Sunday, April 24, 2016

Attack on the Soul"More Atheist Propaganda from Psychology Today

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We have met Psychology Today before. This was the little group of racist atheists who specialize in bogus IQ studies (Nyborg, Kanazawa, Hamilton).. The article I used as the example (see link) is by Stoshi Kanazawa.[1] That was a blog hosted by the magazine not the magazine itself There's a new example one is more closely connected with the magazine. While it's not as outrageous s the former blog I daubed "Psychology Today scam" it is nonetheless blatant, ideological, and propagandistic: by David Kyle Johnson [2] This article is "Do Souls Exist." It lays out the basic argument that science hasn't proven a soul so there must not be one. This article is basically Q and A from a talk with students at the  Berkhamsted School (middle and high school). This talk must have been for the middle school

Question 1: You place a great deal of store on neuro-science and physics, yet we have just read an article by Raymond Tallis, based on his ‘Aping Humanity’, that raises doubts about this. Why are you so confident in science?

He goes on to state that Talis is an atheist and fried and they work together and he doesn't believe in the soul he just thinks they go a too far sometimes with claims of Neuroscience. That's important because he's glossing over some very damaging stuff or the scientism crowd.[3] Before we get into that It's important to take note of his answers to this question: he basically says if you don't accept that science disproves the soul then you are a hopeless science denier, and even though we have no  data to prove it we must all work at believing it, since it has science's authority to back up belief. That belief is failsafe though its provision of comfort and technological know how the illusion of technique.Of course my critics are saying "he doesn't say that you are just reading that is."

He says:
 Now others do make this argument; when presented with scientific evidence against a view they cherish (like their belief in the existence of the soul), they will question science's ability to tell us about the thing in question (or anything for that matter) – or the objector will claim that I am putting "faith" in science (instead of whatever the objector has chosen to place faith in). But there are multiple things wrong with this line of reasoning.
We must never question science in it's ability to make any pronouncement or to know all things. That's not propaganda? Is that what scientists really say about the level of knowledge?

He goes on: "First of all, science is not based on faith; the primary assumption in science is that one should not take anything on faith but instead should base one’s beliefs on evidence and argument—which is the opposite of taking something on faith." So because science doesn't take things on faith then one is not taking science on faith even when it can't prove or disprove a particular hypothesis?  Does that mean any pronouncement made in the name of science must be right? He realizes there's hole in hi logic he goes on to try and plug it up but in so doing makes an even more damaging admission:
Of course, one might suggest that scientists have to take this “primary assumption” on faith—but even if that is true, doing so is a completely different kind of faith than the objector has in mind. It is certainly not the kind of faith required by the belief systems of those who posit this objection. In other words, believing “by faith” that it is good to proportion one’s belief to the evidence is completely different than believing the soul by faith. [For more on this, see the 17th chapter of my book Inception and Philosophy: Because It's Never Just a Dream (link is external)entitled “Taking a Leap of Faith: A How-to Guide”. (You can download it for free here (link is external).)]

So he's aware that he is expressing faith in science. But that's ok because when it's about science it's a special kind of faith that's really ok. Where I come from we call that "special pleading." Still a fallacy. The reason science faith is ok(even though it doesn't count as faith0 is because religion faith is so very stupid and science faith employs smart stuff like math and factual ideas. He implies all the standard atheist Straw man hokum about religion faith that Dawkins made up. Faith is believing stuff without reason ect ect. [4]

Then, as if he knows he's skating on the edge of fallacious argument, he retrenches in a rousing statement of confidence in the ability of science to guides is reliably into all knowledge: "Second of all, science has proven to be the most reliable guide to truth—most certainly, the most reliable guide to discovering the way the world is—that humankind has ever conceived."  That's a pretty tall claim if we think about it. Because he's saying there is no kind of knowledge, no field or area where science is not the guide. There's nothing science can't tell us. Of course he cant make good on it then to appear to make good on it we just pretend like other fields don't exist or they are totally unreliable. So science can tell us right from wrong, if life is meaningful and how, if your mother loves you, and that there is no God or soul. Then the ultimate pay off is used to ground it all the hard facts of science works. "The evidence for this, of course, is all around you in every piece of technology that makes your life so much easier than it otherwise would be; almost all of it was made possible only because science successfully discovered the way the world is and works." That's an interesting rhetorical appeal because again he reports to another --even so there's still another point behind it--kind of logic. The very bottom line that proves it all is technological devices and the comfort they brought us. so science is right and can do all and tells all because it gives us video games and air conditioning, Come on America sell your soul, air conditioning feels so good. Faith in gadgetry, the illusion of technique, the ultimate guarantor of faith in science.

After retrenching into what amounts to a pep rally for science he attempts to blunt the effects of critics such as Ray Tallis. He does this by assuring us that Tallis is an  atheist and sees things as he does except  in one little area.

Tallis is actually an atheist who, like me, objects to the soul hypothesis. What I have used the neuroscience for is to show that the primary assumption of the soul hypothesis – that mental activity is separate and separable from the brain (i.e., that mental activity is not dependent upon the brain)—is false. Instead, neuroscience shows us that the existence of the mental is dependent upon the existence of the brain; without the brain, the mental cannot exist. This is something that Tallis agrees with, so in no way would Tallis object to my argument against the soul hypothesis.What Tallis is objecting to is a separate suggestion made by some neuroscientists, and some philosophers of mind that: “the brain is numerically identical to the mind.” Numerical identity expresses the strictest form of identity. X is numerically identical to Y means that X and Y are the same object. Clark Kent is numerically identical to Superman; John Smith is numerically identical to “The Doctor.” In claiming that the brain is numerically identical to the mind, one is claiming that the brain and mind literally are the same object – one in the same thing.[5]
Let's see what Tallis really says: Raymond Tallis was a professor of Geriatric medicine at University of Manchester, and researcher, who retired in 2006 to devote himself to philosophy and writing. Tallis denounces what he calls “neurohype,” “the claims made on behalf of neuroscience in areas outside those in which it has any kind of explanatory power….” [6]

The fundamental assumption is that we are our brains and this, I will argue presently, is not true. But this is not the only reason why neuroscience does not tell us what human beings “really” are: it does not even tell us how the brain works, how bits of the brain work, or (even if you accept the dubious assumption that human living could be parcelled up into a number of discrete functions) which bit of the brain is responsible for which function. The rationale for thinking of the kind – “This bit of the brain houses that bit of us...” – is mind-numbingly simplistic.[7]

Specifically Tallis has refernce to experiments where the brain is scanned while the subject does some activity and the differences are attributed to some structure in that part of the brain. Tallis is highly skeptical of this method.

Why is this fallacious? First, when it is stated that a particular part of the brain lights up in response to a particular stimulus, this is not the whole story. Much more of the brain is already active or lit up; all that can be observed is the additional activity associated with the stimulus. Minor changes noted diffusely are also overlooked. Secondly, the additional activity can be identified only by a process of averaging the results of subtractions after the stimulus has been given repeatedly: variations in the response to successive stimuli are ironed out. Finally, and most importantly, the experiments look at the response to very simple stimuli – for example, a picture of the face of a loved one compared with that of the face of one who is not loved. But, as I have pointed out elsewhere (for the benefit of Martians), romantic love is not like a response to a stimulus. It is not even a single enduring state, like being cold. It encompasses many things, including not feeling in love at that moment; hunger, indifference, delight; wanting to be kind, wanting to impress; worrying over the logistics of meetings; lust, awe, surprise; imagining conversations, events; speculating what the loved one is doing when one is not there; and so on. (The most sophisticated neural imaging, by the way, cannot even distinguish between physical pain and the pain of social rejection: they seem to “light up” the same areas!) [8]
Hal Pashler’s study, University of California, San Diego is discussed in an  editorial in New Scientist, he is quoted as saying “In most of the studies that linked brain regions to feelings including social rejection, neuroticism and jealousy, researchers … used a method that inflates the strength of the link between a brain region and the emotion of behaviour.”[9]

There re profound implications here. First, the arrogance of science worshiping atheists to speak as though mere scientific facts somehow disprove God just by being facts is exposed for the hokum that it is. Besides the fact that this science worshiper (Johnson) argues fallaciously and distorts dishonestly (he's basically covering up how devastating Tallis's position is to his own reductionism) we can also see the fallacy of according to science an all knowning position.


[1] Joseph Hinman, "Atheism's Psychology Today Scam," Atheistwatch, Wednesday, May 11, 2011, URL: accessed 4/24/2016

[2] David Kyle Johnson, "Do Souls Exist?" Psychology Today, (oct. 6, 2014) on line URL: accessed 4/23/16 all quotes of Johnson from this article.

[3] The issues

[4] Atheist straw man on faith vs real theological explanation.

[5] Johnson, op cit.

[6] Raymond Tallis New Ideas for Godless People (blog—online researche) volume 124 Issue 6 (Nov/Dec 2009) URL: visited 5/9/12

[7] Ibid.

[7] ibid

[8] ibid

[9] quoted by Tallis, ibid.


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