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woodwater



Joined: 14 Sep 2007
Posts: 151
Location: lisbon

Posted: Sat Oct 31, 2009 11:57 pm    Post subject: Comments by a skeptic Reply with quote

Interesting comments on the brain. What do you think of this?

" Let's see if we can't clear up some things for you.


Originally Posted by MrErisian
I would be interested to hear some skeptical thoughts on Tarot cards. I have recently been playing about with a pack doing readings for friends and family. I'm stunned at how accurate they are. It's incredible!
A lot of seemingly paranormal stuff does seem incredible. That's pretty much why people put so much faith into it - it seems impossible to not believe in it.


Quote:
It's VERY strange but my rational mind knows there must be an explanation which goes beyond coincidence. What is it? How do tarot cards work their 'magic'?
There are a few tricks of the brain at work here. Before I address them, however, it pays to understand why it's so convincing.

Our brains evolved to help us survive. They do this by allowing us to work together as a social group to find patterns to exploit in the world around us. In other words, our brains did not evolve to write operas, make ravioli, or deduce mathematical models of nature. That is an accidental and useful side-effect of how our brains function.

However, to do what it does, your brain needs to cut some corners. It's an incredibly energy-hungry meat machine, so to get the most out of its processing it gambles. A lot. Most of your vision, for example, is your brain making an educated guess, which is why optical illusions are so damn funky.

So, these short cuts work the vast majority of the time, and save a lot of time and effort. In eons past, it allowed us to do what organisms do best - make lots of babies. It didn't matter if it also meant we believed that the mountain that overlooked our home has feelings, that we could dance and make it rain or that we could predict the future by looking at animal's entrails. The same pattern-making software in our heads, so to speak, that allowed us to do these things also allowed us to find the best food, avoid snakes and sympathise with our loved ones.

Now, getting to your question;

Our brains are incredibly selective. It's important for them to be this way - the amount of information coming into them every moment of every day is vast. So it constantly matches it with something - anything - and if it can't, it discards it as useless. And you forget it.

Yet, sometimes it finds something that could be significant. The upside is that this is an efficient way of finding needles in a haystack of information. The downside is that there is no way of knowing if it really is a needle, or just another bit of hay. Some patterns are useless.

With your tarot card sessions, I guarantee there were plenty of instances where things were said that never eventuated. You forgot them, because, well, they didn't match anything. It's called 'counting the hits and missing the misses'. Out of a hundred random statements, statistically there are probably going to be a few that simply, accidentally, ring true. Why? Same reason some people win the lottery. With enough spins of the wheel, random events will coincide.

So we are more or less forced by our brains to seize on those coincidences and see them as significant. Even if they aren't. Sure, it seems amazing, but that's the beauty of it. Add to that the fact that we're pretty poor at evaluating probability, and we all tend to think of our lives as being more unique than they really are, and you can start to see our brain isn't really good at making judgements of chance.

Secondly, memory isn't what you think it is. We adjust our memories all the time. It's one of the best tricks our brain has - it is always adjusting what we think we know. Why? Because it's evolved to deal with the possibility of having made a mistake. A poorly formed memory is useless, so with more experience we can modify the memory and learn more from it. The downside, again, is that we have no way of knowing really what happened.

For instance, imagine if somebody had referred to an aunt dying. In retrospect, your brain could very easily modify this to refer to a grandmother, or mother, or friend of the family. This subtle alteration is incredibly powerful - you'll swear on your mother's grave you heard correctly. And, for all purposes, you would think that. You're not lying, but your brain did modify things slightly.

Lastly, if you like the idea of tarot working, you'll read deeper into the language being employed to describe the events and assume more than what is really being said.

There are a number of other shortcuts employed by your cognitive machinery that lead you to think something amazing as happened. However, there are two possibilities - one is that it is indeed paranormal, and I'm wrong about your brain playing tricks. The other possibility is that I'm correct.

Interestingly, when you start to act with this in mind (recording sessions and listening later, for example), the magic disappears. The paranormal always falls apart when it is tested, leaving us with nothing but our energy-efficient and yet fallible brains.

Before you think this is a rather disappointing conclusion, just think - this same brain is also capable of turning onto itself and recognising it is able to make mistakes, and learn from it. That, in itself, is truly magic.

Athon
I played around with tarot reading years ago, and I took the extra difficulty step of reading for strangers (not for money - even when I was "wooish" I never conned people out of cash). It turned out that it wasn't difficult at all. I would start by having the person ask a question of the tarot (I believe this is standard) and then continue to interact with them while turning the cards. Folks were amazed by the accuracy but it was all cold reading patter assisted by the subjects' ignorance of the fact that the cards could mean anything I said they did in the moment they were revealed.

My feeling is that if there was something paranormal going on, the "death" card could just mean death and not have to be assigned the more nebulous (but far more useful to a cold/warm reader) meaning of "major change." Why? Because if it was truly paranormal the death card wouldn't come out when someone asks about their love life unless someone was actually going to die. The same, of course, could be said of the rest of the deck. Since, however, all the cards are assigned vague meanings that change based on the "interpreter," it's just an amusing pastime or a scam (depending on intent).
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epurdue



Joined: 14 Nov 2007
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Posted: Sun Nov 01, 2009 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think there is a big difference between something like tarot and astrology. It's easy to talk about subconscious help when doing a tarot card since it's not really meant to act as direct way to foretell an event (i.e. card x always means y). It's meant to act as a way to trigger the subconscious. In this way it's easier for a skeptic to say "oh you are just making guesses".

In astrology, you are dealing with more direct meanings for things, though learning it can be tricky, but I think it's less vague. The main issue with skeptics and astrology is that most skeptics focus on things like newspaper horoscopes and the obvious issue of causation since no physical cause by planetary effects has been proven in a scientifically acceptable way. For many skeptics that's kind of the deal breaker right there.

Basically my point is that astrology (modern and traditional) uses less guessing than tarot, not that tarot is useless. It's just a different ball of wax.
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###



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Posted: Sun Nov 01, 2009 11:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Basically my point is that astrology (modern and traditional) uses less guessing than tarot, not that tarot is useless. It's just a different ball of wax.


That's true, yet astrology is even more flexible, uncertain and subjective than many would like to think. It tends to appeal to those with a strong logical and rational approach to things. It's interesting and amusing if you're in the right mood to look at the differences and contradictions between the tried-and-true methods of logical and rational astrologer A and those of logical and rational astrologer B. In reality, astrology might not be much more than Tarot cards backed by a long-established traditional structure. We could call it computational fortune-telling Secret but that would make too many people mad, so we'll call it computational divination.


A confession: I barely skimmed the opening post's topic presentation and am only following my thoughts on Mithra6's statement.
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Atlantean



Joined: 14 Aug 2009
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Posted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 9:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don't forget one other important distinction... (in some sense) an Astrology reading is reproduceable. The initial chart is basically a pictoral representation of celestial mechanics. Tarot cards are shuffled and despite the question remaining the same, THE MOMENT OF TIME HAS CHANGED.

If we look at John F. Kennedy's chart NOW and we look at it again in 5 years, we start with the same chart. Imagine the odds against throwing down the exact same spread of cards 5 years from now as what you just threw.

Even if we're talking horary,...as long as you're later looking at the chart of when the question was FIRST asked, you are still starting with the same source material.

In tarot reading, this is not the case. You get (theoretically) only the "intent" of the moment that the cards were thrown.

The real question (in my mind) is what the true intent of a message about tarot and cold-reading is, when it's placed in the middle of an Astrology Forum. (Perhaps I am a little reactionary...as one of my favorite past-times has been (figuratively) beheading skeptics.)

Additionally, though you didn't make the direct accusation, it is one that is often leveled at astrologers that we pick up on the few hits, ignore the many misses and use those few hits as (deluded) justification that astrology works. If this WERE the case, then the recent mystery death challenge (where astrologers were given the birth info for someone and asked when this person likely died) would not be possible to solve, and yet we saw first-hand that it WAS solvable and what's more, by several different methods.

I started to say that comparing Astrology and Tarot was like apples and oranges... but apples and oranges are too much alike for that analogy. Astrology and Tarot are more like oranges and a 57 Buick.
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Eddy



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Posted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 3:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Atlantean wrote:
I started to say that comparing Astrology and Tarot was like apples and oranges... but apples and oranges are too much alike for that analogy. Astrology and Tarot are more like oranges and a 57 Buick.
While there are big differences there can also be some coinciding elements, both in the subject as in the approach of it. Just like it's sometimes possible that we deal with an orange '57 Buick Wink
http://www.tocmp.com/pix/Buick/images/part2/57Buick02-or.jpg
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PFN



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Posted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 4:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you go deep enough, all divinatory systems share common ground. In the end it all boils down to faith, but that should not be a bad thing.
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Tom
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Posted: Sun Nov 15, 2009 8:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Most skeptics fall into the trap that a) astrology is part of the occult, and b) everything labeled "occult" is the same. Therefore astrology, tarot same-same. The difference between astrology and the other divination techniques is that the planets movements are predictable, and therefore systems based on things that are not predictable, the draw of the tarot, the entrails of a calf's liver, toss of the dice, are not remotely the same as astrology.

Where the skeptic does have a point is that the astrologer,/tarot reader/hand reader, can manipulate the client. Psychologists can do that, too but I doubt the skeptic would be willing to run off all the shrinks on that basis alone. John Frawley once noted that if you tell the most hardened thug he is sensitive, he'll recall the time he stroked a puppy. And he will recall that if he were told by a psychologist, astrologer, tarot reader or his mother. This criticism goes to competence not validity.

The skeptic then falls back on his worldview and says, if astrology is predictable why don't they pass any tests? First of all the Gauquelin research demonstrates that astrology has given us statistical food for thought, but then where does it say that statistics are the final arbiter of all truth? In fact if there is one objective truth on earth it is this: statistics don't lie; liars use statistics. Some of the so-called astrological statistical studies are a joke. One that comes to mind is the time twin study that used "time twins" that were born, in some cases, months apart. If you're going to do statistical studies, at least understand what you're trying to measure.

But even astrologers fall for this because we're all a product of our scientific-materialistic worldview. The New York Suicide study is a case in point. The idea is that if we obtain enough accurate birth data of suicides, we can then test for repetition in the charts. Of course the study failed to validate astrology and of course the skeptics pronounced it a valid study. However no one bothered to check to see if suicides all kill themselves for the same reason or set of reasons. They don't - what a surprise. Astrology does not lend itself to statistical research or has yet to do so.

It may just be that astrology is not statistical despite the insistence of moderns that it has to be because they want it to be. A Jupiter - Mars square does not always mean the same thing even if they are in the same signs and houses because the rest of the chart is connected to that square. So when they make statistical claims the appropriate response is a yawn: "Been there; done that." When astrologers, tarot readers, hand readers etc get it right, it's coincidence. When they get it wrong it is proof it doesn't work. It isn't true because it can't be true. How scientific.

The link below takes the interested reader to a thought provoking essay on astrology written by someone who is not an astrologer and probably not someone who would "believe in" astrology. But she (the author's first name is Daryn so I think "she" is correct) makes some interesting points. My favorite is this:


Quote:
Modern skeptics say that astrologers are too much like fairground psychics. Ptolemy is saying they are too much like physicists.


Her point or an important point made in the essay is that people believe astrology works because, within a certain framework, it works. Read it.

Tom
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woodwater



Joined: 14 Sep 2007
Posts: 151
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Posted: Sun Nov 15, 2009 9:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tom wrote:
Most skeptics fall into the trap that a) astrology is part of the occult, and b) everything labeled "occult" is the same. Therefore astrology, tarot same-same. The difference between astrology and the other divination techniques is that the planets movements are predictable, and therefore systems based on things that are not predictable, the draw of the tarot, the entrails of a calf's liver, toss of the dice, are not remotely the same as astrology.

Where the skeptic does have a point is that the astrologer,/tarot reader/hand reader, can manipulate the client. Psychologists can do that, too but I doubt the skeptic would be willing to run off all the shrinks on that basis alone. John Frawley once noted that if you tell the most hardened thug he is sensitive, he'll recall the time he stroked a puppy. And he will recall that if he were told by a psychologist, astrologer, tarot reader or his mother. This criticism goes to competence not validity.

The skeptic then falls back on his worldview and says, if astrology is predictable why don't they pass any tests? First of all the Gauquelin research demonstrates that astrology has given us statistical food for thought, but then where does it say that statistics are the final arbiter of all truth? In fact if there is one objective truth on earth it is this: statistics don't lie; liars use statistics. Some of the so-called astrological statistical studies are a joke. One that comes to mind is the time twin study that used "time twins" that were born, in some cases, months apart. If you're going to do statistical studies, at least understand what you're trying to measure.

But even astrologers fall for this because we're all a product of our scientific-materialistic worldview. The New York Suicide study is a case in point. The idea is that if we obtain enough accurate birth data of suicides, we can then test for repetition in the charts. Of course the study failed to validate astrology and of course the skeptics pronounced it a valid study. However no one bothered to check to see if suicides all kill themselves for the same reason or set of reasons. They don't - what a surprise. Astrology does not lend itself to statistical research or has yet to do so.

It may just be that astrology is not statistical despite the insistence of moderns that it has to be because they want it to be. A Jupiter - Mars square does not always mean the same thing even if they are in the same signs and houses because the rest of the chart is connected to that square. So when they make statistical claims the appropriate response is a yawn: "Been there; done that." When astrologers, tarot readers, hand readers etc get it right, it's coincidence. When they get it wrong it is proof it doesn't work. It isn't true because it can't be true. How scientific.

The link below takes the interested reader to a thought provoking essay on astrology written by someone who is not an astrologer and probably not someone who would "believe in" astrology. But she (the author's first name is Daryn so I think "she" is correct) makes some interesting points. My favorite is this:


Quote:
Modern skeptics say that astrologers are too much like fairground psychics. Ptolemy is saying they are too much like physicists.


Her point or an important point made in the essay is that people believe astrology works because, within a certain framework, it works. Read it.

Tom

you forgot the link
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Tom
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Posted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 12:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
you forgot the link


Blame my wife; she was hurrying me.

http://cura.free.fr/cura2/810houx.html

Tom
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woodwater



Joined: 14 Sep 2007
Posts: 151
Location: lisbon

Posted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 12:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tom wrote:
Most skeptics fall into the trap that a) astrology is part of the occult, and b) everything labeled "occult" is the same. Therefore astrology, tarot same-same. The difference between astrology and the other divination techniques is that the planets movements are predictable, and therefore systems based on things that are not predictable, the draw of the tarot, the entrails of a calf's liver, toss of the dice, are not remotely the same as astrology.

Where the skeptic does have a point is that the astrologer,/tarot reader/hand reader, can manipulate the client. Psychologists can do that, too but I doubt the skeptic would be willing to run off all the shrinks on that basis alone. John Frawley once noted that if you tell the most hardened thug he is sensitive, he'll recall the time he stroked a puppy. And he will recall that if he were told by a psychologist, astrologer, tarot reader or his mother. This criticism goes to competence not validity.

The skeptic then falls back on his worldview and says, if astrology is predictable why don't they pass any tests? First of all the Gauquelin research demonstrates that astrology has given us statistical food for thought, but then where does it say that statistics are the final arbiter of all truth? In fact if there is one objective truth on earth it is this: statistics don't lie; liars use statistics. Some of the so-called astrological statistical studies are a joke. One that comes to mind is the time twin study that used "time twins" that were born, in some cases, months apart. If you're going to do statistical studies, at least understand what you're trying to measure.

But even astrologers fall for this because we're all a product of our scientific-materialistic worldview. The New York Suicide study is a case in point. The idea is that if we obtain enough accurate birth data of suicides, we can then test for repetition in the charts. Of course the study failed to validate astrology and of course the skeptics pronounced it a valid study. However no one bothered to check to see if suicides all kill themselves for the same reason or set of reasons. They don't - what a surprise. Astrology does not lend itself to statistical research or has yet to do so.

It may just be that astrology is not statistical despite the insistence of moderns that it has to be because they want it to be. A Jupiter - Mars square does not always mean the same thing even if they are in the same signs and houses because the rest of the chart is connected to that square. So when they make statistical claims the appropriate response is a yawn: "Been there; done that." When astrologers, tarot readers, hand readers etc get it right, it's coincidence. When they get it wrong it is proof it doesn't work. It isn't true because it can't be true. How scientific.

The link below takes the interested reader to a thought provoking essay on astrology written by someone who is not an astrologer and probably not someone who would "believe in" astrology. But she (the author's first name is Daryn so I think "she" is correct) makes some interesting points. My favorite is this:


Quote:
Modern skeptics say that astrologers are too much like fairground psychics. Ptolemy is saying they are too much like physicists.


Her point or an important point made in the essay is that people believe astrology works because, within a certain framework, it works. Read it.

Tom

From a skeptic:
> The difference between astrology and the
> other divination techniques is that the planets movements are
> predictable, and therefore systems based on things that are not
> predictable, the draw of the tarot, the entrails of a calf's liver, toss
> of the dice, are not remotely the same as astrology.

I can't possibly see how this is supposed to be an argument for
astrology. Astronomy is predictable, and this makes astrology reliable?
They have almost nothing in common! There is such freedom of
interpretation in astrology that it is effectively not predictable.
It's just as bad as the rest.

> Psychologists can do that, too but I doubt the skeptic would be willing to run off all the
> shrinks on that basis alone.

On the contrary, most skeptics are very critical of most psychology,
particularly clinical psychology. On the other hand, there has been
some real progress in psychology; portions of it are now based on pretty
firm results.

> First of all the Gauquelin
> research demonstrates that astrology has given us statistical food for
> thought,

I've discussed Gauquelin before. Do I need to repeat my arguments?
Also, can you give the tiniest scrap of evidence that modern astrology
is based on Gauquelin's research?

> Astrology does not lend itself to statistical research
> or has yet to do so.

One of the worst arguments I've ever seen. Can you name ANY valid
science that doesn't use statistics? Isn't this an argument against
astrology?

Tell you what - if you think astrology is valid, how about we come up
with a test, you and I, and we'll make a bet on the outcome. Are you
game? Can you find any astrologers who would be willing to participate
in a test of astrology? In other words, put up or shut up.
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Tom
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Posted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 1:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I cannot imagine a more tiresome response.

Quote:
I can't possibly see how this is supposed to be an argument for
astrology. Astronomy is predictable, and this makes astrology reliable?
They have almost nothing in common!


It wasn't an argument in favor of astrology. It was an observation that skeptics can't tell the difference between one form of divination and another, and I think you made that point pretty well with your comment.

Quote:
On the contrary, most skeptics are very critical of most psychology,
particularly clinical psychology. On the other hand, there has been
some real progress in psychology; portions of it are now based on pretty
firm results.


I love unsupported statements like "most skeptics." Did you take a poll? Are skeptics classified, or otherwise documented? Real progress? How about supplying the precision you demand of others? First off my remarks were not so much aimed at the study of human behavior as they were psychotherapy. They are different and I thought context made that clear. I guess not.

Quote:
I've discussed Gauquelin before. Do I need to repeat my arguments?


Your arguments mean nothing to me. You may think they are the last word on 50 years of research tested and retested by people who know more than you, I don't.

Quote:
One of the worst arguments I've ever seen. Can you name ANY valid
science that doesn't use statistics? Isn't this an argument against
astrology?


Worst response Ive ever seen. You put words in my mouth to set up the straw man. That's propaganda not science tsk tsk. The reason you don't understand these things is that you don't pay attention to them. Show me where I said astrology was a science in the way that you use the word. I'll save you the trouble that you won't take. I never did and neither does any other astrologer. You criticize what you do not understand - all too typical.

Quote:
Tell you what - if you think astrology is valid, how about we come up
with a test, you and I, and we'll make a bet on the outcome. Are you
game? Can you find any astrologers who would be willing to participate
in a test of astrology? In other words, put up or shut up.


PAY ATTENTION! If I don't think astrology lends itself to statistics and if I think liars use statistics, why would I do this? I already noted the failure of the New York Suicide study. And secondly why would I trust you in the first place? People with minds nailed shut rarely follow through on anything that proves them wrong. You don't understand the Gauquelin research, and reject it; there is no hope you would admit error in any test.

This is not a place for your arrogance. Since you don't like the subject I suggest you go elsewhere - pronto. This sort of nonsense is not welcome here and your posts won't last long.

Tom
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Joined: 08 Jul 2004
Posts: 1381

Posted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 1:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There was no need to quote Tom's entire post twice or even once.


Quote:
> Astrology does not lend itself to statistical research
> or has yet to do so.

One of the worst arguments I've ever seen. Can you name ANY valid
science that doesn't use statistics? Isn't this an argument against
astrology?

When was it established and accepted that astrology is a science? Astrologers themselves aren't anywhere near agreement on that. You bypassed the first step of proving it to be a science and that the procedures of science are applicable. It looks like you haven't put much thought and time into this, or that you've even tried.


Quote:
In other words, put up or shut up.

I sure hope you haven't fooled yourself into believing you've shown yourself qualified to make such a demand.
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Atlantean



Joined: 14 Aug 2009
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Posted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 9:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Skeptics' minds in general are so small that if they fell on a pin, they would be blind in BOTH eyes.

Don't let the opinions of uninformed snipers in the peanut gallery distract you.

In short, THEY ARE NOT WORTH THE TIME SPENT.

Trying to educate/inform a skeptic is exactly like trying to teach calculus to someone in a coma. EXACTLY.

Let them sleep.


Atlantean
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Tom
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Posted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 11:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

He's just going to go on and on with the same old rants so I'm locking the thread. Thanks for the support Atlantean and Kirk.

Tom
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