To the thought of belief, one asks the question, what is it? This is the basis of understanding, but it is also beneath any who already understand what belief is. I will define it anyway, so we have a common ground for the following digression.
"Belief" is the continuing sustenance of a particular thought which founds one's action.
To wit: if one believes that Earth is alive as any being, conscious and able to communicate with others, one will act in a manner which implies this belief is true. If one believes that abortion (to be controversial) is evil, then one will act in a manner which implies this belief is true. This says nothing of whether these beliefs are objectively true, but rather concerning the thoughts on which a person founds their actions.
If we found our beliefs only on what we have absorbed unexamined, we will end up a mass of social conflicts. If we search for answers and only find them from a single source, we have a bias which is in conflict with scientific method. The reason for this conflict is that we do not have any visible means of disproving the theorems we are given, no source or information to say against what we are told. This is important mostly in the realm of social sciences and politics, where discourse primarily runs along the lines of personal affiliation with one's sociopolitical tribe.
When we observe a difference between belief and evidence, it is easier to dislodge such beliefs as are erroneous, but humans have a behavior which is self-preservational in nature: we cling to things which have preserved us in the past. If we give up a particular behavior founded on a certain belief (false or otherwise), we may be hounded by those individuals around us who still firmly act on that belief. The rejection is a tribal act, preserving the family of belief which defines that tribe or cultural group.
Putting this in the realm of material good, one must ask, "How does this knowledge aid me?"
In the obvious case, one may examine a belief alien to oneself by accepting that it is a tribal affiliation, and that not being of that tribe, one must consider anthropological science to be useful. Meaning, in order to not immediately reject the belief, one places it in the group of "cultural artefacts" and then examines it from the outside. This is useful even with one's own internalized beliefs, because when seen from an external, or at least hopefully objective, point of view, many beliefs become seen as uninformed or received without personal experience.
In a less obvious case, one may counter assault from external beliefs by stating "the tribe is not my enemy". One's one, or another's, the tribe is not your enemy, but rather your environment. Thus belief, enforced by the tribe, is an environmental effect: the tribe would reject someone if they chose to express a different belief or different behavior. This can help explain, for example, why police do not speak out about harmful actors among their ranks. The tribe would reject them, and these individuals who would prefer to speak out would then be subject to harmful behaviors meant to keep them in line and supportive of the in-group.
There are other cases where the preceding information is useful to personal survival and daily life; but I leave that for now to the student to research.
Let's move on to the question of belief faced with the scientific method.
It is guaranteed that one will, in a pluralistic society where many cultures have intermixed, be faced with at least one challenge to one's personal beliefs. Most consider this trivially, and act as their instinct requires: some will give initial consideration to the presented idea(s), others will reject it/them outright and perhaps later consider by absorption. The temptation is to project one's beliefs loudly and with emphasis, in a continuous manner; the result of that is for others to build a wall of defense against the noise and continue on, until having absorbed enough of the idea they begin to melt into it and combine it with their older ideas. This "melting" is typically a generational effect, though wise elders occasionally know enough to consider the new culture and whether it has value in addition to their older beliefs (and traditions).
Every culture faced with another eventually considers themselves under assault. It is a common defense of tribe, and it is human instinct. It is also false.
If one considers the scientific method, the pattern of action is this: form a model of competition, in which one idea is weighed against the other. The error is usually this: consider these ideas in direct conflict with each other, and weigh the arguments and counter-arguments as leverage like wrestlers; one then declares the winner the idea which has more leverage and can crush its opponent.
To correct this error, do not attack the idea on its face, but on its evidence. Place the evidence in competition, to see which model is more accurate. And consider a third option, that neither model is fully accurate. This will give a more successful test of ideas which are in conflict between cultural groups.
In fact, most cultural groups are never in conflict except where they have absorbed the idea that they must be at war for dominance in some area. The perception is that there is only so much mindshare that exists, and each human must commit to a single tribe. In pluralistic societies, this is patently false; each human has many tribes of belief which they can commit to, and a single environmental tribe which they commit to by default (that is, because they have formed relationships to which they are committed in some way). That environment in a global culture (such as by Internet or other means of large-area communications such as fast travel) may consist of spaces which are non-physical but which put people in contact with each other, as well as spaces which are physical but disconnected in some way (workspaces and homes, immediate neighbors and school buildings in larger districts). Even so, the tribe to which one belongs by environment and relationship may contain many tribes of belief.
All tribes of belief are only in conflict when their ideas are in direct conflict: For and against something, or desiring specific but differing uses for a limited resource. As one example which I have personally experienced, the conversation on "how to help poor and homeless persons" typically involves little data or experimentation to set up and acquire functional statistical models, and instead is focused on arguments of idea in theory rather than in practice. Yet the practice is implemented based on theory, without clear evidence one way or another; only personal experience is allowed.
So we come to the limitation of science as a method: when personal experience is the only knowledge, no statistical evidence is available for deciding one idea or another is better. If this happens, one defaults to the belief-in-place, having no evidence against (except occasionally an inner voice or hunch suggesting there is better to be had). This is the same situation as the single source for belief previously mentioned, where only one tribe is present in a person's world.
Having discussed these things, why then would I consider myself psychic, and say that I channel various entities (or myself in some "higher" state of being)?
One could go with the idea that it is a scam. There is no evidence against if one discounts anyone receiving a psychic reading with joy and claims of accuracy.
One could go with the idea that it is real. There is no evidence against if one discounts external skepticism.
The third option is that neither is true.
The fourth option is that both are true simultaneously.
So: Do I behave as if I am scamming? Am I undertaking to gain materially from this work? I do not believe so.
Do I behave as if I believe deeply? Certainly! But doubtful persons would say "Of course they do! All scammers sell hard!"
So the evidence must be looked for elsewhere, in the results of my work.
This is the final means of testing belief:
By their fruits you shall know them.
This channeling is finished.
This entry was originally posted at http://zeeth-kyrah.dreamwidth.org/15783.h