Re: some U.S. observations and notes

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Mon Dec 17 2001 - 04:15:40 MST

On Mon, 17 Dec 2001, J. R. Molloy wrote:

> That's a good analysis, IMO. "Spirituality" is just another dishonest and
> cowardly euphemism to hide superstitious nonsense. It's a surreptitious
> attempt to oppose science.

No. Eliezer has it right. Attempt to "define" spirituality in such
terms that one can think about it and potentially subject it to study.
Never fail to remember that our current "picture" of reality in terms
of physical laws is grossly insufficient. So long as it remains that
way we should be open-minded about looking at all of the bets on the
table. I mean really! Physical constants changing over time?
Violations of laws of conservation? No "causality" for why this
universe came to be and how we came to exist in it? A terribly
bleek outcome for the universe unless intelligence intervenes?
Etc. etc.

I'd list "spirituality" as 7 out of 10 on my list of things that
serious extropians should be "concerned" about. It could well
be an "emergent" property of complex minds. It could also be
an artifact (or design feature) of a simulation in which we might
be running. It could also be nothing more than an emotional
gestalt of an experience of "security" and/or "perfection".

Take a look at the recent Dutch study of Near-Death Experiances.
They took a "non-scientific" observation and subjected it to
scientific analysis. What did they conclude? That ~10% of
subjects experienced something. Does that make me "belive"
in the conclusions of NDE "witnesses"? No. Does that make
me want to understand the physiology of their brains and/or
the genetic background of such individuals? Yes!
I don't want to deny their experiences, I want to know
why their experiences are "different"!

I can put NDEs, spirituality and Aperger's Syndrome all in
the same boat -- phenomena with are experienced by specific
individuals which may have genetic or experiential causation
components. Denying them is useless. Explaining or studying
their causes is potentially useful.


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