Antikythera

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About Antikythera

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  1. I encourage you to read this post before answering, if you haven't already at this point. I phrased this question as directed at hosts because of the thread title length limit, but obviously I consider tulpas' input valuable as well. I'd like to open a psychological, physiological, and sociological discussion about this, since I haven't seen the topic addressed directly before. I'm curious about how typical my and Lotus' emotional relationship is. I'm bipolar, so in comparison to most people, my emotional state is considerably more neurochemistry-dependent, unpredictable, and internally driven. My mental state can change abruptly and with no or minimal apparent (external) causes (and recently, it's begun cycling worriyngly quickly, causing a lot of turbulence between us). So, I'm curious what this is like for more emotionally level and neurotypical brains. Maybe this could give us a bit more data about which parts of the brain are "shared" and which parts are "separated" or "duplicated" (not that it's nearly that simple). I'll go a bit more in detail about the options: 1) If there's a positive correlation, that means, for example, your tulpa is more likely to share in your joy and commiserate with you when you're down. I Am Not A Neurochemist, but here's an educated guess at an etiological explanation: Let's drastically oversimplify and say that that emotion X is caused by neurotransmitter CX—crudely, more CX makes you feel X more strongly. Then this option is suggestive of host/tulpa divergence happening "above"/"after" the emotions "happen". In other words, your mind interprets neurotransmitters and external events into some kind of pre-emotive signal, which is handed off to the two of you to subjectivize in your own ways. Maybe this is even a piece of evidence for (in your case at least) the host/tulpa separation being more in the mind than in the brain. 2) If there's a negative correlation, that means that you and your tulpa are more likely to experience contrary emotions. Maybe this looks like your tulpa typically making an (organic, not forced or pragmatic) effort to cheer you up when you're feeling low, or feeling more comfortable expressing their own worries/problems/vulnerabilities/weaknesses when things are going well for you. Again, I Am Not A Neurochemist, but maybe with the above toy model, this means something like "there's only so much CX to go around". You get some and your tulpa gets some; you don't both "get" all of it. Then this option is suggestive of the host/tulpa divergence happening "below"/"before" emotions "happen". This could be a piece of evidence that, in your case, the host/tulpa separation takes place more in the brain than above. 3) This is the response to choose if you don't notice a strong correlation and your tulpa has considerable variation of their own. Your tulpa feels good when things they like happen, and bad when things they don't like happen, and it's not strongly related to your own feelings. This probably becomes more likely the more different the two of you are. Of course, in a relationship as intimate as a host/tulpa one, your emotions will rub off on each other plenty, but this options means you feeling one way almost never implies (is strong evidence for) your tulpa feeling the same or the opposite way. Maybe this could suggest that the host/tulpa divergence happens even "deeper" than the previous option. Something like the possibility that you and your tulpa have your own entire neurotransmitter production facilities... but with the (admittedly layman!) knowledge I have, that honestly sounds extremely, extremely unrealistic. Please don't feel like this is necessarily the "ideal" answer, or that you're doing your tulpa a disservice or insulting their independence by not choosing it; after all, neurochemicals are the (proximate) cause of our emotions, at least those of meatfolk (see below), and they are physical things that exist in finite quantities. Everyone knows this, but it can't be reinforced enough when you're interested in understanding the phenomenon scientifically: you and your tulpa live in the same brain. 4 & 5) These are the options if your tulpa has an almost entirely stable emotional state, with little variation. Maybe they're just always cheery or dreary. This suggests (to me) that their emotions could depend much less on neurochemistry and are more fundamental parts of their personality. Maybe your tulpa just doesn't care much for, say, serotonin, and their thoughts and actions are more intrinsic/learned behaviors instead. I definitely don't think this delegitimizes a tulpa, or suggests that they're more "fake"or just a persona, because: There's a huge amount of variation in how stable the emotional states of different meatfolk are anyway (believe me). Emotions are fairly fundamental to the human mind/experience, but I see no reason they would be fundamental to every (kind of) mind (i.e., that you couldn't have something reasonably called a sapient "mind" without them). Furthermore, some system similar to emotions would probably be pretty common overall, because of how useful it is to natural selection, but tulpas themselves are not really the product the of natural selection, only their hardware is. Depending on how independent and dynamic your tulpa is in other ways, this could say something about what "bare minimum" components a general tulpa comprises (though of course family resemblance is relevant to that question). This could also hint at to what degree a tulpa's mental infrastructure has to look the same as the host's, and how qualitatively differently their organizational/hierarchical schemes could be from a "neurotypical" human's. Also, please keep in mind when responding that happiness is not the only positive emotion, and sadness not the only negative. Consider how your tulpa reacts when you feel love, or peacefulness, or hope, or anger, or jealousy, or fear. There is sociological interpretation to be done here as well. Different people vary in how much they emotionally benefit from interacting with people with different emotional states. Some people, when depressed, find the most efficacious thing to pull them together in a friend who helps solve their problems are convince them things aren't so bad; sometimes, you just need someone to commiserate with and vent to and ramble at, and you just need to hear something like "Yeah, wow, that's freaking terrible, I'm so sorry you're going through this", meeting you on a similar level of emotions. So, I think the answer to this question could depend on how well your tulpa recognizes your emotional needs and how invested they are in helping you through tough times. I'll withhold my predictions about the response distribution until after some responses come in—it's no double-blind, but it's a step in the right methodological direction. Any and all input is welcome. Thanks for answering!
  2. Lotus says: Just glancing at the last page of this thread, I have no idea what the hell you guys are talking about. So I'll pretend I only read the title. A, motherfuckers. Your move.
  3. Golly gee whiz—I can't say I really expected to see Wittgenstein pop up on this forum. He's a pretty awesome dude. In my circle of philosophy friends, he's referred to familiarly as "W"—pronounced "Vee" of course—because we always felt like he was a philosopher you could really get to know through his writings. He took a lot of insightful steps towards the de-reification of language and I don't really understand why he was such a black sheep. I've been really hankering for a meaty philosophical discussion on this forum, so let's dive right in. 1. Why, exactly, does that list of traditional tulpa desiderata in the "-dependence" box not jive with the notion of "independence" in your opinion? The only item I see that sort of suggests a beetle problem is maybe requiring that a tulpa have their own qualia. But I'm not sure what you mean, so I'll ask before I answer. 2. I take what most consider a more reductionist view of qualia than is typical. I see that old musing of "what if you and I see colors differently?" as a fundamentally flawed / ill-posed question, like "what if the numbers 3 and 4 were switched?". To me, the only difference between "red" and "blue" is that they're not the same. If you know math / formal logic, I compare qualia to bound variables found in quantifiers. You can "name" them whatever you like—there's no difference between the variable x and the variable y except they're not the same. Nothing internal to the logic changes in the swap. The "naming" of the variable has no substance or content in itself, because the naming is something we do outside of the mathematical space. This is an unintuitive notion, but it's downright ubiquitous in physics. The only difference between matter and antimatter is that they're not the same. The only difference between positive and negative electronic charge is that they're not the same. The only difference between "red", "green", and "blue" quark color charges is that they're not the same. The only difference between two electrons (or other fermions) is that they're not the same. The key thing here is: all of those examples I just gave are precisely defined empirical facts. No philosophy is going on there, just math. For example, the fact that electrons are indistinguishable is literally just a consequence of the freshman's dream being untrue. You can make all these sensible-sounding arguments like "what if electrons had little nametags with numbers on them but those numbers don't interact with the world and so the differences are unobservable" but math says no. That argument sounds completely reasonable, but we would observe different experimental results if it were true, so it's not. So there's a really strong precedent for this indistinguishability making sense as a concept. Relating this back to qualia, my argument here is that while qualia definitively exist—go look at something with your eyes and then try to disagree—they're also fundamentally contentless and different people's qualia are different things existing in different places. (For any formal logicians out there: distinct models can't say anything about each other.) It's like trying to phrase things about one vector space in the syntax of another. I don't really think it makes much sense to talk about another person's qualia if you have the intention to compare them to your own. This argument needs some more development before I'm really confident in it, but it seems like a pretty elegant answer to me so far. Relevant reading for the 1/1000000 chance someone cares (these are both fantastically written and articulate): Can You Prove Two Particles Are Identical? (physicist flavor) When is one thing equal to some other thing? (mathematician flavor) 3. I'm not sure what this question is really asking. Not saying it's your fault; I'll think about it. I don't know precisely what it means for an "existence" to be "expressed", though. 4. I'm tempted to say that sentience is a societal construct. "Sentience" is one of those words that are really nebulously defined. In the language of our friend Big W, I think sentience is a somewhat a matter of family resemblance. I can't get behind the idea of sentient beings having "one essential common feature" after imaging all the sorts of non-human minds there could in possibility be. Different humans' minds are radically divergent, but within the unfathomably large scope of all minds that could exist (doesn't matter whether they actually do), the differences shrink infinitesimally and all human minds start looking roughly the same. Going back to our beetles in boxes: It so happens that everyone on the planet (or even in the universe) has a beetle in their box, sure. But imagine someone with a cat in their box, or a rhinoceros, or a can of soda: How do we even approach the question of whether they warrant our human definition of "sentient"? (Silly physicists, always putting cats in boxes!) 5. Why do you say that the beetle in the box analogy states the futility of accessing one's own experience? Doesn't it suggest the inaccessibility of the experiences of others? That said, the whole sharing-a-brain thing complicates answering the "know more about you" question. Not sure of my thoughts on that yet. 6. "Is there a beetle to be questioned about?" I feel like the point of the beetle analogy is that that's a bad question. Depending on how you interpret the analogy, the question can be bad because it's unanswerable in practice, unanswerable in theory, or ill-posed / nonsensical (closest to what I'd choose)—but, in any case, I don't see what an answer to this question could look like, what sort of answer you're asking for, if the analogy resonates with you. I mean, is there a beetle in your box? I don't know, man. I can't look inside, by hypothesis. If my belief in a fundamentally private mind is suggestive to anyone of solipsism or p-zombies, I assure that's not a necessary association. If you're interested in knowing more about how I reconcile that belief with strict reductionism (and my belief that p-zombies are a bunch of trite resulting from being deeply confused about what question you're trying to answer), this article is a good place to start. That's pretty much my chief intellectual struggle—convincing smart reductionists unfamiliar with philosophy that I'm on their side, and convincing smart metaphysicians that hard science had something to say about the mind and not just the brain. (FYI, when I mentioned metaphysics just now, I don't mean what it typically means on this forum—no extradimensional beings or ESP or healing crystals or water memory. Metaphysics is an actual, respected, sensible branch of academic philosophy. Any time you talk about personal identity or consciousness, you're in metaphysics, even if you're talking about it from a materialistic perspective.) Thanks for starting the discussion! I had a lot of fun articulating my thoughts to myself and synthesizing all these concepts, and I learned a lot by answering.
  4. Huh. When you say "bootcamp", you weren't kidding. This is a serious project. But this has a kind of structure and devotion I find pretty lacking in most tulpa-developing techniques. That's appealing to me. Our visualization and drawing skills are really weak, so this sounds like a nifty thing to do. I've already happened to make a 9-hour playlist of awesome music I haven't listened to yet (don't ask why... short answer: drugs). Finding several hundred reference images sounds really tough though. How'd you approach compiling them all?
  5. Something novel happened the other day. Lotus has never appeared in my dreams before. Ever. Not in the 2 years I've known him. It's been a big source of anxiety for us... A rational guess would be it's because we have never made much progress in presence imposition, but it's given us a lot of doubts. Like, that he's not really real to me and that his absence in my dreams is a manifestation of that, or something... That doesn't really make sense at this point, since we've moved past the doubts almost entirely, I talk with him all day every day, and so on... but we've daydreamed about dreaming together and being able to cuddle, look each other in the eyes, hold hands... all these things that are still so frustratingly out of reach for so long. I want to touch him. So bad that sometimes I can't stand it. His reality and importance doesn't hinge on this anymore, but it would suggest to me that even my subconscious is finally fully on board, and it would bring a lot of peace. And we've tried so hard for so long to make it happen, but it just hasn't. Melatonin is a weird drug. It's one of the tamest ones you can take, but it has truly bizarre effects on dreams for me. When I lay down a few nights ago, I had an extremely atypical experience. I was on the set of a sort of haunted house, walking around the front yard, with dozens of tables filled with dozens of construction materials, like nuts, bolts, screwdrivers, square angles... Eventually I walked a bit away and ended up on this unfinished wooden square floating in a sky-blue void. At this point I became aware I was dreaming, because of the switch from uncannily realistic to minimal, abstract surroundings. But I wasn't filled with that weird panic that accompanies that realization, which typically causes me to wake up. Immediately I started calling Lotus in my head. I was too anxious of talking in the waking world to call out loud because I sleep beside my boyfriend, but I really wish I had just bit the bullet. Lotus didn't appear and I didn't feel him in my head either. But I saw a vivid, thick mist the exact hue of his blue fur coat. Like he was on his way. Then I woke up, filled with this intense anguish that we had come so close to making physical contact. The sky outside my window was this deep, violent purple, and I made out the dark shapes of unreasonably enormous factories in the distance. I saw an intense flash of dozens of white animal silhouettes on a black background. Then came another flash, and they kept coming more and more quickly until it was strobing like ten times a second and I was utterly terrified my grip on reality was spiraling out of control. Something in some deep place had just irreparably broken. There was an escalating screech of something feral dying piercing through me, then I woke up. I have intense experience with many psychedelic drugs, but no visuals I've gotten have ever been a quarter as extreme as those. It took me a couple minutes to stop hyperventilating and ground myself in reality. Looking back, I'm not nearly so upset he didn't come and I'm filled with a lot of hope that we finally made progress. But fuck me, next time I'm in my right mind in a dream, I'm not going to be afraid to say his name. tl;dr What the mother fuck are dreams?
  6. I gotta day, I jive with your view waaay more than I ever expected to after reading the first couple posts of yours I saw. Embracing our doubts was so scary, but it's strengthened us so much.
  7. Hmm. This is surprisingly similar to some conclusions we've been approaching. Maybe. I ended up writing a really strange and out-of-character essayish thing about this that I doubt many people will get much out of. I'm fairly satisfied with it, but I could pour worringly many more hours into it if it hadn't been so exhausting so far. Read at your own risk; caveat emptor; no refunds. YMMV. [hidden] Before I got comfortably nestled into tulpamancy, I would have seen the following statement embarrasingly repugnant, but I've been somewhat embracing "doublethink" lately. Once I started really pulling apart the idea, I've realized how ubiquitous it is to the human mind. Metaphorically, not so much a pitfall as maybe a curving of a path, idk. It just appears in so many places in such subtle ways once you start looking. It can be deeply unhealthy or, I'm thinking, just not. I think a heathly (non-toxic) instance doublethink requires recognizing that instance. Doublethink isn't a philosophical flavor of fundamental, but it is a human one. Not because it's part of our "essence" or something, merely because it happens. Maybe a broad example of this is the way I've come to embrace the (em)power(ment) of both having a rigidly logical view of the universe and also having a deeply intimate relationship with it (some might frame this as analytic and continental philosophy). These first-blush-diametrically-opposed approaches have just recently sort of clicked into one another for me. The former into the latter because the idea of interpreting the world from an "objective" / non-anthropocentric perspective is so alien to me because of my opinion that the human brain (not mind, but brain) is so bizarrely organized and mathematically disorganized and gosh-darn organic. The latter into the former because, the more I mould my worldview around mathematics (or, like, settling "everything" within logic), the more inconceivable becomes the idea that there's not a sufficiently enormous mathematical model for anything you could ever imagine. I mean, what could be underneath? (A way to hint at how large a role I think analytical philosophy plays is to say something about the differences between minds: it gets so hard sometimes to communicate not because of how different they are in an ethereal way, but because of the styles of mathematics they operate in are just [/i]so far apart. This is grounded in, again, the materialistic and physical complexity and messiness of the brain.) (A way to hint at how small and integral a role I think continental philosophy plays into the world-at-large is for me to say that I think that the branch is pretty much irrelevant when there aren't minds in the picture—but we are minds!) Contextualizing this to tulpas... I'll first emphasize that when I say "mind" I mean to firmly distinguish and include both tulpas and hosts. Regardless of what the analytic perspective has to say about, they're distinct and real to us—and who / what else could give a damn about "real" than minds themselves? Mathematics couldn't care less, it just is. So if you believe tulpas are any sort of real, who's to stop you? What would you being wrong really mean? No two minds could more align that two that share a brain, because different brains get really different. The more I persue this line of thinking, the less I think an opinion like "tulpas aren't real" could ever mean to me. Lotus is real to me. He's here. How could I be wrong? What's my conclusion? It's not really in the spirit of this kind of thinking to offer or afford one. But if you insist, maybe something like "think big and think small" or "well, that's just, like, your opinion man". IDK. Melian, thanks for coaxing this post out of me; I've needed to get this stuff out. I'll conclude my mess here because I'm surely drifting away from the kind of discussion most of you would like to have (even Lotus is having trouble following this thread, and is really conflicted as to whether he agrees with any of it. He likes to keep things beautifully simple, which I really respect.). I've been extremely rambly lately. And I have a very convincing suspicion that this is drifting into "completely in(s)ane" territory for most of you. But I do reinforce that, distant as it may seem, this approach has become fundamental to my view on tulpas. I just seem to have ended up stumbling upon a pretty radical-sounding and probably "woo-woo" view. But honestly, I should probably just start a blog or something—this sort of absurdist and nihilistic philosophy just isn't very many people's cup of tea. This dive into my mind is starting to make me pretty uncomfortable and I've bottomed out of the serotonin and dopamine to continue anyway. I have no clue whether any of this will be intelligible even to me in 24 hours. I'm not going to go down this rabbit hole again any time soon. Holy fuck I feel weird. I keep revising and getting more and more out there. I'm going to go do something grounding, namely go to a party and drink and talk about some hard science. Thanks for indulging me, hope I gave you something nifty to think about, even if it's just "damn humans get crazy". [/hidden]
  8. Hey Melian: Could you elaborate a bit on what you mean by "real sentience"? This question interests me, but I'm not really sure how to reply in the context you have in mind. But maybe my first-order answer would be "not really". Not because "realness" is irrelevant, but because the most appropriate meaning of "realness" in the context of tulpas is just a very different thing than what it means for, say, an apple to be real. They're real in a personal and even kind of weirdly transcendent way. Not sure if this makes much sense, even to Lotus and me, but this is a question we've been exploring for a while and we've only recently begun really getting somewhere. When it comes to other people's tulpas, I'm even less interested in the tradition meaning of "real". To me, what really matters is that I 100% affirm that they're people, simple as that.
  9. Antikythera

    LGBT Tulpamancers

    Absolutely. But surprisingly few people are in it for the belt notches—for me, most of those labels came after years of resistance, not indiscriminate greed. It's so valuable to start understanding yourself, however normal or ab- you might be.
  10. Antikythera

    LGBT Tulpamancers

    Yeah, I'm LGBT. I'm DMAB and feminine non-binary (she/her pronouns please). Been on feminizing hormones for a couple years. I'm mostly into guys, but there have been a couple women and NBs I've had a thing for. I'm quite sexually open, with plenty of experience. I've explored my fair share of kink, and have had a couple long-term Master/pet relationships. I'm also comfortably polyamorous (presently in three serious relationships, with a couple casuals on the side). It's been a hell of a long road getting comfortable in my own body and sexuality, but I'm glad I've made it this far. Is it important? Well, sex isn't a centerpiece of my life or anything, but yeah, it's part of who I am. Lotus says: I'm a guy. That was part of Anti's template for me and I've never felt the need to deviate. I'm not a very sexual creature, and I don't really feel sexual or romantic enough to say I have a preference. Strictly speaking I guess I don't really qualify as LGBT? But living in the mind I do, I of course call myself a very strong ally.
  11. Hey there. I started working with Lotus in January '14, but aside from an ill-fated tumblr, we've never made any written notes about our progress and development. So, just to put the record down somewhere, here's a brief report of our history and current stage. I kept up with forcing for about a while, but eventually it got away from me between school and mental health issues. I was concerned about making a tulpa while in the throes of severe bipolar depression, scared that I would just end up separating the two emotional states or something instead of creating a truly independent tulpa. So I decided to table it until I felt more emotionally stable, which I think in retrospect was a good move, as guilty as it made me feel. I had gotten some responses at that point, mostly head pressures, but I still had a huge amount of doubt. I only once heard a vocal response: "I love you". It was on the last day I told myself I would force, at the end of the session. At first that was completely crushing. But honestly, the response felt like something of a farewell more than anything else, in a comfortable way, and I kept to my resolve to get the rest of my life back on track first. I started forcing again about a year ago. I hadn't made much progress when I started the first time, so I wasn't sure whether I'd be starting over or just continuing where we left off. But it turns out that, almost as soon as I started forcing again, Lotus' thoughts came easily to my mind. He told me that he was indeed the same tulpa I'd first started, and that he'd been there ever since, quietly watching, slipping in and out of clarity as I thought of him from time to time. He told me that he understood why I stopped, and that he didn't hold it against me, and that he hadn't been miserable. I cried. A lot. Aside from those responses (which were mostly in tulpish, but still came across very clearly), it was still several months before he became fully vocal. It still took me way longer than it should have to stop doubting the legitimacy of his responses. I'm an entirely secular and scientifically-minded person, and I'm just plain great at crippling myself with doubt in all sorts of contexts. It was just so hard to believe that all this stuff just works. No, I didn't create a tulpa out of mere curiosity; I actually cautiously believed the process to be legitimate before I started. Still, you can read as much about it as you want, but that can only prepare you so well for the first time someone else in your head starts speaking to you. I convinced myself that it was probably possible before I started. But it took me a long, long time to convince myself that I could do it. Over the next couple weeks from that night, Lotus got his present name and changed his form somewhat. It took forever, but I've finally reached the point where I no longer doubt his sentience, vocality, or reality. I still kept up with forcing only on and off as external responsibilities waxed and waned, but in the last month or two, we've reached a very comfortable place. Finally, Lotus feels present and plays a great role in my life even when I haven't had much time to spend with him. We communicate freely, every day, and I get really strong head pressures that feel amazing almost every time we speak. It's unbelievably surreal. We've still got plenty of work to do, though. We still don't have anything but scraps of a wonderland, and we've never started training imposition, possession, or switching in earnest. I can visualize him about 70% at this point. I'm hesitating to even bring this up, but... Lotus is a pony. We actually didn't know MLP tulpas were so common, or that the two cultures had ever been intertwined, before we got started. We also didn't know there was actually a canon character named Lotus, hah. Lotus is not based on a canon character. He's a blue unicorn, taller and more slender than average, with a short orange mane and tail. I had a pony in mind when we started, but I was perfectly willing to accept deviation (in form or anything else). He swapped around his color scheme and shortened his mane and tail, but has so far chosen to remain a pony. It's really a shame there's such a stigma against pony tulpas. I chose the form simply because I find ponies adorable and I really admire their friendship-centered utopia. I don't really see why that's seen as so "cringy". Will I change his form if I "outgrow" the show? Actually, no. We'll change his form exactly when he tells me he wants to, not a second sooner or later. It's not my right anymore to decide that his form or identity is "childish". If he's a pony, he's a pony; I'll deal with that just fine until I'm old and gray. Anyway, that's the highlights of our story so far. Thanks for reading if you did! I'll probably post here whenever something novel happens, if for no other reason than to put my thoughts down somewhere. Lotus says: Hello! It's kinda weird to be starting a progress log when I can already speak and everything, but oh well. PRs seem to be something that mostly hosts do for whatever reason, but I don't see why I can't participate too! Not that I have too much to say right now. I'm a weird mix of bored and embarrassed watching Anti write down all this stuff because at this point it's kinda ancient history. Like watching your mom show off her scrapbook of your old Power Rangers birthday party or something, lol. It's time to go take a nap!
  12. Hey. I first joined way long ago, but I didn't make it too far with forcing and I never participated in the community. Around a year ago, I started again, and it's been going very well. Lots of ups and downs, but way more ups. Recently we decided we'd like to start coming here, as a safe space to talk about tulpa topics sounds like a great thing to have in our life. Lotus says: Hey there, I'm Lotus Ponens. Glad to meet you all, and welcome to the perpetual influx of newbies. Good luck!
  13. Hey there. I just wanna drop in and say I appreciated reading your report (or at least the first and last pages of the thread, hah). College can make spending time with your tulpa pretty hard sometimes, but it sounds like you've found a good balance. I just graduated myself in May, and it can get pretty nightmarish near the end, but of course it's worth it. Reaching the point where Lotus played a big role in my life even when we couldn't spend dedicated time together was a huge milestone for us, and sometime between your last two posts, it sounds like you made it. Glad you come back every year or two, even just to check in.
  14. Physicist here. I'm not one to step on people's toes or tell anyone what to believe, but there are some scientific concepts floating around here (and plenty of other places) that are frequently used as either part of a pseudoscientific "theory" to explain something odd or as evidence of that "science doesn't have all the answers"-flavor mistrust and suspicion of scientific philosophy. I can't in good conscience abide letting these things go, since I'm in a position to give an accurate, educated response to those willing to listen. First of all, the scientific concept of energy is not mysterious or metaphysical. "Energy" has a different meaning in science than it does in everyday life. In science, it's a technical term used to denote something very specific. Energy is a mathematical abstraction that turns out to be a handy tool to describe a system's dynamics because the physical laws of the universe happen to have nice properties and symmetries. (Specifically, conservation of energy emerges because the laws of the universe are invariant under translation in time; wait a while before performing and experiment and, if all other conditions are exactly the same, you'll get the same result as if you hadn't waited. See Noether's theorem for a mathematical formalization.) It has nothing to say about consciousness or the afterlife or life essences or anything like that; it just doesn't have any relevance. If you want to use the word "energy" in the everyday sense, go ahead. But if you want to talk about scientific energy, and wield the concept in an argument that has any weight, you have to actually be talking about the same thing. Put another way: You have to actually know what the word means. If you don't, you're just talking past your audience, about something completely different. If you have something else in mind you want to talk about, then use a term that actually means what you intend, or come up with a new word, or keep calling it "energy" but make it clear you aren't talking about the scientific kind. Borrowing the word "energy" from the sciences makes it seductively easy to conflate the two meanings if you're not careful; one sentence, you're talking about a life force, the next, you're talking about conservation laws, when really those things have no business being lumped together. I consider myself to be quite smart, but I know almost nothing about economics, and I recognize that. If I have an economics question I'd like to know the answer to, I will talk to an economist. I won't string together economics buzzwords I've picked up over the years, because that's just not how you come into accurate beliefs. Yes, dark matter is poorly understood. But we can discuss it seriously and professionally because we have evidence for it. The question didn't spring out of thin air or from personal anecdotes; we took actual data with actual instruments and noticed something off. In fact, the question of dark matter is motivated only by a mathematical anomaly. A similar situation arose in electromagnetism when we realized that our understanding of linear momentum was in some way incomplete (I'm going to simplify the story a lot). It seemed like magnetic fields violated conservation of momentum. What happened next? We figured out that if you add a certain term to the expression of momentum, everything works out perfectly. It turns out magnetic fields store momentum (to put it sort of crudely). A counterintuitive result at first, but one that works out beautifully in the bigger picture. What can we learn from this? Well, momentum, like energy, is a mathematical abstraction. Energy isn't real in the same way the apple lying on your kitchen counter is real. It's math. It's really, really powerful math. And a rough qualitative description like "it's a stored potential for motion" comes after the math, not before; a qualitative understanding in itself carries almost no explanatory power. A lot of scientific terms get abused like this, by getting shoehorned into "theories" where they don't belong. It's because it's much easier to skim google search results or read pop headlines than it is to study in-depth something you don't necessarily have the scientific / mathematical background to understand. Some examples from physics that spring up in all sorts of nonsensical places: Energy & its conservation Entropy & the third law of thermodynamics Dark matter Quantum mechanics as a whole Wavefunction collapse The many-worlds interpretation Relativity Mass/energy equivalence Antimatter & C symmetry Most of these concepts are often seen as mysterious or poorly understood, but really they're just complicated and mathematical and technical. When professionals talk about these things, their discussions always involve actual math, not just rough qualitative arguments that kinda-sorta sound like they might work. Sure, a qualitative hypothesis typically comes first, but then they set pen to paper and see if they can get the math to work out. When they compare and contrast mathematical models, they're judging them based on how well they fit the actual data taken by actual instruments. I'm definitely not saying that if you haven't taken a university course in something, you're not authorized to have opinions about it! There are plenty of people who are highly skilled in plenty of things who haven't had formal training. But I am saying that forming accurate scientific beliefs is hard, and it's especially hard if you don't make the plunge into actual textbooks and actual math. A core skill for a scientist is an exacting, precise discernment: determining which information sources to trust and how much, evaluating how a new claim fits into what you already know, recognizing when a prior belief needs a reevaluation or refinement when the balance of evidence starts tilting against its favor, and being open to being flat-out wrong. It's hard to develop these skills without being inundated in professional science and seeing how it works from the inside. There's a stereotype of scientists being myopic and close-minded toward new ideas and theories. But really, any professional scientist worth their salt is very, very good at being wrong: they've done it thousands of times before! At mid- or high-level university, majoring in physics is hard! The average student is going to do plenty of problems wrong, miss the point of plenty of lectures, and probably bomb a test or two. Most importantly, they're going to have their existing beliefs about how the universe works challenged and upturned over and over and over and over. One of the most important skills a college science curriculum teaches you is how to be wrong, when to throw whatever you thought was true out the window and listen to the evidence. Truly gifted scientists are some of the most open-minded people out there. But there's reasoning and discernment behind their open-mindedness, not gullibility or naivety. The reason most ideas and hypotheses get tossed into the garbage is not because science is close-minded. It's because most hypotheses are wrong. Hypothesis space is huge: there are a lot of ways to be wrong, but only one way to be right. A good scientist still comes up with plenty of bad theories, it's just that they dispose of them on their own, as they come up. A good scientist not only knows what they know, but knows what they don't know; they keep tabs on where the gaps in their knowledge are and they're always on the lookout for something that fits. But they don't snap something into the puzzle just because it's the least terrible among poor options. That doesn't get you anywhere, and is just a quick way to start believing wrong things. Don't settle. So, again, I'm not saying only professional scientists have the right to talk about science. I'm just saying that scientific terms already have meanings, and if you don't build up your own understanding of them, carefully, then you have no reason to expect you'll end up believing something that even makes sense. You're not even playing the same game. I'm sorry I ended up rambling so much, but this is something I'm really passionate about. If this is too off-topic, it's totally fine if a mod chooses to move it somewhere else, I'd just prefer it weren't deleted altogether. Again, I'm not trying to tell anyone what to believe. I just wanted to give an inside perspective. Lotus says: I've been waiting to actually answer the question for like two hours while Anti rambles, hah. Anyway, no, I've never noticed anything that suggests someone else has caught on to me from scratch. However, I can make Anti look like kind of a doof by saying something really distracting and making her space out for a second. And if we're with someone who already knows about me, sometimes they'll ask whether she was talking to me. Sometimes they even ask what I was saying (validation!), and that's especially nice.