While I do think it's a mistake to say that the hallucinatory explanation is "true" and the literal reality explanation is "false" -- the balance of evidence certainly does point that direction, and I think it's fair to say that one is more likley to be true than the other.
Absolutely. But of course, there are literally infinite possible explanations that can be imagined, so the only way forward is to focus on those that actually have evidence.
This is why I put so much focus on requesting a definition for ghost, too. Because really, it's almost wrong to say science rejects the notion of ghost: science is just uninterested, because "ghosts" are not asserted with any real meaning, other than some vague link to dead people. That is, of course, by design: any specific claim about what ghosts are -- are they a physical entity? energy? what? where do they come from? -- is almost certainly going to be easily and quickly disproved.
So really, at the moment, what "ghost" refers to is just a big long list of unexplained incidents, the vast majority of them indicated only by a single anecdotal observation, and consisting of events that are not even that shocking or amazing to begin with. The whole widespread and deeply held notion that there is some presence of the dead responsible is a purely cultural and psychological phenomenon (excellent evidence of this comes via alien abductions, which are a new culture-bred claim that never existed in the past but replaced many "ghost" and "demon" claims in the modern age) and it has no falsifiability because it's not a concrete claim.
Let me say in advance that I don't mean to be harsh in rebuking your points here, because I appreciate the way you've raised them, however I do think you are very wrong on many fronts, and as such I will probably sound harsh nonetheless...
grounding and respect for physics
This is, I fear, a meaningless statement. "Physics" seeks nobody's "respect" -- the term merely refers to the observation of physical systems and the deduction of underlying mechanics.
What does deserve respect, or perhaps better phrased as simply personal adoption, is the scientific method and the pursuit of verifiable, observable knowledge. And the first, biggest, most important step to embracing that way of thinking is acknowledging your own fallibility, and requiring more than merely the momentary firing of your own senses to believe something is objectively real. It means accepting that a single observation is just that, and an explanation requires more rigorous study.
It means never, ever rushing to the most complex explanation before eliminating the simple ones, and I cannot think of any set of observations -- even a howling translucent phantom rattling chains over a crowd of a thousand onlookers -- that would not have simpler potential explanations than "the spirits of dead people walk the earth". Indeed, that statement is not even a valid or meaningful one in the realm of true, verifiable knowledge -- not without an explanation of what 'spirit' actually means, which is an explanation nobody seems able to offer.
Second, I have had some out of body experiences.
I don't see the relation. Well, not scientifically -- I do understand the cultural relation, which is that a wide variety of non-scientific ideas ranging from ghosts to psychics to cryptozoological creatures to chemtrails have glommed together into a subculture largely because of their rejection by the rational-minded. So really the connection is "these are two things scientists reject"
However, it should be noted that many kinds of out of body experiences (or in-body relocation experiences -- see Richard Feynman's experiments with sensory deprivation) are a known and documented phenomenon. Science does not deny this. The conflict comes when out-of-body experiences supposedly produce results that would prove they are not purely psychological -- such as a person seeing an object not visible from the position of their body -- which catapults the claim into extraordinary territory, and calls for much greater evidence. No such evidence has been forthcoming.
It is funny, most people who read Castenada skip the boring bit at the end of the first book -- of course, that happens to be the bit where he makes it abundantly clear that he in no way believes that anything he experienced was magical or defied physics, and goes into great detail on the concept of "special consensus" as a subjective sociopsychological phenomenon that allows groups to perceive the manifestation of magical beliefs. As for the following books, written after he was hit with unanticipated fame and a widespread misunderstanding of his work, well, I'd be careful about how seriously you take those.
Some say that we use only about 10% of our brains. Some of that has been dis-proven lately, but the fact remains, we don't use all of it.
Ugh. Let's nip this one in the bud. The 10% thing is bullshit -- it's not been recently "disproven", it was never even claimed to begin with, and is in fact a misquoting of a statement by William James, a psychologist making a quip about how most people don't value intelligence and work on it. It has no grounding or relevance to neurophsyiology or the modern understanding of the brain.
The "fact" does not "remain" that we don't use all of it -- however, the fact does remain that we barely know a damn thing about how it works. It is capable of all manner of things we don't understand. Now, what do you think is more likely? That the things it is capable of are things like kinesis and extraphsyical experiences, which would not only be surprising about the brain but would actually defy every single observation we've ever made about physics, chemistry and biology? Or that the things it is capable of are in fact entirely internal perceptive phenomenon?
That wasn't actually a question: the latter is more likely. Full stop.
Thirdly, we have actual physics. We all know about the first four dimensions, length, width, height, space/time. What is not as well known is that (I think) Quantam physics necessitates anywhere from 12 to 48 dimensions. Regardless of which number one latches onto, the thought possibilities of what those other dimensions are for is...is...is...not sure what to say here.
Do not try to understand quantum physics in magical ways. As John pointed out, without the math, the best you can get is an imperfect metaphor. Quantum physics contains exciting phrases like "many universes" and "48 dimensions" but those terms are being used at a level of abstraction that is far beyond what you think.
But, at a lower level, you should understand that all math is an abstraction: it is a language for describing patterns, not a thing with any objective reality. And thus when you wonder about what "other dimensions are for" you betray a lack of fundamental understanding. Dimensions do not "exist" -- not even the familiar ones of width and height and depth -- they are an invented structure by which we describe the observable universe. As we make more detailed observations, we discover behaviours that are not immediately explainable within the artificial framework of dimensions that serves us so well in macro-level physics -- and thus, precisely because it is an artificial language invented by us, we can choose to modify its vocabulary, expand its grammar, state "there is now a new dimension" and test to see whether the updated language helps us better describe what we observe. There are no dimensions; they are not real, they are just a description.
But really, if you want to make the case that ghosts exist or may exist, there is a simple starting point: define "ghost" in great detail. Without that, the claim has no meaning.
for every anomalous thing I've experienced, I can think of dozens of possible explanations
Even if you pare away the dozens, when you really get down to it with any such individually anomolous experience, there is always a simple fact: there are various well-known, frequently observed and thoroughly documented circumstances that could cause the human brain to perceive such things, versus a grand total of zero equally well-established circumstances in which such things could genuinely exist.
Does that mean it's impossible that they do exist? No, of course not. But it means that truly extraordinary evidence is required to make them worthy of anything more than cursory consideration.
Indeed. Compulsory licenses are a bit of a double-edged sword... Within the context of an industry that has locked everything down, largely just with its standard practices and ways of doing business, creating a de facto version of copyright that doesn't allow remixes except with specific permission, then compulsory licenses are an improvement. Just as how the compulsory licenses for cover songs that we have now are better than if the industry controlled compositions the way it controls recordings.
But, as you point out, there's an extremely strong argument that no license should be required, and many if not all remixes fall under fair use / transformative works. But that can only ever become the standard if someone with some muscle decides to stand up for it in court -- which nobody will ever bother to do if they can just get a cheap compulsory license.
Hmm... for me it auto-detects my Canadianness and gives me a petition form instead of a phone number request, plus an "In the USA?" link that takes me to the normal version. But perhaps it cannot determine your location?
Yes, how dare a bank call the police when they're robbed? What's a private business doing having its problems solved using taxpayer money?
The difference is that our objection to the MPAA getting help from ICE rises to the level of objecting to the law itself.
Nobody here has issue with laws against theft and robbery -- which are common and as old as law itself. Many of us do, however, take issue with camcording being a federal offence -- something that has been the case for only 9 years.
Most copyright infringement is a civil matter - i.e. something that is not enforced by the government until a complaint has been brought, a defence offered or declined, and decision reached by a judge. And most of us think it should stay that way.
Re: "Google is voluntary." -- Now there's a good brazen LIE.
I leave this comment not so much for blue's sake but for others, in case they have missed the amusing irony:
Maybe Blue has a bit of a point that we are being over-simple in calling Google voluntary -- there is some challenge in avoiding it, and doing so would drastically reduce the usefulness of the internet even beyond the direct loss of Google tools.
Now, what would happen if Blue had his way with copyright? I mean all the things he's advocated: secondary & tertiary liabilities, ISP strike programs and other heavy enforcement at the user level, official treatment of all piracy as "simple theft". Blue has always insisted that it's easy to just go without media that you can't acquire legally and for a fee -- but how many "steps" would be involved in preparing your computer to go online without almost immediately becoming a criminal by accidentally clicking the wrong link or watching the wrong youtube video?
So I challenge blue to try both -- spend a week completely avoiding any chance of Google seeing you at all in any way, and then a week avoiding any chance of any shred of unauthorized material crossing your connection.
(There, that's two weeks without ootb on the internet)
In relation to your position, I am being relatively blind to the degrees. And that is the moral question: which is more important - establishing the standard, or keeping the fringes open?
How can you have a "standard" without first learning about degrees and deciding where to draw that line? Is your "standard" simply "gangsta rap" -- a term you haven't defined and couldn't define since you don't listen to the genre?
I have heard enough rap lyrics to write off the entire genre. I have seen other lyrics quoted in newspapers. I see the kind of lyrics mentioned in the article that were used as evidence. That's enough points outside of hearsay for me to establish a starting point.
Are we now into all rap, not just the already ill-defined "gangsta rap"? Rap just means rapid vocals that are predominantly rhythmic with little or no melody. It would be easy to pick lyrics to make the case that all "rock" is misogynistic too, I suppose.
But perhaps instead of focusing on the parts of my comments that you don't like, we could establish what our common ground is, if any. I'm not trying to change your mind. But I do have personal experience from growing up in a violent area about just what makes the dogs smell blood. And that remains, fo me, much more important than whether some "artiste" can throw around some terms that he wants to redefine. "I don't think that word means what you think it does."
I'm not sure we do have common ground... It's amazing to me that your words positively drip with condescension towards an art form you openly admit to having never experienced for yourself. You talk about "gray areas" and "main principles" but you haven't the faintest clue whether the few examples you've cherrypicked from newspapers and snippets of songs are one or the other.
There are people out there who think any and all depictions of violence are socially damaging -- some, I'm certain, who are offended by the Lasansky works for example and would argue that no matter their intent, any portrayal of those atrocities is negative. There are those who argue that war stories both true and fictional should not be shared since they romanticize and thus perpetrate war. There are huge groups that oppose any portrayal or even mention of any sexual act int he media. Those same groups often oppose any use of profanity and, even, any portrayal of activities that defy certain religious values -- all on the grounds that these things are damaging to society, and that the supposedly "obvious" negative effects they have on viewers trump any consideration of free speech. Such groups often target entertainers and eagerly catalogue their past creations to make a case that they are corrupt and morally bankrupt -- often with minimal context and highly selective quoting. In other words, the precise argument that you are making.
So, is this just a matter of drawing the line where you think it needs to be drawn? You don't think the gray areas are important to consider -- there are many others who would say you're too lenient and are considering them too much.
And that is hearsay because I'm sure not going to torture myself with listening to the stuff.
That really undoes everything else you've said. I believe in community standards too, but they become dangerous when they are based on hearsay and judgements formed from cursory glances at things.
But really the problem is that by targeting "gangsta rap" as a whole you are ignoring a lot of nuance. There's many kinds of content there, even with the most brutally violent and mysoginistic lyrics. Sometimes it's confessional, sometimes it's satirical, sometimes it's done for shock value, sometimes it's intentionally absurd, sometimes it's just unimaginatively using established tropes, sometimes it's imaginatively using established tropes, and yes, sometimes it actually reaches the level of hate speech in that it actually is intended to incite violence, such as the gay-bashing dancehall anthems that have caused some countries to refuse entry to certain Caribbean artists.
That's a rather sweeping statement. Early gangsta rap had the redeeming value of being the first and only venue for frank discussion of a daily reality for a widespread urban underclass. Modern gangsta rap -- while I agree it is highly problematic in a lot of its messaging, and has some negative social effects -- is largely fantasy-based, or even an obvious exercise in absurdity (e.g. Odd Future) that is more harmlessly immature than it is socially destructive.
Besides, gangsta rap reached its pop-zenith with 50 Cent and has been on the decline ever since, with the pop rap image shifting far more towards Kanye-esque glam -- shallow perhaps, but barely distinguishable from the "rockstar" image that has been dominant for decades.
Yes, Step2 is a place for discussing ideas about how to monetize creation, in keeping with our often-stated point that there is no magic bullet solution. It is precisely because we recognize execution is the hard part that we wanted to create a space dedicated to discussing that very thing and brainstorming ideas for it.
And yes, you've cunningly noticed that it never really took off -- that happens sometimes when you spend your life doing things that might succeed or fail, rather than commenting on a blog 24-hours a day and repeatedly declaring victory despite everyone else thinking you're pathetic. We may, at some point, relaunch Step2 in a bigger way, or make some changes to make it more appealing -- or we may not, if we decide there are other, better ways to do what we want to do. In the mean time, we don't really mention it, because we're well aware that it's not an active forum at the moment. But, you know, thanks for the ongoing promotion nonetheless!