Rationalbrain is created and administered by Chris Kanaris for his own amusement.

Rationalbrain is designed to fill a need he has to think and talk about all things rational and science.

If someone else gets something out of it too, then that’s great.

Let’s see how we go.


20 thoughts on “About

    luxinvestor said:
    December 16, 2011 at 3:38 am

    Please tell me you read this. My jaw hit the floor follow by my butt as I rolled around laughing:

    Feel free to erase this post as the language in the link post is quite colorful. 😉 – MStef

      rationalbrain said:
      December 16, 2011 at 7:41 am

      Well I have now. Quite a spray!
      Actually that’s how all Aussies talk at your average barbeque. I’ll put up a link to it – thanks Stef.

    Manifest Stefany said:
    April 7, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    Hi, I submitted your site to sanswoo.com. It’s right up your alley. Enjoy! 🙂 -Stef

      rationalbrain said:
      April 7, 2012 at 7:25 pm

      Thanks for that – wasn’t aware of it before. The rest of that crowd is out of my league, but let’s see how we go.
      Thanks again for the vote of confidence.

    Dan Rea said:
    June 11, 2012 at 1:02 pm
    Dan Rea said:
    June 11, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    (Yes, this started as a joke, but some people are believing it now… sad)

    Wayne said:
    November 28, 2014 at 7:45 pm
      rationalbrain responded:
      November 28, 2014 at 9:37 pm

      OK, good for him. Lucky break.
      Pity he didn’t fix the kid’s original problem though.

    Wayne said:
    November 28, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    And here’s the evidence on how alternative medicine saves dollars: For some conditions, evidence of the cost effectiveness of chiropractic is mixed; however, most studies on the cost effectiveness of chiropractic clearly indicate that chiropractic is more cost effective than other treatment options. Some discrepancy naturally results from the various strategies researchers use to evaluate costs. Managed care trends and outcome-based treatment protocols will encourage further study in this area.

    Mosley, Cohen, and Arnold (1996) concluded that for patients who had back or neck pain, “chiropractic care was substantially more cost effective than conventional care” (281).

    Stano and Smith (1996) found that “for both total payments and total outpatient payments, the mean cost of chiropractic first episodes ($518 and $477 respectively) is substantially and significantly lower than medical episodes ($1,020 and $598) with much of the difference in total costs because of inpatient costs” (198).

    An earlier cost comparison study by Stano (1993) involved 395,641 patients with neuromusculoskeletal conditions. Results over a two-year period showed that patients who received chiropractic care incurred significantly lower health care costs than did patients treated solely by medical or osteopathic physicians.

    In a 1998 study, Manga and Angus urged the Ontario government to lower chiropractic co-payments, which would grant access to more proper and prompt care for those who need it most yet can least afford it: poor and elderly patients. Once the government improves public access to chiropractic care, “direct savings to Ontario’s health care system may be as much as $770 million, will very likely be $548 million, and will be at least $380 million. The corresponding savings in indirect costs–made up of the short and long term costs of disability–are $3.775 billion, $1.849 billion and $1.225 billion” (3).

    In a study of work-related back pain claims in Australia, Ebrall (1992) found that the percentage of cases managed by chiropractors that required compensation days was half that of cases managed by medical doctors. The likelihood of a claim progressing to 90-day, or chronic, status was three times more likely with medical management than with chiropractic management.

    A 1992 review of data from over 2,000,000 users of chiropractic care in the U.S., reported in the Journal of American Health Policy, stated that “chiropractic users tend to have substantially lower total health care costs,” and “chiropractic care reduces the use of both physician and hospital care” (Stano, Ehrhart, and Allenburg 1992, 43).

      rationalbrain responded:
      November 28, 2014 at 9:35 pm

      Yes, homeopathy is cheaper than real medical care too. Chiropractic is about as effective.
      I grant that chiropractic can provide some limited and temporary pain relief for moderate back pain. But I won’t grant that chiropractic can cure any of the diseases and injuries they claim to.
      And before you start bombarding me with links telling me how good it is, you’ll need to explain why the British Chiros lost their lawsuit against Simon Singh. Let me summarise for you: they could not produce any decent clinical evidence of its efficacy. In fact, the evidence was pathetic.
      Yes, I’m sure one of your friends will manipulate my imaginary energy lines quite cost-effectively.
      And big numbers are irrelevant – how many million people use homeopathy and swear by it? Acupuncture? Both rely on imaginary mechanisms.

        mickey mouse said:
        January 20, 2015 at 5:10 pm

        There will come a day when you will wish there was a way out for you. You will suffer and die needlessly under the auspices of what you thought was good medical care. Your legacy will be no more than another medical statistic. No one will care that you came and went or about your opinions on medicine and the rest of the world will wake up the next day as if you never existed.

        rationalbrain responded:
        January 20, 2015 at 6:03 pm

        Oh, that’s SO deep!
        You, on the other hand, will ascend and be LORD of all that is right. I presume.
        Or will you be just another wanker who thinks their fantasies will see them through?
        I put my money on the latter.

        Instead of such faux-philosophy, why not just say what you believe to be the case, rather than try to be scary and deep?
        Even better, have the guts to identify yourself.
        I’m also putting my money on you’re too gutless for that.

        rationalbrain responded:
        January 21, 2015 at 3:24 pm

        And another thing.
        I have no illusions. I will live and die and there will be no legacy, once those who remember me also die. That’s life on earth.
        The difference is how we choose to live our lives – we have a choice of the excitement of exploring reality, or, wallowing in a comfortable delusion.
        I choose the former.
        The parents of this poor kid chose the latter http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2015/01/20/makayla-sault-killed-by-religion-and-gullibility/
        Killed by a combination of Jesus and alternative therapy.
        I choose science, not fantasy.
        A simple way to live life to the full.

    John Who said:
    April 30, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    Rationalbrain, I take it that your philosophy is captured in the following “The difference is how we choose to live our lives – we have a choice of the excitement of exploring reality, or, wallowing in a comfortable delusion; I choose science … a simple way to live life to the full”.

    All philosophy divides into two branches – subjective philosophical idealism and objective philosophical idealism.

    In the subjective form the world is perceived as an illusion. The person believes that his mind creates the world as he perceives it, in effect he is the universal mind. In the objective form the person believes that in every waking moment his mind is fully absorbed in universal mind. The world as he perceives it is objective and upheld or maintained by universal mind. If the word “God” is equated with universal mind, universal will and universal feeling, then the objective philosophical idealist is focused on the ‘thinking’ or ‘mindful’ aspect of God.

    All people are philosophical, it cannot be avoided. Of course some are low-level materialists and some are high-flying idealists (no moral judgement here, it is just as it is).

    In your philosophical stance there is no God. Clearly you are no fan of religious conceptions of God. Conceptions such as the ‘old man in the sky’, Jesus as the living God, or ‘oneness’ etc, are subjective philosophical ideas based on a person’s feelings and so there is room for irrationality. However, what may not be clear is that in adopting your philosophical stance you have simply exchanged personal feelings for personal will. Descartes once famously said “I think therefore I am” but he should have said “I will my thinking therefore I will my I am”. In my view this is the basis on which your philosophy rests. You are using your will to remove all forms of irrationality.

    In the objective form of philosophical idealism, personal mind, will and feelings are simply manifestations of the universal forms. The universal forms exist independent of we mere humans.

    Now in relating the above philosophical concepts to you, I am the first to admit that I have taken liberties. I may have misinterpreted your views. So my question to you is do you subscribe to subjective philosophical idealism, sans irrationality, as the way to live life to the full ?

    A follow up question .. do you equate irrationality with evil? Why is it necessary to reject irrationality as a valid part of human experience and to attack it with all the skill of a surgeon with a sharp scalpel?

      rationalbrain responded:
      April 30, 2016 at 7:20 pm

      Wow, thanks for the easy questions!
      Firstly, about the only part of your writing I really understand, and agree with, is your first paragraph.
      The rest feels very much like you are trying to trap me using arbitrary definitions. But I’ll have a go at a response.
      I do not believe your two branches, objective and subjective, are well formed concepts, and are in fact a false dichotomy. Why? I can subscribe to elements of both, and reject elements of both. Therefore they are also invalid categories.
      Yes, the world can be said to be an illusion, because our brain constructs it from its sensory inputs. To this extent, the world as perceived is subjective. This does not however imply some ‘universal mind’ as your postulate. This is a non-sequitur.
      I also believe in an objective reality as a high likelihood, but this does not also mean that a ‘universal mind’ maintains that reality.
      My best guess is that we live in an objective reality, but have subjective experiences within this framework.
      A subject reality, such as the matrix for example, while not out of the question, is not very likely.
      And a god is even less likely – a vanishingly small probability.
      I admit I cannot follow your discussion regarding ‘will’.
      I also do not reject irrationality as a valid part of human experience. After all, one cannot have art or music, love, happiness etc and still be rational. We need some level of irrationality to inject the x-factor into these endeavours – for example, the most interesting music breaks the rules of harmony. So no, I don’t equate irrationality with evil – that’s a ridiculous notion.
      My focus in this blog is the use of rational thinking in the evaluation of claims made by some people, particularly in relation to the way the world works, and to focus on the pursuit of natural explanations over supernatural ones. It is not to force the deletion of all irrationality from all aspect of human existence.

    John Who said:
    May 6, 2016 at 8:03 pm

    You have given the focus for your blog and that is clear enough. Actually what caught my attention and prompted me to post were some comments you made in other posts concerning ontology and God. Fwiw I was not trying to trap you, its not easy to know where to start with these sorts of conversations and perhaps I should not have started with a philosophical approach.

    Your comments from other posts suggested to me that you have rejected the religious impulse, perhaps in the tradition of Darwin, Dawkins, Grayling, Hitchens, Ayn Rand, etc. I want to write some more on the subject of the religious impulse but best that I first address the subjective – objective dichotomy issue as it underpins my ideas.

    Your response regarding subjectivity and objectivity is a fair response. What I did not say, in a short post, is that sign theory shows that language concepts are relative, always formed by a relative interpretation of a subjective and objective concept. We don’t make such interpretation consciously, unless we pay attention to do so, and so it can appear that there is no dichotomy. However, when we pay attention it becomes clear that the dichotomy exists. Take as an example light and particle-wave duality. I take it that when subjectivity is emphasized light appears to behave as a wave, and when objectivity is emphasized light appears to behave as a particle.

    Closer to the topic of our discussion, I also consider science and religion to be dichotomous or opposing concepts for reasons that I will now try to explain.

    Some years ago I decided that the rejection of the religious impulse leads nowhere. I could not see how evangelical crusades against the religious impulse were having or would ever have any effect. I had a revelation that it made more sense that I try to locate the religious impulse within myself. I wanted to understand what the impulse was trying to express. The question of how to do this was not easy to answer but I went with an empirical investigation of my beliefs. Empirical because I found that my beliefs were not always clear and so I needed to determine which beliefs were true for me. Actually, when I started I did not realize that it was what I was doing, only with hindsight could I see how questioning my beliefs had led me down that path.

    In time I came to understand that science and religion share something in common. In science empirical method is used to define relationships between objects in the world around us. In religion empirical method is used to define relationships between subjects within a person’s inner world. A high flying scientist is almost totally concerned with the objective world whereas a high flying religious follower is almost totally concerned with the (their) subjective world. It follows that never the twain shall meet because science and religion are dichotomous concepts.

    I understand that the Higgs-Boson particle represents the ultimate scientific conception of objective reality since it is said that all particles depend on it for their existence. In other words, it is the basis for all possible relationships between objects. For the religious follower it seems to me that God is (or should be recognized as) the ultimate conception of subjective reality, a representation of all possible personal relationships that can exist. Amongst other things it seems that this is where the idea of God’s omnipotence, omniscience and omnibenevolence stems from (will, mind and feeling aspects of consciousness).

    However, if God is taken to be a relative concept, then both of the above views are valid. Underlying the metaphysical concept of God, is the immanent or impersonal God (or particles and waves) and the personal God (of relationships of will and feeling). Whether one subscribes to the use of the term God or not, does not change the underlying ideas.

    Trust you can get past the first para this time around. 🙂

      rationalbrain responded:
      May 7, 2016 at 5:37 pm

      Good try. Obviously you’re religious and you want me to be too. Why do you people never give up?
      Anyway, you’re also doing something I’ve written about before, and really irritates me… subverting the language of science to prop up your beliefs.
      A couple of points…
      1. You do not understand wave-particle duality. Nothing to do with objective/subjective. At all. Light is objectively both wave and particle, simply depending on how you observe. So you can’t use that bit of science for your purposes.
      2. Science and religion are in no way dichotomous, which implies they are on the same spectrum – I’ve argued before they’re actually orthogonal – that is, there is no relationship at all. Science is a method of learning and understanding the world by establishing provisional shared knowledge and improving it over time. Religion is a belief with no discernible basis in reality, and which exists only in the minds of its followers.
      3. You do not understand the Higgs boson (the word boson already implies a particle, of the type boson, so no need to re-state the word ‘particle’). It is not correct to say that all particles depend on it for their existence. Rather, matter depends on it for the property of mass. There are other properties, like spin, for which the Higgs is not required. The Higgs was predicted by science, but the bible is somehow silent on it.
      Using all that subjective/objective blah-blah to convince me of the existence of god is entirely futile, because I recognise it as blah-blah. See my article “More technobabble used to support religion”, .
      No amount of philosophical gymnastics will convince me, really. Only evidence will. And I can’t think of any evidence that could prove the existence of a god.
      So, sorry to disappoint, I’m not going to bite and get into a philosophical argument re the ontological status of god.
      But perhaps you like a challenge.

    John Who said:
    June 7, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    A long time between posts due to travel.

    No, not religious. And I was not trying to convince you of the existence of God since I don’t believe that God has existence. If anything I was trying to make the case that “God” is just an idea in a person’s mind. There can never be scientific evidence that God exists because an idea does not have a material world existence.

    In my view the appeal of an idea is powered by either subconscious motivation or free will. When a person chooses to believe that a given idea has value it is usually a matter of subconscious determinism, a matter of social conditioning. It is only when an idea has an existential meaning for the individual that we can be sure that psychological free will is involved, in which case social learning is paramount. In practice a person’s character and beliefs are created in a relative sense, as a result of the interplay between social conditioning and social learning which makes it difficult to see that there are separate components.

    Take “morality”. For most of my life I did not like it. I preferred “ethics”. What is the difference? In my view it makes sense to define morality as a social product and ethics as an individual product. When I was young moral preaching came with an element of coercion whereas I preferred freedom so I rejected it. I preferred to understand life according to my experiences and to develop my ethics accordingly, i.e. I preferred social learning. My existential preference eventually led me to live and work in many countries with people of different cultural backgrounds, and in some ways I have evolved beyond the social norms of the country in which I was born since every culture has something of unique value.

    Take “religion”. You don’t like it. You prefer “science”. You wrote “Science is a method of learning and understanding the world by establishing provisional shared knowledge and improving it over time”. It should be clear that this definition is based on a preference for free will expression, rollover Galileo. However, the necessary psychological factor that powers such free will expression is missing from your definition. What factor might that be? In my view science should be defined as “the study of the moral use of technology”. The missing factor in your definition is that of morality. Many of your blogs are concerned with the immorality that arises when the benefits of a technology are rejected. Dawkins “God Delusion” can be taken as an invective against the immorality arising from religious practices. When Robert Oppenheimer was alive we could have asked him if science should have been the study of the moral use of technology; if so then probably best to have done that after he was destroyed by the scientific community when he spoke out against the use of nuclear weapons.

    In my view science should be concerned with morality because it impacts society. But religion also has much to say about morality. Therefore, I do not accept that science and religion are orthogonal. Furthermore, science does not have an exclusive purview over knowledge, religion also emphasizes the pursuit of knowledge. Since religion emphasizes character development, in the Christian tradition Jesus is the role model, it is the pursuit of knowledge regarding one’s beliefs, attitudes, etc. The central question is that of motive. This pursuit should be undertaken using empirical method but perhaps that is a dream for the future.

    Particle-wave duality is usually presented as a paradox. It is the first time I have heard an explanation that light is objectively both wave and particle. Are you stepping around the paradox by shifting the focus to the measuring apparatus? This apparatus observes light as a wave, that apparatus as a particle. Doesn’t your approach ignore the why question, why should light behave in that way? That light presents as both wave and particle can be simply accepted as a ‘brute’ fact but I don’t find such an explanation to be at all satisfying.

    Dr Sean Carroll’s idea that all of reality is composed of quantum fields and only fields. There are no particles in physical reality. It is only when we observe a particular region of a field that it collapses into a particle. As far as I know he does not go on to deduce that it is through the fact of our observing that we create the objective world around us but it seems to be a logical extension of his view. In other words, his idea on quantum fields leads to the idea that it is the mind of an individual that creates objective reality. This explanation is too ego-centric for my liking. The world is not going to cease to exist when I do.

    I prefer a metaphysical explanation. The idea is that waves or fields are phenomena that are created by minds. The material world around us is comprised only of particles. It is the function of mind to add subjectivity or let’s say to create relationships between the particles. The magnetic field pattern around a magnet, revealed by iron filings, shows how universal mind functions to create a pattern. No iron filings and the field is invisible. The field is pure subjectivity, as such invisible, and can only reveal itself through the interaction with particles. In the spiritual domain, our minds reveal subjective patterns. We call them emotions. They are the result of the relationships that we choose to enter into with other people. In this view, mind is a metaphysical concept, or to put it another way mind is relatively subjective. Why is it not purely subjective? It is because ideas have form. It follows that mind is just another form of matter, albeit extremely rarified. Ah, the ghost in the machine.

    Dr Carroll sometimes refers to a “Higgs Boson particle” when he wants to distinguish it from a “Higgs Boson field”, admittedly rare that he does it and your point taken. I was trying to emphasize objectivity and the word particle was uppermost in my mind.

    The Bible is indeed silent on the Higgs Boson.

    Anyway, if this is all just blah-blah then feel free not to respond and I will go my way. You keep assuming that I want to convince you of something. Why not assume instead that I need your help to show me why / where I am wrong?


      rationalbrain responded:
      June 11, 2016 at 10:18 pm

      I’m travelling too – perhaps we have sat next to each-other on some train. I’m currently in Norway, heading for Iceland.
      In any case, I accept you are not trying to convince me of anything.
      To continue the discussion – I have no quibble with the first 2 or 3 paras of your response. Where I would start to argue is the issue of morality and metaphysics in general.
      I still argue that science and religion are orthogonal. I do not accept your view of the role of morality. Knowledge is knowledge – we can use it either morally or immorally or amorally if you prefer. That’s a choice individuals and society make. But morality has nothing to say about what knowledge we seek or the absolute content of that knowledge.
      As for particle-wave duality, there is no paradox. It is a simple, observable fact. The outcome is determined purely by the means by which we observe. There is no mystery. Unfortunately this opens the door for all sorts of extrapolations into the metaphysical world – specifically that our minds are required to instantiate reality etc etc, which I don’t buy, and nor do you.
      I’m therefore puzzled by your suggestion that the relationship between particles is somehow generated by our mind. But again, fields are real measurable things, not some ‘ghost’. They are a means of describing reality, and in fact, fields are a better way to describe matter than particles are. There are actually no little balls flying around (to be somehow connected by our mind) analagous to a planetary system. The ‘balls’ are actually little bundles of energy at differing frequencies and energies – which can of course be described by fields. So if you read someone like Brian Greene for example you see a description of reality which is based on a field vector for a point in space-time, and each vector comprises a series of variables, the values of which distinguish between the different particles types and force types. A wonderful example is Maxwell’s equations for electromagnetism. Ultimately, this description works because our measurements confirm that is does. This does not mean the model is the ultimate description, but just one that is currently useful. No doubt there will be revisions as we try to unify electromagnetism and gravity, but that’s for another day.
      Hence, I would also reject the notion of subjectivity, given that you and I would observe the same field values.
      Make sense?
      Look forward to your response.
      PS Just a thought – if you focus your arguments into more succinct form, it should make the exchange more effective.

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