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Peer Review and the Scientific Process

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The thing that puzzles me is - why do we have to make ourselves believe in A versus B in the first place, if A and B are things that we don't have any observable and conclusive evidence of that either of them is true, or more true than the other?
Instead of just preferring which one we would like to be true (like in the book "The Life of Pi"), why can't we just hold belief in abeyance? If one does that, then one can usually look at things with a more open mind and a much less cluttered paradigm.
Whereas Pi had a very good reason for believing in an imagined story rather than the brutal and agonising reality, most people don't usually have to believe in anything. Pi's irrational belief probably saved his sanity - it enabled him to escape reality yet still be able to function as part of this world - whereas we are not usually put in such a predicament.

So why do we seem to persist in living in an illusion - in Ahamkara?
-IainB (April 27, 2015, 01:51 AM)
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The simple answer is that our brains lie to us. Despite our significant neurological advantage in complexity and capability, at the end of the day, nearly every judgement we make about anything is guided by the same built in conditioning that caused Pavlov's dogs to salivate when he rang a bell. On one hand, it's an evolutionary advantage. It allows us to make the kind of snap decisions necessary for survival. On the other hand, it is (just as you suggest) the single biggest obstacle to intellectual honesty because it's inherently guided by emotion.

Ironically, even those of us who do tend more toward rationality and self examination are still being guided by emotion. Those thoughts, or, more importantly, the outcomes produced by that view of things, produces positive emotions.

Based on your brief explanation from that link, I'd say the concept of Ahamkara is a good demonstration of why science was treated as an offshoot of philosophy for so much of human history. The phenomenon it identifies are the focus of much neurological and anthropological research today.

The simple answer is that our brains lie to us.
-Vurbal (April 27, 2015, 06:49 PM)
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I like to think that there's no ill-will involved here...but wait a minute :P

FWIW, here's some of what Wikipedia currently has to say about Ahamkara:
Ahaṃkāra (अहंकार) is a Sanskrit term that is related to the ego and egoism - that is, the identification or attachment of one's ego.

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Vedic philosophy teaches that when one's mind is in a state of ahamkara, one is in a state of subjective illusion, where the mind has bound the concept of one's self with an external thing. That thing can be a tangible, material object, or it can be a concept (such as the concept of the fight for peace). The ego is involved in constructing the illusion.

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-ewemoa (April 27, 2015, 05:55 PM)
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Yes, thanks @ewemoa. I know about that Wikipedia entry as I wrote most of it.
The history is that the subject was originally transferred from the Glossary of terms in Hinduism in about 2006, and pretty much languished there until I took up developing it in 2007.
I also created several other Wikipedia entries and adopted several others as a main editor. However, I became frustrated by the cretinous drive-by graffiti/vandalism and ad-hoc editing by Wikipedia bots, "official" Wikipedia editors and other anonymous and named editors that occurred on a regular basis with the several entries I worked on. Some of the edits were OK, but most were deleterious - e.g., attempts to ameliorate the truth, or make things politically correct, or pushing a religio-political or other biased point of view. The official Wikipedia edits also seemed to become increasingly bureaucratic.

The Wikipedia model was useful, but clearly, because of its relative randomness and crowd-sourced nature, the quality of the content had a potential tendency to regress towards the mean (i.e., slip back into mediocrity). Since there was/is no editorial control over Wikipedia content quality/accuracy, it meant that the situation could not be improved without a meta-change in Wikipedia processes, and that's not likely to happen. It seems to have ossified.

Then Google started up the knol site in about 2009, and over 2009/2010 I abandoned "my" Wikipedia entries and migrated them all to Google knol. That was because I appreciated that knols presented an opportunity to take editorial control and to extend that control to a group of interested/qualified editors, thus avoiding the problems with Wikipedia described above.
Meanwhile, some people had appreciated the work I had been doing in Wikipedia and asked me to develop Wikipedia pages on other subjects they wanted to sponsor. They wanted stability, control and permanence for those articles - which categorically was not possible in Wikipedia.
I ended up creating knol pages for those subjects, as that seemed to offer the sponsors what they wanted, at the time.
I was very sad when Google knol was closed down, but backed all my knols up for posterity, and subsequently published them out of a Google Drive hosting platform (which is $free).
So the ahamkara page is the latest version of that knol, now hosted on Google drive, and it is much more well-developed than I had managed to achieve on the Wikipedia page. In fact, I could not have done that in Wikipedia as it has such an archaic and constipated editing process, and no certainty of permanence - though I did try for a while.

Nice!  Thanks for the details and follow-up.

@Vurbal: What you say about your interpretation of ahamkara could well be true.

Ahamkara has three aspects that particularly impress me:
1. Its age: It comes from a 3,000 years old Vedic philosophy.
2. Its simplicity: Though it is simple, it is a sophisticated concept, developed as part of an artificial framework of reference - a system - which was used to help explain the functioning of the human mind as a spiritual metaphor, and in the context of the Vedic philosophy surrounding the idea of "being" (consciousness) - which they apparently perceived to exist in all things (animate and inanimate) to some extent, and equally - apparently - in no thing (where there is nothing tangible). So, for example, it would be in us and in the air about us.
3. Its adoption: The ahamkara concept was much later incorporated into hindu philosophy.

Forgive me, but I would take you to task on your response, in that it would seem to rather trivialise the achievement of that philosophy, so long ago. I have studied and been trained in the application of some aspects of our modern pseudo-science of psychology, and, though it can sometimes be extremely useful in aiding an understanding of human affairs, it would seem to be an infant by comparison to the Vedic philosophy. Psychology is wrapped in high-sounding terminology - mumbo-jumbo and psycho-babble - with only hypothesis and theory (no certain scientific substantiation) of the concepts developed/used. So, arguably we would seem to have not really come very far at all if we are only able to replicate more or less some of what the Vedic philosophers conceived of, but substituting different terminology and metaphors for theirs, and yet without actually advancing much on it, if at all...

But all this is a digression - off-topic- from the subject of the thread.
I had suggested that ahamkara is an appropriate term for the state of mind that people are in when they steadfastly cling to irrational ideas (beliefs). That is, regardless of system/terminology - "the mind had bound up the concept of one's self with a created thing", or "the identification or attachment of one's ego with a created thing".
Were you intending to argue against the validity of that suggestion, or was your contribution the translation of the concept into other terminology?

My question was: So why do we seem to persist in living in an illusion - in ahamkara?
To answer my own question to some extent: We do not willingly "persist" by choice, but are unwittingly obliged to live in this illusion, because of our mind's tendency for the identification or attachment of our egos with some created thing.

Why I consider the concept of ahamkara to be so profound is that, those in ahamkara are, by definition, unable to perceive the illusion they have created, but it need not be so. They are initially blindly held in its thrall, as it were. However, once they know of and understand and can internalise that knowledge/understanding of the concept of ahamkara, they then have a key with which to liberate themselves from such an illusion.
The question then is twofold: Now that they are able to become aware that it is a false illusion, will they:
(a) choose to continue in the status quo in ahamkara - but now aware that it is a false illusion, or
(b) choose to release themselves from the illusion and thus risk allowing themselves to change/grow/develop?

Well, of course, those who persist in believing in, or espousing, or practicing the false (QED) "alternative medicine" of homoeopathy arguably could be stuck in ahamkara.
It would be interesting to see whether they, or indeed any people who were thus enabled to become aware of when they were stuck in a false illusion (ahamkara) would choose (b).
As a rule:
"Given the choice between changing one's mind or proving one's point of view, most people will get busy on the proof" - J.K.Galbraith, economist.

--- End quote ---
- but that was before the key of knowledge of ahamkara and the (b) choice was available. 


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