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June 13th, 2003
12:51 am
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Wanted: A M.D. or Ph.D. with a sense of humor
Okay, I know my friends list has some highly educated people on it. I'm calling you out. Here's the scoop:

I received a letter a day or two ago consisting of the following message --

Can you show me medical proof that the "Belief" of one being a "Real Dragon"
does not have to do with a brain condition. And I'd like that proof in the
form of a letter from a doctor(s) Preferably one that is still alive.


Now, I plan to be basically charitable in my response, because flaming people for cluelessness is no way to put a good face on a belief so important to me. But. But. There's a certain amount of hostility inherent in the question, and an (at least implied) slap at my belief, and I have to give myself a little latitude to make the point that if you're going to be mean you can at least do it well.

So, while my main point will be to gently point out the concept of "burden of proof" (if I make a positive assertion that some people really DO have dragon souls, it's up to me to provide evidence for it before anyone has to take me seriously; if sie suggests that draconity is caused by a physical brain malfunction, that's hir positive assertion, and it's not my job to disprove it until sie provides evidence in support of the position), I hope to comply with (the letter of) her request in order to suggest how pointless it is.

Is there a doctor in the audience? (Technically, a Ph.D. is a doctor -- a Doctor of Philosophy. ;)) If so, could I request that one of you type up or write up a nice little letter, in your own words, and sign it, scan it, and send me an image of the letter? (Or some equivalent, like a PDF. Or even just plain-text, I guess, although it loses a lot of its authenticity that way.)

I have a half-formed perverse idea dancing through my mind, and it runs thusly: Have the letter delve deeply into psychological and/or neurochemical technobabble for a paragraph or two while saying basically nothing, in order to establish the illusion of authority; introduce the idea of draconity; and cite a fictitious study stating that while researching the phenomenon a statistically significant link was found between draconity and ... I don't know. Something obviously bullshit like "the presence of severed limbs in relatives' houses" or "preference for wasabi on sushi." Then haughtily dismiss the idea that draconity has a neurochemical basis because (A) the above connection is sufficient to explain it; and (B) no actual brains have ever been found to exist on Earth anyway, except in dolphins, who all have better things to do than argue about spirituality. At this point going off into some sort of totally off-the-wall conspiracy theory rant would be cool, or spattering fake blood on the letter and cutting it off abruptly (followed by an apologetic explanation on my part that I couldn't quite do "still alive"), or, well, you're the doctor. You figure it out. :)

Frankly, I'm not wedded to any particular notion; I just want something to make this fun instead of the dreaded "go fend off the crank" chore it currently looks like. Surprise me!

So. Any takers?

Current Mood: Still distracting myself
Current Music: Caroline Herring, "Whippoorwill"
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(43 comments | Leave a comment)

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From:raki
Date:June 13th, 2003 01:58 am (UTC)
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Bax, this isn't friends-protected!
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From:baxil
Date:June 13th, 2003 02:17 am (UTC)
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So it isn't. ;)
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From:mr_silvers
Date:June 13th, 2003 02:17 am (UTC)
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Can anyone show me medical proof that belief in God does not have to do with a brain condition? I mean ... c'mon. A faceless, substanceless, unseen entity that is in everyone? What about those who hear God? Or talk to God?

Sorry.
Just being bitter, or something ... ignore me.
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From:baxil
Date:June 13th, 2003 02:19 am (UTC)
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Ah, but is there any proof that "assuming strange beliefs stem from brain conditions" isn't just a brain condition? :)
From:(Anonymous)
Date:June 13th, 2003 02:43 am (UTC)
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I _could_ give you actual medical proof that it's not a brain condition... by virtue of the fact that I've been on a drug to treat depression for two years now, and it hasn't changed my draconity one itty tiny bit. It works on the depression, but it sure doesn't change anything else... and know what? When I spent a stint in a mental hospital, I did tell the psych working on my case what I believed... and got 'kicked out' of the hospital not a week after I got there because I, in the doctor's words, 'Didn't need to be in there'.

If you'd like to know who this is, think about black opals.
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From:baxil
Date:June 15th, 2003 02:29 am (UTC)
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*nod* Many dragons, including myself, have had similar experiences. Of confronting trained professionals and being given a clean bill of mental health, that is. Fortunately, I've never needed the depression meds. :)

I'm afraid I'm missing or forgetting the "black opals" reference, but please feel free to e-mail me if you wanted to reveal yourself and/or talk more.
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:June 13th, 2003 03:21 am (UTC)
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This reminds me of an idea I had once that I never did anything with: to establish a link between furries and... WAFFLES.

I think it'd be funny if, the next time a nosy reporter wanted to do an article about furries, every member of the fandom sie spoke to expressed a fondness bordering on obsession for nice golden-brown Belgian waffles... waffles in syrup... waffles with strawberries and whipped cream... even just Eggos or some cheap supermarket-brand toaster waffles.

"But what about sex in animal costumes?" "Who cares about that? Let me show you my Furries Eating Waffles sketchbook!"

(BTW, do non-furries creep you out as much as me, what with their obsessive interest in fursuit sex? They seem much more interested in it than furries do.)
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From:xiphias
Date:June 13th, 2003 04:50 am (UTC)
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See, if I were you, I'd just reply with,

"No.

Hope this helps, have a nice day.

- Sincerely,

Baxil"

Something like that. Arguing epistimology is usually a lost cause anyway.
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From:sebboi
Date:June 13th, 2003 05:17 am (UTC)

I know one...

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An acredited Biologist, to be precise.

I could certainly put you two in contact...

But I have a problem you see? I post a general post to all my friends... and you did not reply? How do I know you are the real Bax if you don't reply?

Ya dig?
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From:baxil
Date:June 13th, 2003 12:24 pm (UTC)

Re: I know one...

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Um ... I didn't reply? It's not my fault, I have a brain condition! :)
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From:zxizaraxii
Date:June 13th, 2003 05:42 am (UTC)
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A belief in something is no different from any untested scientific hypothesis.

One has an idea reflecting a thought, instinct, or emotional drive, and does what one can to test out the validity of it (experimentation in attempt to answer to the hypothesis) to reach a questioned answer.

The question in truth is asked by all sentient people on the earth (not all humans are sentient, nor have all sentient beings been human), or elsewhere perhaps. That question is...

"Who am I?"

This is a widely used question, but still based on personal perceptions (hence why it leads people to different places in life), so, the reflection of our foreseen answers to that question vary, and also change as *we* change and continue to ask that question.


[[Shrugs]] For some people the reflection of that thought, instinct, or emotional drive comes in the form of a dragon...tis the shape of their heart...explanation is not needed, just the very same way you need no explanation for why people doubt your own view.

[[Shrugs]] Because the answer's simple. You believe it. They don't.

There's no point in arguing about where the answers come from, I think.

[[Smiles]] I know it's not what you're looking for, but neither am I (not a doctor)...but I felt I should say something anyway.

Athranantilus
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From:elynne
Date:June 13th, 2003 07:11 am (UTC)
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proof that the "Belief" of one being a "Real Dragon"
does not have to do with a brain condition...


*slaps forehead* I'd say that the person who wrote that email has done a perfectly sufficient job of demonstrating that one does not, in fact, have to have a "brain condition" in order to write email. :P I would go so far as to venture that the person in question does not, in fact, have a brain at all.

Yay pranking! ;)
From:noitaroproc
Date:June 13th, 2003 07:15 am (UTC)
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I recommend sending him pictures of kittens.

Not that it'd solve anything, but kittens sure are cute.
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From:baxil
Date:June 13th, 2003 12:20 pm (UTC)
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You may well be on to something there.
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From:jolantru
Date:June 13th, 2003 07:54 am (UTC)
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How old was the person who wrote this letter to you?

Hehe. I am amused.

Saber
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From:sinboy
Date:June 13th, 2003 08:52 am (UTC)
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All beliefs are brain conditions. Without a brain, you have no provable beliefs. If the person fails to agree, ask them to find a brainless person with a provable belief as a counter example.
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From:baxil
Date:June 13th, 2003 12:12 pm (UTC)
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I would use this line of reasoning, but I'd be afraid that they would miss the irony entirely and gloat that I was proving their point.
From:tropism
Date:June 13th, 2003 10:48 am (UTC)
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*pulls out a big rubber stamp and a red ink pad, and applies one to the other and then stamps the back of Bax's hand "SANE"*
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From:wanderdragon
Date:June 13th, 2003 12:42 pm (UTC)
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Hmmm. I might know someone for the job... I'm not sure. I'll let you know in a day or two.
From:emberflowers
Date:June 14th, 2003 08:22 pm (UTC)
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I don't know what I'd say other than to look at the number of people who have strong religious or spiritual beliefs without having any sort of brain condition beyond...living. Unless every non atheist in existance can be proven to be mad.
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From:of_salfarro
Date:June 19th, 2003 04:13 am (UTC)
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Considering that the concept of a soul doesn`t fall under the realm of science there really isn`t any way to prove it one way or the other. The only time this is possible is if you make a claim that can be tested. For example, if you said having a draconic soul gave you x-ray vision or the ability to fly. Or if you can astrally project in this world and see things from a distance from that ability (and if you can, I recommend going through Randi`s test and picking yourself up a nice million which is always good to have :p).

I suppose you could come to some correlations though if you could record patterns in the behavior and raising of those who claim to be dragons. But then as someone else pointed out, which caused which?
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From:baxil
Date:June 22nd, 2003 05:07 am (UTC)
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Which digs right down to what is really the relevant question. Dealing in a realm where objective evidence is not possible, what evidentiary standards does one hold for subjective phenomena like the existence of gods, spirits, etc.? One answer is "There are none; only what can be objectively studied is really real," but I -- and many other people -- don't feel that's the most useful or correct answer.


That's where the discussion gets complicated and I'll definitely save any fuller exploration of subjective evidence for later.


And, yes, correlation != causality. :) A good thing for both sides of the debate to remember. That I enjoy hoarding things may be significant when considering whether or not I have a dragon nature, but it doesn't make me a dragon. That many dragons are teen-agers is certainly a meaningful fact, but doesn't show that draconity is a mental response to teenage stresses.

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