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Ch. 1: The Case for Good Thinking ("Good Thinking" - by Guy P. Harrison) 
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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Case for Good Thinking ("Good Thinking" - by Guy P. Harrison)
DWill wrote:
Astrology left a legacy to astronomy in the form of accurate observations of the planets and stars. Alchemy was a forerunner of chemistry. But in each case, what was scientifically valid was exhausted. Because for so many centuries astrology was a ruling practice, there is an effort by some not to let a grand esoteric tradition die. So we see attempts to prove a kernel of truth amid many beliefs that are conceded to be unreal.

DWill, your assertion that “what was scientifically valid was exhausted” is completely untrue, and masks the religious dimension of the modern scientific faith in evidence alone for which Harrison is such an acolyte.

The religious dimension in this debate was identified by Kepler, the great astronomer at the cusp of modernity who discovered the elliptical shape of planetary orbits, when Kepler said that studies of past wisdom should be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, in the first known use of this famous phrase.

Astrology assumes there is a complex mysterious relationship between the other planets of the solar system and regular patterns of life on earth, due to their all being part of a larger harmonic system. Expressed in those terms the hypothesis is a necessary truth, but efforts to validate it have failed, indicating that the strength of this overall system harmonic is swamped by immediate terrestrial factors.

Nonetheless the systemic patterns exist as a signature of time, and the astrological argument is that keying into these patterns enables us to better understand our real identity. This opinion is anathematised as fatalistic and magical by the modern cult of evidence.

To further explain why I am focussing on this aspect of Harrison’s opinions about thinking, I should explain that the example of astrology illustrates the tension between modern philosophical traditions in Europe and the USA. While astrology is anathema and taboo across the entire world university system, I find it interesting that its relational theory of human identity finds an echo in European existential philosophical traditions.

In particular, Martin Heidegger, paradoxically celebrated and reviled as the greatest and worst philosopher of the last century, held as his core axiom that care is the meaning of being. This means that human identity is inherently relational, that meaning emerges from social values, and that our concept of world is primarily a social construction rather than an objective collection of empirical facts.

In all these opinions Heidegger indicated something of a throwback to Kepler’s sympathy for older worldviews, even while the broad cultural loathing towards astrology meant that Heidegger did not investigate the astronomical roots of his relational paradigm. However, a primary theme in Heidegger’s epistemology is the deconstruction of the dominant scientific Cartesian theory of human identity as an isolated subject who relates to the world by measuring facts. Rather, Heidegger had a sense that our values, our sense of care and concern, are ultimately grounded in who we are as relational beings, and that this social sense of being with others is a necessary theme in philosophy.

My interest in Heidegger in my MA Honours Thesis on The Place of Ethics in Heidegger’s Ontology was actually prompted by my undergraduate interest in the relation between astrology and science, in terms of Heidegger’s foundational theme of relational epistemology as a core to analysing human spirituality. In exploring these themes I gradually came to understand the furious hostility towards relational epistemology which a book such as Harrison’s exhibits.

The debate between religion and science which Harrison promotes requires cultural understanding of these traditions. Understanding is hindered by the simple polemics and straw man arguments which many supporters of science use to denigrate religious worship and faith. Understanding can actually be advanced by recognising that older cultural traditions that are overtly irrational on the surface may contain a deeper kernel of truth within the dross.


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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Case for Good Thinking ("Good Thinking" - by Guy P. Harrison)
Unless I start reading this book, I'm going to have to shut my mouth and not butt in. Never did I say anything about faith views being bad or inferior. And if people find astrology to be enriching to their social understanding through its metaphorical constructs, great. By our time, though, we have developed a good ability to separate faith from science. This doesn't mean that the two need to be mutually exclusivein our lives. For some of us faith is faint, but for others faith and science coexist.



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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Case for Good Thinking ("Good Thinking" - by Guy P. Harrison)
Faith and Science does coexist, when one puts in the effort to delve in and find the answers.
The Bible is full of science!

The Richest man in America is based on the science of the Bible! Find that man and you will find the Biblical account that gained him riches untold.



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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Case for Good Thinking ("Good Thinking" - by Guy P. Harrison)
brother bob wrote:
Faith and Science does coexist, when one puts in the effort to delve in and find the answers.

Roughly speaking, yes. I think I have mentioned that there were numerous CERN workers at my most recent church in Geneva. They did not have to work hard to reconcile the two.
brother bob wrote:
The Bible is full of science!

No, it really, really isn't. The Bible uses the imagery of how nature was understood at the time, but that understanding was so poor that the Bible appears to run counter to science. If you insist on literalism, with firmaments and recent creation, then the Bible is anti-science.



Fri Oct 23, 2015 4:18 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Case for Good Thinking ("Good Thinking" - by Guy P. Harrison)
DWill wrote:
Unless I start reading this book, I'm going to have to shut my mouth and not butt in. Never did I say anything about faith views being bad or inferior. And if people find astrology to be enriching to their social understanding through its metaphorical constructs, great. By our time, though, we have developed a good ability to separate faith from science. This doesn't mean that the two need to be mutually exclusivein our lives. For some of us faith is faint, but for others faith and science coexist.

I did not imply that you said anything about faith views being bad or inferior. However, this is a main theme of Harrison's argument, that when people accept ideas on faith they are engaged in bad thinking.

My interest in this regard is to explore the extent to which modern rational views conceal a covert faith element. For example it is really touching to see Harrison state that archaeologists have proved how ancient Egyptians built the great pyramids, as an expression of his faith that they could not have involved aliens. In fact, archaeologists have proved nothing about how the pyramids were built, which remains among the most controversial mysteries of our planet.

The issue here is that talk of aliens is so discomforting and conjures up such a range of speculative fantasy that it becomes easier to go to the other extreme. Instead of a proper scientific agnosticism, Harrison makes the building of the pyramids a matter of religious faith, saying the fact that our ancestors could build such magnificent monuments is a great testament to human abilities. Despite a complete absence of evidence for this strong claim, and the convenient ignoring of the myriad problems of his dubious hypothesis, Harrison casts into the outer darkness any pariah who would challenge such bien pensant thinking.

Astrology is similar. Contrary to DWill's claim that "By our time we have developed a good ability to separate faith from science", there is a dominant secular humanist rational faith which defines social meaning through exclusion of unacceptable traditions such as astrology. If Harrison really wants to avoid hypocrisy in his claims to be a good thinker, he should be more careful to avoid polemical rejection of things he doesn't understand.

Even science has its fashionable prejudices which are broadly accepted on faith. Harrison sets the political division of the world into the modern correct rational camp and the traditional false religious camp. This means that he is happy to imply that progress constitutes advancing the interests of the good camp and mocking the stupidity and venality of the bad camp. Good thinking is not so simple.


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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Case for Good Thinking ("Good Thinking" - by Guy P. Harrison)
Brother Bob wrote:
Faulty thinking interbane, I would always choose KNOWLEDGE and INTELLIGENCE over a "good thinker."

I would also claim that if one has true KNOWLEDGE and INTELLIGENCE they are a good thinker.


Brother Bob challenges Harrison's premise in this chapter. I'll browse through the chapter to see specific quote so it's relevant, rather than using my own thoughts, which only seem to polarize. If anyone else can do this with a kindle, feel free.


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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Case for Good Thinking ("Good Thinking" - by Guy P. Harrison)
Interbane wrote:
Brother Bob wrote:
Faulty thinking interbane, I would always choose KNOWLEDGE and INTELLIGENCE over a "good thinker."

I would also claim that if one has true KNOWLEDGE and INTELLIGENCE they are a good thinker.


Brother Bob challenges Harrison's premise in this chapter. I'll browse through the chapter to see specific quote so it's relevant, rather than using my own thoughts, which only seem to polarize. If anyone else can do this with a kindle, feel free.


It seems to me that many of these concepts of critical thinking are accessible in other ways besides the language of science and much of it is common sense as well. The subject of critical thinking is something that many of us are drawn to precisely because it's already intuitive and interesting to us. How does Harrison or his publisher reach out and sell this book to those who aren't already interested in the subject of critical thinking?


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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Case for Good Thinking ("Good Thinking" - by Guy P. Harrison)
DWill wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
Observation of an effect leads science to investigate its possible cause. A basic method of empirical medicine is to infer causes of disease from data on their occurrence at population level.

Is it possible that this comment is the key to understanding why science appears to have little interest in further study of astrology?
Indeed it is, since astrology fails to apply this scientific method which has delivered such results in medicine, but is aligned to the “alternative healing” movement of quacks and charlatans who defraud the public with false and imaginary claims based on no evidence. Harrison has an excellent expose of the fraudulent methods of purveyors of health products which do not deliver their promised effects. On the whole, astrology is similar, based on personal hunches rather than systematic analysis.
DWill wrote:
If there is an observation of an effect, then yes, that may lead people to ask why and perhaps to study it scientifically. But what exactly would be the observations of effect in regard to astrology that have been made? I'm just asking for information here.
My interest here, as a possible contribution to good thinking, is to conduct precisely such epidemiological tests of astrological claims. I personally like the astrology of transits, the claim that when a planet reaches a point in the sky that is a whole hour fraction on the clock face (equal, sixth, fourth, third, half) away from where a planet was at your birth, that event has a consistent and predictable meaning across populations. The broadly accepted views among astrologers on these transits are detailed in a book Planets in Transit by Robert Hand, and more briefly in websites such as https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astrological_transit
DWill wrote:
There are many claimed phenomena that have not been studied, but unless there is a particular spur to do so, finite resources--time and money--will dictate that they all can't be examined. Possible case in point: Investigation of reincarnation or past lives occurs at at least one university, the University of Virginia. No doubt the spur to this research has been stories that children tell that lead some to wonder how they could possibly report on some matters that predated their birth. That is at least a direct reason for taking up a study, as skeptical as we might be that these kids really have recycled memories.

Does astrology have anything comparable to motivate serious inquiry? Anything besides the intense interest or intuitions of smart people like R. Tulip?

The claimed transit effect is a falsifiable scientific hypothesis, but to my knowledge there has been no systematic research into it. Obtaining large scale population data of birth and death dates would be an easy way to test the hypothesis, by seeing if death occurs under any transits more frequently than chance. Astrology predicts for example that transits involving Mars and Uranus lead to accidents, a claim which if true would produce a measurable effect in emergency department statistics in hospitals, which routinely collect and record patient’s date of birth. Such data would be aggregated and depersonalised in an epidemiology study. If there is a small real medical effect, akin to the speculated effect of some foods on cancer, there is good reason to investigate it scientifically. A nil result would be a useful contribution to good thinking and social awareness of the magical status of these widely held beliefs, like testing by the Food and Drug Administration of product efficacy and safety.


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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Case for Good Thinking ("Good Thinking" - by Guy P. Harrison)
Robert Tulip wrote:
post151570.html#p151570
I would like to see large scale statistical tests of whether Mercury passing between the earth and the sun correlates to communication problems


http://www.thekeplerconference.com/merc ... e-research
"Statistically significant difference (up to 2.14%) in the incidence of word spelling errors between Mercury Retrograde and Non-Mercury Retrograde entries." This is an important new scientific finding, drawing on the ability of the internet to mine data on mass scale..
This Mercury retrograde study is precisely the research method I have called for recently as a large scale way to conduct empirical testing of core astrological claims. It delivers exactly what I expected, a strong statistical correlation. I would be happy to conduct further excel analysis of the data


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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Case for Good Thinking ("Good Thinking" - by Guy P. Harrison)
Thanks for the link Robert. At the bottom there is a quick bio of Renay Oshop. She had a prodigious start to her career, then in her twenties changed course to devote her life to astrology. This is a perfect example of how bad thinking is harmful, and how bad thinking can infect highly intelligent people.

Quote:
Renay Oshop
was accepted to MIT, Oxford, and Harvard at age 15 and accepted a faculty position at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center at age 21 to specialize in early bioinformatics.

She subsequently attended Dr. Vasant Lad's Ayurvedic Institute, a kind of Hogswart's, and embarked on an international 18 years-and-counting journey to study Jyotisha

Now, she teaches, does private readings, and focuses on advanced studies and scientific research of Jyotisha.


Quote:
Renay found a similar result in this second study; a statistically significant increase in the use of non-dictionary words during the Mercury Retrograde period of up to 2.19% more than during the Mercury Direct period.


Which dictionary? Is slang "improper" communication? There are likely many other questions, this would need some sort of peer review. In my opinion, it's not any different than peer reviewing sightings of bigfoot. But I've been wrong before.


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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Case for Good Thinking ("Good Thinking" - by Guy P. Harrison)
Interbane, you imply that "Ayurvedic = Bad Thinking" solely on the basis of your prior opinion, and without any evidence of bad thinking on the part of Renay Oshop. I have no knowledge of her work beyond this link, but it looks to me that the bad thinking in this instance is not from her. Renay states that the source of the dictionary is referenced at the end of the article, as well as full access to the program she developed for it.

http://www.ayurastro.com/articles/and-i ... eaner-data presents the following extraordinary data analysis, showing that usage of non-dictionary words in Amazon reviews (primarily misspellings) peaks during Mercury retrograde against a sine wave function. This claim demands proper scientific investigation.

Image


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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Case for Good Thinking ("Good Thinking" - by Guy P. Harrison)
Robert Tulip wrote:
Interbane, you imply that "Ayurvedic = Bad Thinking" solely on the basis of your prior opinion


Perhaps my opinion is that Ayurvedic = Bad Thinking, but this doesn't mean my opinion is whimsical. If you go by anecdote, ayurvedic works. If you go by scientific evidence, it's negative across the board. Holding onto a belief in spite of scientific evidence is bad thinking. Wishful thinking.

Quote:
This claim demands proper scientific investigation.


It warrants a peer review perhaps.

Yet I suspect this is an example of precisely what I mentioned in an earlier post. How much time will other scientists spend peer reviewing or following up on this study? How much time has Oshop spent studying this?


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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Case for Good Thinking ("Good Thinking" - by Guy P. Harrison)
Interbane wrote:
Perhaps my opinion is that Ayurvedic = Bad Thinking, but this doesn't mean my opinion is whimsical.
In terms of relevance to this thread, it definitely does mean that your opinion is an ad hominem fallacy, and therefore an example of bad thinking. The fact that this researcher may or may not accept some dubious folk traditions is not relevant to the statistical significance of the empirical findings.
Interbane wrote:
If you go by anecdote, ayurvedic works. If you go by scientific evidence, it's negative across the board. Holding onto a belief in spite of scientific evidence is bad thinking. Wishful thinking.
The claim regarding spelling mistakes and Mercury is not based on Ayurvedic medicine or anecdote, but on a claimed rigorous statistical analysis. The peer review question should be about the rigor of this analysis.
Interbane wrote:
How much time will other scientists spend peer reviewing or following up on this study? How much time has Oshop spent studying this?

It is an important and simple scientific hypothesis. Reviewing it would not take much time or difficulty at all if the methods are sound. Those who would find themselves too busy to examine the details are just a pack of scaredy-cats whose real worry is that their reputation would be damaged if they let the protection of the ignorant mass of believers.

This actually raises an important point that Harrison makes later in his book, where he discusses considering systems as a whole. I will find the quote and share it.


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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Case for Good Thinking ("Good Thinking" - by Guy P. Harrison)
Robert Tulip wrote:
The fact that this researcher may or may not accept some dubious folk traditions is not relevant to the statistical significance of the empirical findings.


:?:

I didn't mention her bio to attack her findings. I mention it because it's an excellent example of what the book "Good Thinking" is about. The time she wastes on dubious folk traditions is relevant to chapter 1.

Robert Tulip wrote:
The claim regarding spelling mistakes and Mercury is not based on Ayurvedic medicine or anecdote, but on a claimed rigorous statistical analysis. The peer review question should be about the rigor of this analysis.


I understand we're juggling two subjects here. But they are both equally dubious.

Quote:
It is an important and simple scientific hypothesis. Reviewing it would not take much time or difficulty at all if the methods are sound. Those who would find themselves too busy to examine the details are just a pack of scaredy-cats whose real worry is that their reputation would be damaged if they let the protection of the ignorant mass of believers.


It is a hypothesis that Mercury, the messenger god, manipulates Earthly communications by the motion of his namesake heavenly body? This is quack.

As far as peer review, I think it should be done. But it should be done in the same way that we peer review the influence of sugar pills on depression. The subjects believe the cause is one thing, but the true mechanism is placebo. Placebo is worth studying. It is powerful, and a part of the way we work.

Are you suggesting there is another mechanism at work besides placebo? Can you even conjecture here? Even remotely? I know you don't believe the god Mercury is responsible, which is the source of this myth. So why pursue it?

By placebo, I mean that there is an effect because people believe there is an effect.


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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Case for Good Thinking ("Good Thinking" - by Guy P. Harrison)
Interbane wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
The fact that this researcher may or may not accept some dubious folk traditions is not relevant to the statistical significance of the empirical findings.
:?: I didn't mention her bio to attack her findings. I mention it because it's an excellent example of what the book "Good Thinking" is about. The time she wastes on dubious folk traditions is relevant to chapter 1.
Wow Interbane, that really is bad thinking on your part. I introduced this discussion of astrology to illustrate how Harrison fails in his own standards of good thinking when it comes to the analysis of subjects that he does not understand. He argues to the effect that because some astrologers are wrong, therefore all are. That is a basic logical fallacy. And now, after extensive discussion of that problem in logic, you make the same blunder, and try to divert the discussion to a different topic. The likely falseness of some Ayurvedic beliefs is not relevant to why we are discussing Renay Oshop, which is that she has presented a novel scientific claim based on objective analysis of data, against which all your talk about Ayurvedic errors is a giant red herring. Her claim, which refutes Harrison's assumption and yours, stands and falls on evidence, not on whether some other ideas are true or false.
Interbane wrote:
we're juggling two subjects here.
No, it is not juggling. I introduced one subject, relevant to the thread, and you introduced another one that is irrelevant. The simple juggle here is to address the relevant point and stop talking about the irrelevant point. Pick up and put down is an easy juggling technique.
Interbane wrote:
But they are both equally dubious.
No, ayurvedic medicine is far more dubious than the claim that statistical evidence from objective data may support a scientific hypothesis. I know you like to be like the Pope mocking Galileo for looking through a tube when it comes to heresies against scientific myths, but we are not in fact talking about two equally dubious propositions, even if you try to use the fallacy of argument from incredulity.
Interbane wrote:
It is a hypothesis that Mercury, the messenger god, manipulates Earthly communications by the motion of his namesake heavenly body? This is quack.
No, it is a hypothesis that data presents a statistically significant anomaly which can be tested and replicated by anyone using the scientific method.
Interbane wrote:
Are you suggesting there is another mechanism at work besides placebo? Can you even conjecture here? Even remotely? I know you don't believe the god Mercury is responsible, which is the source of this myth. So why pursue it?
My view on how it is possible is based on scientific understanding the solar system as the environmental niche of the evolution of life on earth. I will explain this in more detail in the thread on Chapter Three of Critical Thinking, where Harrison provides a key comment explaining how it is possible.


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