Be Reasonable: Episode #053 – Eben Alexander

Joining Marsh this month is Eben Alexander, neurosurgeon and author of Proof of Heaven.

  1. #1 by Philip Walter on June 27, 2018 - 08:50

    Well that was quite a big infomercial and self-promotion of quick catchy soundbites, and a book, some hokey job-jab with a man, despite his claims, with a closed mind.

  2. #2 by Jason Barnes on June 29, 2018 - 06:08

    Great interview as always! And a great guest, too, who made some pretty reasonable points. I’d like to hear more discussion (and in his sign-off he sounded game) about his brain-as-filter theory, and what the objections to that theory might be. Frankly I’ve always assumed that the brain damage argument was sufficient to demonstrate the soul’s nonexistence, so hearing a plausible (at least cursorily) counter-accounting was an unexpected reminder of the importance of steel-man-ing.

    Marsh brought up falsifiability, but E.A. either misunderstood or sidestepped. (I know that saying “you know, that’s a reasonable objection, and it is a problem” is probably a poor general strategy for changing minds, but I always hold out a sliver of hope, and had a larger sliver than normal for this guy who had coherently brought up skepticism at the get-go. Unfortunately, he disappointed.) I’d be interested to hear more specific objections to that soul theory… lest I be forced to start believing I have one!

  3. #3 by Aleix on July 1, 2018 - 15:03

    Well that was interesting, a case of ‘we can’t currently explain; therefore god’?

    I think these theories have been around for sometime probably spawned out of the progress on quantum physics which also has been erroneously used in a pseudoscientific manner. However, it sounds like it is largely formed by personal anecdote/exeperience and that of others, use of post hoc reasoning, personal beliefs and dismisses critical testing and alternative hypotheses (apparently this is being more open minded than requesting sound evidence).

    The argument he proposes is indistinguishable from an apparently equally valid argument ‘it is just the brain doing stuff and logging within your memory as real’ as superficially both satisfy the outcome. This must also be on the table until falsified as well in that case.

    I suppose that at this stage as his experiences are unexplained as a lay person I can only say that the hypothesis is unlikely as there doesn’t appear to be compelling and corroborating evidence to make his views plausible.

    Placebo was a tangential argument and as said by Marsh the evidence would suggest non specific effects remain similar but medications may not be as effective as previously thought when improving the controls, omitting bias, regression to the mean etc.

  4. #4 by Sam on July 3, 2018 - 09:10

    Marsh, I was wondering if techniques from Street Epistemology could perhaps help you a little bit when talking to people like him ?
    I really hate long monologues like he did through out this entire episodes. I’m thinking SE could help you opening topics, maybe ?

    I would love to hear your input on this.

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