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Posted by: Henry Bemis ( )
Date: June 07, 2019 07:28PM

In case you have nothing to think about this weekend!

As I have pointed out numerous times on this Board, *the* foundational assumption in modern neuroscience was expressed by Nobel laureate Francis Crick in his book, The Astonishing Hypothesis:

“The Astonishing Hypothesis is that "You," your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.”

The underlying motivation for AH is two-fold: First, the functional complexity of the brain itself as established by neuroscience; and second, the successes of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in accounting for many brain processes by linking them to computational models. Such computational processes are most often characterized as a “neural network” consisting of complex neuronal patterns as "representations" of both environmental input and memory. These representations are manipulated by the brain through either computational rules ("Cognitivism") or associations ("Connectionism") to achieve all of the thoughts, intentions, desires, and behavior as experienced and observed. The details of all this are complicated and controversial, which we need not get into here.

See, Tim Crane, The Mechanical Mind (2003); Andy Clark, An Introduction to the Philosophy of Cognitive Science (2013)

AH has been expressed many times and in many ways by many neuroscientists and philosophers, but the substance of this assumption is the same, and unmistakable: There is nothing, literally nothing, about human mentality that is not explainable solely by the operation of the human brain in conjunction with the body and the environment. The importance of maintaining AH is staggering because *if* there was something about human beings that was not so explainable, it would imply that there was something about human mentality that transcends explanation in physical, scientific terms. What could that be? A Cartesian soul? Philosopher John Searle articulated this worry:

“I believe one of the unstated assumptions behind the current batch of views [in philosophy of mind] is that they represent the only scientifically acceptable alternatives to the antiscientism that went with traditional dualism, the belief in the immortality of the soul, spiritualism, and so on. Acceptance of the current [materialist] views is motivated not so much by an independent conviction of their truth as by a terror of what are apparently the only alternatives. That is, the choice we are tacitly presented with is between a "scientific" approach, as represented by one or another of the current versions of "materialism," and an "antiscientific" approach, as represented by Cartesianism or some other traditional religious conception of mind.” [Searle, The Rediscovery of Mind, 1992:3-4]

But, let’s be fair. Notwithstanding such “fear,” AH is objectively compelling for at least two reasons: (1) When looking inside the brain we find a vast complex of 100 billion neurons, with estimated 100 trillion neural synapses. Not only does this represent a tremendous amount of computational power, when we conduct imaging studies we actually see these neurons and synapses in action; and (2) The correlation between brain activity and phenomenal experience is uncontroversial. Whatever we see, do, or otherwise experience, there seems to be correlated brain activity, even if we cannot always pin down just what these neuronal patterns specifically “represent” in the complex details of our experience. Moreover, when some brain pathology occurs, by accident or disease, neuroscientists can often see the corresponding effects in both mental experience and behavior.

From these constantly confirming facts, it is no wonder that AH is ubiquitous in neuroscience, and that any suggestion of contrary data or evidence receives either a summary dismissal, forced, hand-waving explanations of little scientific validity, or simply a suggestion that such things are merely insignificant gaps. The appeal and entrenchment of AH is understandable, but that does not mean, of course, that it is true.

I have said several times on the Board that AH is demonstrably false; that AH has been falsified. As such, clinging to AH, regardless of how compelling it is, or regardless of the evidence for it, is scientifically unjustified. The reason I think it is “demonstrably” false can be found in basically three areas of analysis:

(1) Human Creativity: AH is inconsistent with the empirical fact of human creativity. In other words, there is no way—in principle—for a deterministic, computational brain to encompass what we know that humans can creativity accomplish. This includes not only artistic and scientific creativity, but the general creativity of everyday life and problem solving. In other words, AH’s commitment to both determinism and computation does not allow a mechanism for creativity. (See below for an example of “the frame problem.”)

(2) Mental Causation: It is acknowledged that AH, at least at present, cannot explain human consciousness or subjective experience generally. However, that is not the point here. We know with experiential certainty that the human mind can bring about physical effects, including physical, agent behavior and even physical changes to the brain. AH might someday be successful in explaining how the brain causes mental events, but *that* explanation does not explain how mental events are capable as causing physical events. If it is all in the brain, as a deterministic, computational system, there is no room for non-physical mental causation—unless the mind is deemed to be “nothing but” the brain. But since the mind, as we experience it every day, has properties that are non-physical, for example, seeing the color red, or feeling pain, they cannot be simply identical to physical neurons.

(3) Paranormal Phenomena: There is a vast amount of paranormal phenomena, both by way of controlled studies and anecdotal evidence, which is both credible and compelling. This data points directly against AH.

The so-called “frame problem” in cognitive science is related to human creativity. In essence, it demonstrates the impossibility of a strictly computational or connectionist system to account for the full dynamics of human cognitive function. Although a bit complicated, and coming in several forms, consider the following:

Imagine you order from your 22nd Century Amazon account, the most sophisticated computational robot imaginable; advertised to mimic human function totally and completely in every way, such as to be indistinguishable from a human. (In other words, it passes the Turing test with flying colors!) Such robot is entirely computational, consistent with AH and AI. You unpack the robot and place it in your kitchen, turn it on, and say, “Please bring me a cup of coffee.” Now, the robot knows what coffee is, knows what a coffee maker is, and knows how to make coffee, and generally navigate a kitchen. All that has been programmed into the robot. But, it has never been in *your* kitchen or *your* house before, so it has to ask you a series of questions about where to find this and that in order to complete the task. Now, suppose it asks you all the right questions, but in answering all such questions you say, “I don’t know, you figure it out.” Unbeknownst to the robot, there is no coffee in the house, no cups, and no coffee maker. So, what does the robot do? Well, maybe it starts a search function looking all over the house for the needed items, and then expanding the search to the neighborhood, looking under beds, bushes, and whatever. Eventually, the robot crashes and you send it back to Amazon demanding your money back.

Instead of replacing the robot with another robot, you decide to just hire a maid. The maid comes in, and you say, “Bring me a cup of coffee.” The maid then asks the same series of questions the robot asked and you give the same answer, “I don’t know, you figure it out.” The maid, looks throughout the kitchen and realizes that what is needed is not there. Getting no help from you, she stops, thinks about the problem, and disappears out the front door. Twenty minutes later she returns and hands you a Starbucks.

One way of looking at this example is noting that the robot could not “Think outside the box.” But the problem is more serious than that. There are too many facts and circumstances “outside the box” that might be relevant to solving any particular cognitive problem. Now a clever programmer could program your robot to solve the coffee problem and return the robot to you, but it could not program the robot to act “globally” outside the box in a systematic way. In short, it could not be programmed to access all of its “mental” representations and determine which of these representations might be relevant to a particular problem, and then how to apply all of this detail to the problem at hand. It is the same problem for the brain. The maid’s behavior is certainly represented in the brain; i.e. the neurons are firing all right. But her behavior, and most importantly her cognitive capacity to creatively solve the problem, cannot be explained computationally. Since AH is based upon an assumption of computational processes, it must be false.

Note that the response of most neuro-philosophers and AI theorists is predictably NOT to abandon AH in the face of the frame problem, or other issues involving creativity, that would be too, well . . . logical. The response is, "Let's keep looking for that impossible algorithm. AH just has to be right! What else could it be?"

Arguably, the most knowledgeable expert on human Creativity is AI theorist, Margaret Boden, who admitted:

“Shakespeare, Bach, Picasso, Darwin, Babbage, Chanel, the Saatchis, Groucho Marx, the Beatles . . . take your pick. From poets and scientists to advertisers and fashion designers, creativity abounds. . . . How it happens is a puzzle. This need not imply any fundamental difficulty about explaining creativity in scientific terms: scientists take puzzles in their stride. Mysteries, however, are different. If a puzzle is an unanswered question, a mystery is a question that can barely be intelligently asked, never mind satisfactorily answered. Mysteries are beyond the reach of science. Creativity itself is seemingly a mystery, for there is something paradoxical about it, something which makes it difficult to see how it is even possible.

(Margaret Boden, The Creative Mind (1991))

Have a good weekend. I hope I didn't spoil it.

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Posted by: babyloncansuckit ( )
Date: June 07, 2019 08:09PM

Since Crick won a Nobel prize for discovering the structure of DNA, you can’t blame him for being a reductionist. That was the big thing for his time. I think there is a growing movement that concedes, although in hushed tones, that the mind is not limited to the boundary of the skull.

While this allows for the possibility that the Mormons aren’t completely wrong in their doctrine, there are enough serious problems with the religion to seek answers elsewhere. On the bright side, maybe we weren’t fooling ourselves. There was something there.

You can still have a personal God. That’s a big win. You’re just a lot better off if it’s not the “dumb and dumber” Mormon god.

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Posted by: Henry Bemis ( )
Date: June 08, 2019 08:31AM

Since Crick won a Nobel prize for discovering the structure of DNA, you can’t blame him for being a reductionist. That was the big thing for his time.

COMMENT: There is nothing wrong with being a *methodological* reductionist. That is a standard and highly effective procedural stance in science. The problem is *ontological* reductionism, which in its materialist form states that all of reality can be reduced to physics. AH is reductionist in this sense. Although; there *is* a trend in biology against ontological reductionism in favor of the view that life encompasses emergent properties that cannot be explained in terms of biochemistry, it does not appear that cognitive neuroscience has embraced this trend. Thus, a neuroscientist would say that human reasoning is just the computational processes in the brain, and does not need anything else; for example some emergent property that explains creativity, or otherwise involves a "soul."

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Posted by: babyloncansuckit ( )
Date: June 08, 2019 10:12AM

This has real implications for the AI industry. If computers can’t really mimic the human brain, the fears of an AI apocalypse are way overblown.

Neuroscience must have dissenters in the ranks, but they wisely keep their opinions to themselves. Certainly Eben Alexander served as a wake up call. Just as GR didn’t really threaten Newtonian Mechanics, supernatural aspects of consciousness don’t really threaten classic neurology. We’re all that, but we’re not just that.

The quantum computing race is also changing our lexicon. Ordinary people are accepting quantum entanglement as normal. If there’s a mechanism for that, who’s to say there’s no mechanism for nonlocal consciousness? The hijacking of “quantum” by the woo people notwithstanding, which I find hilarious.

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Posted by: Jordan ( )
Date: June 07, 2019 08:48PM

Personally I see this as a reductionist not a holistic view. A human, a crowd, a car, a symphony or a space station is a sum of its parts, but the combination of all these parts, in toto, results in something quite different.

I'm made of a lot of the same things I can find in my backyard, cerrainly a lot of the same minerals, and a few of the things living in there share characteristics with me - DNA, nerves etc and in the case of any mammals or birds living round there, we have a hell of a lot in common with each other. But in other ways, we are completely different, despite similar components. I have a lot more free choice than the rocks, plants or the microbes, or the higher animals.

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Posted by: Jordan ( )
Date: June 07, 2019 08:54PM

At some point, the living creature adds something new to the "dead" minerals, the animal goes beyond the plant and the human lartly goes beyond the animal experience (in some cases!). At each stage, the sum of the parts exceeds many of the previous stages. A human is capable of a lot more than a nematode, tout court, even though there are some surprising similarities between the two.

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Posted by: blindguy ( )
Date: June 07, 2019 09:32PM

I think the notion proposed by Dr. Crick, though fascinating, is fatally flawed. While it is true that humans have a greater capability than their fellow animals to be creative and think through problems, I'm afraid that what we humans do most of the time is follow our own emotional impulses; that is, we don't look at all problems logically and deductively; rather, we tend to be spurred on by our emotions, which is how all of our fellow animal creatures operate. It is our emotions that dictate our logic and not the other way around. And, it is our emotional impulses that robots, with all of the AI built into them that can be found, are currently unable to replicate.

But genetic and neuroscientists shouldn't worry. This inability to explain impulsive emotional human behavior bedevils some of our other sciences, particularly those that study and try to make sense of human behavior, such as psychology, anthropology, and economics.

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Posted by: Jordan ( )
Date: June 07, 2019 10:00PM

I totally agree we mostly go by emotion. But here's the rub, emotion isn't necessarily illogical. It can be a shortcut to impel action. Do you fear that big snarling dog running towards you? Quite rightly, since previous experience and advice tells you angry dogs are often dangerous. Do your best friends make you feel happy? That's because they may be the people who fight for your interests and well being.

Emotion fails when it becomes obstructive. Needless anxiety, fear of mice or being happy for the wrong reasons.

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Posted by: Henry Bemis ( )
Date: June 08, 2019 08:13AM

I think the notion proposed by Dr. Crick, though fascinating, is fatally flawed. While it is true that humans have a greater capability than their fellow animals to be creative and think through problems, I'm afraid that what we humans do most of the time is follow our own emotional impulses; that is, we don't look at all problems logically and deductively; rather, we tend to be spurred on by our emotions, which is how all of our fellow animal creatures operate. It is our emotions that dictate our logic and not the other way around. And, it is our emotional impulses that robots, with all of the AI built into them that can be found, are currently unable to replicate.

COMMENT: Neither the AH or Crick's theory is undermined by and appeal to the role of emotions in human reasoning. Crick (and other neuroscientists) would just point out that the emotions are governed by the limbic system, which is made up of neurons. So, according to standard neuroscience, any role of emotion in human cognition is also based upon brain function.
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But genetic and neuroscientists shouldn't worry. This inability to explain impulsive emotional human behavior bedevils some of our other sciences, particularly those that study and try to make sense of human behavior, such as psychology, anthropology, and economics.

COMMENT: Again, there is a great deal of research on the role of emotion in human cognition, in both neuroscience and psychology. (See Antonio Damasio, Descartes Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain)

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Posted by: Henry Bemis ( )
Date: June 10, 2019 05:54PM

First, thanks for reading this rather long and tedious post.

Regarding your link, you will not find much support for my position from either Sean Carroll or Patricia Churchland. But, you will also not find a refutation either. Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist, and Churchland is a philosopher of neuroscience. I have read their written works and have found not so much as a discussion of the topics of this post, much less a refutation. However, if you hear an argument that you think is, or might be relevant, lay it on me.

In any event, when you pick up a book on Neuroscience, Cognitive Science, or Artificial Intelligence, check out the index to see if there is anything on "creativity," "the frame problem," or "relevance." It will be rare to find a discussion of this topic in the general literature.

Notwithstanding, there is a 1997 book, called "Solving the Frame Problem" by Murray Shanahan, but the problem does not get solved, rather the author mainly discusses mathematical strategies outside the context of cognitive science. Here is a quote. It is a bit esoteric, but if you think about it, you will see the connection between the identified problem here and my post.

"According to Fodor's argument, central systems have a dangerous property, which renders them insusceptible to theoretical understanding.

". . . there seems to be no way to delimit the sorts of informational resources which may affect, or be affected by, central processes of problem solving. [Fodor, 1983, p.112]

"To put it another way, there are no constraints on what facts might be relevant to the computation of "best hypotheses about what the world is like." In engineering terms, this makes it hard to imagine an efficient computational mechanism for implementing central systems, if that mechanism's design has to be based on the manipulation of representations. This makes it difficult to conceive of a central system as a physical symbol system at all (even though the relationship between its input and output may be described by a computable function). This in turn suggests that the representational approach to designing an artefact that exhibits intelligent behavior may be the wrong one. Perhaps intelligence simply shouldn't be thought of in terms of representations.{Shanahan 1997:xxv}"

All models of the brain involve representations, because in such models the neuronal patterns of the brain must "represent" some environmental input. For example, the visual system has no pictures in it, it "represents" a visual scene by the specific neuronal firings in the brain when a dynamic scene is present before the eyes. That is what makes the brain "representational." And that, according to the above quote, is what makes it problematic, because there is no way for a representational system, whether a computer or the brain, to "delimit" all of the representational elements that might be relevant to solving a problem. In my example in the OP it would be hard, nay impossible, to program the robot to have all of the representational information that would allow it to function as a human being in all of life's highly complex diverse contexts. The same problem exists for the human--if, as alleged, it was a computational device, ala AI. That is why, I argue, it is not such a device.

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Posted by: Happy_Heretic ( )
Date: June 11, 2019 02:13PM

You really should listen to the podcast I posted. You have made false statements throughout. Patricia is a graduate level trained Neurologist. She studied with the best (Gazzaniga, Rand, and Sperry- they literally wrote the textbook of neurobiology). Philosophy was secondary for her. She is married to a neurologist herself.

She says in the podcast (again listening to it might be useful before erecting straw-men) that the brain is NOT like a computer. It is a false analogy (consistent with your own claims). However, there are emerging data suggestive of nuero-chemo-structural changes at the synaptic level which are quite interesting in looking at memory, inherited stimuli sensitivity, and creatitive behavior patterns.

Again... you should listen.

BTW... I am a behavioral neurologist (think Skinner and Penfield). For me, consciousness is NOT a brain process, but rather a social construct, which evolved within a verbal community. We "report" our reasons for behaving in certain ways, and others say we are "conscious" or "aware" of the reasons for our actions. However, the report of our motivations may be completely in error because our verbal behavior is a function of variables in the verbal community which may have nothing whatsoever to do with the actual motivations for behaving.

I would like it if you didn't actually respond Bemis. Armchair cognitive philosophers often make embarrassingly inaccurate statements when conjecturing about free will and consciousness. Generally, however, they know nothing of the science. That leads to a good many assertions unsupported by data, facts, and reason. And leads to a good amount of violating Morgan's canon of parsimony. You may wish to put the ghost back into the machine, but such red herrings tend to move fields farther from discovering truth, and closer to Rube Golberg Device thinking.

Best Wishes,

HH =)

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Posted by: Henry Bemis ( )
Date: June 11, 2019 03:28PM

You really should listen to the podcast I posted. You have made false statements throughout. Patricia is a graduate level trained Neurologist. She studied with the best (Gazzaniga, Rand, and Sperry- they literally wrote the textbook of neurobiology). Philosophy was secondary for her. She is married to a neurologist herself.

COMMENT: Patricia Churchland is a philosopher--NOT A NEUROLOGIST. You are entirely misinformed. She has worked closely with the Salk Institute in San Diego, including with neuroscientists associated with the Salk Institute, but she herself is a philosopher.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patricia_Churchland

Note also, I have read all of her books, and know her position intimately. The same goes for Sean Carroll. So, if you want to raise an issue, raise it, but don't try to educate me on the views of Churchland.

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She says in the podcast (again listening to it might be useful before erecting straw-men) that the brain is NOT like a computer. It is a false analogy (consistent with your own claims). However, there are emerging data suggestive of nuero-chemo-structural changes at the synaptic level which are quite interesting in looking at memory, inherited stimuli sensitivity, and creatitive behavior patterns.

COMMENT: She wrote a book, called "The Computational Brain" with biologist Terrence J. Sejnowski. When she says the brain is "not like a computer" she means a "digital" computer. What she thinks is that the brain is a neural network, which is a different kind of computational architecture, called connectionism. Connectionism is a representational view, so my criticisms of her apply. There are indeed many interesting and new structural issues at the synaptic level, but all of this is part of her general connectionist account.
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Again... you should listen.

COMMENT: Really, I don't have to. I know her views!
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BTW... I am a behavioral neurologist (think Skinner and Penfield). For me, consciousness is NOT a brain process, but rather a social construct, which evolved within a verbal community. We "report" our reasons for behaving in certain ways, and others say we are "conscious" or "aware" of the reasons for our actions. However, the report of our motivations may be completely in error because our verbal behavior is a function of variables in the verbal community which may have nothing whatsoever to do with the actual motivations for behaving.

COMMENT: Thanks for sharing your views. However, from this short paragraph, they do not make sense. If consciousness is a social construct, how does it manifest itself in individual human beings and behavior? How does it generate a "self?" How on earth does any social construct, which presumably is a product of a group of individuals, "create" individual consciousness? Just how does language tie into all of this?

Skinner, of course, was a behaviorist, and was not very interested in consciousness or the mind. For him it was all about environmental input and behavioral output. Everything about the mind was explained by behavior. So, that is not very helpful in understanding what goes on in the mind. As for Penfield, he was essentially a dualist. Here is a quote from this book, The Mystery of Mind:

"And so I come to my final reconsideration: I worked as a scientist trying to prove that the brain accounted for the mind and demonstrating as many brain-mechanisms as possible hoping to show *how* the brain did so. In presenting this monograph I do not being with a conclusion and I do not end by making a final and unalterable one. Instead, I reconsider the present-day neurophysicological evidence on the basis of two hypotheses: (a) that man's being consists of one fundamental element, and (b) that it consists of two. I take the position that the brain-mechanisms, which we (my colleagues and I all around the world), are working out, would, of course, have to be employed on the basis of either alternative. In the end I conclude that there is no good evidence, in spite of new methods; such as the employment of stimulating electrodes, the study of conscious patients and the analysis of epileptic attacks, that the brain alone can carry out the work that the mind does. I conclude that it is easier to rationalize man's being on the basis of two elements than on the basis of one. But I believe that one should not pretend to draw a final scientific conclusion, in man's study of man, until the nature of the energy responsible for mind-action is discovered as, in my own opinion, it will be."

I essentially agree with Penfield. His views have nothing to do with whatever views you were trying to express above.

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I would like it if you didn't actually respond Bemis. Armchair cognitive philosophers often make embarrassingly inaccurate statements when conjecturing about free will and consciousness. Generally, however, they know nothing of the science. That leads to a good many assertions unsupported by data, facts, and reason. And leads to a good amount of violating Morgan's canon of parsimony. You may wish to put the ghost back into the machine, but such red herrings tend to move fields farther from discovering truth, and closer to Rube Golberg Device thinking.

COMMENT: Sorry, but you cannot spew out a bunch of unsupported BS, and then ask me to keep quiet. You do not want to be refuted, I get that, but your reference to Skinner and Penfield on their face shows you have no idea what you are talking about, regardless of what credentials you might have. Your theoretical views on these issues are ill-informed, and frankly ludicrous. Notwithstanding, as a "behavioral neurologist" (whatever that is) I am sure you are quite good at whatever clinical activities you are engaged in.

Now if you want a meaningful exchange, articulate your views in a way that can be understood. Give me some quotes, or whatever, so I can understand where you are coming from.

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Posted by: Happy_Heretic ( )
Date: June 11, 2019 05:26PM

I leave myself at the mercy of other exmos interested in this thread. As you listen to the podcast, have I, in any way, misrepresented the conversation, the interviewer, or the interviewee? If so I will submit myself to the judgement of this objective group as to the accuracy of my representation of Dr. Churchland and the discussion.

Some people have agendas and will not be dissuaded. Others simply wish to engage in meaningful banter which may, or may not, be enlightening and constructive. I am willing to be persuaded, and put forth a contribution to the thread which I believed to be on-point and constructive.

HH =)

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Posted by: Henry Bemis ( )
Date: June 11, 2019 06:08PM

I leave myself at the mercy of other exmos interested in this thread. As you listen to the podcast, have I, in any way, misrepresented the conversation, the interviewer, or the interviewee? If so I will submit myself to the judgement of this objective group as to the accuracy of my representation of Dr. Churchland and the discussion.

COMMENT: The podcast is 1:12 minutes long! After a few minutes I could see that it was nothing more than a rhetorical popularization of the writings of Churchland and Carroll, all of which I have read--extensively. If you have a point you want to make from this podcast, they make it; quote it; or paraphrase it. If there is something interesting here, tell us all what it is, and stop demanding I (and others) spend an hour of my time to confirm that it was not all that interesting or new as you claim. I am not going to do you homework for you. Make your own points.
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Some people have agendas and will not be dissuaded. Others simply wish to engage in meaningful banter which may, or may not, be enlightening and constructive. I am willing to be persuaded, and put forth a contribution to the thread which I believed to be on-point and constructive.

COMMENT: WHEN! When are you going to put forth a contribution to the thread which [you] believe to be on-point and constructive? I was hoping and waiting for this very thing. But you haven't done it. Look at the OP, and point out something you think is wrong or misguided, and explain just why you think so. Or alternatively, state your position on these issues in a way that is coherent and meaningful. Then, I will have something to respond to.

As it is, all you have done is provide a couple of sentences of a view that appears to be ludicrous on its face, while citing two authors that have nothing to do with such a view. And then, apparently because you are incapable of articulating your own position, you want me to listen to a podcast for an hour to assess the views of the participants which I already familiar with.

In fact, come to think of it, I have never seen any substantive contribution you have made to a debate on this Board; certainly none in my posts. It is all passing sound bites. But maybe I missed something. If so, please provide the link so I can apologize.

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Posted by: Happy_Heretic ( )
Date: June 11, 2019 06:33PM

Again... I put myself at the mercy of those who listened to the ENTIRE podcast.

HH =)

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Posted by: Human ( )
Date: June 11, 2019 06:09PM

“Behaviour neurologist,” eh? Heh.

Tell us, what neuro-mechanism forced you to be too lazy to google before claiming, “Patricia [Churchland] is a graduate level trained Neurologist”?

Here’s what she claims for herself:

https://patriciachurchland.com/career/

No wonder you asked Henry not to respond to your claims. Pathetic & weak, yes; but no wonder.

No worries. You don’t think there’s a “you” to be this lazy, weak and pathetic. It’s just your brain that is weak, pathetic and lazy. You, as it were, are off the hook.

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Posted by: Happy_Heretic ( )
Date: June 11, 2019 06:31PM

From the page you cited:

"PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES
Society for Neuroscience
Philosophy of Science Association
American Philosophical Association
Society for Philosophy and Psychology"

Here is a snippet of her wiki as well:
"Academic career
Churchland's first academic appointment was at the University of Manitoba, where she was an assistant professor from 1969 to 1977, an associate professor from 1977 to 1982, and promoted to a full professorship in 1983.[6] It was here that she began to make a formal study of neuroscience with the help and encouragement of Larry Jordan, a professor with a lab in the Department of Physiology there."


So... yup... neuroscientist.

HH =)

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Posted by: Happy_Heretic ( )
Date: June 11, 2019 06:47PM

By the way... her objective studies of Voles and attachment as it relates to oxytocin, endogenous cannabinoids, and endogenous opioids receptors was groundbreaking. Hardly "philosophical" in nature.


HH =)

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Posted by: babyloncansuckit ( )
Date: June 11, 2019 04:07PM

“You may wish to put the ghost back into the machine, but such red herrings tend to move fields farther from discovering truth, and closer to Rube Golberg Device thinking.”

But the ghost is in the machine. Well, not so localized in time and space, but our memories last for many decades. If they are stored in the brain then you’re talking about memories surviving death because brain cells are constantly dying and being replaced. Is DNA duplication replacing memories like a monk transcribing a bible? If so, what’s the physical mechanism? Some people have perfect recall of things that happened many generations of brain cells ago.

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Posted by: Happy_Heretic ( )
Date: June 11, 2019 05:27PM

Please listen to the podcast. If there are points of clarification I would be glad to offer my professional (or not so professional) opinion.

HH =)

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Posted by: Henry Bemis ( )
Date: June 11, 2019 06:22PM

“You may wish to put the ghost back into the machine, but such red herrings tend to move fields farther from discovering truth, and closer to Rube Golberg Device thinking.”

COMMENT: Thank you for quoting the podcast! This is the rhetorical nonsense that I would expect from these two. But, as you so artfully pointed out, perhaps the ghost is still there; or should not have been taken out of the machine in the first place by materialist philosophers who were worried about religion! Notice also that the "Rube Goldberg" suggestion is precisely what is needed to explain cognition in a connectionist network context because in part due to the frame problem noted in the OP. The connectionist network must encompass vast numbers of complex representations and connections in order to explain human creativity and problem solving. How are the relevant representations identified and retrieved in order to accommodate complex human problem solving, like the hypothetical in the OP? Humans do it very efficiently; not Rube Goldberg required. It is only when computational networks are invoked that the system runs amuck.

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But the ghost is in the machine. Well, not so localized in time and space, but our memories last for many decades. If they are stored in the brain then you’re talking about memories surviving death because brain cells are constantly dying and being replaced. Is DNA duplication replacing memories like a monk transcribing a bible? If so, what’s the physical mechanism? Some people have perfect recall of things that happened many generations of brain cells ago.

COMMENT: Excellent points. Thank you.

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Posted by: Dave the Atheist ( )
Date: June 10, 2019 10:42AM

OK then. Now what ?

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Posted by: Henry Bemis ( )
Date: June 10, 2019 06:02PM

OK then. Now what ?
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COMMENT: First, thanks to you also for wading through this.

I certainly do not know the answer to your question, but it *does* leave a tremendous amount open as an extension of reality, including much that has been traditionally religious. As an atheist myself, I am not inclined to run to the nearest church and get baptized. Notwithstanding, I am open to the idea that virtually no idea is per se ridiculous--unless it is logically inconsistent, or a blatant violation of empirical facts as scientifically established. However, one needs to be careful about what one claims to be "scientifically established." After all, that is what got us into the AH problem in the first place.

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Posted by: babyloncansuckit ( )
Date: June 11, 2019 09:20AM

In academia, once an idea has been relegated to the dustbin, it’s very awkward to fish it back out and wash it off. This effect happens routinely in the sciences.

Vitalism is one of those ideas. It’s almost dead in the West. It still has some acceptance in the East, and even more acceptance where it’s used as a mode of healing.

So why do we shun old ideas out of hand? “It’s been scientifically established” is a nice mantra until the evidence suggests otherwise. Then you’re back to deconverting Mormons. I’ve noticed that young people don’t have that problem. They’re totally cool with facts that don’t fit the paradigm.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 06/11/2019 09:55AM by babyloncansuckit.

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Posted by: Happy_Heretic ( )
Date: June 11, 2019 05:29PM

This ^^^^^^^^^^^^^ is brilliant.

HH =)

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Posted by: Henry Bemis ( )
Date: June 11, 2019 06:33PM

In academia, once an idea has been relegated to the dustbin, it’s very awkward to fish it back out and wash it off. This effect happens routinely in the sciences.

COMMENT: Yes, and I take your point as applying to dualism.
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Vitalism is one of those ideas. It’s almost dead in the West. It still has some acceptance in the East, and even more acceptance where it’s used as a mode of healing.

COMMENT: I like the example of the ether. After Einstein, it was relegated to the dustbin (and rightfully so), but lo and behold it has surfaced again quite astoundingly in quantum field theory, where now we are told that the vacuum is full of stuff after all, and there is no such thing as empty space.
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So why do we shun old ideas out of hand? “It’s been scientifically established” is a nice mantra until the evidence suggests otherwise. Then you’re back to deconverting Mormons. I’ve noticed that young people don’t have that problem. They’re totally cool with facts that don’t fit the paradigm.

COMMENT: Your last sentence gives me hope; but then again people like Carroll and Churchland are spreading their materialist, anti-humanist, rhetoric to their largely gullible students who hold them in awe.

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Posted by: Henry Bemis ( )
Date: June 10, 2019 06:40PM

Let me try to jumpstart interest in this topic with another thought experiment:

Image you are an AI specialist in the 22nd Century with the task of creating a computer program that "creates" a symphony.

So, you begin by entering into the computer all sorts of data, anything that can be quantifiable and representational of all things relevant to music. First, you enter all of notational information, and make sure you have an output device (printer) that can print the results in music notation. Then, you enter all of the instruments, with their various pitch ranges and timbre. Next you enter mathematical representations related to harmony, musical scales, along with information as to what particular combinations are pleasing to human ears. All of this so far is entirely mathematical. Everything we have noted so far can be identified quantitatively, while "representing" various phenomena of human experiences. Surely, in principle, there is nothing problematic here.

Now, you are feeling good about yourself, but you want your computer program to have some examples, so you input all of the musical works that have ever been done by humans, including melodies, harmonies, key transitions, etc. In other words, you create an immense data file. After all, even Mozart had music examples to draw from when he created his masterpieces.

O.K. you are all done. Everything is ready. So, you go to your keyboard and type in: "Create a symphony?" Now, you have entered and represented the words "create" and "symphony," so your program "knows" what it is supposed to do. But, to your chagrin, nothing happens. Why? Because there is nobody to select a musical theme. Nobody to select the musical style. There is nobody to select a starting melody, or how one melody should lead to another; or how harmonies should be established; or what instruments should be selected to create such harmonies in order to achieve some unstated aesthetic objective. In short, there is NO creator! No person! No genius, or not so genius, composer! As such, nothing gets off the ground.

Now, if you are desperate, you can program the computer with "human details" including a starting melody as a theme, with mathematical harmonic and melodic transitions from that theme, and sooner or later something "musical" is bound to come out. But, it will not be the computer being creative, it will be a human being creative with a computer!

This is not an example of the framing problem per se, but an example of what humans can do that computer's can't do. Humans not only can access their representational resources non-computationally, but they can transcend such resources and create all sorts of mental constructs that were not previously "in the head." Again, that is why AH is false.

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Posted by: Human ( )
Date: June 10, 2019 08:19PM

“unstated aesthetic objective“

This will always bedevil those who believe that, in principle, everything can be stated.

It’s astonishing that anyone could believe this; yet, the hubris of the belief is human, all too human.

Human

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Posted by: Henry Bemis ( )
Date: June 11, 2019 06:44PM

We live in a world that is intoxicated with computation and information processing. This is a world of mathematics, algorithms, and engineering that we use every day. Perhaps it is not surprising that people will turn this idea onto themselves without realizing that much of what they actually do in life, and think about, and what matters, is non-computational, and does not involve algorithmic information processing.

And to your point, actual reality might very well encompass something that transcends language, mathematics and information processing in ways we do not understand, but which somehow tap into what it means to be human.

Thank you.

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