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Author Topic:   The Power of Belief
Dogmafood
Member (Idle past 325 days)
Posts: 1815
From: Ontario Canada
Joined: 08-04-2010


Message 1 of 61 (666142)
06-22-2012 7:27 AM


What is the power and extent of the effect of positive thinking on your reality?

It is clear to me that if I believe something with enough conviction that I can make it so. If I believe that I can fly it does not mean that I can jump from the building and fly with my arms. However, if I believe it with enough conviction then it does mean that I will eventually figure out how to build a plane. Conversely, if I believe that there is no way to fly then it is unlikely that I will ever build a plane. I am not suggesting that my belief in being able to fly has any effect on the laws of aerodynamics but it does effect the chances of the plane being built.

Two people are diagnosed with cancer and told they have only months to live. One of them spirals down in a cloud of depression and dies within a couple of months. The other goes into overdrive of positive thinking and attacks his illness with every fibre of his being and lives for another 10 yrs. Is this a contrived example or do things like this actually happen?

How would you define the extent of your ability to effect the nature of your reality simply by adjusting your opinion of it?

I envision this topic being promoted in the faith and belief forum.


Replies to this message:
 Message 3 by Panda, posted 06-22-2012 1:06 PM Dogmafood has replied
 Message 4 by Modulous, posted 06-22-2012 1:36 PM Dogmafood has replied
 Message 7 by nwr, posted 06-22-2012 5:19 PM Dogmafood has replied
 Message 9 by Dr Adequate, posted 06-23-2012 9:39 AM Dogmafood has replied
 Message 47 by 1.61803, posted 07-03-2012 4:55 PM Dogmafood has replied
 Message 54 by Phat, posted 07-09-2012 1:05 PM Dogmafood has replied

  
AdminModulous
Administrator (Idle past 1335 days)
Posts: 897
Joined: 03-02-2006


Message 2 of 61 (666144)
06-22-2012 12:20 PM


Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread copied here from the The Power of Belief thread in the Proposed New Topics forum.

  
Panda
Member (Idle past 2944 days)
Posts: 2688
From: UK
Joined: 10-04-2010


Message 3 of 61 (666145)
06-22-2012 1:06 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Dogmafood
06-22-2012 7:27 AM


Connected
Are you suggesting that there is an inevitability to achieving something if you wish hard enough for it?
That enough commitment will guarantee a particular result?

Edited by Panda, : No reason given.


CRYSTALS!!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Dogmafood, posted 06-22-2012 7:27 AM Dogmafood has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 10 by Dogmafood, posted 06-24-2012 12:16 AM Panda has replied

  
Modulous
Member (Idle past 1335 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


(2)
Message 4 of 61 (666148)
06-22-2012 1:36 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Dogmafood
06-22-2012 7:27 AM


It is clear to me that if I believe something with enough conviction that I can make it so. If I believe that I can fly it does not mean that I can jump from the building and fly with my arms. However, if I believe it with enough conviction then it does mean that I will eventually figure out how to build a plane.

There are two significant problems with this:

1. The thing you believe with conviction may simply have no technological solution. For instance: Perpetual motion or FTL travel. These may have have a solution or not. No amount of belief will change the universe so that it becomes possible.

2. The thing you believe may have a technological solution, but no amount of belief will get you there. Jesus may have believed he could fly to the moon, but human knowledge and resources pretty much made doing so impossible regardless. Even if he worked really hard and figured out Newton's Laws of Motion, he'd still have to figure out something like Ammonium Perchlorate Composite Propellant and find a way to produce enough of it.

Conversely, if I believe that there is no way to fly then it is unlikely that I will ever build a plane. I am not suggesting that my belief in being able to fly has any effect on the laws of aerodynamics but it does effect the chances of the plane being built.

I agree that believing in something is useful. A lot of the time something new is invented and the inventor believed in it ahead of time. And that certainly helps in overcoming the psychological tendency to give up when presented with seemingly intractable problems.

However, nobody had to believe that we could see a person's bones without injury or surgery in order for Roentgen to discover a way to do exactly that.

And one might be compelled to work on a project beyond your belief in it. You might be doing it for a living, an engineer in an army being told to work on a new siege engine. Or an act of desperation, you don't believe it will work but it's all you have to go on. The Power of Motivation - which includes the motivation generated by belief.

Two people are diagnosed with cancer and told they have only months to live. One of them spirals down in a cloud of depression and dies within a couple of months. The other goes into overdrive of positive thinking and attacks his illness with every fibre of his being and lives for another 10 yrs. Is this a contrived example or do things like this actually happen?

It does happen, but so does the exact opposite. What is important in this kind of thing is large numbers of examples and statistics. I've seen studies that swing both ways regarding the efficacy of 'positive thinking', but I'm prepared to believe that occasional people have a cancer that can be beaten with whatever it's being treated with coupled with a positive outlook. Or that a negative outlook is occasionally enough to push someone away from surviving.

How would you define the extent of your ability to effect the nature of your reality simply by adjusting your opinion of it?

I'd like to point out the curious term 'your reality'. I don't have a reality. I have a model of reality. Reality is just what is and this cannot be altered based on my opinion of it.

But my worldview is largely dependent on my opinion of it. I change my model of reality as my opinion on what is the better model of reality changes (give or take the inherent irrationalities of being human).

However, if something is possible, and you have sufficient belief in it, you might have the tenacity required to realize that possibility. And this is probably a better way than relying on accidentally discovering things through undirected experimentation in many cases.

And this applies even in more run of the mill lives: If I don't believe I can get a job I probably won't apply for it. But I can't get it if I don't apply for it.

Not having a belief in something is sometimes a good thing though. If I believe in Time Cube, but if I invested time in trying to prove it - I'm guessing that's an investment that's going to be wasted.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Dogmafood, posted 06-22-2012 7:27 AM Dogmafood has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 11 by Dogmafood, posted 06-24-2012 12:17 AM Modulous has replied

  
Tangle
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Posts: 8482
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 5 of 61 (666151)
06-22-2012 2:54 PM


Well we do know that the placebo effect is real.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Placebo

But in business the positive thinking thing is often a big warning sign - it's normally an indication of the delusional. We constantly hear of people who have battled against all the odds to pull off something they really believed in but those that fail are never reported; and they're the majority.

People seem to think that if they believe in something it'll happen and if I hear the word 'passion' when applied to business, I run a mile. I'd much prefer to hear a business case put by a balanced realist than someone who has a bloody dream.


Life, don't talk to me about life - Marvin the Paranoid Android

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ringo
Member
Posts: 19519
From: frozen wasteland
Joined: 03-23-2005
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 6 of 61 (666153)
06-22-2012 4:02 PM


There used to be a TV show called Fear Factor. At the beginning, the contestants would usually brag about how competitive they were. They seemed to believe that they could win just by believing harder than the rest.

My reaction was (yelling at the TV), "But can you do anything?" Often the most "competitive" would answer my question by doing a face plant in the first few minutes.

I'm a firm believer in setting goals that are difficult to achieve - but they do have to be attainable goals.


  
nwr
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Posts: 5971
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
Member Rating: 3.2


Message 7 of 61 (666155)
06-22-2012 5:19 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Dogmafood
06-22-2012 7:27 AM


What is the power and extent of the effect of positive thinking on your reality?

If you are trying to achieve something that is not empirically verifiable, then that belief can be very effective in achieving the goal.

It is either believe that you have achieved that unverifiable goal, or admit that you were a damn fool. And nobody want's to admit to being a damn fool.

Religion's claims are mostly about achievements that cannot be empirically verified.


Jesus was a liberal hippie

This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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Minnemooseus
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From: Duluth, Minnesota, U.S. (West end of Lake Superior)
Joined: 11-11-2001
Member Rating: 2.5


(1)
Message 8 of 61 (666159)
06-22-2012 7:31 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by Tangle
06-22-2012 2:54 PM


The "positive thinking to rational analysis" continuum
But in business the positive thinking thing is often a big warning sign - it's normally an indication of the delusional.

People seem to think that if they believe in something it'll happen...

Pretty much why the current economic mess happened.

Perhaps the bad to good hierarchy is:

1) Positive thinking.

2) Common sense.

3) Rational analysis.

Or at least temper (1) with (2) and (3).

Moose


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Dr Adequate
Member (Idle past 282 days)
Posts: 16112
Joined: 07-20-2006


Message 9 of 61 (666177)
06-23-2012 9:39 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Dogmafood
06-22-2012 7:27 AM


It is clear to me that if I believe something with enough conviction that I can make it so.

I believe with total conviction that this post will persuade you that you're wrong.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Dogmafood, posted 06-22-2012 7:27 AM Dogmafood has replied

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Dogmafood
Member (Idle past 325 days)
Posts: 1815
From: Ontario Canada
Joined: 08-04-2010


Message 10 of 61 (666200)
06-24-2012 12:16 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by Panda
06-22-2012 1:06 PM


Re: Connected
Are you suggesting that there is an inevitability to achieving something if you wish hard enough for it?
That enough commitment will guarantee a particular result?

No. Nothing as strong as 'inevitability' and you have to do more than wish for it. I am not saying that anything is immediately possible. Obviously not everything that we can imagine doing is possible to do, right now. But what is completely and eternally impossible to do?

Down at the obvious end of the scale, my confidence in my ability to do a thing can have a large impact on my actual ability to do a thing. Say there is a tree to be climbed and 2 guys to climb it. One of them scurries up and down the tree no problem. The other is afraid of heights, makes it half way up and then falls because he is racked with fear. The successful climber succeeded solely because of his confidence in his ability. The crippled guy failed because of his lack of confidence.

At the other end of the scale, say we wanted to eradicate all of the armies in the world. Impossible right? Now if every person in the world decided that they wanted to eradicate all of the armies would it still be impossible?


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Dogmafood
Member (Idle past 325 days)
Posts: 1815
From: Ontario Canada
Joined: 08-04-2010


Message 11 of 61 (666201)
06-24-2012 12:17 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by Modulous
06-22-2012 1:36 PM


Thanks for the reply Modulus, much food for thought.

I'd like to point out the curious term 'your reality'. I don't have a reality. I have a model of reality. Reality is just what is and this cannot be altered based on my opinion of it.

There is the set of all possible realities. The one that you inhabit is, to some degree, dependant on your state of mind. You are able to take actions that will change your future reality. There are limits to what you can do but are there limits to what can be done? I want to say that you can't do everything but everything can be done and it all starts with, and is dependant on, the thought that you can do it.

Flying to the moon was impossible for Jules Verne but it wasn't impossible and didn't he have something to do with somebody actually getting there?


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 Message 4 by Modulous, posted 06-22-2012 1:36 PM Modulous has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 15 by Modulous, posted 06-24-2012 9:50 AM Dogmafood has replied
 Message 17 by ringo, posted 06-24-2012 4:23 PM Dogmafood has replied

  
Dogmafood
Member (Idle past 325 days)
Posts: 1815
From: Ontario Canada
Joined: 08-04-2010


Message 12 of 61 (666202)
06-24-2012 12:17 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by nwr
06-22-2012 5:19 PM


Religion's claims are mostly about achievements that cannot be empirically verified.

I am only talking about real things but I would include the intangible benefits of religious belief in a list of real things.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by nwr, posted 06-22-2012 5:19 PM nwr has seen this message

  
Dogmafood
Member (Idle past 325 days)
Posts: 1815
From: Ontario Canada
Joined: 08-04-2010


Message 13 of 61 (666203)
06-24-2012 12:17 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by Dr Adequate
06-23-2012 9:39 AM


I believe with total conviction that this post will persuade you that you're wrong.

Fucking brilliant! One of us must not be a true believer.

No, there are lots of loop holes in this theory but I believe that they can all be closed by adjusting my perspective.


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Panda
Member (Idle past 2944 days)
Posts: 2688
From: UK
Joined: 10-04-2010


Message 14 of 61 (666208)
06-24-2012 8:24 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by Dogmafood
06-24-2012 12:16 AM


Re: Connected
Hi, DF

Dogmafood writes:

I am not saying that anything is immediately possible. Obviously not everything that we can imagine doing is possible to do, right now. But what is completely and eternally impossible to do?


Well, since I am not eternal , that seems an irrelevant question.
The list of things that are completely impossible for me to do is quite large - no amount of wishing will change that.

(Granted, the odds of me going to the Moon is greatly increased by me 'wishing' to go to the Moon.
But I don't think that is what you are talking about.)

Dogmafood writes:

Down at the obvious end of the scale, my confidence in my ability to do a thing can have a large impact on my actual ability to do a thing. Say there is a tree to be climbed and 2 guys to climb it. One of them scurries up and down the tree no problem. The other is afraid of heights, makes it half way up and then falls because he is racked with fear. The successful climber succeeded solely because of his confidence in his ability. The crippled guy failed because of his lack of confidence.


But that sounds like the sharp shooter fallacy.
What would you have said if the climber with vertigo had successfully climbed the tree?
What would you have said if the confident climber had fallen from the tree?
(And as a successful climber that suffers from vertigo, I know that "The successful climber succeeded solely because of his confidence in his ability" is not true. )

I think that the problem with your theory is that it doesn't make any real predictions and it is unfalsifiable.
At best you are left with the vague claim that a confident attitude might have a positive (but unspecific) affect on some aspect of your life.

tbh: I am having trouble differentiating between your idea and confirmation bias.

Perhaps this example might explain the problems I have with your idea:
In the Olympics there is the 100m event where the fastest athletes compete for gold.
They are all 100% dedicated and driven and confident.
So why doesn't the race end in a draw?


CRYSTALS!!

This message is a reply to:
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Modulous
Member (Idle past 1335 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 15 of 61 (666209)
06-24-2012 9:50 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by Dogmafood
06-24-2012 12:17 AM


There is the set of all possible realities. The one that you inhabit is, to some degree, dependant on your state of mind.

The one I think I inhabit is dependent on my state of mind. The one I actually inhabit is completely independent of my state of mind.

You are able to take actions that will change your future reality

You can't change the future. It's as impossible as changing the past.

All you can do is take actions that will alter your predictions about the future.

There are limits to what you can do but are there limits to what can be done? I want to say that you can't do everything but everything can be done and it all starts with, and is dependant on, the thought that you can do it.

I point back at some of the potential counter examples I raised before: FTL, perpetual motion and seeing bones under skin and flesh.

Flying to the moon was impossible for Jules Verne but it wasn't impossible and didn't he have something to do with somebody actually getting there?

The point was, it doesn't matter how much Jules Verne believed, he wasn't getting to the moon. We both agree that belief has utility.

But some people believe things and no matter how strongly they believe it, they are never going to achieve it. This is in contrast to your OP

quote:
However, if I believe it with enough conviction then it does mean that I will eventually figure out how to build a plane.

No it doesn't. It just gives you a fighting chance of figuring it out.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 11 by Dogmafood, posted 06-24-2012 12:17 AM Dogmafood has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 19 by Dogmafood, posted 06-24-2012 11:35 PM Modulous has replied
 Message 21 by Dogmafood, posted 06-25-2012 12:21 AM Modulous has replied

  
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