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I don't understand how the word 'will' is being used posted 04 November 2008 in NeuropathI don't understand how the word 'will' is being used by Thorsten, Candidate

You see, the core of this issue is about here:

Let me ask you this: is it your contention that we should admit the possible existence of anything that we can imagine unless we have proof positive that it does not exist?
(...) I prefer to establish a threshold of improbability, below which I deem a thing to not exist for all practical purposes. No one has ever observed energy patterns from brains or elsewhere being preserved in gravity waves or branes. The very existence of branes is controversial. No one can even postulate how such a thing might happen. Why, for the love of Pete, would I accept, at all, the assertion that such a thing is happening? Maybe I'm terribly stogey, but I like to observe a rather strict boundary between fantasy and reality.


You did not write that based on the available evidence, you'd consider the existence of a soul unlikely. You claimed it does not exist. You did not write that energy leaking into an extra dimension is a possibility considered by some. You claimed it doesn't happen. You wrote with an air of absolute certainty - and to that I object. Because moden physics is a strange place with the universe not being what it seems to be.

So, is there any evidence of a soul? Well, one may cite some accounts people have given of memories of a prior life. Admittedly most of them are rubbish, day-dreams to increase self-importance. But some give an astounding amount of detail. You'd claim of course that they have debunked - but that depends on what you read. I have tried to go through accounts from both sides, I have spoken with people who claim to remember previous lifes - and I simply don't know. That's the whole point here - I don't know. I think a lot of experiences, accounts, a lot of the similarity of core religious beliefs could fit into one overarching theory if there was some way mind would be directly connected to the environment, via quantum entanglement, gravitational waves, brane reality, whatever. You mentioned the fact that Cygnus X-1 was predicted before it was seen as good evidence for black hole theory. (Incidentially, there is currently no direct really strong field test of gravitation - Cygnus X-1 could be a compact object stabilized by unknown means, it doesn't have to have an event horizon - the 'evidence' for it actually being a black hole is that we have no other explanation - which isn't quite the same thing). So, what if I tell you that Jewish mysticism pretty much predicted wave-particle dualism? Of course, you'd argue that given enough text, you can predict anything. But then, gravitation had competitors, there were a number of predictions from different theories, and one of them happened to be confirmed by Cygnus X-1 - so why is that different? In looking at successful predictions, we tend to forget the 20 other predictions from different theories which are no longer around because they failed to predict, although they were equally considered before a measurement.

I'd be entirely fine with the notion that a 'soul' currently hasn't any hard evidence going for it - it's rather soft circumstantial evidence, given scientific standards. But that isn't likely to change - you can't actually do research in mind-matter entanglement or anything like that - you get your funding cut. Look at [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_David_Josephson:2uk4aw51]Brian Josephson[/url:2uk4aw51] - he is a Nobel price winner, and he lost funding. Society doesn't even offer physicists to do that kind of research. So how the hell is anyone to accumulate hard evidence?

A soul may even not be there at all, I'm not claiming a know it is. Neither may free will be. But I think your view is too narrow. There is too much stuff, too many open ends to tell, and that's what I am trying to argue here. It's nowhere near a case as clear-cut as you'd want it to be.

So, some technical details:

If you want to use highly theoretical extra dimensions as a hiding place for souls, be my guest, but first do me the favour of explaining how they are going to get there without accessing the incredible energies that will be unleashed at CERN.


You need the energies at CERN to create gravitons which you can actually observe - you can create gravitons with much lower energy, you just can't see those in a detector. You see, in any accelerator experiment there is missing energy. Part of it just goes down the beampipe, part of it is neutrinos which you usually don't get to see, so if there is a low-energy graviton produced somewhere, it just doesn't register. In fact, there should be gravity coupling to any process which involves energy (the particles you consist of are pulled to earth).

No energy "disappears," and the energy in a human brain is immortal in exactly the same way as the energy in a light bulb is immortal.


*shrugs* To be strict, energy is the time-component of a 4-vector, as such it's not an invariant (the mass is...) and thus you can change its value to anything above the value of the invariant mass. Well - that's special relativity for you. In general relativity, energy only has a meaningful definition if you have a flat space somewhere - then you can define energy-momentum as a flux across that surface. Otherwise, energy doesn't have a meaningful definition at all.

But we're not talking about energy disappearing - I was suggesting the notion that a pattern is preserved which does not cost much energy.

A movie of a CAT scan would show the brain activity shifting and changing with time as different processes occur. That would be a movie of consciousness.


Look, if I try to understand software, a look at the source code would be meaningful. Not a look at a movie how the memory occupation shifts in time while the software runs. So why should a look at 'the play of energies' (I guess it's actually blood flow and blood suger consumption which you're seeing - X-rays don't actually scatter off electricity) in the brain reveal how its software works?

you can tell if a person is conscious or not from a CAT scan


No, you can tell that there is brain activity - how does that necessarily imply self-awareness? I can't even by talking to you verify that you are conscious (well, yes, in the medical sense I can, but that's not what I mean) - you could give the same responses without being aware of it in any way.

Yawn. Look hard enough and you will find someone who will say anything


Mind if I apply that quote to Richard Dawkins? <!-- s8) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_cool.gif" alt="8)" title="Cool" /><!-- s8) --> I mean, yeah, if I declare everyone you quote as irrelevant, then of course I am always right, that's for sure.

Are you seriously taking this to the level of asking me to define what the universe is?


Yes, actually I am. If there would be a 'parallel brane' that somehow would only exchange gravitational waves with this one and you wouldn't normally observe those (see above) - would this be one universe in your terminology or two (tenuously connected) ones? I'm not after something profound - I just wish to clear terminology.

There you go again, forgetting to treat events that are sufficiently improbable as impossible and forgetting to treat entities that are sufficiently improbable as nonexistent.


Well, that's what a probabilistic world is:

Suppose we have a dice and it produces random numbers from 1-6 with equal probability. That's as probabilistic as it gets. So I throw it 10.000 times. Of course I can predict that if I sum all the rolls, I get close to 35.000. The chance to get exactly 35.000 is rather small, but I'll be close. That is precisely how a probabilistic world works. But of course, as opposed to a deterministic one, I can't know the result of the next throw. In a deterministic world, I would know the next result, as well as exactly the sum after 10.000. In a probabilistic world, I deal with fluctuations around that most probable. So are you telling me throwing dice is deterministic because I will most likely be close to 35.000?

A probabilistic world doesn't equal complete loss of predictivity. That's non-linearities which do that - and they do it in equal measure for the probabilistic and for the deterministic world (except when you have perfect knowledge of the initial state). Different thing. So in any strongly non-linear system, quantum randomness will eventually govern the long-term dynamics. So, question is - is the brain a non-linear system. And yes, it seems to be.

So, a deterministic sun doesn't shine. The reason is that the fusion reaction doesn't happen - the nuclei don't get through the charge repulsion. But in a probabilistic world, there is a small chance of tunneling. It's tiny (the energy output per volume of the sun is less than the nergy output of the human body per volume) - but there are many particles throwing dice. The sun shines, because if you throw a dice in sequences of 20 throws, it is actually possible to get them all being 1 once in a while. And if you have enough people throwing dice, then it's fine.


Take a look at the passage you just quoted: &quot;...the waveform exists, but exists - at least for all practical purposes - BEYOND THE REALM OF MEASUREMENT.&quot; Do you understand what that means? It means the unobserved position of the waveform does not exist, for any purposes that we can possibly have.


I understand perfectly well what 'measurement' means - it's a well defined term in quantum physics. I just wonder if you do. In particular, it doesn't equal 'has no influence' or 'does not exist' - there could still be quantum entanglement between the states/different worlds and they would influence each other. The problem is that you can't measure that influence because you can't set up a non-entangled reference point. But that doesn't mean you are not influenced by the other state.

The critical point is that I am talking about mass movements and you keep taking it back to the level of the individual particle. Why?


I'd guess because I understand the problem of the transition from microscopic to macroscopic. You don't, you insist it's just 'gone'. I know that this 'gone' is nothing but a convenient fiction. You argue that it's 'just math'. Well, souls are 'just religion', Wolf Singer is 'just a guy saying stuff', physics is 'just math' - yes, sure, if you dismiss anything which contradicts you, then your belief in determinism will not shake. It's just not smart to do that. <!-- s8) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_cool.gif" alt="8)" title="Cool" /><!-- s8) --> view post


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