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Philosopher offers six signs of “scientism”

Non-materialist neuroscientists must often deal with the claim that their work is “unscientific,” despite the fact that, for example, the placebo effect, for example, is one of the best attested effects in medicine and the fact that there Is mounting evidence for researchable psi effects. The problem arises because, as Susan Hack puts it, “scientism” enables assessors to avoid evaluating evidence in favor of evaluating whether the evidence “counts as science”. Here are her six signs: 1. Using the words “science,” “scientific,” “scientifically,” “scientist,” etc., honorifically, as generic terms of epistemic praise.

And, inevitably, the honorific use of “science” encourages uncritical credulity about whatever new scientific idea comes down the pike. But the fact is that all the explanatory hypotheses that scientists come up with are, at first, highly speculative, and most are eventually found to be untenable, and abandoned. To be sure, by now there is a vast body of well-warranted scientific theory, some of it so well-warranted that it would be astonishing if new evidence were to show it to be mistaken – though even this possibility should never absolutely be ruled out.

Always remember that Ptolemy’s model of the solar system was used successfully by astronomers for 1200 years, even though it had Earth in the wrong place.

2. Adopting the manners, the trappings, the technical terminology, etc., of the sciences, irrespective of their real usefulness. Here, Hack cites the “social sciences”, quite justifiably, but evolutionary psychology surely leads the pack. Can anyone serious believe, for example, that our understanding of public affairs is improved by the claim that there is such a thing as hardwired religion or evolved religion? No new light, just competing, contradictory speculation.

3. A preoccupation with demarcation, i.e., with drawing a sharp line between genuine science, the real thing, and “pseudo-scientific” imposters. The key, of course, is the preoccupation. Everyone wants real science, but a preoccupation with showing that a line of inquiry is not science, good or bad – apart from the evidence – flies in the face of “The fact is that the term “science” simply has no very clear boundaries: the reference of the term is fuzzy, indeterminate and, not least, frequently contested.”

4. A corresponding preoccupation with identifying the “scientific method,” presumed to explain how the sciences have been so successful. ” we have yet to see anything like agreement about what, exactly, this supposed method is.” Of course, one method would work for astronomy, and another for forensics. But both disciplines must reckon with evidence, to be called “science”.

5. Looking to the sciences for answers to questions beyond their scope. One thinks of Harvard cognitive scientist Steve Pinker’s recent claim that science can determine morality. Obviously, whatever comes out of such a project must be the morality of those who went into it.

6. Denying or denigrating the legitimacy or the worth of other kinds of inquiry besides the scientific, or the value of human activities other than inquiry, such as poetry or art. Or better yet, treating them as the equivalent of baboons howling for mates, or something. It discredits both arts and sciences.

Here’s Hack’s “Six Signs of Scientism” lecture.

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239 Responses to Philosopher offers six signs of “scientism”

  1. Ms. O’Leary, you may get a chuckle out of this study:

    Model predicts ‘religiosity gene’ will dominate society
    Excerpt: The model shows that the wide gap in fertility rates could have a significant genetic effect in just a few generations. The model predicts that the religious fraction of the population will eventually stabilize at less than 100%, and there will remain a possibly large percentage of secular individuals. But nearly all of the secular population will still carry the religious allele, since high defection rates will spread the religious allele to secular society when defectors have children with a secular partner. Overall, nearly all of the population will have a genetic predisposition toward religion,
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....ciety.html

    ,,, No doubt the researchers consider it a ‘detrimental’ mutation :)

  2. I cannot understand why you think the placebo effect is evidence against materialism. You are right that it is accepted by virtually all medical researchers but it has a perfectly reasonable materialistic explanation.

  3. markf you state,

    ‘You are right that it is accepted by virtually all medical researchers but it has a perfectly reasonable materialistic explanation.’

    The placebo effect may have a ‘materialistic explanation’ (read twisted excuse), but I can guarantee that, like all other materialistic excuses for contrary evidence, it will not be ‘perfectly reasonable’!

  4. MarkF

    Just because there is a naturalistic explanation for something, doesn’t mean it is true. Evolutionists have been trying to explain everything within a naturalistic, materialist world view for years, but for the last 150 years, the explanations have become more ad hoc…..and for some reason, people just don’t find ad hoc explanations to be believable.

    Now if a truthful explanation is what you are after, then I think there is no good reason to assume a non-materialist explanation is any less true than a materialist explanation. In which case, all explanations, including non-materialist explanations, should be equally considered.

    However, if you think a non-materialist explanation is not true, then I think it must also be falsifiable for you to come to that conclusion. If it is falsifiable, then it must be included in what is generally considered “science”, and thus equally considered.

  5. Anybody who thinks about it for more than 10 minutes and still buys materialism is not capable of being reasoned with. Haven’t we seen this time after time after time? I have.

  6. Great points by Haack.

    It is good time that scientism be recognized as a specific philosophical position, with all the implications of partiality and choice, and not as the “natural” interpretation of scientific knowledge, or even of general cognition, as scientistic scientists would like to believe.

    Scientistic scientists are those scientists who adhere to a very strict ideology, which has nothing to do with science itself. They have to assume their responsinilities, and distinguish between the things they believe for personal choices (or blind faith), which are the greatest part of their “scientific” approach, and the thiongs which can more reasonably be “shared” with other non scientistic scientists, or simply with other people.

  7. Mark:

    ” it has a perfectly reasonable materialistic explanation”.

    Others have already pointed that out, but again: that a theory has an explanation for something, and explanation which the followers of that theory may well consider “perfectly reasonable”, does not mean that the explanation is really credible for most other people.

    Science is a competition for the “best explanation”. It is human nature that those who embrace a scientific theory are biased to believe that all explanations based on that theory are “the best”. But others can and will believe differently, and in the long run I believe that the strength of empirical evidence, plus the spontaneous efficiency of human cognitive powers, will help recognize true best explanations as best, at least in most cases.

  8. F/N: How evolutionary materialistic scientism has affected origins science. GEM of TKI

  9. Scientistic scientists are those scientists who adhere to a very strict ideology, which has nothing to do with science itself. They have to assume their responsinilities, and distinguish between the things they believe for personal choices (or blind faith)…

    I suppose you also believe this about ID supporters and people who believe in an old earth?

  10. What is the materialistic explanation for the placebo effect, exactly?

  11. tragic mishap:

    I suppose you also believe this about ID supporters and people who believe in an old earth?

    Yes, obviously.

    I would like to be more clear, just to avoid misunderstandings.

    I am not asking that anybody renounces to his personal beliefs to do science. Indeed, it is an essential part of my personal philosophy of science that personal beliefs will always be an influence on scientific activity. I don’t believe in “objective science”.

    But I do believe that “fair science” is possible. What I am asking is that, in making science, everybody should try to:

    “distinguish between the things they believe for personal choices (or blind faith), and the things which can more reasonably be “shared” with other scientists with different basic beliefs about reality, or simply with other people”.

    As you can see, I have tried to reformulate my statement so that it may apply to all.

    IOWs, I am not asking that the scientistic scientists renounce to their ideology. I just ask that they don’t ask that their specific ideology be shared by others who have different views, or considered intrinsic to science itself.

    So, I am not asking that a scientist who believes in young earth renounce to his personal ideology, but I do expect that he does not require that believing in a young earth be an essential part of the scientific method, and that those who don’t believe that are not doing science.

    Is that clear enough?

  12. gpuccio,

    What would you do if you were an editor who received a submission to your journal that has good science that could be interpreted as showing a young earth. Perhaps he argues too forcefully for a young earth and goes farther than the evidence suggest, BUT the evidence does lend a little support for that idea. Would you reject the paper?

  13. Collin:

    No.

  14. 14

    That is clear enough and fair enough, gpuccio and I agree with you.

  15. Gpuccio,

    I guess that answers my question.

    Denise,

    Thanks for the op. I wish that the general public were aware of this. It should be a lesson in every introductory biology class.

  16. 16

    The placebo effect is a psychological effect. Unless you are saying that all psychological effects are non-materialistic I would also be curious how you would explain the placebo effect non-materialistically.

    One should not forget that in modern science the way to determine which the “best explanation” is, is to derive from these explanations testable hypotheses and test those predictions.

  17. I got a degree in psychology. At some point someone may have explained the placebo effect to me but I must have missed it. I do not know how it would work.

    One must bear in mind that there may be different kinds of placebo effects. If the placebo leads you to relax, then that may decrease your heart rate and stress level. That can have incidental health benefits.

    But hasn’t the placebo effect been shown to help things that aren’t related to the body’s stress response systems? I’d be interested if the placebo effect can help with any kind of recovery.

  18. Collin:

    Wonders of the Mind: Healing Through Belief
    Excerpt: Normally, people resort to over the counter drugs without question as a way to get rid of their sickness or symptoms. Recent findings show, however, that many drugs actually do not cure. It is the belief that taking drugs (the pill) can cure people that brings the healing process to work. The mind works wonders, as healing takes place basically through belief.
    http://factoidz.com/wonders-of.....gh-belief/

    (please note references at bottom of preceding article)

    Placebos Work — Even Without Deception
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....173033.htm

  19. With regard to point 6, are you aware of data that shows materialistic scientists are less likely to enjoy and find inspiration and solace from art and poetry than other people? In my experience, amongst people I know, the opposite is in fact true.

    And are you/Hack suggesting that art and poetry could be employed as a method of enquiry in a scientific experiment?

  20. 2nd Opinion @ 16 “One should not forget that in modern science the way to determine which the “best explanation” is, is to derive from these explanations testable hypotheses and test those predictions.”

    Unless design is involved. Then, of course, it is out of bounds to even suggest it.

    Even though there is not one, never, ever, instance of human information being created apart from language, free will, purpose, reason, and mind, the mere suggestion of those factors being a part of the creation of biological information elicits howls of anguish, rage, and outright irrationality. What’s the fuss??

  21. markf @ 2 “You are right that it is accepted by virtually all medical researchers but it has a perfectly reasonable materialistic explanation.”

    What would that be?

  22. Mark and others:

    About the placebo effect.

    I think the point is that the placebo effect is evidence of how a purely cognitive change (the belief) can be the cause of great physical modifications in the body, through mechanisms which are neither understood nor obvious.

    The stree should be on the “cognitive” part. The placebo effect is determined essentially by a representation of meaning. Meaning is an exclusive property of conscious representations (it cannot even be defined ouside of consciousness).

    Of course, if materialists choose to ignore the role of observed entities (conscious representations) in reality, then even the placebo effect must be explained in some materialistic way, yet to be found. But that is “credible” only for those who start with the act of faith (completely unsupported by facts) that only matter exists, and that all observed facts of consiousness are only byproducts of matter can be explained in materialistic terms.

    Without stopping a moment to wonder how and why a concept which cannot even be defined in materialistic terms (the representation of meaning) should be able to change matter so deeply.

  23. gpuccio, I think you are on to something.

    To a materialist, any materialist thesis about the placebo effect, no matter how inadequate, must be preferred to any non-materialist thesis.

    The placebo effect is a good example of how a phenomenon can be studied from a scientific but non-materialist viewpoint.

    Put simply, placebo is a relationship effect. Even if we can’t quantify the mind, we can study the relationships between mental and physical states.

    Example: John has a flareup of a chronic condition, and his doctor announces that a promising new medication is available. John takes it, and begins to feel better.

    The doctor forgot to inform him that the effects of the medication will only take hold about 12 hours later, at least if chemistry alone were the deciding factor.

    In other words, John shouldn’t feel better now, but he does.

    This is one of the best-attested facts in medicine. Indeed, one reason for double blind studies with control groups is precisely that much of the control group will feel better, as long as they believe they are the study group. Fortunately for themselves, members of control groups do tend to believe that.

    We can make many assumptions, assessments, and predictions about the placebo effect and use it as needed, without knowing the exact constitution of the mind.

    Ignoring the placebo effect set medicine back in certain ways, decades ago. Doctors, honestly believing that chemistry and surgery would do the trick, discounted the fact that a hospital looked and operated like a slaughterhouse.

    For example, surgeons used to wear white scrubs, like butchers, but growing awareness of the placebo effect cause a switch to “surgical green”.

    Mario Beauregard and I discuss all this at some length in The Spiritual Brain.

  24. Materialists believe that such things as intentions, perceptions, consciousness, beliefs or the “representation of meaning” are actually material events or states. The placebo effect is the observation that beliefs can affect physical well-being – sometimes in a most extraordinary way (anyone who has read the literature would accept that happens). The fact that beliefs can affect physical well-being is not evidence that beliefs are not material states.

  25. markf you state;

    ‘The fact that beliefs can affect physical well-being is not evidence that beliefs are not material states.’

    Ahhh,, but do you truly believe that or is it just your ‘material states’ telling you that you believe that?

    And markf can you please answer me this question?, Since you ‘believe’ that life, and self consciousness, just accidentally, and randomly, emerged from a 3-D material basis, why in the world do scientists find life to be constrained around a ’4-Dimensional’ power scaling:

    The predominance of quarter-power (4-D) scaling in biology
    Excerpt: Many fundamental characteristics of organisms scale
    with body size as power laws of the form:

    Y = Yo M^b,

    where Y is some characteristic such as metabolic rate, stride length or life span, Yo is a normalization constant, M is body mass and b is the allometric scaling exponent.
    A longstanding puzzle in biology is why the exponent b is usually some simple multiple of 1/4 (4-Dimensional scaling) rather than a multiple of 1/3, as would be expected from Euclidean (3-Dimensional) scaling.
    http://www.nceas.ucsb.edu/~dre.....18_257.pdf

    “Although living things occupy a three-dimensional space, their internal physiology and anatomy operate as if they were four-dimensional. Quarter-power scaling laws are perhaps as universal and as uniquely biological as the biochemical pathways of metabolism, the structure and function of the genetic code and the process of natural selection.,,, The conclusion here is inescapable, that the driving force for these invariant scaling laws cannot have been natural selection.” Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini, What Darwin Got Wrong (London: Profile Books, 2010), p. 78-79
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-369806

    ,, markf, I would also like to know what this 3-Dimensional image is doing on a 2-Dimensional surface:

    Turin Shroud 3-D Hologram – Face And Body – Dr. Petrus Soons
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5889891/

  26. Mark:

    Materialists believe that such things as intentions, perceptions, consciousness, beliefs or the “representation of meaning” are actually material events or states.

    That’s exactly the problem. Materialists “believe” those things, and have no real support for those beliefs.

    Indeed, I wrote:

    “But that is “credible” only for those who start with the act of faith (completely unsupported by facts) that only matter exists, and that all observed facts of consiousness are only byproducts of matter can be explained in materialistic terms.”

    Well, your answer very elegantly supports my point.

  27. O’Leary:

    By the way, I am a great fan of your book.

    While I have no strict adherence to any psychological school, I have always been impressed by the premise of cognitive psychology: that your convictions can really change what you are and what you do and what you feel.

    The interesting point is that a conviction is a mere judgement about reality, a pure cognitive state. Dogmatic materialists can boast false verities as much as they like, but the fact remains that words like “judgement”, “meaning”, “purpose”, and many others, were created to describe cosncious representations, and nothing else.

    They have no “meaning” outside of the world of consciousness. They have no meaning in matter. They have no meaning in “objective” reality.

    They cannot even be defined in objective terms, without using some conscious perceiver in the procedure.

    And yet, contrary to any evidence, and just to quote Mark:

    “Materialists believe that such things as intentions, perceptions, consciousness, beliefs or the “representation of meaning” are actually material events or states”

    To decide which of the two is the most unsupported and arrogant theory of modern culture, between darwinism and strong AI, is a really hard question. But, personally, I would give the prize to strong AI.

  28. Gpuccio

    That’s exactly the problem. Materialists “believe” those things, and have no real support for those beliefs.

    My point is simply that the placebo effect provides no additional evidence for immaterialism (or materialism). It is independent of that decision which admittedly takes place on other grounds prior to observing the placebo effect. There is a separate argument. There is a very long debate to be had about the case for and against a material theory of mind – but the placebo effect has nothing to do with it.

  29. Mark:

    There is a very long debate to be had about the case for and against a material theory of mind – but the placebo effect has nothing to do with it.

    I don’t agree.

    The placebo effect is different from a simple act of will, where the agent initiates an output. It is also different from a simple emotional reaction, where a state of mind is associated with a directly connected physical state.

    The characteristic of the placebo effect is that a pure conviction about reality is able to harness unknown, and certainly very complex, physical resources so that a result is obtained which is neither willed nor understood by the conscious mind of the agent.

    In that sense, it is a very deep clue about the nature of cognition, and the powers of deep conscious representations, even beyond the range of what is usually considered the conscious mind.

    That cognition and meaning cannot be explained as material states or events is certainly debated, but that does not make it less true.

  30. Just to throw in my two cents here…

    “Materialists have an explanation for (whatever) too!” has stopped impressing me. Usually the explanation is either a denial of the phenomenon in question, a plea for time (science will figure it out!), or turning “materialism” into.. something other than materialism, without admitting it. That last one’s getting more popular.

    Others, including solipsists, have ‘explanations’ for their beliefs too. Somehow I don’t feel compelled to feign respect for the mere claim of ‘they have an explanation too’, especially when the materialist game for years now has been to either A) Act as if just saying ‘materialist explanation’ should be enough to shut down criticism or debate of alternative explanations, B) Mocking caricatures of non-materialist arguments has been central discussion tactic, and C) the general poor state of said explanations when finally revealed.

  31. nullasalus:

    A very good, clear and balanced summary.

  32. F/N:

    First, Null and GP, excellent work.

    The centrality of “explanation” above highlights that in science — and particularly, origins science — we are dealing with inferences to best current explanation in light of empirical, factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power.

    Yes, there are many diverse explanations that claim a seat at the table, but what meets the above trio of tests best? And, without censoring out or misrepresenting and dismissing other possibilities?

    In particular, materialistic explanations are commonly proffered on the assumption or assertion that only such explanations are properly scientific. Indeed, there have been attempts to redefine science in ways that subtly turn it into an exercise towards the best evolutionary materialistic account of the cosmos, from hydrogen to humans.

    That is a corruption of the duty of science to progressively — and, yes, inevitably provisionally — pursue the truth about our world, in light of empirical observation and experiment, reasoned analysis of findings, theoretical modelling held accountable before the facts, and informed discussion.

    Materialism needs to be cut down to size and told to take back its seat at the table, instead of trying to usurp control over the whole discipline of science.

    Especially, since it is necessarily false, any way, being self-referentially absurd in multiple ways.

    GEM of TKI

  33. #29

    Gpuccio

    It does not matter that the placebo effect is different from acts of will etc. The only thing that matters is whether dualism gives a better explanation of the placebo effect than materialism. To put it crudely:

    P(placebo|dualism)>>P(placebo|materialism)

    In fact if anything it is the other way round. But I wouldn’t want to push that. Mostly there is just no reason to suppose that dualism provides a better explanation of the placebo effect than materialism.

  34. markf, you make this statement,

    ‘there is just no reason to suppose that dualism provides a better explanation of the placebo effect than materialism.’

    Yet it is shown, in quantum mechanics, that quantum wave collapse to a ‘uncertain’ 3-D particle state is centered on each unique point of conscious observation in the universe. Thus how can consciousness arise from a 3-D material ‘state’, to use your words, when 3-D material states are dependent on consciousness in the first place? This is simply fatal for your starting materialistic presumption in trying to explain the placebo effect!

    notes:

    Dr. Quantum – Double Slit Experiment & Entanglement – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4096579

    Double-slit experiment
    Excerpt: In 1999 objects large enough to see under a microscope, buckyball (interlocking carbon atom) molecules (diameter about 0.7 nm, nearly half a million times that of a proton), were found to exhibit wave-like interference.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D.....experiment

    Quantum mind–body problem
    Parallels between quantum mechanics and mind/body dualism were first drawn by the founders of quantum mechanics including Erwin Schrödinger, Werner Heisenberg, Wolfgang Pauli, Niels Bohr, and Eugene Wigner
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Q.....dy_problem

    “It was not possible to formulate the laws (of quantum theory) in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.” Eugene Wigner (1902 -1995) laid the foundation for the theory of symmetries in quantum mechanics, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugene_Wigner

    Alain Aspect and Anton Zeilinger by Richard Conn Henry – Physics Professor – John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: Why do people cling with such ferocity to belief in a mind-independent reality? It is surely because if there is no such reality, then ultimately (as far as we can know) mind alone exists. And if mind is not a product of real matter, but rather is the creator of the “illusion” of material reality (which has, in fact, despite the materialists, been known to be the case, since the discovery of quantum mechanics in 1925), then a theistic view of our existence becomes the only rational alternative to solipsism (solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one’s own mind is sure to exist). (Dr. Henry’s referenced experiment and paper – “An experimental test of non-local realism” by S. Gröblacher et. al., Nature 446, 871, April 2007 – “To be or not to be local” by Alain Aspect, Nature 446, 866, April 2007 (personally I feel the word “illusion” was a bit too strong from Dr. Henry to describe material reality and would myself have opted for his saying something a little more subtle like; “material reality is a “secondary reality” that is dependent on the primary reality of God’s mind” to exist. Then again I’m not a professor of physics at a major university as Dr. Henry is.)
    http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/aspect.html

  35. Mark:

    Mostly there is just no reason to suppose that dualism provides a better explanation of the placebo effect than materialism.

    Well, as usual we disagree on that. For me, there is no game: a non materialist reductionist position (which personally I would not call “dualism”) provides certainly a better explanation of the placebo effect.

  36. #35

    Gpuccio

    For me, there is no game: a non materialist reductionist position (which personally I would not call “dualism”) provides certainly a better explanation of the placebo effect.

    OK. Let’s here why dualism gives a better explanation.

    The closest you have come so far to explaining the placebo effect is:

    The characteristic of the placebo effect is that a pure conviction about reality is able to harness unknown, and certainly very complex, physical resources so that a result is obtained which is neither willed nor understood by the conscious mind of the agent.

    For a materialist “a pure conviction about reality” is a material state. So this statement applies equally well to a materialist or dualist account. I need to understand why a dualist account of that conviction is more likely to lead a physical result and than a physical account of that conviction.

  37. #36 Sorry about the typos

    - “here” should be “hear”
    - last sentence should be:

    I need to understand why a dualist account of that conviction is more likely to lead to a physical result than a physical account of that conviction.

  38. gpuccio and markf,

    As a side interest, it has been shown that ‘intention of mind’, which is semi-directly linked to the ‘belief of mind’, has a noticeable ‘non-local’ effect on material:

    Scientific Evidence That Mind Effects Matter – Random Number Generators – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4198007

    I once asked a evolutionist, after showing him the preceding experiment, “Since you ultimately believe that the ‘god of random chance’ produced everything we see around us, what in the world is my mind doing pushing your god around?”

    also of note, I wonder if just knowing about the side effects of drugs increases the ‘detrimental’ placebo effect of those listed side effects? This article, wjich references a peer-reviewed article in JAMA, says there is a correlation:

    Excerpt: A negative placebo effect is sometimes called a nocebo effect, in medicine. If a patient is skeptical of an intervention, the explanation offered to them for its effectiveness, or the credibility of the physician admininistering the treatment then a perfectly effective treatment might prove to be ineffective on a given patient due to a negative placebo effect. In worst case scenarios, a nocebo phenomenon originating from the unfounded fear of the detrimental effects attributed to a particular treatment might actually result in a patient feeling like they are suffering from a negative side effect.
    http://naturalhealthperspectiv.....ffect.html

    further note:

    Just How much did the nocebo phenomena effect this man’s condition?

    Abilify Kills
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VzMZX4nBz8

  39. markf you state,

    ‘I need to understand why a dualist account of that conviction is more likely to lead to a physical result than a physical account of that conviction.’

    Because The ‘dualist’ account is by far the most parsimonious explanation, especially now that consciousness, as I showed earlier, is more ‘foundational’ to reality than material is. i.e. Reality is conclusively shown to reduce to mind not to ‘material’!!! Yet in your foundational materialistic presupposition markf, you hold that ‘mind’ is merely an illusion that has ‘emerged’ from a 3-D material basis. You simply cannot back up your foundational materialistic premise to substantiate your claim for primacy of a ‘convoluted’ material explanation over the far more parsimonious Mind/Belief explanation!

  40. Rene Descarte, reasoned that there were two realms; the spiritual and the physical. They are completely separate, according to him, except that they can interact in a human body. The spirit can influence the material world through a person. Does everyone agree that this is basically dualism?

    So the question then becomes, is a belief a spiritual or a material phenomenon? I think that markf would say it is a material one while most of the rest of us would say its something spiritual (or mental or whatever word you want to use).

    I’m not sure I can back it up with reasoning, but I think it is self-evident that a belief cannot be material. If that’s true, then the whole question about the placebo effect is answered. If that is not true, then it is also answered, just the opposite way.

  41. markf, I’ve noticed that you have not really stipulated any exact cause for the placebo effect save for some mysterious ‘material’ cause that you did not even care to describe in any detail whatsoever. Would you care to give a cause other than your ‘belief’? As well, since I hold that God is the cause of quantum wave collapse, would you care to defend the absurd atheistic position of Many Worlds?

  42. —markf; “I need to understand why a dualist account of that conviction is more likely to lead to a physical result than a physical account of that conviction.”

    It is clear that two entities possessed by the individual must be involved for the placebo effect to work. If B [the changed state of an organ called the brain] is influenced, then it is also clear that B did not change itself, and therefore, A [a different kind of entity had to change it]. Further, A must be more powerful than B, which again, shows then A must be a different kind of entity than B.

    Only two possible candidates exist as the changing and more powerful entity: the suggestion itself or an immaterial faculty of mind, or both. In either case, the materialist explanation fails. [A] must be a different kind of entity than B if A is to change B or if it has more power than B. Put another way, if A is MORE POWERFUL than B, or can override the impulses of B, then A must be a different kind of entity than B. The most reasonable explanation for this state of affairs is that a non-material FACULTY [mind] changed the state of a material ORGAN [brain].

    Materialism tries to say that A and B are one and the same entity, and that this singular entity changed itself and is MORE POWERFUL THAN ITSELF. It is a ridiculous argument. You are free to provide your own modifications, and you have been asked many times to do so.

  43. OT gpuccio, you may find this very interesting:

    Here is more Evidence for intricate, well timed, terra-forming of the Earth from a primordial wasteland into a place capable of supporting complex life.

    Explosive Genetic Expansion 3.3 to 2.8 Billion Years Ago Provides New Evidence for Intelligent Design – January 2011
    http://www.reasons.org/explosi.....ent-design

  44. #42

    StephenB

    It is clear that two entities possessed by the individual must be involved for the placebo effect to work. If B [the changed state of an organ called the brain] is influenced, then it is also clear that B did not change itself, and therefore, A [a different kind of entity had to change it]. Further, A must be more powerful than B, which again, shows then A must be a different kind of entity than B.

    I don’t get this at all. The result of the placebo effect is a physical change in the body such as recovering from an illness. The cause is a belief – which I identify with a brain state. Why is a different kind of entity required? Why does it have to be more powerful? Very minor events often have dramatic and complex results.

  45. Mark:

    Sometimes I think that you seem not to understand the difference between “something is possible” and “something is credible”.

    Well, let’s try this way.

    In the placebo effect, the starting point is a conviction in the conscious representations of the subject, IOWs a specific cognitive judgement about reality, such as:

    “I am taking a pill that can heal me”.

    The result is that some healing takes places.

    You can say that something happened to determine the (wrong) conviction: usually, a doctor transmits the conviction to the patient: again, cosnciousness interfering with consciousness. But the important point os that the patient must really believe that he is taking a healing drug. He cannot cheat.

    You say that you identify a belief with a brain state: the ususal strong AI position, and a very bold one. I am sure nobody has any real model of why and how a material state of molecules should generate “a belief”. And that is the first, unsubstantiated assumption.

    But that assumption, although a folly, is widespread, and you can correctly argue that it is not specific to the placebo issue.

    OK, so let’s go on. The surprising aspect here, this one much more specific, is that in some way the conviction starts a series of physical events which produce a veru complex and specific (and desired) result): the healing.

    Now, to explain that, you have to assume:

    a) That the physical modifications in the brain caused by the “conviction” are the cause of other specific modifications which seem to be purposeful.

    b) That a) can happen although the subject apparently has no specific knowledge of how to heal himself from the condition (and, sometimes, not even the doctors).

    So, how can you explain a) and b) from a materialistic point of view?

    You can use a darwinist approach, and say maybe that the mechanism of healing is already in the system, because it has been selected: people who heal may probably be said to have a reproductive advantage after all.

    OK, so we have a finalistic procedure of healing (involving we know not what, but almost certainly immunological regulations, endocrine patterns, and who knows what else) which seems to work: nothing really surprising on that.

    But why should that procedure, obviously already available to the system, be triggered by a conviction?

    Is that a darwinist way to support faith in faith?

    What is the repreoductive advantage of helaing if you believe, and not helaing if you don’t? To select for gullible individuals? To favour those who are not hyperskeptical, because they are notoriously better reproducers? (Uhm, bad news for some people I know…)

    Seriously, I am sure materialists can come out with some explanation. They are well trained at that.

    But you will ask: how is the non materialist explanation better at explaining those things?

    Well, it’s rather simple. The non materialist explanation, IMO, can be based on some very reasonable assumptions:

    a) Consciousness exists, and we have no evidence that it is created by matter.

    b) Consciousness has its specific states, which are different from the states of matter.

    c) Cognition is one of these states. Cognition is a judgement about reality, and has no objective equivalent in material things.

    d) Conscious states can influence matter, at least in the body (more a fact than an assumption).

    e) Consciousness is much more than what we pecieve as our usual “waking consciousness” (a strong assumption, which is however supported by many lines of evidence).

    f) Therefore, an interaction between this expanded concept of consciousness and the complex systems of the body may well take the form of an ordered and purposeful redirection of the bodily activities, conducing to healing.

    g) The two fundamental points seem to be that the healing has to be:

    - desired (not difficult, usually)

    - believed in (more difficult, but in the case of the placebo effect that is invariably true)

    The (subconscious) powers of consciousness, at that point, seem to be able to achieve results.

    Why?

    Obviously, because the interaction between consciousness and body is neither random nor “materialistically evolved”: it is designed, and purposeful.

    As the placebo effect can act also as nocebo, we can imagine that in many cases the hyperskepticism of the mind about a possible healing could act as an obstruction to a fruitful cooperation of mind and body. A simple change in the cognitive state seems to be able to trigger a more functional relationship between the two.

    Again I stress the import role of pure cognition here. You can imagine that believing in healing can release some helathy emotional response, and endocrine and immunological results. That is probably true.

    But the problem is: why? and how?

    I have already discussed the aspect of “how”. Just a few more words on the “why” problem.

    Why should a mere change in judgement of reality cause such a purposeful emotional and physical change?

    Well, the answer seems simple: the self “believes” that healing will take place. That is obviously reassuring.

    “Obviosuly”?

    What is the self? Why is the self interested in its survival? Why is each cognitive experience inevitably coupled to an emotional experience? What is cognition? What is feeling?

    All these problems, although complex and deep, are rather “natural” for those who believe that cosnciousness is an independently observe field of reality, with its laws and rules.

    However, they are complete mysteries for those who cannot even begin to explain how material arrangements of atoms and molecules should generate consciousness, and yet want to stubbornly believe that.

    I know that nothing of what I have said can be accepted by you, but OK, I have said it just the same.

  46.  

    Gpuccio

    Don’t confuse “designed” with “immaterial”. At the core of your response you are arguing that the placebo response must be designed therefore it must have an immaterial cause.   Separately I challenge whether the placebo effect must be designed.  But even if it were designed why should that make it immaterial?  Can we not design material things?

    I will illustrate that with some comments below (plus a few other comments).

    I pick up your response after you accept that the debate over my strong materialist position is not relevant to the placebo effect…

    OK, so let’s go on. The surprising aspect here, this one much more specific, is that in some way the conviction starts a series of physical events which produce a veru complex and specific (and desired) result): the healing.

    Now, to explain that, you have to assume:

    a) That the physical modifications in the brain caused by the “conviction” are the cause of other specific modifications which seem to be purposeful.

    The modifications in the brain are not caused by the conviction.  They are the conviction.

    b) That a) can happen although the subject apparently has no specific knowledge of how to heal himself from the condition (and, sometimes, not even the doctors).

    Which is of course equally true if that conviction is an immaterial thing.

    So, how can you explain a) and b) from a materialistic point of view?

    You can use a darwinist approach, and say maybe that the mechanism of healing is already in the system, because it has been selected: people who heal may probably be said to have a reproductive advantage after all.

    Whether it arose through Darwinian forces or not the mechanism of healing clearly exists in our bodies.  It happens all the time.  The only question is why a conviction should kick it off.

    OK, so we have a finalistic procedure of healing (involving we know not what, but almost certainly immunological regulations, endocrine patterns, and who knows what else) which seems to work: nothing really surprising on that.

    But why should that procedure, obviously already available to the system, be triggered by a conviction?

    I can think of some explanations – but the key point is the question is equally mysterious, in fact slightly more mysterious, if the conviction is immaterial.

    What is the repreoductive advantage of helaing if you believe, and not helaing if you don’t? To select for gullible individuals? To favour those who are not hyperskeptical, because they are notoriously better reproducers? (Uhm, bad news for some people I know…)

    This is the first point where you confuse designed with immaterial.

    But you will ask: how is the non materialist explanation better at explaining those things?

    You bet!

    a) Consciousness exists, and we have no evidence that it is created by matter.

    b) Consciousness has its specific states, which are different from the states of matter.

    c) Cognition is one of these states. Cognition is a judgement about reality, and has no objective equivalent in material things.

    (a), (b), and (c) are all assumptions of dualism.  We can argue about them, but so far they have nothing particular to do with the placebo effect.

    d) Conscious states can influence matter, at least in the body (more a fact than an assumption).

    e) Consciousness is much more than what we pecieve as our usual “waking consciousness” (a strong assumption, which is however supported by many lines of evidence).

    (d ) and (e ) are equally true of the materialist account of consciousness.

    f) Therefore, an interaction between this expanded concept of consciousness and the complex systems of the body may well take the form of an ordered and purposeful redirection of the bodily activities, conducing to healing.

    I think this amounts to: there is more to consciousness than we realise, so it might include a mechanism for kicking off the healing process.  But that is equally true of a materialist account of consciousness.

    g) The two fundamental points seem to be that the healing has to be:

    - desired (not difficult, usually)

    - believed in (more difficult, but in the case of the placebo effect that is invariably true)

    The (subconscious) powers of consciousness, at that point, seem to be able to achieve results.

    Why?

    Obviously, because the interaction between consciousness and body is neither random nor “materialistically evolved”: it is designed, and purposeful.

    This is the second time you confuse designed with immaterial. From this point I lose the track of your argument…

  47. Onlookers:

    I think GP is the best corrective to the just above:

    MF, 46: At the core of your response you are arguing that the placebo response must be designed therefore it must have an immaterial cause.

    GP, 45:In the placebo effect, the starting point is a conviction in the conscious representations of the subject, IOWs a specific cognitive judgement about reality, such as:

    “I am taking a pill that can heal me”.

    The result is that some healing takes places.

    You can say that something happened to determine the (wrong) conviction: usually, a doctor transmits the conviction to the patient: again, cosnciousness interfering with consciousness. But the important point os that the patient must really believe that he is taking a healing drug. He cannot cheat.

    You say that you identify a belief with a brain state: the ususal strong AI position, and a very bold one. I am sure nobody has any real model of why and how a material state of molecules should generate “a belief”. And that is the first, unsubstantiated assumption.

    But that assumption, although a folly, is widespread, and you can correctly argue that it is not specific to the placebo issue.

    OK, so let’s go on. The surprising aspect here, this one much more specific, is that in some way the conviction starts a series of physical events which produce a veru complex and specific (and desired) result): the healing.

    Now, to explain that, you have to assume:

    a) That the physical modifications in the brain caused by the “conviction” are the cause of other specific modifications which seem to be purposeful.

    b) That a) can happen although the subject apparently has no specific knowledge of how to heal himself from the condition (and, sometimes, not even the doctors).

    So, how can you explain a) and b) from a materialistic point of view?

    You can use a darwinist approach, and say maybe that the mechanism of healing is already in the system, because it has been selected: people who heal may probably be said to have a reproductive advantage after all.

    OK, so we have a finalistic procedure of healing (involving we know not what, but almost certainly immunological regulations, endocrine patterns, and who knows what else) which seems to work: nothing really surprising on that.

    But why should that procedure, obviously already available to the system, be triggered by a conviction?

    Is that a darwinist way to support faith in faith?

    _____________

    The gap between what was actually said in 45 and what was rebutted in 46, is revealing.

    GEM of TKI

  48. —markf: “The modifications in the brain are not caused by the conviction. They are the conviction.”

    As I often point out, all these discussions finally boil down to the fact that atheists must deny causality to make their scheme work.

  49. re markf “Materialists believe that such things as intentions, perceptions, consciousness, beliefs or the “representation of meaning” are actually material events or states.”

    OK, so if material means essentially physical, and it does, and everything essentially physical can be explained or described in terms of the laws of physics, and they can, your task is to actually explain cosciousness, say, in terms of the (currently) known laws of physics. This cannot be done by you or anyone else and I suspect that you actually know that. The interesting question is: Why would one hang on to a world view that explains nothing, is completely irrational, and leads to nihilism and despair? For my part you all are welcome to that but it seems odd to me that apart from irrefutable evidence that there is no light, why one would choose darkness over light. Go figure.

  50. #49

    tgpeeler

    if material means essentially physical, and it does, and everything essentially physical can be explained or described in terms of the laws of physics, and they can, your task is to actually explain cosciousness, say, in terms of the (currently) known laws of physics

    My comment was about the extent to which the placebo effect is evidence against materialism. I do not intend to go over the general arguments for and against materialism yet again. I promise you I am completely sincere in my materialism.

  51. I actually am not a materialist, by which I basically mean I don’t think consciousness can be explained via anything we know about the brain.

    However I agree with everything Markf has said regarding placebos being utterly irrelevant as evidence for one position or another on the mind/body problem.

    It is also interesting to note that the placebo effect does not require that the patient believe in the treatment! Even if the patient knows they are getting an inert sugar pill, even if the patient consciously understands there is nothing in the treatment that can affect their medical condition, simply the act of taking the pill can bring on the placebo effect!

    This would seem to indicate that consciousness has nothing to do with it.

  52. I don’t agree with markf’s materialistic beliefs, but I will say this…

    …it’s a tall order to demand a bulletproof explanation of consciousness with the laws of physics.

  53. 53

    Hello Berceuse,

    The fact that it is a tall order is precisely the issue. Not only do we not understand how or why experience could or would arise from a computational network, we don’t even know what it is that we should be addressing.

    This is not the result of some highly-advertised lack of knowledge about material, or material networks, or material computational networks. This is a stark raving lack of courage to say that there is something more, and we very likely already know what it is.

  54. Beceuse:

    …it’s a tall order to demand a bulletproof explanation of consciousness with the laws of physics.

    The problem is that consciousness exists and is perceived, so it must be included in our map of reality.

    Matter too exists and is perceived (through consciousness), so we justly include it in our map of reality.

    So now we have a map of reality including two different classes of empirical “objects”: matter and “objective” data; and cosnciousness and subjective data.

    Now, the two things are really different: none of the conscious concepts and processes can be explained by some theory which recognizes only matter as existing principle. Indeed, the widely spread conviction that some form of structure can generate cosnciousness has no empirical basis or support.

    There is no doubt, instead, that cosnciousness and matter do interact, in both directions. That has been known for millennia, and nothing in modern science has added a single conceptual point to that aspect.

    Many think that the evidence for interaction is evidence for the origin of consciousness from matter. But that is not true. All evidences of interaction are perfectly compatible with an interface model. Indeed, they are best explained by an interface model.

    The placebo effect is no exception.

    To state that:

    “such things as intentions, perceptions, consciousness, beliefs or the “representation of meaning” are actually material events or states”

    is not only completely ascientific (there is not a single empirical proof of that), but also irrational (there is no rational model which in principle could explain that correlation).

    Concepts like emerging properties and similar are poor intellectual frauds, tailored to give some support to an unsupported model. They replace good science with bad philosophy.

    There is nothing, absolutely nothing in our whole knowledge which justifies the assumption that a perceiving self can emerge as the result of a particular arrangement of material particles.

  55. …it’s a tall order to demand a bulletproof explanation of consciousness with the laws of physics.

    Though consciousness is impossible to be derived from the laws of physics, it is also impossible for the laws of physics to be adequately described without reference to consciousness,,, at least as far as the laws of quantum mechanics are concerned,,,

    “It was not possible to formulate the laws (of quantum theory) in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.” Eugene Wigner (1902 -1995) laid the foundation for the theory of symmetries in quantum mechanics, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugene_Wigner

  56. #53 Gpuccio

    Whatever our prior beliefs about dualism and materialism, I wonder do you now accept that the placebo effect provides no more evidence for dualism than it does for materialism? Your account in #45 said several things about the placebo effect which are equally true under either view and argued that the placebo effect was evidence of design, but did not at any point show how the placebo effect was evidence for dualism.

  57. markf “I promise you I am completely sincere in my materialism.”

    Oh I get that. Not that sincerity has a thing to do with justified true belief. The reason you dodge the materialism discussion is because you don’t have a logical leg to stand on. If you start with a false premise and reason correctly with facts you will always come to a false conclusion. That’s why I don’t argue conclusions with you. It’s all about first principles. But since you (still) obviously reject them I bid you good day. See you around.

  58. #56

    tgpeeler

    The reason I dodge the materialism discussion is because I have been round that loop more times than I care to count. The same arguments come up. People get very cross. And no one learns anything or changes their mind. Frankly I have better things to do. It is much more useful to discuss smaller scale precise issues such as whether the placebo effect is evidence for dualism.

  59. Onlookers:

    Pardon a few remarks and links that go where MF, consistently, will not.

    Modern materialism — and on Plato’s remarks and correctives in The Laws, Bk X, ancient as well — is evolutionary.

    Evolutionary materialism inherently has to account for mind on matter.

    Therein lies its fatal flaw, that shows that it is necessarily false as a view of the world, for it inescapably undermines the credibility of mind, in multiple ways. In particular, it undermines the credibility of analytical thought by reducing reasoning on ground and consequent to the influences of cause-effect bonds tracing to forces of chance and necessity unconnected to the warrant for conclusions.

    In effect, in reducing our thoughts, views and conclusions directly or indirectly to genes, chance mutations, survival of the “fittest” (and sexiest) and psycho-social conditioning, knowledge and reasoning (also, ethics) are radically relativised. But, inevitably, so will be the thought of the materialist him-/her- self.

    If materialism is true, then, we can have no good grounds for believing it to be warranted as true, nor good grounds for believing anything else to be well warranted. Mind dissolves into the chaos of chance and the iron grip of deterministic laws.

    Jumped up apes from the savannahs of east Africa programmed to forage, survive and mate, have no grounds for trusting their minds to be capable of anything that significantly rises above that threshold of instinctual and/or operantly conditioned response. Actually, they would not have minds, only neural network loops that are wired however they are wired and act on that wiring, not on what is warranted.

    No wonder Crick’s astonishing hypothesis is so patently absurd:

    . . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing. [The Astonishing Hypothesis, 1994]

    Philip Johnson’s retort that Crick should be willing therefore to say that his own writings were only a matter of neural loops firing off and associated electrochemistry, points out the self-referential incoherence involved.

    J B S Haldane captures the challenge well, in one form:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.” [["When I am dead," in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (Highlight and emphases added.)]

    For a step by step reduction to absurdity, cf. here.

    And, once we look at that pattern of reductio, we see why Materialists struggle so with the placebo effect.

    For, here we have fairly direct, undeniably scientific evidence that we are self-moved agents. To the point that in some cases even if we know the pills are no more than sugar, the very process of relating with a knowledgeable healing person in a healing context triggers a confidence that is healing! And, where surgeons had to learn that they needed to make sure their wards and theatres did not look like butcher shops!

    Solomon’s remark that a merry, confident heart does good like a medicine, is abundantly and duly confirmed!

    All this reminds me of the classic Hawthorne Effect, where telephone assembly workers, being tested for effect of lighting levels on performance, turned in astonishing performances, even when the lighting levels were comparable to bright moonlight. The relationship with investigators who cared, and the confidence and concern of the workers had an utterly disproportionate impact.

    Mind over matter indeed.

    And, mind matters indeed.

    (I suggest that onlookers look at the remarks here and here, on the Derek Smith two-tier controller cybernetic model, if you wish a framework for thinking on how mind and brain may work together in bodies, and on how we may operate as self-moved, embodied agents.)

    GEM of TKI

  60. Mark:

    Whatever our prior beliefs about dualism and materialism, I wonder do you now accept that the placebo effect provides no more evidence for dualism than it does for materialism? Your account in #45 said several things about the placebo effect which are equally true under either view and argued that the placebo effect was evidence of design, but did not at any point show how the placebo effect was evidence for dualism.

    No, my position remains different, even if I can understand your point of view.

    My position is that the placebo effect is by far best explained by an interface model, where consciousness acts on the body according to its inherent principles and laws (cognition being one of them). An explanation based on materialistic assumptions, while logically possible, is by far extremely stretched and non credible.

    You have showed that all the features of the placebo effect can in principle be explained by a materialistic model. I do agree with that. But again, yours is a philosophical and logical discourse, not an empirical search for the best explanation.

    Your explanation rests on so many unwarranted assumptions that it has to pay an extremely heavy price to credibility just to build a semi consistent scenario.

    You have to assume that some state corresponding to some specific cognition (a judgement about reality) is for some unknown reason connected as a trigger to specific and purposeful procedures of healing. Why that would be so remains a mystery, unless you invoke darwinian mechanisms, engaging in even more mythological contexts.

    Moreover, I don’t agree that you can separate so easily the “dualism” and design aspects of the issue.

    The design aspects of what happens are obviously much more consistent with an interface model, where consciousness has its purposes and feelings, and reacts to things according to the intrinsic laws of conscious representations, and then outputs the resulting representations to the bodily system.

    The difference is that, while the body can be interpreted algorithmically, and its procedures, although complex, can be seen as the result of previous design, consciousness, instead, is a fresh originator of perceptions, feelings and purposes.

    The intrinsic importance of a judgmennt about reality is an intrinsic property of the cognitive nature of consciousness, and cannot be explained algorithmically. It is a feeling, rather than a cognition: the feeling that we have to know truth, and not some simulacre of truth.

    That’s why no “cheat” is possible in the placebo effect. The mind cannot act by mere opportunity, saying: well, I will believe that, because so I will heal. That just does not work.

    The mind has to be really sincere in its conviction about reality, because the mind has a spontaneous faith in the laws of reality. That is something that no materialistic model can explain.

    We want to know truth, because we feel intuitively that only truth can really help us, that only truth is really good and worthwhile. Even our body cannot really respond to representations we believe to be false in the same way as it responds to representatitons we believe to be true.

    OK, this basic respect for the truth a of judgement, which remains in the body even when the mind has become accustomed to cheat and to believe falsities, can probably be explained by some materialistic model based on darwinism (I have no doubt of that). But how credible is that explanation?

  61. Gpuccio

    The difference is that, while the body can be interpreted algorithmically, and its procedures, although complex, can be seen as the result of previous design, consciousness, instead, is a fresh originator of perceptions, feelings and purposes.

    This seems to me to be more about free will than consciousness. The materialist account and the dualist account both accept that a false belief that something will causing the body to recover may cause that body to recover. The only difference you seem to have identified is that on the dualist account the false belief is in some sense “freshly originated”. Why on earth should this make a difference? It appears to me to be an assumption with no justification.

    As a doctor you must know that there are a number of proposed explanations for the placebo effect. Examples include:

    * Believing that you have taken a relaxing agent is in itself relaxing.

    * Believing that you have taken a stimulant (and are about to be stimulated) is in itself stimulating.

    * Believing that you are being effectively treated is motivating and will cause you to try harder at other supportive activities such as taking exercise.

    * We want to believe that we are recovering and so emphasise any subjective feelings of improvement.

    I imagine that these and others are all true in different circumstances.

    These are reasonable explanations of how a false belief might lead to such a result. They apply equally whether you hold that belief is materialist or dualist. To say that the belief is originated adds nothing.

    (Incidentally, I am sure you are also aware that the Cochrane metastudy on the placebo effect found that evidence for it was much weaker than commonly supposed and almost entirely limited to subjective reports.)

  62. Here is the key experiment that lead Wigner to his Nobel work on symmetries:

    Eugene Wigner
    Excerpt: — When I returned to Berlin, the excellent crystallographer Weissenberg asked me to study: why is it that in a crystal the atoms like to sit in a symmetry plane or symmetry axis. After a short time of thinking I understood: being on the symmetry axis ensures that the derivatives of the potential energy vanish in two directions perpendicular to the symmetry axis. (In case of a symmetry plane the derivative of the potential energy vanishes in one direction.) This is how I became interested in the role of s y m m e t r i e s i n q u a n t u m m e c h a n i c s . I spent the holidays — Christmastime and summertime — in Hungary, in Budapest and in Alsógöd, on the shore of the Danube. There I wrote the book on “Group Theory and its Application to the Quantum Mechanics of Atomic Spectra.” [To the author 1983.] — The intrusion of group theory into quantum mechanics was not received with applause. Wolfgang Pauli called the idea Gruppenpest. Albert Einstein and Erwin Schrödinger also expressed their uneasiness. Max Born and Max von Laue were more encouraging. John von Neumann and Leo Szilard enthusiastically encouraged Wigner’s efforts. It was worth to do so: these efforts later resulted in a Nobel Prize.

    If an experiment is repeated elsewhere in another laboratory under similar conditions, it will give identical result. The experiment today yields the very same result as it yielded yesterday. If we turn the whole equipment by 300, it will not influence the result. The outcome depends neither on the location and timing of the experiment, nor on the spacial orientation of the equipment. Even speed (e.g. that of the Earth) does not influence the way the laws of Nature work. To express this b a s i c e x p e r i e n c e in a more direct way: the world does not have a privileged center, there is no absolute rest, preferred direction, unique origin of calendar time, even left and right seem to be rather symmetric.

    The interference of electrons, photons, neutrons has indicated that the state of a particle can be described by a vector. possessing a certain number of components. As the observer is replaced by another observer (working elsewhere, looking at a different direction, using an other clock, perhaps being lefthanded), the state of the very same particle is described by another vector, obtained from the previous vector by multiplying it with a matrix. This matrix transfers from one observer to another.

    http://www.reak.bme.hu/Wigner_.....io/wb1.htm

    i.e. the world does not have a ‘privileged center’ in the experiment, yet the conscious observer does!

    Thus Wigner’s dramatic statement here:

    “It was not possible to formulate the laws (of quantum theory) in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.” Eugene Wigner (1902 -1995) laid the foundation for the theory of symmetries in quantum mechanics, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugene_Wigner

  63. —markf: “The reason I dodge the materialism discussion is because I have been round that loop more times than I care to count.”

    The placebo effect is a special case and is offered as evidence of a phenomenon that materialism cannot explain. Your old arguments for materialism as a global world view [I, for one, do not remember them] do not speak to this specific issue.

    —”The same arguments come up. People get very cross. And no one learns anything or changes their mind.” Frankly I have better things to do.”

    If you have the time and the disposition to scrutinize everyone else’s arguments, it would seem that you would also have the time and the disposition to subject your own arguments to scrutiny.

    –”It is much more useful to discuss smaller scale precise issues such as whether the placebo effect is evidence for dualism.”

    Useful to whom? Personally, I find straight answers to straight questions to be very useful. How does a materialist even imagine that his world view can be reconciled with the placebo effect? Take us through the process, beginning with the Doctor [as matter], his suggestion [as matter] the patient’s conviction [as matter] and its capacity to change matter’s momentum [the brain reversing its previous course, which was also caused by matter]. I want to experience this fantastic voyage.

  64. #62

    StephenB

    I provided several explanations of how the placebo effect might work in #60 above. Perhaps you might describe how this process differs in the case of a dualist mind?

  65. markf @ 58 “It is much more useful to discuss smaller scale precise issues such as whether the placebo effect is evidence for dualism.”

    That is not true. If you don’t have the BIG PICTURE correct (think rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic) then smaller scale issues don’t matter. Says the moth…

  66. –markf: “I provided several explanations of how the placebo effect might work in #60 above. Perhaps you might describe how this process differs in the case of a dualist mind?”

    Your “explanation” @60 was not an explanation, it was simply a claim:

    As you wrote, “They [the points listed] apply equally whether you hold that belief is materialist or dualist perspective.”

    But that is precisely the point that is being disputed. How can the placebo effect “apply” to a materialistic perspective?

    Several of us have already provided an explanation from the dualist perspective. We are waiting for yours.

  67. —mark: “Perhaps you might describe how this process differs in the case of a dualist mind?”

    We have already done that. The placebo effect requires the existence of a two-way street, meaning that the mind can influence the brain and the brain can influence the mind.

    If, as the materialists tell us, the human mind is simply the result of chemical and electrical activity in the brain, then the physical is the cause of the mental and the mental cannot be the cause of the physical. For the materialist, there is only a one way street. The mental component cannot influence the physical component. That is one of several reasons why the placebo effect renders materialism implausible. What is your answer to that problem?

  68. tgp RE 65
    “That is not true. If you don’t have the BIG PICTURE correct (think rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic) then smaller scale issues don’t matter. Says the moth…”

    Exactly!!!!!

    Vivid

  69. vivid and tgp, I agree with the ‘”Big Picture’, although markf is presented with many lines of evidence, from the consciousness centered quantum mechanical basis of reality, to the ability of ‘intention’ to effect random number generators, that ‘Big Picture’ evidence is ignored. It seems that markf ignores what reality is telling us about the importance of consciousness to the basis of reality, and has instead chosen to believe whatever he can imagine to be true,,, IN SPITE of what the evidence says. As StephenB has clearly pointed out, markf has yet to elucidate any plausible materialistic mechanism whatsoever for the placebo effect, save other than what he ‘wishes/imagines’ for it to be true. What markf is doing is simply not even in the ballpark of science!

  70. #67 StephenB

    #67

    We have already done that. The placebo effect requires the existence of a two-way street, meaning that the mind can influence the brain and the brain can influence the mind.

    I can’t see any dualist account of how you go from Doctor prescribes sugar pill to person recovers.  However, as you also think my account is not complete I will spell it out in more detail.

    Three important points. 

    1) As the recent Cochrane report makes clear the evidence for the placebo effect is fairly weak and pretty much confined to subjective reports of feeling better (I found this out as a result of researching in response to this thread).

    We studied the effect of placebo treatments by reviewing 202 trials comparing placebo treatment with no treatment covering 60 healthcare problems. In general, placebo treatments produced no major health benefits, although on average they had a modest effect on outcomes reported by patients, such as pain.

    2) Where the placebo effect is established the cause is not yet known.  All we have are hypotheses.

    3) There may well be multiple causes for the placebo effect.

    My case is that these hypotheses work just as well if you have a materialist theory of mind as if you have a dualist theory.

    Here is one such  hypothesis.

    (a) The doctor prescribes a sugar pill but tells the patient it is a new effective treatment for arthritis.

    (b) This causes the patient to believe that the pill will cause them to recover.

    (c) This belief causes them to take more exercise.

    (d) The exercise relieves their arthritis symptoms.

    You think that the belief in (b) is immaterial.  I think it is material.  But this does not affect the plausibility of the causal chain.

    Now perhaps you can give an explanation at a similar level of detail which shows why the placebo effect can only be explained by dualism? 

  71. All you “big picture” guys. Clearly it is possible to debate:

    Is the placebo effect evidence against materialism?

    without having to replay 2000 years of debate over the mind body problem. We will have to disagree over which is the more useful debate.

  72. Mark:

    The Cochrane report certainly does not falsify the placebo effect. Indeed, the fact that the effect remains well documented even in such a large meta analysis is proof of its strong reality. We could open a long discussion about the general meaning and relevance of this kind of meta analyses, but it’s probably not worthwhile.

    The important point is: the effect remains statistically well documented, especially in continuous studies, and certainly not only in patient reporting studies.

    Finally, I would point to you an important statement in the meta analysis, which IMO reinforces the validity of the effect, and its pure cognitive nature:

    “Larger effects of placebo were also found in trials that did not inform patients about the possible placebo intervention.”

    QED.

  73. Mark:

    (a) The doctor prescribes a sugar pill but tells the patient it is a new effective treatment for arthritis.

    (b) This causes the patient to believe that the pill will cause them to recover.

    (c) This belief causes them to take more exercise.

    (d) The exercise relieves their arthritis symptoms.

    For all that I know, that is a very unlikely explanation. I do believe that the placebo effect must be explained at the level of subtle body regulations (immune system, endocrine system, cytokines), which are the networks that are more directly connected to the nervous system.

  74. Mark:

    All you “big picture” guys. Clearly it is possible to debate:

    Is the placebo effect evidence against materialism?

    without having to replay 2000 years of debate over the mind body problem. We will have to disagree over which is the more useful debate.

    Yes and no. I would say: yes, but many of the issues in those 2000 years of debate may also be relevant issues in the specific debate about placebo. You cannot completely separate the two things.

  75. Gpuccio

    #72 I don’t deny that there is such a thing as placebo effect and did not intend to imply that.  The important point is that:

    In general, placebo treatments produced no major health benefits, although on average they had a modest effect on outcomes reported by patients, such as pain

    i.e. they are subjective effects which are just the kind of thing that can be explained by increased motivation etc.  I don’t get the significance of:

    “Larger effects of placebo were also found in trials that did not inform patients about the possible placebo intervention.

    All that shows is that the stronger the belief the stronger the effect.

    #73

    For all that I know, that is a very unlikely explanation.

    Why?  Each step in the process is well-established individually.  We do believe doctors, believe in getting better is motivating, taking more exercise does relief arthritis symptoms.

    I do believe that the placebo effect must be explained at the level of subtle body regulations (immune system, endocrine system, cytokines), which are the networks that are more directly connected to the nervous system

    On the other hand you provide zero evidence for this assertion.

    Yes and no. I would say: yes, but many of the issues in those 2000 years of debate may also be relevant issues in the specific debate about placebo. You cannot completely separate the two things

    If there is something relevant let’s hear about that specific thing and why it is relevant instead of trying to boil ocean before we examine anything else.

    I would add that even if turns out that there are more dramatic objective placebo effects and we have no idea what causes them – this still no more plausible under a dualist assumption than a materialist assumption. I am still waiting for an account of how dualist minds cause the placebo effect which is not equally applicable to materialist minds.

  76. #67 StephenB

    If, as the materialists tell us, the human mind is simply the result of chemical and electrical activity in the brain, then the physical is the cause of the mental and the mental cannot be the cause of the physical. For the materialist, there is only a one way street. The mental component cannot influence the physical component. That is one of several reasons why the placebo effect renders materialism implausible. What is your answer to that problem?

    This is not specific to the placebo effect.  It is an old objection to the materialist view of the mind which is completely generic. Many activities other than the placebo effect imply two-way interaction between the physical and the mental.  It is based on a misunderstanding of the materialist view of the mind (or at least my view). For a materialist the mental is not the result of physical and chemical activities in the brain – it is physical and chemical activities in the brain. The mental and the  physical are different views of the same thing. So there is no question of one influencing the other.  But you are luring me into that old time-wasting dispute.

  77. markf, you state:

    ‘For a materialist the mental is not the result of physical and chemical activities in the brain – it is physical and chemical activities in the brain.’

    Yet material and physical is reducible to information;

    The following articles show that even atoms (Ions) are subject to teleportation:

    Of note: An ion is an atom or molecule in which the total number of electrons is not equal to the total number of protons, giving it a net positive or negative electrical charge.

    Ions have been teleported successfully for the first time by two independent research groups
    Excerpt: In fact, copying isn’t quite the right word for it. In order to reproduce the quantum state of one atom in a second atom, the original has to be destroyed. This is unavoidable – it is enforced by the laws of quantum mechanics, which stipulate that you can’t ‘clone’ a quantum state. In principle, however, the ‘copy’ can be indistinguishable from the original (that was destroyed),,,
    http://www.rsc.org/chemistrywo.....ammeup.asp

    Atom takes a quantum leap – 2009
    Excerpt: Ytterbium ions have been ‘teleported’ over a distance of a metre.,,,
    “What you’re moving is information, not the actual atoms,” says Chris Monroe, from the Joint Quantum Institute at the University of Maryland in College Park and an author of the paper. But as two particles of the same type differ only in their quantum states, the transfer of quantum information is equivalent to moving the first particle to the location of the second.
    http://www.freerepublic.com/fo.....1769/posts

    ,,, reducible to infinite information at that,,,

    Explaining Information Transfer in Quantum Teleportation: Armond Duwell †‡ University of Pittsburgh
    Excerpt: In contrast to a classical bit, the description of a (photon) qubit requires an infinite amount of information. The amount of information is infinite because two real numbers are required in the expansion of the state vector of a two state quantum system (Jozsa 1997, 1) — Concept 2. is used by Bennett, et al. Recall that they infer that since an infinite amount of information is required to specify a (photon) qubit, an infinite amount of information must be transferred to teleport.
    http://www.cas.umt.edu/phil/fa.....lPSA2K.pdf

    and yet ‘information’ always comes from a mind:

    Stephen C. Meyer – The Scientific Basis For Intelligent Design
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4104651/

    ,,, i.e. Information NEVER comes from a material process;

    The Capabilities of Chaos and Complexity: David L. Abel – Null Hypothesis For Information Generation – 2009
    To focus the scientific community’s attention on its own tendencies toward overzealous metaphysical imagination bordering on “wish-fulfillment,” we propose the following readily falsifiable null hypothesis, and invite rigorous experimental attempts to falsify it: “Physicodynamics cannot spontaneously traverse The Cybernetic Cut: physicodynamics alone cannot organize itself into formally functional systems requiring algorithmic optimization, computational halting, and circuit integration.” A single exception of non trivial, unaided spontaneous optimization of formal function by truly natural process would falsify this null hypothesis.
    http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247/pdf

    ,,, Thus the source for all the material in the universe MUST BE a Mind, moreover the Mind which created this universe must possess infinite information so as to explain the origination of even one photon of the universe.

    Scientific Evidence For God (Logos) Creating The Universe – 2008 – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3995300

    ,,, So basically Markf, to stay ‘scientific’, you must prove that my assertions are false, you can do this by creating a photon by material processes, or by falsifying Abel’s Null hypothesis! Until then your arguments will reduce to nothing more than appeals to emotion and/or deception, much like Richard Dawkins arguments reduced here:

    Richard Dawkins Lies About William Lane Craig AND Logic!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1cfqV2tuOI

  78. I wouldn’t go overboard with this placebo-effect thing. It is interesting that SSRIs are no more effective than placebo in mildly to moderately depressed patients, but only because it exposes the drug company blather about serotonin–not because the placebo effect somehow demonstrates the immateriality of mind. Mark is right on this one. The placebo effect is most marked in drug studies where the outcomes are based on subjective measurements. The real story is that “science” is not always knowledge. Sometimes it’s perception and wishfull thinking. Just a few years ago, “science” was telling us that SSRIs are wonder drugs that cure depression. There was almost a pure consensus in the medical community. This consensus was clearly wrong, and the same may turn out to be true about other “scientific” verities, such as AGW and Natural Selection.

  79. allanius, the main point is not the potency of the placebo effect, for markf concedes that the placebo effect is ‘real’, though like you he argues for a ‘limit’ to the effect, the main point is that markf must deny the existence of mind completely in order to explain whatever limited placebo effect he concedes, thus no matter what may be argued as to potency of the placebo effect, the burden is on markf to explain the effects we witness for mind by purely material processes, yet, as StephenB pointed out markf provides no detailed account whatsoever, just an appeal to his ‘belief’ that it is so!

  80. Mark @70 and @76:
    As all materialists do, you contradict yourself with every new turn.

    First, you say that the placebo effect is not in dispute.

    I point out that for dualists, the mind can influence the body and the body can influence the mind, while materialism is a one way street and permits only a body/mind influence

    ***You respond by questioning the very same placebo effect that you originally assumed as true.

    Now, you go back to affirming it again. Back an forth we go.

    I ask you for a materialist account of the sequence, and

    ***you provide another description of the sequence and call it a hypothesis.

    We already know the sequence and we already know about the causal chain, which by the way you both affirm and deny depending on which point you are trying to defend.

    I ask you to explain how the materialist can explain the placebo effect [mind influences brain] if, as the materialist says, it is only the case that the brain can influence the mind.

    ***You respond by saying that the mind and brain are different ways of understanding the SAME THING, which, of course, would mean that one cannot influence the other. If A influences B, then A cannot be B. If A is the same thing as B, then A cannot influence B nor can B influence A. Thus, if mind and brain are the same thing, there can be no placebo “effect.”

    You have to make up your mind whether you believe

    [a] The placebo effect is a cause/effect relationship or if it isn’t.

    [b] If you are going deny its validity or accept it.

    [c] If you are going to keep describing the sequence of events known as the placebo effect, or if you are going to explain how a materialist can account for it.

    [d] If you are going to argue on behalf of body-to-mind materialism, which says that mind cannot influence matter, or if you are going to argue on behalf of the mind-to-body placebo effect.

    Or, if you are going to try to escape from all these materialistic implications by

    [e] saying that the mind and brain are, in effect, the SAME THING, then you need to explain how one can influence the other. How does the mind change the brain if it is the same thing as the brain?

    (By the way, I do appreciate your dilemma. Materialists really do say that the mind and the body are the same thing and are ALSO different things, depending on which argument they are trying to answer. That is one of many reasons why their world view is irrational).

  81. StephenB

     

    I am sorry.  I obviously haven’t explained myself very well.

    [a] The placebo effect is a cause/effect relationship or if it isn’t.

    It is. I have learned during the course of this discussion that it is much weaker than I thought and restricted to subjective reports such as pain. This may the source of confusion.

    [b] If you are going deny its validity or accept it.

    I don’t understand this.  What does valid/invalid mean in this context? 

    [c] If you are going to keep describing the sequence of events known as the placebo effect, or if you are going to explain how a materialist can account for it.

    I don’t see the difference. If I describe the sequence of events using well established causal chains for which there are materialistic explanations then what more can I do?

    [d] If you are going to argue on behalf of body-to-mind materialism, which says that mind cannot influence matter, or if you are going to argue on behalf of the mind-to-body placebo effect.

    See below.

    Or, if you are going to try to escape from all these materialistic implications by

    [e] saying that the mind and brain are, in effect, the SAME THING, then you need to explain how one can influence the other. How does the mind change the brain if it is the same thing as the brain?

    I don’t think I do.  My whole point is that mind and brain are the same thing so it is nonsense to talk of one influencing the other.  The placebo effect is an example of the brain/mind influencing other parts of the body.

    (By the way, I do appreciate your dilemma. Materialists really do say that the mind and the body are the same thing and are ALSO different things, depending on which argument they are trying to answer. That is one of many reasons why their world view is irrational).

    I don’t think I have ever said they are different things.  If so, it was a mistake and will gladly correct it.

    I do feel this is rather a one-way interrogation.  How about an account of how the placebo effect happens under dualism?

  82. Marf, seeing that you are trying to argue for a ‘limited’ placebo effect, I thought you might be interested in this experiment which argues for a much more dramatic effect than you would feel comfortable with from your atheistic perspective::

    The Placebo Effect
    Excerpt: Take, for example, the experiment conducted by surgeon Bruce Moseley in the summer of 1994. Moseley had ten patients scheduled for an operation intended to relieve arthritis pain in their knees. The patients, all men and military veterans, were wheeled into an operating room at the Houston Veterans Affairs Medical Center. All ten were draped, examined and anesthetized. All ten were dispatched the next day with crutches and a painkiller. What happened while they were under anesthesia, however, differed greatly. Two of them underwent the standard arthroscopic surgery, three had a rinsing alone, and five had no surgical procedure at all. Moseley simply stabbed the patients’ knees three times with a scalpel to give the illusion of surgery. I should add at this point that all ten patients were aware that they were part of a unique experiment; however they did not know who would receive the real surgery and who would not. Neither did Moseley, since he recognized that if he knew in advance what he was going to do with each patient he might somehow give it away. It wasn’t until he was actually in the operating room that he opened an envelope telling him whether he was doing a genuine procedure or a fake one.

    The placebo worked. Six months after surgery, still unaware of whether they had real surgery or not, all ten reported much less pain. All were happy with the outcome of the operation. One of the patients who had been assigned to the placebo group, a seventy-six year old from Beaumont, Texas, was interviewed several years after the experiment. He now mows his lawn and walks whenever he wants. “The surgery was two years ago,” he says, “and the knee has never bothered me since. It’s just like my other knee now. I give a whole lot of credit to Dr. Moseley.”

    Credit for what prompted Dr. Moseley to embark upon such an unorthodox experiment can be given to another doctor, Nelda Wray. One day she confronted him with a startling question: “How did he know that the results he was getting from the surgery weren’t just due to the placebo effect?”

    “It can’t be,” Moseley remembers responding, but without missing a beat Doctor Wry responded, “It can be. The bigger and more dramatic the patient perceives the intervention to be, the bigger the placebo effect. Big pills have more effect than small pills, injections have more effect than pills, and surgery has the greatest effect of all.”

    And she was proved right, which has given birth to a whole new area of investigation, the “placebo surgery.” It seems the whole symbolic act of surgery—the shedding of blood, the knowledge and wisdom of the surgeons, even the scars that focus the mind to the dramatic act are all part of the healing process.
    http://www.learnmindpower.com/.....bo-effect/

  83. markf, here is another study of the placebo effect intruding on the surgical world;

    ‘The results were replicated: arthroscopic surgery was equal therapeutically to the placebo effect.27 The placebo had found its way into surgical rooms.,,,Perhaps the most impressive aspect of surgical placebo arose in a groundbreaking 2004 study. In the innovative field of stem-cell research, a new approach was taken with Parkinson’s disease. Human embryonic dopamine neurons were implanted through tiny holes in the patients’ brains. Once again, the results were encouraging. And once again, the procedure failed to do better than a placebo. In this case, the placebo involved tiny holes incised in the skull without implantation of stem cells.

    As the researchers confessed,

    “The placebo effect was very strong in this study”.28

    But how can it be that the therapeutic expectancy alone often produces results equal to those from actual surgery?

    It appears that the mind is exerting control over somatic processes, including diseases.
    http://bipolarblast.wordpress......bo-effect/

    Pretty neat huh?

  84. —markf: “I don’t think I have ever said they are different things. If so, it was a mistake and will gladly correct it.”

    Fair enough. I now understand that you, unlike many materialists, are not arguing that the mind is a product of matter. I assumed that you were presenting classic argument for epiphenomenalism. Sorry

    —“My whole point is that mind and brain are the same thing so it is nonsense to talk of one influencing the other.”

    —“The placebo effect is an example of the brain/mind influencing other parts of the body.”

    —“I do feel this is rather a one-way interrogation. How about an account of how the placebo effect happens under dualism?

    I can understand your last point very well, since I often make the reverse complaint to Darwinists who will not subject their views to scrutiny. So, I will cover all three of your points with the same answer:

    The materialist, by acknowledging that the brain changes the body, feels that he is being reasonable. However, what he does not take into account is the fact that the brain is also being changed. What caused the brain to change? For the dualist, the answer is not hard to conceive: It must be an immaterial mind that changes both the brain and the body. Or, it could be that the mind changes the brain which, in turn, changes the body.

    We know that positive thinking can affect positive changes in the brain and that negative thinking can cause negative changes in the brain. [Recall that in The Spiritual Brain, the authors provide evidence that mental activity causes changes in the brain]. We also know that rigorous mental exercises affect changes in the brain. Medical professional recommend that older people keep exercising their minds to stave off dementia.

    In a reciprocal sense, we also know that the body/brain can influence the mind. A man can, for example, improve his attitude and his sense of well being by simply improving his posture. In this case, either the body influences the mind, or else the body influences the brain which, in turn, influences the mind. Thus, the mind can influence the brain, and the brain can influence the mind. Obviously, that means that they are two different entities.
    Returning to the placebo effect, per se, the materialist’s explanatory problems do not end with the patient’s mind/body dynamic. He also has to account for the origin of the suggestions that begin the change process, which includes the mind and brain of the physician who conceived them. For the dualist, everything falls into place. I have already presented the flow chart earlier, which names which things are material [the brain of the doctor and the patient and the improved body condition of the patient] and those things that are immaterial [the doctor’s mind, his suggestions, and the convictions they produce in the patients mind, which often, but not always, produce physical changes in the patient’s body.

    The materialist [of the mind=brain variety] has no answers for any of these things. How does he explain the two-way mind/body interaction? How does he explain the changes in the patient’s brain that result from the placebo effect? He can’t resort to the patient’s mind because he has already ruled out that faculty. He can’t resort to the patient’s convictions or the doctor’s suggestions that prompted them without also reducing both to material entities. So, what about that? Can they be measured? Do they have mass? If so, how are they transmitted into a patient’s mind which has no extra room for any more mass or weight? Or, is it the case that suggestions made of a material substance, complete with size, shape, and mass, add to the weight of the patient’s brain?

    Until you can address these questions, you have not really provided an explanation. No one is asking you to prove them. I, for one, just want to know how you think such a sequence is even conceivable from a materialist point of view.

  85. That should read, “If so, how are they (suggestions) transmitted into a patient’s [brain] which has no extra room for any more mass or weight.”

  86. StephenB

    The two way mind/body interaction seems rather simple. The brain effects the body, the body effects the brain. In addition the brain at one time effects the brain at a later time. Where is the problem?

    Can the patient’s convictions be measured? Not with current technology – but in principle yes. They would not add additional weight to the brain because they would correspond to a rearrangement of the existing matter.

    Think of it this way. Imagine that some apparent humans were actually manufactured androids. The androids could show all aspects of the placebo effect. They could have speech detectors which created patterns in their neural circuitry corresponding to a belief they were being treated. These patterns could then have an impact on their behaviour which in turn had an impact on their recovery processes. The presence of a mind which is some other kind of thing adds nothing and indeed raises awkward questions about how that mind is influenced by and influences physical things.

  87. BA77

    I am open to the possibility that there is an “strong” placebo effect that goes beyond subjective reports of pain. Indeed, I thought that 2 days ago before I started to read more about it. It doesn’t have anything to do with atheism or materialism. Even if there were a strong placebo effect it is not evidence for dualism.

    I already knew about the Moseley study. Two points.

    (1) It is based on patients’ subjective reports of pain relief. So it is an example of a “weak” placebo effect.

    (2) There is no control group i.e. a group who had no treatment and knew they were not being treated. This is a common problem with studies that are mean’t to show a placebo effect. In any group of sick people some get better, go into remission or at least report less pain in any case. Indeed the BMJ paper arising from the Moseley study only concludes that the operation is no better than placebo – not that the placebo is better than no treatment.

    I would want to read the McRae at al paper before coming to any conclusions. These blogs can be very misleading.

  88. Onlookers:

    Pardon some remarks on brains, bodies and minds, in light of the significance of the placebo effect.

    Given the way the thread above is affected by MF’s ongoing (rather convenient for him) boycott of anything I have to say [usually, on the increasingly threadbare claim that he has not the time to see or follow up what I have to say . . . ], this will only have effect through your interventions or your quiet observations.

    But of course, we are not forced to follow MF’s boycott.

    Now, we have a fair body of evidence above, on how the placebo effect documents the old principle and saying that “belief kills and belief cures.”

    In the negative sense, I can add to the above the observation of the manner of execution reported for certain tribes in New Guinea. Namely, the condemned was simply pointed at with a bone by the witch doctor for the tribe. And, apparently, within hours the victim would die. Belief in the power of a witch doctor could be fatal.

    Similarly, we are all aware of he concept of someone dying of heartbreak. That is, after sufficiently massively damaging blows to the psyche, some people can lose their will to live, and die as a result.

    More positively, above, thanks to BA, we see where even in the case of surgery, the ritual of surgery and the context of trust in the medical man as healer, can function as a case of faith in the Healer.

    All of this points strongly to two-way effects, where mentality and embodiment interact, sometimes for the good, sometimes for the bad.

    But, is this all accountable for on materialistic models, whether emergentist ones or the Crick-style reductionism to neural networks summed up in his The Astonishing Hypothesis of 1994?

    Since MF seems to be of the Crickian stripe of reductionist materialist, it is useful to pause and cite Crick again:

    . . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing.

    Johnson’s rebuke that Crick should be willing to preface his books etc with the note that his own works were nothing more than neurological networks firing away on electro-chemistry, is enough to highlight the fatal self-referential incoherence involved. That was discussed in 59 above, and of course never answered by MF (who consistently will not address the multiple ways in which materialism reduces to self-referential incoherence).

    Now, too, let us look at the Derek Smith two-tier controller cybernetic loop model [and diagram] here, in the immediate context of a discussion of neurons, brains and minds in bodies.

    Once we see that a two-tier controller is potentially involved, the materialist’s imagined difficulties of an alternative view by and large vanish:

    1 –> The brain/CNS-body system obviously incorporates a first level in-the-loop controller.

    2 –> But, just as with an ordinary technological control loop, the behaviour of a controller is not self-explanatory.

    3 –> A control loop is an example of functionally specific and complex organisation, which has to be tuned, and it has to have a set-point as target, which may move along a path [think of a ship or aircraft on autopilot, where the succession of points to be at given times falls along a path].

    4 –> So, the existence of such a functional loop is best explained on a designer, and its path across time is best explained on a supervisory input that sets the desired path.

    5 –> In turn, this raises issues of adaptability, self-adjustment for robustness, and learning. All of which add to the complexity of the design.

    6 –> Now, Smith’s model incorporates a higher order, supervisory controller that sets up the path across time, and interacts informationally with the lower order controller, thus also the loop.

    7 –> This allows us to open our minds to consider various ways of implementing such an approach.

    8 –> Technologically, we may consider how we might design a futuristic robot that somehow captures the imaginative, general cognitive and volitional functions that are required at the higher level for the defined functions.

    9 –> This indeed points to a sophisticated hardware and software entity that continually monitors the situation of the robot in itself and in the world, through inbuilt proprioceptors and sensors that address the external world, creating a tracking model of where the robot is in the world just now, that can be linked to a stored record of where it has been, and where it is targetted to go.

    10 –> This last raises the issue of targetting. Whence, the target path across time, space and activities? Can such be programmed to be learning, imaginative/creative and even volitional, in any meaningful sense?

    11 –> Such are challenges for an artificially intelligent system. I believe the answer to such is open at this time.

    12 –> But equally, the existence of such a sophisticated architecture and its expression points to design as its best explanation.

    13 –> For, such an entity is a manifest case of that FSCO/I that points to design, on grounds of both induction from a large body of experience and the sort of “infinite monkeys” analysis that is made in this current ID foundations thread’s original post.

    14 –> As has been discussed starting here, that in turn points to the intelligent design of body plans for life forms, and the original, self-replicating, metabolising cell.

    15 –> Beyond that, we may note how the complex, finely tuned function of the physics that sets up the cosmos as we observe it, provides a base for C-chemistry, cell based life.

    16 –> THAT IS, THE BEST EXPLANATION FOR MATTER AS WE OBSERVE IT AS INTELLIGENT,C-CHEMISTRY, SELF-REPLICATING, METABOLISING CELL BASED LIVING CREATURES, IS MIND.

    17 –> Once we have gone there and seen that point, the underlying materialistic attempt to dismiss the reality of mind above and beyond matter, is revealed for the question-begging that it is. we have here good reason, on empirically based inference to best explanation, to trace matter to mind.

    19 –> So, that mind and matter in the form of brains and bodies can interact, even informationally — and in the context of each of us experiencing him/her self as a self-aware, self-moving, intelligent and purposing creature — should not be particularly surprising, then.

    18 –> Similarly, to believe only in what one sees, feels or touches physically or by means of physical instruments, is to first assume that one’s mindedness is real and puts one in touch with the real world.

    [ . . . ]

  89. 19 –> But, as the onward linked discussions at 59 above show, that lands one in all sorts of self-referential reductions to absurdity. Excerpting:

    a: Evolutionary materialism argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature; from hydrogen to humans by undirected chance and necessity.

    b: Therefore, all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws of chance and/or mechanical necessity acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of happenstance initial circumstances.

    c: But human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this picture. So, we rapidly arrive at Crick’s claim in his The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994): what we subjectively experience as “thoughts,” “reasoning” and “conclusions” can only be understood materialistically as the unintended by-products of the blind natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains.

    d: These forces are viewed as being ultimately physical, but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance shaped by forces of selection [["nature"] and psycho-social conditioning [["nurture"], within the framework of human culture [[i.e. socio-cultural conditioning and resulting/associated relativism].

    e: For instance, Marxists commonly derided opponents for their “bourgeois class conditioning” — but what of the effect of their own class origins? Freudians frequently dismissed qualms about their loosening of moral restraints by alluding to the impact of strict potty training on their “up-tight” critics — but doesn’t this cut both ways? Should we not ask a Behaviourist whether s/he is little more than yet another operantly conditioned rat trapped in the cosmic maze? And — as we saw above — would the writings of a Crick be any more than the firing of neurons in networks in his own brain?

    f: For further instance, we may take the favourite whipping-boy of materialists: religion. Notoriously, they often hold that belief in God is not merely error, but delusion. But, if such a patent “delusion” is so utterly widespread, even among the highly educated, then it “must” — by the principles of evolution — somehow be adaptive to survival, whether in nature or in society. And so, this would be an illustration of the unreliability of our reasoning ability, on the assumption of evolutionary materialism.

    g: Turning the materialist dismissal of theism around, evolutionary materialism itself would be in the same leaky boat. For, the sauce for the goose is notoriously just as good a sauce for the gander, too.

    h: That is, on its own premises [[and following Dawkins in A Devil's Chaplain, 2004, p. 46], the cause of the belief system of evolutionary materialism, “must” also be reducible to forces of blind chance and mechanical necessity that are sufficiently adaptive to spread this “meme” in populations of jumped- up apes from the savannahs of East Africa scrambling for survival in a Malthusian world of struggle for existence.

    i: The famous evolutionary biologist J. B. S. Haldane made much the same point in a famous 1932 remark:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.” [["When I am dead," in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (Highlight and emphases added.)]

    j: Therefore, though materialists will often try to pointedly ignore or angrily brush aside the issue, we may freely argue: if such evolutionary materialism is true, then (i) our consciousness, (ii) the “thoughts” we have, (iii) the beliefs we hold, (iv) the reasonings we attempt and (v) the “conclusions” we reach — without residue — must be produced and controlled by blind forces of chance happenstance and mechanical necessity that are irrelevant to purpose, truth, or logical validity. (The conclusions of such “arguments” may still happen to be true, by astonishingly lucky coincidence — but we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” or “warranted” them.) . . . .

    o: More important, to demonstrate that empirical tests provide empirical support to the materialists’ theories would require the use of the very process of reasoning and inference which they have discredited.

    p: Thus, evolutionary materialism arguably reduces reason itself to the status of illusion. But, as we have seen: immediately, that must include “Materialism.”

    q: In the end, it is thus quite hard to escape the conclusion that materialism is based on self-defeating, question-begging logic.

    r: So, while materialists — just like the rest of us — in practice routinely rely on the credibility of reasoning and despite all the confidence they may project, they at best struggle to warrant such a tacitly accepted credibility of mind relative to the core claims of their worldview. (And, sadly: too often, they tend to pointedly ignore or rhetorically brush aside the issue.)

    20 –> Coming back to the Smith model, we can now freely examine the possibility of mind interacting with brain and CNS as supervisory, imaginative, creative, volitional controller, and having an intimate interface such that there is two-way interaction.

    21 –> On that model, it is unsurprising that genuine belief can indeed affect the body. That is, the model is at least arguable.

    22 –> It fits in a wider context, where the experienced and observed world as a whole shows signs of design that cumulatively strongly point to mind before matter. So, it is empirically supportable.

    23 –> But what about the idea that the placebo effect can be explained on CNS state 1 affecting CNS and body at a later time, say CNS state 2?

    24 –> Whereby, mindedness is a perception that we are subjectively aware of [however that happens, not yet understood or explained], but has no effect in itself on the actual causal chain CNS t1 –> CNS t2.

    25 –> 24 of course highlights the yawning gap in the middle of the materialistic account of effects of mind. Namely, it simply ignores — sounds familiar? — what it cannot explain.

    26 –> As GP and SB etc have pointed out, we experience the world, and become aware of matter, through our conscious experience. Conscious mindedness as self-moved, intelligent and volitional creatures is empirical fact no 1 of our existence.

    27 –> To ignore or dismiss that fact, and to propose a frame of thought that depends on it for the frame of thought to exist, but which frame of thought insistently ignores that central fact, is highly dubious.

    28 –> Especially where we have good reason to infer that mind is in fact prior to matter.

    29 –> In short, apart from the self-referential absurdity it implies, and apart from its amorality etc, the materialistic approach, whether emergentist or reductionist, is blatantly simplistic. It fails to account for reality as we experience it, and so the way it tries to treat the placebo effect etc, is suspect.

    30 –> In short, the problem of he hard problem of consciousness is fatal for materialism, as is implied [but not acknowledged] by Wiki’s summary:

    “The term hard problem of consciousness, coined by David Chalmers[1], refers to the “hard problem” of explaining why we have qualitative phenomenal experiences.” . . . . “Phenomenal consciousness (P-consciousness) is simply experience; it is moving, coloured forms, sounds, sensations, emotions and feelings with our bodies and responses at the center. These experiences, considered independently of any impact on behavior, are called qualia. The hard problem of consciousness was formulated by Chalmers in 1996, dealing with the issue of “how to explain a state of phenomenal consciousness in terms of its neurological basis” (Block 2004).”

    31 –> The question-begging loop imposed by a priori materialism is obvious. As is the astonishing fact that there is simply no credible materialistic explanation of consciousness. Which is a condition of being able to conceive the worldview of materialism. Oops!

    32 –> And in the end, we see that the matter is one that scientism [the subject of the thread's original post] happens to be institutionally dominant in our day, in no small part through the impact of evolutionary materialism as a perceived adequate account of life and the cosmos.

    33 –> But as that a priori materialism unravels, the materialistic attempted account — dismissal, really — of mind, falls with it.

    ______________

    GEM of TKI

  90. F/N: There is an old saying about how the Greeks said that whenever they set out in a particular path of thought, they meet Plato and Aristotle on the way back.

    In that spirit, it may be worth our while to examine Plato’s remarks in his The Laws, Bk X, on the self-moved ensouled being:

    ________________

    >> Ath. . . . when one thing changes another, and that another, of such will there be any primary changing element? How can a thing which is moved by another ever be the beginning of change? Impossible. But when the self-moved changes other, and that again other, and thus thousands upon tens of thousands of bodies are set in motion, must not the beginning of all this motion be the change of the self-moving principle? . . . . self-motion being the origin of all motions, and the first which arises among things at rest as well as among things in motion, is the eldest and mightiest principle of change, and that which is changed by another and yet moves other is second.

    [[ . . . .]

    Ath. If we were to see this power existing in any earthy, watery, or fiery substance, simple or compound-how should we describe it?

    Cle. You mean to ask whether we should call such a self-moving power life?

    Ath. I do.

    Cle. Certainly we should.

    Ath. And when we see soul in anything, must we not do the same-must we not admit that this is life?

    [[ . . . . ]

    Cle. You mean to say that the essence which is defined as the self-moved is the same with that which has the name soul?

    Ath. Yes; and if this is true, do we still maintain that there is anything wanting in the proof that the soul is the first origin and moving power of all that is, or has become, or will be, and their contraries, when she has been clearly shown to be the source of change and motion in all things?

    Cle. Certainly not; the soul as being the source of motion, has been most satisfactorily shown to be the oldest of all things.

    Ath. And is not that motion which is produced in another, by reason of another, but never has any self-moving power at all, being in truth the change of an inanimate body, to be reckoned second, or by any lower number which you may prefer?

    Cle. Exactly.

    Ath. Then we are right, and speak the most perfect and absolute truth, when we say that the soul is prior to the body, and that the body is second and comes afterwards, and is born to obey the soul, which is the ruler? >>
    _________________

    So, the question becomes: are we willing to accept that experiential fact no 1, that we are self-moved intelligent and volitional beings, should be a start-point for our thinking? (We must be open to, and may even may later find a way to explain it on other things, but given the evident roots of the cosmos, that points to mind before matter too.)

  91. F/N 2: John Gregg has some choice words:

    __________________

    >>Not only do I not have a knock-down theory of consciousness, I don’t even have a clear definition of it. Different people mean different things by the term. In any kind of philosophical inquiry, you can always cheat by defining your problem away . . . As we inquire into some aspect of the world or ourselves, on one hand we must respect the sense in which people commonly use the words they use to talk about these aspects. On the other hand, we have some latitude to define the terms we use in such a way that they get to the heart of what is mysterious or interesting about whatever it is we are asking about. I subscribe to a characterization of consciousness that I believe gets to the meat of the matter. In my opinion, the meat of the matter is the Hard Problem . . . .

    The hard problem refers to the fact that you will never be able to tell me a story about information processing, or about biochemistry, or about anything based on physics as currently construed, which will come close to explaining why green looks green to me, or why middle C sounds like middle C. These basic ineffable sensations are called qualia (singular quale) in the literature of philosophy of mind. Subjective consciousness itself is sometimes characterized at the most basic what-it-is-like to be you or to have some sensation or another.

    We are taught that the entire universe and everything in it is made up of atoms and molecules and photons and things like that, all interacting according to the laws of physics. The claim of the Hard Problem as I understand it is that a) the redness of red as it appears to me is an absolute, objective1 fact of the universe, and b) that no account of atoms and molecules interacting, no matter the complexity of their interactions, will predict or explain the redness of red as it appears to me. So in the redness of red we are faced with an absolute, true fact of the universe, but one that no theory of physics, or information, or computation will ever be able to explain. That consciousness in this sense is real, and that it is utterly unexplainable in any terms familiar to science, is at its heart an intuition, and one not everyone shares . . . .

    The point here is that if you think of the brain as a big information processor, even being as generous as your wildest dreams will let you in terms of its sheer processing capacity, future physics, etc. you still leave something out. The information processor does not see red. It counts pixel values on its visual grid, it accesses memory locations, it does data smoothing and runs comparisons, but it does not have subjective experience. Perhaps when thought of in a certain way, from the point of view of a certain level of abstraction (projected onto the system by the observer), the information processor may be seen as seeing red, but there is no reason to believe – none in the world – that it really is seeing red, objectively, the way I (and presumably you) do . . . .

    The arguments about the inability of information processing or physical theories to explain subjective consciousness apply to the human brain itself. Just as the silicon, flipping bits, will never see red, we have no principled reason to derive the fact of our seeing red from the bit flipping in our own neurons.

    This point is illustrated by another thought experiment, that of the notion of a zombie. A zombie, in this context, is basically a person who has no phenomenal consciousness, that is, who experiences no qualia, but whose brain and cognitive machinery otherwise works just fine. A zombie has the same neural connections that you do, acts and talks like a normal person, but is “blank inside”. A zombie brain essentially is a human brain, but considered only as an information processor. Note that a zombie would claim to see red, and seem to fall in love, and would in fact do all the things with its brain that we do with ours, producing all the same reactions, except that it would not be like anything to be the zombie.

    The zombie thought experiment is extremely controversial. I happen to find it compelling, in that I find zombies logically conceivable. I think that, given our current understanding of brains, it makes sense to speak of a brain that worked exactly as mine does now, producing the same output responses to the same input stimuli, and employing the same neural mechanisms, but which skipped the phenomenal conscious part. The zombie thought experiment is intended to stimulate the same intuition that the Mary experiment does: we do not have, within current science, any principled, theoretical way (other than brute correlation) to get from a complete description of how the parts of the brain function to the fact of subjective consciousness and the existence of qualia. A failure of prediction of this sort is a sign that your science is incomplete at best, and quite possibly seriously flawed. With regard to the Hard Problem, this lack of a principled way of deriving facts about consciousness from facts about brain processing has been called the explanatory gap . . . .

    There are some people however, who think that the whole notion of zombies is incoherent. If something talks, thinks (if by “thinking” we mean only the sort of processing that could be modelled on a computer, the pure information processing manifested in us by our neural firings), and acts like a conscious person, then that entity is conscious, and to speculate about the conceivability of something that talks, thinks (in the limited way mentioned above) and acts like a person but is not conscious is like speculating on the conceivability of married bachelors. There is nothing extra about consciousness besides the functional mechanisms of information processing, and any claims to the contrary are just spooky mumbo-jumbo, the products of sloppy thinking.

    Nevertheless, I find the thought experiments convincing. While it is often hard to draw a distinct line between qualia and cognitive, functional information processing (a fact I believe is underexplored), there is something going on when I see red that is in principle unexplainable by any theory of mentation that allows for minds being implemented by computers. The redness of red as I experience it is real, and can not be inferred from information processing alone. Thus it stands as an extra fact about the universe that demands explanation. To define consciousness as the functional information processing is to define away the real mystery of consciousness, to sweep it under the carpet . . . .

    Another possible response to the problem of consciousness might be, “who cares?” If my zombie twin or a suitably programmed computer could write poetry that stirred the soul, or compose operas, or carry on lively cocktail party chatter as well as anyone else could; if, in fact, there were no externally observable differences between my zombie twin and me, why not just use Occam’s razor and forget the whole consciousness business? For all practical purposes, the universe runs quite well without any mention of it. This, however, is an intellectual abdication – the stick your head in the sand approach.

    Science does not progress by sweeping things under the rug which do not fit conveniently into the established order. In fact, in any scientific era, the science of the day seems complete and perfect, except for one or two minor anomalies. It is these little anomalies that end up bringing down the entire edifice. Further, every time there is a true scientific revolution, not only are the existing theories overturned in favor of new ones, but inevitably the old methods and criteria for what constitutes a good theory are revised as well, often radically. People who resist the Hard Problem because it has no meaning within the bounds of third person, objective scientific exploration are making a dogma of their methodology. They are generals fighting the last war . . . .

    My seeing of red is not a philosophy; it is not a way of thinking about or interpreting some theory or idea; it is not an abstraction; it is not an inference I have drawn or some metaphysical gloss I have put over reality. It is a brute fact about the universe, a fact of Nature. It is really, really there. It is not a theory – it is explanandum, not explanation. As such, it is incumbent upon our natural science to explain it. If my seeing of red is not amenable to the currently accepted methods of natural science, then so much the worse for those currently accepted methods. Those who deny the existence of qualitative consciousness remind me of the church officials who refused to look through Galileo’s telescope because they did not want their neat and tidy theological world upset by what they might see.

    So where do we go from here? Loopy as it sounds, consciousness, or something that scales up to consciousness in certain kinds of systems, must be built in at the ground floor, as part of the fundamental furniture of the universe. Someday, after we have pinned it down a bit, it will stand right up there with mass, charge, and spin. This view is traditionally called panpsychism, but some people prefer pan-protopsychism to emphasize that it is not consciousness as we know it that stands as a fundamental building block of the universe, but some tiny crumb or spark that, when scaled up, aggregates into full-blown human consciousness under certain conditions or in certain types of systems. Also, “panpsychism”, to some people has medieval, vitalist connotations; most contemporary panpsychists want to dissociate themselves from the belief that “rocks think”. No one knows (yet) the principles according to which proto-consciousness aggregates into full-blown human consciousness, or what is so special about brains that they support this aggregation. In the range of potential answers to these questions there is room for many different versions of panpsychism, some more conservative (for lack of a better term) than others. It may well be that consciousness scales up only under very particular circumstances, not normally found in nature, but which natural selection has stumbled upon and exploited as it “engineered” brains.
    _________________

    1 It is not really a contradiction to say that my subjective experience is an objective fact of the universe. >>
    __________________

    of course, I don’t necessarily buy panspsychism. But the point is that he ontological ground of mindedness is at least as fundamental to the nature of reality as is that of matter.

    And in a cosmos where between dark matter and dark energy we are only addressing 4% of the evident cosmos, we should be open minded. Remember, dark matter is interacting gravitationally but not electromagnetically, at least when we look at major cluster collisions.

    We must be open to think afresh.

    GEM of TKI

  92. F/N 3: Leibniz also has some ideas we should reckon with, in his The Monadology:

    __________________

    >> 1. The monad, of which we will speak here, is nothing else than a simple substance, which goes to make up compounds; by simple, we mean without parts.

    2. There must be simple substances because there are compound substances; for the compound is nothing else than a collection or aggregatum of simple substances.

    3. Now, where there are no constituent parts there is possible neither extension, nor form, nor divisibility. These monads are the true atoms [i.e. "indivisibles," the original meaning of a-tomos] of nature, and, in a word, the elements of things . . . .

    6. We may say then, that the existence of monads can begin or end only all at once, that is to say, the monad can begin only through creation and end only through annihilation. Compounds, however, begin or end by parts . . . .

    14. The passing condition which involves and represents a multiplicity in the unity, or in the simple substance, is nothing else than what is called perception. This should be carefully distinguished from apperception or consciousness . . . .

    16. We, ourselves, experience a multiplicity in a simple substance, when we find that the most trifling thought of which we are conscious involves a variety in the object. Therefore all those who acknowledge that the soul is a simple substance ought to grant this multiplicity in the monad . . . .

    17. It must be confessed, however, that perception, and that which depends upon it, are inexplicable by mechanical causes, that is to say, by figures and motions. Supposing that there were a machine whose structure produced thought, sensation, and perception, we could conceive of it as increased in size with the same proportions until one was able to enter into its interior, as he would into a mill. Now, on going into it he would find only pieces working upon one another, but never would he find anything to explain perception. It is accordingly in the simple substance, and not in the compound nor in a machine that the perception is to be sought. Furthermore, there is nothing besides perceptions and their changes to be found in the simple substance. And it is in these alone that all the internal activities of the simple substance can consist.>>
    _________________

    We may bring this up to date by making reference to more modern views of elements and atoms, through an example from chemistry. For instance, once we understand that ions may form and can pack themselves into a crystal, we can see how salts with their distinct physical and chemical properties emerge from atoms like Na and Cl, etc. per natural regularities (and, of course, how the compounds so formed may be destroyed by breaking apart their constituents!). However, the real issue evolutionary materialists face is how to get to mental properties that accurately and intelligibly address and bridge the external world and the inner world of ideas. This, relative to a worldview that accepts only physical components and must therefore arrive at other things by composition of elementary material components and their interactions per the natural regularities and chance processes of our observed cosmos. Now, obviously, if the view is true, it will be possible; but if it is false, then it may overlook other possible elementary constituents of reality and their inner properties. Which is precisely what Liebnitz was getting at.

    GEM of TKI

  93. markf, here is the McRae paper:

    Effects of perceived treatment on quality of life and medical outcomes in a double-blind placebo surgery trial. – McRae C
    CONTEXT: This study was part of a large double-blind sham surgery-controlled trial designed to determine the effectiveness of transplantation of human embryonic dopamine neurons into the brains of persons with advanced Parkinson’s disease. This portion of the study investigated the quality of life (QOL) of participants during the 1 year of double-blind follow-up.

    OBJECTIVES: To determine whether QOL improved more in the transplant group than in the sham surgery group and to investigate outcomes at 1 year based on perceived treatment (the type of surgery patients thought they received).

    DESIGN: Participants were randomly assigned to receive either the transplant or sham surgery. Reported results are from the 1-year double-blind period.

    SETTING: Participants were recruited from across the United States and Canada. Assessment and surgery were conducted at 2 separate university medical centers.

    PARTICIPANTS: A volunteer sample of 40 persons with idiopathic Parkinson’s disease participated in the transplant (“parent”) study, and 30 agreed to participate in the related QOL study: 12 received the transplant and 18 received sham surgery.

    INTERVENTIONS: Interventions in the parent study were transplantation and sham brain surgery. Assessments of QOL were made at baseline and 4, 8, and 12 months after surgery.

    MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Comparison of the actual transplant and sham surgery groups and the perceived treatment groups on QOL and medical outcomes. We also investigated change over time.

    RESULTS: There were 2 differences or changes over time in the transplant and sham surgery groups. Based on perceived treatment, or treatment patients thought they received, there were numerous differences and changes over time. In all cases, those who thought they received the transplant reported better scores. Blind ratings by medical staff showed similar results.

    CONCLUSIONS: The placebo effect was very strong in this study, demonstrating the value of placebo-controlled surgical trials.

  94. markf, sorry here is the Link to the paper:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15066900

    Moreover markf, for you the ‘scientific’ problem for you is not merely that you are postulating a material cause for the placebo effect, The problem for you, as StephenB keeps pointing out, is that you have yet to elucidate any plausible mechanism for your postulated material cause. Indeed since it has been impossible to specifically locate where ‘information/memories’ in the brain reside,,,

    A Reply to Shermer Medical Evidence for NDEs (Near Death Experiences) – Pim van Lommel
    Excerpt: For decades, extensive research has been done to localize memories (information) inside the brain, so far without success.,,,,Nobel prize winner W. Penfield could sometimes induce flashes of recollection of the past (never a complete life review), experiences of light, sound or music, and rarely a kind of out-of-body experience. These experiences did not produce any transformation. After many years of research he finally reached the conclusion that it is not possible to localize memories (information) inside the brain.,,
    http://www.nderf.org/vonlommel.....sponse.htm

    ,,, then markf, since no one has any clue where, or even if, information is stored in the brain, how in the world do you propose to elucidate a materialistic mechanism for your postulated materialistic cause??? markf you can’t even get to first base as to scientifically substantiating your claim in the least coherent way!!!! Whereas at least the dualist, since he holds there is a ‘higher dimensional’ component to man, (i.e. the mind/soul) can point to many lines of evidence. particularly this one line of evidence:

    The Four Dimensions Of Living Systems

    The predominance of quarter-power (4-D) scaling in biology

    Excerpt: Many fundamental characteristics of organisms scale

    with body size as power laws of the form:

    Y = Yo M^b,

    where Y is some characteristic such as metabolic rate, stride length or life span, Yo is a normalization constant, M is body mass and b is the allometric scaling exponent.

    A longstanding puzzle in biology is why the exponent b is usually some simple multiple of 1/4 (4-Dimensional scaling) rather than a multiple of 1/3, as would be expected from Euclidean (3-Dimensional) scaling.

    http://www.nceas.ucsb.edu/~dre.....18_257.pdf

    Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini, in ‘What Darwin Got Wrong’ offer an interesting example of the ‘fourth dimension’ of living systems:

    ‘The body masses of living organisms vary between 10^-13 grams (bacteria) to 10^8 grams (whales)…, that is, by 21 orders of magnitude. It’s interesting to see how other physico-chemical and biological properties and processes, and their ratios, scale with mass. How, for instance, surfaces and internal rates of transport, rates of cellular metabolism, whole organism metabolic rate, heartbeat, blood circulation, time and overall lifespan scale with mass. These are, of course, all three-dimensional systems, so it seems astounding that all the scaling factors, encompassing microorganisms, plants and animals, are multiples of a quarter, not a third.’

    “Although living things occupy a three-dimensional space, their internal physiology and anatomy operate as if they were four-dimensional. Quarter-power scaling laws are perhaps as universal and as uniquely biological a…s the biochemical pathways of metabolism, the structure and function of the genetic code and the process of natural selection.,,, The conclusion here is inescapable, that the driving force for these invariant scaling laws cannot have been natural selection.” Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini, What Darwin Got Wrong (London: Profile Books, 2010), p. 78-79

    http://www.uncommondescent.com/evolution/16037/

    Though Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini rightly find it inexplicable for ‘random’ Natural Selection to be the rational explanation for the scaling of the physiology, and anatomy, of living things to four-dimensional parameters, they do not seem to fully realize the implications this ‘four dimensional scaling’ of living things presents. This 4-D scaling is something we should rightly expect from a Intelligent Design perspective. This is because Intelligent Design holds that ‘higher dimensional transcendent information’ is more foundational to life, and even to the universe itself, than either matter or energy are. This higher dimensional ‘expectation’ for life, from a Intelligent Design perspective, is directly opposed to the expectation of the Darwinian framework, which holds that information, and indeed even the essence of life itself, is merely an ‘emergent’ property of the 3-D material realm.
    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1Gs_qvlM8-7bFwl9rZUB9vS6SZgLH17eOZdT4UbPoy0Y

    markf, I’m sure StephenB can explain this much clearer than I can, but from my perspective markf, YOU AIN”T EVEN STARTING IN THE RIGHT DIMENSION AS TO EXPLAINING THE PLACEBO EFFECT!!!!

  95. #94

    I’m sure StephenB can explain this much clearer than I can

    I hope so because I am afraid I haven’t the foggiest idea what you are saying. Sorry.

  96. Now you guys are doing the impossible—you’re making me sympathetic to Mark.

    You need to come up with a viable blinded study from a good journal showing your “strong” placebo effect on physical parameters. So far, all you’ve shown us the well-known effect on perception. (A patient with arthritis who reports improvement in pain and mobility is not the same thing as actual reduction in inflammation and inflammatory processes).

    Also I wonder where you are going with this mind vs body argument. One thing ID should not waste its time doing, in my humble opinion, is replaying the sorry history of philosophy, which equated intellect with the good. I’ve seen some posts on UD in recent days that almost seem to take us back to Berkeley. That doesn’t strike me as a very good way to move forward.

    Having said that, the placebo effect does seem to pose a problem for Mark in the area of free will. Patients can be made to change their minds about their physical well-being through a little sleight of hand by physicians. I wonder, is Mark saying that the information imparted by the physician causes a physical change in the brain? Even if that is the case, BA77 et al are correct—the mind is causing the change. Mind in this case is antecedent to matter, not the other way around, as the materialist paradigm suggests. Or is he suggesting something else? And if so, what?

    The patient, it seems, has free will—he is free in some sense to change his mind about his condition, based on information he receives. Mark would need to demonstrate how this freedom is consistent with strict materialism, which is deterministic.

  97. markf, to try to be a little more clear, you have yet to even begin to try to explain, in purely materialistic ’3-D’ processes, a phenomena which clearly cries out for a higher dimensional ‘mind’ as a explanation. Yet I showed, in the previous post, the fact that ALL life has a ‘four dimensional power scaling’. This four dimensional power scaling is simply inexplicable to your materialistic framework. i.e. why should all life scale to a ‘higher dimension’ unless there is a higher dimensional component within life, constraining the ‘material’ of life to that higher dimension, that materialists are missing? Though you, as a materialist, simply have no recourse to explain why this 4-D scaling is so, ID holds that this higher dimensional scaling is cause by ‘transcendent information’;

    Information and entropy – top-down or bottom-up development in living systems? A.C. McINTOSH – May 2010
    Excerpt: It is proposed in conclusion that it is the non-material information (transcendent to the matter and energy) that is actually itself constraining the local thermodynamics to be in ordered disequilibrium and with specified raised free energy levels necessary for the molecular and cellular machinery to operate.
    http://journals.witpress.com/journals.asp?iid=47

    And yet, though energy and matter can be shown to be constrained by ‘transcendent’ information as ID postulates,,,

    Quantum entanglement holds together life’s blueprint
    Excerpt: “If you didn’t have entanglement, then DNA would have a simple flat structure, and you would never get the twist that seems to be important to the functioning of DNA,” says team member Vlatko Vedral of the University of Oxford.
    http://neshealthblog.wordpress.....blueprint/

    ,,, materialism, until very, very, recently has denied that transcendent information even existed (Aspect), much less did materialists concede that ‘transcendent’ information was the primary, and dominate, influence in life that was constraining life to be so far out of thermodynamic equilibrium:,,,

    But to bring this all around to the placebo effect. Here we fairly clearly have a cause that is ‘information theoretic(4-D)’ in its origination, i.e. the patient is told the ‘information’ that he will get better if such and such course of action is taken. The patient ‘believes’ the information is ‘true’ and, as a result, gets better when the course of action is taken! And yet the course of action is known not to be the cure for the illness or disease.,,, ID has a very plausible mechanism for explaining the placebo effect in that ID holds that ‘information’ is more foundational to life than matter or energy are, thus ID can readily appreciate what is happening with the placebo effect, though not fully explaining the exact details, while materialism has no hope whatsoever of ever explaining the placebo effect!

  98. –mark: @84 “My whole point is that mind and brain are the same thing so it is nonsense to talk of one influencing the other.”

    I refute that point by showing that the mind and brain have to be different and do, indeed, influence one another. You respond with this:

    —mark @86 “The two way mind/body interaction seems rather simple. The brain effects the body, the body effects the brain. In addition the brain at one time effects the brain at a later time. Where is the problem?”

    Please reconcile the first statement [the mind and body cannot influence one another] with your second statement [the mind and body can influence one another]

  99. mark, please forgive me for pressing this, but I also need to know your answer to my question at a 85. Do you, as a materialist, believe in accordance with your philosophy that the Doctor’s positive suggestion [and the patient's positive conviction, which is the product of the doctor's suggestion] have size, shape, and mass?

  100. Mark, forget my comment at 98. I misread your post. Sorry. Please focus on @99

  101. mark, Oops, sorry, I notice that you did respond @86. I must go. I hope to respond later today.

  102. #99

    StephenB – no problem pressing this.

    “Do you, as a materialist, believe in accordance with your philosophy that the Doctor’s positive suggestion [and the patient's positive conviction, which is the product of the doctor's suggestion] have size, shape, and mass?”

    I believe that suggestion and the patient’s conviction are configurations of their respective brains. They have size, shape and mass in the same sense that software in RAM has size, shape and mass. It occupies some physical space which under other circumstances would be occupied in some other role (including not doing much at all).

  103. Allanius

    Having said that, the placebo effect does seem to pose a problem for Mark in the area of free will. Patients can be made to change their minds about their physical well-being through a little sleight of hand by physicians. I wonder, is Mark saying that the information imparted by the physician causes a physical change in the brain? Even if that is the case, BA77 et al are correct—the mind is causing the change. Mind in this case is antecedent to matter, not the other way around, as the materialist paradigm suggests. Or is he suggesting something else? And if so, what?

    I believe that the mind is a configuration of the brain.  So the physician’s brain formulates a plan, which it causes his body to carry out.  This in turn affects the brain of the patient creating a belief (a state of the brain) which causes the patient to feel better and possibly do things which make the patients body healthier.  Does that explain my position?

    The patient, it seems, has free will—he is free in some sense to change his mind about his condition, based on information he receives. Mark would need to demonstrate how this freedom is consistent with strict materialism, which is deterministic.

    I am a compatabilist.  I believe free will is compatible with determinism (to be strictly accurate – determinism plus random results).  So it is not a problem for me.

     

  104. markf, you keep trying to slip characteristics of mind into abilities of the brain. i.e. you are trying to pull yourself out of a swamp by pulling on your own hair!

  105. #104

    markf, you keep trying to slip characteristics of mind into abilities of the brain. i.e. you are trying to pull yourself out of a swamp by pulling on your own hair!

    BA77 – I believe they are the same thing. So this is not surprising!

  106. Onlookers,

    Pardon, but I could not but help notice MF @ 103:

    I am a compatabilist. I believe free will is compatible with determinism (to be strictly accurate – determinism plus random results). So it is not a problem for me.

    This is of course precisely the problem, not the solution [as determinism plus chance utterly undermines the credibility of mind as it reduces thought to forces that are irrelevant to truth, logic or responsibility in thought]; as has been pointed out all along, and as I excerpted on this morning at 89, in context.

    But of course, MF studiously ignores such and has stated above that he is unwilling to look at this issue, as he has done so previously. (In fact, as far as I can recall, from several threads over years now, regrettably, he has consistently ducked or obfuscated rather than resolved, the issue.)

    I will leave this post short, and will excerpt again what appears at 89, to call attention to the fatal, self referential incoherence flaw in such “compatibilism.”

    GEM of TKI

  107. F/N: Comment 89, point 19:

    _______________

    >> 19 –> But, as the onward linked discussions at 59 above show, that lands one in all sorts of self-referential reductions to absurdity. Excerpting:

    a: Evolutionary materialism argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature; from hydrogen to humans by undirected chance and necessity.

    b: Therefore, all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws of chance and/or mechanical necessity acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of happenstance initial circumstances.

    c: But human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this picture. So, we rapidly arrive at Crick’s claim in his The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994): what we subjectively experience as “thoughts,” “reasoning” and “conclusions” can only be understood materialistically as the unintended by-products of the blind natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains.

    d: These forces are viewed as being ultimately physical, but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance shaped by forces of selection [["nature"] and psycho-social conditioning [["nurture"], within the framework of human culture [[i.e. socio-cultural conditioning and resulting/associated relativism].

    e: For instance, Marxists commonly derided opponents for their “bourgeois class conditioning” — but what of the effect of their own class origins? Freudians frequently dismissed qualms about their loosening of moral restraints by alluding to the impact of strict potty training on their “up-tight” critics — but doesn’t this cut both ways? Should we not ask a Behaviourist whether s/he is little more than yet another operantly conditioned rat trapped in the cosmic maze? And — as we saw above — would the writings of a Crick be any more than the firing of neurons in networks in his own brain?

    f: For further instance, we may take the favourite whipping-boy of materialists: religion. Notoriously, they often hold that belief in God is not merely error, but delusion. But, if such a patent “delusion” is so utterly widespread, even among the highly educated, then it “must” — by the principles of evolution — somehow be adaptive to survival, whether in nature or in society. And so, this would be an illustration of the unreliability of our reasoning ability, on the assumption of evolutionary materialism.

    g: Turning the materialist dismissal of theism around, evolutionary materialism itself would be in the same leaky boat. For, the sauce for the goose is notoriously just as good a sauce for the gander, too.

    h: That is, on its own premises [[and following Dawkins in A Devil's Chaplain, 2004, p. 46], the cause of the belief system of evolutionary materialism, “must” also be reducible to forces of blind chance and mechanical necessity that are sufficiently adaptive to spread this “meme” in populations of jumped- up apes from the savannahs of East Africa scrambling for survival in a Malthusian world of struggle for existence.

    i: The famous evolutionary biologist J. B. S. Haldane made much the same point in a famous 1932 remark:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.” [["When I am dead," in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (Highlight and emphases added.)]

    j: Therefore, though materialists will often try to pointedly ignore or angrily brush aside the issue, we may freely argue: if such evolutionary materialism is true, then (i) our consciousness, (ii) the “thoughts” we have, (iii) the beliefs we hold, (iv) the reasonings we attempt and (v) the “conclusions” we reach — without residue — must be produced and controlled by blind forces of chance happenstance and mechanical necessity that are irrelevant to purpose, truth, or logical validity. (The conclusions of such “arguments” may still happen to be true, by astonishingly lucky coincidence — but we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” or “warranted” them.) . . . .

    o: More important, to demonstrate that empirical tests provide empirical support to the materialists’ theories would require the use of the very process of reasoning and inference which they have discredited.

    p: Thus, evolutionary materialism arguably reduces reason itself to the status of illusion. But, as we have seen: immediately, that must include “Materialism.”

    q: In the end, it is thus quite hard to escape the conclusion that materialism is based on self-defeating, question-begging logic.

    r: So, while materialists — just like the rest of us — in practice routinely rely on the credibility of reasoning and despite all the confidence they may project, they at best struggle to warrant such a tacitly accepted credibility of mind relative to the core claims of their worldview. (And, sadly: too often, they tend to pointedly ignore or rhetorically brush aside the issue.) >>
    _______________

    Right down to the closing off remark on the likely response.

    Let us hope that MF will work through the implications of his “compatibilism” on chance plus necessity/determinism, and will think again.

    If he does not, we should have every right to dismiss his views as:

    . . . on its own premises [[and following Dawkins in A Devil's Chaplain, 2004, p. 46], the cause of the belief system of evolutionary materialism, “must” also be reducible to forces of blind chance and mechanical necessity that are sufficiently adaptive to spread this “meme” in populations of jumped- up apes from the savannahs of East Africa scrambling for survival in a Malthusian world of struggle for existence.

    Sad, but maybe after such a reductio ad absurdum, there will be willingness to think again.

    GEM of TKI

  108. markf, your ‘belief’ that characteristics of mind can be reduced to abilities of brain is a false belief i.e. your ‘brain state’, to use your words, is a lie!

    The Mind and Materialist Superstition – Six “conditions of mind” that are irreconcilable with materialism – Michael Egnor – neurosurgeon:
    Excerpt: 1. Intentionality, 2. Qualia, 3. Persistence of Self-Identity, 4. Restricted Access, 5. Incorrigibility, 6. Free Will
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....super.html

    further notes:

    Mind-Brain Interaction and Science Fiction (Quantum connection) – Jeffrey Schwartz & Michael Egnor – audio
    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....8_39-08_00

    In The Wonder Of Being Human: Our Brain and Our Mind, Eccles and Robinson discussed the research of three groups of scientists (Robert Porter and Cobie Brinkman, Nils Lassen and Per Roland, and Hans Kornhuber and Luder Deeke), all of whom produced startling and undeniable evidence that a “mental intention” preceded an actual neuronal firing – thereby establishing that the mind is not the same thing as the brain, but is a separate entity altogether.
    http://books.google.com/books?.....8;lpg=PT28

    “As I remarked earlier, this may present an “insuperable” difficulty for some scientists of materialists bent, but the fact remains, and is demonstrated by research, that non-material mind acts on material brain.” Eccles

    “Thought precedes action as lightning precedes thunder.”
    Heinrich Heine – in the year 1834

  109. F/N 2:

    Nor is this analysis exactly news.

    Here is Plato in The Laws, Bk X, 360 BC, 2300+ years ago:

    ____________________

    First, an introduction in which Plato carefully distances himself from classical paganism:

    >>Ath. At Athens there are tales preserved in writing which the virtue of your state, as I am informed, refuses to admit. They speak of the Gods in prose as well as verse, and the oldest of them tell of the origin of the heavens and of the world, and not far from the beginning of their story they proceed to narrate the birth of the Gods, and how after they were born they behaved to one another. Whether these stories have in other ways a good or a bad influence, I should not like to be severe upon them, because they are ancient; but, looking at them with reference to the duties of children to their parents, I cannot praise them, or think that they are useful, or at all true. [[Notice Plato's own carefully stated skepticisms and moral concerns regarding classical paganism.] Of the words of the ancients I have nothing more to say; and I should wish to say of them only what is pleasing to the Gods. But as to our younger generation and their wisdom, I cannot let them off when they do mischief. For do but mark the effect of their words: when you and I argue for the existence of the Gods, and produce the sun, moon, stars, and earth, claiming for them a divine being, if we would listen to the aforesaid philosophers we should say that they are earth and stones only, which can have no care at all of human affairs, and that all religion is a cooking up of words and a make-believe . . . >>

    Next, he speaks more, in the voice of the Athenian Stranger, and exposes the core failures of evolutionary materialism. And yes, this philosophy is ancient, never mind its latest guise, a lab coat:

    >> [[The avant garde philosophers, teachers and artists c. 400 BC] say that the greatest and fairest things are the work of nature and of chance, the lesser of art [[ i.e. techne], which, receiving from nature the greater and primeval creations, moulds and fashions all those lesser works which are generally termed artificial . . . They say that fire and water, and earth and air [[i.e the classical "material" elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art, and that as to the bodies which come next in order-earth, and sun, and moon, and stars-they have been created by means of these absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only . . . .

    [[T]hese people would say that the Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [[Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT. (Cf. here for Locke's views and sources on a very different base for grounding liberty as opposed to license and resulting anarchistic "every man does what is right in his own eyes" chaos leading to tyranny.)] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [[ Evolutionary materialism leads to the promotion of amorality], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [[Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality "naturally" leads to continual contentions and power struggles], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [[such amoral factions, if they gain power, "naturally" tend towards ruthless tyranny; here, too, Plato hints at the career of Alcibiades], and not in legal subjection to them . . . . >>
    ____________________

    We were warned, by one of the leading lights of our civilisation, 2,300+ years ago.

    Why is it that every high school or at least College student does not know this warning, and the companion parable of the cave — especially the false enlightenment of the manipulative shadow shows (a show is a deliberate thing not an accident of mis-perception! [nb cf video at the linked]) confused for reality?

    Should we not take time, and think again?

    GEM of TKI

  110. mf “I believe that the mind is a configuration of the brain.”

    What your saying here is all there is are changes in brain states.

    mf “So the physician’s brain formulates a plan,”

    Not really to be precise the physician has a change in brain states.

    mf “which it causes his body to carry out.”

    The change in brain states causes certain actions of the body.

    mf “This in turn affects the brain of the patient creating a belief (a state of the brain)”

    Cerain actions of the preceding change in brain states cause another change in brain states.

    mf”which causes the patient to feel better and possibly do things which make the patients body healthier.”

    A change in brain state causes a change in brain states that causes a change in brain states.

    mf “Does that explain my position?”

    I guess if you call a change in brain states causes a change in brains states causes a change in brain states an explanation

    To quote Crick from KF’s post in 88

    . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.”

    Or your nothing but a pack of brain states. What am I missing Mark?

    Vivid

  111. #110 Vivid

    “Or your nothing but a pack of brain states. What am I missing Mark?”

    Nothing – you got it.

  112. mf Re 111

    That means that I am a theist and you a materialist because of the configuration of our brain states. I am pro ID and you anti ID becuae of the configuration of our brain states. What causes the difference in our brain states are previous brain states. What causes brain states

    “are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.”

    Nerve cells and molecules are neither good or bad, better or worse. My brain state ( belief) is nor better or worse than your brain state ( belief). My percepion of the world, my peception of what is good, what is evil, what I percieve as reality is neither good, bad, better or worse than those whose perception of these things are the exact opposite of mine.

    I could ask why you bother to make a case for the various brain states you exhibit when your brain state is neither good or bad, better or worse than the brain states that are different than yours? I could ask but then I know the answer already your brain state makes you do it.

    Vivid

  113. —markf: “I am a compatabilist. I believe free will is compatible with determinism (to be strictly accurate – determinism plus random results). So it is not a problem for me.”

    Mark, there is a big, big problem with compatibilism. Clearly, determiminsm and free will are not compatible at all, unless the compatibilist redefines free will to mean something less that it is. In fact, the compatibilist manipulates the language to confuse the issue and muddy the debate waters.

    Free will, properly understood, provides that the individual who possesses it can influence his own destiny and take it in one of many directions by exercising his free-will choices. He can influence future outcomes and make them different than they would have been had he not made those choices. Put another way, he is free not to make those same choices and may well have influenced future outcomes in a different way. Neither compatibilism nor determinism allow for these multiple possible outcomes.

    Determinism = no control or influence over the outcome of future events

    Free will = control or influence over the outcome of future events.

    As is evident, those two world views cannot be reconciled.

    I feel a little guilty piling on since you are trying to play chess with so many people, but, as they say in the south, that dog [compatibilism] will not hunt.

  114. Vivid,

    Your brain state is bad.

    Unless of course you think my God is wrong …

    I’m a deist but I have never seen the need to argue that Mind requires anything more than the bodies god deemed to give us.

    Do you believe that God was incapable of creating intelligent, moral and free willed creatures that fulfilled these criteria by operating within the laws of the universe that God created?

  115. —markf: “I believe that the mind is a configuration of the brain. So the physician’s brain formulates a plan, which it causes his body to carry out. This in turn affects the brain of the patient creating a belief (a state of the brain) which causes the patient to feel better and possibly do things which make the patients body healthier. Does that explain my position?”

    Yes, very good. Seriously, I mean that. I commend you for articulating your view. For now, I will allow others to demonstrate why this is unworkable except, for starters, to ask you a question: Is the physician free to make a choice in this matter, that is, can he decide either to formulate this plan and share it with the patient or to negate that option and go with another medical strategy?

  116. markf & vivid your brain state gave my brain state a headache :)

  117. DrBot “Your brain state is bad”

    How can molecules be good or bad?

    DrBot “Do you believe that God was incapable of creating intelligent, moral and free willed creatures that fulfilled these criteria by operating within the laws of the universe that God created?”

    No.

    Vivid

  118. Dr.Bot, you state;

    ‘I’m a deist’

    Which explains the origination of the universe, but ‘being a deist’ does not let you off the hook for the ‘sustaining’ of the universe;

    BRUCE GORDON: Hawking’s irrational arguments – October 2010
    Excerpt: The physical universe is causally incomplete and therefore neither self-originating nor self-sustaining. The world of space, time, matter and energy is dependent on a reality that transcends space, time, matter and energy.
    http://www.washingtontimes.com.....arguments/

    Alain Aspect and Anton Zeilinger by Richard Conn Henry – Physics Professor – John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: Why do people cling with such ferocity to belief in a mind-independent reality? It is surely because if there is no such reality, then ultimately (as far as we can know) mind alone exists. And if mind is not a product of real matter, but rather is the creator of the “illusion” of material reality (which has, in fact, despite the materialists, been known to be the case, since the discovery of quantum mechanics in 1925), then a theistic view of our existence becomes the only rational alternative to solipsism (solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one’s own mind is sure to exist). (Dr. Henry’s referenced experiment and paper – “An experimental test of non-local realism” by S. Gröblacher et. al., Nature 446, 871, April 2007 – “To be or not to be local” by Alain Aspect, Nature 446, 866, April 2007 (personally I feel the word “illusion” was a bit too strong from Dr. Henry to describe material reality and would myself have opted for his saying something a little more subtle like; “material reality is a “secondary reality” that is dependent on the primary reality of God’s mind” to exist. Then again I’m not a professor of physics at a major university as Dr. Henry is.)
    http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/aspect.html

    ,, i.e. DrBot, what is the ’cause’ of quantum wave collapse to each unique point of ‘conscious’ observation in the universe if the universe is indeed ‘self-sustaining’ since its creation as you, as a Deist, must maintain???

  119. Now, now, BA:

    How can a bundle of neurons in a network firing away have the qualia “headache,” much less configure themselves into a loop firing away and generating the conscious, subjective awareness of “headache,” much less generate the language based coded statement, ” . . . your brain state gave my brain state a headache”?

    What do ion potentials, micro-currents and synapses have to do with perceptions, concepts and coded expressions?

    How do such then give rise to logical inferences of form, IF P is so, then that warrants that Q must be so, so I SHOULD accept Q as the logical implication of P?

    And, why, then do I accept Q, and on the strength of that, just the experience of being in the rituals of treatment, has healing effect?

    As in, in response to surgery I think I have had, and the results of surgery I expect?

    Only, I was in a double-blind test and never really had the surgery, the doctor just made three pricks with the scalpel, per the envelope he opened.

    So, why is it that years later, I feel good, as a result of surgery I thought I had, but never did??

    GEM of TKI

  120. ba re 116 Sorry brother my brain state made me do it :)

    Vivid

  121. As in, my knee works better than it should, since I did not really have the surgery I thought I had?

  122. So, BA:

    your little headache is not r5easl, it is just neurons firing away in networks.

    No need to go fetch an aspirin.

    (Which BTW, it seems we do not know how it works! Aspirin would not pass FDA tests today . . . )

    GEM of TKI

  123. Now, all these loops within loops are giving me a headache . . . and my eyes want to cross over . . .

  124. thanks, kf, I’ll take two brain states and call you in the morning :)

  125. markf, one thing you have ignored, among many things you have ignored, is this experiment:

    “It was not possible to formulate the laws (of quantum theory) in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.” Eugene Wigner (1902 -1995) from his collection of essays “Symmetries and Reflections – Scientific Essays”; Eugene Wigner laid the foundation for the theory of symmetries in quantum mechanics, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963.
    http://eugene-wigner.co.tv/

    Here is the key experiment that led Wigner to his Nobel Prize winning work on quantum symmetries:

    Eugene Wigner
    Excerpt: To express this basic experience in a more direct way: the world does not have a privileged center, there is no absolute rest, preferred direction, unique origin of calendar time, even left and right seem to be rather symmetric. The interference of electrons, photons, neutrons has indicated that the state of a particle can be described by a vector possessing a certain number of components. As the observer is replaced by another observer (working elsewhere, looking at a different direction, using another clock, perhaps being left-handed), the state of the very same particle is described by another vector, obtained from the previous vector by multiplying it with a matrix. This matrix transfers from one observer to another.
    http://www.reak.bme.hu/Wigner_.....io/wb1.htm

    i.e. In the experiment the ‘world’ (i.e. the universe) does not have a ‘privileged center’. Yet strangely, the conscious observer does exhibit a ‘privileged center’. This is since the ‘matrix’, which determines which vector will be used to describe the particle in the experiment, is ‘observer-centric’ in its origination! Thus explaining Wigner’s dramatic statement, “It was not possible to formulate the laws (of quantum theory) in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.”

    ,,, thus markf, to put it in language you can understand,, Why does the material state of the experiment even care that a different ‘brain state’ is looking at it???

  126. BA:

    What does “I” mean?

    How does a pack of neurons find it to have a sense, much less a sense of personal identity?

    Much less, an enduring, sense of identity with a name — and even an Internet Handle?

    GEM of TKI

  127. bornagain 77, whose preternatural sensors always manage to find a relevant scientific study for just about any topic] submits these findings @94 on near death experiences.

    “The study of patients with NDE, however, clearly shows us that consciousness with memories, cognition, with emotion, self-identity, and perception out and above a life-less body is experienced during a period of a non-functioning brain (transient pancerebral anoxia). And focal functional loss by inhibition of local cortical regions happens by “stimulation” of those regions with electricity (photons) or with magnetic fields (photons), resulting sometimes in out-of-body states.”

    If one reads the study carefully, it is evident that these events are not being caused by some kind of dream state. On the contrary, we have scientific evidence that something other than the brain is in play. We need not specify whether the entity in question is an immaterial mind or an immortal soul of which an immaterial mind is a faculty. All we need to know is that the material brain is not calling all the shots and, therefore, that materialism is an implausible explanation for the phenomenon being observed.

  128. DrBot “Your brain state is bad”

    How can molecules be good or bad?

    Comprehension fail!

    Objective morality is defined by God, behaviours (and their underlying states of mind) can therefore be good or bad. IF, as good seems to have willed, our minds are the product of the functioning of our brains then ‘brain states’ can be good or bad.

    In this context individual cells aren’t being ‘good’ or ‘bad’ it is their collective activity – your brain/mind in action – that can and is judged by God to be bad.

    Of course as the source of all objective morality God could also have defined moral constraints for individual cells, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

    And if you think that the mind being the result of a functioning brain rules out the preservation of yourself after bodily death then you’re wrong, firstly mind is not soul, secondly, upon death all that we were is transmuted into an eternal afterlife.

    Dualism for the living is not required, but for some it is desired.

  129. This seems to have turned into a debate about morality and free will. I am sorry I am not playing that game. I have been down that road too many times. It is tedious and unrewarding.

    The proposition I started with was that the placebo effect provides no evidence for dualism. If you want to believe that materialism implies no free will and no morality then I am not going to attempt to change your mind. Nevertheless a brain (whether it have free will or not) is just as capable of demonstrating all the behaviour we associate with the placebo effect as a brain plus the extra mystery ingredient (think of the android). Ergo the placebo does not help us decide between dualism and materialism.

  130. #129 I should have made it clear that this was addressed to Vivid, StephenB and BA77. I also want to say I appreciate StephenB’s and Vivid’s honesty, clarity and politeness and BA77′s honesty and politeness (I still haven’t the foggiest idea what he is saying).

  131. [blockquote]karosfocus: As in, my knee works better than it should, since I did not really have the surgery I thought I had?[/blockquote]

    That is a false caricature of palcebo effects. What you describe could be objectively measured, i.e., increased motion, but objective improvment is never seen with placebo effects and all effects remain subjective assessments by the ‘patient’.

    Placebo effects represent a change in expectations and little more.

    Take for instance these examples (from a blog site but easily trackdownable via the links):

    [blockquote]The experiment, led by researchers at Cal-Tech and Stanford, was simple. [A free version of the study is here.] Twenty subjects tasted five wine samples which were distinguished solely by their retail price, with bottles ranging from $5 to $90. Although the subjects were told that all five wines were different, the scientists had actually only given them three different wines. This meant that the first two wines were used twice, but given two different price labels. For example, Wine 1 was labeled as a $35 dollar wine and a $5 wine. The subjects sipped the wines inside an fMRI machine.

    Not surprisingly, the subjects consistently reported that the expensive wine tasted better. They preferred the taste of the $90 bottle to the $10 bottle, and thought the $45 bottle was more delicious than than the $5 wine.

    What’s interesting is that the brain scans reflected these subjective reports. In fact, when people drank more expensive wines a part of the prefrontal cortex called the medial orbitofrontal cortex (mOFC) got significantly more excited. The scientists argue that the activity of mOFC can be used as a neural correlate for pleasure, so that more expensive wines not only tasted better but actually provided us with more “subjective utility,” as an economist might say. Of course, these wine preferences aren’t really valid. In a follow-up experiment, the subjects again tasted all five wine samples, but without any price information. This time, they thought the $5 dollar wine tasted the best.

    The best way to think of this experiment is as the economic equivalent of the placebo effect. Consider a 2005 experiment by Tor Wager of Columbia. His experiment was brutally straightforward: he gave college students electrical shocks while they were stuck in an fMRI machine. Half of the people were then supplied with a fake pain-relieving cream. As expected, people given the pretend cream said the shocks were significantly less painful. The placebo effect eased their suffering. Wager then imaged the specific parts of the brain that controlled this psychological process. He discovered that the placebo effect depended entirely on the prefrontal cortex. When people were told that they’d just received a pain-relieving cream, their frontal lobes responded by inhibiting the activity of the emotional brain areas (like the insula) that normally respond to pain. However, when the same people were informed that the same cream was “ineffective” at blocking pain, their prefrontal cortex went silent. Because people expected to experience less pain, they ended up experiencing less pain. Just as our expectations about expensive wine influenced the taste of the wine itself – expensive wine is supposed to taste better – so do our expectations about pain affect our experience of pain.

    Baba Shiv, a co-author on the recent wine study, has previously shown how price can warp our consumer decisions. He supplied people with an “energy” drink that was supposed to make them feel more alert and energetic. Some participants paid full price for the drinks, while others were offered a discount. The participants were then asked to solve a series of word puzzles. To Shiv’s surprise, the people who paid discounted prices consistently solved fewer puzzles than the people who paid full price for the drinks. The subjects were convinced that the stuff on sale was much less potent, even though all the drinks were identical. “We ran the study again and again, not sure if what we got had happened by chance or fluke,” Shiv says. “But every time we ran it we got the same results.”

    Why did the cheaper energy drink prove less effective? According to Shiv, consumers typically suffer from a version of the placebo effect. Since we expect cheaper goods to be less effective, they generally are less effective, even if they are identical to more expensive products. This is why brand-name aspirin works better than generic aspirin, or why Coke tastes better than cheaper colas, even if most consumers can’t tell the difference in blind taste tests. “We have these general beliefs about the world -for example, that cheaper products are of lower quality – and they translate into specific expectations about specific products,” said Shiv. “Then, once these expectations are activated, they start to really impact our behavior.” [/blockquote]

    http://scienceblogs.com/cortex.....better.php

  132. mf “#129 I should have made it clear that this was addressed to Vivid, StephenB and BA77. I also want to say I appreciate StephenB’s and Vivid’s honesty, clarity and politeness and BA77?s honesty and politeness (I still haven’t the foggiest idea what he is saying).”

    Back at you mf. I will respect your desire to not go down the morality free will road. I also want to agree with Stephen when he stated

    “I commend you for articulating your view. ”

    My Best

    Vivid

  133. [blockquote] kairosfocus: No need to go fetch an aspirin.

    (Which BTW, it seems we do not know how it works! Aspirin would not pass FDA tests today . . . ){/blockquote]

    this is completely false. there are many drugs approved by the FDA that we do not know how they work (aspirin is not one of them).

    What is required for approval by the FDA is demonstration of safety, efficacy, metabolic pathway, i.e. metabolites and route of excretion, non-teratogenic…but not mechanism of action.

    Any quality textbook on Pharmacology should clear up any confusion. My suggestions would be classic textbooks by Goodman and Gillman or Katzung.

  134. Acipencer you falsely state:

    That is a false caricature of palcebo effects. What you describe could be objectively measured, i.e., increased motion, but objective improvment is never seen with placebo effects and all effects remain subjective assessments by the ‘patient’.

    Yet as was pointed out to markf @83

    ‘The results were replicated: arthroscopic surgery was equal therapeutically to the placebo effect.27 The placebo had found its way into surgical rooms.,,,
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-371889

    Thus acipenser, though you built your entire post, references and all, on the presupposition that placebo effects are ONLY subjective, the fact is that they are now proven to be objectively measurable! If you want to contend that ‘objective’ fact please contend with the study I referenced @83 as well as the follow up studies.

  135. Aci:

    Pardon, but if you look above [82, 83, 93], you will see that I am actually alluding to a test on veterans where that is just what happened.

    On aspirin, I was “lightheartedly” tossing off a remark on the issue that modern drugs testing normally requires knowledge of mechanisms. (At least as of last time I checked; IIRC, the context was one where the hurdle for new drugs was so high that only giant firms could afford the sort of testing now required, especially when compounded by the steps to get to that stage. I claimed no expertise on the matter.)

    Aspirin, is a legacy from the past, an upgrade to oil of wintergreen; a traditional remedy.

    What is central, though is the issue that we seem to be facing a scientism based on a priori evolutionary materialism, that makes what would otherwise not look very credible, the only game in town.

    I find it interesting that you chose to pick at peripheral and tangential points instead of engaging the main issues and arguments, which you can simply scroll up above to find.

    Why not go to 107 above, and explain to us how per evolutionary materialist mechanism, we have an adequate and coherent account of mind, consciousness, cognition, and knowledge (the amorality issue is important but it depends on the prior one of accounting for mind); starting from Crick’s pack of neurons.

    GEM of TKI

  136. PS: I do take your point on the FDA’s specific testing protocols and requirements. Thanks for a heads up.

  137. BA77: The assessments in the study and follow up study you cite are all subjective assessments, i.e., does it hurt. The most telling point of the studies is that surgery is contraindicated for osteoarthritis in the knee. No objective measurements were attributed to placebo effects.

    If you have a study that actually demonstrates objectively evaluated endpoints attributed to placebo effects I’d be more than interested in reading them. Youtubes don’t count.

  138. karo: Pardon, but if you look above [82, 83, 93], you will see that I am actually alluding to a test on veterans where that is just what happened.

    No objective assessment. Does it hurt is what was assessed and that is a subjective reporting from the patient.

    karo: On aspirin, I was “lightheartedly” tossing off a remark on the issue that modern drugs testing normally requires knowledge of mechanisms.

    as I “lightheartedly” pointed out that your remark was steeped in error. The cost of bringing a new drug to market is driven by the data requirements to satisfy agencies like the FDA. Is there somewhere you think they should be able to cut corners?

    karo: I find it interesting that you chose to pick at peripheral and tangential points instead of engaging the main issues and arguments, which you can simply scroll up above to find.

    I’ve read through the thread and what is apparent, to me at least, is that there are a great deal of misconception about placebo effects. Your reference to increased motion of the knee was a classic example of this misunderstanding as well as referencing a study where only subjective endpoints were evaluated and trying to claim they are objective assessments.

    Placebo effects are nothing more than a change in expectation of the individual. Certainly, in some instances it is desirable, i.e., better ability to cope with the pain and suffering of .

    A classic example is the dramatic effect mommy’s kiss can have on a boo boo……does the kiss make the actual pain go away or does the child hurt less because of the distraction.

  139. karo:

    The Macrea study (Parkinson) also documented subjective assessments by patients and staff.

    The objective endpoints demonstrated a far different view. From the paper:

    “patients who had the actual transplant surgery showed improvement in movement while, on average, patients who had sham surgery did not”

    No objective improvment with placebo effects.

  140. acispencer:

    A Controlled Trial of Arthroscopic Surgery for Osteoarthritis of the Knee
    Excerpt: Methods

    A total of 180 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee were randomly assigned to receive arthroscopic débridement, arthroscopic lavage, or placebo surgery. Patients in the placebo group received skin incisions and underwent a simulated débridement without insertion of the arthroscope,,,

    Results
    At no point did either of the intervention groups report less pain or better function than the placebo group.
    Furthermore, the 95 percent confidence intervals for the differences between the placebo group and the intervention groups exclude any clinically meaningful difference.
    http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa013259

    acipencer one of the main reasons I listed the arthritis study is because ‘movement’ is one of the main objective criteria used to measure improved health for arthritic patients, and you had falsely stated this:

    That is a false caricature of palcebo effects. What you describe could be objectively measured, i.e., increased motion, but objective improvment is never seen with placebo effects and all effects remain subjective assessments by the ‘patient’.

    but when I pointed that out the ‘objective’ aspect to you you merely restated this,,,

    The assessments in the study and follow up study you cite are all subjective assessments, i.e., does it hurt. The most telling point of the studies is that surgery is contraindicated for osteoarthritis in the knee. No objective measurements were attributed to placebo effects.

    Yet despite you restating the same false assertion of the placebo being merely subjective, the fact is that it also trespasses onto ‘objectively’ measurable physical responses!!!

    further note:

    MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Comparison of the actual transplant and sham surgery groups and the perceived treatment groups on QOL and medical outcomes. We also investigated change over time.

    RESULTS: There were 2 differences or changes over time in the transplant and sham surgery groups. Based on perceived treatment, or treatment patients thought they received, there were numerous differences and changes over time. In all cases, those who thought they received the transplant reported better scores. Blind ratings by medical staff showed similar results.

    CONCLUSIONS: The placebo effect was very strong in this study, demonstrating the value of placebo-controlled surgical trials.
    28. McRae C, Cherin E, Yamazaki TG, Diem G, Vo AH, Russell D, Ellgring JH, Fahn S, Greene P, Dillon S, Winfield H, Bjugstad KB, Freed CR, “Effects of perceived treatment on quality of life and medical outcomes in a double-blind placebo surgery trial”, Arch Gen Psychiatry 2004 Apr; 61(4):412-20; Erratum in Arch Gen Psychiatry 2004 Jun; 61(6):627.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-371903

    etc.. etc.. etc..

  141. karo:

    posted last reply too soon.

    Macrea also cannot say that the placebo effect was ‘strong’ since the study lacked a ‘no treatment’ arm for comparison.

  142. BA77: Read the study you are citing. The authors make no statement that icreased motion/mobility were found in the placebo group. the only assessment for the placebo group is ‘does it hurt more or less’ which is a subjective assessment done by the patient. So no I did not falsly state anything at all but did point out what the study actually reported.

    Objective measurements may be made to assess if a placebo is effective but to date there are no data that demonstrates any objective changes in any endpoint where placebo might be involved.

    As I stated before if you have a study that documents objective improvments, i.e., pathology ect, from a placebo I would really be interested in reading them.

    I’ve also addressed the limitations of the McRea study as well (above). No objectively measured parameter in the study could be attributed to placebo. However, the objective endpoint that was documented showed no response from the placebo group while the surgery group showed improvement in the objective measure of improvement of movement.

  143. Onlookers:

    Came back by for a moment.

    Tangent in full cry.

    I simply note that subjectivity of an assessment done across a wide enough study under the conditions described (especially backed up by improved mobility of a joint) is also credibly objectively real.

    Subjectivity does not mean non-objective, or non-real.

    If that were imagined so, then our experience of he world as conscious creatures would vanish, and with it all knowledge.

    All this reminds me of that old song about he bright college kid returned for holidays and spouting rhetoric about the lack of objective evidence for God.

    Then, he has a toothache.

    Invisible, intangible, but a very real qualia.

    GEM of TKI

  144. karo: I simply note that subjectivity of an assessment done across a wide enough study under the conditions described (especially backed up by improved mobility of a joint) is also credibly objectively real.

    Improved mobility of a joint has never been attributed to a placebo. If you have such a citation please provide it or at least acknowledge you know of none.

    Expensive wine tastes better than cheaper wine even if it is the same wine….perception and expectations drive the placebo effect and there is a multi-billion dollar industry which exploits this aspect of human behavior.

  145. acipenser, you state:

    ‘Read the study you are citing. The authors make no statement that icreased motion/mobility were found in the placebo group.’

    And the study I cited states:

    Results
    At no point did either of the intervention groups report less pain or better function than the placebo group.
    http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa013259

    What am I going to believe acipencer? You or my own eyes?

    further note:

    ‘The placebo worked. Six months after surgery, still unaware of whether they had real surgery or not, all ten reported much less pain. All were happy with the outcome of the operation. One of the patients who had been assigned to the placebo group, a seventy-six year old from Beaumont, Texas, was interviewed several years after the experiment. He now mows his lawn and walks whenever he wants. “The surgery was two years ago,” he says, “and the knee has never bothered me since. It’s just like my other knee now. I give a whole lot of credit to Dr. Moseley.”

    further note:

    The endogenous opioids, endorphins, were discovered in 1974 and act as pain antagonists. Benedetti’s suggestion of a placebo-induced release of endorphins was supported by findings produced with MRI and PET scans.30 Placebo-induced endorphin release also affects heart rate and respiratory activity.31

    As researcher Jon-Kar Zubieta described,

    “…this [finding] deals another serious blow to the idea that the placebo effect is a purely psychological, not physical, phenomenon”.32
    http://bipolarblast.wordpress......bo-effect/

    Well acipenser what ARE YOU going to believe? The evidence or your philosophical bias?

  146. BA77:Results
    At no point did either of the intervention groups report less pain or better function than the placebo group.
    http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa013259

    What am I going to believe acipencer? You or my own eyes?

    Which underlies the conclusion of the study that lavage and debridement are no better than placebo treatment. With a complete lack of a ‘no treatment’ arm that is all that can be said for the study. In this study the ‘no treatment arm’ is the placebo group. You, I, and the authors have no way of telling how the placebo treatment would fair in comparision to no treatment whatsoever.

    If you wish to speculate beyond the limitations of the data/study at least recognize the inherent limitations of the conclusions of the study. Also recognize the thin ice you venture out on if you wish to read more into the study than is present.

    BA77:The placebo worked. Six months after surgery, still unaware of whether they had real surgery or not, all ten reported much less pain.

    Yes, subjective self-reporting of pain assessment by the patient. That is not a objective measurement and has everything to do with perception and expectations and not related to improved status of a disease state.

    BA77: Well acipenser what ARE YOU going to believe? The evidence or your philosophical bias?

    Why the evidence of course. I have no bias concerning placebo effects but I do recognize that no objective improvements have ever been attributed to placebo effects.

    For example what ramifications are there to release of endogenous opoids? What types of stimulus causes these releases? What effects may be attributed to the release of endogenous opiods?

  147. acipencer, you said no ‘objective improvement’ of mobility was ever reported. I directly cited two studies that reported increased mobility, and you try to dodge by saying ‘well people with no treatment whatsoever could have improved as well as those who received treatment, ????? EXCUSE ME acipenser you are clearly grasping mightily for any justification whatsoever to maintain your preconceived bias, thus it is clear, to me at least, that the REAL answer to this question,,,

    Well acipenser what ARE YOU going to believe? The evidence or your philosophical bias?

    is,,,

    your philosophical bias!!!

  148. BA77: Again I must request that you read the studies your are citing. Nowhere in the studies do the authors report increased mobility attributed to a placebo treatment. Thus, it is not a dodge to state the truth of the matter which easily seen if one reads the study.

    It is also no dodge to identify that there is no ‘no treatment’ group present for comparison with the placebo treatment arm of the study.

    How do you know that a ‘no treatment’ arm would perform poorly in comparison to the placebo arm? Gut feeling? Data? Or speculation to enable one to cling to a philosophical bias?

    here is something from the study you should take note of:

    Two self-reported measures of physical function

    subjective reporting by the patients are not objective measurements.

  149. BA77:

    It appears you ahven’t bothered to look at the data contained in Table 3 of the study you cite as evidence of objective improvement. In Table 3 the data is reported on the objective assessment of the physical functioning tests (stair climbing). Note that the placebo group did no better after the placebo than at the beginning of the study. That is not a indication of objective improvement of mobility from initial conditions.

    Where in the study are your ‘objective improvements’ cited and presented?

  150. –markf: “Nevertheless a brain (whether it have free will or not) is just as capable of demonstrating all the behaviour we associate with the placebo effect as a brain plus the extra mystery ingredient (think of the android). Ergo the placebo does not help us decide between dualism and materialism.”

    Not if you take into account the potential actions of doctor, his suggestions, and their effects on the the potential actions of the patient. Among other things, there is no way to account for the multiple possibilities involved in the doctor’s choices or the patient’s choices.

    Accordingly, I must point out that the subject of free will, both from the doctor’s perspective and the patient’s perspective, is not unrelated to the subject matter at hand.

  151. StephenB: Not if you take into account the potential actions of doctor, his suggestions, and their effects on the the potential actions of the patient. Among other things, there is no way to account for the multiple possibilities involved in the doctor’s choices or the patient’s choices.

    Placebo effects need no doctor, or authority figure, as a trigger to the effect. Expensive wine taste better than cheap wine based on nothing more than the tasters expectations that higher priced goods = better.

  152. HMM acipencer,, does your philosophical bias also effect your ability to read???

    from table 3

    Seconds to walk 100 ft.

    Placebo – lavage – debridement

    Before
    59 59 58
    2 week
    59 57 57
    6 week
    56 54 58
    3 months
    54 55 56
    6 months
    54 52 54
    1 year
    49 54 47
    18 months
    46 49 44
    2 years
    44 50 44

    http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/1.....articleTop

    yet you stated:

    ‘Note that the placebo group did no better after the placebo than at the beginning of the study.’

    Yet the study states that the placebo patients could walk 100 ft in 59 seconds before the study and could walk 100 feet in 44 seconds at the end of the study!!!

    As far as your desperate claim that people who received no treatment COULD HAVE improved as well as those who received treatment, all I have to ask you Is ‘Do you personally know anybody suffering from severe arthritis??? Well I do someone who in 3 short years has gome from healthy to having to use a wheelchair, and I guarantee you that he would love for spontaneous remission to happen to him!!! Yet despite your faith that ‘spontaneous remission’ is just as effective as receiving treatment, placebo or otherwise, I will not discourage him from visiting the doctors!!!

  153. BA77:

    I’m curious why you failed to include the measures of variance in the endpoints as well? Perhaps because they indicate that there are no signficant changes in movement from the initiation of the study and the end of the study?

    The results in the other study you cited are as follows (placebo results only):

    Initial: 48.5 +/- 14.5 sec (initial) and
    47.7 +/- 12 secs. (final 2 yrs)

    Are you actually claiming this is a significant difference in respones?

    If I know someone suffering from arthritis, or any other disease, have no bearing on the data contained in the study.

    The rest of your post I could not understand how it pertains to the placebo effect(s)

  154. BA77:

    I’m using data gleaned from the study you cited that contained 180 patients.

    A Controlled Trial of Arthroscopic Surgery for Osteoarthritis of the Knee

    http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/1.....articleTop

    You never did tell me how you could assess the efficacy of placebo versus a ‘no treatment’ arm when there was ‘no treatment’ arm in the study?

  155. acipencer, perhaps you need to contact the researchers so that people will not think that;

    59 seconds before,, 44 seconds after 2 years

    as is stated in bold type at the top of the results,, actually means,,,

    59 seconds before,, 44 seconds after 2 years

    ,,, then again I don’t think you will listen to them either when they correct you!

  156. BA77:

    FYI the numbers you reported as data are actually the number of individuals (n) they had for data collection. Which explains why you did not report the variance. The numbers below the row that contains the number of responding individuals (n) are the objective scores given to the physical task.

    Given that are you stilling going to insist that the placebo arm in this study represents a significant objective improvement in mobility over initial conditions?

  157. acipencer, listen to yourself,,, in order to dodge the implications of the results you are willing to invoke ‘spontaneous remission’ of severe arthritis??? Does it not even bother you in the least to be so dishonest??? As for as you coming back and replying that you are not being dishonest with the evidence, and swearing up and down that you are being reasonable, frankly I don’t think anyone is buying it, save perhaps markf. acipencer here is another clue for you,, Denial is not a river in Egypt!!!

  158. BA77: acipencer, perhaps you need to contact the researchers so that people will not think that

    Try looking at the line labeled ‘Score’ under the ‘No. with data’ line for the score.

    do you think you should reconsider your position?

  159. acipencer, I stand corrected on the number of seconds, I was wrong, please forgive me.

  160. That is interesting though, I would think that with reduced pain the ability to walk should have increased dramatically.

  161. BA77: in order to dodge the implications of the results you are willing to invoke ‘spontaneous remission’ of severe arthritis???

    I have no idea what you are talking about here. When did the remission of severe arthritis enter into the conversation?

  162. acipencer, This looks to be a good source for explaining the limits of the placebo effect:

    Clinical Trials of Pain Treatment
    http://symptomresearch.nih.gov.....ms2pg1.htm

  163. BA77: acipencer, I stand corrected on the number of seconds, I was wrong, please forgive me.

    no problem

    BA77: That is interesting though, I would think that with reduced pain the ability to walk should have increased dramatically

    That is the nature of placebo effects. Perception of pain is reduced, i.e., increased QOL, but range of motion/movement, or improvment in disease state, is not improved.

    To have it otherwise would be maladaptive. Increased usage of a injured limb via a perception of less pain could cause more trauma to a already injured limb.

  164. acipencer, When did the remission of severe arthritis enter into the conversation? ,,, When you said that those who received no treatment would do as well as the placebo group!

  165. BA77: acipencer, This looks to be a good source for explaining the limits of the placebo effect:

    placebo effects are not limited to perception or expectation of pain.

    Remember expensive wine tastes better than cheap wine even if it’s the same wine…..according to the studies.

  166. acipencer, Well at least pain, which I actually fear more than death, is shown by the placebo effect to be dealt with effectively by ‘positive feedback’ to the patient. hopefully I will learn to be more upbeat when I visit the ones I care for in hospitals, as well as try to have a positive attitude for myself.

  167. BA77: acipencer, When did the remission of severe arthritis enter into the conversation? ,,, When you said that those who received no treatment would do as well as the placebo group!

    But BA77, the placebo treatment demonstrated no improvement whatsoever. How did the lack of response get extrapolated to ‘spontaneous remission’?

    Also to be accurate I said that we have no idea how the placebo group would compare to the ‘no treatment’ arm. The placebo arm may have been better or it may have been worse. I made no assessments one way or the other and only pointed out a limitation of the available study/data.

    I will admit I had a heavy leaning towards a ‘no significant effect’ given the paucity of data supporting objective improvements associated with placebo effects.

  168. acipencer, I consider removal of pain for a severely arthritic person to be a ‘successful’ remission, especially seeing the suffering my friend goes through with his arthritis.

  169. BA77: acipencer, Well at least pain, which I actually fear more than death, is shown by the placebo effect to be dealt with effectively by ‘positive feedback’ to the patient. hopefully I will learn to be more upbeat when I visit the ones I care for in hospitals, as well as try to have a positive attitude for myself.

    IMHO the best thing you can do in such settings/situations is to be engaging. Talk about pretty much anything except the plight/condition of the patient. In these settings, IMO, distraction from the daily routine and conversations about them seem to be a positive stimulus for them.

  170. BA77: acipencer, I consider removal of pain for a severely arthritic person to be a ‘successful’ remission, especially seeing the suffering my friend goes through with his arthritis.

    I certainly wouldn’t argue with that!

  171. acipencer, yet to argue for more than mere ‘subjective’ pain relief as I believe you want to hold to, this study shows that there is an ‘objective’ change in the body’s response to pain from the placebo effect:

    “This deals another serious blow to the idea that the placebo effect is a purely psychological, not physical, phenomenon,” says lead author Jon-Kar Zubieta, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry and radiology at the U-M Medical School and associate research scientist at MBNI. “We were able to see that the endorphin system was activated in pain-related areas of the brain, and that activity increased when someone was told they were receiving a medicine to ease their pain. They then reported feeling less pain. The mind-body connection is quite clear.”
    http://www.med.umich.edu/opm/n.....lacebo.htm

  172. BA77

    You seem to have been busy overnight! Given the many, many studies relating to the placebo effect – each with their own statistical and evidential quirks – wouldn’t it be good if a group of experts sat down and assessed a large number of them to see what conclusions could be drawn? After all if you do enough studies then every so often you are going to get a “statistically significant” result just by chance.

    Well guess what. That is exactly what the Cochrane report did – not once but twice (latest update last year).

    The conclusion:

    We studied the effect of placebo treatments by reviewing 202 trials comparing placebo treatment with no treatment covering 60 healthcare problems. In general, placebo treatments produced no major health benefits, although on average they had a modest effect on outcomes reported by patients, such as pain.

  173. Onlookers:

    One of the subtler points of scientism in action, here, is that qualitative outcomes and experiences of subjects — qualia — are somehow assumed to be less “real” than that which is reducible to quantitative measurements.

    The trap in that, is that, our first fact of experience is that we are conscious, self-moved, experiencing creatures.

    We experience the external world through our consciousness, and the features that are experienced that go into measured quantitative results are just as experienced as those that we have no way at present to directly or even indirectly measure.

    In short, to dismiss or undermine subjectivity and experience based on consciousness by subtly equating it with unreality — NB: this is a core undertone of materialism [only "matter" and that which is directly connected to it is "real"] — is to undermine the foundation of all knowledge. (Here note the undertone: it’s all in your head!)

    But of course, the experiences and perceptions favoured by the materialists are “real.”

    The self-referential absurdities and agenda-serving inconsistencies are plain.

    Conscious, self-moved, intelligent, subjective, volitional experience is the first fact of our existence. No worldview that cannot stand that test will be coherent in the end.

    And, that takes us back to the original post’s core point:

    Non-materialist neuroscientists must often deal with the claim that their work is “unscientific,” despite the fact that, for example, the placebo effect, for example, is one of the best attested effects in medicine and the fact that there Is mounting evidence for researchable psi effects. The problem arises because, as Susan Hack puts it, “scientism” enables assessors to avoid evaluating evidence in favor of evaluating whether the evidence “counts as science”.

    Now, since it is always helpful to get admissions against interest on the table, here is the lead from the Wiki article on Placebos:

    _________________

    >> A placebo (Latin: I shall please)[2] is a sham or simulated medical intervention that can produce a (perceived or actual) improvement, called a placebo effect.

    In medical research, placebos depend on the use of controlled and measured deception. Common placebos are inert tablets, sham surgery,[3] and other procedures based on false information.[1] However, placebo can surprisingly also have a positive effect on a patient who knows very well that their treatment is without any active drug, as compared with a control group who knowingly did not get a placebo.[4]

    In one common placebo procedure, however, a patient is given an inert pill, told that it may improve his/her condition, but not told that it is in fact inert. Such an intervention may cause the patient to believe the treatment will change his/her condition; and this belief may produce a subjective perception of a therapeutic effect, causing the patient to feel their condition has improved. This phenomenon is known as the placebo effect.

    Placebos are widely used in medical research and medicine,[5] and the placebo effect is a pervasive phenomenon;[5] in fact, it is part of the response to any active medical intervention.[6] The placebo effect points to the importance of perception and the brain’s role in physical health. However, when used as treatment in clinical medicine (as opposed to laboratory research), the deception involved in the use of placebos creates tension between the Hippocratic Oath and the honesty of the doctor-patient relationship.[7] The United Kingdom Parliamentary Committee on Science and Technology has stated that: “…prescribing placebos… usually relies on some degree of patient deception” and “prescribing pure placebos is bad medicine. Their effect is unreliable and unpredictable and cannot form the sole basis of any treatment on the NHS.”[3]

    Since the publication of Henry K. Beecher’s The Powerful Placebo in 1955 the phenomenon has been considered to have clinically important effects.[8] This view was notably challenged when in 2001 a systematic review of clinical trials concluded that there was no evidence of clinically important effects, except perhaps in the treatment of pain and continuous subjective outcomes.[8] The article received a flurry of criticism,[9] but the authors later published a Cochrane review with similar conclusions (updated as of 2010[update]).[10] Most studies have attributed the difference from baseline till the end of the trial to a placebo effect, but the reviewers examined studies which had both placebo and untreated groups in order to distinguish the placebo effect from the natural progression of the disease.[8]However these conclusions have been critized because of the great variety of diseases – more than 40 – in this metastudy. The effect of placebo is very different in different diseases. By pooling quite different diseases the results can be levelled out. >>
    __________________

    [ . . . ]

  174. Let’s zoom in, to see scientism in action, multiplied by the power of statistricks:

    the placebo effect is a pervasive phenomenon;[5] in fact, it is part of the response to any active medical intervention.[6] The placebo effect points to the importance of perception and the brain’s role in physical health. . . . . Since the publication of Henry K. Beecher’s The Powerful Placebo in 1955 the phenomenon has been considered to have clinically important effects. . . . The effect of placebo is very different in different diseases. By pooling quite different diseases the results can be levelled out.

    In fishing, there is something called a confidence bait, a lure and/or technique that an angler has such confidence in that s/he trusts it and commonly resorts to it [especially when the session is tough], with a measurable difference in performance; just ask your friendly local tournament winner. In education, confidence in one’s ability and/or the teacher makes a big difference to outcomes – why it is wise to get some early successes out of the way to build confidence , in the scope-sequence design of a course. Especially, if the course is one where if you “get” it, it is easy, and if you don’t, it is impossible, like Physics and Mathematics. Getting “mental blocks” out of the way and building the affective domain, are keys to educational success. Self-confidence and a positive mental attitude are strongly correlated with job performance, and success in life. In athletics, for a long time, the four minute mile was a barrier to performance, until Bannister broke it. Success breeds success, while failure is self-reinforcing. And more.

    But of course, there are cases where the task is really impossible, and no degree of confidence will make a difference.

    So, it is in fact no great surprise that confidence in the treatment and the physician play a key role in medical success too. And, that there are areas where such confidence has little impact.

    But, if one dilutes the one with the other win a suitably structured skeptical study, in the name of being scientific, one can create the false impression that something real has vanished.

    So, let’s draw on a recent Wired article for some balance; starting with the story of:

    . . . an experimental antidepressant codenamed MK-869. Still in clinical trials, it looked like every pharma executive’s dream: a new kind of medication that exploited brain chemistry in innovative ways to promote feelings of well-being. The drug tested brilliantly early on, with minimal side effects, and Merck touted its game-changing potential at a meeting of 300 securities analysts.
    Behind the scenes, however, MK-869 was starting to unravel. True, many test subjects treated with the medication felt their hopelessness and anxiety lift. But so did nearly the same number who took a placebo, a look-alike pill made of milk sugar or another inert substance given to groups of volunteers in clinical trials to gauge how much more effective the real drug is by comparison. The fact that taking a faux drug can powerfully improve some people’s health—the so-called placebo effect—has long been considered an embarrassment to the serious practice of pharmacology.
    Ultimately, Merck’s foray into the antidepressant market failed. In subsequent tests, MK-869 turned out to be no more effective than a placebo. In the jargon of the industry, the trials crossed the futility boundary.
    MK-869 wasn’t the only highly anticipated medical breakthrough to be undone in recent years by the placebo effect. From 2001 to 2006, the percentage of new products cut from development after Phase II clinical trials, when drugs are first tested against placebo, rose by 20 percent. The failure rate in more extensive Phase III trials increased by 11 percent, mainly due to surprisingly poor showings against placebo. Despite historic levels of industry investment in R&D, the US Food and Drug Administration approved only 19 first-of-their-kind remedies in 2007—the fewest since 1983—and just 24 in 2008. Half of all drugs that fail in late-stage trials drop out of the pipeline due to their inability to beat sugar pills . . .

    [Do, read the whole article. Well worth it . . . ]

    Methinks, we are seeing here a good example of selective hyperskepticism at work, that does not recognise how it is self-stultifying. If the same criteria of dismissal were applied consistently, as noted at the top of this comment, the field of knowledge would vanish, as knowledge itself depends on the sort of conscious, minded experience that is being given short shrift. Reality embraces mind and matter, and attempts to get rid of mind, if carried through consistently, just as consistently end in self-referential absurdities.

    As Crick showed by example, as Haldane showed in his critique, and as Johnson showed in his more recent critique.

    GEM of TKI

  175. F/N: Notice how the following research from the same Wired article, is showing mind-brain-body interactions in the placebo effect:

    _________________

    >> Benedetti, 53, first became interested in placebos in the mid-’90s, while researching pain. He was surprised that some of the test subjects in his placebo groups seemed to suffer less than those on active drugs. But scientific interest in this phenomenon, and the money to research it, were hard to come by. “The placebo effect was considered little more than a nuisance,” he recalls. “Drug companies, physicians, and clinicians were not interested in understanding its mechanisms. They were concerned only with figuring out whether their drugs worked better.”

    Part of the problem was that response to placebo was considered a psychological trait related to neurosis and gullibility rather than a physiological phenomenon that could be scrutinized in the lab and manipulated for therapeutic benefit. But then Benedetti came across a study, done years earlier, that suggested the placebo effect had a neurological foundation. US scientists had found that a drug called naloxone blocks the pain-relieving power of placebo treatments. The brain produces its own analgesic compounds called opioids, released under conditions of stress, and naloxone blocks the action of these natural painkillers and their synthetic analogs. The study gave Benedetti the lead he needed to pursue his own research while running small clinical trials for drug companies.

    Now, after 15 years of experimentation, he has succeeded in mapping many of the biochemical reactions responsible for the placebo effect, uncovering a broad repertoire of self-healing responses. Placebo-activated opioids, for example, not only relieve pain; they also modulate heart rate and respiration. The neurotransmitter dopamine, when released by placebo treatment, helps improve motor function in Parkinson’s patients. Mechanisms like these can elevate mood, sharpen cognitive ability, alleviate digestive disorders, relieve insomnia, and limit the secretion of stress-related hormones like insulin and cortisol.

    In one study, Benedetti found that Alzheimer’s patients with impaired cognitive function get less pain relief from analgesic drugs than normal volunteers do. Using advanced methods of EEG analysis, he discovered that the connections between the patients’ prefrontal lobes and their opioid systems had been damaged. Healthy volunteers feel the benefit of medication plus a placebo boost. Patients who are unable to formulate ideas about the future because of cortical deficits, however, feel only the effect of the drug itself. The experiment suggests that because Alzheimer’s patients don’t get the benefits of anticipating the treatment, they require higher doses of painkillers to experience normal levels of relief.

    Benedetti often uses the phrase “placebo response” instead of placebo effect. By definition, inert pills have no effect, but under the right conditions they can act as a catalyst for what he calls the body’s “endogenous health care system.” Like any other internal network, the placebo response has limits. It can ease the discomfort of chemotherapy, but it won’t stop the growth of tumors. It also works in reverse to produce the placebo’s evil twin, the nocebo effect. For example, men taking a commonly prescribed prostate drug who were informed that the medication may cause sexual dysfunction were twice as likely to become impotent.

    Further research by Benedetti and others showed that the promise of treatment activates areas of the brain involved in weighing the significance of events and the seriousness of threats. “If a fire alarm goes off and you see smoke, you know something bad is going to happen and you get ready to escape,” explains Tor Wager, a neuroscientist at Columbia University. “Expectations about pain and pain relief work in a similar way. Placebo treatments tap into this system and orchestrate the responses in your brain and body accordingly.” >>
    _________________

    Notice, the impact of perceptions, judgements and beliefs, that are here seen to trigger brain-related biochemical pathways and result in clinically observable effects, traceable through studies. Notice how patients with impaired ability to interact and relate with the physician and the treatment regime, fail to benefit from the synergy.

    And, notice the link to the stress response fight-flight mechanisms, which release powerful internal chemicals in the body, which are known to have long-term deleterious effects if improperly and consistently over-activated. (I recall here the point in a text on aquaculture: fish in a stressed environment, at first show distress, then adapt, and seem to be okay. Until the inner reserves are used up, and then you have a mass die-off.)

    Prv 17:22: “A merry heart doeth good [like] a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”

    Solomon knew it all along!

    GEM of TKI

  176. PS: When you read the Wired piece, don’t omit the side-bar on how the colour or branding of a drug has significant effects!

  177. kf, thanks for bringing extreme clarity to the fact that the placebo effect does clearly support the mind-body connection! but to challenge markf even more directly in his atheism, although the ‘self-healing’ by ‘belief in placebo’ may be limited to pain, for ‘belief in Christ’ I hold the ‘healing effect’ to extend much further! To open the case for the affirmative, I present this:

    Testimony: Healed by Jesus
    Excerpt: Shortly after the birth of our daughter my wife needed to have her gall bladder removed. Our pastor visited us in the hospital and we prayed for her. The doctor came into the waiting room after the operation and told us some of the little hardened gallstones had passed into the next organ, the bile duct, and would need to be removed the next day. I remembered Psalm 103:3 and that it is the Lord who healeth all thy diseases. Again, I asked to pray with our pastor and we prayed for her complete healing. I knew Jesus could heal anything! I only needed to pray with faith.

    The next day the doctor came into the waiting room after a few hours in the operating room. His face was pale and he looked puzzled. He explained that he had many x-rays yesterday showing the gallstones in the bile duct. He was unable to perform the operation because now the x-rays showed that the gallstones were completely gone! Jesus had done this operation! I told the doctor I still believed in miracles and he walked away with a bewildered look on his face. Looking back on this miracle I believe God did it not only to strengthen my faith, but also to give a witness to the doctor.
    http://www.childrensermons.com/contact/healed.htm

  178. Just for fun:

    I once taste tested a very expensive Liqueur,out of curiosity. (I will not call it by name; just say, the brand is/was heavily advertised in glossy magazines and has one of those dreamily romantic names.)

    The taste strongly reminded me of a cough syrup I used to have to take as a kid.

    But, the placebo effect is also associated with the mind-brain-body impacts of the whole environment. I suspect the circumstances and expectations of the drinker do affect the way that the drinker’s tastes work.

    Just as a fancy dinner in a top class restaurant may objectively taste no better than what just came out of a can or a fast food place, but the context has impact. (I once saw that effect with KFC served as a part of a home entertainment meal. The quality was deeply appreciated by guests! Mind you, that was KFC-Jamaica, where there is a tradition of getting cooking right, so that even fast food is often better done there than the same nominal brand elsewhere.)

    So, circumstances do affect the outcome and evaluations.

    If the fancy liqueur had been served to me from a cough syrup bottle in a spoon as a dose when I was a kid, it probably would have had a cough suppressant effect above and beyond the impact of good old ethanol!

    GEM of TKI

  179. BA:

    My asthma went out of control in the early days of the volcano crisis here.

    To my surprise, I was called out by name by my old Sunday School teacher in my 2nd home church, in Barbados. I duly joined the prayer line for prayer.

    The asthma returned under control and has stayed that way since, some 14 years.

    When I told a doctor that in Ja, when I was doing a job fitness test, here response was almost ho-hum. Doctors are used to miraculous answers to prayer.

    The Rex Gardner paper in BMJ Dec 1983 on Miracles of healing in Northumbria under Augustine the less et al, compared with modern cases, is probably accessible somewhere online?

    Can you work your search magic?

    Youse gots powerful search magic.

    GEM of TKI

  180. PS: Whaddya know, I turned it up on a Google search! (I think that objectors will see some healings that go well beyond what placebo effects can account for.)

  181. I can say I have come across some cases of faith based healing in my time. I am not talking about miracles which are of the extreme super natural kind- such as an armless person having their arm spontaneously grow back- but instead of the lesser slightly more probable (though still extremely improbable) scientifically mysterious kind with are still miracles indeed nonetheless.

    One of my closest friends growing up had a grand mother with terminal cancer in the late stage and she was clearly dying. They brought in a Catholic priest to pay over her. A short time after that the near impossible happened. The cysts on her back went away and the cancer went into remission. There was no scientific explanation for this- the doctors admitted this much. Though she did eventually die about 2 years later- as the disease did eventually come back- it was a miracle nonetheless.

    This is very much similar to what we see in OLL theories. Against all the odds events seem to have taken place throughout the history of life’s development – for which there are currently no compelling materialist explanations to account for. Irregardless of satisfactory physical explanations, these miracles still happened though.

    Certainly these things don’t happen all of the time- for if they did then they would cease to be the things known to us as miracles. Indeed, physics is mysterious, spirituality is mysterious, consciousness is mysterious, life is mysterious.
    For, once we accept that the world in which we live is filled with purposeful direction, intervention and design, then the question only becomes “what is the purpose?” That is why we still have Theology- so we can learn from the good an the bad- the tragic and the miraculous- although this can be a difficult enterprise, it can be done.

  182. Frost, that was a very heartening testimony of your friends grandmother, similarly I saw a ‘personal’ miracle involving a friend and his mother, after she passed away, that left a lasting impression on me ,,,

    Angelic Aurora Borealis
    https://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0AYmaSrBPNEmGZGM4ejY3d3pfMzFoenBiY3Y3dg&hl=en

  183. kairosfocus seek and ye shall find, eh? that has been my mode of operation, and if my search skills on the web are any better than yours, which I highly doubt given that I hold yours are much, much, better than mine, I can only credit Christ for ‘mysteriously’ giving me a guiding hand. Indeed this evidence indicates there is a direct connect:,,,

    The following video is far more direct in establishing the ‘spiritual’ link to man’s ability to learn new information, in that it shows that the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) scores for students showed a steady decline, for seventeen years from the top spot or near the top spot in the world, after the removal of prayer from the public classroom by the Supreme Court in 1963. Whereas the SAT scores for private Christian schools have consistently remained at the top, or near the top, spot in the world:

    The Real Reason American Education Has Slipped – David Barton – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4318930

    The following video is very suggestive to a ‘spiritual’ link in man’s ability to learn new information in that the video shows that almost every, if not every, founder of each discipline of modern science was a devout Christian:

    Christianity Gave Birth To Science – Dr. Henry Fritz Schaefer – video
    http://vimeo.com/16523153

    As to your reference of the cough syrup/liqueur story.,, It is interesting to note that materialism has an extremely difficult time with establishing a metric for ‘worth’ in the first place:

    for example:

    i.e. Just how do we derive true value for a person from a philosophy that maintains transcendent values are merely illusory? Perhaps the following is about as close as materialism can get to assigning ‘true’ value:

    How much is my body worth?
    Excerpt: The U.S. Bureau of Chemistry and Soils invested many a hard-earned tax dollar in calculating the chemical and mineral composition of the human body,,,,Together, all of the above (chemicals and minerals) amounts to less than one dollar!
    http://www.coolquiz.com/trivia...../worth.asp

    Whereas in Christ the value of human life becomes infinite, since the infinite living God deemed human life ‘worth’ dying for.

    Here is another example from scripture of the ‘spiritual’ defining true worth:

    Jesus said, Lu 21:3-4 ” And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had. “.

  184. —Acipenser: “A Placebo effects need no doctor, or authority figure, as a trigger to the effect. Expensive wine taste better than cheap wine based on nothing more than the tasters expectations that higher priced goods = better.”

    The placebo effect refers to a doctor’s suggestion because it is being discussed as a medical alternative to medication and other kinds of interventions. If you want to talk about self-suggestion, then I would ask different questions.

    Even so, the end point of my questions persist nevertheless. Can the patient neutralize the power of the placebo effect? Is it possible for a negative thinker to cancel out its power? How do you explain that it works for some people and not for others?

  185. Acipenser, while we are at it, how do you explain the miraculous healings, verified by medical professionals, that occur from the intervention of canonized saints and those which occur at Lourdes?

  186. StepehnB: The placebo effect refers to a doctor’s suggestion because it is being discussed as a medical alternative to medication and other kinds of interventions. If you want to talk about self-suggestion, then I would ask different questions.

    Placebo effect(s) manifest themselves in many instances. They all share one commonality: the individual changes their expectations and perception due to some input. That inoput might be a doctor suggesting a sugar pill ahs powerful mind-body healing potential, might be a late night infomercial touting the miraculous healing power of a cooper bracelet, it might be the suggestion that this energy drink is cheaper than this other energy drink….the bottom line is that individuals often erroniously evaluate a situation/effect/difference based only on their changes in expectations. When the blinders are removed and the data demonstrates that the perceptions were in error.

    Placebo effect(s) are not limited, or constrained to a medical setting…they crop up everywhere.

    StepehnB: Even so, the end point of my questions persist nevertheless. Can the patient neutralize the power of the placebo effect? Is it possible for a negative thinker to cancel out its power? How do you explain that it works for some people and not for others?

    I don’t think there is any thing to be neutralized. The better question would be what makes a individual more susceptable to a placebo effect when compared to others in any given instance.

    The explanation of why it works with some and not others in a given situation (we are all susceptable to placebo effects in some form and in some circumstances) is that we, as humans, are not clones. Each of us is different. The bell curve distribution of responses is as clear explanation that exists……otherwise there would be no bell shape to the curve everyone would fall exactly on the mean…and that never happens.

    StephenB: Acipenser, while we are at it, how do you explain the miraculous healings, verified by medical professionals, that occur from the intervention of canonized saints and those which occur at Lourdes?

    I would think that one would have to consider each instance and its merits on their own. I would certainly scrutinized the methods used for verification and see if they are lacking in any way. That discussion would be for another thread and far afield of placebo effects.

  187. acipencer you state;

    ‘That discussion would be for another thread and far afield of placebo effects.’

    I think not for I think the case has been made for a ‘limited objective link’ between mind-body here,

    “This deals another serious blow to the idea that the placebo effect is a purely psychological, not physical, phenomenon,” says lead author Jon-Kar Zubieta, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry and radiology at the U-M Medical School and associate research scientist at MBNI. “We were able to see that the endorphin system was activated in pain-related areas of the brain, and that activity increased when someone was told they were receiving a medicine to ease their pain. They then reported feeling less pain. The mind-body connection is quite clear.”

    ,,, and I don’t think I am biased in the least when I say this establishes the mind-brain point beyond mere ‘subjective’ consideration as markf and I believe you would like to maintain,, and as such I think the question of how far healing goes beyond ‘belief in placebo’ when ‘belief in Christ’ is also taken into consideration is very much relevant to this whole ‘mind-brain’ issue.

  188. —Acipenser: “Placebo effect(s) manifest themselves in many instances. They all share one commonality: the individual changes their expectations and perception due to some input.”

    You are confusing the “placebo effect,” the species, with its larger genus, the phenomenon of mind/body therapy or positive thinking.

    From Wikipedia: “A placebo (Latin: I shall please)[2] is a sham or simulated medical intervention that can produce a (perceived or actual) improvement, called a placebo effect.”

    However, since you are interested in the larger picture, as I am, perhaps you will answer my question.

    How do you explain scientifically confirmed medical miracles in the context of materialism? The question is relevant to the discussion because if materialism is shown to be false in any medical context, then it cannot be presented as a plausible explanation for the placebo effect.

  189. –acipenser: —”I would certainly scrutinized the methods used for verification and see if they are lacking in any way.” [miracle healings]

    That has already been done by medical professionals. In any case, I am asking you to explain it if, indeed, the medical reports are true. Or, are you saying that you will not even address the question in principle.

    As I pointed out earlier, the two subjects we are discussing are related. Indeed, it was you who insisted on broadening the discussion when I pointed out that the placebo effect was, stictly speaking, limited to medical interventions.

  190. [stictly speaking] = strictly speaking.

  191. StephenB: You are confusing the “placebo effect,” the species, with its larger genus, the phenomenon of mind/body therapy or positive thinking.

    no confusion at all. The result that people can believe that expensive wine is better than cheap wine (even though it is the same wine) is drawn right from the medical literature. That literature documents that ‘expensive’ placebo pills work better than cheaper ones. Among many other aspects that increase the gullibility factor.

    StephenB: has already been done by medical professionals. In any case, I am asking you to explain it if, indeed, the medical reports are true.

    Indeed are the medical reports true? For example in the case of Bely (alleged cure of MS) Dennis Daly and others of the committee were not convinced that He had MS in the first place and voted against the case. That others were convinced does not remove the doubt of the diagnosis. They, the committee, did not have MRI data to confirm the diagnosis and without that information substantiating the diagnosis as reliable and true was not possible. It appears to me that the verification process is a gaps argument. If we, science-based knowledge, cannot explain it today it is a mircle but tomorrow if it can be explained the result is no longer a inexplicable result.

    This is likely, to a large extent, the reason why the number of ‘cures’ declared as miracles has declined so preciptiously as our knowledge base and technology for diagnoses improves/increases.

    No, StephenB can you explain to me why the alleged entity you refer to as ‘mind’ is so gullible and susceptable to false information?

  192. no—->now

  193. acipencer you seem to have completely ignored this post @171;

    acipencer, yet to argue for more than mere ‘subjective’ pain relief as I believe you want to hold to, this study shows that there is CLEARLY an ‘objective’ change in the body’s response to pain from the placebo effect:

    “This deals another serious blow to the idea that the placebo effect is a purely psychological, not physical, phenomenon,” says lead author Jon-Kar Zubieta, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry and radiology at the U-M Medical School and associate research scientist at MBNI. “We were able to see that the endorphin system was activated in pain-related areas of the brain, and that activity increased when someone was told they were receiving a medicine to ease their pain. They then reported feeling less pain. The mind-body connection is quite clear.”
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-371994

    please tell me acipencer why is a belief, gullible or not, having such a direct physical effect on the body??? If you want to deny mind please tell in a strict materialistic account how it happened!

  194. as well acipencer, sdince I can see now that you fall clearly into the materialists camp, please tell me how this little girl, and other children in the study, retained their personality, sense of humor, and intellect if we are all merely meat puppets of our brain with no transcendent minds/souls;

    Miracle Of Mind-Brain Recovery Following Hemispherectomies – Dr. Ben Carson – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3994585/

    Removing Half of Brain Improves Young Epileptics’ Lives:
    Excerpt: “We are awed by the apparent retention of memory and by the retention of the child’s personality and sense of humor,” Dr. Eileen P. G. Vining; In further comment from the neuro-surgeons in the John Hopkins study: “Despite removal of one hemisphere, the intellect of all but one of the children seems either unchanged or improved. Intellect was only affected in the one child who had remained in a coma, vigil-like state, attributable to peri-operative complications.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/1997/08.....lives.html

    As well acipencer if we have no minds as you contend, please do tell me how this woman, and all the people in the study, could see for the first time in their Near death Experiences???

    Blind Woman Can See During Near Death Experience (NDE) – Pim von Lommel – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3994599/

    Kenneth Ring and Sharon Cooper (1997) conducted a study of 31 blind people, many of who reported vision during their Near Death Experiences (NDEs). 21 of these people had had an NDE while the remaining 10 had had an out-of-body experience (OBE), but no NDE. It was found that in the NDE sample, about half had been blind from birth. (of note: This ‘anomaly’ is also found for deaf people who can hear sound during their Near Death Experiences(NDEs).)
    http://findarticles.com/p/arti....._65076875/

    As well acipencer please tell me how this woman, who was as dead as modern science could possibly measure for being dead, could give an accurate description of the operating room???

    The Day I Died – Part 4 of 6 – The Extremely ‘Monitored’ Near Death Experience (NDE) of Pam Reynolds – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4045560

    As well acipencer, Please tell me why millions of ‘hallucinations’, as you would try to have us believe NDE’s are, are so consistent in there overall ‘physics’

    The Scientific Evidence for Near Death Experiences – Dr Jeffery Long – Melvin Morse M.D. – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4454627

    Speaking of physics, why does the optical effect for traveling at the speed of light match ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ reported in NDE’s (please note how the 3-D world ‘folds into the tunnel’ as the ‘higher dimension’ of the speed of light is approached:

    Traveling At The Speed Of Light – Optical Effects – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5733303/

    ditto for time:

    “I’ve just developed a new theory of eternity.”
    Albert Einstein – The Einstein Factor – Reader’s Digest
    http://www.readersdigest.co.za.....26pageno=3

    “The laws of relativity have changed timeless existence from a theological claim to a physical reality. Light, you see, is outside of time, a fact of nature proven in thousands of experiments at hundreds of universities. I don’t pretend to know how tomorrow can exist simultaneously with today and yesterday. But at the speed of light they actually and rigorously do. Time does not pass.”
    Richard Swenson – More Than Meets The Eye, Chpt. 12

    ‘In the ‘spirit world,,, instantly, there was no sense of time. See, everything on earth is related to time. You got up this morning, you are going to go to bed tonight. Something is new, it will get old. Something is born, it’s going to die. Everything on the physical plane is relative to time, but everything in the spiritual plane is relative to eternity. Instantly I was in total consciousness and awareness of eternity, and you and I as we live in this earth cannot even comprehend it, because everything that we have here is filled within the veil of the temporal life. In the spirit life that is more real than anything else and it is awesome. Eternity as a concept is awesome. There is no such thing as time. I knew that whatever happened was going to go on and on.’
    Mickey Robinson – Near Death Experience testimony

    ‘When you die, you enter eternity. It feels like you were always there, and you will always be there. You realize that existence on Earth is only just a brief instant.’
    Dr. Ken Ring – has extensively studied Near Death Experiences

    etc.. etc.. etc..

    Please acipencer, tell me how all these things are like they are from a materialistic perspective and i promise I will try not to be ‘gullible’ as to believe we might actually have a transcendent mind/soul!!!

  195. BA77: please tell me acipencer why is a belief, gullible or not, having such a direct physical effect on the body??? If you want to deny mind please tell in a strict materialistic account how it happened!

    The folks who thought they were drinking expensive wine had pleasure centers in their brain light up (fMRI) while those drinking cheap wine (FYI the same wine) did not have that response.

    If you need to shift the goalposts from objective changes in physical disease (remember how vehemently you argued based on your assessment that the ‘n’ of a study represented data) to now declaring that transient changes in bichemical analytes is somehow significant to ‘healing’.

    For example what is the significant endpoint of having endogenous opiods released in anticipation of pain? It certainly isn’t objective improvement in any physical disease state since that has never ever been documented.

    If someone scares/surprises you and analyzes your blood for increased levels of epi and norepi is that a result of the ‘mind’ being scared or the ‘body’?

    By the way BA77 are you now going to revert to your incorrect assessment that the data you were citing does demonstrate objective improvement in the placebo group?

    What does the Glasgow Coma scale measure? The mind or the body?

  196. BA77:

    Please tell me from the non-materialistic perspective why the mind is so gullible to believe that expensive wine is better than good wine. Please, BA77, tell me from a non-materialistic prespective why the mind believes that coffee enemas can cure cancer? Please BA77, tell me from a non-materialistic perspective why the mind can believe that drinking olive oil and lemon juice has the power to remove ‘toxins’ from the body? I’m all ears, BA77….explain away!

  197. To correct a point in 195: BA77 did not cite any data. Instead he mistakenly cited the ‘n’ of the study as representing the data.

    The post should read: that the study you were citing rather than the data you were citing.

    my apologies for any confusion.

  198. acipencer, you are the one who believes in materialism in spite of the fact that it is shown to be false as far as the foundation of reality is concerned (Aspect; falsification of local realism) thus why don’t we start with your own gullibility??? Myself, I care first and foremost about the truth, and was quick to admit I was wrong when you caught me on a misread I had made yesterday,,,, but it seems you are not man enough to admit when you are wrong when I point to the exact experiment that falsified you. Here it the experiment once again:

    “This deals another serious blow to the idea that the placebo effect is a purely psychological, not physical, phenomenon,” says lead author Jon-Kar Zubieta, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry and radiology at the U-M Medical School and associate research scientist at MBNI. “We were able to see that the endorphin system was activated in pain-related areas of the brain, and that activity increased when someone was told they were receiving a medicine to ease their pain. They then reported feeling less pain. The mind-body connection is quite clear.”

    acipencer, they watched the reaction in real time buddy!!!! You can’t hardly get more exacting than that for proof!!!

  199. Here is the article:

    http://www.med.umich.edu/opm/n.....lacebo.htm

    of note:

    The findings are based on sophisticated brain scans from 14 young healthy men who agreed to allow researchers to inject their jaw muscles with a concentrated salt water solution to cause pain. The injection was made while they were having their brains scanned by a positron emission tomography (PET) scanner. During one scan, they were told they would receive a medicine (in fact, a placebo) that might relieve pain.

  200. BA77:

    You haven’t falsified my critique at all. The critique was that placebos do not cause any objective changes in physical disease states, i.e., range of motion of a joint, which was in direct opposition to your claim that it does. I offered you the lowest bar possible to vindicate your claim and that was to provide one, (1) study that documented objective changes in physical disease. You and karo both failed to do so with the reason being that none exist.

    Moving the goalposts to now include transient changes in biochemical analytes is quite telling of the power of placebos. Can you describe, or report, what the ramifications of having endogenous opoids release to the physical disease? Lacking that what is the significance of the data?

    They also watched in real time how drinking allegedly expensive wine lit up the pleasure centers of the brain while the same wine, when presented as cheaper, did not have the same effect. Yoru can’t get any more real time (and exciting)?)than that, buddy!!

    Color me unimpressed.

    BA77: I have to assume the same misreading occurred on 2/5 when you first cited the study. Otherwise it should have been obvious that there were no objective changes with the placebo treatment.

  201. —“Acipenser: “no confusion at all. The result that people can believe that expensive wine is better than cheap wine (even though it is the same wine) is drawn right from the medical literature. That literature documents that ‘expensive’ placebo pills work better than cheaper ones. Among many other aspects that increase the gullibility factor.”

    The “placebo effect” is synonymous with medical intervention. As I pointed out, the mind/body phenomenon is similar and comparable, but it is of a larger scope. The former can be measured scientifically because independent/dependent variables, control groups, and DB studies are more readily available. The more general phenomenon can be measured, but it is much harder to get good numbers.

    —“Indeed are the medical reports true?

    Yes, I would say that the reports are most likely true. Science is all about probability, and we are talking about the well-thought out conclusions of professional scientists.

    The Lourdes International Medical Committee [CMIL] is a consultation committee that consists of 20 permanent members, which include some of Europe’s best doctors. Out of 50 cases reported every year, this group will typically investigates five of them at great length.

    For the cure to be recognized as a miracle, it must fulfill several criteria:

    It is necessary to verify the illness, which must be serious, with an irrevocable prognosis.

    The illness must be organic or caused by injuries.

    There must be no treatment at the root of the cure.

    The latter must be sudden and instantaneous.

    Finally, the renewal of functions must be total and lasting, without convalescence.

    So the process allows for, indeed, invites the testimony of those who are skeptical. Finding a skeptic in the mix is a good indicator that the committee did not arrive at its conclusions without hearing from, and listening carefully to, even one person who might play the role of devil’s advocate. To base one’s decision on a part of the process, however, and to ignore the whole, is not scientific. It is even more unscientific to reject the findings of 20 professional, disinterested scientists simply because you do not approve of their findings.

    What is your explanation from a materialist perspective if the medical reports are true?

    —”It appears to me that the verification process is a gaps argument. If we, science-based knowledge, cannot explain it today it is a mircle but tomorrow if it can be explained the result is no longer a inexplicable result.”

    What recent science-based knowledge would invalidate any of the miracles alluded to?

  202. Aci:

    Pardon, but this seems to be red herring led to strawman, I infer inadvertently (based on your own focus and underlying apparent materialistic worldview):

    I offered you the lowest bar possible to vindicate your claim and that was to provide one, (1) study that documented objective changes in physical disease. You and karo both failed to do so with the reason being that none exist.

    1 –> The real issue at stake (right from the OP) is the connexion between mind and body, through the nexus of brain.

    2 –> In that context, the placebo effect is an illustration, of how a characteristically mental act [belief based on a judgement and expectation of treatment] leads to somatic changes, using the brain as intermediary.

    3 –> In that context, pain/distress relief is entirely adequate as a case in point (though It seems that there is more than that at work, e.g. on irritable bowel problems), and for instance your attention is again drawn to Benedetti’s research at 175 above.

    4 –> Excerpting the already cited:

    after 15 years of experimentation, he has succeeded in mapping many of the biochemical reactions responsible for the placebo effect, uncovering a broad repertoire of self-healing responses. Placebo-activated opioids, for example, not only relieve pain; they also modulate heart rate and respiration. The neurotransmitter dopamine, when released by placebo treatment, helps improve motor function in Parkinson’s patients. Mechanisms like these can elevate mood, sharpen cognitive ability, alleviate digestive disorders, relieve insomnia, and limit the secretion of stress-related hormones like insulin and cortisol.

    In one study, Benedetti found that Alzheimer’s patients with impaired cognitive function get less pain relief from analgesic drugs than normal volunteers do. Using advanced methods of EEG analysis, he discovered that the connections between the patients’ prefrontal lobes and their opioid systems had been damaged. Healthy volunteers feel the benefit of medication plus a placebo boost. Patients who are unable to formulate ideas about the future because of cortical deficits, however, feel only the effect of the drug itself. The experiment suggests that because Alzheimer’s patients don’t get the benefits of anticipating the treatment, they require higher doses of painkillers to experience normal levels of relief.

    Benedetti often uses the phrase “placebo response” instead of placebo effect. By definition, inert pills have no effect, but under the right conditions [i.e. patient expectations and beliefs] they can act as a catalyst for what he calls the body’s “endogenous health care system.” Like any other internal network, the placebo response has limits. It can ease the discomfort of chemotherapy, but it won’t stop the growth of tumors. It also works in reverse to produce the placebo’s evil twin, the nocebo effect. For example, men taking a commonly prescribed prostate drug who were informed that the medication may cause sexual dysfunction were twice as likely to become impotent.

    Further research by Benedetti and others showed that the promise of treatment activates areas of the brain involved in weighing the significance of events and the seriousness of threats. “If a fire alarm goes off and you see smoke, you know something bad is going to happen and you get ready to escape,” explains Tor Wager, a neuroscientist at Columbia University. “Expectations about pain and pain relief work in a similar way. Placebo treatments tap into this system and orchestrate the responses in your brain and body accordingly.”

    5 –> In short, placebo effects show how a BELIEF or an EXPECTATION — i.e. a mental event, based on an interpretation of a situation — can trigger brain pathways that work into the body’s own systems of self-medication and control. MIND –> BRAIN –> BODY. (And note for instance the remarks on effect on Parkinson’s disease patients’ motor function.)

    6 –> Or, in the terms of the Smith cybernetic loop model [which I would very much like for you to take a look at], it shows how the higher order controller can affect the lower order controller, informationally, thence the behaviour of the controlled plant, the body with its sensors of internal and external state/orientation and effectors.

    7 –> Thus, we see empirical support for the key idea there, that we can have a two-tier control mechanism, in which the higher order one provides the imaginative/modelling/vision of the future path, creative, and volitional elements that set the targets for the lower order one, acting as input-output, front end controller.

    8 –> Once that point is seen as an empirically supportable way to view the embodied agent or actor, that makes it reasonable to ask whether a mind can be seen as an interfaced element that is not locked down to the issues of signals in loops in physical cause-effect chains.

    9 –> For, we already know [cf the excerpt that appears again at 107 above] that unless something in us is self-caused and initiatory, we are inescapably locked into the gap between physical cause-effect chains and the ground-consequent, decision-action chains constrained by logic and moral responsibilities that are characteristic of agency.

    [ . . . ]

  203. 10 –> In short, we cannot but act as embodied self-moving, thinking and judging, deciding agents, but mere embodiment cannot and therefore does not explain agency.

    11 –> The Smith model allows us to see our embodiment in terms of a system architecture that DOES allow for agency to interact with embodiment, through an interface between a higher order supervisory controller and a lower order i/o loop controller unit. So, it is a reasonable model, and one that aptly fits with the placebo response.

    12 –> That model does not define the nature of the supervisory controller, but it is plain that in our case, that controller acts as an initiatory, self-moved cause, on pain of reduction of our intelligent life to absurdity, as 107 above shows.

    13 –> For, control loops are supervised entities [their set-points and tuning are not inherent characteristics of the loop, they are imposed in the end from without, and are not a credible product of chance, due to the complex fine tuning involved], and the difference here is that the supervision is brought into a broader view of the MIMO cybernetic control system.

    14 –> To reduce the two-tier controller to physical cause-effect chains, instead of respecting design and intention in the origin and the operation of the loop, ends up in the absurdities of chance plus necessity being called on to account for the very things they are empirically known to be irrelevant to (on a world of observations!): origin of functionally specific, complex organisation and information, rooting and grounding the warranted inference from ground to consequent, and accounting for moral responsibility.

    15 –> Each of these is real, and we cannot live apart from that reality (even for those who vehemently deny it).

    16 –> So, it makes better sense to start our worldviews from experiential fact no 1: we experience the world as embodied, self-moving, conscious, aware, perceiving, volitional, reasoning, knowing and morally responsible creatures.

    17 –> Indeed, it is through these faculties that we experience an external world that is material. Mind is actually prior to matter in how we come to experience the world.

    18 –> If we are systematically deluded at this point, we have no good grounds to trust any further deliverances of our minds. So, it makes best sense to start form there, and see where it leads: minds and bodies are real.

    19 –> From this we soon enough see that truth/false, logically valid/invalid, right/wrong, etc are not even remotely connected to the material properties of bodies grinding away at one another like the macromolecules in a neuron, and neurons in networks. Ion concentration gradients, micro-voltage signals, etc are in no inherent way connected to the above.

    20 –> Instead, it makes better sense to see that the brain-CNS and the body are interfaces that allow our minds to engage a physical world.

    21 –> Going deeper, we can see that the world we experience is based on a massively fine-tuned cosmos that sets up C-Chemistry cell based intelligent life.

    22 –> That strongly points to the design of the physical cosmos by mind, and to how mind is prior to matter, right from the big bang singularity forward. In short, we have reason to accept that mind created matter in the first instance.

    23 –> So, that mind should be able to interact with matter informationally and shape it to its will, is no surprise in that light. How, precisely, we may not yet know — but there are interesting speculations on quantum influences [and remember just how strange that world is]. And, just on dark matter and dark energy, we know the cosmos is weirder than we can presently imagine.

    24 –> So, instead of locking down to an a priori imposition of self-referentially incoherent materialism, it makes better sense to start from accepting and recognising the reality of mind in its own right, just as much as the reality of matter.

    25 –> And, in that context, the placebo effect shows a case in point of mind affecting he brain-body subsystem.

    GEM of TKI

  204. StephenB: The “placebo effect” is synonymous with medical intervention. As I pointed out, the mind/body phenomenon is similar and comparable, but it is of a larger scope. The former can be measured scientifically because independent/dependent variables, control groups, and DB studies are more readily available. The more general phenomenon can be measured, but it is much harder to get good numbers.

    That’s nonsense. A 10-yr old girl published her findings on therapeutic touch with a propery designed, blinded study. There are no problems in designing a study to ask questions about human behavior. How do you think the data in the wine study was collected? Or the energy drink study?

    StepehnB; So the process allows for, indeed, invites the testimony of those who are skeptical. Finding a skeptic in the mix is a good indicator that the committee did not arrive at its conclusions without hearing from, and listening carefully to, even one person who might play the role of devil’s advocate. To base one’s decision on a part of the process, however, and to ignore the whole, is not scientific. It is even more unscientific to reject the findings of 20 professional, disinterested scientists simply because you do not approve of their findings.

    OK, I get it. You believe consensus science trumps justified skepticism.

    StephenB: What is your explanation from a materialist perspective if the medical reports are true?

    Why don’t we establish that the reports are true so we don’t spend a great deal of effort on speculating about imagined outcomes.

    StephenB: What recent science-based knowledge would invalidate any of the miracles alluded to?

    I thought answer would be obvious. A MRI of Bely’s head to confirm a diagnosis of MS. The lack of this important information was Dennis Daly’s complaint and objection.

  205. kiro: And, in that context, the placebo effect shows a case in point of mind affecting he brain-body subsystem.

    This is the bottom line. The placebo effect shows how the mind convinces the brain that the more expensive wine is better than the cheaper wine even though they are the same wine. Why did it do that? It’s tricks me!

  206. kairosfocus: What does the Glasgow Coma scale measure? Mind or Body?

  207. Stephenb On Lourdes

    I never really investigated this before. It is rather interesting.

    You say 3-5 cases are investigated each year. But you don’t say how many are accepted as cures?

    It is bit unclear but it appears that there are millions of visitors to Lourdes every year – presumably a high proportion of them with some ailment. Out of a million people with an ailment a proportion are going to get better (without treatment and inexplicably), at least for a time, anyway. I suspect it is a lot more than 5 cases a year. (I see that out of 12 notable cases three had multiple sclerosis. MS is well known for long periods of remission.)

    I don’t think these doctors are disinterested. They apply for the job and are presumably paid by the Catholic church or whoever it is that runs Lourdes. It would be interesting to know how many are Catholics. I am not saying they are corrupt, but it may unconsciously affect their judgement.

  208. kf, excellent post once again,,, acipencer since you did not argue against kf’s point of mind directly effecting brain, but merely want to know why your ‘mind’ thought cheap wine was expensive wine, does this now mean you concede the main point under discussion??? If not please explain in exact ‘materialistic’ detail the studies cited by kf!!!

  209. of related note:

    Is this man lying markf or did he get healed:

    Paraplegic healed – video
    http://healingherald.org/2010/.....ic-healed/

  210. Acipenser:

    Pardon a question to a question.

    As, presumably, a s[t]urgeon, I should ask you in turn: when you operate, is it just a pack of neurons firing off how they happen to have been arranged by chance and necessity across time, or a responsible, intelligent and educated, conscious and conscientious surgeon acting under the Hippocratic Oath’s commitments?

    And, pardon a further one: when you write, do you credit a pack of neurons controlled by chance plus necessity through nature, nurture and psycho-social conditioning [with consciousness an empiphenomenon of no causal efficacy riding on the underlying reality], or do you like to think that it is a self-moved, rational minded individual?

    And what rights can such a pack of neurons claim as a binding obligation of duty towards its inherent value? or, do “right” and “rights” boil down to what Plato warned ever so long ago in The Laws: “the highest right is might”?

    If you are one forced into that sort of amorality and radical relativism by underlying self-referentially incoherent evolutionary materialism, then you will understand that I would be wise indeed to seriously hesitate before committing my body to your care. And, were you to take up politics (a common enough second career for doctors and other medical practitioners) I would have serious reason to think twice before lending you my vote or my support. (Onlookers, to see why, cf Plato’s longstanding remarks as excerpted and highlighted here from his The Laws, Bk X; the very same context where Plato makes his cosmological design inference on the contrasting nature of chance, necessity and art. Please, do not overlook the onward link on the biography and career of the ever so clever Alcibiades, the chief example Plato seems to have had in mind.)

    Do you therefore see what is at stake in the issue over our being minded, self-moved, initiating, intelligent, rational and responsible creatures?

    Now, on the Glasgow scale, there may be a few surprises for you, as this is actually a case where applied science is routinely using a design inference. Now, a good first point of reference is Wiki:

    Glasgow Coma Scale or GCS is a neurological scale that aims to give a reliable, objective way of recording the conscious state of a person for initial as well as subsequent assessment. A patient is assessed against the criteria of the scale, and the resulting points give a patient score between 3 (indicating deep unconsciousness) and either 14 (original scale) or 15 (the more widely used modified or revised scale).

    GCS was initially used to assess level of consciousness after head injury, and the scale is now used by first aid, EMS, and doctors as being applicable to all acute medical and trauma patients. In hospitals it is also used in monitoring chronic patients in intensive care . . . .

    The scale comprises three tests: eye [NB: 1 - 4, behaviourally anchored judgemental rating scale [BARS] applying the underlying Rasch rating model commonly used as a metric in many fields where a judgement or inference needs to be quantified, and familiar from the Likert type scale], verbal [1 - 5] and motor [1 - 6] responses. The three values separately as well as their sum are considered. The lowest possible GCS (the sum) is 3 (deep coma or death), while the highest is 15 (fully awake person).

    1 –> This scale is exercised by responsible, ethically obligated and educated medical and paramedical practitioners.

    2 –> It is applied to embodied intelligent creatures who under normal circumstances will be alert, verbally responsive and able to move their bodies at will, and whose eye pupils will respond to light, and whose eye-tracks betray a major current focus of consciousness. This is background knowledge.

    3 –> In this context, we may make reference to the Smith Model, assessing the embodied human being as a MIMO bio-cybernetic system, where mind is viewed as higher order controller.

    [ . . . ]

  211. 4 –> On the Smith MIMO cybernetic model, the head is a major sensory turret, and hosts the front-end I/O processor. Damage to the head implicating that processor would therefore directly affect both sensor and effector capacity.

    5 –> So, implications of such damage for a primary sensor suite, the eyes, and two major sensor effector suites, the auditory and vocal systems, would serve as a pattern of signs that can be assessed on the warranted inference model introduced as a background for my ongoing ID Foundations series:

    I: [si] –> O, on W

    (I an observer, note a pattern of signs, and infer an underlying objective condition or state of affairs or object, on a warrant)

    6 –> So, here we see inference to signified from sign, on a warrant.

    7 –> Going further, let us observe behaviour at levels 2, 4 and 5 on the verbal scale, where the issue is whether the subject is able to utter speech that is coherent, accurate and contextually responsive:

    2: Incomprehensible sounds

    4: Confused, disoriented

    5: Oriented, converses normally

    8 –> Speech, especially when set in context as language and as a situationally aware response of an intelligent person, is a strong indicator of functionally specific complex organisation, and indeed, encodes verbal, symbolic code in phonemes composed on rules of language. Speech expresses FSCI.

    9 –> Thus, where situationally responsive and well composed speech is present, we have good reason to infer that we are dealing with a functional intelligence. And that is the normal condition of fully conscious human beings.

    10 –> So, from the degree of falling short of such, we may infer to a breakdown in the relevant systems, here, related to head or CNS injury. With certain other signs, we may go on to infer worse than mere unconsciousness, death.

    11 –> All of this fits very well with a mind-brain-body view. Indeed, classically — going even further, the spiritual view has been that “the body without the spirit is dead,” and is subject then to the bondage of natural laws of decay.

    12 –> Indeed, it has long been accepted that a sufficient trauma can not only impair [inducing unconsciousness] but sever the links between mind and body, inducing death.

    13 –> So, the Glasgow scale is actually a case in point of how a design inference on a cluster of observable reliable signs, is routinely and reliably made in a life and death, applied science situation.

    14 –> It is fully compatible with the 2-tier controller approach used by Smith, and onward, it is fully compatible with an understanding of reality that recognises conscious mind as the first fact of experience, and so accepts that mind and matter are credibly both key aspects of reality.

    15 –> By contrast, and as already linked and excerpted above at 107, the evolutionary materialistic view stumbles over self-referential incoherence and leads on to a disturbing and historically destructive amorality of power.

    16 –> So, evolutionary materialism is necessarily false and dangerously destructive. No responsible, informed person should adhere to it.

    17 –> Its seizing the prestigious guise of the lab coat of science in our day, only makes it ever more more dangerous. For, the wolf in the lab coat may gain our naive trust . . .

    18 –> I suggest that we should all read here and look at the embedded sobering video of Plato’s parable of the cave, reflecting on how the shadow shows were sued to create a manipulative false enlightenment that was in reality an en-darken-ment. (The discussion in context will give much reason to think on what has really been going on in the name of science and science education, for maybe a century and more.)
    _______________

    GEM of TKI

  212. MF (and onlookers):

    Before brushing the miraculous aside, I suggest you work through this now classic BMJ, Dec 1983 article by Rex Gardner, especially the modern cases of healings beyond what placebo effects can credibly do.

    Notice, in particular, the discussion on evidence, testimony and documentation, regarding the missionary doctor in Pakistan, daughter of the bishop of York at the time.

    Selective hyperskepticism is a fallacy.

    GEM of TKI

  213. #209 BA77

    “Is this man lying markf or did he get healed:”

    How can I possibly tell? I would guess it is a bit of self-deception, a bit of exaggeration, and a bit of natural recovery given the exercise he had been taking over the years and which culminated into action with the excitement of the service.

  214. Onlookers:

    MF, sadly, just gave us a classic example of Cliffordian evidentialism, a manifestation of self-referentially incoherent selective hyperskepticism. Without knowing he person involved, he makes up a dismissive, ad hominem laced account to blunt the force of evidence he would not face.

    How would he like it if his statements were treated through the hermeneutic of suspicion, like that: should we now, on turnabout as fair play, assume that MF is lying or exaggerating, except where we can fully warrant otherwise?

    Let us see if he can dispose of the case of Dr Ruth Coggan and Kamro in Pakistan [massive post-partum bleeding of the latter on an underlying blood clotting defect, probably amounting to in excess of her normal blood volume] so easily as that.

    GEM of TKI

  215. F/N:

    perhaps the most classic case of all time:

    ________________

    >> Acts 3
    The Lame Beggar Healed
    1Now Peter and John were(A) going up to the temple at(B) the hour of prayer,(C) the ninth hour.[a] 2And a man(D) lame from birth was being carried,(E) whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate(F) to ask alms of those entering the temple. 3Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. 4And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” 5And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6But Peter said,(G) “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you.(H) In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” 7And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. 8And(I) leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9And(J) all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
    Peter Speaks in Solomon’s Portico
    11(K) While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in(L) the portico called Solomon’s. 12And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? 13(M) The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,(N) the God of our fathers,(O) glorified his servant[b] Jesus, whom(P) you delivered over and(Q) denied in the presence of Pilate,(R) when he had decided to release him. 14But you denied(S) the Holy and(T) Righteous One, and(U) asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15and you killed(V) the Author of life,(W) whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16And(X) his name—by(Y) faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is(Z) through Jesus[c] has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.

    17″And now, brothers, I know that(AA) you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18But what God(AB) foretold(AC) by the mouth of all the prophets, that(AD) his Christ would(AE) suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19(AF) Repent therefore, and(AG) turn again, that(AH) your sins may be blotted out, 20that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ(AI) appointed for you, Jesus, 21(AJ) whom heaven must receive until the time for(AK) restoring all the things about which(AL) God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. 22Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you(AM) a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen(AN) to him in whatever he tells you. 23And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet(AO) shall be destroyed from the people.’ 24And(AP) all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. 25(AQ) You are the sons of the prophets and of(AR) the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham,(AS) ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ 26(AT) God,(AU) having raised up his servant, sent him to you first,(AV) to bless you(AW) by turning every one of you from your wickedness.”
    Acts 4
    Peter and John Before the Council
    1And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and(AX) the captain of the temple and(AY) the Sadducees came upon them, 2greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming(AZ) in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3And they arrested them and(BA) put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. 4But many of those who had heard the word believed, and(BB) the number of the men came to about five thousand.

    5On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, 6with(BC) Annas the high priest and(BD) Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 7And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired,(BE) “By what power or(BF) by what name did you do this?” 8Then Peter,(BG) filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, 9if we are being examined today(BH) concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 10let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that(BI) by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified,(BJ) whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. 11(BK) This Jesus[d] is the stone that was(BL) rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.[e] 12And there is(BM) salvation(BN) in no one else, for(BO) there is no other(BP) name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

    13(BQ) Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. 14But seeing the man who was healed(BR) standing beside them,(BS) they had nothing to say in opposition. 15But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, 16saying,(BT) “What shall we do with these men? For that(BU) a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them(BV) to speak no more to anyone in this name.” 18So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19But Peter and John answered them,(BW) “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20for(BX) we cannot but speak of what(BY) we have seen and heard.” 21And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them,(BZ) because of the people, for all were praising God(CA) for what had happened. 22For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old. [ESV]>>

    ________________

    Did the healing, with the well-known formerly lame but now healed man standing there make a difference to the opposition of the determined oppositionists to the gospel?

    No, it was only an obstacle to their path of opposition, which would soon go to beatings and then to judicial murder.

    This is a very old story, and again, we should look at the case of the parable of the cave.

    GEM of TKI

  216. —Acipenser: “OK, I get it. You believe consensus science trumps justified skepticism.”

    In this case, the term would be “the preponderance of the evidence.” The idea is to evaluate evidence, as they did, and then draw a conclusion. The idea is not to smuggle in materialistic conclusions into the evidence and then try to make the two components harmonize. No scientific study is perfect and anyone can find something to complain about, especially when they don’t like the results, as you obviously do not.

    What is interesting is the fact that you obsess over 1 case out of 66 and ignore the other 65. Can you explain that rather skewed attitude?

    Your comments prompt me to ask you for your sources. Would you please provide them?

    Now back to the formal definition of the “placebo effect,” which is clearly understood as a function of a doctor/patient relationship.

    “The placebo effect (also known as non-specific effects) is the phenomenon that a patient’s symptoms can be alleviated by an otherwise ineffective treatment, apparently because the individual expects or believes that it will work.”

    Or again,

    “The beneficial effect in a patient following a particular treatment that arises from the patient’s expectations concerning the treatment rather than from the treatment itself.”

    Or again,

    “A placebo ( /pl??sibo?/; Latin: I shall please)[2] is a sham or simulated medical intervention that can produce a (perceived or actual) improvement, called a placebo effect.”

    Or again,

    “A placebo, as used in research, is an inactive substance or procedure used as a control in an experiment. The placebo effect is the measurable, observable, or felt improvement in health not attributable to an actual treatment.”

    Or again,

    “A substance containing no medication and prescribed or given to reinforce a patient’s expectation to get well.”

    Are five definitions enough or do you need twenty five?

    The formal definition is important because I intend to ask you a few questions about your materialistic perspective of the process, which is being put on hold until you accept the facts in evidence.

    —”Why don’t we establish that the reports [about the healings] are true so we don’t spend a great deal of effort on speculating about imagined outcomes.”

    Because it is clear that you would reject the conclusions no matter what the evidence or source. So why don’t you simply answer the question? How would you explain miraculous healings from your materialistic perspective? Can’t you at least admit the obvious? If true, the reported healings would invalidate your materialist presuppositions.

  217. well markf, did the Doctor lie (or self-deceive himself) in this video when he issued a Death Certificate for a man who was brought back to life?:

    The Lazarus Phenomenon – Death Certificate Resurrection – video
    http://www.premiertv.twofourdi.....75ad6bf5dc

    I also like the formerly Dead guy’s testimony in this video:

    Real Life Modern Day Miracles – Blind See; Dead Raised; Deaf Hear – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4596829/

  218. —markf: “I don’t think these doctors are disinterested. They apply for the job and are presumably paid by the Catholic church or whoever it is that runs Lourdes. It would be interesting to know how many are Catholics. I am not saying they are corrupt, but it may unconsciously affect their judgement.”

    Many of them are not Catholics, although I don’t know the proportions. I don’t think they are prone to pandering. Apparently, they are so independent that they recently rebelled at the word “miraculous,” and decided to replace it with the word, “remarkable.” They are not Catholic stooges. That would defeat the whole purpose of their existence. Wikipedia has a pretty good article on the Lourdes Medical Bureau.

  219. markf, by chance if you are genuinely interested,
    the doctor’s testimony starts around the 30 minute mark, while the formerly dead man’s testimony starts about 5 to 7 minutes earlier at the 23 minute mark:

    The Lazarus Phenomenon – Death Certificate Resurrection – video
    http://www.premiertv.twofourdi.....75ad6bf5dc

  220. BA77 – I am sorry but I am not going to study obscure videos by some Christian TV station I have never heard of claiming that faith or some such thing has brought people back to life. You can call it prejudice if you like – but if you don’t make some decisions about the quality of your sources you can spend your whole life chasing obscure snippets on the Internet.

  221. #218

    StephenB – I don’t suppose they are Catholic stooges. But there is a big gap between a stooge and being truly disinterested. After all, according to the Wikipedia article, they are encouraged, but not obliged, to wear the credo badge. They also have to be interested enough to live near or visit Lourdes.

  222. StephenB: In this case, the term would be “the preponderance of the evidence.” The idea is to evaluate evidence, as they did, and then draw a conclusion. The idea is not to smuggle in materialistic conclusions into the evidence and then try to make the two components harmonize. No scientific study is perfect and anyone can find something to complain about, especially when they don’t like the results, as you obviously do not.

    No, the preponderence of evidence did not convince Dennis Daly (and others) that the diagnosis was correct. That the others voted against him (and the others) does not mean they were in error jsut that the other doctors on the board chose to ignore their concerns. The evaluating board works by consensus which you think is fine. Do you apply that same criteria to other areas of science as equally as you do in this instance?

    StephenB: What is interesting is the fact that you obsess over 1 case out of 66 and ignore the other 65. Can you explain that rather skewed attitude?

    for the purpose of this conversation there is no need to consider more than one example. If one example can easily be called into question that is sufficient to demonstrate the point.
    Attempting to move the goalpost by saying in essence,,,’but…but..what about the others’IMO represents a skewed attitude.

    StephenB: Your comments prompt me to ask you for your sources. Would you please provide them?

    I would think that you would be familiar with these examples since you brought them up. The information is readily available but if you still need the sources I;ll provide them to you after work. Of course I expect the same courtesy from you.

    StephenBL The formal definition is important because I intend to ask you a few questions about your materialistic perspective of the process, which is being put on hold until you accept the facts in evidence.

    I accept the facts in evidence. Placebo effects resut in no objective changes in physical disease. That is abundantly clear. You can ask questions all you like but as the list of my questions that have been ignored grows you can expect similar treatment of your questions. This is not an interrogation and it won;t be onesided in nature. Quid pro Quo and all that.

    StephenB: Because it is clear that you would reject the conclusions no matter what the evidence or source. So why don’t you simply answer the question? How would you explain miraculous healings from your materialistic perspective?

    Well you, BA77, and kairo have provided no evidence to support your position that placebo effects result in objective outcomes in physical disease resolution. As far as miraculous healings go none have been presented that would not come into question when current diagnostic methodologies were applied to the cases, i.e., Bely and a MRI.

    The key point in your post was ‘if ‘ the cases are true. That has not been established.

  223. markf, well let’s look once again how well the evidence from physics lines up with the consistent testimonies of Near Death Experiences. In this video at the 3:22 mark,,,

    Traveling At The Speed Of Light – Optical Effects – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5733303/

    ,,, this video was produced from a purely scientific perspective of what we know will happen as we approach the speed of light, the 3-Dimensional is shown to ‘fold into a tunnel’ in direction of travel, with a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. This ‘scientific fact’ for what happens as we approach the speed of light, with no thought given to Near Death Experiences as the video was made but only to ‘the science’ of SOL, uncannily matches testimony from thousands upon thousands of Judeo-Christian Near Death Experience testimonies in which a tunnel is consistently describe by the Experiencers as they ‘transition’ to a higher dimension after dying;

    The NDE and the Tunnel – Kevin Williams’ research conclusions
    Excerpt: I started to move toward the light. The way I moved, the physics, was completely different than it is here on Earth. It was something I had never felt before and never felt since. It was a whole different sensation of motion. I obviously wasn’t walking or skipping or crawling. I was not floating. I was flowing. I was flowing toward the light. I was accelerating and I knew I was accelerating, but then again, I didn’t really feel the acceleration. I just knew I was accelerating toward the light. Again, the physics was different – the physics of motion of time, space, travel. It was completely different in that tunnel, than it is here on Earth. I came out into the light and when I came out into the light, I realized that I was in heaven. (Barbara Springer)
    http://www.near-death.com/expe.....rch16.html

    The NDE and the Tunnel – Kevin Williams’ research conclusions
    Excerpt: I saw a pinpoint of light in the distance. The black mass around me began to take on more of the shape of a tunnel, and I felt myself traveling through it at an even grea…ter speed, rushing toward the light. I was instinctively attracted to it, although again, I felt that others might not. As I approached it, I noticed the figure of a man standing in it, with the light radiating all around him. (Betty Eadie)
    http://www.near-death.com/expe.....rch16.html

    As well, special relativity (traveling at the speed of light) provides correlation for the ‘eternal’ effect noted in many Near Death Experiences:

    …”I’ve just developed a new theory of eternity.”
    Albert Einstein
    http://www.rd.com/your-america…-inspiring-people-and-stories/best-brainac/article37176-2.html

    “The laws of relativity have changed timeless existence from a theological claim to a physical reality. Light, you see, is outside of time, a fact of nature proven in thousands of experiments at hundreds of universities. I don’t pretend to know how tomorrow can exist simultaneously with today and yesterday. But at the speed of light they actually and rigorously do. Time does not pass.”
    Richard Swenson – More Than Meets The Eye, Chpt. 12

    ‘In the ‘spirit world,,, instantly, there was no sense of time. See, everything on earth is related to time. You got up this morning, you are going to go to bed tonight. Something is new, it will get old. Something is born, it’s going to die. Everything on the physical plane is relative to time, but everything in the spiritual plane is relative to eternity. Instantly I was in total consciousness and awareness of eternity, and you and I as we live in this earth cannot even comprehend it, because everything that we have here is filled within the veil of the temporal life. In the spirit life that is more real than anything else and it is awesome. Eternity as a concept is awesome. There is no such thing as time. I knew that whatever happened was going to go on and on.’
    Mickey Robinson – Near Death Experience testimony

    ‘When you die, you enter eternity. It feels like you were always there, and you will always be there. You realize that existence on Earth is only just a brief instant.’
    Dr. Ken Ring – has extensively studied Near Death Experiences

    So markf, are you going to make the absurd claim that millions of Near Death Experiencers have conspired to make their testimonies match exactly what we know will happen, from a purely scientific perspective, as we approach the ‘higher dimension’ of the speed of light???

    If you believe that then Perhaps you also believe these scientists, who have done extensive work on power scaling, have also conspired to deceive the rest of us into believing there is a primary ‘higher dimensional’ component to man that takes precedence of his 3-Dimensional body:

    “Although living things occupy a three-dimensional space, their internal physiology and anatomy operate as if they were four-dimensional. Quarter-power scaling laws are perhaps as universal and as uniquely biological as the biochemical pathways of metabolism, the structure and function of the genetic code and the process of natural selection.,,, The conclusion here is inescapable, that the driving force for these invariant scaling laws cannot have been natural selection.” Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini, What Darwin Got Wrong (London: Profile Books, 2010), p. 78-79

    The predominance of quarter-power (4-D) scaling in biology
    Excerpt: Many fundamental characteristics of organisms scale
    with body size as power laws of the form:

    Y = Yo M^b,

    where Y is some characteristic such as metabolic rate, stride length or life span, Yo is a normalization constant, M is body mass and b is the allometric scaling exponent.
    A longstanding puzzle in biology is why the exponent b is usually some simple multiple of 1/4 (4-Dimensional scaling) rather than a multiple of 1/3, as would be expected from Euclidean (3-Dimensional) scaling.
    http://www.nceas.ucsb.edu/~dre.....18_257.pdf

    You see markf, It don’t matter if I present the most premier scientific research to you or if i present snippets from youtube, NO MATTER WHAT I PRESENT you will choose to believe any lie whatsoever rather than embrace the wonderful truth that there really is a God who created and sustains everything and indeed who conquered death!

    The Center Of The Universe Is Life – General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Entropy and The Shroud Of Turin – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/5070355

    Turin Shroud Enters 3D Age – Pictures, Articles and Videos
    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1gDY4CJkoFedewMG94gdUk1Z1jexestdy5fh87RwWAfg

  224. acipencer, excuse me but evidence for direct physical response of placebo was established, that it is ‘limited’ does not subtract one iota that a physical event in the brain is established as OBJECTIVELY true. You have not even addressed how that could even be possible from a materialistic perspective. i.e. why is the brain responding instead of initiating??? It is simply inexplicable from a materialistic perspective. And is apparently one you will not even concede though shown in detail by kf what is happening. Why is this, Why do you pretend you are being forthright? Directly address the question put forth to you or concede that you have no answer for why the brain responds as it does!!! as for the miracles, I presented one case of a resurrected man with a signed Death Certificate, with a Mortician as witness to boot, and I have presented a case of a paraplegic man who was healed after 15 years od being in a wheelchair, who had his primary care doctor testify that it was inexplicable medically or scientifically how he could walk again,,, yet none of this is good enough for you??!!? Yet if I told you a lie that your great-great-0great grand-farther was actually primordial mud puddle and that that mus puddle slowly evolved by time and chance to become you, totally without any intelligent guidance, well this lie would be accepted by you hook line and sinker without even batting an eyelash!!! Why is this acipencer, why in the world would you be so gullible to choose to so quickly believe what is so blatantly false without even giving the other side a fair hearing?

  225. Pardon Aci:

    Re: you, BA77, and kairo have provided no evidence to support your position that placebo effects result in objective outcomes in physical disease resolution.

    This is now looking like insistence on red herrings and strawmen.

    Please, please, please, let us not go down that road.

    Kindly cf 202 ff above, and 210 ff above, not to mention all the way back to 107 above.

    It would be helpful if you were to explicitly engage the Derek Smith MIMO cybernetic model, as well. (The specific context of the way the Glasgow Coma Scale which you raised illustrates the themes, is quite relevant.)

    GEM of TKI

  226. F/N: major paper by Benedetti et al explaining Mechanisms of Placebo effect:

    http://www.jneurosci.org/cgi/c.....5/45/10390

    Quick clips:

    _______________

    >> The placebo effect is a psychobiological phenomenon that can be attributable to different mechanisms, including expectation of clinical improvement and pavlovian conditioning. Thus, we have to look for different mechanisms in different conditions, because there is not a single placebo effect but many. So far, most of the neurobiological mechanisms underlying this complex phenomenon have been studied in the field of pain and analgesia, although recent investigations have successfully been performed in the immune system, motor disorders, and depression. Overall, the placebo effect appears to be a very good model to understand how a complex mental activity, such as expectancy, interacts with different neuronal systems (Colloca and Benedetti, 2005Go; Finniss and Benedetti, 2005Go).

    Recently, the placebo effect has reemerged in the public and scientific interest because of investigations of its biological substrates (de la Fuente-Fernandez et al., 2001Go; Mayberg et al., 2002Go; Petrovic et al., 2002Go; Lieberman et al., 2004Go; Wager et al., 2004Go; Colloca and Benedetti, 2005Go; Zubieta et al., 2005aGo). The public is interested in placebo effects because they promise increased self-control; the existence of placebo effects suggests that we must broaden our conception of the limits of endogenous human capability. Scientists are interested in placebo responses because the effects of belief on human experience and behavior provide an entry point for studying internal control of affective, sensory, and peripheral processes. The study of the placebo effect, at its core, is the study of how the context of beliefs and values shape brain processes related to perception and emotion and, ultimately, mental and physical health. The study of the placebo effect reflects a current neuroscientific thought that has as its central tenet the idea that “subjective” constructs such as expectation and value have identifiable physiological bases, and that these bases are powerful modulators of basic perceptual, motor, and internal homeostatic processes . . . .

    The neurobiology of the placebo effect was born in 1978, when it was shown that placebo analgesia could be blocked by the opioid antagonist naloxone, which indicates an involvement of endogenous opioids (Levine et al., 1978Go). By using this pharmacological approach with naloxone, several other studies have confirmed and extended this observation. For example, a placebo can reduce pain by both opioid and non-opioid mechanisms (Colloca and Benedetti, 2005Go) (Fig. 1). In the first case, placebo analgesia is typically blocked by the opioid antagonist naloxone, whereas in the second case it is not, depending on the procedure that is applied to induce the placebo analgesic response. In an experimental model of pain (Amanzio and Benedetti, 1999Go), the placebo response could be blocked by naloxone if it was induced by strong expectation cues, whereas if the expectation cues were reduced, it was insensitive to naloxone. In the same study, if the placebo response was obtained after exposure to opioid drugs, it was naloxone reversible, whereas if it was obtained after exposure to non-opioid drugs, it was naloxone insensitive. These data indicate that opioid and non-opioid mechanisms come into play under different circumstances . . . .

    In another recent study, some of the circumstances in which expectation and conditioning are involved have been suggested. In this study (Benedetti et al., 2003Go), the effects of opposing verbal suggestions on experimental ischemic arm pain in healthy volunteers and on motor performance in parkinsonian patients were analyzed. It was found that verbally induced expectations of analgesia/hyper-algesia and of motor improvement/worsening antagonized completely the effects of a conditioning procedure. In contrast, it was found that expectations of increase/decrease of growth hormone (GH) and cortisol did not have any effect on the secretion of these hormones. However, if a preconditioning was performed with sumatriptan, a 5-HT1B/1D agonist that stimulates GH and inhibits cortisol secretion, a significant increase of GH and decrease of cortisol plasma concentrations were found after placebo administration, although opposite verbal suggestions were given (Fig. 1). These findings suggest that expectations have no effect on hormonal secretion, although they affect pain and motor performance. This also provides some evidence that placebo responses are mediated by conditioning when unconscious physiological functions, such as hormonal secretion, are involved, whereas they are mediated by expectation when conscious physiological processes, such as pain and motor performance, come into play, although a conditioning procedure is performed. Thus, the placebo effect seems to be a phenomenon that can be learned either consciously or unconsciously, depending on the system that is involved (e.g., pain or hormone secretion).

    The role of conditioning in the placebo effect is also shown by studies on the immune responses (Ader, 2003Go). For example, repeated associations between cyclosporin A (unconditioned stimulus) and a flavored drink (conditioned stimulus) induced conditioned immunosuppression in humans, in which the flavored drink alone produced a suppression of the immune functions, as assessed by means of interleukin-2 (IL-2) and interferon-{gamma} (IFN-{gamma}) mRNA expression, in vitro release of IL-2 and IFN-{gamma}, as well as lymphocyte proliferation (Goebel et al., 2002Go). This study supports a conditioning mechanism in immunosuppressive placebo responses and is in keeping with the effects of sumatriptan conditioning on GH and cortisol secretion (Benedetti et al., 2003Go).

    It is worth pointing out that these placebo mechanisms have an important influence on the therapeutic outcome, and indeed they enhance the specific effect of a treatment. These additive effects have been demonstrated recently by studies that assessed treatment efficacy after the hidden administration of different therapies. In fact, the open administration of a treatment, in which the subject knows what is going on and expects an outcome, is more effective than a hidden one, in which the subject does not know that any therapy is being given and thus does not expect anything (Colloca et al., 2004Go). Likewise, the expected administration of a drug has a more powerful effect on brain metabolism than the unexpected administration (Volkow et al., 2003Go). These findings show that drug effects are reduced if expectations are absent and underscore how the knowledge about a treatment affects the therapeutic outcome . . . .

    Recently, Parkinson’s disease has emerged as an interesting model to understand the neurobiological mechanisms of the placebo response. In this case, patients are given an inert substance (the placebo) and are told that it is an antiparkinsonian drug that produces an improvement in their motor performance. A recent study used positron emission tomography (PET) to assess the competition between endogenous dopamine and [11C]raclopride for D2/D3 receptors, a method that allows identification of endogenous dopamine release (de la Fuente-Fernandez et al., 2001Go). This study found that placebo-induced expectation of motor improvement activates endogenous dopamine in the striatum of parkinsonian patients. In addition, it has been found that expectations of poor versus good motor performance modulate the therapeutic effect of subthalamic nucleus stimulation in parkinsonian patients who had undergone chronic implantation of electrodes for deep brain stimulation (DBS). In fact, by analyzing the effect of subthalamic stimulation on the velocity of movement of the right-hand, the hand movement was found to be faster when the patients expected a good motor performance. These effects occurred within minutes, suggesting that expectations induce neural changes very quickly (Pollo et al., 2002Go) . . . .

    Major depression is another useful model to examine neurobiological mechanisms of the placebo effect, because placebo responses are common in antidepressant trials of many interventions, including medication, psychotherapy, and somatic treatments (DeRubeis et al., 1999Go, 2005Go; Kirsch and Sapirstein, 1998Go; Enserink, 1999Go; Khan et al., 2000Go; Quitkin and Klein, 2000Go; Quitkin et al., 2000Go; Walsh et al., 2002Go; Koerselman et al., 2004Go). As in clinical trials for other medical conditions, the effectiveness of a new antidepressant is determined by comparing an active treatment with a controlled comparison condition . . . . >>
    ________________

    In short, the summary in Wired as previously linked is directly backed up from the per reviewed literature. That backup shows, strongly how mental acts of expectation and belief trigger brain actions that lead to significant body consequences.

    This should lead to a serious addressing of the implications of this on the issues.

    GEM of TKI

  227. that paper is an excellent find kf, I especially liked this part:

    Neurobiological Mechanisms of the Placebo Effect
    Excerpt: The placebo effect is a psychobiological phenomenon that can be attributable to different mechanisms, including expectation of clinical improvement and pavlovian conditioning. Thus, we have to look for different mechanisms in different conditions, because there is not a single placebo effect but many. So far, most of the neurobiological mechanisms underlying this complex phenomenon have been studied in the field of pain and analgesia, although recent investigations have successfully been performed in the immune system, motor disorders, and depression. Overall, the placebo effect appears to be a very good model to understand how a complex mental activity, such as expectancy, interacts with different neuronal systems (Colloca and Benedetti, 2005Go; Finniss and Benedetti, 2005Go).
    http://www.jneurosci.org/cgi/c.....5/45/10390

  228. —”Acipenser: “the preponderence of evidence did not convince Dennis Daly (and others) that the diagnosis was correct. That the others voted against him (and the others) does not mean they were in error jsut that the other doctors on the board chose to ignore their concerns.”

    What was the rationale of those who were accused of “ignoring concerns.” Perhaps they don’t agree with that characterization.

    —”The evaluating board works by consensus which you think is fine. Do you apply that same criteria to other areas of science as equally as you do in this instance?”

    The whole point of consulting 20 people from different backgrounds is to cover all the basis and get a final result that is informed by a wide variety of opinions. From a medical perspective, getting a “second opinion” is always a good By the same reasoning, getting 20 opinions is a very good idea. If everyone is given a vote and a voice, then I think the process is fine.

    Now if we were talking about say, “expelling” anyone in the group who disagreed with the final opinion, slandering them, or refusing to grant them employment for failing to hue the party line, then you might be on to something, if you get my drift.

    —”For the purpose of this conversation there is no need to consider more than one example. If one example can easily be called into question that is sufficient to demonstrate the point.”

    Irrelevant. Each scientific report is different. There is no carry-over effect. In any case, many of those on the panel were invited precisely because they do not have a religious bent. I would be suspicious of the make-up of any group if everyone fell in line.

  229. StephenB: What was the rationale of those who were accused of “ignoring concerns.” Perhaps they don’t agree with that characterization.

    They may or may not agree with the characterization but their vote is on the record. What amazes me is that if Bely would have recovered any where else but Lourdes it would not be considered miracle material. One can read numerous reasons/rationals on why this might be….from demon cures out side of Lourdes (why couldn’t demons work within Lourdes?) to all manner of equally, IMO, weird rationalizations. Somehow a projection is made where being at Lourdes is the requirement for the miracle not the patient outcome. Odd that.

    StephenB: The whole point of consulting 20 people from different backgrounds is to cover all the basis and get a final result that is informed by a wide variety of opinions. From a medical perspective, getting a “second opinion” is always a good By the same reasoning, getting 20 opinions is a very good idea. If everyone is given a vote and a voice, then I think the process is fine.

    Yes, consensus. That’s what I said.

    StephenB: Irrelevant. Each scientific report is different. There is no carry-over effect. In any case, many of those on the panel were invited precisely because they do not have a religious bent. I would be suspicious of the make-up of any group if everyone fell in line

    Delaring a miracle is declaring a miracle. Not much difference there and, of course, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. All that needs to be done to call into question the veracity of the process is to identify an example such as Bely’s.

    The goal is not to see how many times they may have been right but rather are they right all the time. Telling the dramatic drop in declaration of miracles corresponding with increased diagnostic capabilities.

  230. acipencer you state:

    ‘extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.’

    Indeed they do and here is a movie by that name:

    The Bible: The Word of God? Extraordinary Claims Demand Extraordinary Evidence
    http://video.google.com/videop.....491778083#

    and here is a particular clip from that movie that should drive the point home for you; A ancient prophecy fulfilled within modern times:

    The Precisely Fulfilled Prophecy Of Israel Becoming A Nation In 1948 – short video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4041241/

    Before you just scoff at it, perhaps you would like to carefully check the math?

  231. acipencer, as well I have a question for you, how many confirmed miracles would it take for you to believe in miracles? Should it not be just one? And since only one miracle is enough, why are you so concerned with the myriad of fraudulent claims? You don’t seem so concerned with fact that evolution is overflowing with fraudulent claims!!!,,, Please do the math on the 1948 Israel prophecy/miracle til you are satisfied that it is genuine.

  232. kairofocus: That backup shows, strongly how mental acts of expectation and belief trigger brain actions that lead to significant body consequences.

    And these significant body consequences are…..?

    karo: And note for instance the remarks on effect on Parkinson’s disease patients’ motor function

    herein lies the problem with hanging one’s hat on a news story. Obviously no citations are presented to verify the claims. In searching through the Pubmed literature on the subject trying to discern where this claim came from I found out several things. One the alluded to ‘improvement of motor function’ was only suggested in a study. Additionally, a follow-up study focusing on this issue found the following:

    Immediate Placebo Effect in Parkinson’s Disease – Is the Subjective Relief Accompanied by Objective Improvement?

    Felipe Fregnia,et. al.

    Eur Neurol 2006;56:222-229 (DOI: 10.1159/000096490)

    Background: A recent well-conducted meta-analysis showed that placebo effect is associated with a possible small benefit for subjective outcomes, but has no significant effects on objective outcomes. Objective: Herein, we aimed to investigate the immediate effects of two different types of placebo [placebo pill and sham transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)] in Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients and compared them to the standard treatment (levodopa) in a proper randomized, double-blind, crossover clinical trial. Methods: PD patients received three different interventions on different days: levodopa, placebo pill, and sham TMS. The motor function was assessed using simple and choice reaction time, Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS), finger tapping, Purdue Pegboard test, time to button up, walking time and supination-pronation. The subjective motor function was measured by a visual analogue scale (VAS). Results: The results showed that there was a significant motor function in the motor function only after the treatment with levodopa, but not after treatment with placebo pills or sham TMS. However, patients reported a similar subjective improvement in motor function indexed by VAS following these three treatments. Conclusion: These results suggest that placebo interventions in PD may have an immediate subjective sensation of improvement but result in no significant objective motor changes compared with levodopa treatment. Although physiological changes are possible after a placebo intervention, our findings suggest that the acute placebo effect in PD may be the result of the subjective change in the motor rating only.

    Onlookers should note that there were no objective improvments in motor function were found with placebo treatment.

    However, the perception of improved motor function was present.

  233. acipencer, once again It matters not one iota that the healing is ‘limited’ as far as the core issue of mind/brain is concerned! You seem to think that you have successfully dealt with the mind/brain issue by pointing to the continued limited mobility after placebo. But that just skirts the issue. What you must do is explain, in a strictly materialistic account why the brain is having such a pronounced change here,,,,

    “We were able to see that the endorphin system was activated in pain-related areas of the brain, and that activity increased when someone was told they were receiving a medicine to ease their pain. They then reported feeling less pain. The mind-body connection is quite clear.”

    ,, acipencer please do not ignore the core issue,,, Denial is not a river in Egypt!!!

  234. —Acipenser: “They may or may not agree with the characterization but their vote is on the record.”

    If we don’t know why they refused his [Daly's?] requests, then we cannot know that they “ignored his points.” To say otherwise is to make a value judgment that is not warranted by the facts.

    —”What amazes me is that if Bely would have recovered any where else but Lourdes it would not be considered miracle material.”

    That is like saying that if Moses had parted the waters of the Amazon River instead of the Red Sea, it wouldn’t be a miracle.

    —”One can read numerous reasons/rationals on why this might be….from demon cures out side of Lourdes (why couldn’t demons work within Lourdes?) to all manner of equally, IMO, weird rationalizations. Somehow a projection is made where being at Lourdes is the requirement for the miracle not the patient outcome. Odd that.”

    There is no requirement that one must visit Lourdes to receive a healing. Sometimes, in fact, it doesn’t work out that way. On the other hand, it makes sense to me that if faith is a condition for healing, and if someone demonstrates that faith by making a pilgrimage, the site of that pilgrimage would be a likely place to receive the healing.

    —”Yes, consensus. That’s what I said.”

    Yes, consensus, that’s what I affirmed. If you were the one investigating the matter, which approach would you take? Would you have the Church render a verdict on the basis of one scientist’s opinion after, say, a few months of inquiry? Or would you, as the Church decided, conclude that there is greater wisdom in numbers and more to be learned over a period of many years? Would you consult only Catholics, or would you, as the Church did, invite heavy input from non-Christians.

    —”Delaring a miracle is declaring a miracle. Not much difference there and, of course, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

    Scientists do not declare miracles or affirm anything with apodictic certainty. They are in the business of measuring probabilities. Theiller’s report on Bely, for example, simply indicated that it is highly improbable that the cure can be explained through natural means. The Church takes that information and makes a determination.

    —”The goal is not to see how many times they may have been right but rather are they right all the time.”

    Only those who want to focus on 1 miracle they feel [mistakenly, I believe] can be attacked and ignore 66 others they feel cannot be attacked could possibly take that view. Such an approach would not seem to reflect an earnest search for the truth.

    —Telling the dramatic drop in declaration of miracles corresponding with increased diagnostic capabilities.”

    What dramatic drop? As recently as 2005, the International Medical Committee examined forty spontaneous declarations of cures. Five of these were judged worthy of further examination. Another was confirmed as “exceptional” after 13 years of restored health. Sometimes they study these things for 10-15 years before making a determination.

  235. StephenB: That is like saying that if Moses had parted the waters of the Amazon River instead of the Red Sea, it wouldn’t be a miracle.

    Yes, that is exactly that stance taken at Lourdes. Don’t you find that odd?

    StephenB: Scientists do not declare miracles or affirm anything with apodictic certainty. They are in the business of measuring probabilities. Theiller’s report on Bely, for example, simply indicated that it is highly improbable that the cure can be explained through natural means. The Church takes that information and makes a determination

    Yes, A gap arguement. Additional information (i.e., MIR) could completely negate the miracle.

    StephenB: Only those who want to focus on 1 miracle they feel [mistakenly, I believe] can be attacked and ignore 66 others they feel cannot be attacked could possibly take that view. Such an approach would not seem to reflect an earnest search for the truth.

    Ah, that would only be a erronious assumption on you part. You have no idea what I feel or don’t feel.

    Failure to acknowledge that Dennis Daly had valid concerns over the listing of ‘miracle’ reflects a lack of vigor in the search for truth, IMO.

    StephenB: What dramatic drop? As recently as 2005, the International Medical Committee examined forty spontaneous declarations of cures. Five of these were judged worthy of further examination. Another was confirmed as “exceptional” after 13 years of restored health. Sometimes they study these things for 10-15 years before making a determination.

    OK, so let me make sure I understand you. You feel that studying things for a long time, i.e., >20 yrs, would lend veracity and credibility to the claims of the folks doing the studying?

    StephenB: There is no requirement that one must visit Lourdes to receive a healing. Sometimes, in fact, it doesn’t work out that way. On the other hand, it makes sense to me that if faith is a condition for healing, and if someone demonstrates that faith by making a pilgrimage, the site of that pilgrimage would be a likely place to receive the healing.

    It only matters if you want the healing to be acknowledged as a miracle. That’s pretty odd don’t you think. Same outcome, different geographical location, one= miracle, another =/ miracle.

    ?

  236. Aci:

    First, despite the specific caution as linked at 214 above, you have clearly fallen into Cliffordian evidentialism, which is fundamentally a flawed form of selective hyperskepticism:

    [Aci, 229:] and, of course, extraordinary claims require extraordinary [ADEQUATE] evidence.

    In a nutshell, this error popularised by Sagan, is self-referentially incoherent via a vicious infinite regress: the evidence for an extraordinary claim must itself be extraordinary, inflating to infinity. That, in turn, shows that it is used to reject what one does not want to believe, as it cuts across one’s worldview expectations, rather than as a serious position in thought.

    In short, it is selectively hyperskeptical closed mindedness, and is therefore irrational.

    The corrective above is therefore apt: our epistemic position should be that evidence for a position should be held to the relevant and accessible degree of warrant.

    In that context, it is no surprise to see you resort to a red herring, led away to a strawman, on the main issue at stake, in :

    kairofocus: That backup shows, strongly how mental acts of expectation and belief trigger brain actions that lead to significant body consequences.

    [Acipenser:] And these significant body consequences are…..?

    Aci [and onlookers], there is an entire discussion from yesterday, of the case of mind –> brain –> body, with backup references in the literature. Just cf 225 above, to see where I drew your attention to it.

    And, simply the triggering of internal opioids that reduce the impact of pain, is more than adequate to show the effect in action. But, if one is trapped in Cliffordian evidentialism, no adequate degree of evidence will suffice to be corrective.

    Similarly, given that –as 226 above shows — I dug out the underlying major Journal review by Benedetti et al, who turned out to be running the leading research lab on placebo effects, it is utterly unwarranted and unjust on your part to claim: . . . hanging one’s hat on a news story. Obviously no citations are presented to verify the claims.

    That major article showed that Wired was accurate [multiplying the credibility of the news article as we have independent specific corroboration in a context where soundness is a habit], and the journal article sufficed to show that in fact the precise pattern of mental beliefs and expectations triggering brain functions that released somatic resources that synergised with medical interventions, is amply documented. In particular, observe the case of the Alzheimers patients who because of impaired cognitive function were unable to form the relevant expectations implied in the placebo effect, underscoring that it is indeed mind that is driving the causal chain. THAT PATTERN OF EVIDENT CAUSALITY IS ALL I NEEDED TO UNDERSCORE THE POINT THAT WE HAVE ADEQUATE EVIDENCE OF CAUSE FLOWING FROM MIND TO BRAIN TO BODY.

    (In that context, the onward debates on further impacts of the placebo effect are distractive, though the evidence is that there is a much wider range of impacts of beliefs, expectations, confidence etc on bodily function, intellectual performance, job performance, athletic performance [envisioning and imagining how it feels [i.e. projecting he bodily path and the proprioception sequence that will be the comparison path for control action: the right way "feels" right!] as one does it, then carrying out the perfect performance . . . as a key technique] etc. in addition, the credible existence of miracles, is a sign that there is much more in this world than is dreamed of in your philosophy.)

    Join that with the discussion already linked that shows that evolutionary materialism is self-referentially incoherent and necessarily false. Add to it the implications of the Smith model’s architecture that allows us to see how we are not looked into the brain-body loop as a control system, but must bring to bear the implied supervision that obtains for a control loop. Add in the issue that informational and quantum-level interactions provide a plausible gateway and interface for bidirectional links. Multiply further by the implications of dark matter and energy that we do not understand even matter-energy to the level where we can make confident declarations about the nature of matter, energy and reality [between them, these mysterious entities are evidently 94% of the observable universe, and we have no sound conclusion on what hey even are]. Then, look at the evidence that the observed cosmos is fine tuned on multiple aspects, to facilitate C-chemistry, cell based intelligent life.

    That is, we have reason to infer to mind before matter, and as the ground of matter.

    In that overall context, we may freely and confidently accept that it is credible that mind exists, is prior to matter ontologically, and that mind is the means by which our experience of the world that we are self-caused, initiating beings that act into the external physical world, is credibly true.

    Both mind and matter are credibly real and distinct.

    Finally, it is almost amusing to see how your ever so confident calling on the Glasgow Coma Scale has now vanished without trace, once I showed the underlying inference to design [and to mind] that is embedded in it as a case of applied science in a literally life and death situation.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: It is also almost amusing to see how you will not touch the 65 of 66 cases at Lourdes, nor the Rex Gardner BBMJ article from December 1983, especially the postpartum bleeding case with Dr Rugh Coggan and Kamlo, where the woman in question on the evidence may well have lost her initial blood volume but survived in answer to prayer. In short, the evidence is that you are picking and choosing objections to suit yourself, and to dismiss what you cannot soundly object to. Cf 215 above, where I cited the classic case of a healing in the Temple in Jerusalem, where the early opponents of the Christian faith, even with the healed man standing in their midst, were unwilling to reconsider whether their position was warranted. FYI, just ONE actual healing in the name of Jesus in answer to prayer is enough to overturn the antisupernaturalist view. So, the proper response is that each case needs to be addressed on its own merits. And in fact there are literally thousands of cases.

  237. StephenB: That is like saying that if Moses had parted the waters of the Amazon River instead of the Red Sea, it wouldn’t be a miracle.

    —”Yes, that is exactly that stance taken at Lourdes. Don’t you find that odd?”

    Either you missed my point or you didn’t recognize the flaw in your argument. Bely’s situation would be recognized as a miracle wherever it occurred.

    —”Yes, A gap arguement. Additional information (i.e., MIR) could completely negate the miracle.”

    Inasmuch as there was no MRI technology available at that time, the only way to perform a diagnosis was through other means. By Daly’s standards [and yours] no miracle could ever be confirmed because the hyperskteptic can always say that the technology available at the time of the diagnosis was too primitive, just as the same may be said of an MRI in twenty years. Thus, a diagnosis would be confirmed with evidence from an MRI obtained in 2000 but the hyperskeptic says, “Sorry, but there was no MMM technology available like that which we have here in 2020, therefore we are going to reject the diagnosis because the MRI scan is too primitive. It is a mindless objections. Sorry.

    —”Ah, that would only be a erronious assumption on you part. You have no idea what I feel or don’t feel.”

    Ah, but I have evidence by your behavior. Clearly, you do not want miracles to be possible. That you would ignore the other 66 miracles and make impossible technological demands on the other 1 miracle makes this obvious.

    —”Failure to acknowledge that Dennis Daly had valid concerns over the listing of ‘miracle’ reflects a lack of vigor in the search for truth, IMO.”

    But Daly’s concerns were taken into account, inasmuch as he was given a vote. You seem to think that one voice should override the other 19.

    [StephenB: What dramatic drop? As recently as 2005, the International Medical Committee examined forty spontaneous declarations of cures. Five of these were judged worthy of further examination. Another was confirmed as “exceptional” after 13 years of restored health. Sometimes they study these things for 10-15 years before making a determination.]

    —-”OK, so let me make sure I understand you. You feel that studying things for a long time, i.e., >20 yrs, would lend veracity and credibility to the claims of the folks doing the studying?”

    No, I was simply correcting your erroneous claim, dug up from who knows where, that the miracles reported and being studied have decreased significantly, as I clearly expressed in my first four sentences. On the other hand, I also made the point, which should be obvious, that a long investigation is generally more reliable than a short investigation. Your objections are becoming increasingly irrelevant, which is more evidence that you clearly do not like the idea of confirmed miracles.

    StephenB: There is no requirement that one must visit Lourdes to receive a healing. Sometimes, in fact, it doesn’t work out that way. On the other hand, it makes sense to me that if faith is a condition for healing, and if someone demonstrates that faith by making a pilgrimage, the site of that pilgrimage would be a likely place to receive the healing.

    —”That’s pretty odd don’t you think. Same outcome, different geographical location, one= miracle, another =/ miracle.”

    No, it does not seem odd to me that a miracle can occur at any place at any time. Nor does it seem odd that one would go on a pilgrimage for a special reason and have a favor granted on that account. Your point escapes me.

  238. @237: “It is a mindless objection.”

    I should have been more clear and written, “It is a mindless objection on Daly’s part.” I did not mean to aim it at Acipenser.

  239. OT kairos and all; this video should be extremely interesting for you;

    Classical and Quantum Information in DNA – video lecture – 35 minute
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nqHOnVTxJE

    The lecturer (Gretchen) shows that quantum information is ‘sandwiched’ along the whole of the DNA molecule, as well as hypothesizing that quantum information must somehow be involved in protein folding to explain the ‘increase of information’ as the linear information from the DNA becomes linear plus ’3-Dimensional’ information in the final folded state of the protein. She also proposed a test and said that if proteins folded into different structures from the same linear information that this would be strong indication that quantum information was at work in protein folding because it is impossible for information to increase without a input from somewhere.

    and ,,,just happen to have that reference:

    The Gene Myth, Part II – August 2010
    Excerpt: the rate at which a protein is synthesized, which depends on factors internal and external to the cell, affects the order in which its different portions fold. So even with the same sequence a given protein can have different shapes and functions. Furthermore, many proteins have no intrinsic shape, taking on different roles in different molecular contexts. So even though genes specify protein sequences they have only a tenuous influence over their functions.
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....rt-ii.html

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