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Comments by All About Meme

Go to: The raw deal of determinism and reductionism

All About Meme's Avatar Jump to comment 228 by All About Meme

There are definitely times when I catch myself staring directly at something, while slouching motionless in my chair for instance, such as a picture hung upon a wall, but not really being completely "conscious" of it. It's just a "thing" in my optical field of view. My brain is in a "quiescent" mode, so to speak. Most external observers would describe my condition during this moment as "staring off into space".

Then, a moment later, some sort of "language module" kicks in, and a rather frenetic "inner voice" begins making silent comments about the picture -- using English words and phrases.

(Additionally, the damn "music module" always seems to be playing in the background, somewhere, and it is usually playing the very last song I was "conscious" of earlier in the day -- certainly not some random tune.)

I think consciousness IS the "inner voice". Without the English words I'm speaking (internally) to myself, I'm not really "aware" of any particular thing.

That's why I think Steve Zara has the better angle on this debate. It seems reasonable to assume that during the "quiescent" times, I'm simply "monitoring" a stream of sensory input, without really "understanding" it. The "understanding" comes only when the "language module" is triggered.

Just some personal observations, for what they're worth. (And sorry about all the scare-quotes.)

Sun, 22 Jul 2012 06:52:38 UTC | #949811

Go to: Refuting supernatural

All About Meme's Avatar Jump to comment 155 by All About Meme

Comment 154 by Akaei

I speculate that if we took a group (10-100) of modern human children, isolated them from authority and cultural information (other than basic language) they would develop their own supernaturalist religion.

Either that or rock & roll and hip-hop.

Sun, 22 Jul 2012 04:52:45 UTC | #949807

Go to: The raw deal of determinism and reductionism

All About Meme's Avatar Jump to comment 223 by All About Meme

@ Schrodinger's Cat:

Thanks very much for linking to that video. It's the first time I ever experienced Chalmers, and I must admit most of his statements were thoroughly unconvincing. It seemed like every one of them essentially said "consciousness is real to me".

I can imagine zombies who are identical to Chalmers in every detail, except that they lack frizzelmorpishness.

I look around and see colors: reds, and greens, and blues. All of these FEEL a certain way to me... they have a quality of experience."

Or, perhaps Chalmers has simply learned to expound on these topics in a colorful and sophisticated language that instills in people a sense that there's something missing from the picture (when there really isn't).

Sun, 22 Jul 2012 04:29:53 UTC | #949804

Go to: The raw deal of determinism and reductionism

All About Meme's Avatar Jump to comment 221 by All About Meme

What I'm doing is asking you, who believes that there is a non-physical aspect of this causal chain...

(The referee steps in momentarily...)

May I suggest that "new-physical" instead of "non-physical" be used to more accurately describe Schrodinger's Cat's position?

(Blows the whistle.) Engage!

Sun, 22 Jul 2012 04:03:21 UTC | #949802

Go to: The raw deal of determinism and reductionism

All About Meme's Avatar Jump to comment 216 by All About Meme

Comment 213 by Steve Zara

My experience of Steve Zara is that he's read. Brilliantly well read, in fact.

Sun, 22 Jul 2012 03:23:59 UTC | #949796

Go to: The raw deal of determinism and reductionism

All About Meme's Avatar Jump to comment 212 by All About Meme

Jack: What do you experience when you see that red dot?
Jill: I see a red dot.
Jack: No. I mean what do you really experience when you see it?
Jill: The desire for a new pair of red leather pumps?
Jack: You're just being silly. Please be serious.
Jill: The dot is a quarter-inch in diameter, and its color is a deep, candy apple red. Do I win?
Jack: C'mon, Jill. You know what I mean. Describe your experience of it.
Jill: Confusion? Boredom?
Etc.

It's the term "neural correlates" that seems to put the cart before the horse. "That fMRI scan merely captures the neural correlates of consciousness, not consciousness itself."

Shoot. All that intricate wiring, timing diagrams, and recursive programming, and all that damn robot does is identify red spots, without even telling us what they really are.

Sun, 22 Jul 2012 03:08:00 UTC | #949792

Go to: The raw deal of determinism and reductionism

All About Meme's Avatar Jump to comment 203 by All About Meme

I would also interject the proposition that a sufficiently young human infant is not "conscious".

Are maturing human babies "new physics" generators, then? Does this new physics emerge from a maturing baby's brain, like heavy elements are forged in the interiors of stars?

If this thing called "consciousness" emerges only as a human infant matures, this is strong evidence that it is merely a developing wetware program, perhaps recursive to a significant degree, and dependent largely upon sensory experience as well as language acquisition.

Sun, 22 Jul 2012 01:30:30 UTC | #949782

Go to: The raw deal of determinism and reductionism

All About Meme's Avatar Jump to comment 202 by All About Meme

No matter how much you might know everything there is to know about the neural correlate of consciousness, you have not explained the experience of consciousness until you have reduced that experience to components that are identifiable physical entities. That is the crux of this entire argument.

Okay, okay... we've heard this semantic cop-out a gazillion times.

Can you please answer my earlier question: In your opinion, are these "components" contained within the human brain, or not?

Sun, 22 Jul 2012 01:18:22 UTC | #949781

Go to: The raw deal of determinism and reductionism

All About Meme's Avatar Jump to comment 199 by All About Meme

Comment 198 by Zeuglodon

I think you're winning, but I don't want to appear excessively partisan. Obviously, my vote is neither here nor there in terms of determining truth. I also don't want to discourage Schrodinger's Cat, because without his intelligent participation, this engrossing (and entertaining) debate wouldn't exist on rd.net. I don't know if you're aware of the fact that Cat has already sharpened his considerable claws on this subject in a similar lengthy (and ongoing) debate with Steve Zara. You're working overtime, and Cat might simply be reading from a Searle-like script, at this point.

;)

I've read Pinker's How the Mind Works, and The Language Instinct, and I just recently purchased The Stuff of Thought. (I also burned a week of my life reading Julian Jaynes Bicameral Mind book.) I'm inclined to believe the word consciousness is just a "placeholder" at this point. We've essentially labelled a phenomenon we clearly don't understand, and the ensuing arguments have merely reaped what we've sown.

There can be no doubt whatsoever that our concept of consciousness is strongly linked to our acquisition of advanced language. Language has inherent limitations in describing physical phenomena -- quantum mechanics fully demonstrates this. I always point to the argument made by Moshe Feldenkrais in Awareness Through Movement that humans can't even hope to describe, with language, the complex sequence of actions necessary to even get up out of a chair.

Language is our great achievement, but in many ways it's also our self-imposed prison. For lack of anything better to contribute to this discussion, I'll just end this post with that Dennett-esquian deepity.

Sat, 21 Jul 2012 21:09:15 UTC | #949773

Go to: The raw deal of determinism and reductionism

All About Meme's Avatar Jump to comment 197 by All About Meme

Schrodinger's Cat:

Have you advanced a scientific hypothesis on this "new physics" of yours? You've made literally hundreds of posts on the topic of consciousness and I'm just wondering if I've missed it along the way.

Do you disagree that this "new physics" is taking place entirely inside the human brain? Even if we enclosed a person with a grounded Faraday Shield, ten miles below the Earth's surface, surrounded by six feet of lead and twenty feet of borated polyethylene -- consciousness would still manifest itself.... correct?

I just want to clear-up this point. Thanks for your time.

Sat, 21 Jul 2012 20:04:59 UTC | #949770

Go to: Conspiracies taking over where religion left off

All About Meme's Avatar Jump to comment 20 by All About Meme

Photons are not a factor in aerodynamics. They don't "fly" like jets. They're also massless. and travel at the speed of light.

My tongue-in-cheek jibe at Schrodinger's Cat had a semi-serious point. The term "UFO" has clearly been contaminated and spoiled beyond all repair from its original military definition, mostly by pulp-fiction and Hollywood.

Thus, unequivocally stating that "UFOs are real" is an open invitation to serious misunderstanding from the average lay-person. We don't need to shoot ourselves in the foot like this, when the confusion is so easily dispelled by employing a few extra English words for scientific clarity.

Good night.

Sat, 21 Jul 2012 10:11:50 UTC | #949743

Go to: Conspiracies taking over where religion left off

All About Meme's Avatar Jump to comment 18 by All About Meme

Ball lightning doesn't "fly" either, nor is its cause unidentified by science. But thanks?

Sat, 21 Jul 2012 08:55:20 UTC | #949734

Go to: Refuting supernatural

All About Meme's Avatar Jump to comment 147 by All About Meme

Comment 144 by Akaei

Nicely written!

It's more than apparent that you put time & effort into the composition of your longer posts. And I, for one, appreciate the resulting clarity.

Sat, 21 Jul 2012 08:35:49 UTC | #949732

Go to: The raw deal of determinism and reductionism

All About Meme's Avatar Jump to comment 187 by All About Meme

There is no aspect of, say, the experience of red that is reducable to anything in known physics.

Sorry for the drive-by, but that is merely an unevidenced assertion, and furthermore it contains a phrase (experience of red) that is essentially undefined.

After all, it is possible to ask ill-posed questions. What is the experience of red? might be one of those questions.

Sat, 21 Jul 2012 04:28:01 UTC | #949720

Go to: German politicians pledge to protect religious circumcision

All About Meme's Avatar Jump to comment 42 by All About Meme

Fine. Clarification noted. Moving on!

Sat, 21 Jul 2012 03:56:28 UTC | #949717

Go to: Conspiracies taking over where religion left off

All About Meme's Avatar Jump to comment 13 by All About Meme

Comment 12 by urn

Ah, the knockdown argument finally emerges for why conspiracy websites should in fact be encouraged to proliferate. (Just kidding, of course!)

It's great news, actually. And I, too, was led to Richard's doorstep via active (and regrettable) participation on a completely ridiculous website.

Sat, 21 Jul 2012 02:56:31 UTC | #949710

Go to: Conspiracies taking over where religion left off

All About Meme's Avatar Jump to comment 10 by All About Meme

I couldn't care less whether ( some ) people have called it UFOs...

I'll happily accept this statement. It's the only one that addressed my point, by the way.

If memory serves, your participation in that UFO thread was, as in many of your posts, an attempt to "straddle" the higher intellectual ground at the expense of others, by in this case scolding all who dismissed UFOs as mere fantasy -- due to the existence of real yet unknown plasma-related phenomenon such as the Hessdalen lights.

Yes, unexplained phenomena certainly exist. But to argue that these examples (you provided them!) fit the category of Unidentified FLYING Objects is a tad disingenuous. Because they aren't flying. Not even close.

Now if you can come up with something "unidentified" that IS actually flying through our atmosphere, or stratosphere, or even ionosphere, I'll shut my gob.

Fri, 20 Jul 2012 23:57:41 UTC | #949693

Go to: German politicians pledge to protect religious circumcision

All About Meme's Avatar Jump to comment 28 by All About Meme

Comment 27 by The Buachaill

Well done. Spot on.

Fri, 20 Jul 2012 22:48:01 UTC | #949684

Go to: Conspiracies taking over where religion left off

All About Meme's Avatar Jump to comment 7 by All About Meme

phenomenon such as the Hessdalen lights...

UFO = Unidentified Flying Object.

Do lights fly? Do electromagnetic waves or photons zoom through the air like fighter jets?

Um... no:

Flying: Moving or able to move through the air with wings: "a flying ant".

I also know this because my recent paper "On the Aerodynamics of Photons" was rejected out-of-hand by Aviation Weekly.

;)

Fri, 20 Jul 2012 20:16:43 UTC | #949658

Go to: The raw deal of determinism and reductionism

All About Meme's Avatar Jump to comment 176 by All About Meme

Zeuglodon:

The rub is that Searle doesn't specify by himself any means of telling the difference, which makes me suspicious that he's appealing to intuitive ideas of what understanding is (including that it's complex, fast, and not inflexible), and that's rarely a sign of a good argument.

Yes, this.

Schrodinger's Cat:

An excellent point.....and I agree that Searle does not specificy what does constitute 'understanding'. But then, neither can anyone else.

Yes, this.

Sorry for the interruption. It's been quite interesting.

Fri, 20 Jul 2012 19:08:05 UTC | #949651

Go to: Conspiracies taking over where religion left off

All About Meme's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by All About Meme

I have it on good authority that the proper response to conspiratorialists and their ilk is the following:

Science is interesting, and if you don't agree, you can fuck off.

It's astonishing to think there are people out there who remain unconvinced by this line of reasoning.

Another big factor may be that other eminently rational people such as our thread author Schrodinger's Cat continually play it "coy" when it comes to discussions on the existence of UFOs, for instance:

There is little in the way of decisive evidence for extraterrestrials....but there is absolutely conclusive scientific evidence that something unknown is going on.

Can you hear the eerie X-Files theme playing in the background? If audio files were allowed in posts on rd.net, I'm quite certain he would have included it.

Not content merely to muddy our pristine scientific nebulas with more hot gas, the clever Cat follows up his Fox Mulder-ism with this gem:

I don't support the 'extraterrestrial' hypothesis. UFOs are 'real'.....but almost certainly some unknown type of atmospheric plasma energy.

For shame, Sir, for shame.

/ parody

P.S. If anyone is bored and has a free hour or so, this thread on UFOs is one of the more hilarious discussions on extraterrestrials in recent memory, including a post from Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson himself.

Fri, 20 Jul 2012 18:57:25 UTC | #949648

Go to: Oxford Gift for Poor Students

All About Meme's Avatar Jump to comment 38 by All About Meme

Comment 37 by RJMoore

Indeed, none of those things would have been even REMOTELY possible without capitalism.

(sigh)

Being content with average wealth and humility is hell. Some people just can't handle the stress.

Thu, 19 Jul 2012 02:08:16 UTC | #949542

Go to: Oxford Gift for Poor Students

All About Meme's Avatar Jump to comment 36 by All About Meme

I’m talking about very ordinary businesspeople who have spent many years working hard and using their intelligence and drive to accumulate much more modest sums. These people are not stupid.

A correlation between intelligence and wealth? How novel. Correlation is not causation, however.

I'll grant that many of them are somewhat clever, but I would, with very few exceptions, assert self-discipline and self-sacrifice to be the major factors, and those qualities don't necessarily correlate with intelligence. I personally don't find the accumulation of wealth to be particularly admirable, especially if the only thing one chooses to do with it is escape from that fucking rat-race and all those pesky government regulations.

I'd much rather have lunch with a Van Gogh or a minimum-wage healthcare worker in Africa. Talk about interesting people with interesting experiences!

No offense intended whatsoever, but capitalism and "free" markets are largely aspects of a giant pyramid scheme on wheels, with religion, poverty, and ignorance greasing its bearings.

Thu, 19 Jul 2012 00:59:38 UTC | #949536

Go to: Teaching science in public schools without stepping around religion

All About Meme's Avatar Jump to comment 46 by All About Meme

Comment 41 by Schrodinger's Cat

It seems to me that (theist/alchemist) Newton implicitly accepted Why not? as a possible ultimate answer (i.e. at the highest level in the causal chain), because his mathematical explanation of gravity’s effects don't address the question of why gravity exists. Likewise, (deist) Einstein’s general relativity doesn’t address the question of why curved spacetime exists.

By their very nature, these kinds of Why? questions always lead to infinite regress. (I certainly don’t have to explain this to you.) For what it’s worth, and granted it isn’t much, Why not? seems to me to be a superior, or at least equivalently poor way of “capping off” the regress than Goddidit, given the myriad problems with precisely defining “God”.

In other words, yes, Why not? is definitely a “cop out”. But it’s just as good or better than all the other cop outs at the ultimate causal level – including the answer I don’t know. And it always will be.

Tue, 17 Jul 2012 21:02:41 UTC | #949463

Go to: Oxford Gift for Poor Students

All About Meme's Avatar Jump to comment 30 by All About Meme

Comment 29 by Premiseless

Well played, Sir.

Tue, 17 Jul 2012 18:50:39 UTC | #949446

Go to: Teaching science in public schools without stepping around religion

All About Meme's Avatar Jump to comment 35 by All About Meme

Comment 22 by Nordic11

Science cannot tell us why the universe is here, why it works they way it does or why we are here.

This, from a science teacher. (sigh) Your homework assignment is to read Dennett:

Darwin began his attack on the Cosmic Pyramid in the middle: Give me Order, and time, and I will explain Design. We have now seen how the downward path of universal acid flows: if we give his successors Chaos (in the old-fashioned sense of pure meaningless randomness), and eternity, they will explain Order -- the very Order needed to account for the Design. Does utter Chaos in turn need an explanation? What is there left to explain? Some people think there is still one leftover "WHY" question: Why is there something rather than nothing? Opinions differ on whether the question makes any intelligible demand at all. If it does, the answer "Because God exists" is probably as good an answer as any, but look at its competition: WHY NOT?

Darwin's Dangerous Idea

Tue, 17 Jul 2012 18:19:19 UTC | #949443

Go to: Why do we find mountains beautiful?

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Comment 32 by susanlatimer

I absolutely love animals!

But imagine looking out upon a magnificent Nature scene: snow-capped mountains in the distance framed against a pale blue sky, lightly dusted with clouds; a lush green meadow stitched with a babbling brook, surrounded by a deep green, old-growth forest...

... and four mangy buzzards tearing at the putrid carcass of a disease-ridden doe.

Animals aren't exactly beautiful, all the time.

I didn't think about that forest fires thing though, so obviously my thesis needs more mending. And without insects, many of the plants would die... dammit, beauty is getting pretty complicated.

[Off-topic/chat removed by moderator]

Tue, 17 Jul 2012 08:42:19 UTC | #949389

Go to: Why do we find mountains beautiful?

All About Meme's Avatar Jump to comment 31 by All About Meme

Apart from death and disease (and perhaps the smell of animal dung), what isn't beautiful about Nature?

If animals are removed from the equation, the word "beauty" describes virtually everything, at least in my opinion.

I'd also surmise that our sense of beauty is coupled with the concepts of symmetry, color, texture, and perhaps even geometrical complexity.

Tue, 17 Jul 2012 05:51:56 UTC | #949382

Go to: The Dark-Matter Ages

All About Meme's Avatar Jump to comment 24 by All About Meme

Comment 23 by djs56

While I agree that the USA does has a large defense budget, waste can be an amibiguous term. The new fastest supercomputer at Livermore is designed to model those weapons you speak of. I'm not sure that driving that technology is a waste.

It's unfortunate you chose the LLNL as your example. I worked there for close to a year, and I've never encountered a more wasteful engineering culture. Hundreds of highly-paid people near retirement just phoning it in, nepotism taken to a ridiculous level (i.e. husbands and wives sharing offices), useless "every day" status meetings, entitlement run rampant, 3-hour volleyball or soccer lunches every single day for many, cliques, backstabbing, and turf wars in every department. I arrived to a nearly empty parking lot at 7:45AM each morning, only to find my car virtually alone in that same parking lot at 6:00PM.

Printers and copiers constantly broken, bathroom lights that stayed broken for weeks, dirty carpets, and computer systems that were down weekly. The LLNL is a country club, plain and simple, for members only.

Yes, some of the technology they produce -- including the supercomputer you cited, is cutting-edge. But "wasteful" is the perfect adjective to describe the research environment such technology exists in. The semiconductor industry, by contrast, and I mean companies like Intel, could do the same work being done at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for a fraction of the cost.

I've worked at several aerospace companies in addition to my LLNL experience -- they're all wasteful. The defense industry, by and large, is merely a form of corporate welfare.

Wed, 20 Jun 2012 17:08:46 UTC | #947920

Go to: Conversion on Mount Improbable: How Evolution Challenges Christian Dogma

All About Meme's Avatar Jump to comment 87 by All About Meme

Comment 80 by Morgain

Evolution is also a buggy theory but it’ll do for now even though it has major holes in it.

Maslow found that those who survived the Nazi camps were overwhelmingly those who had such faith: not the atheists. So atheism is not a force for survival!

Talk about buggy theories. Here's an analogy for you to consider.

An ant farm is established (the Nazi camp) having 100 ants (the believers), and 5 tiny beetles (the non-believers). No food is placed into the container of insects, and they begin dying. After a period of time elapses, the survivors are counted. 20 ants are found alive, along with 1 still-kicking beetle.

Being a beetle is obviously not a force for survival !!!

Wed, 20 Jun 2012 03:34:02 UTC | #947901