Re: virus: Rationality in the Cave

Wed, 17 Mar 1999 14:41:22 -0800

David McFadzean wrote:

> But you must admit that it is not physically impossible for
> it to be true that we are being visited by ETs so you too must be
> willing to wrong some small fraction of the time.

Sure. There might be some jelly beans in the jar, and I'd probably be pretty excited to discover that my guess was wrong.

> >If by "all in the mind" you mean to say that the experience is something
> >that is known, familiar, mundane and devoid of serious implication, then
> >no, I couldn't sign on, even tentatively, to the idea that experiences
> >of being "outside the cave" are "all in the mind."
> No, I would not ascribe any of those properties to "all in the mind".

I served on a jury recently in a case in which a plumber injured when a crane on a jobsite tipped over and dropped a 1-ton pipe on him was suing the prime contractor on the site for neglagence. He lost the lower half of his left leg in the accident and suffered from "phantom pain" in his left foot. The defense lawyers hammered away at the idea that the pain was all in his head. How could he have pain in his left foot when he has no left foot? I found this particularly offensive. I don't think the lawyers would have hammered away at that point if they didn't think they could appeal to pre-existing cultural/linguistic assumption that things that are "in the mind" are less real or significant than things which can be weighed, measured, photographed and introduced into evidence in court.

While I'm confident that you, David, can talk about experience that originates from within the brain as something significant; something which can be instructive and transforming, for a great many people, "in the mind" or "in the head" is an expression that means "not real," and it is for this reason that I'd be reluctant to talk about mystical, transcendental or religious experiences as being something that takes place "in the mind." The same goes for the experience of "alien abduction" or "supernatural assault."

> If I say I meant "subjective" that would be opening up a big can'o'worms,
> yes?

You must know by now how rarely I give unqualified assent to any statement.

> Let me try this: I meant "all in the mind" in the same sense that
> dreams are all in the mind. (I'm assuming we have a common understanding
> on the realities of dreams ;-).

Given the risk of trivializing an experience by describing it as being "in the mind," I'd want to know how adopting that descriptive approach would allow us to better explore the topic at hand before I consented to using it. I tend to stick with Einstein on the nature of miricles and the supernatural; either everything is a miricle or nothing is.