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Thread: The best points from the GAC

  1. #11
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    Default Re: The best points from the GAC

    @SG81 I agree on one level, becuase I think he tried to cover too much of his work & perhaps assumed a familiarity with his research that wasn't really present in the audience. You may not be a reader of his blog, but this could shed a little more light on where he's coming from with the meditation. He could have contextualised that better for sure. Personally I really enjoyed it, but I am familiar with his work. That said I'm interested in your critique from a scientific point of view if you think he's talking bollocks (I know he gets accused of over-reaching the evidence at times).

  2. #12

    Default Re: The best points from the GAC

    Quote riddlemethis said View Post
    @SG81 I agree on one level, becuase I think he tried to cover too much of his work & perhaps assumed a familiarity with his research that wasn't really present in the audience. You may not be a reader of his blog, but this could shed a little more light on where he's coming from with the meditation. He could have contextualised that better for sure. Personally I really enjoyed it, but I am familiar with his work. That said I'm interested in your critique from a scientific point of view if you think he's talking bollocks (I know he gets accused of over-reaching the evidence at times).
    With specific regards to mindfulness meditation, there is only minor evidence of efficacy. There is currently no actual strong evidence.

    For example, here is a recent systematic review that goes through the majority of RCTs in this area:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21534932

    The first thing to notice (although you'll need full access to see this) is that every single trial is extremely small. There aren't even moderately sized RCTs on mindfulness meditation. The second thing to notice is that only two RCTs actually had reasonable control groups, and in the first RCT there was no difference between mindfulness and control, and in the other, mindfulness was worse than control! The rest of the RCTs tended to compare mindfulness to no extra treatment at all, which is a completely useless thing to do, as it proves nothing.

  3. #13

    Default Re: The best points from the GAC

    I could not separate my internal cynicism from Sam Harris' meditation thingy. I was wringing my hands and looking edgily around at everyone else's closed eyes throughout the entire thing, not taking in a word. It seemed like nothing more than a simple meditation exercise, and I kept waiting for a punch-line, which was not forthcoming.

    I must echo the sentiments of others: Lawrence Krauss, PZ and Leslie Cannold were definitley the among the highlights for me.

    I also thought the protesters were great fun, and I couldn't help but being constantly reminded of Hitch's assertion that laughter was an important tool to bring down any establishment. The genuine laughter that we shared whilst listening to them, especially the Christians on Saturday, was fantastic. It gave me a really warm little glow, right before remembering that these people vote!
    "For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is, than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring." - Carl Sagan

  4. #14
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    Default Re: The best points from the GAC

    I just remembered Dan Barker's "magic bullet" against Christianity.

    A burglar breaks and enters a house. He ties up the man and his wife, shoots the dog, drowns the cat, then proceeds to rape the woman in front of her husband. When he is finished with them, he shoots them both and sets the house on fire.

    When the police catch him, they ask him why he did it. "No reason. The Devil made me do it".

    Now, ask your Christian friend whether "the Devil made me do it" is a valid defence. Says no? Good. Now tell the story of Job. How he was severely tested, - his camels, sheep and servants killed, his house collapsed killing his children, struck down with disease, and so on. And now quote Job 2:3:

    Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”

    In other words - "No reason. The Devil made me do it.".

  5. #15
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    Default Re: The best points from the GAC

    Quote stewiegriffin81 said View Post
    I was extremely disappointed by Sam Harris's talk. The central assertion that the primary motivation behind religious belief is a fear of death appears to be unsupported by strong evidence. Sam Harris didn't bother referencing any studies (although it would be fair enough to omit them in an informal speech such as his one), and while it is self-evident that all religion is pre-occupied with death and the after-life, it is equally pre-occupied with birth/life/family/ethical rules etc.

    I was also extremely disappointed by his decision to incorporate mindfulness meditation in his talk. Not only was it not entirely clear why he added it in, he also seemed to imply that it may be useful for death-related grief. Again, there is no strong evidence supporting this, only minor evidence.
    Oh goodie I didn't want to bring this up but I agree 100% I was assuming that I was missing something that the rest of you already knew. I hate saying something stupid by accident! Also apart from causing me to start hallucinating it did very little for me other than thinking the right side of my arse was going numb. Would like to finish my saying I have read a number of his books and have enjoyed them greatly.

  6. #16
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    Default Re: The best points from the GAC

    Quote Keith_W said View Post

    In other words - "No reason. The Devil made me do it.".
    Hey if that excuse is the best an all powerful deity can manage it should work for me in the future. Seriously how can anyone bring themselves too revere this fantasy monster? To paraphrase RD if "you obey gods out of fear then that is one thing but to say you do it out of respect and love, WTF". If people really think this is ok no wonder there is so much violence in the world especially against women, children others who are unable to defend themselves.

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