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Did Rupert Sheldrake make a factual error?

An editor at TED seems to suggest that Rupert Sheldrake made a factual error in his talk "The Science Delusion" when he said governments "ignore complimentary and alternative therapies." She writes:

"Sheldrake says that governments do not fund research into complementary medicine. Here are the US figures on NIH investment in complementary and alternative medicine 2009-2010: http://nccam.nih.gov/about/budget/institute-center.htm "

http://www.ted.com/conversations/16894/rupert_sheldrake_s_tedx_talk.html

At the NIH link we find that the NIH invested $441,819, 000 in complimentary and alternative medicine in 2011.

But the total NIH budget is about $31,000,000,000 or $31 billion.

http://www.nih.gov/about/budget.htm

This means the NIH invested about 1.425% of its budget in complimentary and alternative medicine in 2011.

To what extent have other governments funded research in complimentary and alternative medicine?

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  • Apr 8 2013: 8. Memories are stored as material traces in brains and are wiped out at death.

    >>> Again with morphic resonance. Just because you can imagine something doesn't make it true. Also, many memories are wiped out well before death due to synaptic pruning.

    9. Unexplained phenomena like telepathy are illusory.

    >>> True, scientific consensus does not view telepathy as a real phenomenon. However, this view is far from dogmatic. Until it can be proven as fact, it remains a belief. Therefore, the opposite is true. Believing in unexplained phenomena like telepathy is dogmatic.

    Many studies seeking to detect, understand, and utilize telepathy have been done, but according to the prevailing view among scientists, telepathy lacks replicable results from well-controlled experiments.

    The notion of telepathy is not dissimilar to two psychological concepts: delusions of thought insertion/removal and psychological symbiosis. This similarity might explain how some people have come up with the idea of telepathy.

    Psychiatrists and clinical psychologists believe and empirical findings support the idea that people with schizotypal personality disorder are particularly likely to believe in telepathy.

    10. Mechanistic medicine is the only kind that really works.

    >>> If scientists really held this view, there would be no need to add a placebo as a comparative factor in medical trials. Neuroscientists are studying the effects of yoga on neuromodulators. Doctors tell patients to eat right and exercise. There are obviously many other factors besides mechanistic medicine that are given scientific merit.
    • Apr 9 2013: "Unexplained phenomena like telepathy are illusory.

      >>> True, scientific consensus does not view telepathy as a real phenomenon. However, this view is far from dogmatic. Until it can be proven as fact, it remains a belief. Therefore, the opposite is true. Believing in unexplained phenomena like telepathy is dogmatic."

      Belief and dogma are not the same thing. Beliefs can be dogmatic. We call those dogmatic beliefs. Having anecdotal experience of something like psychic phenomena and being open to it is pretty much the exact opposite of dogmatism.

      Even Richard Wiseman said that it's been proven to a normal standard of evidence, if not to the extraordinary degree that would satisfy him. He said that regarding remote viewing, but later amended his statement to mean ESP generally. http://barenormality.wordpress.com/2011/04/13/that-wiseman-quote/
      • Apr 9 2013: What Richard Wiseman is saying is that we don't have the proper tools of measurement for this field of study, so we can not possibly prove remote-viewing, among other paranormal claims, to be true.

        Saying "I agree that by the standards of any other area of science that remote viewing is proven, but begs the question: do we need higher standards of evidence when we study the paranormal? I think we do." is a condemning statement. For example, we have the tools of measurement to determine the weight of a calculator, but not a ghost.

        The scientific method can't measure qualia. Before we can even attempt to accurately study qualitative phenomena, we'd have to first develop an effective method to accurately study qualitative phenomena.

        Believing in unexplained phenomena like telepathy is dogmatic because they are tenets put forth as authoritative without adequate grounds.
        • Apr 9 2013: Nah, you're wrong. Firstly, what he means is that the experiments conducted so far have yielded results that would be taken to have demonstrated the reality of phenomenon were it in any other area of science. We know this because that's Jessica Utts' phrase that he was referencing (when he said "I agree") and that's what she was talking about.

          Re qualia - nothing to do with anything here I'm afraid - no qualititative phenomena involved at all in fact. Re belief in telepathy - nobody, certainly not Sheldrake in this talk, was suggesting telepathy should be believed in. His point was that it is considered impossible because of some of the dogmas of the materialist/reductionist world-view - thus many don't need to look at the evidence because they already know it can't be true.
        • Apr 9 2013: Crystal, I gotta tell ya, my crystal ball is not as clear as yours. I can't read Wiseman's mind. To me it looks like he's saying, ya know, what he's saying. It's pretty straightforward.

          “I agree that by the standards of any other area of science that remote viewing is proven, but begs the question: do we need higher standards of evidence when we study the paranormal? I think we do.

          “If I said that there is a red car outside my house, you would probably believe me.

          “But if I said that a UFO had just landed, you’d probably want a lot more evidence.

          “Because remote viewing is such an outlandish claim that will revolutionise the world, we need overwhelming evidence before we draw any conclusions. Right now we don’t have that evidence.” ~ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-510762/Could-proof-theory-ALL-psychic.html

          He later appears to have clarified, and I've seen this posted a couple of places, but the original link is gone:

          “It is a slight misquote, because I was using the term in the more general sense of ESP — that is, I was not talking about remote viewing per se, but rather Ganzfeld, etc as well. I think that they do meet the usual standards for a normal claim, but are not convincing enough for an extraordinary claim.”

          You write:
          "Believing in unexplained phenomena like telepathy is dogmatic because they are tenets put forth as authoritative without adequate grounds."

          Maybe somewhere there are people who believe in psychic phenomena because they've been told to by authority figures. That's not been my experience. The prevailing culture, at least in the West, doesn't accept these beliefs, so it's the opposite. Most people who believe in psychic phenomena have experienced something that caused them to question the prevailing belief in their falsity. For it to be a dogmatic belief, it would need to come from a religion or some other culturally reinforced set of beliefs, because that's what dogma is. I know I didn't grow up in such a culture. Did you?
      • Apr 9 2013: Scientists +1 Psi-ence -1

        "Authoritative without adequate grounds" is the definition for dogma.
        If you use a dictionary you don't need a crystal ball.

        au·thor·i·ta·tive : Able to be trusted as being accurate or true; reliable:

        "Having anecdotal experience of something like psychic phenomena and being open to it is pretty much the exact opposite of dogmatism."

        "Re qualia - nothing to do with anything here I'm afraid"

        Anectodal evidence is typically considered qualitative here, I'm afraid.
        • Apr 9 2013: dog·ma (dôgm, dg-)
          n. pl. dog·mas or dog·ma·ta (-m-t)
          1. A doctrine or a corpus of doctrines relating to matters such as morality and faith, set forth in an authoritative manner by a church.
          2. An authoritative principle, belief, or statement of ideas or opinion, especially one considered to be absolutely true. See Synonyms at doctrine.
          http://www.thefreedictionary.com/dogma

          Can you think of an orthodoxy in the West that enforces belief in psychic phenomena? I really can't. And what bodies do believe in such things emphasize personal experience and validation. The standards of even anecdotal evidence in a public very skeptical of such things is pretty darned high.

          To be authoritative, one must be vested with authority. Who are these doctrinaire enforcers of belief in psychic phenomena you speak of?

          People who believe in psychic phenomena are working against the grain of the greater society, not with it. And they generally do so because they've had experiences that challenged that prevailing view. People don't buck the dogmas of their churches or the authority of the vast majority of scientists for no reason. A conversation I had recently with Sandy Stone on another thread is illustrative, I think: http://www.ted.com/conversations/17348/discuss_the_note_to_the_ted_co.html?c=644617
        • Apr 9 2013: Qualia have nothing to do with anything here. You are confused/mistaken about what this word means I'm afraid.
      • Apr 9 2013: "Who are these doctrinaire enforcers of belief in psychic phenomena you speak of?"
        >>> I don't. It's an adjective. It doesn't only apply to an "authority figure." In this case, it applies to the definition of dogma: "Authoritative without adequate grounds."

        "Qualia have nothing to do with anything here. You are confused/mistaken about what this word means I'm afraid."
        >>> "The importance of qualia in philosophy of mind comes largely from the fact that it is seen as posing a fundamental problem for materialist explanations of the mind-body problem." It's at the heart of Sheldrake's talk. I'm not even remotely confused. Are you?

        At any time, feel free to join the realm of quanta. Then we might actually get somewhere.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qualia
        • Apr 9 2013: "'Who are these doctrinaire enforcers of belief in psychic phenomena you speak of?
          >>> I don't. It's an adjective. It doesn't only apply to an 'authority figure. In this case, it applies to the definition of dogma: 'Authoritative without adequate grounds.'"

          The problem, Crystal, is that you've posted a truncated definition of dogma that distorts the meaning. See where I posted a more complete definition from a dictionary? Only a person or body with some vested authority can enforce a dogma.

          As to your issue with the definition of qualia, perhaps you should address your concerns to Steve as he is the person you are quoting, not me. All of which calls into question your reading comprehension.

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