mind? (Besides seeing someone cashing their $1 million check from The Amazing Randi.)

(This also raises a less-interesting, but apparently irresistible, question as to how I can be skeptical about X but, some would say, so enthusiastically credulous about Y. The short answer has to do with faith, hope and love, and with the extent to which the latter two provide a sufficient basis for the first one.)

5. Brian McLaren points us to the protest songs page from the One Campaign. Some terrific covers there. Don’t miss Mumford and Sons & Elvis Costello performing a mashup of Springsteen’s “Ghost of Tom Joad” and Woody Guthrie’s “Do-Ra-Mi.” I also really liked Alison Moyet’s take on “Shipbuilding.” Here’s a favorite of mine from a band that ought to be included in One’s list — Midnight Oil, because the whole Pete Seeger acoustic-guitar thing is great, but sometimes you also need a big, scary, bald Aussie Jeremiah shouting his heart out from a flatbed truck in front of Exxon’s corporate headquarters.

6. We now have another 6,000 pages of documents revealing how Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan handled allegations of the sexual abuse of children when he led the Diocese of Milwaukee. He transferred priests and transferred funds, and then, as Andrew Sullivan writes, “he seems to be able to lie about all of it – in the face of massive evidence – with nary a flicker of hesitation.”

What Dolan did in Milwaukee is shameful, but not as shameful as what he didn’t do there. He was willing to bend the law to try to protect the church’s assets and the Church’s reputation, but he doesn’t seem to have been much concerned with protecting the Church’s children.

7. Love and justice are both more than reciprocity, but they cannot be less than reciprocity. Or, to put it another way, turn-about may not precisely be fair play, but turning things about can be a useful way of highlighting unfair play that needs to be corrected. It’s the Golden Rule or the Miley Principle.

That’s all still too abstract. What I mean to say is that Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner is pretty fantastic:

Before getting a prescription for Viagra or other erectile dysfunction drugs, men would have to see a sex therapist, receive a cardiac stress test and get a notarized affidavit signed by a sexual partner affirming impotency, if state Sen. Nina Turner has her way.

The Cleveland Democrat introduced Senate Bill 307 this week.

A critic of efforts to restrict abortion and contraception for women, Turner says she is concerned about men’s reproductive health. …

Under Senate Bill 307, men taking the drugs would continue to be tested for heart problems, receive counseling about possible side effects and receive information about “pursuing celibacy as a viable lifestyle choice.”

“Even the FDA recommends that doctors make sure that assessments are taken that target the nature of the symptoms, whether it’s physical or psychological,” Turner said. “I certainly want to stand up for men’s health and take this seriously and legislate it the same way mostly men say they want to legislate a woman’s womb.”


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  • konrad_arflane

    “pursuing celibacy as a viable lifestyle choice.”

    Oh, BURN!!

    Sorry, had to say it.

  • J_Enigma32

    Gah, if that’s an answer to the Fermi Paradox, we’re better off just staying at home until our sun goes nova.

    I’ll take any answer but that one. Any other one – a Great Filter event, a predatory ETI that seeds the galaxy with virii carrying Bracwell probes, the Zoo hypothesis, the “they’re too far away ‘cus space is really honkin’ huge” hypothesis… any one one but that one. *sod*

    Also, I wonder if the irony is lost on them that they’re citing an agnostic and noted pot user/advocate, who described Christianity as “an amalgam of two immiscible parts”; one part Jesus and one part Paul. He praised Jefferson for trying to excise Paul, and commented that when Jefferson was done, “there wasn’t much left, but it was an inspiring document.”

  • Baby_Raptor

    They likely didn’t look that deeply. If they did, they’d have stopped seeing his prettyful support words and started whining about how he, too, was a hateful Liberal.

  • Jenny Islander

    Nina Turner: purveyor of gandersauce. AWESOME.

    Needs a bit more “But we’re only thinking of the best interests of the American family” in there though. Maybe some little dig about how a man who needs assistance in that regard is obvs. too old and feeble to raise a child or obvs. so obsessed with sex that he’s not father material, so no freedom of choice for him.

  • Jessica_R

    Sagan is one of my icons so the FRC trying to co-opt him makes my skin crawl. As for what I think he’d think about marriage equality, I go to his key quote for me, “For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.”

  • ako

    I’m pretty skeptical of psychic phenomena, and to be convinced I’d basically need scientific proof. I’m aware that the lack of scientific proof of psychic phenomena doesn’t disprove claims of psychic abilities. However, when it comes to explanations, based on all current evidence, “Yes, this person is actually psychic” seems much less probable than the alternative explanations. (Not just lying, but also stuff like recall bias, coincidence, and deja vu.)

  • J_Enigma32

    No, it doesn’t; absence of evidence does not preclude evidence of absence and all that fun stuff, but when the claims you’re making violate existing laws of the natural sciences (Law of Causality, Law of Conservation of Energy, Theory of Relativity, and others), what it boils down to is “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” – and the Texas Sharpshooter fallacy is not enough evidence to overturn the Law of Causality.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Incidentally I think clairvoyance would imply FTL communication which is normally forbidden by relativity. For the quantum-mechanical version of it to be feasible we still have the problem of going FTL, since even with entanglement and the simultaneous collapse of eigenstates, you still have to carry that information around at below the speed of light.

  • J_Enigma32

    Oh good! I’m not the only person, then, who thinks that Clairvoyance is impossible because it implies an absolute frame of reference, contrary to Relativity :)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Mmm, I don’t think you need to invoke the absolute-rest frame as the reason why clairvoyance doesn’t work, it’s enough that it would break the speed of light limit. :)

  • J_Enigma32

    But by breaking the speed of light, wouldn’t it imply that it does have an absolute frame of reference from which you’re viewing it from?

    For instance, if I’m remote viewing something happening simultaneously in, say, Russia, and it’s happening at exactly the same time as I’m viewing it and I’m receiving that information at exactly the same time it’s happening, wouldn’t that Imply I had a frame of reference that was absolute?

    Also, as I’m typing this, I think I see another problem with clairvoyance. The human brain makes it seem like we’re viewing things in the present but we’re really several seconds behind what’s going on. The brain simply fills in the gaps using predictive Bayesian measures (for instance, you jump at a fuzz ball thinking it’s a spider before realizing that nope, it’s a fuzz ball.) Clairvoyance seems to imply that there’s a way around that, and that you can see things as they’re occurring rather than the several second delay/brain fills in the gaps with Bayesian style predictive measures based on all inputs deal we normally experience.

  • Jenora Feuer

    But by breaking the speed of light, wouldn’t it imply that it does have an absolute frame of reference from which you’re viewing it from?

    Not really. It’s a side effect of one of the basic principles of relativity: the speed of light is the same in all reference frames. As a result, something moving slower than the speed of light will be moving slower than the speed of light in all reference frames, and something moving faster than the speed of light will be moving faster than the speed of light in all reference frames. How much slower or faster will be disagreed upon by different observers, but whether it is slower or faster is always the same.

    In relativity, simultaneity may be an illusion, but if two events are simultaneous to anyone, they will be separated by an FTL interval to everyone (at least, everybody traveling slower than light).

  • BaseDeltaZero

    Alternately, it *does* have lightspeed lag. It doesn’t need to be literally instantaneous to seem that way. The difference between seeing what’s happening in Russia the moment it happens and .05 milliseconds after it happens is more or less insignificant.

  • Marshall

    But there IS an absolute rest frame defined by the cosmic microwave background. Relativity is interesting mathematics (just like Newton’s), but Reality is more complicated than Math.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I am not sure I have ever heard a claim about clairvoyance that was specific enough to make the claim that it violated the relativistic prohibition on faster-than-light travel. I mean, if you’re going to claim anything that’s described as “simultaneous” as violating relativity, you’ve just disproven the existence of the telephone.

    (Not that i ever think “It can’t possibly be real because if it were, our understanding of physics would be wrong” is a valid argument)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    To be fair, simultaneity appears uniform to us because we are not moving at any appreciable fraction of the speed of light.

    But clairvoyance is, as I understand it, a method of sensing things not physically present to the individual in question. Now, retrocognition, mmm, possible. Pre-cognition, no.

    If you draw the light cones on a space-time diagram you can prove anything that traverses a line with an angle less than 45 degrees to the observer implies FTL.

  • caryjamesbond

    You’d also have to explain why human beings evolved a (hitherto unknown) physical structure capable of capturing and interpreting something as complex and rare as tachyons or large scale quantum entanglement.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    Right. I can’t see any possible advantage for the ability to see the future. It’s not possible that this ability was a side effect of some other trait, or, you know, a random mutation that was kept because, you know, ESP sounds kinda useful for survival purposes, even if unreliable…

    In any event, speculating on the evolutionary feasibility of something that we don’t even know actually exists is pretty much the definition of ‘fools errand’.

  • caryjamesbond

    Oh, seeing the future would be dead fucking useful.

    Seeing vague fuzzy, symbolic, interpretations of what might be the future in a sort of way that you can’t control or predict….

    Imagine that instead of the sight you have now, you could just randomly see in two second flashes, and instead of seeing what was in front of you, you saw a pablo picasso painting of where you would be in two weeks. Maybe. How useful would that sense be to you?

    All the descriptions we’ve seen here from Jared, who has the most experience with the psychic community, indicates that in people that actually have it (by his claims), it is not a reliable, controllable, or, frankly, all that useful talent. He flat out says that all of the reputable psychics he knows sell their talents on the side. A talent that could reliably give you useful information about the future….well, it may take a while, but you’d almost have to work at it to not get rich and powerful doing that.

  • caryjamesbond

    In any event, speculating on the evolutionary feasibility of something that we don’t even know actually exists is pretty much the definition of ‘fools errand’.

    Well, we’re discussing it’s existence, with at least some people who believe it exists as a real thing. In which case, asking “how did it come to be” seems to me to be a valid question. From my perspective, if we’re discussing Tolkien, and someone goes “where did Middle Earth come from?” and someone starts talking about the valar singing with Eru, jumping in and going “well that’s just talking about made up stuff” is sort of missing the point.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    It doesn’t have to be reliable in order to be useful. 99 times out of a hundred, it might provide no advantage, but that one time you avoid the valley over by the twisted tree because the saber-toothed tiger is going to be there…

    Hell, it doesn’t have to still be useful in the modern world – a lot of our survival responses aren’t. A sketchy ‘predict danger’ ability won’t make you particularly rich, but it ever so slightly increases your chance of survival. For that matter, psychic phenomena could be confused for some other mental aspect.

    ‘More likely’, though it’s more a consequence of some other trait than something selected for, where some other trait was selected for – intelligence, for instance, resulted in a brain structure that *just happened* to also be conducive to psychic abilities, for instance was. One would expect this probably for the very reason that it’s minor and unpredictable. If it had a massive, reliable effect, then *everyone* would have it.

    Well, we’re discussing it’s existence, with at least some people who believe it exists as a real thing. In which case, asking “how did it come to be” seems to me to be a valid question. From my perspective, if we’re discussing Tolkien, and someone goes “where did Middle Earth come from?” and someone starts talking about the valar singing with Eru, jumping in and going “well that’s just talking about made up stuff” is sort of missing the point.

    Well, I meant more… this is something that we don’t know the nature of, and many argue it to be more metaphysical in origin. ‘Evolution’ may not apply in this case.

    Your Middle Earth example is a pretty good one. One could spend all day talking about how a flat planet that then becomes spherical except flat sometimes could never possibly form – the gravity would crush it together, why would asteroids ever accumulate in that shape, etc… but that’s missing the point. It doesn’t make sense in that framework because the framework is wrong – it was sung into existence, not formed by celestial agglutination.

  • P J Evans

    Or you can get one or two second flashes of future … but not very far future, maybe two minutes.

  • P J Evans

    Might not require tachyons. Think of entangled particles and action at a distance.

    (I’ve had a few experiences that don’t have reasonable explanations.)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The problem with that is as I said before, just because you can with confidence deduce the eigenstate of both the particle you’ve just detected and the particle entangled with it*, that information, to be of any use, would need to be carried around to the other particle to be used, and that has to happen at sublight speeds.

    It’s like how a lot of precognitive disaster predictions only become clear in retrospect to the disaster happening.


    * The simplest example would be the spins of entangled electrons. If you detect one as spin-up the other has to be spin-down, but knowing that doesn’t help you until you get over to the other electron and see what it was doing.

  • Lupus753

    It’s a shame that it’s impossible to objectively determine what “extraordinary” is, given that it’s an opinion. Otherwise, providing experiments for these sorts of things might be a lot easier.

  • http://flickr.com/photos/sedary_raymaker/ Naked Bunny with a Whip

    I wouldn’t worry about the “extraordinary” evidence until we at least get some mundane, ordinary evidence that consistently rises above statistical noise.

  • J_Enigma32

    Well, given the situation that we’re in, extraordinary here means that you better be able to preform what you’re claiming you can do, accurately, and well enough so that we don’t see them as statistical anomalies. The proof has to be indisputable, since you’re attacking things that we not only work, but work 99% of the time without exception observed yet (especially true in the case of Causality and Conservation of Energy).

  • http://hummingwolf.livejournal.com/ Hummingwolf

    the alternative explanations. (Not just lying, but also stuff like recall bias, coincidence, and deja vu.)
    Don’t forget people who are just plain good at psychology, but get inspiration from cards, bibliomancy, astrology, etc. (Some people become effective counselors in the guise of Tarot card readers. Others, of course, become greedy charlatans.)

  • Lori

    When I was in college there was a while when I was pretty good at doing Tarot readings. It started out as a kind of an accident, but I worked at it a bit to polish up my technique, just to see if I could. Because I’m weird like that. With very little effort I got good enough that I inadvertently convinced at least 2 acquaintances that I had psychic gifts. Which I most definitely do not.

    The ability to do the unconscious computation that Welles described is a talent, the same way art or music or sports or math is a talent. Some people have more of it than others and if it’s developed it can lead to a certain set of skills. I have no artistic, musical or athletic talent, but I can do those unconscious calculations from clues. It’s what lead me to chose psych as major—it came easily and naturally to me*.

    Existing talent + the training I was getting about therapeutic techniques + a tarot deck & a little flash = the appearance of psychic gifts.

    If things had gone a bit differently, or if I was a bit different, I think that I could easily have become convinced that I was actually psychic. This is a big part of my persistent skepticism.

    *I quite the field after only a few years because I found it too stressful, not because I couldn’t do the work.

  • Marshall

    “Which I most definitely do not”

    So you rejected the results of your experience (evidence) based on your a priori assumption?

  • Lori

    No, I accepted the results of my experience. I was very conscious of what I was doing when I taught myself to “read” the cards. It was no more a supernatural skill than playing the piano or hitting a fast ball. IOW, something that not everyone can do, but which is not in any way outside the natural world.

    Had I been less self-aware I might have bought by own act.

  • Marshall

    So just because it was a predictable, trainable skill, you used the pejorative label “psychic” to discount (“except” … LOL!) your experience with this particular toolset??

    The point might be that we do know more about other humans and the world than we can consciously, rationally explain. Right, those things are part of the “natural” world … more things under heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy! Sure it’s wrong and evil to use the Gifts to take money from the rubes, but with the right attitude, isn’t there something here that’s worth developing and encouraging, cards and all?? … A way to heal the world … If you don’t think it’s work you’re suited for, fine, but why label it as “just” batshit bullshit?? Why not encourage those who can, to do?

    … and I’m not sure accepting two bucks from somebody for a good talk session is such a big deal. I’ve spent more for less.

  • caryjamesbond

    Here’s a question.

    How could psychic abilities ‘heal the world’? This is a thing I encounter a lot in the more woo-ier circles. If psychic phenomena do exist, the way they’ve been described to me by anyone ever is as a vaguely supernatural ability to read minds, lift stuff, or see the future. (Incidentally, another question- why would those abilities be together? what does reading minds have to do with seeing the future)

    How could that heal the world? positive energy?

    What particles make up ‘positive energy?’ How many newtons of force can positive energy create, over a square meter?

  • Lori

    In fairness, the people I’ve personally known who claimed to have a psychic gift have almost all only claimed one. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who claimed to both read minds and see the future.

  • Marshall

    What can “heal the world” is the ability to look at a cheerful woman in a bright pink dress and see her pain, and the courage and skill to intervene. What to call that insight, courage, and skill is at best secondary, but labeling it “psychic” or “supernatural” as an excuse to marginalize it and throw it in the trash is not helpful.

  • Lori

    caryjamesbond and I aren’t the ones labeling the skills “psychic” or “supernatural”. Quite the contrary, we’re calling them perfectly natural. I’m certainly not marginalizing the skill or throwing it in the trash. Again, I trained to make it my career and have great admiration of many of the people who have the same skill and use it in various helping professions.

    The skill to see see that the woman in the bright pink dress is in mourning is separate from the skill and willingness to intervene in a way that’s actually helpful, as opposed to useless or harmful.

    The ability to see others’ pain can just as easily be used to harm as to help. It’s the courage, skill and caring that really matter, not the insight in and of itself IMO we spend way too much time and energy on the supposed ability to see things via extraordinary means and not nearly enough cultivating the will and ability to help.

  • caryjamesbond

    Am I missing something about bright pink dresses here?

    Yeah, being able to look at someone and see that they’re suffering is a useful skill. It’s empathy, which has some fascinating studies being done on it right now.

    Our best guess is that it involves literally arranging your mind into the same state as theirs- for a moment, you sort of become them. To a certain degree, obviously- but its the reason we all- men and women- tend to wince when we see someone get hit in the balls, for a moment we’re putting ourselves entirely into their shoes, to very nearly the point of sympathetic pain.

    There’s nothing…..extra….about that. It’s a useful survival skill for an animal that lives in packs to have. Undoubtedly there is something similar in wolves, but probably not in bears.

    Regardless- however much it helps our hypothetical pink dressed woman, that isn’t healing the world. If you can do it seven billion times in a row in less than your lifetime, you’d make a solid START at healing the world.

    The world is very big, and we are very small. And the simple fact is, as the old joke goes- we still use traditional medicine. We just took the part of it that worked, called it “medicine” and went to work on improving it. All the other stuff is just….woo.

  • Lori

    It’s a reference to the story Orson Welles told in the interview Fred linked to.

  • Marshall

    I am glad we have come to a place of agreement.

  • Lori

    So just because it was a predictable, trainable skill, you used the
    pejorative label “psychic” to discount (“except” … LOL!) your
    experience with this particular toolset??

    So in addition to being both rude and credulous, you’re one of those idiots who polices other people’s typos? That figures. (Note that I corrected the typo before your latest rudeness.)

    As for the substance, such as it is, of your comment if I’m reading you right you’re trying to claim that you know my experience better than I do. You don’t. I was there, you were not. I have a good degree of self-awareness. I knew what I was doing and how I was doing it.

    Edited to remove a bit of rudeness of my own

    The point might be that we do know more about other humans and the world than we can consciously, rationally explain.

    I can consciously, rationally explain exactly what I was doing and how I did it. That was the point of the story. The fact that some other people can’t explain how they do it, A) doesn’t mean that I can’t and B) doesn’t mean that their skills are supernatural. It’s just as likely, more actually, that their powers of explanation are simply lacking. The inability of any particular person, or group of people, to explain a phenomenon doesn’t provide the slightest bit of evidence that the phenomenon is supernatural. If it did then we’d be forced to continue to entertain the notion that magnets are magic.


    more things under heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy!

    There should be a rule against quoting this in a discussion of allegedly supernatural phenomena. It doesn’t prove anything. It doesn’t provide evidence for anything. It doesn’t explain anything. It doesn’t advance the discussion in any way. It’s just an attempt to shut down an inconvenient discussion while sounding smart doing it. It’s no more worthwhile than homophobes quoting Leviticus in a discussion about marriage equality.

    Sure it’s wrong and evil to use the Gifts to take money from the rubes, but with the right attitude, isn’t there something here that’s worth developing and encouraging, cards and all?? … A way to heal the world … If you don’t think it’s work you’re suited for, fine, but why label it as “just” batshit bullshit?? Why not encourage those who can, to do?

    I didn’t mention money. I also didn’t label anything “batshit bullshit”. You’re putting words in my mouth to justify your position. That tells me a great deal about you. Maybe I should give you a reading.

    I do think there’s something there worth developing and encouraging, but it’s not a Gift. It’s probably fair to call it a gift, but it is not a Gift. I think it’s wonderful for people who have a talent for reading cues to develop that and put it use. Such people can make terrific counselors and investigators for example and I’m all for that. I trained for that myself and did it for several years. That’s how the talent can heal.

    And by the way, the work that I found too stressful was social work using my psych degree, not reading cards for money. I never took money from anyone for a ‘reading”, among other reasons because that would have been lying and I try to avoid that.

    … and I’m not sure accepting two bucks from somebody for a good talk session is such a big deal. I’ve spent more for less.

    We have vastly different definitions of what constitutes a good talk session. The fact that you’ve wasted money on other things doesn’t change that.

  • Marshall

    I don’t know anything about your experience except what you put in your post, and I didn’t say anything about your experience except what you put in your post. So I guess you aren’t reading me right, or at least not according to my intention.

    Certainly there is stuff about Magnetism that is not well understood. Nature is bigger than our understanding of it. I think “supernatural” is rather an oxymoron … if “psychic powers” (and so on) exist, then they would be “within nature”. It seems to me that labeling phenomena, or apparent phenomena, as “supernatural” is often a way of avoiding thinking about it.

    “Explanations” are not the beginning and end of wisdom. Newton’s “explanation” of gravity was not at all what we understand these days, but as a “description” is was excellent, of great practical value. Just because the explanation is bogus doesn’t mean that the observation is.

    I suppose I did extrapolate from your comment above and others on this blog that you think people who believe in “psychic powers” are either batshit or bullshiters. If you do think that people who claim to posses Gifts are reasonable people doing their best, then I do apologize for misapprehension and can’t we have a nice discussion? (BTW, your typo … or a spellcheck burp for ‘expect’? … is what showed up in my reader. I did think it was funny, Freudian-like. I apologize for giving in to childishness.)

    I understand that you meant that social work is stressful, as indeed it is, calls for considerable self-sacrifice. I meant at one time I spent hundreds of dollars on 50-minute talk sessions with people with good academic training and certification from the state. Some were worth it; some were not. I think maybe the difference is whether the “therapist” was willing to let him/herself really care about me, and whether they had the Gift of human insight.

  • Lori

    There is a difference between a thing which is not entirely understood and a thing which violates what we understand. Questions about magnetism and a number of other things, fall into the former category. Most claims about psychic phenomena are the latter. That doesn’t change no matter how many times you capitalize the “g” in gift.

    I have never seen anything that lead me to believe that actual psychic powers exist. I don’t categorically deny the possibility, but I have yet to see it. What I have seen is quite a number of claims of psychic phenonina that could actually be explained by quite ordinary means. I’m open to that changing, but don’t expect it to.

    I think some people who claim to have Gifts are willfully lying. I think many others are simply unaware that they are unconsciously doing exactly what I was doing consciously—-obtaining information by picking up cues that most people overlook or can’t interpret accurately and then using that information to glean more information from the subject of the “reading”.

    Some therapists are good, some are not. I don’t think that says all that much about the value of psychic services.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    EvilKate discussed the concept of Intuitive Savants, which could go a long way to explaining how something that looks like ESP could simply be an extremely good ability to integrate together information normally glossed over or discarded in mental processing about another person.

  • Marshall

    Oh, “Intuitive Savants” sounds much more reasonable than “People with Psychic Powers”. Since we already understand everything, that must be it.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    It simply has a more obvious physico-psychological explanation that does not require invoking nonreproducible powers.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Certainly there is stuff about Magnetism that is not well understood.

    Oh, please don’t start with this crap.

    Maxwell’s Equations describe it on the macro-scale quite well, and as far as the quantum mechanical treatment goes, trust me when I say it’s been proven that quantum electrodynamics is more than up to the task.

  • caryjamesbond

    if “psychic powers” (and so on) exist, then they would be “within nature”. It seems to me that labeling phenomena, or apparent phenomena, as “supernatural” is often a way of avoiding thinking about it.

    Lots of people spend lots of time focused on psychic powers and the supernatural. Hell, Newton was more an alchemist than a scientist. The Amazing Randi has an entire organization that does nothing but go around testing peoples claims to psychic abilities. Psychology LOVES psychics, because they’re extremely good at demonstrating the power of the subconscious.

    Nature is what we can test, observe, and replicate. Science has numbers and statistics and double blind experiments and results that are significantly above the background noise of happenstance. Anything that doesn’t fall within those parameters is just…..woo. If it makes you happy, go woo all you like. But don’t pretend its because science is ignoring your special claims of specialness.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    An alternative explanation could come from the concept put forth by EvilKate, where she discusses “Intuitive Savants”.

    Such people could appear to exhibit ESP when in actual fact they are capable of integrating information about other people which an average person would mentally discard as unimportant.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Darn you, I was on the verge of saying something along these lines.

    I’m generally an agnostic in most matters. In a blog about a religion where a supernatural being snapped his fingers and made matter from nothing (not even transformation of energy!), where discussions of miracles happens every so often, psychic powers feel pretty tame by comparison. I discount neither, but neither am I convinced of either.

    I do, however, think that much of what is taught about the subconscious mind is supposition, including the idea that it exists and what we’ve anthropomorphized as a blend of rational and irrational thinking isn’t just neurotransmitters doing the hokey pokey in the synaptic cleft.

    But we know there’s something to the idea of an autonomous, poorly understood level of mental functioning because there are things the brain does for which we still have no adequate explanation. What governs dreams? What makes them happen? What decides what goes into their content? What causes mental disorders? We can’t cause them at will, nor cure them by pointing out where a person’s life went wrong or why it’s not all bad. Do they really even exist, or are they just neurotransmitters acting whacky because of some imperceptible flaw in a protein somewhere vital?

    At the very least, my belief is that the cognitive abilities attributed to various psionics (postcognition, precognition, thought reading) are the subconscious, for reasons we cannot guess, activating savant levels of cognitive processing and fitting together data that the conscious mind automatically filters out, then makes an intuitive leap. If this happens and draws a successful conclusion enough times, a person is liable to think they’re drawing upon something preternatural. If it happens and draws incorrect conclusions, the person learns to dismiss that irrational part of their mind that keeps insisting Miss Paisly, their kindergarten teacher, is secretly having an affair with at least two married men.

    There are other things I’m still trying to put into coherent words too. We know that various marine life (and platypodes and echidnas) have a sixth sense allowing them to detect electrical fields, possibly even as fine-tuned as to be capable of detecting the magnetic field of the Earth itself. A common experiment among kids when I was growing up was to hold their hands close together and see if they could feel the other person without actually touching them — there may be a connection between these ideas. What if a human were, at intervals, capable of making an intuitive leap about someone’s well-being based entirely on a part of their brain detecting a change in their electromagnetic field? How would one even articulate sensing such a thing without making a jump to psychic powers?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Not sure if documented, but ISTR that birds and some worms orient themselves using the Earth’s magnetic field.

  • hf

    There should be a rule against quoting this in a discussion of allegedly supernatural phenomena.


    My love for you does call me to avenge your death,

    but greater crimes have I heard told this night.

    If all those murdered go to Hell, and others as well,

    who would have confess’d had they the time,

    If people who are, in balance, good, suffer grisly

    at the hands of God, then I defy God’s plan.

    Good Ghost, as one who dwells beyond the veil,

    you know things that we mortals scarce conceive.

    Tell me: is there some philter or device,

    outside nature’s ken but not outside her means,

    by which death itself may be escap’d?


    You seek to evade Hell?


    I seek to deny Hell to everyone!

    and Heaven too, for I suspect the Heaven of our mad God

    might be a paltry thing, next to the Heaven I will make of

    when I am its immortal king.


    Done. When my brother is slain, he who poured the poison in my ear,

    then will I pour in yours the precious truth:

    the making of the Philosopher’s Stone. With this Stone, thou may’st procure

    a philter to render any man immune to death, and more transmute

    base metal to gold, to fund the provision of this philter to all mankind.


    Truly there is nothing beyond the dreaming of philosophy.


    The man whom I must kill-my uncle the king?


    Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast,

    With witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts-


    Indeed, he has such gifts I near despair,

    of killing him and yet succeeding to his throne.

    ’twill be an awesome fight for awesome stakes.

    Hast thou advice?

    A cock crows. Exit Ghost.

    -“A Will Most Incorrect to Heaven: The Tragedy of Prince Hamlet and the Philosopher’s Stone”

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Drives me nuts that they released it as “The Tragedy of Prince Hamlet and the Sorcerer’s Stone” over here.

  • http://hummingwolf.livejournal.com/ Hummingwolf

    I’ve gotten a few free readings, and one of the best was from someone who didn’t believe that card reading meant anything at all. Because they didn’t believe and didn’t expect anyone else involved to believe in what they were doing, and because they didn’t care about the traditional meanings of the various symbols, they felt free to engage in a very detailed and wildly imaginative interpretation of the cards. And their detailed metaphors turned out to be more useful to me than any of us had any right to expect.

  • dpolicar

    This is a very useful technique, incidentally, completely without reference to tarot cards or divination more generally. We often know a lot more than we are aware of knowing, and reframing a problem can often bring that knowledge to bear more effectively. I often find writing poetry useful in the same way.

  • Nick Gotts

    If, like me, you’re skeptical of the existence of psychic phenomena,
    what would it take to change your mind?

    Sufficient evidence! It’s impossible to say in advance exactly what would be needed. A series of well-controlled scientific trials of telepathy run by multiple independent teams including sceptics and professional conjurors and giving results that were not just statistically significant, but consistently of a reasonable magnitude, would be one possibility. Another would be a prophet appearing in the mass media with a detailed account of world events over the coming year, and being completely vindicated subsequently. Or a gang of mystical adepts of some kind successfully materializing an exact copy of the Great Pyramid of Giza beside the existing one.

    (This also raises a less-interesting, but apparently irresistible,
    question as to how I can be skeptical about X but, some would say, so
    enthusiastically credulous about Y. The short answer has to do with
    faith, hope and love, and with the extent to which the latter two
    provide a sufficient basis for the first one.)

    Less interesting, or less comfortable to contemplate? I don’t see how any amount of hope and love go any way at all to justifying credulity, even if you call it faith.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Exactly. How is the question less interesting? You believe in something without evidence, other people believe in other things without evidence. In both cases, proponents have had a great deal of time and opportunity to show evidence and establish bona fides. Perhaps it would behoove believers to find such questions a bit more interesting.

    I have plenty of hope and love in my life, but the two just don’t mesh together for the production of faith. Nor do I think they need to do so.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Family Research Council invokes Carl Sagan against marriage equality.

    Oh-ho-ho-ho, they did NOT just try to use portrayals of sexual dimorphism as an argument against marriage equality. (>_<)B Grrrr.

  • Carstonio

    It’s just a variant of the natural law argument, where individuals are somehow meant to copulate only with the other sex. Creationism watered down to seem philosophical and nonsectarian.

  • Fusina

    Yeah, well, consider where some of these clowns started. I already disliked Augustine quite thoroughly… I think I know how he is going to be spending eternity…


    Right, that’s it. I’m open for a new religion–or none at all. So long as people don’t mind me believing there is a god. But the patriarchal shit? Toss it out in the garbage where it belongs. Also, I don’t particularly care what other people believe, so long as they don’t try to make me believe it. I know what I believe, and in my belief system, it doesn’t matter. I believe that at the end of time or whatever, there will be a big party and everyone is invited. I’m calling it the Everyone’s Invited to the Big Party church.

  • Kenneth Raymond

    I’m open for a new religion–or none at all

    I’ve vaguely considered writing something around the “Church of the Protagonist,” whose guiding philosophy is based around the ideas that: 1) everyone is the protagonist in their own story, and 2) you are not automatically the protagonist when interacting with someone else’s story. The point is everyone has their personal narrative and sometimes you’re just a bit player to someone else, so try not to think of others as devices for your character growth since the inverse may just as well be true.

    After that, it’s about trying to get people to live like they are protagonists in a story, seizing the opportunity when presented to act and make the world a better place for others – wrapped up in some semi-mystical nonsense about protagonism coming upon them in those moments like some spirit or mantle of power. When two or more people find themselves at odds over effective ways to do good, they’re morally obligated to engage in a good faith search for which way is better, and failing to engage in good faith means you’re probably on the way to antagonism (which generally involves putting ideology above people).

    Obviously the Protagonists would have opinions about fiction, but I consider it a far better thing for congregants to be divided over than matters of human rights and equality.

    EDIT: minor edit for clarity

  • Fusina

    ‘K, I’m in. All I know is that I already didn’t particularly like Augustine, and those statements of his…Eurrgh. Also some conversations I’ve had with priests in a fairly liberal Episcopalian congregation–well, let’s just say they are okay with how things are structured now. I’m not advocating tearing the whole thing down, just most of it. In particular, the trappings etc… I guess I am a bit disgusted with the power plays and the gathering and hanging onto of power. Because in the end, we are all powerless–as in, We are going to die.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    That sounds pretty cool. Vaguely like the ideology of the Broken Heaven sect from my Transcend stories. It’s a sort of ‘far sci-fi’ setting. With the multiverse being, well, infinite, it’s basically impossible for any one person to have a notable effect on it.

    This is irrelevant. The multiverse is nothing more than a stage, it and all its cosmic events have no significance of its own. The only thing that matters is the story of each individual person. To generalize, the sect is dedicated to a philosophy of self-actualization, and recording as many people’s lives as they can. Which isn’t nearly all of them, but they certainly try…

  • Fusina

    Titles?? Net locations to read?? More info?? I would like to read this series.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    Eh, sorry, it’s just an idea. I might end up writing stuff at some point, but it’s hard to know when…

  • Fusina

    Now that is just mean. ;-) Get someone all excited about a novel and it doesn’t exist yet. I mean, I haven’t run out of books yet, but I like to keep a pretty full new TBR pile–nothing like knowing that you have a huge supply of books you get to read for the first time, along with the pile of well loved TBR books.

  • banancat

    I don’t think they drew wedding rings on those figures anyway. The could be siblings as easily as spouses. Or just two unrelated people.

  • tricksterson

    Or siblings and/ spouses. Which might be perfectly okay with an alien race. Which reminds me of one of Spider Robinson’s Callahan Stories where they meet a genocidal alien who was exiled from his race for being a pervert. One of the barfolk calls the alien a “shit-eating motherfucker” to which the alien replies, “Actually, it’s part of my perversion that I’m neither”.

  • Rckjones

    Here’s a favorite intellectual joke I heard, courtesy of Norm Sherman:

    “Metaphors are like similes.”

  • Lorehead

    Sagan once published a joke he’d heard about prudish aliens hurrying to cover up the obscene, pornographic depiction of those humans’ feet.

  • AnonaMiss

    Kind of hypocritical of him, since the plaque left out female genitalia.

  • Lorehead

    He admitted in the same book that that was a mistake. Indeed, that was the point of the joke.

  • AnonaMiss

    Thank you for letting me know – I feel better about Carl Sagan now.

  • general_apathy

    That most-intellectual-joke thread is brilliant. I’m sure someone’s mentioned this one already, but here’s my dad (a former logician)’s favourite joke:

    Three logicians walk into a bar. Bartender says, “Beer all round?”

    First logician says “I don’t know.”
    Second logician says “I don’t know.”
    Third logician says “Yes.”

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Now, the standard liberal line is that such a bifurcation of humanity is
    old hat, patriarchal, retrograde. As a candidate, Barack Obama said
    that marriage was between a man and a woman, “and God is in the mix.” As
    president, however, this most liberal of our leaders proclaimed that he
    has “evolved.”

    Most liberal, my foot.

    And anyway, nobody denies the existence of sexual dimorphism in humans or other animal species. And nobody denies that sexual dimorphism does result in physical differences that are immediately observable.

    What the “liberal line” does say is that sexual dimorphism does not equate to gender essentialism, or that it gives cis-heterosexual people any preferred place in human interactions or relationships.

    EDIT: Failtasticness in Canada regarding a transgender protection law.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino


    They now look to the U.S. Supreme Court to administer the final blow to marriage. The high court, after all, struck down bans on interracial marriage in a unanimous ruling in 1967. Speaking for the high court in Loving v. Virginia, Chief Justice Earl Warren said “Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival.”

    Does that guy realize he sounds like he thinks the ~sacredness of marriage~ should be limited to straight white people?

  • J_Enigma32

    Do remember, though: anyone to the left of Atilla the Hun is a liberal to these people.

  • Lori

    Even by that standard Obama is not even close to the “most liberal” leader we have now, let alone the most liberal we’ve every had.

  • J_Enigma32

    I call it the Obama Horizon.

    On the other side of the Obama Horizon, you find things like total morphological freedom, universal healthcare, government sponsored green energy programs, heavy (90%+) taxes on the 1%, government sponsored food programs that actually function, the treatment of heavy drug abuse as a social and health problem rather than a criminal act, a living wage rather than minimum wage, all sorts of “bad peaces” rather than good wars, unilateral nuclear disarmament, criticism of Israel and complements aimed a France, Scandinavian-style Socialism, legalized polygamy and total marriage equality, birth control handed out free in schools, functional and in depth sex ed focusing heavily on consent, and cats and dog sleeping together. Going beyond the Obama Horizon puts you into the part where the entire Wingnut perception of reality collapses and forms a singularity of liberalness. Once you hit the Obama Horizon, it becomes impossible for them to comprehend anyone could possibly be any more liberal and, more importantly, they run out of insults to use since they used them all on the last guy.

  • Lectorel

    Now if only it was that easy to move beyond the Obama Horizon in real life…

  • http://flickr.com/photos/sedary_raymaker/ Naked Bunny with a Whip

    OT, but I’m so tired of people calling elected officials “our leaders”.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    That’s the principle of democracy, though. We choose our own leaders.

  • D. Potter

    So…Mr. Morrison dislikes marriage equality because…someday aliens might get confused?

  • P J Evans

    Because we felt it was necessary to tell hypothetical aliens that we have two physical shapes?
    (Morrison seems to have more serious problems with understanding reality than I would have expected.)

  • http://flickr.com/photos/sedary_raymaker/ Naked Bunny with a Whip

    You can tell how rational their position is by the quality of their arguments.

  • Carstonio

    Just like the Proposition 8 attorneys, Morrison implies that homosexuality is a choice.

    And again with the “every child’s needs the love of a mother and father” with zero explanation of how same-sex marriage interferes with that.

  • Fusina

    My daughter saw a comment somewhere on the web that said something to the effect of, “Even if it is a choice, so what? Some people choose to be assholes, and we still let _them_ get married.”

  • Lectorel

    And frankly, no, every child does not need the love of a mother and father. Every child needs love, and whether that love comes from mothers, fathers, grandparents, foster parents, or other adults doesn’t particularly matter.

  • Carstonio

    Very, very true. Notice how people like Morrison conveniently doesn’t call for mandatory remarriage for widowed or divorced parents.

    I want to hear in their own words why they believe same-sex marriage threatens children who are being raised by mothers and fathers. So far, the least ridiculous reasoning I’ve heard is from Bishop Harry Jackson, who claims that legalization is discouraging straights from bothering to get married at all. Conveniently ignoring any other reasons opposite-sex marriage could be declining, such as women not needing husbands to support them, or fewer economic opportunities to give couples senses of stability. He says, “the looser we make the definition of marriage, the fewer people will feel bound to its obligations and constraints.” Revealing that he views marriage as onerous, as if the responsibilities involved were to society instead to one’s own
    spouse and children. Does he perhaps view fidelity as a sacrifice?

  • Lori

    Notice how people like Morrison conveniently doesn’t call for mandatory remarriage for widowed or divorced parents.

    This is an excellent point.

  • Wednesday

    Yes, this.

    A friend of mine is an adoptive single mom. Because of the daughter’s history prior to adoption, it’s actually better for her (in terms of her mental and emotional health) for her to live in a home with no men.

    So even if it were true that the majority of children “need” opposite-sex parents, there still exist children who are better off with a different family situation.

  • Lupus753

    Skeptics often argue that one thing pointing towards the non-existence of psychic phenomena is that none of these experiments were in a reputable, peer-reviewed journal. Then, in 2011, Daryl Bem’s paper about his experiments on extra-sensory perception was published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The JPSP is a very well-respected scientific journal, published by the American Psychological Association. [[http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/06/science/06esp.html?_r=4&hp=&pagewanted=all& Because the JPSP published these findings, some skeptics took this as a sign that the journal was no longer reputable.]]

    Afterwards, there was the expected back and forth between Bem and his critics. Some people held some experiments of their own, which failed to replicate Bem’s results. Bem said that these new experiments were flawed because they were held almost entirely online, with very little held in the controlled environments of laboratories. He also said they hid two results that replicated his findings, but I’ll have to look into that. Unfortunately, this is all I know, as I should have followed it more closely.

  • depizan

    Wait, if humans only come in pairs (one male and one female), doesn’t that mean everyone has to get married at birth (to someone of opposite genetalia) so as not to confuse the aliens? And instantly get remarried if one divorces or one’s spouse dies?

    Oh, and one can never be separated from one’s spouse or spend time with anyone else, even with one’s spouse present. Aft all, humans -only- come in pairs. Not really sure how this works for child rearing…. I guess we better get busy creating robot nannies. And, of course, most businesses would go out of business or have to change drastically.

    That is what Morrison’s advocating, right? Anything short of trying to reorganize human society into nothing but non-interacting opposite-genitaled pairs (so as not to confuse the aliens) would just be inconsistent.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    I think that you put way more thought into it.

    Though, hypothetically, aliens *might* think that. Though it’s really only likely if *they* are such a species (symbiotic pairs, maybe?)

  • Persia

    And of course they might use three or four genders for reproduction, but think that the male and female diagrams just meant those two symbiotes.

  • depizan

    Yeah, I’m not too worried about confused aliens. I was just trying to follow Morrison’s logic to it’s illogical conclusion.

    I mean, why stop at the same sex part if we’re trying not to confuse hypothetical aliens?

  • Jenny Islander

    I read a short story once in which the aliens are convinced that humans can’t love because we don’t show love. Love, for them, is always expressed through touch. The story features a human husband and wife who are obviously deeply in love and have a heartbreaking farewell when at least one of them must go to certain death and they can only exchange a look due to the circumstances. But the onlooking aliens go on believing that they are in a cold, hard, loveless world, because they spend all their time making out through their environment suits.

  • Space Marine Becka

    Pardon me but I’m about to publically tear my (metaphorical) hair out at the British government even though it’s unrelated to the post.

    Lord Freud, the guy who told a blind woman that he was not responsible for her lifestyle choice (of being blind) https://audioboo.fm/boos/1227615-blind-woman-says-she-fears-losing-her-home-because-of-the-so-called-bedroom-tax?utm_campaign=detailpage&utm_content=retweet&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter, now apparently thinks that the reason the number of people using foodbanks in the UK has tripled because “If you put more food banks in, that is the supply. Clearly food from a food bank is by definition a free good and there’s almost infinite demand.” Given that you have to be destitute to get a voucher to get food from a foodbank this means he thinks people are deliberately beggaring themselves so they can get a few tins of soup http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/shortcuts/2013/jul/03/lord-freud-poverty-food-banks?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487

    Argh, I’ve heard of being privileged but this is ridiculous… does he really think other people only have problems so they can spite him?

    *Incoherent rage noises*

    Oh, and top of tormenting unemployed people who can’t find a job now they want to torment part time workers as well? http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/dwp-plots-workfare-for-part-time-workers/

    *more incoherent rage noises*

    Okay, i feel better for venting. We now return you to your regularly scheduled comment thread.

  • Lori

    Lord Freud has a very limited understanding of “free’, among other things.

  • Matri

    He has a very limited understanding of “reality”, more like.

  • Hexep

    How do you get rid of your government in the UK? Do you have to wait for regular elections, or is there a way to do it in between?

  • Space Marine Becka

    We’ll have to wait for the 2015 elections. :-/

    Though I do hope that if people get furious enough they’ll have the sense to call an early election.


    Yeah, not holding my breath on that.

  • Hexep

    It’s been done before, hasn’t it? Oliver Cromwell didn’t hold his breath, either.

  • Space Marine Becka

    Well, yes we could make like Egypt, I suppose, if people get furious enough. At the moment too many people have bought into the strivers versus skivers mentality because it’s beng pushed everywhere.

    But even if they did I don’t think a coup or civil war would be a good plan (though if things start to look like getting as bad as they are in Greece that would be different http://act.watchdog.net/petitions/3322?share_ref=orXI3lI0XKM )

  • Hexep

    I believe in you personally, Becka. It may take decades – you may live a long life and die naturally at its end and still not see it through – but I believe that if you set yourself to making this change happen, then it will ultimately come to pass, and it will come to pass because of your doings.

    I base this belief on the fact that by all indications, you are at least a normally-competent person, and that I believe that a normally-competent person – in short, a lesser person than the person you most likely are – can, over time, accomplish anything.

    There is no human social reality that cannot be changed by sufficient application over time of charisma, dedication, and ruthlessness. This is my belief.

  • Space Marine Becka

    Thank you :-)

  • Space Marine Becka

    Back again with less rage inducing news because I know some other UK peeps hang out here.

    Labour have forced a parliamentary debate on Wednesday 10th July to demand a culmulative impact assessment on Welfare Reform. http://liambyrne.co.uk/?p=4534

    For information on why we need one see here http://diaryofabenefitscrounger.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/what-is-overall-impact-of-cuts-to.html

    Then if you live in the UK please contact your MP with the evidence and ask him to vote for the assessment. You can look them up and mail them for free via the http://www.writetothem.com/ website.

    Also please signal boost this everywhere we need to reach as many UK peeps as possible because we don’t have much time.


  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    In the British Parliamentary tradition, there can be a vote of no confidence, which would, if it musters the votes, cause the government to come crashing down and a new election would have to be called.

    But for that to happen the majority party would need to agree, and there’s almost nil chance of that unless enough MPs agree to break ranks and go along with it.

  • Space Marine Becka

    It could happen if the LibDems grow a spine and break the coalition

  • Space Marine Becka
  • dpolicar

    If, like me, you’re skeptical of the existence of psychic phenomena, what would it take to change your mind?

    Well, the short answer is a demonstration such that “this is a well-constructed fake” was less likely than “I’ve been wrong all this time”. That’s a pretty damned high bar, though.

    Of course, a lot depends on what “psychic phenomena” means. For example, I’m pretty skeptical that someone could ask me to come up with a list of five random numbers without writing them down anywhere, and then recite that list to me. But if someone did that, I would change my mind and conclude that this really is something people can do.

    Is that a psychic phenomenon? I’m not sure, and I’m not sure why it matters.

  • Space Marine Becka

    TBH there’s a way to do that for most people because if asked a free response question most people will give the same answers (yes even for things like random numbers… the human brain is not a good random number generator). I’ve seen it demonstrated and it’s incredibly spooky even when you know it’s just psychology.

  • dpolicar

    Yes, I know; that’s why I picked the example I did.

    And I understand that for many people, the mechanism question (is it “just psychology” or not?) is more important than the functional question (can they get the numbers right or not?), and that’s fine… people are entitled to care about what they happen to care about.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The usual rejoinder I’ve heard is that any decent clairvoyant or psychic would go and hit the poker tables for a good haul.

    Failing that, have an almost-certain win at the Powerball or equivalent.

  • dpolicar

    Yes, someone who could demonstrate the skill I described but was unable to clean up at poker would be puzzling.

  • Lori

    They explain this away by saying that the Gift can’t be used for that kind of personal gain. Because apparently the Gift itself is able to read intentions and shut off if it’s being used improperly. Selling readings doesn’t cause it to shut down, but trying to get the Lotto numbers or a little supernatural look at the other guys’ cards does. Because reasons.

  • David_Evans

    If someone could consistently, from a location on another continent, phone me and say, before I speak, “You are reading page X of book Y” or “I see you have a blue coffee mug on your desk. I will now move it one inch to the side” and do it again and again,

    that would after a while start to convince me. Usual precautions – book and desk out of sight of windows, etc.

  • dpolicar

    For my own part, I don’t think I could be convinced they had that ability by any amount of that sort of thing; I suspect the “am looking at a surveillance camera” explanation would always be more plausible than the “am aware of the surface of your desk without seeing it” explanation.

  • David_Evans

    If it happened I would of course start tightening the conditions. Screens around the desk etc. The advantage over just guessing the number I’m thinking of is that it could be documented.

  • LoneWolf343

    The claim for #1 isn’t even true. There is a slight bias in favor of women in population (last I checked, which was a while ago, it was like 8:7,) so, no, humanity isn’t neatly divided between male and female.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Sure, but to a first approximation saying half-and-half isn’t out-to-lunch wrong.

  • LoneWolf343

    Sure, it is approximate, but also means that about 470m women on the planet don’t have a “paired male,” unlike what Morrison is implying.

  • LoneWolf343

    Also, to think that Dolan was nearly Pope. Maybe he would have taken the name Peter II.

  • Carstonio

    I’m skeptical that his chances were anything more than media speculation.

  • LoneWolf343

    I confess that I kind of wanted Dolan to get the nod, because the internet would have had a field day with it, but that was before Francis has restored a minute uneasy faith in the Papacy in me.

  • tricksterson

    1: So, Mr. Morrison thinks that everyone should shave their pubes (the plaque shows both the man and the woman as hairless down there)? And apparently the woman’s vagina needs to be sealed up because it’s not visible on the plaque.
    7: Ms. Turner, may I extend a plea for you to run for Congress? They really need someone with your intelligence and with down there.