#130 – Shrink Rap Radio LIVE! #5

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Douglas A. Davis, Ph.D. is a chreished friend from grad school days at the University of Michigan. He recently retired from full-time teaching at Haverford College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania where he was professor of psychology and for many years department chair. A frequent, Shrink Rap Radio guest, Doug drops in for a discussion on cyberpsychology with Dr. Dave and co-host, Jerry Trumbule. It’s a wide ranging conversation covering “the memex,” Google, science fiction, Second LIfe, Moroccan kids in cyber cafes, and more.

(Psychology podcast by David Van Nuys, Ph.D.)

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14 Comments

  1. Posted December 30, 2007 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    Hey Dr. Dave,
    Is it possible to reply to the poll AND put in a comment. Thus explaining the answer just given? I see this on many sites that throw polls.

    Anne

  2. Posted December 31, 2007 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Actually, on this particular poll, I did create the option “add an answer,” which lets you type in your own alternative answer for the poll. However, I’m not sure how long an answer it will allow! :-)

    David

  3. honeyrococo
    Posted December 31, 2007 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Oh, I left too long of a message on the “poll” (a poll that I wouldn’t have noticed if not for Anne here)..I just meant to say that “I love it. But maybe there is a better hosting site? I feel bad for (Susan?) not being able to use it and blogspot *is* a bit labyrinthian. Also, losing the feed wasn’t too cool. Blogspot should haveprovided a way for you to re-time the program in the course of broadcasting. Blogspot seems too structure-y and doesn’t allow *you* to get the most out of the service. But what do I know?!

    Also, you should know that building an audience for live shows takes time. So don’t despair that not many people are there yet. I think Blogspot shares much of the blame, alas. A consistent time is also important. Look what happened to “Firefly” on FOX! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firefly_%28TV_series%29
    One of the most beloved shows of all time, and constantly voted as the best sci-fi mini series ever in polls, even over Star Trek — and yet cancelled after 11 episodes because people couldn’t figure out when it would be airing (because of FOX and baseball?)! But I think you changed the time so people that go to church in the United States could listen? Okay, that’s all!!! “I love it!” Happy New Year!

  4. honeyrococo
    Posted December 31, 2007 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Oops. Why did I say mini-series? It just turned out that way. Freudian slip!

  5. honeyrococo
    Posted December 31, 2007 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Hey! Thanks for asking my question! (I am just listening as I get ready to go out for NYE!

    I am sure that you know about these, but just in case this series is just great! (Especially to think about with your market research work!)

    Century of the Self part 1 http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2637635365191428174
    Century of the Self part 2 http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-678466363224520614
    Century of the Self part 3 http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6111922724894802811
    Century of the Self part 4 http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1122532358497501036

  6. Posted December 31, 2007 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Honeyrococo,

    Yes, I was previously alerted to this series by a listener. It is fantastic and I’m glad to have the links here for my other listeners.

    David

  7. Thea
    Posted January 4, 2008 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    This was a very interesting speculative show, about possibilities of technology, and while I consider myself something of a geek at one level, yet I have deep misgivings about technology at the same time, because of the toxicity we are discovering at so many levels about all aspects of modern life, particularly toxic chemicals pervading everything from the earth to our bodies, not to mention all the unknowables like EMF, etc. I am reminded of a newer Twilight Zone (I think it was), in which a man who had been terminally ill was cryogenically frozen and brought back to life in the future. He was amazed to find that things seemed no different, the house was in the country and all seemed simple. He was disappointed that humanity had not ‘advanced’. Then came time for the operation to remove his tumor. There were three people, one was an empath who took away his pain, one person could ‘see’ inside his body, and the last person could morph his own hand and enter into the sick man’s body with it to remove the tumor. This show pointed out how we have neglected our natural, inherent potentials in favor of inventing external devices to enhance our senses and capacities. Further on this point, just today I read of a ‘true’ story published in a magazine in India, in which a guy reported that he had left a temple and walked deep into a forest, where he was suddenly transported 200 years back in time by a sadhu adept, who had traveled into the future to get him, to bring him back for a sacrifice to the goddess Kali. A servant of the sadhu slayed the sadhu, and so the unfortunate fellow was fortunately released back into his own time, now. Of course to modern American ears this story is nothing but the wildest fantasy, and we dismiss all such accounts and stories as fantasy, myth, etc. But if it’s “all in your mind”, and quantum mechanics and psychology and so much else is pointing to how we create our personal realities and our collective reality, who’s to say that if the world was full of people whose reality included the possibility that sadhus and lamas and saints could do all these amazing, extraordinary things, like miracles and time travel, etc., that it’s not just our post-‘Enlightenment’ mentality that is actually LIMITING us?!

  8. Thea
    Posted January 4, 2008 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for the links honeyrococo! Is your name because you like rococo?

  9. Thea
    Posted January 4, 2008 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    If you use Google Desktop, or any Google apps and services, doesn’t Google have access to all your info? Ick and double ick.

  10. Ann
    Posted January 10, 2008 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    I love this subject of technology and Second Life. I had never heard of Second Life until this broadcast. It looks intriguing and disturbing – all at the same time.

    It reminds me of how Microsoft is changing the video game world by allowing people from all over to play together in a real-time, multi-player atmosphere called X-Box Live.

    It’s one of the most incredible things to be able to play games, talk, see people through video, text, voice mail, etc. – LIVE – with people all over the world.

    My family may play a game with a team in France one minute and speak with others in England, or South America, in another.

    And though there are many great things about Microsoft’s Live system – instances of increasing chaos – vile language and behavior, sexist remarks, age and gender discrimination, even cybercrime – with some players ‘breaking in’ to others games and wrecking their playing environments, are beginning to emerge.

    There are really no laws or consequences in Microsoft’s virtual world, and with ‘Live’ being relatively new (5 yrs old this year), it is both interesting, and disturbing, to see that in a virtual world, many humans regress into such barbaric, primitive behavior.

    Excellent subject!!!

  11. honeyrococo
    Posted January 13, 2008 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    The Second Life video I first saw on Jerry Trumbule’s site is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=synxFmQJ_0A

    This video really freaks me out for some reason. Maybe it is the music in the first part ?

    As an aside, has everyone seen the film “Vanilla Sky” ?** I really think it is a brilliant but much maligned film.

    **If you decide to see it DO NOT read anything about it before you see it. Don’t even read the video/DVD box.

    Even if you don’t like Tom Cruise or think that the original (Abre los ojos) is better, it is a really great movie and very “Shrink Rap Radio” I think.

    To Thea, well I *do* like some rococo painting and decor and such, but I just really like the sound of the name honeyrococo and everyone remembers it too. The biggest problem is when people stick an extra “c” in there.

    And to Thea, as for the sadhus and lamas and saints, I guess I have to admit to being one of those “post-enlightenment” science types. I think that if we had the capacity to have certain supernatural powers like telekinesis and faith healing and teleportation, etc., without the aid of technology, then we would have some evidence of its having already existed historically and outside of heresay.

    I really don’t believe that people have ever had these powers that we read about in religious books and certain newspapers. Some people claim that we have “lost” our knowledge of “secret ways” due to the corrosive and corrupt effects of culture and science in a somewhat Rousseau-esque move, but there are many isolated populations around the globe still with certain beliefs in magic that they cannot prove or perform. Other ancient “mystical” phenomena – like Parhelia and eclipses we now understand. With technology we can do things that *look* like magic, but which follow the laws of nature and physics. I think that humankind’s great advance is that we use tools better than any other animal. And we are abstract thinkers and dreamers. Dreaming is interesting, and as many guests on SRR say, we do not really understand what dreaming, or even sleep, is yet. But when we wake we take what we have “seen” and often try to put it to practical use. And this has led to our invention and use of amazing technologies, like this computer I am writing on which would seem like magic 100 years ago.

    But I find that certain films like “What the Bleep do We Know?” and “The Secret” prey on the poorest and least educated people in our society and I think that they are anathema to really helping create a better world. No matter how much someone with cancer wants to believe in the power of positive thinking, or no matter how much a poor person who never had the opportunity for a good education believes, with all their heart, that if they believe they will get the great job, they are limited by physical laws and social and economic policies. Intelligently using science and fighting for social justice are the only way to save these people and give them the future they dream of, not their magical “wishing”, “praying” and “positive thinking”. The ideologies put forth in WTBDWE and TS really come down to blaming the victim and I think that is not what any of us want to do.

    Which is not to say that there is nothing to positive thinking, but why it works has more to do with cognitive biases than with magic. If you are optimistic and aware of what you want, you will probably be more likely to recognize an opportunity when it presents itself and to “go for it” than someone who thinks all hope is lost. This also explains why some people are “lucky” – they are actually the people who are innately more apt to notice the possibilities all around them and to be proactive.

    And to consider the story about “an empath who took away his pain, one person could ’see’ inside his body, and the last person could morph his own hand and enter into the sick man’s body with it to remove the tumor” this TV show just exploited a reverse reading of technology that we do have today! An “empath” can, by definition, feel, even share another’s pain but not remove it. But we have drugs that can (if our government allows us access!), and in fact when anesthesia was invented in the 19th century certain religious groups were against it because suffering was “cleansing” and “from God” – certainly an indication that religion and superstition (magic) run counter to helping mankind in certain cases; seeing inside the body when X-rays were invented was also seized upon by spiritualists hoping to prove the existence of the soul while others feared it (and yet others opened shops where you could have your X-rays taken!); and we now have “prosthetics” / robots that can allow us to perform delicate brain surgeries that would fatigue the human surgeon, allowing us to remove difficult tumors. Presumably “magic” has been with human kind forever – folks like Merlin and the Oracle at Delphi resurrected gods have been around since the dawn of time and we still have tumors needing to be removed. I don’t believe the “Problem of Evil” is a valid explanation for magic’s failure here.

    So I would counter to say that in these cases we have not “neglected our natural, inherent potentials in favor of inventing external devices to enhance our senses and capacities” but rather exploited them.

    As for your fears about technology, I *do* think they are well-founded. Plastics are a huge problem because in their break-down they mimic estrogen and are responsible for lowering sperm-counts globally. Plastics decompose but, like the “Incredible Shrinking Man” just get smaller and smaller, never dissipating or returning to a “natural form” and thus become incorporated into all living organisms in the food chain. Fear of nuclear waste disposal in the future is really limiting our ability to fight global warming today when it is needed, as despite the claims, nuclear is the cleanest form of energy that we have (after wind, (certain) hydro and solar which cannot meet our demands as nuclear can. People worry about the long run, but we might not have a long run to worry about unless we do something now!). There are all sorts of chemicals in our drinking water, foods, carpeting, fuels, etc., the long-term effects of exposure to which we do not understand. Capitalism is an unsustainable system by which we will scavenge the Earth like locusts in search of finite resources. We are already seeing the desertification of once fertile lands because of bad forestry, bad agriculture and over-grazing. Ethanol is a disaster waiting to happen. We have to maintain “seed banks” in the arctic in case the GMOs get out of control. Surveillance and biometrics are a gateway to Fascistic totalitarianism. Corporations like us dumb and the disparity between the haves and have-nots is growing at a disparaging rate aided by weapons created by scientists. And instead of fixing these problems corporations get away with murder.

    But when we look at these things rationally, we see that they are in fact scientific problems but social problems and demand social solutions. People need to get together and take back the power over their futures. We have forgotten how to strike, en masse; how to say no, how to band together. Think about Paris in ’68! In the US the media likes us to be afraid of our neighbors, because they are black/white, legal/illegal, gay/straight; young/old, poor/poorer, Moslem/Atheist/etc….Or maybe they were on one of the 100s of police/law shows like America’s Most Wanted? That’s a tactic to maintain power. As long as you think the enemy is the person sitting next to you, you will never realize who the enemy really is.

    Okay, that was a rant. I am not even going to proofread. Sorry Dr. Dave!

  12. Thea
    Posted January 16, 2008 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Oh, if one is interested in investigating such things for oneself, there is plenty of evidence that true spiritual masters can do many things that defy traditional scientific paradigms. The case of Padre Pio (now Saint Pio) and a woman named Gemma comes to mind. Gemma was born blind, without pupils, but can now see – still without pupils! I think she is still alive. Yet, extraordinary abilities will not be subject to laboratory experiments, because such holy persons are not the least bit interested in trying to convince the scientific community. Even some not-so-holy people, such as adepts of kundalini, can do amazing things. I think these abilities are innate in human potential, and as we evolve, humanity as a whole will come to realize these capacities. Right now the first few monkeys are washing their potatoes, but soon hopefully the rest of us will be able to see and participate also. The examples of technologies that you mention, such as surgical instruments, are still external devices that people are relying on. I think our obsession with technical toys is like playing in a mud puddle and making a mess, when we could be swimming in the ocean! Yet so many people have not become aware that there is anything more than the mud puddle.

    There is much more I could respond to in your post, but I think I will leave it at this.

  13. honeyrococo
    Posted January 18, 2008 at 4:37 am | Permalink

    Dear Thea,

    Sorry I have not responded to your email yet. I am moving this week and am way behind on answering email (to you too Dr. Dave!) — I looked up Gemma and Saint Pio. It seems that people now think that Gemma had a condition known as Aniridia – where the pupils/irises fail to develop but in many cases those people can still see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aniridia . You can compare that image with this image of Gemma: http://www.michaeljournal.org/stpio.htm .

    Being diagnosed with something at such a young age, and being told that you will never see might certainly have some psychological effect that might be reversed when someone like a “Saint” gives one hope. There are instances of what (used to be called) “Hysterical blindness”. I actually experienced this once when I was completely stressed out reading for exams. It lasted about 1/2 and hour and I was completely fascinated by it. I could see everything except words on the page. That space was just fuzzy grey and vacant like a visible blind spot. I played around with it because I found it fascinating. I *knew* it was psychological and from stress, yet I thought – kind of as if observing from some transcendent point not related to me, “Wow, look at that. I have totally gone mad!” But then my sight came back. It was all because of fear of my exams and of disappointing my advisor whom I really hold in high esteem.

    Stigmata is probably another physical symptom of some (hysterical) state…I know there are better terms for this now but I am just thinking of what it was called in the times of Charcot and the Hôpital de la Salpêtrière.

    You yourself are arguing that the mind can do powerful things like heal others – as in the case of Saint Pio and Gemma. Why then would it be inconceivable to you that the minds of these people are controlling, even unconsciously, physiological effects in/on their own bodies? And yet such displays would not be liberating if they made you bleed or blind!

    Finally, just because I have to run, one last thing. You say,

    “Yet, extraordinary abilities will not be subject to laboratory experiments, because such holy persons are not the least bit interested in trying to convince the scientific community.”

    This is an argument that I also hear from that woman Sylvia Brown who is always on the Montel Williams show. But ask yourself this: If many, many people in the world believe in science, and people like Pio and Brown are truly holy (Sylvia Brown claims to have heavenly “spirit guides” and your Pio is considered a “Saint”) – then how can they be both so holy and so selfish? Is holiness compatible with selfishness? I seem not to think so. For if it were possible, with one demonstration, to show the whole of the world the truth of your magical/God-given abilities, thereby “testifying” to the “supernatural” power invested in you, and thus converting the skeptics and leading them to everlasting happiness and love – why would this not be your supreme duty as a holy person? Even in the Bible story, Jesus let Doubting Thomas stick his finger in the wound in his side. Thus, the birth of Empiricism! Thomas was not cursed for wanting proof. Why do these so-called spiritual leaders curse scientists?

  14. Thea
    Posted January 18, 2008 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Hi honeyrococo. I was going to take a break from posting, but I feel moved to respond to your latest, not for the sake of argument (arguing makes me feel ill) but in the spirit of service.

    Thank you for the links about Gemma in your post. I am not opposed to finding ‘natural’ explanations for miracles and such, nor have I said that I am not open to finding ways that one’s mind can influence one’s body. Quite the contrary, I find the mind/body connection fascinating. Also, though I do not know anything about Sylvia Brown, I will venture that holy people do not ‘curse’ nor even have any ill will toward the scientific community, nor is their attitude ‘selfish’. It’s just that the stance, “I don’t believe – prove it to me physically,” is the wrong foot to start off with when approaching the spiritual – one needs to BEGIN with an attitude of humility and openness. This does not mean forcing one’s reason to bow to non-reason, it means being willing to admit that there are possibilities beyond the ken of one’s life experience to date. Plenty of empirical experience will follow from there. I think a truly open mind is being willing to look at the facts of what some people may be claiming about some extraordinary phenomena, no matter how far-out it may seem at first, look at the credibility of the people who are claiming it, and see whether ‘scientific theory’ to explain these phenomena is not stretching absurdity more than just temporarily accepting what they say at face value, perhaps putting the issue on one’s mental shelf with a big question mark next to it, until more information is found.

    Now if you will excuse me, I must bow out of this conversation.

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