Pharyngula

Stephen Jossler has made a dazzling breakthrough in reconciling science and religion. He believes evolution occurred by natural mechanisms during the whole of the history of the earth (science!), except during the Triassic period, when a creator god intervened to create the diversity of life during that 40-50 million year interval. Before: genetics. During: God. After: genetics again.

It sounds crazy, but then…

Everything about the Triassic period points to divine involvement. Let me ask you this: Could some kind of random genetic chance make the population of shelled cephalopods grow significantly? No, of course not. So the only logical explanation is that there was an infinite and all-knowing cephalopod creator who modified their mollusk foot into a muscular hydrostat that eventually, on the sixth day, became tentacles.

And a great white light shone upon me from the heavens, and I fell to my knees shouting, “Hallelujah, O Great Triassic Cephalopod God!” And I was as one stricken, writhing in the Glory of the Lord, and when I arose I was not lost, but was consecrated to the Truth and the Way and the Divided Foot, Amen.

Comments

  1. #1 Brando
    May 29, 2007

    Creationists are like conspiracy theorists – “if there’s no SIMPLE answer then it MUST be

  2. #2 Brownian
    May 29, 2007

    “Could some kind of random genetic chance make the population of shelled cephalopods grow significantly? No, of course not.”

    Funny how often critics of science feel it should be secondary to common sense.

    Then again, I think that’s one of things The Onion is satirising.

  3. #3 Bobryuu
    May 29, 2007

    Wait, doesn’t the mullosc phylotypic from have a ring of mini-arms around the mouth? Am I wrong?

  4. #4 forsen
    May 29, 2007

    Funny thing is, satires like these are not that easy to distinguish from theistic/teleological evolutionists like Conway-Morris, taken at face value. That forced mixture of science and interventional theism, with desperate attempts to save at least _some_ shreds of the formerly held beliefs, reeks of the old “God of the gaps”. Perhaps I was unfair to SCM though… there are worse examples than him.

  5. #5 MLE
    May 29, 2007

    Time to find another blog…looks like were about to lose PZ to the Great Triassic Cephalopod God!

  6. #6 Christian Burnham
    May 29, 2007

    I’m canceling my subscription to the linked newspaper. I find it outrageous that they would publish drivel like this. It used to be that they were a serious news source.

  7. #7 El Cid
    May 29, 2007

    Again, I have to ask: If their God were really clever, why would He have left behind any clues whatsoever about His magical intervention?

    Wouldn’t He simply have made His interventions into natural processes look *absolutely* indistinguishable from those same natural processes?

    After all, aren’t they supposed to be talking about a Supreme Being, who presumably could do the impossible, rather than just a Very Strong Guy with a Magic Wand?

    If not, what’s the point of sneaking around at all? Why not just create fossils which are 3 billion years old which say “Hey I’m God and I Created You All By Using My Magic, Now Worship Me”? For that matter, why not have the Earth orbited by flaming letters spelling out Genesis chapter 1?

  8. #8 sailor
    May 29, 2007

    PZ your post was hillarious, but it is like shooting fish out of water – it was after all the Onion.

  9. #9 uncle bob
    May 29, 2007

    Nobody reads “The Onion” huh? The related article about Bush’s
    nucular expertise is a little funnier…go back…and then
    visit the PNW Tree Octopus website, to refresh critical web-
    viewing techniques?

  10. #10 Caledonian
    May 29, 2007

    If we posit a being that can do the impossible, we can derive no consequences from this. Logic itself has been cast away – how can we then use it to reach conclusions?

    Of course, recognizing this fact requires logic, which is why so many attempt to assume the impossible and then try to use logic to identify consequences that follow from the impossibility. It would be ironic if it weren’t so stupid.

  11. #11 Dan
    May 29, 2007

    Stuff like this is why I love The Onion.

    Totally plausible.

  12. #12 Doodle Bean
    May 29, 2007
  13. #13 Martín Pereyra
    May 29, 2007

    Wow. Cthulhu is real!

  14. #14 Martín Pereyra
    May 29, 2007

    Wow. Cthulhu is real!

  15. #15 Bad Albert
    May 29, 2007

    It’s amazing how often people begin their “evidence” for creation with, “I believe”. Why don’t they do some testing and get back to us when they know for sure?

  16. #16 Randy Owens
    May 29, 2007

    Chthulu!

    I tell ya, kids these days don’t even know their R’lyeh Dreamers from their Goats with a Thousand Young.

  17. #17 Chris
    May 29, 2007

    … and boom! Pterosaurs

    Hehehe.

  18. #18 John Wilkins
    May 29, 2007

    So are you then agnostic about this deity?

  19. #19 frog
    May 29, 2007

    PZ, Is Stephen Jossler your future? Give him a beard, run back time a few decades, and voila!

    It almost makes sense.

  20. #20 beepbeepitsme
    May 29, 2007

    I got a good laugh when he used the words – “The secular Triassicists”. Huh? 🙂

  21. #21 Dan
    May 29, 2007

    Hilarious.

    Of course, are you going to let it go to your head that The Onion is totally sucking up to you, PZ?

  22. #22 Mosasaurus rex
    May 29, 2007

    “Great Triassic Cephalopod God” to you, “Flying Spaghetti Monster” to me. We are obviously separated by denominational differences. May you burn in Hell for your heresy.

  23. #23 Thought Provoker
    May 29, 2007

    Not to spoil a good laugh but there is a Hameroff hypothesis that suggests the Cambrian Evolutionary Explosion marked the beginning of Consciousness.

    This is based on his and Penrose’s joint efforts concerning quantum machanics in microtubules.

    That’s Rodger Penrose is in the Hawking/Penrose Black Hole models.

    http://www.hameroff.com/penrose-hameroff/cambrian.html

    I would be very interested in hearing your reaction to this.

    Provoking Thought

  24. #24 BennyAbelard
    May 29, 2007

    I actually didn’t realize that this was an onion parody until someone mentioned it in the comments. That says something.

  25. #25 CCP
    May 29, 2007

    “quantum machanics in microtubules.”

    Dwoo? That you?

  26. #26 Thought Provoker
    May 29, 2007

    I R a eenginear, wht cn I say 😉
    I’m not Dwoo (whoever that is)

  27. #27 Zach
    May 29, 2007

    God didn’t create cephalopods.

    They just showed up. Staring.

    http://www.qwantz.com/index.pl?comic=988

  28. #28 Blake Stacey
    May 29, 2007

    Thought Provoker:

    My reaction to the Penrose-Hameroff notion of the Magical Mystical Microtubule can be summarized in two words: bad science.

    It is a hypothesis not required by the data (other, far less esoteric explanations account for how anaesthetics work on nerve cells, for example). Nor is it supported by the data: decoherence times in biological tissue are far too short to allow quantum computation, and models already exist to explain how neurons “decide” to fire or not to fire. It also lacks predictive power. In the words of P. S. Churchland,

    The want of directly relevant data is frustrating enough, but the explanatory vacuum is catastrophic. Pixie dust in the synapses is about as explanatorily powerful as quantum coherence in the microtubules.

    Penrose’s argument that quantum computation is somehow necessary for human mental processes is also extremely dubious. His arguments based on Kurt Gödel’s incompleteness theorems are, to put it mildly, not persuasive. Furthermore, quantum computers as they are currently understood are not even capable of doing what Penrose says the brain cells have to do. His hypothesis requires a hyper-quantum computer which uses some hypothetical features of a quantum gravity theory nobody has discovered or even formulated yet in order to beat the Gödel limit. Relying upon quantum effects is one thing, but invoking a trans-quantum theory nobody has discovered yet is a different and even less attractive proposition.

    What does it even mean to say that “consciousness” began with the Cambrian Explosion? Of what is a worm “conscious”? In normal speech, we say that “consciousness” is something which humans have and other animals don’t (or at least something we have in far greater degree than other living things). Expanding the definition of “consciousness” to include all neural functioning of almost every animal phylum broadens the word beyond all meaning.

    Furthermore, the fossil record makes it clear that the “Explosion” took place over tens of millions of years. Did consciousness just take a really long time to smell the morning coffee?

    Explanations for the Cambrian Explosion exist within present-day biology. They are, to an extent, tentative and incomplete. Multiple explanations may overlap; the world is a big enough place for different mechanisms to coexist and, upon occasion, synergize with one another. In the Darwinian struggle of competing hypotheses, ideas from beyond the fringe of physics suffer a severe disadvantage against the well-founded concepts of biology.

  29. #29 LeeLeeOne
    May 29, 2007

    My son, a graduate of MSU/Minneapolis, informed me of this website. For quite a while, I have been enjoying Pharyngula. Thank you to “PZ” and to all of your contributors and participants. PLEASE keep up the work! BTW, is Stephen Jossler really that immature? I do not have a PhD nor a master’s degree; aaah nary but a “lowly” BSRN. Even I can understand that one cannot take science, plug the blank spots with junk, and expect it to hold against the tide of true scientific researchers. Junk that is proposed to be science is as destructive and as shallow to knowledge as the popular media is to the world today. Why does anyone wish to wallow in ignorance and denial? Perhaps lack of maturity, as maturity is very much a part of evolutionary biology, is more viral than previously thought.

  30. #30 Alan Kellogg
    May 29, 2007

    God created cephalopods, the rest He outsourced.

  31. #31 archgoon
    May 29, 2007

    Wow. I’m convinced. The Onion has saved my soul.

    The secular Triassicists would have you believe that these changes were just the result of millions of years of nature favoring certain genes over others in order to adapt, the same way evolution worked prior to the Triassic. Obviously, that doesn’t make any sense. Think about it: I’m supposed to believe that the same process that we know slowly changed us from simple bacteria into highly advanced reptiles over the course of the Paleozoic era is also responsible for turning us into highly advanced reptiles with different body lengths? Do these people ever pause to think how ridiculous they sound as they advance these theories?

  32. #32 Thought Provoker
    May 29, 2007

    Blake, thank you for responding.

    Hopefully this off-topic discussion is excusable (would it help if I called it an ID proposal?). But here is my take on this. If anyone could understand a non-algorithmic property in nature it would be Penrose (e.g. Black Holes, Quasicrystals)

    You may not like the Penrose’s solution to the Schrödinger’s cat paradox, but at least Penrose offers one. Do you have an answer other than to hand wave the question away?

    You asked “Did consciousness just take a really long time to smell the morning coffee?”

    Apparently.

    I am not talking the Hand of God here. I am not even sure what the definition of “consciousness” is besides some nonalgorithmic property in nature. Would it help if Penrose invented a different term?

    There is a noticable increase in the rate of evolution for the last half a billion years. I will turn the question around, what was holding evolution back for 3 Billion years after the OOL?

    You may not like the implications of wave function collapse being caused by consciousness but dismissing it using an argument of incredulity would be… ironic.

  33. #33 Rhampton
    May 29, 2007

    To me, God is another name for the Universe. So, metaphorically speaking, we truly are born of God, created in God’s image, subject to God’s eternal embrace.

    To put it terms more agreeable to Science, we are born of matter and energy, created by a biological “big bang” (wherein a cellular singularity gives rise to a complex sentient being), forever bound by universal laws that govern our composition. Thus it’s entirely fair to say that there is no other human institution more honest in its study of God — or rather, God’s ‘body’.

    The mind of God, however, is a supernatural phenomena. Because God’s mind (if it actually exists) lies outside the boundaries of observation and measurement, it will always be open to Machiavellian politics and irrational interpretations.

  34. #34 Scott Hatfield
    May 29, 2007

    A question re: #10

    Droll self-parody of one’s tendency to take certain words and phrases more rigorously than originally intended by others, or actual failure to realize that the article in question was, in fact, a parody of creationist thought?

  35. #35 poke
    May 29, 2007

    You know, once a year (say, Christmas or Easter), the atheist community should pick sides – Flying Spaghetti Monster or Great Triassic Cephalopod God – and have an all out religious parody war. After all, what’s religion without conflict?

  36. #36 Scott Hatfield, OM
    May 29, 2007

    Blake: While the Cambrian explosion certainly requires some sort of explanation, adding consciousness to the mix doesn’t seem to add anything in the way of explanatory power. It’s kind of like Moliere’s sleeping pills: they make you sleep because they have a ‘dormitive principle.’

    Have you read Sean Carroll (the biologist’s) popularizations of evo-devo, especially ‘The Making of the Fittest’? Not only does it have some dandy new anti-creationist arguments, but it raises some interesting examples of genetic (rather than anatomical/behavioural) convergence. If I read him right, there is a suggestion that major leaps like the Cambrian (phylogenesis) may be attributable to major reorganizations of the genome through gene duplication, etc. I would be interested in your (and others) take on that….SH

  37. #37 raven
    May 29, 2007

    Cephalopod god is old, old, news. I’m surprised that no one mentioned its name. Mighty Cthulhu who dwells off of Deep Reef.

  38. #38 Thought Provoker
    May 29, 2007

    One last provoking stab before this is lost in the sea of yesterday’s comments…

    At Telic Thoughts one of the ID proponents there makes a compelling argument that biologists think they know everything and ignore everyone else, especially physicists.

    Maybe she is right.

  39. #39 Kaleberg
    May 29, 2007

    My favorite take on the hybrid creationist-evolutionist theory was from Science Made Stupid, a fantastic book. The biblical creation of Adam and Eve was accepted, but whom did Cain and Abel marry? Obviously, they married women. (This is the Holy Bible, remember). Where did these women come from? Obviously, they evolved! It makes for a great family tree, what with Abel all croaked and icky.

  40. #40 Blake Stacey, OM
    May 29, 2007

    Scott Hatfield, OM:

    More in-depth takes on the Cambrian Explosion are one of the topics I intend to explore Real Soon Now. Unfortunately, software development is taking up my “day job” time, and much of the rest goes to supersymmetric quantum mechanics and suchlike topics.

    Thought Provoker:

    Occam’s Razor is not an argument from incredulity. Indicating where the data fails to support an argument is not handwaving that argument away.

    Furthermore, what special privilege does Penrose have to understand “non-algorithmic properites” of nature? The growth of quasicrystals obeys the same chemical and physical laws as all other material phenomena (they just have interesting symmetry properties, otherwise known as “funny shapes”). Black holes obey the same gravitational laws as all other matter; they’re just an extreme case.

    There is a noticable increase in the rate of evolution for the last half a billion years. I will turn the question around, what was holding evolution back for 3 Billion years after the OOL?

    Are you sure? By what metric is the “rate of evolution” measured? Remember, evolution is not a linear process, but a prolifically branching tree. Life stayed at the algae stage for billions of years, but how quickly did new species of algae arise — and how could we tell, if their fossil traces are almost indistinguishable and extinct species leave no traces in the genomes we have available today?

    Many, perhaps most, popular discussions of the “rate of evolution” — Ray Kurzweil springs to mind — fall prey to a recentist fallacy. They privilege recent events. Because the time periods closest to us are in many respects more fully documented, our timelines show more marks in the epochs closer to our own. By poorly representing the history of life — a history we do not know in full — we bias our judgment.

    You can model this mathematically with two competing Poisson processes, one producing fossils at a uniform rate and the other destroying them as time goes on. Because the historical and/or geological record is forgetful, the waiting time between known events can increase exponentially as you look further back in the past, even though the underlying process is completely uniform.

    And if the “rate of evolution” has increased in some measurable way, is that increase regular, trend-like, monotonic? Or does it occur in bursts, with different parts of the phylogenetic tree blossoming into new species at different times and varying speeds?

    And if the “rate of evolution,” however you quantify it, has increased remarkably in the last half-billion years, why is “consciousness” the property responsible out of all the innovations evolution has produced since the Cambrian? Why not, say, penis size?

    poke:

    You know, once a year (say, Christmas or Easter), the atheist community should pick sides – Flying Spaghetti Monster or Great Triassic Cephalopod God – and have an all out religious parody war. After all, what’s religion without conflict?

    Prepare to be gored by the horn of the Invisible Pink Unicorn! Blessed be Her transparent rose hooves.

  41. #41 Ichthyic
    May 29, 2007

    While the Cambrian explosion certainly requires some sort of explanation, adding consciousness to the mix doesn’t seem to add anything in the way of explanatory power.

    uh, yeah Scott, like the fact that “explosion” doesn’t really describe what happened very well, and that all of the people who thought it terribly unusual don’t know dick about anatomy, morphology, or fossilization.

    somehow, I think you need to focus more in detail when you say things like “requires some sort of explanation”.

    you know that without qualification, that statement will be misintrepreted.

    I also know you’ve been around here long enough to know better.

  42. #42 Blake Stacey, OM
    May 29, 2007

    Kaleberg:

    The Science Made Stupid history of the human species can be found here.

  43. #43 Bert Chadick
    May 29, 2007

    Following the perfect banana design theory: ‘Twas thus the Lord formeth Calamari and spreadeth his bounty throughout the sea.

  44. #44 Blake Stacey, OM
    May 29, 2007

    Thought Provoker:

    At Telic Thoughts one of the ID proponents there makes a compelling argument that biologists think they know everything and ignore everyone else, especially physicists.

    She does know that (to pick one example from many) the structure of DNA could not have been discovered without X-ray diffraction and Fourier transforms? And that bioinformatics relies upon and benefits greatly from calculational tools invented in statistical physics?

    Everybody has their own frontiers of ignorance. Sometimes, we have to push our own limits back into the unknown before we can make progress. That, as they say, is life. (It’s also a lot of fun.) What is most relevant here, however, is that creationists think they know everything and ignore everyone else, especially scientists.

  45. #45 Thought Provoker
    May 29, 2007

    Scott and Blake,

    Thank you for your response. When you get a chance, think about the answer to the Schrödinger’s cat paradox. Quantum Mechanics DOES show up in the macro world.

    A lot of key biological activities happen close to the threshold of quantum wierdness. I think there is better than 50% chance there will come a day when E = h/T (actually H bar) will become the new E = mc^2.

    It will start with a modest headline “NASA announces Penrose’s FELIX experiment was successful and produced the expected results”.

    Here is the link again…
    http://www.hameroff.com/penrose-hameroff/cambrian.html

    If for no other reason go to it so you can convince yourself the ID proponents are wrong in the assumption that you won’t even consider new ideas.

  46. #46 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    May 29, 2007

    I’m canceling my subscription to the linked newspaper. I find it outrageous that they would publish drivel like this. It used to be that they were a serious news source.

    Posted by: Christian Burnham | May 29, 2007 08:08 PM

    Christian, I know what you mean. The Onion was a great news source, as reliable as anything in Wisconsin when it headquartered in Madison.

    Then they moved to atheist New York City.

  47. #47 ekzept
    May 29, 2007

    the Triassic. such a godly time, wasn’t it?

    so, like, were the Pennsylvanian Triassic redbeds prophesies of Christ’s blood or something?

  48. #48 Arrogance Personified
    May 29, 2007

    Thought Provoker. That’s a most interesting handle!

  49. #49 Anton Mates
    May 29, 2007

    You may not like the Penrose’s solution to the Schrödinger’s cat paradox, but at least Penrose offers one. Do you have an answer other than to hand wave the question away?

    There are lots of answers to the cat paradox, just as there are lots of interpretations of QM. Most of these, such as consistent histories, many worlds, and objective collapse interpretations, do not single out conscious observation as a significant factor. You might look it up on Wikipedia for an introduction to alternatives.

    At Telic Thoughts one of the ID proponents there makes a compelling argument that biologists think they know everything and ignore everyone else, especially physicists.

    That’s silly. Nobody ignores physicists, particularly in our culture, where they’re the official Smartest Guys Around. Biologists work with physicists in many areas, such as biomechanics, genetics and neurology.

    I think she’s confusing “physicists” with “a physicist.” Biologists are not required to accept the speculations of an individual physicist, particularly outside his area of expertise. If lots of neurologists start finding evidence supporting the microtubule theory, that’ll be different.

  50. #50 Anton Mates
    May 29, 2007

    When you get a chance, think about the answer to the Schrödinger’s cat paradox. Quantum Mechanics DOES show up in the macro world.

    Er, the cat paradox is an example of how quantum mechanics does not show up in the macro world.

    There are plenty of macroscopic effects which can only be explained by QM, though, e.g. lasing.

  51. #51 KiwiInOz
    May 29, 2007

    Hmm. I’m an ecologist and I work with a physicist, who is an expert in complex systems modelling, to model the resilience of social-ecological systems. I sure as hell don’t ignore him – he has a brain the size of a small planet.

  52. #52 pkiwi
    May 29, 2007

    What I want to know is how are you supposed to pronounce Cthulhu??? Maybe thats why s/he is not responding to entreaties (I think they are more respectful than prayers when one is dealing with tentacles).

  53. #53 hf
    May 29, 2007

    Blake, I was totally with you until you said, “consciousness” is something which humans have and other animals don’t (or at least something we have in far greater degree than other living things). You mean self-consciousness, at best. Nobody buys the claim that other animals don’t feel pain. Though we can’t actually prove that anyone but the investigator feels anything, which again makes me wonder how subjectivity could accelerate the course of evolution.

  54. #54 Blake Stacey, OM
    May 30, 2007

    Anton Mates:

    Er, the cat paradox is an example of how quantum mechanics does not show up in the macro world.

    Yes, hence the word, paradox. As in, “counterintuitive result” (intuition being the product of evolution and experience on the macroscopic scale).

  55. #55 hf
    May 30, 2007

    pwiki, the wise would bring an offering of blood. Or they would if they were foolish enough to entreat Cthulhu in the first place. ^_^

  56. #56 Blake Stacey, OM
    May 30, 2007

    hf:

    Thank you for pointing out the slipperiness of words. Self-awareness might be a better choice (and, AFAICT, it’s what the quantum-mind people say quantum physics is necessary to explain).

    I think it’s reasonable to say that “pain” to a jellyfish or to a cockroach is probably not “perceived” in the same way that we handle it. . . but what about cats and octopodes? It’s all a horrible gray area. There’s something we’ve got which we’re pretty sure we’ve got more of than anybody else. What it is we can’t say — but goddamit, we know it makes us special.

  57. #57 Graculus
    May 30, 2007

    There is a noticable increase in the rate of evolution for the last half a billion years.

    Is there?

  58. #58 Blake Stacey, OM
    May 30, 2007

    Funny paper title: JL Thorne et al.,Estimating the rate of evolution of the rate of molecular evolutionMol Biol Evol. 15, 12 (Dec 1998):1647-57.

  59. #59 Scott Hatfield
    May 30, 2007

    Ichthyic: Sorry if I gave the impression I was feeding any sort of ‘god of the gaps’ troll. The so-called ‘explosion’ of course, is still millions of years long, and scarcity of evidence is not evidence of absence, or something like that. I probably should’ve clarified it, along the lines of, ‘what evolutionary process could be responsible, blah blah blah.’ But I was speaking to Blake Stacey, not some YEC/ID proponent.

    Peace…SH

  60. #60 Ichthyic
    May 30, 2007

    true, I missed who you were addressing.

    still, thanks for the better attempt at clarity, scott.

    it’s just an issue that every creationist I’ve ever argued with gets so wrong.

    I just don’t want to see those who know better “abbreviate” unnecessarily.

  61. #61 Jeff Fecke
    May 30, 2007

    I was hoping you’d seen this. The sad thing is, I’d happily take him in the present administration…he’d be a significant upgrade.

  62. #62 Randy Owens
    May 30, 2007

    Heh, the random quote above is now giving me

    Never lose sight of the connection between supermarket tabloids, professional wrestling, evangelism and supply side economics.

    It left out The Onion, though. Don’t know how that was overlooked.

  63. #63 Anton Mates
    May 30, 2007

    What I want to know is how are you supposed to pronounce Cthulhu???

    Basically something like “Kluh-luh” with a mouthful of Jello. See here for HPL’s own suggestions.

    Of course, no human who’s lived to tell about it has ever heard Cthulhu say his own name other than telepathically, so who knows how it really comes out?

  64. #64 wrg
    May 30, 2007

    That’s Rodger Penrose is in the Hawking/Penrose Black Hole models.

    Indeed, so you repeatedly remind us. Got anything better than an argument from authority?

    I am not even sure what the definition of “consciousness” is besides some nonalgorithmic property in nature.
    […]
    You may not like the implications of wave function collapse being caused by consciousness but dismissing it using an argument of incredulity would be… ironic.

    Dismissing what, exactly? Evidently you can’t even tell us what the idea is that so convincingly shatters our materialist preconceptions, let alone why we should take it seriously.

    I’ll leave the depth to those who actually know the relevant science and who seem to have discussed it pretty well so far. However, I’ll note that supposedly profound ideas about how some ineffable notion of consciousness has supernatural (or nonalgorithmic, whatever) effects due to quantum mechanics are ubiquitous. They’re all the rage in the woo of Chopra and scores of others. If we had even a tenth as much evidence as we have wild conjectures, there’d be cause to pay attention.

  65. #65 nat
    May 30, 2007

    Pz is the son of the cephalopod God, back on Earth to save humanity…(or at least cephalopods)

  66. #66 windy
    May 30, 2007

    …what was holding evolution back for 3 Billion years after the OOL?

    Whatever it was that exploded in the Cambrian had a really long fuse.

  67. #67 Arnosium Upinarum
    May 30, 2007

    Thought-Provoker:

    WHAT consciousness? A rock has a non-zero “consciousness”: it exists, has a finite order and complexity as a system of material particles, and is very good at responding to its environment, as any solid crystalline or glassy object ought to be.

    It can’t reproduce or entertain deep thoughts, but those are bogus qualifications for “consciousness”. Any system that juggles energy or mass or charge or spin or any other form of information is “conscious” in that it involves a processing of information. Take any two sub-atomic particles that interact, and you have amongst the simplest of possible systems that exhibits the transfer of information: “consciousness”, lowest order. Its NOT “absent”. Just nearest the simplest end of a vast spectrum of information-processing perspicacity.

    Extremely complex systems that are geared for reflecting on information from stimuli via the abstract platform of what we are pleased to call “mind” have more potential modes of reaction. Its endlessly self-referential too: We can react to our reactions. In a big way. What’s the big deal about “consciousness”? Read some Hofstedter for an insight.

    There isn’t anything in the notion of “consciousness” that informs us that we are fundamentally distinct in our physical (material or energy) make-up from other critters or stars or rocks. (Consider the parallel fallacy of “animate” versus “inanimate” matter and see how far that takes you in determining a distinct boundary between them). We just have more tools to ruminate on the info.

    Nature in her physical sumptuousness just plays variations on the same tune. Order and organization and complexity etc all play roles in it, but I never saw a rock acting anywhere near as stupidly as some people I’ve known, (which merely means that stupidity requires a lot of brains to manifest itself). Meanwhile, the rock continues to behave excellently within its rockness, unmarred by stupidity or genius or self-reflection, or any other of the “qualities” popularly attributed to “consciousness”.

    We might aspire to that kind of stability. Alas, we, the alleged “conscious”, who often presume “consciousness” as a bullwark against the forces of chaos, are much too tempermental and weak-willed to achieve it.

    Thank goodness.

    The notion of “consciousness” is just another form of that long series of attempts to identify humans as being endowed with some special essence, like “soul” or “spirit” or whatever.

    That fallacy behind the “consciousness” thing is what drives otherwise brilliant minds like Roger Penrose into attempting to identify a specific mechanism for it. Not surprisingly, he looks for one in a field he is comfortable in. The laughable aspect of it is the obvious fact that quantum mechanics underlies both animate and inanimate matter – as if there was any significant distinction to be made in the first place! Same deal with “consciousness”.

    Of course the devil is always in the details, but however ignorant we are of what “it” may be, “consciousness” surely isn’t an idea that folks need to swoon over as if it was anything other than an attribute of ordinary material systems. It MAY, after all, JUST be “more of the same” with a juicy pinch of complexity thrown in. The complete explanation of EXACTLY HOW IN DETAIL particular complex arrangements like our brains accomplish the feat of “knowing” will no doubt turn out to be as mundane as anything else in nature. No special spirits necessary. I predict we’ll learn that we are kin to rocks and stars and whatever else really exists, no specialness or divorce required. That’s an awesomely wonderous and beautiful prospect.

    If you really want to laugh your ass off, check out the grotesquely tiresome lengths to which a philosopher/psychologist goes in reviewing a book on “consciousness” by another one:

    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v29/n10/fodo01_.html

  68. #68 Heleen
    May 30, 2007

    Exceedingly funny piece by the Onion. The Onion must be good American style satire.

  69. #69 Magpie
    May 30, 2007

    Arnosium Upinarum:

    I’d certainly agree that the differences in intellect between humans and other organisms (and by extension, non-living complex systems as well)is quantitative, not qualitative. However, the reason that the mind/body problem is a problem, the reason that consciousness is still argued over, is by and large qualia; the ‘what it is to be like’ of experience.

    It isn’t that any sane philosopher (and I’m sure that many of you find this an oxymoron) doubts that the brain gives rise to conscious experience in a naturalistic way, the issue is how; how is it that objective matter such as my neural networks give rise to a subjective experience of something. A thought isn’t just information processing; it requires a subjective point of view, a thinker.

    It doesn’t appear that a description of a mind as a functional Turing Machine captures this aspect, and whilst conscious experience may be an emergent phenomenon of a realised Turing description it isn’t an answer to throw this around without justification.

    Personally, I think Penrose’s work is rather woo-like, as I do to any quantum theory of mind, at least until the position is justified.

    I suppose that I should finish by saying what I think consciousness is; I like Rosenthal’s (2002) treatmnet of Higher Order Thoughts (HOTs) – that consciousness is just thoughts about thoughts. Rather simple, and rather woo-less.

  70. #70 windy
    May 30, 2007

    From the Fodor article (#66):

    But Strawson holds that there isn’t anything about matter in virtue of which conscious experience could arise from it; or that if there is, we have literally no idea what it could be. In particular, we can’t imagine any way of arranging small bits of unconscious stuff that would result in the consciousness of the larger bits of stuff of which they are the constituents.

    If philosophers can’t imagine a way to do it, perhaps they need to study where babies come from.

  71. #71 Mag
    May 30, 2007

    Chthulu ?
    Come on, update your references. Don’t tell me no one around here has read City of Saints and Madmen from Jeff VanderMeer ?
    http://www.amazon.com/City-Saints-Madmen-Jeff-Vandermeer/dp/0553383574/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/104-3528845-9144749?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1180527822&sr=8-1

  72. #72 Mag
    May 30, 2007

    And an interview with the author. Look out for the last question…
    http://www.fantasticmetropolis.com/i/vandermeer/full/

  73. #73 Ginger Yellow
    May 30, 2007

    I agree with hf. There are perfectly reasonable definitions of consciousness that can and should be extended beyond humans (particularly to primates and other mammals, but probably beyond as well). This isn’t to say that other animals are conscious in the same way as us, but that they have some of the trappings of consciousness that we have, and likely other trappings that we don’t. Nagel said the question is whether there is something it is like to be a dog or a fish. If you limit the definition of consciousness to “self-awareness”, you at once cut out a lot of what we consider to be conscious experience (qualia, for example), but you also inevitably extend it beyond the human species. Chimps, bonobos and elephants all have demonstrable senses of self and even in the first two cases a basic theory of mind, although it is almost certain they are not as developed as ours.

    Fodor is utterly useless on consciousness, in my experience, but he keeps his own woo to a minimum in that article and focuses on Strawson’s. I have to say I struggle to understand why the “hard problem” of consciousness is so hard for some people. For instance I find Searle’s writings on the matter completely infuriating because he insists he isn’t a Cartesian dualist and then expounds a profoundly dualistic theory.

    I’m a soft Dennettian, I suppose. I wouldn’t call consciousness an illusion in so many words (a user-illusion, yes) and I don’t buy all of his arguments, but I do agree with him that it’s likely to be the result of thousands if not millions of monitoring and feedback circuits operating in the same brain-body system. The evidence from neuroscience just seems overwhelming. The hard problem for me isn’t in what seem to me badly formed questions of how consciousness can arise from matter, but in practical neurological conundrums like the binding problem.

  74. #74 James
    May 30, 2007

    Magic Squid Done It!

  75. #75 windy
    May 30, 2007

    I don’t see the deal with the binding problem (not as a philosophical issue anyway, of course it’s an interesting neurological thing to study). Wouldn’t any animal with a nervous system benefit from being able to perceive and compare stimulus combinations, not just single sensations?

  76. #76 Ginger Yellow
    May 30, 2007

    Like I say, I don’t really have any philosophical issues with consciousness at all, including the binding problem. My point is the truly difficult and interesting questions seem to be in the biology, not in the philosophy. For instance, how are signals coordinated, and how does the mind “know” that two or more signals refer to the same percept? What biological mechanisms govern this phenomenon? There are some intriguing suggestions as far as visual perception goes in Cristoph Koch’s Quest For Consciousness, but we’re still very far from having a clear picture.
    I don’t understand why people get so hung up on the philosophy when the answers are going to come from biology.

  77. #77 Aaron Kinney
    May 30, 2007

    Hey, maybe this is a decent compromise between ID and Evo? “Ok evolutionists, you win, IF we get to lay claim to the Triassic!”

  78. #78 Blake Stacey
    May 30, 2007

    Ginger Yellow, windy, et al.:

    Thank you for elevating the level of discussion! Upon further reflection, I think I could probably have phrased my remarks of last night in a clearer way, but so it goes.

  79. #79 Rey Fox
    May 30, 2007

    “What I want to know is how are you supposed to pronounce Cthulhu???”

    It’s pronounced “RAW-bert”.

  80. #80 Ginger Yellow
    May 30, 2007

    Sorry to bang on about this, but it’s a bugbear of mine and I also understand that my (and others’) dismissal of the philosophical problems is as frustrating to some people as their insistence that they are intractable, so it deserves elaboration.

    Take the famous example of the philospher’s zombie – a hypothetical zombie that walks like a human, talks like a human, is to all intents and purposes indistinguishable from humans, except that it does not experience qualia, or some other facet of consciousness. Philosophers like Searle insist that the fact we can imagine such a thing poses a massive problem for mechanistic or computational theories of mind, and more out there thinkers use it to support explicit dualism or nonsense like Penrose’s tubules.

    But I would argue that you can’t actually imagine such a thing, except in the sense that you can imagine a full grown elephant that weighs two grams. Now in a philosophical sense you can do such a thing, but you can’t really, because it wouldn’t be an elephant. It couldn’t have the biological and physical features of an elephant and still weigh two grams. Similarly, a philosopher’s zombie is unimaginable via a variation of the Turing test – if it was able to answer questions about qualia or other manifestations of consciousness indistinguishably from a real human, then a) you would have no way to prove it wasn’t experiencing them, and b) it would be highly unlikely or even impossible that it wasn’t experiencing them, since it would have no way of knowing what qualia are like otherwise. Indeed the whole idea of a philosopher’s zombie is deeply solipsistic, since the only way we know other humans are conscious is because they say so and their accounts of consciousness broadly concur with our own.

    This is the sort of thing that pisses me off when people overphilosophise consciousness. It’s great fun, which is why they do it, but a lot of time they’re inventing problems that don’t exist.

  81. #81 Magpie
    May 30, 2007

    Ginger Yellow,

    Whilst I do agree that Chimps etc have some basic form of ToM, I’m not so sure about ‘self-awareness’. Rouge spot tests etc may appear to show that they possess this, but self-awareness has (at least) two dissociated features – self-concept and self-recognition. Prosopagnosics cannot recognise their face, but have normal self-concept. Autistics have impaired self-concept, but can easily recognise their face. Studies such as Gallup’s (1979) only demonstrate that other great apes are capable of self-recogntion, not of self-concept.

  82. #82 Thought Provoker
    May 30, 2007

    Hi All,
    Thank you all for your responses. It was what I was hoping for.

    Arrogance Personified said “Thought Provoker. That’s a most interesting handle!”
    Yes it is and, yes, I am arrogant.

    Anton Mates said “There are lots of answers to the cat paradox,”
    I only asked for one. Yours. Do you have an answer you understand? If not, think about it.

    Hf said “Though we can’t actually prove that anyone but the investigator feels anything, which again makes me wonder how subjectivity could accelerate the course of evolution.”
    Would a subjective “sense” of its surrounding be advantageous for single cell organisms?
    http://www.youtube.com/v/251dPdhw–c

    wrg wrote “I’ll leave the depth to those who actually know the relevant science and who seem to have discussed it pretty well so far. However, I’ll note that supposedly profound ideas…”

    My self-appointed role is to provoke others into thinking for themselves. Relaying on others to do your thinking for you is, at best, lazy. This “supposedly profound” idea isn’t suggesting any existing materialistic idea is wrong, just incomplete. It is an answer to some interesting paradoxes. Are you simply letting those “who actually know the relevant science” do your thinking for you?

    I don’t claim to know everything, but I am trying my best to understand. To THINK.

    Arnosium Upinarum wrote “WHAT consciousness? A rock has a non-zero “consciousness”: it exists,…”

    At the risk of playing favorites, I liked your responses the best. I will try to respond in more depth after I had a chance to reread your comments and read the links.

    For now, I agree, if quantum mechanics is the engine behind “consciousness”, then all matter has this trait to some degree. Maybe “consciousness” is the wrong term. How about “non-algorithmic, non-local, parallel processing”?

    Such a trait isn’t very useful to a rock, but a living organism (even a single-celled one) might find it handy.

    Provoking Thought

  83. #83 Steve_C
    May 30, 2007

    Jeebus.

    Who let the quantum quack in?

  84. #84 Arnosium Upinarum
    May 30, 2007

    Magpie says: “…the issue is how; how is it that objective matter such as my neural networks give rise to a subjective experience of something.”

    That’s fine. By all means, look at the how of it. THEN we’ll know what we’re talking about when we use phrases like “subjective experience” and “consciousness”. The “objective matter” in a rock gives it a “subjective experience” too.

    And says: “A thought isn’t just information processing; it requires a subjective point of view, a thinker.”

    Does it? Objective, subjective, it seems only that some threshold of self-referential context be achieved in the processing. Its still all info processing at base. A rock does admirably from its own point of view: its a non-zero “thinker” too.

    Ginger Yellow said: “I don’t understand why people get so hung up on the philosophy when the answers are going to come from biology.”

    Exactly.

  85. #85 Arnosium Upinarum
    May 30, 2007

    Thought Provoker: “Maybe “consciousness” is the wrong term. How about “non-algorithmic, non-local, parallel processing”?”

    Oh, please. You can change your font and pretend to mean something different too.

  86. #86 Blake Stacey
    May 30, 2007

    Scott Aaronson once said of Turing’s famous paper “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,”

    As I read it, it’s a plea against meat chauvinism. Sure, Turing makes some scientific arguments, some mathematical arguments, some epistemological arguments. But beneath everything else is a moral argument. Namely: if a computer interacted with us in a way that was indistinguishable from a human, then of course we could say the computer wasn’t “really” thinking, that it was just a simulation. But on the same grounds, we could also say that other people aren’t really thinking, that they merely act as if they’re thinking. So what is it that entitles us to go through such intellectual acrobatics in the one case but not the other?

    If you’ll allow me to editorialize (as if I ever do otherwise…), this moral question, this question of double standards, is really where Searle, Penrose, and every other “strong AI skeptic” comes up empty for me. One can indeed give weighty and compelling arguments against the possibility of thinking machines. The only problem with these arguments is that they’re also arguments against the possibility of thinking brains!

  87. #87 Blake Stacey
    May 30, 2007

    Dang it, that last paragraph should have been blockquoted too.

  88. #88 windy
    May 30, 2007

    My point is the truly difficult and interesting questions seem to be in the biology, not in the philosophy. For instance, how are signals coordinated, and how does the mind “know” that two or more signals refer to the same percept?

    I agree completely. But regarding the binding problem, I took a cursory look at a few articles and was wondering why they only speak of it in lofty terms like “conscious perception”, “understanding the human mind”, etc, etc. Perhaps there is more down-to-earth material on it that I missed?

    It seems obvious me that animals must be capable of binding, so why would the binding problem be at the heart of understanding human-like consciousness? Isn’t there tons of research where animals (dolphins, pigeons, apes…) have been taught to pick up a red ball instead of a blue cube, or some such task that requires combining multiple cues?

    Of course, it could be that human conscious binding is a completely different and much more profound thing compared to what animals do, but I wouldn’t bet on it 🙂

  89. #89 Thought Provoker
    May 30, 2007

    Hi All,

    I realize I am being the provocative troll here. However, it was my intent to test my understanding in a hostile environment. I am very leery of Group Think. It is too easy to get people to agree to “common sense”. Thank you again for all your responses. They have been helpful.

    It turned out that these crystals matched Penrose Tilings. Some wish to dismiss quasicrystals as an example of non-algorithmic things in nature, but it comes across, to me, as an argument of incredulity.

    It turned out that these crystals matched Penrose Tilings. Some wish to dismiss quasicrystals as an example of non-algorithmic things in nature, but it comes across, to me, as an argument of incredulity. “It’s just a coincidence” can only carry you so far. Especially when Quantum Mechanics can be shown to be at the heart of all matter and it is the pinnacle example of non-algorithmic things occurring in nature. Nonlocal behavior (also know as “Quantum Weirdness”) is real and verifiable. Nonlocal behavior has, FAPP, become a hard fact of Quantum Mechanics.

    Why is it so difficult to accept that the non-algorithmic nature of quasicrystals is a direct result of the non-algorithmic nature of Quantum Mechanics?

    If you accept that non-algorithmic things can exist naturally, then it is reasonable to presume other non-algorithmic things can exist too. Especially if they are built on objects small enough to be exposed to quantum level effects like tubulin dimers.

    From http://www.hameroff.com/penrose-hameroff/cambrian.html

    “In Penrose’s OR the size of an isolated superposed system (gravitational self-energy E of a separated mass) is inversely related to the coherence time T according to the uncertainty principle E=h /T, where h (actually “hbar”) is Planck’s constant over 2 pi. T is the duration of time for which the mass must be superposed to reach quantum gravity threshold for self-collapse. Large systems (e.g. Schrodinger’s 1 kg cat) would self-collapse (OR) very quickly, in only 10-37 seconds. An isolated superposed single atom would not OR for 106 years. Somewhere between those extremes are brain events in the range of tens to hundreds of milliseconds. A 25 millisecond brain event (i.e. occurring in coherent 40 Hz oscillations) would require nanogram (10-9 gram) amounts of superposed neural mass.”

    I would like to think I am pretty good at finding holes in logic. I can be fooled be suggestions of facts that aren’t there, but I usually can spot something that isn’t logically consistent with itself.

    This isn’t a philosophical model, it is a scientific one. While its implications are disturbing, I am having trouble finding flaws. Please help me find flaws.

    Provoking Thought

  90. #90 Thought Provoker
    May 30, 2007

    Hi Blake,

    I had already noticed Penrose’s bias against AI.

    Personally, I have no problems with an AI passing the Turing Test. However, I bet it will have a built-in quantum mechanic engine to deal with the non-algorithmic problems.

  91. #91 Ginger Yellow
    May 30, 2007

    “Rouge spot tests etc may appear to show that they possess this, but self-awareness has (at least) two dissociated features – self-concept and self-recognition”

    That’s an important distinction, and the evidence is far stronger for the latter than the former. That said, there is evidence in both directions – for instance Daniel Povinelli’s work against and Brian Hare’s work in favour.

  92. #92 Thought Provoker
    May 30, 2007

    Hi All,

    Sorry for my cut and paste mess up.

    A lead in paragraph went missing and garbled.

    I will try to fix it and re post.

    Again, Sorry.

  93. #93 Ginger Yellow
    May 30, 2007

    “It seems obvious me that animals must be capable of binding, so why would the binding problem be at the heart of understanding human-like consciousness? ”

    Um, I don’t think it is. It’s a problem for almost any (natural) kind of brain.

    “But regarding the binding problem, I took a cursory look at a few articles and was wondering why they only speak of it in lofty terms like “conscious perception”, “understanding the human mind”, etc, etc. Perhaps there is more down-to-earth material on it that I missed?”

    Pretty much all my knowledge of the neurology of the binding problem comes from Koch’s book, which mainly looks at visual perception in monkeys, because that’s the only way we can (ethically) measure the activity of individual neurons. “Conscious perception” and “understanding the human mind” are hardly lofty terms when talking about the binding problem – it’s pretty central to both of them.

  94. #94 Ginger Yellow
    May 30, 2007

    Namely: if a computer interacted with us in a way that was indistinguishable from a human, then of course we could say the computer wasn’t “really” thinking, that it was just a simulation

    As per my zombie argument, I’d say that the distinction between “simulation” and “thinking” in this case is meaningless.

  95. #95 Thought Provoker
    May 30, 2007

    Hi All,

    Rather than repost. Here is a link where I summarized Penrose’s logic chain…

    http://telicthoughts.com/coordinated-evolution/#comment-108797

    Here is a link where I discussed Grush & Churchland’s arguments against it…

    http://telicthoughts.com/coordinated-evolution/#comment-108956

    Thanks and again sorry for the mess up.

  96. #96 Thought Provoker
    May 30, 2007

    Hi Ginger Yellow,

    You wrote…
    “As per my zombie argument, I’d say that the distinction between “simulation” and “thinking” in this case is meaningless.”

    Isn’t this a philosophical argument?

    Whether a “simulation” or actual “thinking” do you think there is a non-algorithm process at work?

    If you’re making a presumption there is none, what is your basis for making that presumption?

    Provoking Thought

  97. #97 Ginger Yellow
    May 30, 2007

    Well, it’s both a philosophical argument and a pragmatic argument. As for a non-algorithm process I neither know nor, for the purposes of this question, care. The point is that the very fact that we can’t tell the difference between the two means we have no basis to say that such “simulation” is different to “thinking”. As for the wider question, I see no logical reason to believe and no empirical evidence to support the idea non-algorithmic processes are in any way central to consciousness. They might be, but from my reading on the subject matter the search for such a basis for consciousness is driven by a mistaken fear of the loss of free will or even just the “magic” of consciousness.

  98. #98 Arnosium Upinarum
    May 30, 2007

    T. Provoker:

    “…I am having trouble finding flaws. Please help me find flaws.”

    In a nutshell, how about New-Agers standing on soapboxes making things up as they go along as if they understand anything like, say, QM or the significance of quasicrystals?

  99. #99 Ginger Yellow
    May 30, 2007

    “My point is that the very fact that we can’t tell the difference between the two means we have no basis to say that such “simulation” is different to “thinking”.”

    To elaborate on this: ironically, the fact that AI research has failed to live up to its early promise is I would argue strong support for my position. It seems very likely that we aren’t going to be able to “shortcut” AI (to create a strong human-esque intelligence, anyway), meaning that such a computer programme would have to be directly analagous (isomorphic, even) to a brain.

  100. #100 Arnosium Upinarum
    May 30, 2007

    Ginger Yellow says:

    “I see no logical reason to believe and no empirical evidence to support the idea non-algorithmic processes are in any way central to consciousness.”

    Forget the centrality for a moment. Please point out a “process” – any process – that ISN’T expressible in algorithmic terms.

  101. #101 Davis
    May 30, 2007

    Okay, I’ll bite on this one. I read your post so that I can figure out your obsession with non-algorithmic behavior.

    A4) Randomness is not promising as the source of the nonalgorithmicity needed to account for. (Otherwise mathematical understanding would be magical.)

    This premise is complete nonsense. As near as I can tell, it assumes uniform randomness, for no good reason. Plenty of processes constrain randomness in interesting ways — natural selection is a nice example, as it puts constraints on the essentially random nature of (some) genetic changes. Randomness in our brains could be similarly constrained, via experience and knowledge.

    The statement regarding “mathematical understanding” is a complete non sequitur. Even a uniformly random component to thought processes would not impede such understanding, as long as there is also an algorithmic component. And randomness could certainly be useful in developing new mathematical ideas. (As someone who has done some work in math, revelatory ideas do seem random, though directed by extensive time spent thinking about the problem at hand.)

  102. #102 Thought Provoker
    May 30, 2007

    Hi Ginger Yellow,

    You wrote…
    “I see no logical reason to believe and no empirical evidence to support the idea non-algorithmic processes are in any way central to consciousness.”

    Wow, that is an interesting declaration. First of all, who said anything about it being CENTRAL to consciousness? Even if it is a minor side artifact, it can’t be ignored.

    As for “…no empirical evidence to support the idea non-algorithmic processes are in any way…” part of what we call consciousness…

    Do you play chess?

    If you do, Deep Blue is an algorithmic computer that can beat just about any human on the planet in a game of chess. It couldn’t solve the following chess problem…
    http://online.itp.ucsb.edu/online/plecture/penrose/oh/05.html

    Humans can recognize the pattern the pawns make and “know” the king is safe as long and the wall of pawns remains intact. The algorthmic computer could not.

    There are plenty of other examples but, like Dr. Behe at Dover, I wouldn’t be surprised if you felt they weren’t good enough for you.

    Of course you “…see no logical reason to believe…” something you don’t want to believe.

    Provoking Thought

  103. #103 Ichthyic
    May 30, 2007

    Even if it is a minor side artifact, it can’t be ignored.

    but if it’s not central to your thesis, indeed if it’s nothing but a minor artifact, why even bring it up, then?

    logic isn’t one of your strong points, is it.

    what a wanker.

  104. #104 Thought Provoker
    May 30, 2007

    Hi Davis,
    Thank you for responding.

    I kind of skipped over A4 since it wasn’t challenged by Grush & Churchland and this was their summary, not Penrose’s.

    Please note, Penrose is a mathematician, Grush and Churchland are from the philosophy department at UCSD. If this doesn’t make sense to a fellow mathematician, then something probably got lost in the translation.

    I will look into it. Meanwhile, do you think randomness could explain non-algorithmic things in nature like Black Holes and Quasicrystals?

  105. #105 Arnosium Upinarum
    May 30, 2007

    Ginger Yellow says:

    “It seems very likely that we aren’t going to be able to “shortcut” AI (to create a strong human-esque intelligence, anyway), meaning that such a computer programme would have to be directly analagous (isomorphic, even) to a brain.”

    Well, then you would have a human-like mind-machine. (This particular gate/circuit/processor analog mimics this particular neurological process, etc).

    In principle, why not? In practice, what for? Too many of those critters much more easily come by as it is already. Much much too inefficient, ESPECIALLY as a model for “intelligence”. Much much too complicated to bother attempting to recreate.

    The real insights in AI will come AFTER we pin down what we actually mean by “intelligence” and all those other (and proliferating) terms associated with it.

  106. #106 thwaite
    May 30, 2007

    Ginger Yellow, windy, et al.:

    Biology is definitely the better bet for understanding consciousness, which evolved, and emerges anew in each individual from unconscious materials. (Aside: physicists’ equations don’t even incorporate the privileged temporal parameter we all subjectively share of ‘now’, which so influences our decision-making.)

    Papers from a symposium on the evolution of consciousness comprise the whole of the Dec 2000 issue of American Zoologist. I recommend the paper by Pepperberg (the cognition researcher studying Alex & other gray parrots) – and contrast her disciplined analysis to the woo invoked by Sue Savage-Rumbaugh (of Koko the bonobo fame).

  107. #107 Arnosium Upinarum
    May 30, 2007

    thwaite says:

    “Biology is definitely the better bet for understanding consciousness, which evolved, and emerges anew in each individual from unconscious materials.”

    Which “unconscious materials” are you referring to? Just which “individuals” that “emerge anew” did you have in mind? Just exactly what do YOU think of when you say “biology”?

    And thwaite says: “(Aside: physicists’ equations don’t even incorporate the privileged temporal parameter we all subjectively share of ‘now’, which so influences our decision-making.)”

    Well, now, you’ll have to agree that physics has a much better handle on the “now” than biology does. And you’ll certainly have to agree that a “subjective parameter” (however presumably “privileged”) of time cannot be physically appreciated in any worthwhile quantitative OR qualitative sense until one applies a physical understanding to it. Physicists are working on it. They’re not finished. (At least they’ve not arrived at anything sufficiently complete).

    But biologists cannot hope to do any better without a complete physical appreciation of what time actually is, in fundamental terms, which the physicists are far closer to achieving.

    You may have a little trouble convincing physicists AND biologists of your peculiar assertion. Physics is nothing LESS than the study of matter and energy under process. (Meaning “time” as it impinges on objects in space).

    True enough, we don’t have a complete understanding of time yet. But good physicists AND biologists at least know the difference between a cockamamie appeal to subjective experience – which you identify as some “temporal parameter” important to “consciousness” – and the actuality, which physicists are blissfully content to keep unmuddied by the ramifications inherent within biochemical complexities.

    Physics tries to root out the fundamental. Its fiendishly hard not because its complicated, but because its so fundamentally rock-bottom fundamental, often completely foreign to our accustomed ways of thinking. (We can only grab it at all via profoundly abstract principles we can understand, like symmetry and conservation of energy and so on).

    What makes you and so many others feel that physics fails because it ought to be able to explain anything as hideously complicated as biology? Ack. Go back to school. Or read better material. Or go and…whatever. Just learn more. Please.

  108. #108 thwaite
    May 30, 2007

    Or go and…whatever. Just learn more. Please.

    As should we all (mutatis mutandis)

  109. #109 Thought Provoker
    May 30, 2007

    Hi Davis,

    You wrote…

    [The A4] premise is complete nonsense. As near as I can tell, it assumes uniform randomness, for no good reason. Plenty of processes constrain randomness in interesting ways — natural selection is a nice example, as it puts constraints on the essentially random nature of (some) genetic changes. Randomness in our brains could be similarly constrained, via experience and knowledge. The statement regarding “mathematical understanding” is a complete non sequitur.

    I had difficulty finding Penrose speaking for himself on this subject, but I did. Here it is…

    The way you treat this nowadays, in standard quantum theory, is to introduce randomness. Since randomness comes in, quantum theory is called a probabilistic theory. But randomness only comes in when you go from the quantum to the classical level. If you stay down at the quantum level, there’s no randomness. It’s only when you magnify something up, and you do what people call “make a measurement.” This consists of taking a small-scale quantum effect and magnifying it out to a level where you can see it. It’s only in that process of magnification that probabilities come in. What I’m claiming is that whatever it is that’s really happening in that process of magnification is different from our present understanding of physics, and it is not just random. It is noncomputational; it’s something essentially different.

    This idea grew from the time when I was a graduate student, and I felt that there must be something noncomputational going on in our thought processes. I’ve always had a scientific attitude, so I believed that you have to understand our thinking processes in terms of science in some way. It doesn’t have to be a science that we understand now. There doesn’t seem to be any place for conscious phenomena in the science that we understand today. On the other hand, people nowadays often seem to believe that if you can’t put something on a computer, it’s not science.

    I suppose this is because so much of science is done that way these days; you simulate physical activity computationally. People don’t realize that something can be noncomputational and yet perfectly scientific, perfectly mathematically describable. The fact that I’m coming into all this from a mathematical background makes it easier for me to appreciate that there are things that aren’t computational but are perfectly good mathematics.

    When I say “noncomputational” I don’t mean random. Nor do I mean incomprehensible. There are very clear-cut things that are noncomputational and are known in mathematics. The most famous example is Hilbert’s tenth problem, which has to do with solving algebraic equations in integers. You’re given a family of algebraic equations and you’re asked, “Can you solve them in whole numbers? That is, do the equations have integer solutions?” That question — yes or no, for any particular example — is not one a computer could answer in any finite amount of time. There’s a famous theorem, due to Yuri Matiyasevich, which proves that there’s no computational way of answering this question in general. In particular cases, you might be able to give an answer by means of some algorithmic procedure. However, given any such algorithmic procedure, which you know doesn’t give you wrong answers, you can always come up with an algebraic equation that will defeat that procedure but where you know that the equation actually has no integer solutions.

    http://www.edge.org/documents/ThirdCulture/v-Ch.14.html

    Thank you for the challenge. I hope this answered your question. I think I am getting a better understanding of what Penrose is and is not saying.

    Here is a math link that investigates the Penrose Gödelian argument… http://planetmath.org/encyclopedia/PenrosesSecondGodelianArgument.html

    strong AI is false, because if we were consistent formal algorithm we wouldn’t be able to prove our consistency.

    And concludes…

    Therefore Penrose’s second Gödelian argument is correct and strong AI is false.

    It goes on to question Penrose’s overall impact with…

    Of course always remains the possibility for weaker AI thesis insisting that human mind is inconsistent algorithm. This however is not the strong AI thesis, and one must create and study new kind of paradoxical mathematics.

    Personally, I think the whole point will become moot since AI researchers are already planning on incorporating quantum mechanics into their computers. If it works, who will care whether or not is was an absolute requirement?

    Provoking Thought

    P.S. To Arnosium Upinarum “Ack. Go back to school. Or read better material. Or go and…whatever. Just learn more. Please.” I LIKE IT!

  110. #110 Justin Moretti
    May 30, 2007

    The Divided Foot, PZ, or the Eightfold Tentacular Path?

  111. #111 Thought Provoker
    May 30, 2007

    Hi Ichthyic,

    You wrote…

    but if it’s not central to your thesis, indeed if it’s nothing but a minor artifact, why even bring it up, then?.

    logic isn’t one of your strong points, is it.

    what a wanker.

    I think Arnosium Upinarum did a good job of explaining the importance of physicists. However, since you decided to make it personal, I felt compelled to include my two cents.

    Around a hundred years again a patent office clerk noticed a “minor artifact” concerning the light from the sun. Of course the clerk was Einstein and the minor artifact is that the speed of light from the sun appeared to be constant.

  112. #112 Caledonian
    May 30, 2007

    What makes you think that we’ll need a quantum computer? Just use heuristics that produce a “good-enough” response.

  113. #113 Ichthyic
    May 30, 2007

    Around a hundred years again a patent office clerk noticed a “minor artifact” concerning the light from the sun. Of course the clerk was Einstein and the minor artifact is that the speed of light from the sun appeared to be constant.

    you should rename yourself to “galileo”.

    …and you still haven’t got a clue about logic.

    you’re pathetic, but just don’t know it.

    sad, really.

  114. #114 Caledonian
    May 30, 2007

    He doesn’t know anything about physics or the history of physics, either.

  115. #115 Thought Provoker
    May 30, 2007

    Hi Caledonian,

    You wrote…

    “He doesn’t know anything about physics or the history of physics, either.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annus_Mirabilis_Papers

    I am just an engineer trying to learn and provoke a little thinking. Please explain to me and the rest of the listening audience what I have said that is wrong.

    I have been wrong before, undoubtably I will be wrong again.

    Please, poke holes in my understanding of Penrose’s logic. That is what I am trying to get people to do.

    Here is my summary of Pensrose’s logic…
    http://telicthoughts.com/coordinated-evolution/#comment-108797

    Here is the Grush and Churchland paper arguing against it..,
    http://mind.ucsd.edu/papers/penrose/penrose.pdf

    Here is my take on those arguments…
    http://telicthoughts.com/coordinated-evolution/#comment-108956

    Here is Hameroff’s paper that wraps everything up and explains a mechanism for the origin of consciousness.
    http://www.hameroff.com/penrose-hameroff/cambrian.html

    Please, tear it and me apart. I am trying to provoke exploration and THINKING. Please do it.

    Provoking Thought

  116. #116 Scott Hatfield
    May 31, 2007

    Thought Provoker: I’m forced to agree with Caledonian, (post #111), especially since there is good evidence that microtubules can mediate information processing WITHOUT quantum effects. Microtubule arrays in eukaryotes apparently require positional information provided by gravity in order to properly nucleate:

    http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/89/15/6948

    Gravity is the weakest of the fundamental forces, but some orders of magnitude greater than quantum effects. Yhe curious geometry of the centrosome (two non-redundant arrays of microtubules at right angles to one another) may well amplify the signal by leveraging the signal strength inequalities present in the various microtubules with respect to the gravitational field.

    (And, no, for those who’ve read Wells’ article in Rivistia di Biologia, this is not some Trojan horse argument for design. Microtubule arrays (basal bodies, etc.) are variable across taxa, and this variability no doubt has a genetic basis which in motile eukaryotes is subject to selection for the ability to optimize the functioning of the cytoskeleton.)

  117. #117 Davis
    May 31, 2007

    What I’m claiming is that whatever it is that’s really happening in that process of magnification is different from our present understanding of physics, and it is not just random. It is noncomputational; it’s something essentially different.

    At this point, Penrose is just engaging in hand-waving; there’s no serious argument here.

    And his example of Hilbert’s 10th problem sounds wrong. If you know how to prove mathematically that a particular Diophantine equation does or does not have integer solutions, then that statement can be encoded into its Goedel numbering and the proof will then correspond to some computable function. That is, any mathematical proof can be made equivalent to a computation that can be performed on some (very high-powered) computer; if a computer can’t compute a particular number, then we can’t generate a proof of the corresponding mathematical statement. It seems a stretch to say this is not algorithmic.

  118. #118 hf
    May 31, 2007

    I don’t know if I understand the Planet Math argument. Does it say that the assumption (“the human mind is consistent formal algorithm”) logically implies that we can prove any axiom or assumption using another axiom of the system? Because this layman doesn’t see at first glance why we would have to accept that principle for the system in question, nor does it seem obviously equivalent to “the first axiom of propositional calculus” as this site defines it, nor do I see how the alleged principle could even work if we can add new axioms to a system any time we want. We can even assume an unprovable statement as an axiom of a new system consisting of the old axioms plus the statement they couldn’t prove, which appears to flatly contradict the Planet Math claim.

  119. #119 hf
    May 31, 2007

    Also, they say that more generally we can derive any true statement from any other true statement, which seems to flatly contradict Gödel.

  120. #120 Ginger Yellow
    May 31, 2007

    “Wow, that is an interesting declaration. First of all, who said anything about it being CENTRAL to consciousness? Even if it is a minor side artifact, it can’t be ignored.”

    I worded that badly. What I meant was that there’s no reason for non-algorithmic processes to play any more part in consciousness than they do in anything else in biology – in other words there’s nothing special about consciousness that requires them.

    “Humans can recognize the pattern the pawns make and “know” the king is safe as long and the wall of pawns remains intact. The algorthmic computer could not.”

    You do realise that Deep Blue isn’t a model of the human brain, right? You do realise that Deep Blue is a brute force machine which (more or less) simply looks forward as many moves as possible in the time allowed? Douglas Hofstadter has written several books on the limitations of algorithmic processes and intelligence, but you don’t see him waving his hands and shouting “Quantum!”

    Well, then you would have a human-like mind-machine. (This particular gate/circuit/processor analog mimics this particular neurological process, etc).

    In principle, why not? In practice, what for?

    I pretty much agree. I think we’ll eventually abandon the idea of trying to mimic human brains (at least in their totality), probably once we understand the biology more fully, and instead develop more tailored AIs for specific purposes, as we do already to a certain extent. Moreover I expect the better ones to be evolved using genetic algorithms, so that they may have entirely different “neurological” structures to those we’re familiar with.

    Personally, I think the whole point will become moot since AI researchers are already planning on incorporating quantum mechanics into their computers.

    Dude, quantum computers are still Turing machines. The only real difference is that they’re much quicker at performing tasks like random searches (given enough qubits).

  121. #121 Ginger Yellow
    May 31, 2007

    One other thing:

    “Of course you “…see no logical reason to believe…” something you don’t want to believe.”

    Not true. I don’t want to believe that a deistic God might exist – if you ask me such a concept cheapens the majesty of the universe – but there’s a logical reason to do so.

  122. #122 Thought Provoker
    May 31, 2007

    Hi All,

    Thank you again for all your responses. In case you are interested, talking to you guys/gals has been a lot more fruitful than talking with ID proponents.

    Not surprisingly, it appears that we are honing in on the weakest link in Penrose’s logic chain. To borrow from I, Robot. Are there ghosts in the machine? Are there processes that are both non-determinist (non-algorithmic) and non-random? We need to look past the preconceived definitions and connotations of terms like “Turing Machines” and “consciousness” to see the possibility of a nearly-impossible explanation.

    Whether mechanical or biological, how can an algorithmic process solve a problem that can’t be solved algorithmically? There are two responses to this, one is to claim no such problem exists or if it does, it hasn’t been solved. The other answer is to look for a source of non-algorithmic processing.

    An appeal to randomness as a non-algorithmic source doesn’t work because we can mathematically create pseudorandomness. This is how computers simulate “real world” trial and error processes. It is algorithmic.

    How can we explain the unexplainable? Look for examples. Aperiodic tilings may be an example. Could an algorithmic process have figured out the two shapes needed to solve the aperiodic tiling problem? Maybe, but it probably would have taken a very powerful computer a very long time and still would have been helped by a potentially non-algorithmic source, a human.

    Are Penrose’s instincts wrong that he, himself, solved the aperiodic tiling problem instinctually instead of algorithmically?

    Again from I, Robot

    “That, detective, is the right question.”

  123. #123 Davis
    May 31, 2007

    An appeal to randomness as a non-algorithmic source doesn’t work because we can mathematically create pseudorandomness.

    Nonsense. Literally — how in the world does the fact that we can mathematically create pseudorandomness have any bearing on this claim?

    Randomness can be extremely powerful when constraints are placed on it. Witness the success of genetic algorithms, which use randomness to induce changes and then apply algorithmic procedures to evaluate “fitness”. You can’t dismiss randomness out-of-hand, as you have done here and previously.

  124. #124 Thought Provoker
    May 31, 2007

    Hi Davis,

    You wrote…

    You can’t dismiss randomness out-of-hand, as you have done here and previously.

    I sincerely mean it when I say thank you for responding. You are being very helpful in helping me understand and focus.

    I do not mean to “dismiss randomness out-of-hand”. In fact, I see it as the reason there can be explanations that are unexplainable.

    A Mandelbrot Set looks like it is chaotic and random, but it obviously isn’t since it all relates back to a rather simple algorithmic equation.

    Is evolution the result of patterns forming out of “random” chaos that can be determined, and explained, algorithmically? Maybe. Even more than that, probably.

    However, unless I am totally misunderstanding the significance of Kurt Gödel’s incompleteness theorems and PlanetMath’s explanation about Penrose’s hypothesis concerning Strong AI, it is possible for an explanation to exist that can’t be explained.

    So, it is possible that there is no algorithmic explanation for evolution. Algorithmic pseudorandomness won’t help. Only “natural” randomness will do the trick.

    Of course Penrose and I can’t dismiss “natural” randomness as a cause because, if we could, the unexplainable would be explainable.

    Stalemate.

  125. #125 Ginger Yellow
    May 31, 2007

    The thing is, Godel’s incompleteness theorem applies strictly to formal axiomatic systems. Are you suggesting that biology is such a thing?

    Is evolution the result of patterns forming out of “random” chaos that can be determined, and explained, algorithmically? Maybe. Even more than that, probably.

    Dennett has described evolution as distributed algorithmic design. Now that may be a bit strong, but then Dennett is a hardline adaptationist, so if you soften it to “natural selection is a distributed algorithmic design process”, then I don’t see how you can disagree. Certainly genetic algorithms model goal-directed natural selection very effectively, and in principle the only difference is that the fitness landscape for biolgoical natural selection is determined by, well, nature.
    I really don’t see what you’re driving at with this discussion of randomness and explainability. What about evolution is “unexplainable” in principle?

  126. #126 Arnosium Upinarum
    May 31, 2007

    T. Provoker: “Stalemate”

    No, just stale minds thinking they have an argument.

    Ginger Yellow: “I really don’t see what you’re driving at with this discussion of randomness and explainability.”

    Neither does he.

    I’ll repeat this, just for old-times sake:

    “I see no logical reason to believe and no empirical evidence to support the idea non-algorithmic processes are in any way central to consciousness.”

    Forget the centrality for a moment. Please point out a “process” – any process – that ISN’T expressible in algorithmic terms.

    Let me just add this: its not surprising that you find no evidence for something which doesn’t exist supporting something else that doesn’t either.

  127. #127 Thought Provoker
    May 31, 2007

    Hi Ginger Yellow,

    You wrote…

    Certainly genetic algorithms model goal-directed natural selection very effectively, and in principle the only difference is that the fitness landscape for biolgoical natural selection is determined by, well, nature.

    I really don’t see what you’re driving at with this discussion of randomness and explainability. What about evolution is “unexplainable” in principle?

    This is going to sound metaphysical/mystical but it goes to the heart of being unexplainable. If you are relying on “natural” randomness, how do you know there isn’t a hidden “design” built in?

    [Loud speaker blares “ALERT ALERT ID FANATIC DETECTED!!!!!”]

    It is not my intent to promote, or even argue for, ID. I believe the RNA World existed and I don’t find it all difficult to see how complexity can come from randomization. I have created multiple computer models that use pseudorandom number generators to create valuable and detailed information. I have watched in fascination how patterns emerge from chaos. And it was all done purely algorithmically.

    Maybe this is the reason I am more inclined to distrust “natural” randomness. How do I know there isn’t some hidden explanation in it? IMO, Evolution isn’t a very convincing example of a hidden nonalgorithmic process. Quasicrystals is a more likely example. Of course, it can’t be proven. If it could, the unexplainable would be explained.

  128. #128 Steve_C
    May 31, 2007

    Stick to computers. Biology just isn’t your thing.

  129. #129 Thought Provoker
    May 31, 2007

    Hi Arnosium Upinarum,

    Please point out a “process” – any process – that ISN’T expressible in algorithmic terms.

    QUANTUM MECHANICS!

    Here is a link where I am presenting Penrose’s arguments from the ground up. Starting with Quantum Mechanics. http://telicthoughts.com/id-and-consciousness/#comment-109699

    Please join in the conversation and tell me where Penrose and/or I have gone astray.

    I really want to be wrong on this one.

    Provoking Thought

  130. #130 Steve_C
    May 31, 2007

    You went wrong when you thought you were making sense.

    Stuart Hameroff is wrong too… it’s a bunch of quantum nonsense.

    The video says it all…

    http://beyondbelief2006.org/watch/

    Sunday,
    Session 4
    Stuart Hameroff, V.S. Ramachandran

    The reactions to Hameroff are classic.

  131. #131 Ginger Yellow
    May 31, 2007

    ” If you are relying on “natural” randomness, how do you know there isn’t a hidden “design” built in?”

    You don’t. You can’t rule out design a priori. You can always “explain” some apparently natural phenomenon by saying it was designed. But that’s no explanation at all, unless you also say what the design constraints were and how the design was turned into the finished product. For all we know random mutations are individually directed by God. But it doesn’t make any difference to evolutionary theory whether or not they are. Nor would it have any bearing whatsoever on consciousness.

    As far as I can tell Penrose went astray at the very beginning and only dug himself deeper into a hole. But I’m neither a phsyicist nor a mathematician so I’ll leave it more qualified people to rebut if they care to. All I’m seeing from you is handwaving.

  132. #132 Thought Provoker
    June 1, 2007

    Thank You all for your responses.

    Steve, I watched the video and will probably post it in Telic Thoughts tomorrow.

    FYI, here is a thought I just posted there…

    However, unless someone comes swooping in to explain how Penrose and Hameroff are totally wrong and offers an alternative solution, science is going to be turned on its head. Religion too.

    Imagine “atheists” dispassionately talking about universal consciousness as a scientific given.

    In the best case scenario dualism will become history. The concept of heaven and hell will become history too. People like Sobottka will become the new Jerry Falwells.

    Another likely scenario is that people like Dr. Wells and Dr. Dembski will play on the mass public’s desires and fear saying “See, they lied to you! They are lying to you now. Listen to us.” And we will have another purge of the materialistic “pagans” who “worship” nature and not the true God. The last time that happened, it took nearly 1000 years to recover.

    Provoking Thought

    P.S. Here is the link in case you want to participate in the discussion…
    http://telicthoughts.com/id-and-consciousness/#comment-109699

  133. #133 Ichthyic
    June 1, 2007

    You went wrong when you thought you were making sense.

    LOL.

    perfect.

  134. #134 Davis
    June 1, 2007

    QUANTUM MECHANICS!

    Quantum mechanics is a mathematical theory, which means that it is indeed algorithmic. If it weren’t, there would be no way to make predictions with QM.

    You’re conflating the metaphysical problem of how to interpret the predictions of QM with the science part; that seems to be one of Penrose’s mistakes as well.

  135. #135 Thought Provoker
    June 1, 2007

    Hi Davis,

    You’re conflating the metaphysical problem of how to interpret the predictions of QM with the science part; that seems to be one of Penrose’s mistakes as well.

    In 1994, Stephen Hawkings and Rodger Penrose held a debate that was considered the high point of a six-month program held at the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences at the University of Cambridge. The debate was captured in the book The Nature of Space and Time which I am referencing as I type.

    Hawking and Penrose mostly agreed. I only wish I was knowledgable enough to understand their nuanced differences. However, there was one difference that was clear and was a backdrop to the whole debate. It was their differing answers to the Schrödinger’s cat paradox

    Hawking tried to ignore the problem by saying things are so complicated at the macro level that it somehow, someway randomly forces a state to either cat alive or cat dead. Here are his exact words…

    So why does nature choose to make the density matrix diagonal in the alive/dead basis rather than the alive + alive|dead – dead basis? The answer is that the CATalive and CATdead states differ on a macroscopic level by things like the position of the bullet or the wound on the cat.

    This is a non-answer answer and Penrose points that out with…

    Futhermore, Stephen has also mentioned bullets, etc. This doesn’t really address the problem, because we have the same problem for the system of “cat+bullet” as we had before the “cat” alone. I think this question of “reality” is the fundamental difference between Stephen and me…It all really boils down to the fact that on the macroscopic level we perceive only one spacetime. Thus, it seems to me, one has to support either (A) or (B) — I don’t feel Stephen has addressed this point.

    Quantum mechanics IS reality, not a metaphysical construct. Quantum mechanics is non-deterministic and non-algorithmic. Reality is non-deterministic and non-algorithmic.

    This is a hard problem that won’t go away no matter how tightly you squeeze your eyes and repeat “it’s only a metaphysical problem…it’s only a metaphysical problem”

    Provoking Thought

  136. #136 Davis
    June 1, 2007

    Quantum mechanics IS reality, not a metaphysical construct.

    Re-read what I wrote — I said QM is a mathematical theory. Now it’s a theory that happens to model reality quite well, and its predictions have held up so far, but if it were non-algorithmic there would be no way to make those predictions, since they come from simply doing the math.

    Putting forth Penrose’s opinion on the matter isn’t really an argument at all, since my point is that his position is a metaphysical one; statements he makes are simply going to reflect that. Indeed, the metaphysical nature of your argument is becoming more obvious with each exchange — your statement “quantum mechanics IS reality” is a philosophical one (I could just as well assert that QM is only a mathematical model of reality). There are plenty of other stances to take on the matter, but I have no interest in arguing the philosophical side of this matter.

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