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Behavioral Psychology, some personal parameters from a professional psychologist
Posted: 10 January 2012 02:12 PM   [ Ignore ]
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As close as I can figure, I‘m a “cognitive-behavioral” psychologist.  Not a psychiatrist.  Not analytically inclined.  I started out as a clinical psychologist with a slight Rogerian bent, but became much more behavioral as the years went by and especially working in the prison system in Wisconsin.  Rogers never dealt much with schizophrenics or psychopaths.  For whatever is worth, I’m influenced by at least the following:

1.  Posited cognitive processes must be reflected in objective behavioral terms, and not just inter-verbal concepts with no objective referents.  For instance, a long used Freudian concept called “repression” has never been demonstrated in objective research; people in fact do not “Forget” extremely painful experiences.
2.  What we think people “should” do often has little or no relationship to what they actually do. 
3.  Cognitive processes inferred often have little or nothing to do with how people behave, in some ways some of these inferred processes are more rationalizations than useful predictive models. 
4.  People’s behavior is more predictable in association with such non-cognitive objective variables such as economic level, education, the religious affiliation of their parents, gender, age; occupational history, where they live, etc.
5.  “Psychopathology,” in a more psychiatric sense, is to me less useful than “problematic behavioral syndromes,” with the etiology of those being mostly individual learning or conditioning.  Exceptions include some clear organically based psychosis such as schizophrenia and psychopaths (Hare et al).
6.  Psychology studies behavior, with any other process such as “thinking,” thoughts, feelings, etc., being at best inferred constructs.  It does not, as a primary focus, study emotions, thoughts, insight, choice and a host of other constructs whose existence is dependent on and inferred by observed behavior.  That is not to say such a tem as “unconditional love” is useless, it is to say that such terms are operationally defined by observed behavior, and not just by verbal claims.
7.  Religion as a subject of study refers to #4 above, more than the reputed influence of theological texts.  People appear to advance theistic concepts to rationalize how they generally behave; which makes religion a kind of projection more than an antecedent cause.
8.  Morality, defined here as specific preferred behaviors in a specific cultural context, is not a subject for psychology as a science; it obviously is as a subject of philosophy or political ideologies. In other words, the judgment of “good or bad” is a social or cultural judgment, not a scientific one. 
9.  People are more likely to react to philosophical, political or religious precepts if and as those precepts have some immediate impact on them, or they anticipate they will.  Terms like “gay,” “atheist,” “conservative,” “liberal,” have little meaning except as the subject perceiver anticipates they’ll have or result in positive or aversive consequences. 
10.  Psychology is, or I take it to be, more akin to astronomy, in that it describes and predicts, but does not necessarily control that which it observes.

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Posted: 10 January 2012 03:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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1. Wrong. This is the doctrine of behaviourism, which has long been discredited. For instance, what about memory? Is stored information “behaving” in a certain way? Nah. Best just to use straight computer science terminology than get bogged down in the semantic quagmire of what counts as “behaviour”.
2. Yes, but who would claim otherwise?
3. By “inferred often”, are you speaking of folk psychology? I think what you’re trying to say is “real psychology is better than folk psychology”. Expressed like that, it doesn’t sound quite so “Wittgensteinian”.
4. Trivial.
5. Not very interesting unless you’re going to flesh this point out and explain why you hold this opinion.
6. No. Psychology is increasingly being informed by neuroscience. There’s no need to restrict psychology to behaviour. Even without neuroscience, we have Chomsky’s universal grammar, which is far too abstract and penetrates far too deeply into hidden cognitive processes to qualify as behavioural.
7.  No. Hardly anyone invents their own religion, or even personal religious rationalizations. It’s better looked at as a cultural thing. See Dennett’s meme theory of religion, for example.
8. Well, read “The Moral Landscape”.
9. There is a “yay” and “boo” element to those words, but you go too far.
10. No. They use different techniques. Astronomy deals in exact models; psychology is more statistical.

[ Edited: 10 January 2012 04:05 PM by JayD ]
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Posted: 10 January 2012 06:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Dennis Campbell - 10 January 2012 02:12 PM

. . .

4.  People’s behavior is more predictable in association with such non-cognitive objective variables such as economic level, education, the religious affiliation of their parents, gender, age; occupational history, where they live, etc.

More than what?

Dennis Campbell - 10 January 2012 02:12 PM

5.  “Psychopathology,” in a more psychiatric sense, is to me less useful than “problematic behavioral syndromes,” with the etiology of those being mostly individual learning or conditioning.  Exceptions include some clear organically based psychosis such as schizophrenia and psychopaths (Hare et al).

Do you mean to imply that a valuable treatment is available for psychopathy and schizophrenia other than brain-deadening meds? I have a feeling I’m not understanding you here, Dennis.

Dennis Campbell - 10 January 2012 02:12 PM

6.  Psychology studies behavior, with any other process such as “thinking,” thoughts, feelings, etc., being at best inferred constructs.  It does not, as a primary focus, study emotions, thoughts, insight, choice and a host of other constructs whose existence is dependent on and inferred by observed behavior.  That is not to say such a tem as “unconditional love” is useless, it is to say that such terms are operationally defined by observed behavior, and not just by verbal claims.

Whose domain is it if not that of psychology?

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Posted: 10 January 2012 07:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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nv - 10 January 2012 06:59 PM
Dennis Campbell - 10 January 2012 02:12 PM

. . .

4.  People’s behavior is more predictable in association with such non-cognitive objective variables such as economic level, education, the religious affiliation of their parents, gender, age; occupational history, where they live, etc.

More than what?

Dennis Campbell - 10 January 2012 02:12 PM

5.  “Psychopathology,” in a more psychiatric sense, is to me less useful than “problematic behavioral syndromes,” with the etiology of those being mostly individual learning or conditioning.  Exceptions include some clear organically based psychosis such as schizophrenia and psychopaths (Hare et al).

Do you mean to imply that a valuable treatment is available for psychopathy and schizophrenia other than brain-deadening meds? I have a feeling I’m not understanding you here, Dennis.

Dennis Campbell - 10 January 2012 02:12 PM

6.  Psychology studies behavior, with any other process such as “thinking,” thoughts, feelings, etc., being at best inferred constructs.  It does not, as a primary focus, study emotions, thoughts, insight, choice and a host of other constructs whose existence is dependent on and inferred by observed behavior.  That is not to say such a tem as “unconditional love” is useless, it is to say that such terms are operationally defined by observed behavior, and not just by verbal claims.

Whose domain is it if not that of psychology?

Re# 4, more predictive than posited internal factors.

Re#5, no implication re treatment, sometimes meds is the best we have, but am inclined towards behavior modification approaches when that is in fact available.

Re#6, not a focus of behavioral psychology directly.  All those constructs are inferred from observed behavior, unless and until they can be observed otherwise

Understand that I’m not proposing some limits on psychology in general, more my constraints.  But any approach must have clear objective referents, and too much of what passes as psychology does not have that.

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Posted: 10 January 2012 08:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Well, this is the reason I think an eclectic approach is more useful, not to detract from the value of your discipline’s contribution at all. The various schools of thought for some reason continue to want to box themselves in while not crediting other proven approaches as well. It’s okay to specialize, but this has been going on forever, like the Hatfields and the McCoys kind of thing. I think science should leave that kind of thing to philosophy because in the meantime, whole fields are branching out. Learning more about how the unconscious and conscious processes of the brain work together and how we behave as a result would seem to me to be a combination of behaviorism and cognitivism.

With regard to verbal reports, you’re an expert on psychometrics, especially, I assume, the MMPI, you also must have administered and interpreted thousands. You can’t even hardly get a job anymore without taking a fucking personality test [I took another one today]. As long as there are questions to be answered and correlations can be established, psychologists are going to try to develop valid instruments to measure them.

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Posted: 10 January 2012 08:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I am not arguing some ideology here, just advancing some parameters that constrain my thinking as a psychologist.  As a human being, replete with all the usual biases bestowed on most, people like BM remain as basically empty people whose only sense of personal significance relates to his desperate claim to be one of his god’s recipients of truth and value; and in that claimed role, he has to denigrate anyone whose beliefs differ from his.  Other than his claimed interpretation of religion, he has never posted anything of note here.  Or, some angry wanna-be intellectual like JayD., who can only seek to denigrate or threaten others via posted script, while posting nothing of his own.  Reminds me of other folks I’ve met, usually in prison, who behaved the same way. 

Again, I’m not proposing some ideology.  Behavioral psychology has many problems, among them any appreciation of genetics and neurophysiology.

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Religion is good for one thing: making you feel better while someone else rules you.  Religion is more a reflection than a cause of conflicts. The causes lie in conflicting cultural mores and traits.

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Posted: 10 January 2012 09:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Answerer - 10 January 2012 08:55 PM

With regard to verbal reports, you’re an expert on psychometrics, especially, I assume, the MMPI, you also must have administered and interpreted thousands. You can’t even hardly get a job anymore without taking a fucking personality test [I took another one today]. As long as there are questions to be answered and correlations can be established, psychologists are going to try to develop valid instruments to measure them.

Not thousands but a few hundred.  They may or may not have any useful predictive validity.  Did do some work with the MMPI with employees of nuclear power plants.  Did also recommend several to be unemployed from their jobs.  Sorry, the public interest exceeded any likely error in doing so.  One fellow, whom I’d had canned because his control over his emotions was too poor, showed up a week later in my clinic threatening to kill me.  Cops had to come in. Point made.

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Posted: 10 January 2012 09:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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For #10 I think it is more akin to quantum mechanics then astronomy. My $0.02 anyway.

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Posted: 10 January 2012 09:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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GAD - 10 January 2012 09:06 PM

For #10 I think it is more akin to quantum mechanics then astronomy. My $0.02 anyway.

You may be overpriced, but agree that psychology is nowhere near as precise as astronomy.  Poor comparison on my part.

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Posted: 10 January 2012 10:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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My Psych prof claimed that Behavioral psychology was the only branch in the field that showed a significant result in predicting or influencing the behavior of patients. I only have a BA in psychology and have never worked in the field, however, as I progressed through my studies, I went from thinking that B F Skinner was a sadistic nut to believing that he was one of the few in the field that was was actually practicing hard science.

I am curious to know, as a psychologist, do you believe that people have free will? If so, do you have a working model of how it is possible? And, do you attempt to modify behavior through cognitive processes or simply by providing practical tasks and goals to be met?

What do you believe is the basis of human motivation?

I agree with your statements about psychology.  I rarely get the chance to speak to someone in the field about their personal belief system. I wish more people were willing to put themselves out in this manner. Thank you for the posting.

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Posted: 11 January 2012 05:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Dennis Campbell - 10 January 2012 08:56 PM

Or, some angry wanna-be intellectual like JayD., who can only seek to denigrate or threaten others via posted script, while posting nothing of his own.  Reminds me of other folks I’ve met, usually in prison, who behaved the same way. 

I don’t post insults very often. This is an insult.

As for not posting anything of my own material…I seem to remember recently describing a method, realizable by current technology, to communicate long distance much more effectively than through radio waves. This has a possible application to SETI. What have you posted on this website that come anywhere close to being so important and original a contribution to science?

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Posted: 11 January 2012 06:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Cole! - 10 January 2012 10:23 PM

I went from thinking that B F Skinner was a sadistic nut to believing that he was one of the few in the field that was was actually practicing hard science.


That’s not really a “from-to” or “either-or” spectrum though.

Could easily be both ... eh?

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“Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment.  Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.”—Albert Einstein

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Posted: 11 January 2012 07:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Cole! - 10 January 2012 10:23 PM

My Psych prof claimed that Behavioral psychology was the only branch in the field that showed a significant result in predicting or influencing the behavior of patients. I only have a BA in psychology and have never worked in the field, however, as I progressed through my studies, I went from thinking that B F Skinner was a sadistic nut to believing that he was one of the few in the field that was was actually practicing hard science.

I am curious to know, as a psychologist, do you believe that people have free will? If so, do you have a working model of how it is possible? And, do you attempt to modify behavior through cognitive processes or simply by providing practical tasks and goals to be met?

What do you believe is the basis of human motivation?

I agree with your statements about psychology.  I rarely get the chance to speak to someone in the field about their personal belief system. I wish more people were willing to put themselves out in this manner. Thank you for the posting.

Odd, same thing happened to me: went from thinking Skinner (who I’ve met) was a “bad guy,” while Rogers was a saint to a much more SOR approach, not just SR.

“Free Will” is one of those annoying ideas that has little place if any in science, but it is nevertheless a critical implication in western cultures: we tend to think we can indeed make our world a better place for us, that we’re not stuck just submitting to fate, destiny or god’s will as articulated by men in robes.  And we did.  No religion has contributed to scientific advances, and most have fought against them.  So yes, I subscribe to the idea that within a quite constrained range, we do have some choice options, or “Free Will,” if you wish.  The “Degrees of Freedom” within which we have those choices are few, but they exist.  Between genetics, conditioning, neurological functioning and social influences, none of which are subject to our choice, almost all of human behavior can be explained; but there remains(?) some choice options.  A retarded person cannot choose to become a brain surgeon, but does have some options shy of that. 

I don’t tell a patient, “well, you’re stuck with your miserable life, so suck it up,” but there are many folks for whom there’s few choices available.  Part the therapy job is exploring what those might be and encouraging the person to consider them.  Behavior modification is more applicable when (1) you have considerable control over someone’s environment, (2) they’re really constrained in terms of those degrees of freedom (retarded, inmates in prisons), and (3) the target behaviors are pretty concrete. 

The basis for human behavior?  To feel better.

There are a number of issues that may apply in a relationship between a clinical psychologist and a client or patient: management, change, risk assessment; evaluation, support, etc.  Sometimes one or more of these dominate.  Depending on the particular situation, then the “therapy approach” varies; in a good many cases, therapy as a change attempt, may not apply at all.  If and when therapy has some useful results, it is usually when the patient is fairly independent, assertive, and risk-raking; and less so when the person is dependent, avoidant, risk-averse and passive.

[ Edited: 11 January 2012 08:47 AM by Dennis Campbell ]
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Posted: 11 January 2012 08:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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JayD - 11 January 2012 05:50 AM

As for not posting anything of my own material…I seem to remember recently describing a method, realizable by current technology, to communicate long distance much more effectively than through radio waves. This has a possible application to SETI. What have you posted on this website that come anywhere close to being so important and original a contribution to science?

Oh no you didn’t.

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Posted: 11 January 2012 12:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Oh yes I did! (Let’s keep going, as if we’re in a pantomime. Trample right over the thread. I can just imagine the look on the old man’s face.)

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Posted: 11 January 2012 02:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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GAD - 11 January 2012 08:07 AM
JayD - 11 January 2012 05:50 AM

As for not posting anything of my own material…I seem to remember recently describing a method, realizable by current technology, to communicate long distance much more effectively than through radio waves. This has a possible application to SETI. What have you posted on this website that come anywhere close to being so important and original a contribution to science?

Oh no you didn’t.

Gad,

JayD is a bottom feeder living on the droplets sinking down from above.  If he gets above the water level, he explodes, having no sufficient parameters of his own.

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Religion is good for one thing: making you feel better while someone else rules you.  Religion is more a reflection than a cause of conflicts. The causes lie in conflicting cultural mores and traits.

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Posted: 11 January 2012 02:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Dennis, Dennis…posting something “of note” is in the eye of the beholder of the post. How are you missing this simple notion with all your psychological babbling?

Furthermore, this is a secular website that promotes atheism and the demolishing of religion. And I am a person who spent years studying philosophy and theology, and a person who was fortunate enough to experience a mystical life.

Not one person on Project Reason has these credentials. And, to top it off, not one person on Project Reason values these credentials.

In fact, most people on Project Reason came here to show off how smart they are because they are opinionated with certitude.

So for you to make a grandiose psychological diagnosis of me as “empty” because I do not socialize with you intellectual frauds is meaningless and self-serving.

And don’t think for a moment that your underlying attempt in your silly psychological babble above to degrade me and anyone else who has challenged your “brilliance” went unnoticed.

You are a case study in self-centered importance as a destructive element in a person’s life.

You are not “empty”, but only because you are full of shit.

And, from where I sit, your posts, all 8,467 (and counting) of them, are nothing of note, you old coot.

So, in conclusion, my diagnosis of the situation between us is that, like David Ruffin told the other Temptations when they kicked him out of the group, “You can’t do it like I do”; and it’s driving you insane with confusion and hatred.

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Posted: 11 January 2012 02:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Wow, 8,474 already! What a self-important fool.

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Posted: 11 January 2012 02:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Wait, he’s stuck on 8,474. Maybe God is putting a mathematical stop to him.

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What this country needs is a man who knows God other than by hearsay. Thomas Carlyle

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Posted: 11 January 2012 03:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Dennis Campbell - 11 January 2012 02:38 PM

Gad,

JayD is a bottom feeder living on the droplets sinking down from above.  If he gets above the water level, he explodes, having no sufficient parameters of his own.

And yet you’re the one who feels the need to resort to extreme personal insults. All I did was call you Campbell’s Chicken Soup, say that I’m better than you (which is the truth), and tear apart your stupid little “parameters from a professional psychologist”.

Feeling insecure, Campbell? If not, why so touchy?

Physician, heal thyself.

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Posted: 11 January 2012 03:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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JayD - 11 January 2012 12:14 PM

Oh yes I did! (Let’s keep going, as if we’re in a pantomime. Trample right over the thread. I can just imagine the look on the old man’s face.)

What you pulled out of your ass is called shit not science.

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Posted: 11 January 2012 03:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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I didn’t pull it out of my ass, though. The fact is that EM waves only have a limited range. Haphazardly throwing objects into space also has a limited range. Long distance communication is a non-trivial problem, which hasn’t been sufficiently recognized. Even drawing attention to this problem is an original contribution, more important than anything that Dennis Campbell has posted. Of course, I’m just putting out my idea. I don’t expect anybody to listen. It’s an unfortunate truth that most people require an imprinteur of authority, like a “peer-reviewed study”, before they pay any attention to an idea.

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Posted: 11 January 2012 03:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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JayD - 11 January 2012 03:29 PM

I didn’t pull it out of my ass, though. The fact is that EM waves only have a limited range. Haphazardly throwing objects into space also has a limited range. Long distance communication is a non-trivial problem, which hasn’t been sufficiently recognized. Even drawing attention to this problem is an original contribution, more important than anything that Dennis Campbell has posted. Of course, I’m just putting out my idea. I don’t expect anybody to listen. It’s an unfortunate truth that most people require an imprinteur of authority, like a “peer-reviewed study”, before they pay any attention to an idea.

Right.  It is a pity and shame that woo artists aren’t given the stage on which to perform without audience reaction.

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Posted: 11 January 2012 03:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Really, Campbell? So do tell: on what technical grounds do you consider any of my above statements to amount to woo?

If you need to use equations, feel free to write Latex code.

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Posted: 11 January 2012 04:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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JayD - 11 January 2012 03:29 PM

I didn’t pull it out of my ass, though. The fact is that EM waves only have a limited range. Haphazardly throwing objects into space also has a limited range. Long distance communication is a non-trivial problem, which hasn’t been sufficiently recognized. Even drawing attention to this problem is an original contribution, more important than anything that Dennis Campbell has posted. Of course, I’m just putting out my idea. I don’t expect anybody to listen. It’s an unfortunate truth that most people require an imprinteur of authority, like a “peer-reviewed study”, before they pay any attention to an idea.

That’s like saying that breathing underwater is a non-trivial problem, which hasn’t been sufficiently recognized.

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Why is there Something instead of Nothing: No reason or ever knowable reason.

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Posted: 11 January 2012 04:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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GAD - 11 January 2012 04:06 PM
JayD - 11 January 2012 03:29 PM

I didn’t pull it out of my ass, though. The fact is that EM waves only have a limited range. Haphazardly throwing objects into space also has a limited range. Long distance communication is a non-trivial problem, which hasn’t been sufficiently recognized. Even drawing attention to this problem is an original contribution, more important than anything that Dennis Campbell has posted. Of course, I’m just putting out my idea. I don’t expect anybody to listen. It’s an unfortunate truth that most people require an imprinteur of authority, like a “peer-reviewed study”, before they pay any attention to an idea.

That’s like saying that breathing underwater is a non-trivial problem, which hasn’t been sufficiently recognized.

Or, ESP beats EM.  None of which has anything to do with this thread, apart from a wanna-be trying to get on stage.

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