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Better To Keep Your Mouth Shut And Be Thought A Fool… June 10, 2010

Posted by Skippy in Culture, Observations, Rants.
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…than to write a ridiculously stupid article on Huffington Post and remove all doubt.

The promise and peril of the Internet and blogging is that pretty much any hominid with two functioning braincells and a reliable Internet connection can start a blog and spew to the world their deepest and, in some cases, dumbest thoughts. Hell, this very blog is just that—-random musings and rumblings about stuff that either makes me happy, or pisses me off. Most of my posts are about the latter. However, there exists a special kind of Internet stupid, and it takes the form of pedantic woo-mongering masquerading as “science.”

On today’s front page of the Huffington Post, the sidebar had an intriguing entry under “Living”: “What Happens When You Die? Evidence Suggests Time Simply Reboots” Color me intrigued—-have cosmologists and quantum physicists discovered something about the progression of linear time? If so, why wasn’t this on the front page—-talk about something that could give BP, Destroyer of the Planet a breather!

My first problem is that the author of the piece, Robert Lanza, is an M.D. He claims to be a “scientist” and “theoretician.” Certainly, his bio points to his credentials in the realm of biological sciences:

Robert Lanza is considered one of the leading scientists in the world. He is currently Chief Scientific Officer at Advanced Cell Technology, and a professor at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. He has several hundred publications and inventions, and over two dozen scientific books: among them, Principles of Tissue Engineering, which is recognized as the definitive reference in the field. Others include One World: The Health & Survival of the Human Species in the 21st Century (Foreword by President Jimmy Carter), and the Handbook of Stem Cells and Essentials of Stem Cell Biology, which are considered the definitive references in stem cell research. Dr. Lanza received his BA and MD degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was both a University Scholar and Benjamin Franklin Scholar. He was also a Fulbright Scholar, and was part of the team that cloned the world’s first human embryo, as well as the first to clone an endangered species, to demonstrate that nuclear transfer could reverse the aging process, and to generate stem cells using a method that does not require the destruction of human embryos.

Very good…but I’m not seeing anything that indicates that this Lanza fellow is remotely qualified to write about temporal mechanics. Perhaps the essay itself will enlighten me. After all, the title indicates that there is evidence that time resets itself. I now want to know two things:
a) What this evidence is and
b) How time, which most of us understand proceeds in a linear fashion, “reboots itself” and
c) What this “rebooting” means

Unfortunately, we don’t get off to a good start.

What happens when we die? Do we rot into the ground, or do we go to heaven (or hell, if we’ve been bad)? Experiments suggest the answer is simpler than anyone thought. Without the glue of consciousness, time essentially reboots.

The mystery of life and death can’t be examined by visiting the Galapagos or looking through a microscope. It lies deeper. It involves our very selves. We wake and find ourselves in the present. There are stairs below us, which we seem to have climbed; there are stairs above us, which go upward into the unknown future. But the mind stands at the door by which we entered and gives us the memories by which we go about our day. Everything is ordered and predictable. We’re like cuckoo birds who appear through a door each morning. We fancy there’s a clockwork set in motion at the beginning of time.

Oh, dear. The beginning of this essay is as bad as any number of freshmen essays I’ve read that begin with, “Since the beginning of time, humans have…” While Dr. Lanza does have a thesis, he doesn’t give the reader much else: elementary/middle school questions about death and then the thesis. Not even a summation of this alleged evidence to support such a revolutionary claim, which is what an introductory paragraph is supposed to do. The next (and following paragraphs) are much worse. He dives into poetic bullshit, frankly. “The mystery of life”–why is life a “mystery”? What’s mysterious? Your parents, a sentient conglomeration of cellular material, had sex. A sperm burrowed into an egg, fertilized it and nine months later, you were expelled from the female’s uterus. Ain’t no damn mystery there. So stop it with “the mystery of life” nonsense. It’s pedantic crap I’d expect from teenagers who’re still figuring out how to write well; from a published author and doctor, I expect a hell of a lot better. Our minds perceiving time as a “clockwork set” doesn’t explain anything–it’s just balderdash masquerading around as “enlightened thinking.”

Lanza then goes on to mention “biocentrism” as that which tells us that “space and time aren’t objects.” Yeah, that’s…whatever. But what the frak does that have to do with time resetting itself when we die? Frankly, the more I think about the proposal, the more I realize that it’s patently absurd. Why would time—-which exists independent of the human being—-reset itself? Is he proposing that time is tied to human existence/experience? If so, then he’s arguing something far outside his training. He’s talking about consciousness studies, about neurology, and trying to tie neurology to physics, quantum mechanics and so forth.

After a meandering, hazy story that is absolutely irrelevant and best suited for inclusion in one’s memoirs, Lanza dashes off some nonsense about Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and quantum theory as “proof” that…something happens after we die. The final paragraphs are such a cacophony of New Age nonsense, Lanza should be embarrassed to have penned this:

It’s here at last, where we approach the imagined border of ourselves, the wooded boundary where in the old fairy tale the fox and the hare say goodnight to each other. At death, we all know, consciousness is gone, and so too the continuity in the connection of times and places. Where then, do we find ourselves? On stairs that can be intercalated anywhere, like those that Hermes won with the dice of the moon, that Osiris might be born. We think that the past is past and the future the future. But as Einstein realized, this simply isn’t the case.

Without consciousness, space and time are nothing; in reality you can take any time — whether past or future -− as your new frame of reference. Death is a reboot that leads to all potentialities. That’s the reality that the experiments mandate. And when I see Mr. O’Donnell’s old shop, I know that somewhere the chimney cap is still going round and round, squeak, squeak. But it probably won’t rattle for long.

Huh—-what? What the–WHAT? He says that “in reality you can take any time as your new frame of reference”—-um, NOT IF YOU’RE DEAD. Lanza then refers to these experiments that he never bothered to expound upon. Further, he never once shows how “death is a reboot.” What’s it a reboot of? Is he attempting to say that people experience reincarnation? If so, then he hasn’t said anything that hasn’t already been said by the world’s religious traditions. If he’s trying to offer some radically new scientific argument, then he’s got to give us something called “proof” and “evidence.” Since he doesn’t, all I can conclude is that this is, indeed, some New Age-ish crap wearing a thin veil of “science.” Name dropping Albert Einstein and referencing quantum theory is supposed to give his turd the polish necessary to fool the masses. This is the problem with most superstitious or supernaturalist woo—-assertions like this can’t be proven; they’re little more than mental masturbations. However, Lanza and his kind want to be taken seriously, so they have to try to link their nonsense to the scientific method; hence, we get buzzwords like “experiments” and “evidence” in addition to mentioning Einstein and quantum theory. Frankly, this isn’t even well-written slick nonsense. It’s emotionally appealing schlock.

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Comments»

1. Mike Boozer - June 10, 2010

Nice post, I like the website

-Mike Boozer, http://somebodyhadtosayit.com


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