From Author Howard Jones

I have been a member of the Academy for Spiritual and Consciousness Studies for several years now and have written several articles both for their Journal and for their magazine, Searchlight.
I have been a member of the Alister Hardy Society for the Study of Spiritual Experience for three decades and have given many lectures at Lampeter, where the AHSSE is now based.
I have given four hour-long interviews on radio in North America and two shorter interviews on radio in the U.K.
My (positive!!) reviews of several of Michael Tymn's books (and many others dealing with spirituality, religion and the afterlife) have been published on Amazon.
I have written many other articles published in various magazines in U.K., India and the U.S.
If you would like to know more about my work, you can find full details of my four books on Science and Spirituality (with synopses and reviews) and postings of many of my articles on my website: http://www.spiritofoneness.co.uk/

From Nate Cull

Hi Michael. I came across this blog post today in my Twitter feed which
reminded me of your questions about Wikipedia.

http://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=1820

The author, a computer scientist, is talking about applying Google's
'Page Rank' algorithm to a very simple simulation of society (the
'Prisoner's Dilemma', a famous thought experiment and simulation with
implications for both morality and economics -
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisoner%27s_dilemma )

The author simulates two different moral codes - Moses' 'do unto others
as they do unto you' and Jesus' 'do unto others as you would have them
do unto you' and does a little bit of mathematics (roughly, taking into
account how 'nice' each actor is to every other actor) to come up with
final 'morality scores' for various strategies.

Is it more moral to do good to people who do evil, or to do evil to
them? Moses might say that the first (do good to those who do evil) is
actually to help evil, and so is the same as taking part in evil. Jesus
might argue that doing good is aways good in itself. Of course the
computer simulation can't tell us which morality - Moses' or Jesus' - is
actually correct, but it can suggest how we could apply these respective
moral codes. (Though as a simulation, it's very simplistic and makes a
lot of assumptions which aren't true in real life.)

The author then this fairly simple mathematical principle to think not
so much about morality but about _how much to trust various experts in
science and on the Internet_. And that's where this starts to get
interesting, not for the research itself, but for the attitudes this
blog reveals.

One of the problems the readers point out in this computer simulation is
that - like Google itself - it can often come back with the answer that
the 'moral' action is just what the largest social group does. The
author notes that this is a problem, but then goes on to make the same
mistake himself.

The author and his readers all seem to assume when they're talking about
trusting experts - pretty much a priori - that subjects like psi are
'untrustworthy' and that anyone who talks about this on the internet is
of course a 'pseudoscientist' and not to be trusted, _regardless of how
trusted as experts they are in other fields_. And they regard any
computer program which gives a different result than this as being
self-evidently wrong. Having made this assumption, they then confidently
talk about how a computer program which gave the 'right' answer could
then solve all the world's confusions about morality, truth and trust.

I find this rather sad, but it is an example of the current state of
affairs in the sciences, particularly among computer scientists who are
a 'fan of science' in general but haven't themselves done any research
into psi or anomalies. Rather, they take their view of what science is
'trustworthy' or not from exactly the sort of 'reputation metric' that
Google uses: based on how loudly people who argue about something make
their case, and how many people they know and respect in their
particular social circles seem to agree.

Because it's not socially fashionable in computer science to believe in
psi, computer scientists (the type of person who is most likely to edit
Wikipedia) believe that their own belief - which they assume is correct
precisely because it follows the current fashion - was arrived at
logically. Even though it wasn't.

It's very hard to argue logically against this discrimination against
psi because it isn't a logical argument in the first place - it's a
social one. And we see this because the anti-psi brigade constantly use
social weapons - shaming and ridicule - rather than logical ones, such
as examining the evidence.

Regards, Nate