Prove that you have "dreams".

One thing I notice about GD threads when they turn to ghosts, religious experiences, and other paranormal stuff: the demand that one produce scientifically reproducible evidence that doesn’t depend on individuals’ subjective experiences.

I wondered if there were any other common human experiences that couldn’t meet this test, and it occurred to me that dreams (i.e., while sleeping) might fit the bill.

I know that there is such as thing as REM and probably brain activity, but isn’t that kind of indirect? In no way does it prove that I had a dream of falling last night. And that many other people have the same dreams, and it likely has such and such significance.

And furthermore, how can you (if you’re a skeptic) accept that people have dreams, but pooh-pooh stories of prescient dreams? They both have the exact same lack of verifiable data and reliance on anecdote, so where do you draw the line?

[Koxinga throws down glove, sticks chin out] As far as you’re able to prove, you have never had a so-called “dream” in your life, and it doen’t do you any good to say, well, other people have them too–'cause other people say they see ghosts and the Virgin Mary, and we know that’s all anectodal hoo-ha. So what do you say now, buddy?

Sorry, ain’t gonna happen - I don’t dream.

Dreams correspond to brain activity that is pretty easily observable. An observer can’t prove that a person is dreaming, but they can show that a person is both asleep and experiencing specific brain activity.

I have no doubt that people see ghosts, by the way. But just because someone sees a ghost doesn’t make it real. I see things (especially when I’m asleep) that dont exist all the time.

Well, unless there’s been a mass historical conspiracy, I rely on (in additional to my own dreams) the honesty of the thousands upon thousands of writers who have independently described dreams as evidence that dreams exist. I also rely on the belief that there’s no mass conspiracy propping up a sham called “neuroscience” and that the human brain, though not nearly fully understood, does behave in fairly predictable, prosaic ways involving chemicals and cells and axons and such. It describes no mechanism, and as far as I know, it describes no possibility of a mechanism that predicts the future in any way that would be better than a conscious person’s ability to make predictive guesses.

Going with the simpler explanations, I find that coincidence, honest mistakes and outright fraud are all easier to believe than a neurological ability to violate cause and effect. You’ll have to find some example the eliminates the first three possibilities before I’d be inclined to accept the fourth.

Welcome to the Dope. Good one! You are of course entirely correct. It’s impossible to prove that you have dreams, they are a purely subjective experience. Religious experiences and seeing ghosts may also be entirely subjective, and therefore untestable. if people make untestable claims, fair enough. Nobody is entitled to deny their experience.

Where it becomes stickier is when the entirely subjective claim is extended into the objective arena. “I saw God and he said hello” is fine. “I saw God and he said the world will end next Tuesday” is partially testable… we just have to wait till next Tuesday! “Grandpa’s ghost told me he left a luger buried under the fireplace” is partially testable, we can dig under the fireplace. Or with your example, a prescient dream - the fact of the dream isn’t testable, but the accuracy of its prediction is.

There’s an interesting example detailed in Phantoms in the Brain regarding synesthesia, the phenonmenon where indivduals report “seeing” sounds, “hearing” colours and other sensory crossovers. Some individuals reported seeing fine black-and-white patterns as coloured.

This claim was tested by embedding symbols constituted from fine black and white pattern, which were claimed to appear coloured, in a background of coarser black and white pattern, which were not. The time taken for individuals to pick out the symbols was then measured. Normal people would take a few seconds before they could say “that’s a cross,” “that’s a star,” etc. But the synesthesics could read the symbols immediately, because they saw the cross and the star as coloured. A claim that appeared to be entirely subjective was thus carried across into the objective world, rather elegantly in my opinion.

**Mosier ** hits the nail on the head. The question with supernatural or religious experiences isn’t over their existence, but over their origin.

For example, are near-death experiences the result of the victim’s soul actually leaving his body? Or are they merely a common sensory anomaly caused by an oxygen-starved brain? While there’s strong evidence that the victims do experience SOMETHING, there’s NO evidence that it was of supernatural origin.

Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was Oh no, not again. Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the universe than we do now.

This is probably the best OP by a new guest I’ve ever seen. The logic is unassailable, the idea original, and the point important. Welcome to the board. Your membership for one year has been paid.

There is now. Lots of evidence showing near death experiencers are correct in being out of their bodies.

Lekatt, with all due respect, please don’t take this thread there. You know very well that it will become a circus like all the other NDE threads. Give this new guy a chance, will ya? :slight_smile:

Years ago, it was thought REM sleep meant the person was dreaming. I am not sure what science thinks about REM sleep now. The eyes moving rapidly back and forth, up and down, as if following some event the person was either watching or participating in. One thing they did find in their research is that all people dream, whether they remember it or not.

I’m not sure the two phenomena (dreams and religious visions/ghosts) are as comparable as you suggest. Simply put, dreams happen when we’re asleep, and religious visions when we’re awake. Therefore, they’re not the same class of experience. It would be one thing if those reporting visions used phrases like “I hallucinated…” but they don’t. They say “I saw…” and the reason they use that language is because they’re comparing their vision to the mundane world of seeing. They “saw” the Virgin Mary in the same way that they “saw” the truck that passed down the road a minute ago. And that makes it a claim about the objective world that can be tested. We get to ask questions like “Was anyone else there? Did they see it? Did anyone take a photo?” whereas to ask for a photo of a dream would be ridiculous.

If, on the other hand, people who see ghosts want to hold them in the same class as dreams, (i.e. artifacts within the brain, not directly derived from external stimuli) then all they’re doing is reporting on their brain state. Which is interesting, but doesn’t compel me to alter my conception of the world at all. And that, usually, is what people who tell me they’ve seen ghosts or the Virgin Mary want me to do.

I am merely correcting a statement made about NDEs. Just read it and don’t comment on it everyone. Is that OK.

One way would be:

People faced with tough decisions often say “I need to sleep on it.” When they awake it is easier to make the decision because of a dream. I have heard many people say they got the “idea” from a dream. This is better than nothing that dreaming takes place.

But it’s only their word. A subjective claim. It can’t be falsified.

No, giving you a free pass on your oft-repeated and unsubstanciated claims is not o.k.

Religious visions can happen while one sleeps, prophecy during these dreams can help ‘prove’ dreams happen when the prophecy comes true, or when the person has information they could not have on their own. Also there are biblical accounts of evil spirits tormenting people in dreams.

  1. How can we differentiate between a dream with a religious theme, and a religious vision that happens in one’s sleep? If it’s only the interpretation of the sleeper, we’re right back in the wonderful world of subjectivity. (At least, that’s what it looks like to me.)

  2. Prophecy does provide a means of testing whether dreams happen, provided we can be sure we’re not being hoaxed. But I don’t think this happens very often.

  3. There are recent accounts of aliens abducting people in their dreams and torturing them. How do they relate to the biblical accounts of evil spirits? I can think of four options: a) they’re both culturally-inspired interpretations of the physical/mental sensations resulting from a bad dream; b) the aliens are true, but the evil spirits were fictions; c) vice versa; d) they’re both true - in the past, evil spirits tormented people, now aliens abduct us. I favour a). If one believes b) or c), one must have reasons for accepting one account but rejecting the other. If d) is the case, we’re all going to need a lot more caffeine pills, because falling asleep is a mug’s game.

Not going to argue the point in this thread, the link speaks for itself, oh yes, the word is unsubstantiated.

The proposition that people have dreams only requires me to accept that other people, while sleeping, have images and imaginary experiences in their brains – just as I do myself (or at least, I have memories of having dreams). If you’re willing to stipulate that people do think and do imagine things that aren’t real, then dreaming isn’t a bizarre notion. Given that billions of people (most of the human population) claim to have dreams, given that I myself have dreams (or believe that I do), and given that the phenomenon of dreaming, as normally described, seems reasonable in context of what else we generally accept human brains are capable of, Occam’s Razor would lead to the simplest conclusion being that people do, in fact, dream.

Truly prescient dreams, on the other hand, would require a violation of the laws of physics as we know them. A claim like that requires an extraordinary level of evidence, which just isn’t there.

ETA: Lekatt, this board is supposed to be about fighting ignorance. You consistently, willfully, dishonestly do the opposite. That’s why, whenever there’s a thread like this, it’s annoying when you show up and start passing out the goofy candy.