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Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

With no afterlife how would you logically know you had died?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26783points) September 4th, 2010

If there was no afterlife how would you know you were dead? If the moment you died you just faded into oblivion or jetted off to the great white zephrum you would not know you were dead. You would see the Mack truck skidding towards you and thinking you have to get out of its way or you’d be killed, but once it smacks you turning your vehicle into a coaster with wheels you won’t know it, you are dead already. Same as if you were on a roller coaster and a freak accident happens where the harness breaks and you and sever others are launched from the car like Roman candles, you will know you were flying 30ft above the ground, you might even have time to think of how you can land and where, then you will see the ground or whatever was in front of you close rapidly then nothing. Even if you survived the hit and was laying there like a puzzle with many missing pieces dying why would you fret it? Your breathing might get more labored, your body may go numb and cold but the moment your heart stops and your brain shuts down that particular moment you will not even know because once it happens you exist no more. And if you exist no more how would you know you had died logically?

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78 Answers

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

You wouldn’t.

CaptainHarley's avatar

The human mind has a real problem dealing with the issue of its own nonexistence.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

You wouldn’t know, because you would exist to be capable of knowing. No one gets to see a highlights reel of their life, and no one gets to look back at how they died and think “if only I….”, it just ends when it ends.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh

Sure about that, are ya? : )

ucme's avatar

You’d more than likely know if you “woke up” here

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@CaptainHarley Quite. Its a nice thought, but unfortunately I don’t think it reflects reality.

Jabe73's avatar

Very simple, with no afterlife you would only be aware of your last moment of consciousness before oblivion. There would be nothing beyond this for that person, not even darkness but just oblivion.

Austinlad's avatar

Neither the most imaginative speculation nor the most learned opinions of religious, scientific philosophical or literary minds can ever produce a definitive answer to this question. At best, we can never know what it’s like to die until death, and even then, because I don’t believe in afterlife, we won’t know we’re dead any more than we know we’re dreamlessly sleeping.

Next question…

BarnacleBill's avatar

When I was hit by a car, I woke up in the hospital with no memory of being hit. I could remember the car coming at me, but not the impact I would imagine it being like that, except you don’t wake up to know that you don’t have the memory.

chyna's avatar

I would think it would be just like going to sleep, nothingness and no awareness.

janbb's avatar

That’s the great thing about being dead, I think.

BoBo1946's avatar

I cannot fathom that being true. But, if it was, you wouldn’t know anything.

majorrich's avatar

out go the lights.

Jabe73's avatar

@BoBo1946 Don’t worry it’s not I can assure you.

CaptainHarley's avatar

I believe that to a very significant degree, we create our own “heaven” or “hell.” What we expect is what we create… and what we get.

Jabe73's avatar

@CaptainHarley Yes! Finally someone that agrees with me (I think). I believe the mind has alot of power over what you will experience in spirit.

HungryGuy's avatar

If there’s no afterlife, then when you die your brain simply stops. So you’ll never know that you died.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I agree that if there isn’t anything after this, then we would just stop existing. We wouldn’t have any memories or anything further to experience. I really hope there’s something after this though.

gondwanalon's avatar

What it was like before you were born? For me it was sweet black eternal nothingness. I hypothesize that that is were I’ll go when I die. I didn’t do any thinking before I was born so that I will not be doing any thinking when I’m dead.

In order to realize that you are dead you must be able to think. Therefore you will not be able to know that you dead or even be able to enjoy the sweet black eternal nothingness.

Seek's avatar

The closest I’ve ever come to dying was an episode where I was bleeding uncontrollably for a long time.

All I remember was cold and pain. I have no cognizant memory of what was going on in the room. My brain had stopped processing most of my senses – vision, hearing… I know I was cold and it hurt. I know I felt like I was begging whoever was in the room to make me warm again and to stop the pain, but I don’t know if I actually said anything.

I can’t imagine that at some point immediately before losing the last drop of blood my brain would turn its screen back on in order to play a “Breaking News: You’re Dead!” story.

Coloma's avatar

The kingdom of heaven is within.

Yes, as @CaptainHarley says, the human mind has a hard time contemplating it’s non-existence.

I still stand by that we know no-thing for certain.

I have had some pretty amazing ‘spiritual’ awakenngs and expereinces over the years, but, until death do us part, it’s still all speculation.

If reincarnation is real, we would not be aware of our death but neither would we be aware of our re-birth. Or the birth we have already expereinced that has brought us to this here & now.

It’s possible that we do create our own realities and that we can create our death experience as well.

Some schools of philosophy say that the mindset we have at death will be the determining factor in what we experience. If you don’t believe in an afterlife or reincarnation you won’t have one, you will get what you believe in or don’t believe in.

IMO, experiencing some really amazing synchronicities over the years, unexplainable turns of events that I can only attribute to some sort of cosmic intervention, waaay beyond mere coincidence, I tend to think that if we do, infact, create our own realities while living, we may also create our own reality upon death.

Austinlad's avatar

One good thing about being dead is that you don’t have to think about dying anymore.

faye's avatar

Nor would you care.

Fyrius's avatar

@Austinlad
“Neither the most imaginative speculation nor the most learned opinions of religious, scientific philosophical or literary minds can ever produce a definitive answer to this question. At best, we can never know what it’s like to die until death (...)”
I disagree.
Notwithstanding that complete certainty is a bar too high for any answer to attain, it seems to me that this question has a clear-cut answer about which no reasonable doubt needs to exist, where once again it’s only the biasing of ancient memes that muddies up the waters.

This is a classical case of the fallacy of privileging the hypothesis. The afterlife notion is at best a random guess that is no more credible than an infinite number of other possible random guesses, but it happens to get our attention just because people have been believing it for a long time. And only for that irrelevant reason, people not only pay it undue attention, but give it the benefit of doubt, even elevating it to the level of a serious competitor to ideas that do follow logically from established knowledge.

If this wishful fantasy wouldn’t already be so widely known and widely taken seriously to begin with, a reasonable person who wants to know the truth would never even come up with the idea that a person can continue experiencing things after the hardware has stopped working. And if you’d mention it to them they’d rightly scratch their heads and ask you where you got such a bizarre idea.

Coloma's avatar

@Fyrius

How do you explain the massive amounts of ghostly sightings and encounters that so many have witnessed?

There are far too many ‘supernatural’ encounters documented to claim everyone that has had these expereinces are fruitcakes.

Bottom line…we know NOTHING for certain.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@CaptainHarley I believe that to a very significant degree, we create our own “heaven” or “hell.” What we expect is what we create… and what we get. To be able to create your own Heaven or Hell would be a de facto afterlife, because your mind would have to live on beyond your flesh, blood and bone, and would that not be your soul? Somewhere Vlad the Impaler is in a Heaven of his own creation where he gets to impale 100s, to 1,000s of something that appears to be alive so he can take joy in the screams and alleged suffering?

@chyna I would think it would be just like going to sleep, nothingness and no awareness. You don’t really know you are dreaming until you wake up, even if you were in a dream that seemed very real you would not see it exposed as a dream until you wake up like Neo taking the red pill over the blue.

@BarnacleBill When I was hit by a car, I woke up in the hospital with no memory of being hit. I could remember the car coming at me, but not the impact….. Precisely, had you died you never would have known what happened. You only knew what happened because you regained consciousness. If there is not afterlife you would have seen the other vehicle coming at you then end of story, lights out, game over, everyone drive home safely.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I see self-awareness as a property of a mature and fully functioning nervous system.
If, for the purpose of the question, one assumes that after death there is no kind of alternate kind of awareness such as those posited by various religious beliefs, then at death sentience ends and there would be nothing left to experience the lack of experience.

Fyrius's avatar

@Coloma
“How do you explain the massive amounts of ghostly sightings and encounters that so many have witnessed?
There are far too many ‘supernatural’ encounters documented to claim everyone that has had these expereinces are fruitcakes.”

There are two reasonable explanations to this.
– The first reasonable explanation is that these people really are, as you say, “fruitcakes”. This is not unlikely at all. Rational thought is mostly learned; by nature, people will fall for the same fallacies generation after generation.
– The second reasonable explanation is that they actually have found a genuinely unknown phenomenon. But even in that case, to jump to the conclusion that it must have something to do with dead people is insane the same ancient meme bias at work again.

I think I know a thing or two about “ghost sightings”. The logic behind even the most credible ones tend to amount to “inexplicable event X happened; therefore, humans continue to experience things after their brains stop working, and there is a different world where they are supposed to go, but sometimes dead people’s minds stay behind and make sounds and move things around, even if they have no bodies any more.”
Whereas a reasonable train of thought would be “inexplicable event X happened; I don’t know what this means (yet).”

“Bottom line…we know NOTHING for certain.”
This I agreed with. With that said, we can still distinguish between probable, plausible, possible and preposterous.
All things considered, I’d say the definiteness of death is about as certain as the hotness of the core of the sun. No one’s ever been there and come back with proof of what it’s like, but everything we do know implies it must be so.

HungryGuy's avatar

There are many phenomenon that we dont understand and that science can’t explain. We’re only beginning to unravel the laws of physics. But to attribute unknown phenomenon to the paranormal is a fallacy.

Coloma's avatar

@Fyrius

Fair enough.

Still, whether it is paranormal phenomenon or UFO sightings, I do think that there are plenty of unexplainable things that boggle the human minds ability to rationalize because, if proven, would evoke a major shift in ones reality, and a shift in reality is always accompanied by massive amounts of fear.

Of course, this is why our government will always withhold anything of this nature, to maintain control.

I think the human mind insists on rationale and logic in order to avoid the fear of the unknown.

Personally, I like the idea of being blown away by something out of this world. lol

chocolatechip's avatar

The worst part about this is, if there really is no afterlife, you can’t gloat about it.

Nially_Bob's avatar

Although I have no understanding of what becomes of human conciousness following death should there be no “afterlife” I would assume that one simply ceases to exist, however this assumption would merely be my assigning typical human logic to something beyond human comprehension.

To elaborate (and perhaps reinforce my claim) on that last point, I have found that animals understand everything that they encounter by two means: instinct (thoughts and actions that are innate) and experience (thoughts and actions that are learned or witnessed). As arguably all animals are innately gifted with conciousness and have no experience of being without it it is impossible for them to perceive a world devoid of such. It’s quite literally akin to trying to explain colour to a person who has been blind from birth.

Coloma's avatar

@Nially_Bob

Right, That is why animals do not ‘suffer’ the way humans do. They have no ability to create stories in their minds about the nature or truth of anything. They simple are, and always live in the present moment. Lucky critters, to be free of ego and contemplation. lol

chocolatechip's avatar

@Coloma

How do you know that?

Coloma's avatar

@chocolatechip

Because, they are devoid of ego.

Ego is the story teller.

Nially_Bob's avatar

@Coloma
That is arguable my friend. When an animal is nearing death does it not have a surge of adrenaline, increased respiration, a sense of impending doom etc. I believe animals are capable of creating ‘stories’ in their mind as these stories may merely be presumptions based on instinct or experience. If you throw a cat in a bucket of water when he or she is not expecting it they will likely be more wary of buckets of water in the future as they will play out stories in their heads which leads to it happening again. Obviously I cannot prove that other animals cognate in such a familiar fashion to humans but I have a feeling based on observations of animal behaviour that they are more similar in this aspect than we may believe.

Just offering an alternative perspective :)

iamthemob's avatar

I am inclined to wonder why this question doesn’t answer itself. If there is no afterlife, you cannot know you are dead, because that requires existence after death.

But there may be something to debate. What exactly is the point of death that we’re talking about? Your brain can function for a short time following death, so you may actually be able to realize that death has come prior to the end of thought.

Also, if we consider that time is a subjective experience, we may be able to acknowledge death if we subjectively experience things during a time when from a third party perspective death has occurred.

But that’s all I got.

Coloma's avatar

@Nially_Bob

Animals have emotions and make associations, they have memories of positive/negative experiences, but they do not create mental stories like humans.

They may fear something that has caused them upset, for instance a cat fearing a dog, but the fear is not a constant, it would only appear upon actually encountering a dog.

The cat does not walk around with a mental dialogue of repetitive thought, ruminating to itself. ‘OMG! What if I see a dog today?’, OMG! There might be a dog in the yard tomorrow, OMG! I can never go out again because I might see a dog.’

Nope, this is a purely human trait, to become phobic and create entire fictions over what might happen, or why something should not have happened, and ‘what if ’ stories.

Animals do not cling to anything in their pasts, don’t worry about their futures.
They are not lost in thought, they are only present in the moment. Whatever neurosis shows up with them is from their contact with humans. lol

Jabe73's avatar

@HungryGuy My argument has always been maybe the term known as the “paranormal” is really a part of quantum mechanics. We aren’t even close to learning everything yet about physics or quantum physics (sub-atomic particles).

@Fyrius I can respect your position. I can agree with “until proven otherwise” I will not accept something at this current time. In order for science to advance we need to keep an open mind and be willing to study all types of phenomenom or science will hit a dead end eventually. Even Einstein himself said the height of ignorance is the refusal to study something before dismissal. Physicalism can explain many things, that I agree with. The day may come when physicalism can’t advance our knowledge of certain things anymore. I believe the future of all science is with quantum physics. I do not believe in magic or miracles either. I think the truth/or truth we don’t know yet will be way more fascinating then any fairy tale stories or fiction.

@Hypocrisy_Central Like I said in my first post above your question already answered itself.

Fyrius's avatar

@Coloma
Hmmmyes.
Well, there’s no doubt that there are also people who prefer to rationalise the Unknown away, rather than to accept it and try to actually make sense of it. And that’s no good either.
It’s also not actually rational – rationalisation never is. It’s just another way to be biased. If your mind is already made up, you can’t make the decision rational unless you reconsider it. Rationalisation is quite a misnomer.

But interestingly, the people who specialise in reason and logic – namely scientists – are also the ones who not only embrace the Unknown, but actively go looking for more of it. Go figure – these are people who love the Unknown so much they’ll happily spend twenty-five years of hard work to figure out the RNA structure of a parasite living in the intestines of the Brazilian tree frog.
So rest assured: there are enough people who are more likely to avoid going to bed for three days straight than to avoid the Unknown. And no government has what it takes to hold back the entire world-wide scientific community. There’s hope for humanity yet. :)

@Jabe73
Keeping an open mind is important, that’s true. On the other hand, it’s unfair to bend over backwards to give one idea the benefit of doubt while a million equally (un)likely ideas never even occur to you. Unfair, and a terrible way to look for the truth.
Also, please don’t respect my positions.

iamthemob's avatar

@Fyrius

we can still distinguish between probable, plausible, possible and preposterous. All things considered, I’d say the definiteness of death is about as certain as the hotness of the core of the sun. No one’s ever been there and come back with proof of what it’s like, but everything we do know implies it must be so

I’m with you at nearly every point but this one. I’m of the mind that comparing phenomena where we agree we have no real tools, proof, or evidence to conceive of them to ones where we have clear, measurable ways to show how they work and to predict future behavior is unfair.

The problem is that consciousness is a pretty big mystery…so big that there’s no proof that it exists outside the subject (I think therefore blah blah ;-)). The arguments regarding animal’s perception of the world indicates that (@Coloma stated “Animals do not cling to anything in their pasts, don’t worry about their futures” but the way my dog seems to hate all other dogs except his brothers and sister, mom and dad makes me wonder how that’s possible). Although we do know that as long as we are alive, the electrochemical activity of our brain animates us, and during that time we can express our consciousness to the rest of the world, we know so little about where that consciousness comes from, why it isn’t communicable, how coherence is maintained, what are the universally acceptable definitions of it, etc. So to say everything we do know implies something is to refer to what is, realistically, what seems to be the smallest fraction of knowledge on it.

That said, linking any “paranormal” phenomena to proof of life after death seems to be based on a whole lotta confirmation bias.

Coloma's avatar

@iamthemob

Your dog does not ‘hate’.

Hate is purely a human emotion.

Animals are possessed of varying tempraments just like humans, so your dog may be less social, and perhaps less socialized. ie may feel territorial, protective of his pack and humans, but he does not ‘hate’ in the truest sense of the word.

He may also have been conditioned by you to fear other dogs and display an aggressive reaction.

If he has picked up on your uneasy vibes when other dogs are around he would react to that vibe.

What you term as hate is really fear and/or a territorial response to strange dogs.

@Fyrius

Well…maybe our government cannot hold back an entire scientific community, but they certainly can, and do, cover up a whole hell of a lot of what should be public knowledge.

Austinlad's avatar

@Fyrius, I don’t understand your “I disagree” comment, but I’ll be interested to hear your proof. Whatever it might be, I’m convinced I’ll have to wait a lifetime to know if it’s true, and I’m just fine with that.

Incidentally, being Jewish, I don’t concern myself with the afterlife. I believe heaven or hell is what we make on earth and what we leave behind.

Fyrius's avatar

@iamthemob
Would you then say that the notion that the core of the sun is Very Hot is more certain than the notion that a human mind stops working when the brain stops working? Neither is directly measurable, I would contend, and both follow logically from what we do know.

I’m no cognitive neurologist (although there is some overlap with my field) but from what I do know I wouldn’t think of consciousness as such a big mystery that it becomes a reasonable hypothesis that it might exist independent of the brain.
Neurology has arrived at a point where they can point to certain parts of the brain and tell you exactly what aspect of the owner’s consciousness breaks down if that particular part of the brain stops working. Psychologists know what medicines a patient needs to take in order to resolve a chemical imbalance in the brain that causes them to be depressed, suspicious or anxious, and we all know how chocolate, alcohol and other drugs affect our mood and general state of mind. The human mind is the product of a physical machine that can be tampered with like that.

So where exactly is the big mystery, and does it really make post-corporeal mind preservation plausible enough to consider?
Notwithstanding future mind uploading technology. We’re talking about natural post-corporeal mind preservation. Or supernatural, if we would insist on taking that option seriously too.

@Coloma
Such as what? I’m getting curious what you have in mind now. :P

@Austinlad
I didn’t really promise you proof – I didn’t need that in order to argue my point – but by now I seem to have already given it anyway. See above.

Incidentally, being an optimistic science fanboy, I think our best bet for immortality is cryogenics. If there’s anything history can teach us, it’s that humankind can accomplish damn near anything, given enough time – the problem is staying around to benefit from it.
And perhaps one day that won’t be a problem any more either.

Coloma's avatar

@Fyrius

Roswell N.M. UFO incident, many other UFO sightings, encounters, thousands of conspiracy theories, too numerous to relate.

What I can say, based on ‘proof’ is that some years ago a family friend that had top security clearance within our government and, obviously, was not at liberty to disclose any details, simply said that ‘rest assured there ARE UFO’s but this will never be made public knowledge.’

phoebusg's avatar

As per first poster: You can’t know if that which holds knowledge no longer functions.

iamthemob's avatar

@Fyrius

I forgot if this was the atheist thread, the god thread, or some other physical and metaphysical war. I stand by my disagreement with you generally, but sorry – here I think you’re right. This is the medical concept of consciousness pretty much and we’re assuming no afterlife. I done got mixed up. :-)

@Coloma

Of course, that’s why I said “my dog SEEMS to hate” – I thought about hate, but figured that I wouldn’t assume human emotions from a canine perspective. But you can’t say dogs don’t hate unless you have been a dog. I don’t understand the fundamental difference between a human and canine temperment (sp?) such that one reaction can be defined as hate and one can be defined as aggression. It’s just splitting hairs for the most part I think, considering that I can’t even say what is fundamentally the difference in the feeling between people….

Plus, you’ve never seen my dog. :-)

Fyrius's avatar

@iamthemob
Haha, okay. No worries.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

we can still distinguish between probable, plausible, possible and preposterous In many ways I believe that is the lynch pin to how most people decide to view death or an after life._*

Death to us might in reality be the soul or essence that we are goes on to another dimension. If that should happen people do not know or can’t phantom that dimension anymore than anymore than a blind person from birth can imagine what a sunset looks like really. The thought that you will go to another dimension is not plausible therefore not possible and has to be preposterous. What is plausible that if there is no afterlife you won’t ever get the chance to know it.

I believe there is and afterlife even though I can’t prove it. I feel and believe it is plausible therefore probable. If I am truly right, then when I die I will know what dispensation my soul will take. Should I not be correct I will never know it, I may not even know I was dying. If I was like a victim of the Beltway Snipers and took on to the head while pumping gas, I would have been pumping away one moment then nothing, but I would never know about the nothing or even what I was doing before the bullet turned my brains in to Skittles. I would be gone from my body before it even hit the pavement and everyone else when ducking for cover.

In the gist of science what people see as ghost could be leaking from another dimension into this one in the form of latent images, maybe we are seen simultaneously to them as ghost or some paranormal occurrence, looking at the purely scientific plausibility.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central

Not create BOTH one’s heaven AND one’s hell at the same time. It would be like a continuum.

Fyrius's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central
“The thought that you will go to another dimension is not plausible therefore not possible and has to be preposterous.”
“I feel and believe it is plausible therefore probable.”
You’re missing the point.
The scale is cumulative in the other direction. If it’s plausible, it’s also possible and definitely not preposterous, but if it’s not plausible, it might still be possible, in principle.
Conversely if something is plausible, that does not make it probable at all. That’s like saying your homework was good enough for a score of 6 out of 10, therefore it was good enough for a score of 9 out of 10.

“Death to us might in reality be the soul or essence that we are goes on to another dimension. If that should happen people do not know or can’t phantom that dimension anymore than anymore than a blind person from birth can imagine what a sunset looks like really.”
“In the gist of science what people see as ghost could be leaking from another dimension into this one in the form of latent images, maybe we are seen simultaneously to them as ghost or some paranormal occurrence, looking at the purely scientific plausibility.
Ugh.
Please don’t abuse the word “science” for that kind of reality fanfiction. Pseudoscience, at best.
This is pure speculation. What’s worse is that it’s in contradiction to unambiguous scientific evidence that the human mind depends on the physical brain, as I discussed above.
For crying out loud. Do you even know what a dimension is?

The true gist of science is a pragmatic search for factual truth. That means you can’t just make anything up, decide maybe that’s what happens, and call it a day.
Forming a hypothesis that does not already follow from established knowledge is like shooting an arrow while blindfolded and not even knowing in which direction the target of truth is. Of course it’s not impossible to hit the target that way, and you can just keep your blindfold on and choose to believe you hit. But if you really care about actually hitting the target, that will not do.
You need to aim. And if possible, you need to see if you hit, and if not, shoot again.

Since we’re talking about the experience of death, you can’t be sure if your arrow hit until you can walk up to the target yourself, but the least you can do is aim.
No, wait. The very least you can do, if you insist on blindly shooting in what we have reason to believe is the opposite direction, is not saying your shot is what a master archer would have done.

[/rant]

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@iamthemob Although there is no direct evidence for the consciousness of other people, there is good reason to believe that philosophical zombies cannot exist (although there are also fairly strong counter-arguments).

iamthemob's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh Surely. Although my reference was more along the lines of whether reality is wholly my subjective perception of it, or whether it is objectively perceived. Arguments and counterarguments against certain standpoints about the nature of reality don’t matter if I just made all y’all up. :-)

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@iamthemob Ah, non-commital solipsism – where you can just sit back and say “you’re all wrong!”

iamthemob's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh I’m just trying to show that my dog’s a hater. ;-)

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Fyrius The scale is cumulative in the other direction. If it’s plausible, it’s also possible and definitely not preposterous, but if it’s not plausible, it might still be possible, in principle. And what part of that did you not get? When I spoke of a plausible reason for people who seen ghost or thought they did could have witnessed. It is possible? Who knows? In the realm of science there are a lot of unknowns. But I guess you figure you have all the answers and no one else who’s answer don’t fall in line to what you believe science should be or is, is thus preposterous?

Please don’t abuse the word “science” for that kind of reality fanfiction. In what way was I abusing the word science? Should I go strictly on the side or religion and thus you’d believe it better, or just try to dismiss it because religion is not proven science? You ask For crying out loud. Do you even know what a dimension is? I am not a physicist and don’t claim to be, what I understand about dimensions comes from science show where physicist hawk their theory of dimensions and dimensional planes are, be it M theory, string theory or otherwise. One of such science shows while trying to explain how an object (a manned space craft or otherwise)could logically travel faster then the speed of light was by bending space or finding a wormhole (all theory because no one has yet found one to actually prove they are possible or exist). Part of such theory was that dimensions could be like layers of an union which each traveling in a separate space time continuum and if one could find away to enter into a space time continuum where say time there ran 15 times slower than here you could be there a short time and when returning to this space time continuum it would be decades or centuries later. I guess I should see all this as quackery since no one has done it and can’t prove it is possible or even plausible. I should just look at it as their fanfiction or a way to sell books or get on TV science shows to appear as great and smart people.

The true gist of science is a pragmatic search for factual truth. That means you can’t just make anything up, decide maybe that’s what happens, and call it a day. Yeah, and I certainly made nothing up to call as absolute. I used the words “it could” to suggest it is a possibility that no one has thought of. When people came up with string theory, M theory etc, it was an ideal or thought someone came by as a possibility in school it might be seen as more true then not I, however, never said “this is how *it is*”. If you are going to apply fanfiction get a bigger knife out and spread it all around to any and every one who can’t prove what they think is possible.

Of course it’s not impossible to hit the target that way, and you can just keep your blindfold on and choose to believe you hit. But if you really care about actually hitting the target, that will not do.” If you were blindfolded or in the dark and the target had a bell on it or a beeping device you would have a direction in which to shoot. Even if you had none of that so long as you had an endless supply of arrows you can shoot until you hit it. If you had cotton in your ears and could never hear the arrow strike the target then it would be pointless shooting at something you could never know you could hit, or that was even there. That is what science de facto do, they believe they hear a target and they take a shot. Man would have still thought the world was flat if they never thought it might be plausible that the world was round.

Sometimes what is even thought of to be true ends up not being the case. Given the decay of radioactive material I was lead to believe one contaminated it would be off limits for hundreds of years because of the rate of decay half the life of such radioactive material would be 100s of years. Then lo and behold Hiroshima and Nagasaki blew a hole in that. Nearly a million people live there to day and their babies are not being born with 3 eyes, fish like limbs and cancer rates are not off the charts as you’d expect with radiation poisoning.

Fyrius's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central
“And what part of _that did you not get?“_
I wrote it, so I think you can assume I for one know what it means. You, on the other hand, continue to get it wrong even after I explained it for you.
“can’t prove it is possible or even plausible.”
There you go again.
Plausible > possible. Plausible means “theoretically possible and also a sufficiently realistic possibility to be credible if further backed up”. Things that are plausible are necessarily possible. Things that are possible are not necessarily plausible. “Plausible or even possible” makes sense in a sentence like this. “Possible or even plausible” does not.

And neither does the phrase “another dimension”, to give that answer away. You’re thinking of a different place along a spatial dimension we can’t see. To my knowledge only Hollywood uses the misnomer “another dimension” for this.
As for things “leaking” from one dimension to another, I’m going to assume you wouldn’t have any explicit ideas on what mechanisms could make that possible and why they would apply to disembodied human minds. I won’t particularly hold that against you, since it’d be too much to ask, but I’ll remark that a scientifically-minded person should really figure that sort of thing out before using vaguely defined terminology.

“It is possible? Who knows? In the realm of science there are a lot of unknowns.”
Another thing, right here.
“Who knows”? That’s all? Is that what you’re willing to settle for, a shrug of resignation? About the question of whether or not ghosts can exist?
Have you ever heard of probabilistic thinking, Hypo? I’d tend to think you must have, since I’m explaining it all the time. Even if we can’t know with 100% certainty that ghosts are not real, that does not mean the probabilities of yes and no are 50/50. Just counting all the unfounded assumptions you’d need to make to even formulate the idea, that already puts the probability of ghosts existing far below 50%. Taking furthermore into account the knowledge of modern neurocognitive science, it sinks to a depth where only long-forgotten superstitions and feverish hallucinations dwell. Perhaps still not quite the bottom of the probabilistic ocean, but far enough away from the surface of 50/50 to consider the matter settled anyway. It’s not worth bothering with.

“Yeah, and I certainly made nothing up to call as absolute. I used the words “it could” to suggest it is a possibility that no one has thought of.”
“I, however, _never said “this is how *it is*”.“_
I explicitly addressed in my previous post why this here is a stupid remark.
This “it could” qualification is necessary, and it’s the bloody least you could do, but it’s not enough to make your idea a reasonable belief. Any random guess could be true. That’s not enough to make it sensible to entertain them as a hypothesis. You need to already have good reasons to pick that particular idea in the first place, even before you start testing it. And you weren’t even going to test it, go figure.
Incidentally, in many cases, there are good reasons why rational people don’t think of some particular thing.

“I should just look at it as their fanfiction or a way to sell books or get on TV science shows to appear as great and smart people.”
“If you are going to apply fanfiction get a bigger knife out and spread it all around to any and every one who can’t prove what they think is possible.”
You flatter yourself, comparing your own wild guesses to physics’ meticulously crafted and rigorously tested hypotheses. I don’t see the physicists using their results for misguided attempts to salvage ancient memes that directly contradict established neurocognitive science. That’s only the Creationists.
No, the flaw I criticise in your ideas is not shared by theirs. If you’d paid more attention, you’d have noticed I wasn’t criticising the fact that you can’t prove your ideas. My main point of criticism was that you pulled them out of your behind to start with, as opposed to the scientists, whose hypotheses logically follow from already established knowledge, and not from age-old but ever-popular superstitions that contradict already established knowledge.

Having discussed this, I think I’m now ready to adequately answer this questions of yours:
“In what way was I abusing the word science?”
You said “in the gist of science” as well as “looking at the purely scientific plausibility” while talking about a set of ideas that are less scientific than freaking homeopathy.

“If you were blindfolded or in the dark and the target had a bell on it or a beeping device you would have a direction in which to shoot.”
Precisely. Observations of the real world give us hints as to what hypotheses are probable and what hypotheses are not. Looking at all the relevant facts is necessary in order to know in what direction to even begin shooting.
You might stand a chance if you would listen to their sounds.
If you must butcher the metaphor, at least take to heart the implications your own changes introduce.

“Even if you had none of that so long as you had an endless supply of arrows you can shoot until you hit it.”
This is not feasible. Even if you would change your mind and come up with another randomly guessed answer to the same scientific question every minute, it could still take you longer than your natural life span to believe the truth for one minute in your life. Not to mention you’ll never know which arrow hit home – which is kind of crucial.
There are, in theory, infinitely many possible random guesses, and only a very small number of those are true. The target is a single grape five hundred meters away; you can shoot at random until the cows come home and you won’t hit. It’s difficult enough when you’re aiming.

“If you had cotton in your ears and could never hear the arrow strike the target then it would be pointless shooting at something you could never know you could hit, or that was even there.”
There’s always a target. There’s always a correct answer.
If you can’t test your hypothesis, to see if the arrow hit the target, then your aim is all you have, your theoretical reasons why this hypothesis is most likely. And that’s enough for science to work.
There are plenty of sciences that live in data poverty but thrive anyway.

“Man would have still thought the world was flat if they never thought it might be plausible that the world was round.”
Correction: we wouldn’t have figured out the truth if people didn’t find good prior reasons to postulate the hypothesis that the world is round. Otherwise the right idea wouldn’t even have occurred to them, or if it would, it would have been lost in a pile of other possible world-shapes.

Now, please give me an honest answer: Am I getting through to you at all with any of this?

Coloma's avatar

Ya know, none of this will matter when you’re dead. lol

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Fyrius _ Now, please give me an honest answer: Am I getting through to you at all with any of this?_ Sure as well as what I am saying is getting through to you. What I do get is you are clairvoyant, you know what I mean and how I meant to say it. With that, why ask me if I get it when you already seem to know what and how my mind thinks.

But lets just cut to the chase, since you want to tout how much smarter you are in this area please share some of that vast brain power. When a person believes or thinks they had seen a ghost or some paranormal (I hope that is the right word since you seem very hung up on semantics) as to name things, occurrences , and events outside the proven physical possibility, what do you think they saw and how they saw it? Maybe they are just loons who only saw things in their head? You sure act like you have the answer to that question so please do share with all of us, or at least let me in on your vast whatever treasure trove of knowledge because it has to the the only correct way.

Fyrius's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central
What an interesting case study, you encounter someone who just has his epistemic shit together properly and you mistake it for clairvoyance. Ironic, considering the subject.

Insofar as I “have all the answers”, of course I’m aware of the error margins. But while I don’t deny the possibility of being wrong, I also don’t just accept it as a constant featureless background noise and then go about believing whatever tickles my fancy anyway. I quantify relative uncertainties, and adjust acceptance of an idea to an estimated probability that it will turn out to be false. I distinguish between ideas that are more uncertain and less uncertain, and I allow that to determine my beliefs and their strength.
Because that way, knowing your own uncertainty actually helps.

And now I’m going to stop pointing out the flaws in your petty insults and get on with the actual substance of this thread.

—-

You asked me how I explain “ghost sightings”. I’ve briefly addressed this earlier up there.

For starters, even if there are sightings of unexplained phenomena that actually are genuinely difficult to explain, or that defy our present understanding of the ways the world works, then still you can’t just assume it’s ghosts. That’s not only jumping to conclusions, but it’s also the exact same random guessing behaviour we just discussed. Unless you have clear additional reasons to pinpoint the hypothesis that it was done by a disembodied human mind, and additional additional reasons to disregard all the evidence showing minds cannot be disembodied, it might as well be some completely different unknown phenomenon, and it probably is.
Moving chair does not equal ghosts. Moving chair equals unidentified force that can move chairs. Inconclusive. To be investigated before we can tell what’s going on here.

And that’s if we already make a huge concession and postulate that the sightings are genuine. Being more realistic, it’s very easy to see how “ghost sightings” can come about without anything out of the ordinary being involved. Our inflated monkey brains have several built-in standard logical mistakes that people will fall for time and time again, unless they learn to overcome their biases and train their capacity for rational thought.
As it happens, our brains are made for paranoia. We are by nature heavily biased towards believing there’s a predator nearby who wants to eat us; in nature, that makes sense, because a false positive just means worrying about nothing, while a false negative can freaking kill you. And even now, while the man-eating predators are locked up in the zoo, our brains are still adapted to see demons and ghosts and poltergeists in every scary-looking shadow or creepy noise.
Another common source of “ghost sightings” is pareidolia, which means your mental face recognition software is giving you false positives. I’ve seen many a “ghost” photo of poorly lit windows with vague spots that look like it could be a human face, maybe. Interestingly, any deviations from what a face looks like will only make you think it’s a scary, demonic, distorted nightmare face, instead of realising it’s not a face at all.
And that’s just under normal circumstances. I recall another “paranormal event” being traced back to a broken boiler giving off electromagnetic radiation, which has a way of messing with your brain and giving you a sensation that there’s someone else in the room with you. Other researchers have successfully given people “spiritual experiences” by subtly tinkering with tests subjects’ brains.
Which brings us back to the fact that human consciousness is a fallible physical system that can malfunction for stupid mechanical reasons. This simultaneously accounts for many a “ghost sighting”, and shows again that the mind is entirely dependent on the brain.

I really think this is a closed case. We know the answer. It’s over.
Mind-body dualism is debunked. There is no afterlife.

If we want to live forever, we’ll have to arrange it ourselves.

Fyrius's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central
I want to apologise. I think I gave you more flak than your post deserved.

I still think it’s wrong, and misinformed and unscientific. But not more so than average. And that’s why my quarrel isn’t just with you in particular.
A lot of the venom in my posts came from exasperation not just with your ideas but in general with the home made pet theories of clueless laypeople about complex scientific issues, and most of all, how seriously they take them. It’s a “don’t get me started on it” sort of subject to me.

So yeah. I could have handled this better.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Fyrius I still think it’s wrong, and misinformed and unscientific. I never said it was scientific, it is just an ideal based on the ideals others had on a variety of science shows. People who seen or thought they seen ghost seen something. Maybe dimensions is not the best word, but it was the best I could think for lack of a better one. I guess realities would be better. And I have heard many different theories on that yet none can be proven that is why they are theories. Taking that into account some believe we live in overlapping realities while some believe our reality spills over into a parallel Earth reality and when it happens a latent image from that other reality is seen here and maybe visa versa all theories, that is why they are not fact yet.

When I was in grade school we were taught that dark green bands seen on Mars from the Earth were forest of 600ft and taller redwood like trees yeah, they said it it was an idea because no probe has yet went there and what they thought of the Martian atmosphere it was possible, with better investigative tools we know that is wrong today.

A lot of the venom in my posts came from exasperation not just with your ideas but in general with the home made pet theories of clueless laypeople about complex scientific issues, and most of all, how seriously they take them. Maybe we were not on the same page, the only thing I was serious about is that there are theories out there, some universally accepted and others that are not. They are all just ideals to explain something. There is an ideal of the Big Bang based on what we know today with what we can test this day, but since no one was actually there when it happened, it could have happened totally different. Anything you can’t test exactly is a guess even a very educated one.

It is all good. Even if we don’t agree I try my best to keep it out of the gutter, I may have started to slip there apologies for that. Next time we stick to air brushing something I know you don’t know all about Har har

Fyrius's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central
At any rate it’s clear enough that pursuing this subject is getting us nowhere. It seems we’ve made zero progress in discussing even the basic issues. For every other thing you say, I’d have to reiterate everything I’ve said already and explain how that also applies to this and that.

But do tell me all about air brushing some day.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Fyrius Maybe I will throe in how you can spray some tribal band art on the side of your ride or some ghost flames (no pun intended, there really are ghost flames).

Jabe73's avatar

@Fyrius Ok I won’t respect your positions anymore. I agree with your statement about not bending over backwards to give a less proven idea the benefit of the doubt. What disgusts me here is how many intelligent and respectful scientists and men had their reputations ruined beause they were willing to explore “paranormal” phenomenon. If any of these people said or even suggested anything in favor of this phenonmen then the skeptics and orthodox scietists had to go on a campaign to demolish these brilliant individuals reputations. So much for free thinking garbage.

Fyrius's avatar

@Jabe73
I’m entirely with you there. No idea should ever be discouraged by anything other than reason.

On a semantic note, I want to point out that this behaviour is not scepticism. In fact, it entirely misses the point of scepticism. If anything, it seems to be a refusal to take an idea seriously because it seems to belong to the same subculture as those beliefs that have (correctly) been labelled superstition. It’s the mind-set of a librarian putting a book on the fantasy shelf rather than the science fiction shelf.
But scepticism does not mean you don’t believe in things all the smart people also don’t believe in. It means you are difficult to convince, but equally so for any sort of hypothesis, whether it sounds weird or not.

I don’t know if there really are many scientists who would make that mistake, but in my experience it’s pretty common among laypeople.

Jabe73's avatar

@Fyrius I think I am going to take a break from these types of questions for while. I’m getting my stress levels up. I’m sticking to easier questions (like politics) for now on :)

Fyrius's avatar

Suit yourself, buddy.

Nially_Bob's avatar

@Coloma
But there are cats and dogs who fear the outdoors things due to trauma. What my previous point was trying to illustrate is that perhaps our “images and stories” are just a more elaborate version of reflecting on ones instincts and experiences to deduce the appropriate behaviour for the situation as any other animal would do. What if animals, ourselves included, do live in the moment but shape that moment based upon their instincts and previous experiences.
Many animals alongside our species also experience dreams and if this is possible then is it not also possible that they cognate in a similarly imaginative fashion.

Justice13's avatar

Most people are too stupid to realize they’re alive. So how do you expect an actual answer to your question that won’t be seen as laughable?

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Justice13 Many people are also too stupid to show respect to people with a legitimate gap in their understanding.

Justice13's avatar

Respect is earned, not given. Anyways, what’s the point of knowing you’re dead if you can’t share that knowledge?

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Justice13 People deserve respect for the simple reason that they are people. That is why we have a UN charter of human rights – because people deserve basic respect even when they haven’t earned it. Any respect over and above that level is earned. If you see my original post, I do not believe there is any consciousness after death.
My point is simply that your sweeping statement on the apparent stupidity of the human race is neither accurate or fair. People usually ask questions because they genuinely want knowledge and understanding, and it is more constructive to give them that much than to ridicule them.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Justice13 Most people are too stupid to realize they’re alive. I believe it is more that many people are too ignorant to understand how great life is (theirs and others) than being too stupid to know they are even alive. When life becomes like a commodity you stop seeing the full value and wonder of it. No matter what age you are if you really stopped and figured how many people over a life time you heard died or was killed before your age one can start to figure how wonderful that is. Many will leave home to go to school, work, parties, etc, and plan to come home, feed the fish, read the paper, catch a game on TV, etc. but won’t make it. Some of them will bite it by way of a drunk driver, they will see some headlights in their lane but with nothing after death they would never know they were scraped off the road like a pizza or pried from their car like a hunk of Spam.

XYZZYtja's avatar

Sorry that I just jump in like this, but I’ve heard something about the “Pineal Gland”
The pineal gland (also called the pineal body, epiphysis cerebri, epiphysis or the “third eye”) is a small endocrine gland in the vertebrate brain. It produces melatonin, a hormone that affects the modulation of wake/sleep patterns and photoperiodic (seasonal) functions. Some people say that after your die, the pineal gland “turns inside to outside” and that this would mean you’re going to the afterlife… I myself are sceptic about this… I believe in when you die your dead, just like there is no God nor Heaven nor hell…

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@XYZZYtja That is a myth, left over from Descartes. Rene Descartes firmly believed in the mind-body duality, and believed that the invisible mind controlled the brain. He knew that there had to be some bridge between the mind level and the brain level though, and since he made no propositions as to how the mind works, he had no way to find out what this bridge might be. He hypothesised that the pineal gland was this bridge, allowing communication between mind and body, pretty much because he had no idea what it did.

Fyrius's avatar

Pretty sure that without a working blood circulation, the pineal gland dies off just like every other part of your body.

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