Hoping to learn skepticism
Posted: 01 June 2013 01:09 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I’m an American guy in my 40’s.  I’ve always been fascinated by UFOs.  There seems to be a lot of sloppy ufologists who don’t care about the truth, but I tend to be a believer.

Anyway, I guess I had psychosis a few years ago.  It was really awful for several weeks and then it mostly went away except for bizarre religious-themed experiences every few months.  I spent a couple of years trying to believe in Christianity.  I thought God was trying to tell me something important but I couldn’t understand.  Eventually I drifted back to atheism and I luckily brought-up these experiences to a therapist who suggested psychosis.  At first I didn’t accept the psychosis explanation, but as I read more over several months I could see that it made a lot of sense.

Psychosis made me more paranoid and superstitious, so I’m hoping to learn about the process of skepticism.  Maybe that will help me get back to normal.

[ Edited: 01 June 2013 01:14 PM by ufo-buff ]
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Posted: 01 June 2013 02:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Hi, UFO, When someone is experiencing an acute psychotic episode, their brain is “misfiring” in some way, that can make it extraordinarily difficult to stay in touch with what is really going on.  I don’t know if learning to steadfastly view incoming information, in a skeptical way, can help with bouts of psychosis, but, it seems to me that it makes sense to try.  Whereas, generally having a religious or superstitous view of the world, I think might compound the problem.

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 01 June 2013 05:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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ufo-buff - 01 June 2013 01:09 PM

I’m an American guy in my 40’s.  I’ve always been fascinated by UFOs.  There seems to be a lot of sloppy ufologists who don’t care about the truth, but I tend to be a believer.

Anyway, I guess I had psychosis a few years ago.  It was really awful for several weeks and then it mostly went away except for bizarre religious-themed experiences every few months.  I spent a couple of years trying to believe in Christianity.  I thought God was trying to tell me something important but I couldn’t understand.  Eventually I drifted back to atheism and I luckily brought-up these experiences to a therapist who suggested psychosis.  At first I didn’t accept the psychosis explanation, but as I read more over several months I could see that it made a lot of sense.

Psychosis made me more paranoid and superstitious, so I’m hoping to learn about the process of skepticism.  Maybe that will help me get back to normal.

If you don’t mind some reading suggestions, I recommend Daniel Dennett’s books. He considers himself a philosopher, and his passion is figuring out how good thinking works and of course writing about it. I find his writing to be very clear and well organized.

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“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

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Posted: 01 June 2013 05:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Hmmmm, I agree that skeptical thinking probably wouldn’t prevent acute psychosis.  My experience of psychosis was very mild and brief compared to most people, but I’m frustrated that I can’t put it behind me after 4 years.

Here’s an example from just a week ago:  I couldn’t find a book I was reading the previous evening.  Immediately the idea came to mind that somebody had magically teleported my book for some unknown reason.  I knew that was silly but I couldn’t stop thinking it.  Then I got an email from an insurance salesman with a bible quote and I thought the salesman must be a prophet telling me that God was angry with me.  Even after I found the book in my sofa, these delusional ideas lingered.  I thought maybe the book teleported away and then teleported back to confuse me.  (With such a mind I should write scripts for History Channel documentaries. smile)

So recently I got the idea that a more assertive stance on science might help.

[ Edited: 01 June 2013 05:50 PM by ufo-buff ]
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Posted: 01 June 2013 06:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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TromboneAndrew - 01 June 2013 05:24 PM

...
If you don’t mind some reading suggestions, I recommend Daniel Dennett’s books. He considers himself a philosopher, and his passion is figuring out how good thinking works and of course writing about it. I find his writing to be very clear and well organized.

Thanks, I added a few of his titles to my wish list.

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Posted: 01 June 2013 06:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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UFO, It is good that you can recognize, at least in retrospect, that your delusions were, in fact, just delusions.  When one experiences a delusion, it generally feels, at the time, as if the thought or belief is absolutely true.  I commend your efforts to learn to steadfastly do critical thinking, as your occasional “misfiring” of thoughts and ideas will make critical thinking all the more important, but also extraordinarily challenging at those times that you are experiencing delusional thoughts.

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 01 June 2013 08:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Speaking of Daniel Dennett, here’s a lecture of his that I’m listening to right now:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Q_mY54hjM0

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Posted: 02 June 2013 06:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Thanks, I liked Dennett’s idea that our intelligent design is actually just an application of thinking tools that evolved bottom-up (the termite castle).

I tend to use intuition too much in my thinking.  Probably intuition is nothing more than the conscious personality listening for ideas from unconscious personalities.  Unfortunately the conscious personality can’t review the subconscious process that produced the idea.  I looked-up “critical thinking” yesterday on wikipedia and it seems that the process is very important - especially when dealing with fuzzy matters where the idea is hard to test in isolation from the reasoning.

But I agree with the brain misfiring analogy.  The delusions are frustrating.

[ Edited: 02 June 2013 06:59 AM by ufo-buff ]
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Posted: 02 June 2013 07:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I enjoyed that lecture, too. The concept of evolved thinking tools isn’t new to me, but of course I enjoy how he presents the ideas. I am curious about his intuition pumps, and I don’t quite have a good idea on just what exactly they are based on that talk. Maybe I have to go out and buy my own copy of the book.

And, IMHO we all tend to use intuition too much, and it’s good for us to challenge the habit. Delusions or no.

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