The Bible Code is a best selling book by Michael Drosnin which, if anything, demonstrates the popular craving for novelty and a sense of wonder.
I’ve talked to otherwise intelligent people who are impressed by this highly questionable book. But when you try to talk with them intelligently about what it says, they’ll usually blank out. They don’t want their fun ruined.
The author claims that meaningful words may be discerned when an ELS (Equidistant Letter Sequence) method is used to rearrange transliterated Bible characters.
Critics note that the same kind of results can be found when the method is applied to non-biblical books. Also, the choosing of the specific grid pattern is not well explained. The inside book cover merely says that “the computer” generated the pattern. No explanation is given as why a certain number of rows and columns were chosen for the matrix found in The Bible Code.
- Scientific Refutation of the Bible Codes (cs.anu.edu.au/~bdm/dilugim/torah.html)
- Whitmore, Shakespeare, and the Bible Code? (centurygirlblog.wordpress.com)
- Voice of the Bible is Key Factor to Audio Bible Appeal (prweb.com)
- Prophecy & Utopia – Torah bible codes, says some thing big will happen in 2013 (disclose.tv)
- The Genetic Code is not a synonym for the Bible Code [Pharyngula] (scienceblogs.com)
- Teacher fired for Bible: Substitute teacher sacked for giving out a Bible (simplyjuliana.com)
The idea of chance has several meanings. For this entry I’ll be focusing on the belief that things just happen with no rhyme or reason—that is, that some events are impossible to predict and also have no overriding cause or meaning. While this definition combines several hair-splitting philosophical views,¹ it does seem to capture the general mood of what we mean by the idea of chance.
While some seem to see the idea of chance as the logical answer in view of certain observations, it’s not. It is nothing more than a human concept. And to attribute something to chance implies a basic assumption that can’t be proved—namely, that some events randomly occur with no overriding plan, purpose or meaning. This belief can arise when people are faced with large amounts of data too vast to discern an overriding plan and purpose (as with the various data encountered in daily life).
Some statisticians, of course, would reply that the belief in an overriding purpose cannot be proved either.
My point is that the one commonality among the belief in chance and the belief in a divine or cosmic plan is belief itself.
Many religious persons freely admit that they believe. They may claim that their beliefs are supported (but not proved by) experience combined with reason. But rarely will a sincerely religious person claim to know, and if they do, upon further questioning they’d probably admit that their supposed “knowledge” is really belief, or reason to believe.²
On the other hand, some superficial and, perhaps, a few duplicitous scientists claim that their hypotheses – proposed explanations tied into a particular approach – are “proved” by observation and reason. This isn’t really true science but many scientists and lay persons fall into this kind of believing without admitting it, or even knowing that they’re just fooling themselves (and usually others).³
Again, the bottom line in this discussion of chance is that both religious and scientific viewpoints appear to be premised on belief.
² Granted, there are always fanatics who claim to “know” and cannot (or don’t want to) momentarily step aside from their beliefs.
³ This being one definition of scientism.
- Christian physicist Ian Hutchinson criticizes scientism (whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com)
- Scientism Investigation continued…4 (ubcgcu.org)
- Jerry Fodor’s Idiosyncratic Understanding of ‘Scientism’ (maverickphilosopher.typepad.com)
- Alternative to Scientism…Point 2 (ubcgcu.org)
- What is Scientism? (maverickphilosopher.typepad.com)
- What is Left for Philosophy to Do? (maverickphilosopher.typepad.com)
- help, i sound like my mother!…the power of our subconscious beliefs (rhubarbandstars.com)
- Scientism Investigation continued…3 (ubcgcu.org)
- A Difference In Beliefs. (euphoricobsession.wordpress.com)
Face Reading is the belief, often criticized as a discriminatory practice, that personality characteristics may be determined by studying facial features.
In the U.S. several corporations employ “face readers” for productivity seminars and to assist in the hiring process. and more recently, online dating companies claim that facial characteristics can give you a perfect match.
Funnily enough, U.S. law forbids discrimination on the basis of age, race, sex, religion and color but not on the appearance of the face.
Historically, Confucius believed in his own version of face reading. And a quick web search brings up sites promoting Chinese Face Reading.
Related Posts » Phrenology
- How to Remember Names and Faces (daphnegan.wordpress.com)
Szasz, Thomas (1920 – )
Hungarian psychiatrist and author of many books, including his best known work, The Myth of Mental Illness (1960).
Almost a decade before collaborating with The Church of Scientology, Szasz argued that the science behind psychiatry provides an example of scientism.
For Szasz, the term mental illness is a socially constructed myth rather than an actual fact. He believes that the concept of mental illness is generated within, not above, other historically positioned truth claims.
Written before Henri Ellenberger’s The Discovery of the Unconscious (1970) and Michel Foucault‘s poststructural analysis, Histoire de la folie à l’âge classique (1961), Szasz’s work is often on the reading list for undergraduate courses in the Humanities at liberal-democratic universities.
Critics of Szasz’s perspective point out that psychiatry like any other science is in a constant state of development. Depending on factors like the patient’s actual condition, the competency of the psychiatrist and the political climate of the country in which assessments are made, it may be used for good or ill.
Szasz continues to be prolific, however. His latest publications contain some sociological and philosophical insights but seem to represent the unrealistically polarized views of a somewhat isolated but well-meaning humanitarian (e.g Schizophrenia: The Sacred Symbol of Psychiatry, 1988; Psychiatry: The Science of Lies, 2008).
Most recognized psychiatric associations have rejected his ideas, a situation which some say resembles an orthodox Church marginalizing heresies.
The polarization of anti-psychiatry vs. psychiatry is a sad state of affairs because it probably makes otherwise intelligent figures like Szasz more uncompromising and extreme, lessening their ability to see other perspectives.
When someone is convinced they’re right and the other is entirely wrong, constructive dialogue usually disappears.
» DSM-IV-TR, Madness, Postmodernism, Unconscious
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Scientism has two meanings. One is the almost religious belief that science may eventually understand and solve all natural and human problems. This kind of scientism has also been called “scientific fundamentalism.”
The second meaning refers to the partial or deceptive use of methods generally recognized as scientific.
Indeed, there are situations where people actively deceive and try to appear scientific for some kind of personal, economic or political gain. For examples of this see Betrayers of the Truth: Fraud and Deceit in the Hall of Science by W. Broad and N. Wade (1982).
Also related to the second meaning, a specious argument may be given a scientific gloss so as to seem legitimate. We find this in so many TV ads where professional actors wear white lab coats, trying to look like authoritative scientists or doctors while selling products ranging from automobiles to toothpaste.
Likewise, statistics may be disproportionally represented in bloated or extended bar graphs to make results look more significant than they really are, another common advertising trick that could rightly be called scientism.
Because the entire definition of science is problematic, one could say that the idea of scientism, itself, is also fraught with difficulty.
» Advertising, Athleticism, Chance, Marx, Politics, Power, Religion, Science, Szasz (Thomas)
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Akashic Records Derived from the Hindu (Sanskrit) and Buddhist (Pali) understanding of akasha (= ether, subtle space, the forms of space), the Akashic Records is a term used by Theosophy and Anthroposophy to denote a cosmic memory bank of all that ever was.
The term is often used uncritically by believers, not unlike any item of religious dogma.
Alleged psychics, intuitives and New Age enthusiasts often claim to be able to tune in and ‘read’ from the Akashic records.
Edgar Cayce apparently was gifted in a similar way, merely holding books to his stomach to automatically absorb their information.
Rudolf Steiner believed that he accessed the Akashic Records to learn about the legendary city of Atlantis.
Recently, the term Remote Viewing describes the supposed inner seeing of objects at a distance – that is, beyond the normal senses - by accessing a kind of ‘holographic memory bank.’
Somewhat like the Akashic Records, this holographic database is said to reveal the past, the present and future probabilities. The term probabilities is important here as scientific psi researchers like Dale Graff and Russell Targ maintain that future events may never be remotely viewed with 100% accuracy.
Some see the holographic mind (or holographic mind levels) as a metaphor or theoretical construct while others seem to present the idea as fact–the latter group perhaps having more in common with uncritical believers in the idea of the Akashic Records.
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Ancient method of divination and forecasting originally developed in Mesopotamia (Babylonia and Assyria) for the benefit of ruling kings.
In ancient Hellenistic culture astrology became popularized and individualistic.
In English translations of the Old Testament astrologers appear to be condemned quite often. But only in one instance is the translation definite (Isaiah 47:13-14).
Contemporary astrologers often point out that the three wise men who came to honor Jesus were watchers of the stars.
The ancient Chinese and Indians practiced both astrology and astronomy, which from classical to medieval times were usually practiced together.
Early Muslims practiced astrology and astronomy in a holistic manner without any clear-cut distinction between the two approaches but by medieval times a sharp distinction was made between astrology and astronomy. The latter is denounced in the Koran as sorcery, a practice that apparently renders prayers ineffective for 40 days.
The prominent Muslim scholar, Sheikh Uthaymeen, said that astrology dealt with illusions instead of fact.
Astrology is a kind of sorcery and fortune-telling. It is forbidden because it is based on illusions, not on concrete facts. There is no relation between the movements of celestial bodies and what takes place on the Earth.
Source: Islamonline.com cited at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_astrology
Indian astrological writings first appeared around 100 CE, presumably from the influence of Greek astrology.
Ptolemy and Kepler both studied astrology.
Although frowned on by the Catholic Church, astrology persisted during the Renaissance.
In 1549 the Protestant John Calvin wrote a “Warning Against So-Called Judicial Astrology” and in 1586 Pope Sixtus V officially condemned all forms of divination.
Astrology continued, however, until about the 17th-century, at which time it was effectively marginalized.
Never to fully vanish, it reappeared in postwar North America in various forms of mass media, such as the daily newspaper.
In contemporary Hindu marriages, astrologers are often summoned to determine the most auspicious hour for the performance of the matrimonial ceremony.
21st century online astrologers like Jonathan Cainer combine proven business methods with astrology to increase traffic to their websites (see http://pcbcroxon.com/misc.htm).
Resized from original by Liquid Lucidity, http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidrn/81238979/sizes/o/, Creative Commons No-Derivative License
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