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Author Topic: The Noetic Sciences  (Read 1632 times)

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Offline Beguile's MistressTopic starter

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The Noetic Sciences
« on: April 17, 2013, 01:07:35 PM »
I've recently discovered The Noetic Sciences and have been looking into it.

Please Google it if you would like to learn more since I have no wish to influence anyone in a specific direction.

Now I'm wondering if anyone here has heard of Noetics, studied it or researched it, and what you think of it.

This thread is in Elliquiy U and not the PROC so free and open discussion is expected.  I'll ask you to leave if you try anything else.  You may offer your opinions and ask questions but not attack the opinions of others.

Thank you.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2013, 01:08:46 PM by Beguile's Mistress »

Offline Jude

Re: The Noetic Sciences
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2013, 02:40:30 PM »
Quote from: The Institute of Noetic Sciences
There are several ways we can know the world around us. Science focuses on external observation and is grounded in objective evaluation, measurement, and experimentation. This is useful in increasing objectivity and reducing bias and inaccuracy as we interpret what we observe. But another way of knowing is subjective or internal, including gut feelings, intuition, and hunches—the way you know you love your children, for example, or experiences you have that cannot be explained or proven “rationally” but feel absolutely real. This way of knowing is what we call noetic.
(Source: http://noetic.org/about/what-are-noetic-sciences/)

"The Noetic Sciences" are therefore explicitly psuedoscentific. They don't hide this fact at all, it's right there and yet they choose to co-opt the name "science" in their title for some reason?

Most of the practices defended under the banner of the "Noetic Sciences" have clearly failed formal scientific scrutiny, and have been reconstituted therein in an attempt to move the standard of evidence to rescue them from the flames of Scientific Inquiry.

Any discussion about whether or not they're bunk is ultimately going to go down the rabbit hole of dualist philosophy and spiritualist religion.

Personally, I'm not really interested in hashing out that familiar ground again, but I'll state my opinion for the record: the Noetic Sciences are anti-intellectual, rigidly unsupported, philosophically ancient (and I don't mean that in a good way).

Take a look at the quote above: is loving your children an exercise in knowledge, or is this an emotional smokescreen? Do experiences actually exist that cannot be rationally explained, or are the explanations simply not palatable to mystery mongering and new age thinking? Are intuitions a matter of supernatural insight or merely coincidence pared with confirmation bias? Does something feeling real actually make it real, or should we default to the more obvious explanation, the imperfection of observation and the human element?

I think a bit of critical thinking goes a long way here.

One last thing as food for thought. Check out this quote from the same page:
Quote
The term noetic sciences was first coined in 1973 when the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) was founded by Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell, who two years earlier became the sixth man to walk on the moon. Ironically, it was the trip back home that Mitchell recalls most, during which he felt a profound sense of universal connectedness—what he later described as a samadhi experience. In Mitchell’s own words, “The presence of divinity became almost palpable, and I knew that life in the universe was not just an accident based on random processes. . . .The knowledge came to me directly.”
There is a portion of the brain we can inhibit that actually makes people feel "one with the universe." It is the portion of the brain that drugs often mess with, coincidentally, as do sensory deprivation tanks. This portion of the brain governs our feelings of the boundaries of our body, and when hindered, we literally cannot tell where we begin and end.

This is not evidence of universal connection, this is evidence of the physically constructed nature of our experience of reality.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2013, 03:03:49 PM by Jude »

Offline Noelle

Re: The Noetic Sciences
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2013, 12:19:17 AM »
To be honest, most of this sounds like a rehash of the non-overlapping magisteria conversation that's been ongoing. There is no area of human activity that is immune to objective evaluation. It looks like noetics simply attempts to romanticize things that may otherwise come across as 'cold' or hard to swallow; you can believe love is some kind of magic thing that blossoms out of the ether, or you can boil it down to some chemical reactions in the brain when you interact with other people who are also having chemical reactions in their brain. Your brain may be analyzing and making snap decisions just moments before you realize it, which can make hunches seem like they, too, come from some kind of mystical sixth sense. Regardless if you believe the former, the latter is still happening, and I suspect you can say the same for most of the things noetics attempts to make out to be its own special magisteria.

Offline Kythia

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Re: The Noetic Sciences
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2013, 10:54:00 AM »
I don't see how you've got pseudoscience from the quote you, errr, quoted Jude.

"There are several ways we can know the world around us. Science focuses on external observation and is grounded in objective evaluation, measurement, and experimentation. This is useful in increasing objectivity and reducing bias and inaccuracy as we interpret what we observe. But another way of knowing is subjective or internal, including gut feelings, intuition, and hunches—the way you know you love your children, for example, or experiences you have that cannot be explained or proven “rationally” but feel absolutely real. This way of knowing is what we call noetic."

That just seems utterly reasonable to me.  It's the premise of "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell.  They've just called it "noetic" rather than "subconscious".

Meh, or at least thats how it sounds to me.  What did you find interesting about it BeMi, btw?

Offline Jude

Re: The Noetic Sciences
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2013, 11:06:43 AM »
Psuedoscience is when something attempts to take on the trappings of science (such as calling itself a science) while also rejecting or failing to meet the premises of science. Pretty much everything in that quote is antithetical to science, "another way of knowing is subjective or internal, including gut feelings, intuition, and hunches—the way you know you love your children, for example, or experiences you have that cannot be explained or proven 'rationally' but feel absolutely real."

I can't get into it much more than that, but if you're interested in reading more about pseudoscience, I'd check out Massimo Pigliucci's book "Nonsense On Stilts."

EDIT: Upon research Blink some, I think there's a bit of confusion as to why the Noetic Sciences are. Blink seems entirely legit, the Noetic sciences deal with a different matter.

For instance, here's another quote where they endorse altmed woo: "Although great strides have been made in the study of complementary and alternative medicine, our health care system remains primarily disease-centered rather than focused on whole-person healing."

Think what you will of it, but science-based medicine has pretty thoroughly put the nail in comp & alt med's coffin. The NCAM is widely regarded as having been a vast waste of resources.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2013, 11:14:39 AM by Jude »

Offline Kythia

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Re: The Noetic Sciences
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2013, 11:14:05 AM »
Meh, I think you're reading more into it than is there.  Gut feelings, intuitions and hunches do definately exist and there are definately experiences people have that cannot (at least currently) be explained.  They are studying them.  They have called this study "noetics".  You seem to be making the assumption that they are studying them in a pseudoscientific manner when there's nothing in that quote to suggest they are. 

I would imagine you're getting hung up on the "Science" in "Noetic Science".  I see it more as the "Science" in "Social Sciences" or "Political Science".

But yes, not a debate thread.  I'm reading through the site at the moment.

EDIT (to address Jude's edit): There's no distinction I can see in the quote you gave.  Sure, that one quote doesn't explain the entire field of noetics but it was all I had at the time of posting.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2013, 11:15:25 AM by Kythia »

Offline Jude

Re: The Noetic Sciences
« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2013, 11:15:25 AM »
I edited more stuff into my last post to explain my point, sorry!

EDIT: Also, you're absolutely right, my initial quote probably didn't have enough information, and I appreciate you calling me out on it :)
« Last Edit: April 18, 2013, 11:17:08 AM by Jude »

Offline Kythia

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Re: The Noetic Sciences
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2013, 11:15:52 AM »
Heh, as did I.  We should stop editing now  ;D


Offline Jude

Re: The Noetic Sciences
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2013, 11:17:19 AM »
...except I just edited!

Offline Kythia

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Re: The Noetic Sciences
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2013, 11:18:18 AM »
When will this madness end?  Won't someone think of the children?

Anyway.  It looks interesting, BeMi.  What were your thoughts on it?

Offline chaoslord29

Re: The Noetic Sciences
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2013, 12:20:09 PM »
Meh, I think you're reading more into it than is there.  Gut feelings, intuitions and hunches do definitely exist and there are definitely experiences people have that cannot (at least currently) be explained.  They are studying them.  They have called this study "noetics".  You seem to be making the assumption that they are studying them in a pseudoscientific manner when there's nothing in that quote to suggest they are. 

I would imagine you're getting hung up on the "Science" in "Noetic Science".  I see it more as the "Science" in "Social Sciences" or "Political Science".

But yes, not a debate thread.  I'm reading through the site at the moment.
Speaking as someone who graduated in the field of Political Science (and Philosophy), and without trying to turn this into a debate thread, I would definitely resent the implication and comparison between our field and that of Noetics. In fact, our methodology course teaches exactly the opposite, debunking more or less the whole principle behind noetics. The "Science" in Social Sciences doesn't come from a subjective evaluation of feelings, intuitions, and gut-checks, it comes from quantifiable data obtained through research, objective analysis, and peer review, just as it does in the physical sciences.

The primary difference between Social Science and Physical Science is more a matter of complexity and practical limitations, and they both nominally operate within the same methodology (it's what makes them both Science, as opposed to whatever Noetics is). When a physicist wants to identify the cause of a particular physical phenomenon, they create an experiment to isolate various variables and draw logical conclusions from their findings. When I as a political scientist want to determine the cause of a particular political phenomenon, I do exactly the same thing, only because I'm dealing with large populations of people organized into governing bodies, I can't really recreate them in a lab for the purpose of isolating each potential variable (of which their might be thousands).

In other words, the only reason social sciences are considered 'soft' science and physical sciences 'hard' science, is a matter of practicality. The political scientist doesn't have the means to recreate the Egyptian Revolution in it's entirety in order to evaluate each individual factor and then compare it to say, the American Revolution. The physicists and chemists and whatnot have a much easier time of it. If there's anyone who we can readily relate to, it's the geologists, who are still a hard science, since they have equipment more readily able to evaluate their phenomena, but can't exactly induce a volcanic eruption every time they want to study the effects; or readily recreate tectonic shift over the course of a few hundred thousand years.

Noetics strikes me as basically just Neuropsychology or Psychiatry, without the science. You look at what and how people feel and instead of trying to find a quantifiable explanation, you just attribute it to something wholly personal and ultimately subjective.

Offline Shjade

Re: The Noetic Sciences
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2013, 06:25:07 PM »
I'm pretty sure the Noetic Sciences have the full sponsorship and support of The Colbert Report.

"We are divided between those who think with their head, and those who know with their heart." - Stephen Colbert

I can't find a connection between them via Google, but I'd say they're working on the same wavelength. Or maybe "gutlength" would be more accurate. Not that accuracy is of paramount importance in this context.

Hunches, gut feelings, instincts, etc., these are all definitely things that exist. Some people get them more often or feel them more strongly than others, but they're around. That doesn't make them scientifically reliable, reproducible, measurable...

Offline DarklingAlice

Re: The Noetic Sciences
« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2013, 06:51:42 PM »
The noetic sciences are just another, disingenuous attempt to give the trappings of science to the noumenal world. It's nothing more than people seeking to give weight and validity to their subjective experiences and interject them in places they do not belong. Merely appending the word 'science' to your woo does not make it any more scientific.

EDIT: As an afterthought...why? I mean, this sort of behavior happens often enough that its tactics are well characterized, but I can never fathom why people aren't satisfied with letting their experiences of the world beyond reason remain personal, subjective, and irrational. Is it some kind of insecurity? Or a less well-meaning motive?
« Last Edit: April 18, 2013, 06:53:50 PM by DarklingAlice »

Offline Beguile's MistressTopic starter

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Re: The Noetic Sciences
« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2013, 06:57:59 PM »
I've been intrigued by Noetics since I began reading about it for several reasons.  One correlates with something I've long pondered and that is current day discoveries are not as new as we would like to believe.  They were first discovered by the ancients or in some cases merely postulated.  Most of what we experiment on today was already thought up a long, long, long, loooooonnnnnggggg time ago.

Another aspect I ponder is that the immutable laws we hold matter to these days are not the end of it.  I believe there is more including the way each of us individually and many or all of us as a group can have an effect on matter.

Magical thinking I suppose but without intuition, without those unexplainable leaps of thought and perception, I wonder how far along the technological spectrum we would be right now.

Offline Shjade

Re: The Noetic Sciences
« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2013, 07:13:51 PM »
Following an intuitive leap related to science does not make the intuition itself science.

I'm sure there are unexplored depths with regard to the way the mind works (as in I am literally sure of it - we know that we don't know everything about how our heads are put together yet), but that doesn't mean in the meantime it makes sense to call the feelings we can't yet categorize as their own category of science. It just doesn't work that way.

I mean, if I were to look at the term "noetic science" as a legitimate science, I would expect it to be the study of these phenomena, not their use in experiencing the world. Driving a car isn't participating in physical science; the science is the study of how driving a car works. Yes?

Offline Kythia

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Re: The Noetic Sciences
« Reply #15 on: April 18, 2013, 07:17:03 PM »
Yeah, from what BeMi has said it seems like we're getting a big hung up over whether the "science" strictly belongs there or not, rather than what they actually think.  Might be easier if we just called it "noetics".


Offline Vekseid

Re: The Noetic Sciences
« Reply #16 on: April 18, 2013, 07:20:39 PM »
Hunches, gut feelings, instincts, etc., these are all definitely things that exist. Some people get them more often or feel them more strongly than others, but they're around. That doesn't make them scientifically reliable, reproducible, measurable...

We have an entire field, known as psychology, covering the study of such things.

Thee might be something to be said for "What is the right and moral decision, here?" And to scientifically quantify this in various ways. Setting a woman on fire for her dowry is wrong. It's a gut feeling, but a rational one, and we can try to determine what our overall aim is, and act and judge accordingly, even if the logic and science has, as its basis "Doing right by what we have decided is right in large part based on our own feelings and emotions."

Noetics does not appear to have such rigor in its purpose.

I've been intrigued by Noetics since I began reading about it for several reasons.  One correlates with something I've long pondered and that is current day discoveries are not as new as we would like to believe.  They were first discovered by the ancients or in some cases merely postulated.  Most of what we experiment on today was already thought up a long, long, long, loooooonnnnnggggg time ago.

Very few things are 'new' anymore (nuclear physics in general comes to mind - and they're still called atoms for a reason). A lot of what is now considered possible is less a factor of knowing whether or not something is possible and more a factor of how much work has been done and the level of industry needed to support it. There's a reason no honest programmer supports the idea of software patents - ideas are not worth shit. The ability to implement them in a timely fashion is everything.

It's certainly 'possible' to build light-sails that could take us to-from Alpha Centauri within a current human lifespan. It's certainly eventually feasible. We certainly can't now.

It's certainly 'possible' to simulate a human brain. Right now, though, the best we can do is about the level of an ant. If we understood more, we could probably simulate a bee's brain on our own desktops. Now? Heck no.

Quote
Another aspect I ponder is that the immutable laws we hold matter to these days are not the end of it.  I believe there is more including the way each of us individually and many or all of us as a group can have an effect on matter.

Magical thinking I suppose but without intuition, without those unexplainable leaps of thought and perception, I wonder how far along the technological spectrum we would be right now.

This sort of discussion really belongs in PROC or Off Topic.

I will say, though, from my own perspective - our brains, our world, our universe is wonderful enough on its own without trying to actively invent more. Poke at your curiosities and they may show you something.


Offline Beguile's MistressTopic starter

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Re: The Noetic Sciences
« Reply #17 on: April 18, 2013, 07:36:55 PM »
The point is we aren't inventing anything.  We are learning all the time about what has already been invented.  We use science to learn and explain.  Each step through the labyrinth takes us to new information.  In some ways we are relearning what people hundreds and thousands of years before us learned. 

I can't be content with the thought that there is nothing new and nothing more than what we think there is.  We don't know everything or even what the everything could be.  We constantly walk up to walls and tell ourselves we've reached the end instead of reaching out to touch the wall and seeing that it's only a beginning.

I think learning all there is to know is more important than locating just enough information to prove to yourself you are right.


Offline Jude

Re: The Noetic Sciences
« Reply #18 on: April 18, 2013, 09:00:24 PM »
I bet you'd like Thomas Kuhn's "the structure of scientific revolutions" BM. It talks about how science undergoes major changes and we develop new concepts, plus gives an explanatory framework to what you're talking about now in terms of science itself without the need for anything Noetic.

Offline Beguile's MistressTopic starter

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Re: The Noetic Sciences
« Reply #19 on: April 18, 2013, 09:06:01 PM »
I bet you'd like Thomas Kuhn's "the structure of scientific revolutions" BM. It talks about how science undergoes major changes and we develop new concepts, plus gives an explanatory framework to what you're talking about now in terms of science itself without the need for anything Noetic.

You do a very good selling job until the last phrase. :-) 


Offline meikle

Re: The Noetic Sciences
« Reply #20 on: April 18, 2013, 09:19:21 PM »
I think learning all there is to know is more important than locating just enough information to prove to yourself you are right.
But isn't noetics basically just guessing instead of actually learning?  "I think that my thoughts have an affect on the physical realm."  "Can you prove it?"  "I believe it."

That's the realm of religion, not science.

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Re: The Noetic Sciences
« Reply #21 on: April 18, 2013, 09:36:37 PM »
But isn't noetics basically just guessing instead of actually learning?  "I think that my thoughts have an affect on the physical realm."  "Can you prove it?"  "I believe it."

That's the realm of religion, not science.

If you wish to call it that that is you prerogative. 

I don't wish to limit myself like that.

Offline meikle

Re: The Noetic Sciences
« Reply #22 on: April 18, 2013, 09:59:55 PM »
Limit yourself how?  To calling things by the words that describe them?

There is value in scientifically evaluating anything -- but there is less value in holding that those things are true even when they fail to keep their composure in light of rigorous study.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2013, 10:01:24 PM by meikle »

Offline Beguile's MistressTopic starter

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Re: The Noetic Sciences
« Reply #23 on: April 18, 2013, 10:26:58 PM »
I see your point but I don't want it limited to any one aspect.

I didn't mention religion because that usually causes things to degenerate into something very unpleasant and this is not the forum for that.  Neither have I said anything about using Noetic Science as a defense of religion.

I haven't found anything like that yet but haven't read all that is available yet either. 

Offline Tamhansen

Re: The Noetic Sciences
« Reply #24 on: April 19, 2013, 03:10:18 AM »
I see your point but I don't want it limited to any one aspect.

I didn't mention religion because that usually causes things to degenerate into something very unpleasant and this is not the forum for that.  Neither have I said anything about using Noetic Science as a defense of religion.

I haven't found anything like that yet but haven't read all that is available yet either. 

What I'm reading from meikle, but please correct me if I understood you incorrectly, and what i feel myself is that Noetics isn't so much a defense of religion, but that it works along the same ways as religion, and by extent beliefs such as New age spiritualism.

'I believe something therefor it must be true. No matter whether empirical observation and testing has debunked it.'

Noetics has as much of a place in science as a cow does in a figure skating competition. That however goes for religion and spirituality as well. Still, over 75 percent of the worlds population is either religious or spiritual so they do have a place in our world. So maybe Noetics does as well.