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I considered waiting to ask this question until the next AMA, but I think it requires too much context for the AMA format and much of the relevant context that is still fresh in the mind could potentially be lost by then. My question is: Where should someone draw the line between “buying” and “not buying” the need to “rule out alternative explanations” to warrant the confidence to stand on Strongly Agree?
The conversation between you and Breiner provides good examples to better illustrate the question (assuming I am following everything and not mistaken somewhere).
Example 1 - In the first example, Breiner illustrates how one might begin to map DMT experiences to the physical world by asking the DMT entities for mathematical knowledge that is new to the requester personally. In this instance, it seems direct personal experience is not problematic as confirming evidence and failing to account for all other possibilities is not problematic. For the record, I agree that if one of the two of you came back from the DMT experience with a solution to the proposed math problem, that would be sufficient evidence to stand on Strongly Agree.
- Beiner (23:02): People have done this, you go in and ask the entities for the solution to a math problem that neither of us could possibly solve, there are only like 3 guys at MIT who can solve it. We go in with a math problem, we ask the entities, 'how do we solve this problem?' They give you a solution...Let's even imagine you could take it out. https://youtu.be/1LUmyatlSRk?t=1382
- Beiner (23:24): Even that technically is not evidence that a DMT entity gave you the solution...https://youtu.be/1LUmyatlSRk?t=1404
- Boghossian (23:29): It's proof enough for me. If I did that, I can barely add, that'd be proof enough for me. https://youtu.be/1LUmyatlSRk?t=1409
- Beiner (23:36): It could have been that telepathically, one of those MIT scientists sent you the solution, we don't know. https://youtu.be/1LUmyatlSRk?t=1416
- Boghossian (23:44): "Im not buying any of that...that's evidence, overwhelming evidence actually. That’s putting me on the Strongly Agree." https://youtu.be/1LUmyatlSRk?t=1424
I was thinking of what it would take for me to stand on Strongly Agree and it would make sense if I were the person going in and out of the experience (proof personally) or if I knew the person personally and that the person did not have the knowledge required to solve a complicated math problem beforehand; however, to prove it not just myself, but also someone who didn’t know the person before the experience, I would not be able to discount their concern for the possibility that the person was only pretending to not understand how to solve the math problem beforehand. In both the personal and general example, one would also need to appeal to the authority of the 3 people at MIT who can also solve the math problem, to confirm the authenticity of the solution to the problem. So, I think I understand why Beiner would say that this is good personal proof, but on shaky philosophical ground. I believe you buy the premise of the need of “ruling out alternative explanations” in his comments, but it appears you do not treat this as a requirement or as necessary in this example.
Example 2 - In the second example, Boghossian introduces the claim, “There is something beyond the material”. (24:10) https://youtu.be/1LUmyatlSRk?t=1450 In this instance, it seems direct personal experience is problematic as confirming evidence and failing to account for all other possibilities is also problematic. You are standing on Disagree and Alexander is standing on Strongly Agree.
- Beiner (24:56): "The only thing that you can say for certain is that you are having an experience, right, that you are having a qualitative experience here, right? I don't even know for certain that you are." https://youtu.be/1LUmyatlSRk?t=1496
- Beiner (25:29): "The most philosophically sound position to hold is that, there is quality, there's a qualitative experience of the world and that means that consciousness and the non-physical are primary and the physical is then secondary, from that perspective." https://youtu.be/1LUmyatlSRk?t=1529
- Boghossian (25:51): "You would have to rule out alternative explanations for you to be on the Strongly Agree...wouldn't you have to stand on the Agree then?" https://youtu.be/1LUmyatlSRk?t=1551
In the second example, it is less clear to me why one would need to stand on Agree rather than Strongly Agree. I can see if the criteria is to stand on the position representing the strongest ground philosophically speaking, that one would stand on Agree due to the requirement to rule out alternative explanations; however, if the criteria is to stand on the position representing one’s true confidence in one’s belief about the claim, it appears to me that Alexander may have reason to stand on Strongly Agree, depending on how convincing the direct personal experience is and the nature of the experience. For example, if his direct personal experience is being given a new insight that is as valid as a valid mathematical insight, and he is able to bring it back with him and just as sure that he did not possess the insight beforehand, and there are others who knew him before and after with the relevant knowledge about the person and the insight to attest to the gain of insight.
Can you please shed some light on why it is better to be standing on Strongly Agree in one situation and Agree in the other situation or if I am misinterpreting something along the way? I don’t expect an answer of course and would be thrilled if you did find time. Thank you for considering my question!
Thank you, Peter and Reid, for all the great content and guests! Love the new structure. The idea of using the semi-circle of mats is great too, it keeps the participants closer together (and to the camera) and easier to hear each other. It is fun to play along trying to predict what each participant’s best argument will be during the dry-erase board rounds. It seems to make it even more interesting when I predict wrong. Most notably, I am starting to prefer the SSE to the standard conversation format for guests too because it automatically structures the conversation in a productive way.
I appreciated the descriptions of what it is to be supernatural because I was trying to understand what is meant by the word. Your question, "Do you have a desire for something beyond the physical?" was a great question. I asked the “Is math supernatural?” question because the meaning of the word was still unclear to me and both of your answers helped add more clarity (I couldn’t think of a clever YouTube account name, so brmhkr is just my name with no spaces or vowels). I really liked Beiner’s description of supernatural as going beyond the natural world and being unknowable, because it helped me think about the concept as well. Now that I think I have a better understanding of what is meant by supernatural, I can say that I don’t think math is supernatural either. This gives me a lot to wonder about. Thanks again for answering my question and the stellar content and guests!