Dec 23 2016

Man Living with 10% of His Brain?

hydrocephalus2Here is the title of a science new story from July 2016: A man who lives without 90% of his brain is challenging our concept of ‘consciousness’. This is an excellent example of horrible science news reporting. It is a cautionary tale of what can happen when a reporter does not adequately vet their story with actual experts.

These are the images from the original paper, which was published in 2007. They are quite impressive and I can see how a lay person might misinterpret them. I can see how a journalist might make assumptions about what they are seeing, and not even know enough to question those assumptions and therefore never asked the experts they interviewed the right questions.

In fact the journalist, Fiona MacDonald, got off on an irrelevant tangent about consciousness, even though this case reports has not implications for our understanding of the neurological basis of consciousness.

I was recently reminded of this case, and the bad reporting surrounding it, by a comment left on a previous blog of mine in which the commenter notes:

Furthermore the author noted, rightly that if a model of externalized consciousness was to be tested, we would have to look for anomalies, cases where the brain does not explain the mind. There has been a case recently where a man who retained only 10% of his brain by mass was found to function semi normally with an IQ of 75, a job, a wife and two kids.

So he was offering this case report as an anomaly which calls into question our model of consciousness.

What is really going on here is quite different. The subject developed hydrocephalus at age 6 months. The brain normally has fluid-filled cavities within it, called ventricles. They are filled with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), a clear liquid that is mostly water. CSF is produced by the choroid plexus and the lining of the ventricles, at a rate of about 500ml per day. The CSF flows through the ventricles, then through openings which carry it outside the brain and around the spinal cord. CSF is ultimately absorbed by the arachnoid granulations and perhaps also by lymphatic channels.

There are two types of hydrocephalus, communicating and non-communicating. Communicating hydrocephalus occurs with all the passageways for CSF open, and result from either over production or, more commonly, atrophy (shrinkage) of the brain. This the case of atrophy the CSF is just filling in the available space. Non-communicating hydrocephalus occurs when there is a blockage to the passage of CSF, causing it to backup, increasing pressure within the ventricles.

When non-communicating hydrocephalus is acute it is very symptomatic and dangerous. It causes severe headaches and brain damage, and can even be fatal. When it is chronic, however, (and this is critical to understanding this case) it is far less dangerous and symptomatic. If the pressure slowly builds up then the brain will slowly compress under that pressure. The brain is like jelly, and can be impressively compressed while still maintaining its function.

The most impressive case I have personally seen was a patient who had a benign and slow growing tumor in the front of his skull. This essentially filled the front half of his brain cavity, squishing the brain into the back half. As a result he had frontal lobe dysfunction, which clinically looked like schizophrenia, and amazingly otherwise had very few neurological deficits on exam. In fact he was misdiagnosed with schizophrenia for 20 years (in fairness he was lost to medical follow up for this entire time). When he finally presented for evaluation we found the tumor, which the surgeons removed. Over the next week his brain slowly re-expanded to fill the now vacant skull, and he returned to fairly normal functioning.

In this case of hydrocephalus, the patient was treated with the standard intervention, a shunt to remove excess fluid and reduce pressure. At age 14 he presented with poor balance and leg weakness. His shunt was not working properly. It was revised and his symptoms resolved. At the time of the case publication the patient was 44. He was again presenting with leg weakness, and again needed additional shunting which resolved the weakness.

However, the patient was found to have an IQ of 75, which is almost certainly a consequence of his chronic hydrocephalus. The images above are impressive, but perhaps more impressive is that his brain is mostly all still there, just pressed into a thin cortical rim. He did not lose 90% of his brain mass, as the commenter falsely assumed. There has probably been some atrophy over the years due to the chronic pressure, but not much.

To put his function into perspective, and IQ of 75 is considered borderline functional. A person with that IQ can typically go about their normal day-to-day life, even get married, have children, and hold down a job. But they will have profound intellectual limitations. They will likely be untrainable beyond the simplest tasks, may not be able to make change, would be challenged by complex electronics or other appliances, and would have poor problem solving. Obviously one number does not capture all the variability present, but this is a basic picture of typical functioning at that level.

It is important to note that this level of impairment is in proportion to the physical brain damage caused by the chronic hydrocephalus. There is no mystery here, no challenge to the neuroscientific paradigm of cognitive function. This case does not challenge the notion that consciousness is a brain function.

Conclusion

This case is, as I noted above, a good example of an interesting scientific story that is horribly mangled by a reporter who simply did not understand what was really going on and failed to properly put the story together. It is possible that she did not really even try – often journalists will think they see a good angle, a “hook” to sell the story, and they tell that story, regardless of what the experts they interview tell them.

I have had this experience many times – talking to a reporter who is not researching something to figure out what the story is. Rather, they already have the story and now they are just backfilling quotes from experts (or people they can present as experts). They don’t want to hear that they have the story wrong.

The end result is that the take-home message that the public reads is simply wrong, and may have nothing to do with the actual science. It is also clear from research, and from copious experience, that most people do not read much beyond the headline or perhaps the one-line blurb beneath the headline. It is amazing to me how many times people will link to the reporting of a study, or even directly to a study, to support their position when they clearly did not read the article they are linking to, because it does not support their position.

I know everyone does not have the time or background to read and comprehend the primary literature and put it into perspective. That’s fine. But then don’t think you have an informed position because you can link to a secondary source based entirely on the headline.

274 responses so far

274 Responses to “Man Living with 10% of His Brain?”

  1. hardnoseon 23 Dec 2016 at 8:37 am

    There have been many examples like this where the person had an IQ way above average. How come the brain can be squashed to that extent and still function normally?

  2. michaelegnoron 23 Dec 2016 at 9:31 am

    I agree that the press article is poorly written, but I have many patients like this (I specialize in hydrocephalus).

    The best explanation for the very real disconnect between cerebral tissue volume and neurological function is that of Aristotle and the scholastic philosophers. They proposed that certain functions, such as vegetative (physiological) functions and sensory and locomotive functions, are inherently material and are highly dependent on matter.

    Intellectual function, however, is an immaterial power. It depends on material function (perception, memory, etc) quite a bit, but intellect (abstract thought) isn’t material in itself, so it can function in some circumstances somewhat independently of brain matter.

    There is abundant evidence for this viewpoint. Materialism is a woefully inadequate framework for understanding the mind and the brain. Dualism of some sort is clearly right–I favor Thomistic dualism, which is Aristotelian in perspective.

  3. googolplexbyteon 23 Dec 2016 at 9:38 am

    So it’d be possible to fit more than one functional brain inside one skull?

    Why’d our skull need to grow if a denser brain would’ve done the job?

    Does this add credit to the idea that Homo Floriensis was very advanced despite their small cranial capacity?

  4. tb29607on 23 Dec 2016 at 9:56 am

    Steven,
    If I recall correctly the U.K. had a problem with newspapers reporting “scientific” findings in the 1800’s.
    The reports led to a great deal of confusion and misinformation which had direct negative effects on public health (the cholera epidemic in London during the 1850’s being the most obvious example).
    I am wondering if our current flow of news is not having the same effect (vaccine misinformation comes to mind).
    Are we as a society repeating the mistakes of the past?

  5. pdeboeron 23 Dec 2016 at 10:03 am

    googolplexbyte,

    regarding your second question.

    Clearly a 90% denser brain does not do the job as well.

    Maybe the sponginess of the brain is a evolutionary trait that gave greater selective pressure than having a smaller head, or same head and denser brain giving a higher IQ?

    Maybe the sponginess protects against trauma and in cases of drought? Or maybe it is more plastic?
    I’m completely speculating though.

  6. Fair Persuasionon 23 Dec 2016 at 11:54 am

    Fantastic American story, successful rehabilitation ending to a man’s tumor in a week which took 20 years to grow! Blessed are the radiologists, physicians and surgeons. May we all share sanely humanity’s sensory awareness.

  7. Steven Novellaon 23 Dec 2016 at 1:15 pm

    Michael – You characterization of the state of the evidence is simply wrong. There is copious evidence that intellectual function is brain function. There are many patients, for example who have had moderate frontal lobe damage, and they have a non-focal exam. But they have had a profound change in personality. There only problems are with intellectual function, which maps consistently to the frontal lobes.

  8. Steven Novellaon 23 Dec 2016 at 1:18 pm

    HN – link to a case.

  9. hardnoseon 23 Dec 2016 at 1:31 pm

    “There is copious evidence that intellectual function is brain function. There are many patients, for example who have had moderate frontal lobe damage, and they have a non-focal exam. But they have had a profound change in personality. There only problems are with intellectual function, which maps consistently to the frontal lobes.”

    We all know very well that physical things can interfere with intellect and personality. Just drink enough alcohol and see what happens to your reasoning abilities.

    That is evidence that the mind needs a brain to function in physical reality. It is NOT evidence that the mind is the brain.

  10. mumadaddon 23 Dec 2016 at 1:38 pm

    “That is evidence that the mind needs a brain to function in physical reality. It is NOT evidence that the mind is the brain.”

    And the fact that the light switch turns the light on and off is evidence that the light fairy needs a switch to function in physical reality. It is NOT evidence that the lights are controlled by the switch.

    Personally, I think the lights are controlled by non-corporeal gremlins; the argument works equally well for them.

  11. mumadaddon 23 Dec 2016 at 1:40 pm

    “Intellectual function, however, is an immaterial power. It depends on material function (perception, memory, etc) quite a bit, but intellect (abstract thought) isn’t material in itself, so it can function in some circumstances somewhat independently of brain matter.”

    A nicely constructed unfalsifiable claim…

    Show me consciousness absent brain function and I’ll take you seriously.

  12. mumadaddon 23 Dec 2016 at 1:47 pm

    Michael,

    It appears that you aren’t responding to anyone but Steve N, but I’ll try anyway: would you consider sexual orientation to be a product of brain matter or immaterial intellect?

  13. RickKon 23 Dec 2016 at 2:01 pm

    hardnose said: “That is evidence that the mind needs a brain to function in physical reality. It is NOT evidence that the mind is the brain.”

    This debate is easily settled.

    Just describe some feature of “mind” that is not affected by physical, MATERIAL changes to the brain.

    Same question to Dr. Egnor.

  14. michaelegnoron 23 Dec 2016 at 2:18 pm

    Steven:

    [There are many patients, for example who have had moderate frontal lobe damage, and they have a non-focal exam. But they have had a profound change in personality. There only problems are with intellectual function, which maps consistently to the frontal lobes.]

    There are many patients who have moderate frontal lobe damage who have no change in intellect. My office is full of them.

    Your error in assigning intellect to strict material causes is the same error the phrenologists made. They thought that intellect could be mapped to cortical areas in the same way that motor and sensory and vegetative function can. It can’t.

    The simplest explanation is that while intellect generally depends on the material brain for normal function, it is not itself material.

    This is the classical understanding of the mind, and it corresponds nicely to what neuroscience tells us in the 21st century.

  15. michaelegnoron 23 Dec 2016 at 2:32 pm

    hn:

    [That is evidence that the mind needs a brain to function in physical reality. It is NOT evidence that the mind is the brain.]

    The confusion of “necessary” for “sufficient” is central fallacy of materialist theory of mind. The brain is necessary, generally, for normal function of the intellect, but it is not sufficient.

    The reason that the intellect maps to brain so poorly, compared to the elegant and precise mapping of motor, sensory and vegetative function, is that the brain is merely permissive, not generative, of the intellect.

    Aristotle presented logical arguments to demonstrate the immateriality of the intellect (he actually didn’t know the brain was involved–he thought it was the heart, but the argument is the same.) He pointed out that thinking of universals couldn’t be material, because universals were not particular things and matter could only instantiate particular things. The argument is a good one, and accords nicely with 21st century neuroscience.

  16. mumadaddon 23 Dec 2016 at 2:59 pm

    “Aristotle presented logical arguments to demonstrate the immateriality of the intellect (he actually didn’t know the brain was involved–he thought it was the heart, but the argument is the same.)”

    That was thousands of years ago, as demonstrated by the fact he thought the heart was the organ of thought.

    “He pointed out that thinking of universals couldn’t be material, because universals were not particular things and matter could only instantiate particular things.”

    Concepts are immaterial. Correct!

    “The argument is a good one, and accords nicely with 21st century neuroscience.”

    I would think ME is in a prime position to correct the errant ways of neuroscientists, who seem to be getting along fine without an immaterial spirit to explain their findings. He’s a damn brain surgeon after all. We wait with bated breath…

    There really is no excuse for not being able to support assertions of an immaterial component to consciousness with evidence. Our mutual friend seems to think he can blag his way out of it by leaning on long debunked, ancient superstition.

  17. BillyJoe7on 23 Dec 2016 at 3:22 pm

    I read this:

    “It is amazing to me how many times people will link to the reporting of a study, or even directly to a study, to support their position when they clearly did not read the article they are linking to, because it does not support their position”

    And then almost the next thing I read…sorry, skimmed over…was a comment by the blog’s troll! 😀

  18. hardnoseon 23 Dec 2016 at 3:23 pm

    “And the fact that the light switch turns the light on and off is evidence that the light fairy needs a switch to function in physical reality. It is NOT evidence that the lights are controlled by the switch.”

    That is actually an example of what I mean. The light switch is needed, but it does not explain the light.

    Similarly, a brain is needed to interact with this world, but we have absolutely no evidence that the brain explains the mind.

  19. hardnoseon 23 Dec 2016 at 3:25 pm

    “He pointed out that thinking of universals couldn’t be material, because universals were not particular things and matter could only instantiate particular things.”

    So any damned ridiculous thing I think of is real, as long as it’s “universal.” Well if Aristotle said it, it must be true.

  20. hardnoseon 23 Dec 2016 at 3:26 pm

    “I would think ME is in a prime position to correct the errant ways of neuroscientists, who seem to be getting along fine without an immaterial spirit to explain their findings.”

    If you actually knew anything about neuroscience, you would know that they explain very little.

  21. BillyJoe7on 23 Dec 2016 at 3:26 pm

    …and then I read this:

    “HN – link to a case”

    😀 😀 😀

  22. hardnoseon 23 Dec 2016 at 3:30 pm

    “The simplest explanation is that while intellect generally depends on the material brain for normal function, it is not itself material.”

    ME, you might like the way Rupert Sheldrake explains the mind (and other things). He makes a lot of sense to me, and to many others. No one here is open-minded enough to become familiar with his theories, though, of course.

  23. mumadaddon 23 Dec 2016 at 3:31 pm

    “That is actually an example of what I mean. The light switch is needed, but it does not explain the light.”

    You’re right — a load of wiring and electrical infrastructure is also needed. But flicking the switch still causes the lights to go on and off, right?

    Brains alone don’t explain consciousness — the big bang, and certain constants of nature to be within fine parameters.

  24. mumadaddon 23 Dec 2016 at 3:31 pm

    Ahem,

    Brains alone don’t explain consciousness — you also need the big bang, and certain constants of nature to be within fine parameters.

  25. BillyJoe7on 23 Dec 2016 at 3:32 pm

    “Personally, I think the lights are controlled by non-corporeal gremlins”

    Nope, light faeries. 😀

    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/10/36/1f/10361f97c3f932afba07f602bddd91e9.jpg

  26. BillyJoe7on 23 Dec 2016 at 3:34 pm

    “Show ME consciousness absent brain function” 😀

  27. mumadaddon 23 Dec 2016 at 3:35 pm

    BJ7,

    ¡Obrigado!

  28. BillyJoe7on 23 Dec 2016 at 3:52 pm

    “Rupert Sheldrake”

    Rupert Sheldrake?
    This Rupert Sheldrake…”Dogs that know when their owners are coming home”
    Really?

    😀

    http://www.sheldrake.org/books-by-rupert-sheldrake/dogs-that-know-when-their-owners-are-coming-home

    😀

  29. BillyJoe7on 23 Dec 2016 at 3:53 pm

    It’s not the light faeries…it’s Rupert Sheldrake! 😀

  30. bachfiendon 23 Dec 2016 at 3:53 pm

    I personally think it’s a very silly argument that since intellect and consciousness don’t map to a single part of the brain, then it must be immaterial (as Michael Egnor and hardnose believe).

    The true explanation is that intellect and consciousness are produced by large areas (and volumes) of the brain. Small areas of damage produce small impairments. Large impairments require profound widespread damage.

  31. michaelegnoron 23 Dec 2016 at 4:07 pm

    mu:

    [There really is no excuse for not being able to support assertions of an immaterial component to consciousness with evidence.]

    There’s a large literature on this. Many of the giants of neuroscience–Sherrington, Penfield, Eccles, Libet– were dualists. Penfield wrote extensively about this, and about how his experience as an epilepsy neurosurgeon changed him from a materialist to a dualist. Libet was a property dualist.

    There is also of course a large literature on near-death experiences.

    The evidence is there, and quite strong, if you cast aside your materialist bias and look at it.

    hn:

    Sheldrake has some very good ideas. His notion of morphic resonance is, I think, a modern version of classical Forms.

  32. chikoppion 23 Dec 2016 at 4:16 pm

    [michaelegnor]The confusion of “necessary” for “sufficient” is central fallacy of materialist theory of mind. The brain is necessary, generally, for normal function of the intellect, but it is not sufficient.

    A thing can be “necessary,” but not “sufficient.” It can also be “sufficient,” but not “necessary.” Your prior claim that “disembodied intellects” (demons) exist requires that a brain be neither necessary nor sufficient (the intellect exists with or without a brain).

    The reason that the intellect maps to brain so poorly, compared to the elegant and precise mapping of motor, sensory and vegetative function, is that the brain is merely permissive, not generative, of the intellect.

    Here your claim is that the brain is necessary, but not sufficient.

    That ‘intellect’ does map to the brain is supported by evidence. Brain injuries and disorders can impare specific modes of cognitive function, such as the ability to use abstraction in reasoning or extreme changes to personality. If thought was ‘beaming’ into the brain, rather than orginating from the brain itself, physical impairment would not impact the quality of that thought.

    There is no observation to indicate that a brain is not both necessary and sufficient to generate ‘intellect.’

    While the brain is extremely complex and we don’t yet understand how…

    Space ghosts!

    Um…what?

    Space ghosts. Space ghosts make the brain work.

    What are ‘space ghosts?’ We don’t have any evidence that something like that is even possible, let alone any independent observation that would indicate there is reason to…

    Of course they exist. They explain how the brain works.

    Well, we have evidence of thought originating from brains, but there is no evidence that thought exists independent of the physical, chemical, and electrical object itself. ‘Thought’ is just a word that refers to expressions of the organizational system which…

    …which the space ghost drives around. Sometimes other space ghosts, bad space ghosts, try to get in and take the wheel. If you shout the right words at them they’ll leave.

    Yeah…I’m not to sure about all that.

    Pfft! Arrogant materialists!

  33. mumadaddon 23 Dec 2016 at 4:30 pm

    michaelegnor,

    It’s nice that you can name some neuroscientists who were dualists, while forgetting about the entire body of work of the scientific that has no need for immaterial soul. That must mean there’s copious evidence for dualism. Yes?

    Hey, instead of the harmonic scale, I believe that all real music is based on the crashing of pans, and I can find at least 8 musicians who agree.

    “There is also of course a large literature on near-death experiences.”

    Oookay then, Michael.

    That’s some cracking evidence right there. How is it possible that a situation arises in which a salesman has to explain to a brain surgeon why crappy evidence is crappy?

  34. mumadaddon 23 Dec 2016 at 4:31 pm

    Bollocks!

    It’s nice that you can name some neuroscientists who were dualists, while forgetting about the entire body of work of the scientific field that has no need for immaterial soul. That must mean there’s copious evidence for dualism. Yes?

  35. windrivenon 23 Dec 2016 at 4:32 pm

    So michaelegnor, what is the nature of this immaterial self? Where does it reside? By which mechanisms does it interface with the material brain and body? Does this immaterial self require the body or does it survive the death of the body? What exactly does it need the body for?

  36. mumadaddon 23 Dec 2016 at 4:51 pm

    Michael,

    I was being serious what I asked if sexual orientation was meat or metaphysics…

    How about murderous impulses? Necrophilia? OCD? PTSD? Erectile dysfunction? By what system do you sort behaviour into the two camps?

  37. bachfiendon 23 Dec 2016 at 4:52 pm

    Michael,

    Claiming that a number of prominent neuroscientists were or are dualists and therefore supports your particular brand of woo is extremely fallacious.

    You claim that Libet is a property dualist, which is true. He doesn’t support your particular form of dualism. Property dualism recognises that the world consists of just material. There are material and non-material properties (which is where the name ‘property dualism’ comes from). Non-material properties are produced by the material, such as the mind is produced by the brain.

    Libet would definitely agree with Steven Novella and not with you. Labelling someone as a dualist (as you’ve done with Steve Novella on your now defunct blog ‘Egnorance’ and hence somehow unconsciously agreeing with you is extremely dishonest).

  38. tmac57on 23 Dec 2016 at 5:02 pm

    I think that consciousness is quantum entanglement of dark matter mediated through the uncertainty principle and powered by dark energy which is a cold fusion effect. Gravitational waves carry the signals to our brains and zero point energy matrices act as our vector. It’s really fairly simple.

  39. mumadaddon 23 Dec 2016 at 5:13 pm

    tmac,

    Exactly: something something, something darkside.

  40. RickKon 23 Dec 2016 at 5:33 pm

    “There is also of course a large literature on near-death experiences.”

    Yes, there is much literature and it is terrible – of the same low-quality as that supporting ghosts and extra-terrestrial visitors – convincing only to those who are attempting to validate preconceptions. I’ve read study after study hoping to find something interesting, and it’s just not there.

    And as with any other non-existent phenomenon, the more rigorously NDEs are examined and tested, the more any supernatural aspects fade away. Yes, people have similar experiences as their brains fail. No, they don’t magically perceive things that their bodies were unable to perceive. The evidence just isn’t there, and the big studies like AWARE do not have positive results.

    There’s a lot of literature about the Harry Potter universe – that doesn’t make Hogwarts a real place.

  41. magazineon 23 Dec 2016 at 5:33 pm

    Hi people. New commenting but been reading for a long time. This question of the existence of immaterial things is interesting. First let me state that I am a pure materialist. That being said there are some interesting things that seem to try to hint at being immaterial. Mathematics for one, seems to be a language “out there” that exists with or without the material world. Of course it’s not but it’s trying to be! Thoughts and intellect are similar. All we have are these bio-electric pulses but we have these great and complicated discussions that seem to be so much more than mere physical pulses of electricity. The idea of emergent properties is so interesting because it describes things are of course not immaterial but really seem to be.

  42. hardnoseon 23 Dec 2016 at 7:12 pm

    “You’re right — a load of wiring and electrical infrastructure is also needed. But flicking the switch still causes the lights to go on and off, right?”

    This is a typical error made by reductionist/materialists. Because flicking the switch is necessary to make the light go on, you think the switch is THE CAUSE of the light going on.

    But there are many causes. In order to explain why the light goes on, you have to consider more than the switch.

    In the case of a conscious mind interacting with the physical world — we know that the brain is a necessary component of the system. But knowing something is necessary should NOT make you jump to the conclusion that it sufficient.

  43. hardnoseon 23 Dec 2016 at 7:17 pm

    “Sheldrake has some very good ideas. His notion of morphic resonance is, I think, a modern version of classical Forms.”

    Sheldrake integrated ideas from many different sources, including Plato. His ideas also integrated modern science. He is an amazing thinker and scientist.

    Yes he also studied ESP in dogs. And if you think ESP is ridiculous (without knowing anything about it) then of course you will discount all of Sheldrakes brilliant writing.

  44. hardnoseon 23 Dec 2016 at 7:18 pm

    “The evidence just isn’t there, and the big studies like AWARE do not have positive results.”

    One stupid experiment, but that’s all you need because you like the result.

  45. mumadaddon 23 Dec 2016 at 7:28 pm

    “You’re right — a load of wiring and electrical infrastructure is also needed. But flicking the switch still causes the lights to go on and off, right?”

    This is a typical error made by reductionist/materialists. Because flicking the switch is necessary to make the light go on, you think the switch is THE CAUSE of the light going on.

    But there are many causes. In order to explain why the light goes on, you have to consider more than the switch.

    I see. You’re right, hn. Now that I think about it you do have to consider more than the switch — a load of wiring and electrical infrastructure is also needed.

    “In the case of a conscious mind interacting with the physical world — we know that the brain is a necessary component of the system. But knowing something is necessary should NOT make you jump to the conclusion that it sufficient.”

    Coming to you live, from 5 comments and 78 threads ago, in Dontgetitsville, is our past correspondant, hardnose!

  46. mumadaddon 23 Dec 2016 at 7:28 pm

    Corrected tag:

    “You’re right — a load of wiring and electrical infrastructure is also needed. But flicking the switch still causes the lights to go on and off, right?”

    This is a typical error made by reductionist/materialists. Because flicking the switch is necessary to make the light go on, you think the switch is THE CAUSE of the light going on.

    But there are many causes. In order to explain why the light goes on, you have to consider more than the switch.

    I see. You’re right, hn. Now that I think about it you do have to consider more than the switch — a load of wiring and electrical infrastructure is also needed.

    “In the case of a conscious mind interacting with the physical world — we know that the brain is a necessary component of the system. But knowing something is necessary should NOT make you jump to the conclusion that it sufficient.”

    Coming to you live, from 5 comments and 78 threads ago, in Dontgetitsville, is our past correspondant, hardnose!

  47. hardnoseon 23 Dec 2016 at 7:30 pm

    “If thought was ‘beaming’ into the brain, rather than orginating from the brain itself, physical impairment would not impact the quality of that thought.”

    All kinds of physical things can impair thought, that is perfectly obvious. It does not follow that the brain generates thought.

    As an analogy — if the picture on your TV is distorted because something in the TV is damaged, would you conclude the picture is generated by the TV?

  48. mumadaddon 23 Dec 2016 at 7:36 pm

    Corrected tag [2]:

    “You’re right — a load of wiring and electrical infrastructure is also needed. But flicking the switch still causes the lights to go on and off, right?”

    This is a typical error made by reductionist/materialists. Because flicking the switch is necessary to make the light go on, you think the switch is THE CAUSE of the light going on.

    But there are many causes. In order to explain why the light goes on, you have to consider more than the switch.

    I see. You’re right, hn. Now that I think about it you do have to consider more than the switch — a load of wiring and electrical infrastructure is also needed.

    “In the case of a conscious mind interacting with the physical world — we know that the brain is a necessary component of the system. But knowing something is necessary should NOT make you jump to the conclusion that it sufficient.”

    Coming to you live, from 5 comments and 78 threads ago, in Dontgetitsville, is our past correspondent, hardnose!

  49. tmac57on 23 Dec 2016 at 7:40 pm

    I wonder what type of shielding would be required to isolate a human to the point that consciousness (from the non-material source) would cease? Maybe a coffin? Vacuum chamber?
    I don’t know, I’ll let y’all know after I conclude my experiments. Wish me luck!
    😉

  50. bachfiendon 23 Dec 2016 at 8:08 pm

    Hardnose,

    As tmac57 has just noted, your TV analogy is bogus. You can easily demonstrate that the picture on your TV comes from outside the set by isolating it from the outside world by disconnecting it from its antenna and placing it in a location with poor reception. And showing that the defective picture is due to a fault in the set by trying a number of different sources such as different DVD players, resulting in the same defective picture (unless the poor picture is due to inaccurate tuning to the signal).

    Care to suggest an experiment in which you could demonstrate that thoughts are implanted in the brain de novo (not just influenced or suggested) from outside the brain?

  51. michaelegnoron 23 Dec 2016 at 9:05 pm

    [Care to suggest an experiment in which you could demonstrate that thoughts are implanted in the brain de novo (not just influenced or suggested) from outside the brain?]

    Death. It’s a common experiment, is a wonderful example of disconnecting the brain. As it turns out, there is a massive experience and literature with persisting mental experience after clinical death.

    Now the experiences are anecdotal (by definition) and the literature is of varying quality. Some of it is not bad, and there are solid reasons to conclude that awareness persists in some instances (e.g. Pam Reynolds, Von Lummel, Sabom, Ring, Parnia,…). Furthermore, the materialist explanations (ketamine hypothesis, hypoxic effect, etc) haven’t proven credible.

    The most interesting work on NDE’s in my view is that of Carol Zalesky–“Otherworld Journeys”, in which she points out that modern NDE’s are merely a subset of spiritual experiences that people from all cultures have reported for thousands of years. These experiences are ubiquitous and remarkably similar across time and cultures.

    You can deny it–claim that it’s fraud, delusion, ketamine analogues, etc., but there is a very large body of experience and evidence that suggests continued mental function after death.

  52. chikoppion 23 Dec 2016 at 9:11 pm

    [hardnose] As an analogy — if the picture on your TV is distorted because something in the TV is damaged, would you conclude the picture is generated by the TV?

    Yes. The picture is generated by the TV. That’s what a TV does.

    If damage to the TV consistently distorts the image I see, I can be pretty confident that the TV itself is responsible for generating that image. If I were to unplug the TV or tear out its circuit board and the image were to persist; that would surprise me.

  53. chikoppion 23 Dec 2016 at 9:15 pm

    [michaelegnor] You can deny it–claim that it’s fraud, delusion, ketamine analogues, etc., but there is a very large body of experience and evidence that suggests continued mental function after death.

    Really? Are you sure it isn’t just evidence of altered or imapared brain states near death, when the body is undergoing severe stress and possibly system failures?

  54. michaelegnoron 23 Dec 2016 at 9:17 pm

    Think of the evidence for NDE’s this way.

    The evidence for persistence of mental function after cessation of brain function (the experience of millions of people, solid research studies like those of Sabom, Ring, Parnia, etc) is orders of magnitude stronger than the evidence for the origin of species by natural selection.

  55. michaelegnoron 23 Dec 2016 at 9:31 pm

    Another way to think about the evidence for NDE’s:

    The existence of space aliens, for which there is not a shred of evidence, is seriously discussed in hilarious detail (Dyson spheres, etc) by materialists, many of whom are convinced that they exist.

    NDE’s, for which the evidence immeasurably exceeds that of aliens (which is zero), are considered beneath consideration and crackpot science.

    Materialist bias is not subtle, and it handicaps science in serious ways.

  56. chikoppion 23 Dec 2016 at 9:34 pm

    Is it though?

    What there is, that I’m aware of, are people who have undergone various states of impaired brain function attempting to explain fractured memories after the fact (often consistent with cultural beliefs and expectations).

    If I were to give you LSD, and you have a vivid experience of fish wiggling around under the carpet, is that proof that phantom fish exist just outside the realm of everyday perception?

  57. bachfiendon 23 Dec 2016 at 9:49 pm

    Michael,

    The people with NDEs weren’t dead. NDE stands for Near Death Experience. Near, near, near, near… How many times do I have to repeat it?

    The accounts of the NDEs were made hours, even days after the near deaths. There’s no evidence that the memories of the NDE came from the time of the NDE, if the patient was clinically dead with a flatline EEG and not just lacking spontaneous respiration and circulation.

    It can’t be excluded, and it’s much more probable, that the memories of the NDE come from the period subsequent to the near death while the person is extremely ill but alive.

    NDEs aren’t universal. Only a minority of people suffering a cardiac arrest and successfully resuscitated experience anything consistent with a NDE, which is consistent with the view that the mind is produced by the brain, which is suffering varying degrees of insult during a near death episode, rather than coming from outside.

  58. chikoppion 23 Dec 2016 at 9:52 pm

    “But, but, aliens” is a red herring.

    We have one known instance of a planet harbouring life. We know it is possible and consistent with observed reality.

    “Origin of species by natural selection” is also a red herring.

    The theory of evolution explains the change in heritable traits among isolated populations over time. Evidence for variation, selection, and speciation is beyond extensive from molecular biology to paleontology, from the lab to the field, and consistent with the theory. It does not explain abiogenesis, how self-replicating organisms originated.

    We have zero instances of observed ‘disembodied intelligence.’

  59. Willyon 23 Dec 2016 at 10:14 pm

    Dr. Egnor: No one of any credibility is convinced that ETs are real; certainly no one on this blog is asserting they are real. Many people do suspect they are possible. Alas, YOU are convinced that demons ARE real. Comically, you think you are correct and others are, I guess, “materialist” fools.

    Practicing neurosurgery, even very well–it ain’t a guarantee of clear-headed thinking. I realize that correlation is not causation, but you are leading me to suspect that a degree in neurosurgery also qualifies one to be an expert at straw man construction and belief in fables. Also witness Ben Carson’s claim that “Joseph” constructed the pyramids to store grain.

  60. bachfiendon 23 Dec 2016 at 10:35 pm

    Willy,

    Not all neurosurgeons are like Michael Egnor. The British neurosurgeon, Henry Marsh, based on his book ‘Do No Harm’ (which I strongly recommend, seems very sensible.

    Perhaps it’s American neurosurgeons?

    Michael,

    The plural of ‘anecdote’ isn’t data, it’s ‘anecdotes’. Having more than one, even many, pieces of extremely poor evidence doesn’t make the evidence better.

    Evolution by means of natural selection is testable and repeatable, including John Endler’s study on Trinidad guppies and their variation in male coloration in response to changes in predation.

    Care to suggest an experiment to suggest a non-material basis for NDEs?

  61. tb29607on 23 Dec 2016 at 11:12 pm

    Neurosurgeons are infallible. Just ask one of them if they have ever made a mistake and if by some chance they can admit it, try and get a description of the case (I bet it ends up being because someone else messed up first and misled them).

  62. bachfiendon 23 Dec 2016 at 11:18 pm

    tb29607,

    Which is another reason why I loved Henry Marsh’s book ‘Do No Harm’. It’s a collection of stories from his career as a neurosurgeon in Britain. It includes his failures as well as his successes, including one patient who’d developed a devastating postoperative infection which he’d missed. And he blamed no one but himself.

  63. edamameon 24 Dec 2016 at 12:11 am

    egnor as usual comes and uses this blog as a place to get out his pre-made talking points and derail the discussion with overstatements and histrionics. nothing if not consistent. can’t you get people to come and talk to you at your blog?

  64. edamameon 24 Dec 2016 at 12:25 am

    Keith Augustine has done a good job taking on the NDE arguments for substance dualism, in the volume ‘The Myth of An Afterlife’ (this volume takes on the main arguments for an afterlife, not just the arguments for substance dualism).

    Augustine makes a good case that NDEs are hallucinations whose contents are strongly shaped by the cultural expectations of the experiencer. NDEs are not after death, at any rate: there is no evidence that they happen in the absence of brain activity.

  65. BillyJoe7on 24 Dec 2016 at 12:44 am

    ME: “Sheldrake has some very good ideas”

    Like this one:

    Rupert Sheldrake:
    “I still say the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ every day. It covers a lot of ground in our relation to the world”.

    😀

  66. tb29607on 24 Dec 2016 at 12:47 am

    I posed what I thought was a relavant question earlier but got no response.
    In the past, non-peer reviewed scientific jounalism resulted in some tragic public health outcomes. Ultimatley the U.K. curtailed scientific reporting in non-peer reviewed journals/papers (not sure if other countries followed suit, was in the 1800’s).
    So is the above referenced article evidence (or further evidence given the ongoing vaccine debacle) that we are repeating historical mistakes?

  67. edamameon 24 Dec 2016 at 12:58 am

    In 2005, the Journal of Consciousness Studies devoted a special issue to Sheldrake’s work on the sense of being stared at. For this issue, the editor could not follow the journal’s standard peer review process because “making successful blind peer review a condition of publication would in this case have killed the project at the outset”

    That’s from Wikipedia….That’s pretty bad.

  68. BillyJoe7on 24 Dec 2016 at 1:22 am

    HN: “Sheldrake…is an amazing thinker and scientist”

    Rupert Sheldrake looked at this graph…

    http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/primer/lightandcolor/speedoflight.html
    (Scroll down to figure 6)

    …and concluded that the speed of light has been dropping.

    😀

  69. mumadaddon 24 Dec 2016 at 5:34 am

    So which components of NDEs can’t be replicated through a anoxia, TCMS, or narcotics?

  70. bachfiendon 24 Dec 2016 at 7:15 am

    Michael,

    There’s just as much evidence for space aliens as there is for NDEs. Many people have reported seeing UFOs and being abducted by space aliens for biological experimentation and examination.

    The trouble is that the quality of the evidence for both space aliens and NDEs is exactly the same – extremely poor. There are more parsimonious explanations for both phenomena.

    It’s reasonable to conjecture that there might be intelligent ‘space aliens’ somewhere or somewhen else in this enormous Universe. After all, we know we’re here, so it isn’t a stretch to think that life could have developed elsewhere. Conjectures about what extraterrestrial intelligences could do is just as sensible as conjecturing what humans could do technologically in 500 or a thousand years (if we haven’t gone extinct or ruined our ecosystem irretrievably in the meantime).

    Constructing a Dyson sphere might be possible. Or completely out of reach of any civilisation. Evidence of a Dyson sphere around another star might be another thing for astronomers to consider when confronted with anomalous observations, such as the Kepler telescope’s observations of the star KIC 8462852 which show numerous irregular deep decreases in brightness, which doesn’t appear to be due to a large amount of dust and debris. Or extrasolar planets. It could be due to numerous comets, but there’d need to be a lot of comets to explain the dimness. Or it could be due to an ETI constructing numerous solar panels around their star in order to generate energy – a proto-Dyson sphere. Or there could be some other explanation, not yet thought of.

    It’s a question that is potentially answerable with further data and observations. Reliable and replicable data and observations – not just subjective experiences reported days after the event as with so-called NDEs. Or alien abductions.

  71. RickKon 24 Dec 2016 at 7:57 am

    Let’s be clear on terms.

    Near-death experiences (NDEs) happen – there is plenty of evidence of similarities and patterns in what people perceive as their brains begin to fail at death. These experiences are shared by people in high-speed centrifuges and in other extreme physical circumstances that stress the brain.

    And THAT is what the overwhelming majority of documentation about NDEs is about. Open any book on NDEs and you’ll read chapter after chapter about feelings of calm, a light or tunnel, visions of relatives and past events, etc.

    None of these experiences suggest anything happening independent of the brain – particularly given that we can re-create the sensations by putting people under various forms of stress.

    The “supernatural” claims – perception of events happening away from the body’s perception, discussions with dead people, etc. – are where the evidence crumbles to the level of alien abduction stories. Every time you read one of these, they are disappointing.

    The other class is “the person perceived events around them although they were dead”. But again, these stories invariably involve circumstances where complete brain death is difficult to determine, where time sensation is altered, or where subjects could be easily coached by NDE-motivated interviewers. Besides – it is a vastly more parsimonious answer that brain activity fades slowly after cessation of blood flow, than that consciousness happens outside the brain. We seem to have no problem creating computers that preserve their processing state during power loss, and we don’t then conclude that program execution happens outside the physical processor.

    Most of us would very much like to live beyond my death and be reunited with loved ones (most of them). I’m sure many love the idea of allowing their consciousness to roam free of their bodies. Just as I’m sure we’re all very excited by the prospect of meeting another technically advanced, alien race.

    But most of us don’t desire these things so badly that we’re willing to lie to ourselves that we’re convinced by such poor evidence.

  72. edamameon 24 Dec 2016 at 8:39 am

    Yes to deny nde occurrence is mistake credibility killer. Keith Augustine in volume mentioned above has done heroic service by really sifting through the literature on it…plus it is a very good volume in general.

  73. Willyon 24 Dec 2016 at 9:56 am

    Merry Christmas, Happy Hannakah, Joyful Festivus, and Happy Holidays to you all!

    Now I must go prepare for the Airing of Grievances.

  74. Ian Wardellon 24 Dec 2016 at 10:45 am

    edamame said:
    “Keith Augustine has done a good job taking on the NDE arguments for substance dualism, in the volume ‘The Myth of An Afterlife’ (this volume takes on the main arguments for an afterlife, not just the arguments for substance dualism)”.

    NDEs provide evidence for an afterlife, not really substance dualism.

    The idea of a mental substance is that in addition to experiences there is an *experiencer*. So there isn’t just pain, but rather in addition a self that experiences the pain. A mental substance is required to be able to distinguish one self from another and also to account for the notion that we persist through time. It’s philosophical arguments which justify such a self, not NDEs.

    The myth of an afterlife is extraordinarily bad for all sorts of reasons, although Keith Augustine’s chapter on NDEs brings up a lot of pertinent relevant points. I’m currently writing a full review, however some readers might be interested in a partial review I’ve written on my blog. Go here:

    http://ian-wardell.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/keith-augustine-in-myth-of-afterlife.html

  75. hardnoseon 24 Dec 2016 at 11:17 am

    “it is a vastly more parsimonious answer that brain activity fades slowly after cessation of blood flow, than that consciousness happens outside the brain.”

    It is not more parsimonious. There is no imaginable reason why the brain would create these complicated scenarios, which are similar for most experiencers.

    Your materialist evolution theory certainly can’t explain it.

    Some people may be “desperate” to believe in a afterlife. But others are desperate to reject all “paranormal” ideas.

    Most people, I think, only want to believe what seems more likely based on the evidence they are aware of.

  76. hardnoseon 24 Dec 2016 at 11:25 am

    “There’s just as much evidence for space aliens as there is for NDEs. Many people have reported seeing UFOs and being abducted by space aliens for biological experimentation and examination.”

    Yes, and there are good reasons to think there probably are space aliens, aside from all the experiential evidence.

    UFO abduction experiences are very similar — why would so many different people imagine the same thing? No it is not internet hysteria — most of them probably knew nothing about it before their experience.

    And it’s similar with NDEs. Most experiencers never told anyone before being interviewed by researchers. When the research started hardly anyone had heard or read about NDEs, they only knew their own experiences.

    You desperately want to ignore the evidence. You have no respect for what people experience. You have an unlimited and irrational faith in the human ability for self-deception.

    You worship Kahneman and Tversky’s defective research.

  77. chikoppion 24 Dec 2016 at 1:12 pm

    [hardnose] It is not more parsimonious. There is no imaginable reason why the brain would create these complicated scenarios, which are similar for most experiencers.
    Your materialist evolution theory certainly can’t explain it.

    You do like your windmills. “Materialism” has nothing to do with it. The word you’re looking for is Monism. Evolution also has nothing to do with it.

    There is a great deal of evidence that during periods of diminished functionally the brain is capable of creating elaborate narratives from false perception, either in the moment or post-facto. Drug induced hallucinations often incorporate objects and scenarios familiar to the subject. Dreams can also be strikingly realistic and detailed, drawn from nothing but memories and subconscious associations. Patients with forms of dementia or brain damage have waking delusions that seem entirely real and convincing. Traumatic episodes can cause a person to subsequently recall vivid details that did not not occur.

    None of these experiences require a dualistic premise (it is not necessary to invoke space ghosts to explain these phenomena).

  78. hardnoseon 24 Dec 2016 at 2:38 pm

    You can’t explain them. No one can. You constantly over-estimate your ability to understand things that no one understands.

  79. chikoppion 24 Dec 2016 at 3:29 pm

    I don’t have to “explain them” to observe that they are consistent with entirely mundane disruptions of lucid brain function. The point is that the reported phenomena does not necessitate the invention of magical planes of existence, evidence for which has never been independently established.

  80. qwertyon 24 Dec 2016 at 3:30 pm

    hardnose on 23 Dec 2016 at 8:37 am
    > There have been many examples like this where the person had an IQ way above average.

    Steven Novella on 23 Dec 2016 at 1:18 pm
    > HN – link to a case.

    We’re still waiting for that link, hn. or you can’t explain that? no one can?

  81. bachfiendon 24 Dec 2016 at 4:44 pm

    Hardnose,

    ‘You worship Kahneman and Tversky’s defective research’.

    What research are you referring to? Why is defective? I can only think of prospect theory and I can’t see its relevance.

    What makes you think that the memories of NDEs come from the time of the near death instead of being constructed and reconstructed in the period of hours and even days after the crisis resulting in the near death, as happens with all experiential memories?

    Alien abductions are perfectly explicable as a result of hypnopompic hallucinations. Before science fiction films became part of the general culture, they were regarded to be due to demonic possession, if an external source was considered to be necessary to be sought. People aren’t as naive about the culture of the time as you seem to believe.

    UFOs are just that – unidentified to the observer (excluding the small number of deliberate frauds) – and mostly have some mundane explanation such as Venus, weather balloons or even flying insects. With almost everyone having mobile phones with inbuilt cameras, if UFOs were genuinely alien visits there should by now be a plethora of high quality recordings of alien space ships – which there isn’t.

  82. BillyJoe7on 24 Dec 2016 at 4:56 pm

    Well, we’ve had it all on this thread:

    Ian finding another excuse to promote his website.

    The troll with his “don’t know everything don’t know nothing” trope, his belief in almost anything as long as it’s not mainstream, and his reliance on the lowest level of evidence – his genuflection before the anecdotes of Joe Average.

    And Egnor’s ignorance of category and context and his reliance on long dead philosophers to prop up his pathetic excuse of a religion.

    Anyway…

    Happy Holidays to all. 🙂
    (My daughter-in-law is a Muslim, so I’ve finallygiven up on Happy Christmas)

  83. mumadaddon 24 Dec 2016 at 5:28 pm

    Seriously… Did all the people who had NDEs have brains? Can every component of an NDE be reliably induced without death? By doing things to the brain?

    Really — so childish and ridiculous.

  84. mumadaddon 24 Dec 2016 at 5:29 pm

    I saw a video on YouTube by a guy whose cat could fly….

    Therefore cats can fly.

  85. mumadaddon 24 Dec 2016 at 5:30 pm

    Whatever.

    Merry Christmas and see my blog.

  86. mumadaddon 24 Dec 2016 at 5:37 pm

    “So there isn’t just pain, but rather in addition a self that experiences the pain. A mental substance is required to be able to distinguish one self from another and also to account for the notion that we persist through time. It’s philosophical arguments which justify such a self, not NDEs.”

    That’s it, Ian! Nonsense does explain bullshit!

  87. mumadaddon 24 Dec 2016 at 5:59 pm

    A goddamn brain surgeon and self proclaimed retired scientist are convinced by the literature on near death experiences that mind is not meat…

    It beggars belief. They are both profoundly dishonest, in my opinion. I buy that hn is a true believer, but not his creds. I don’t believe that egnor is really convinced by NDE testimonies. He’s just saying shit he thinks he might be able to get away with. It’s post truthiness bollocks.

  88. michaelegnoron 24 Dec 2016 at 6:01 pm

    Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all!

    May we welcome the Prince of Peace with open hearts and open minds.

  89. mumadaddon 24 Dec 2016 at 6:01 pm

    Bj7,

    (My daughter-in-law is a Muslim, so I’ve finallygiven up on Happy Christmas)

    You can work on that. I have faith. XD

  90. michaelegnoron 24 Dec 2016 at 6:04 pm

    http://townhall.com/columnists/jackkerwick/2016/12/24/reasons-for-nonchristians-to-celebrate-christmas-n2263196

  91. Waylahon 24 Dec 2016 at 6:28 pm

    One thing that seems apparent is that people like the idea of an immaterial mind. Even people who firmly believe that every part of intelect is explained entirely by the brain can understand that kind of desire that there be ‘something more’, that consciousness is something more than material. It’s interesting that this desire exists. It’s probably stemming from the generation of a sense of self. But I wonder why. What’s so bad about being a brain?

  92. BillyJoe7on 24 Dec 2016 at 6:59 pm

    ^Apologists nonsense

  93. edamameon 24 Dec 2016 at 8:00 pm

    Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas. Hope everyone has a peaceful holiday season.

  94. bachfiendon 24 Dec 2016 at 8:45 pm

    Why should I celebrate Christmas? It’s just a few days after the Summer solstice. I don’t have much to look forward to besides 1-2 months of very hot weather (but hopefully no long periods of the 42 degree Celsius temperature we had on Thursday).

  95. BillyJoe7on 24 Dec 2016 at 8:56 pm

    It is, of course, already Christmas Day down here in the antipodes.

    bachfiend,

    In Victoria, it is already 36 degrees, so I feel for you in Western Australia where it’s forecast to go to 42. However, temperatures have rarely gotten much above low to mid twenties over here over the last couple of months, so it feels like 42 here as well.
    Oh, well, it’s a famous number at least – and an ungodly one! 🙂
    So let us rejoice in that at least.

  96. BillyJoe7on 24 Dec 2016 at 9:55 pm

    And now for your holiday entertainment…

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=H3_nUfsGGnw

    Rupert Sheldrake at his nuttiest.
    It’s a discussion about his book with Matthew Fox, titled….wait for it…

    “The Physics of Angels” 😀

    Blurb:

    Many people believe in angels, but few can define these enigmatic spirits. Now visionary theologian Matthew Fox and acclaimed biologist Rupert Sheldrake—pioneers in modern religious thinking and scientific theory—launch a groundbreaking exploration into the ancient concept of the angel and restore dignity, meaning, and joy to our time-honored belief in these heavenly beings.

    It’s simply hilarious how this nutcase talks with a straight face about angels!
    Quantumbabble and, what Jerry Coyne cynically refers to as, Sophistcated Theology are used to defend the concept of angels without a hint of embarrassment.
    As The saying goes…you couldn’t make this stuff up.

  97. franno69on 25 Dec 2016 at 1:23 am

    HN:”There is no imaginable reason why the brain would create these complicated scenarios, which are similar for most experiencers.”

    Most of “these complicated scenarios” are culturally specific and context-sensitive when studied, actually. The same goes for alien abduction recollections/narratives. The bits of the experiences/recollections that are similar across cultures and contexts are all reproducible in living, material brains by inducing ischaemia, drugs, sleep deprivation etc.
    Would you be open-minded enough to update your interpretation of the facts now?

    ME : The problem with using any NDE data to support a dualist claim, is that it is a misnomer – All of these descriptions are made by “now alive” organisms (however you define “near death” experience.) Neuroscientists continue to more deeply elucidate the mechanisms by which alive organisms (and their material brains) can generate false memories, overvalued ideas, and perceptual inaccuracies – complete with inaccurate time stamps backdated to the time that their ischaemic brains were not actually functioning.

  98. tb29607on 25 Dec 2016 at 2:06 am

    Does Dr Egnor know that this is a science blog?

  99. hardnoseon 25 Dec 2016 at 11:45 am

    “It’s simply hilarious how this nutcase talks with a straight face about angels!”

    Yes everything is ridiculous except materialism. Almost all of humanity, past and present, are and were gullible idiots.

    You materialist “skeptics” are the lonely island of sanity and reason.

  100. hardnoseon 25 Dec 2016 at 11:51 am

    “I buy that hn is a true believer, but not his creds.

    That shows what you know about the academic system. Even an idiot like me can get a PhD, it is not that hard. The main challenge for me was pretending to be an atheist for four years.

    Yes it was a second rate school, but it came in right after the first rated schools.

  101. hardnoseon 25 Dec 2016 at 11:52 am

    You just need a high enough IQ to get in, which I have, but IQ is a BS concept. You can have the highest IQ in the world but zero common sense or practical knowledge.

  102. beeveeon 25 Dec 2016 at 2:20 pm

    Dr. Novella,

    This case came up in a discussion on a forum i am involved in.
    What puzzles me most is where the figure of 10% comes from? As a layperson, looking at the brain scans, i think i see a lot more tissue left than the 10% figure quoted in the article.

    For instance i made a crude surface measurement on the bottom left (C) part of the brain scan. Using Image J, i measured the remaining brain to represent about 43% of the inside of the skull.

    Keeping in mind that the brain cavity is a three dimensional object, and it seems enlarged by the hydrocephalus, it seems to me that it is very well possible that there is more than 50% left, at least in volume, of a normal brain.
    And that is not even taking into consideration the compressibility of the brain

    What are your (or anyone else’s) thoughts on that?

  103. tmac57on 25 Dec 2016 at 5:54 pm

    Good news everybody!
    I have been pursuing my investigation of how consciousness is being transmitted to our brains, and I think that I have hit on something big!
    Through experimentation, I found that restricting my lung movements causes me to lose consciousness (which is regained when said movements are restored).
    With this piece of the puzzle in place, I then hypothesized that something going into and out of my lungs was the mediating force behind my consciousness, and after studying the problem, I decided that oxygen might be the active carrier (due to it’s reactivity and abundance in nature, and the fact that when I eliminated it from the other gasses that I breathed in, my consciousness went away.
    I know this might be premature, but I really think this inspiring discovery may be a breakthrough!
    Wish me luck (again).
    And a Happy Holidays to all !!!

    🙂

  104. bachfiendon 25 Dec 2016 at 9:07 pm

    Hardnose,

    You can believe whatever nonsense you want, but don’t expect us to accept your beliefs when you’re unable provide any evidence.

    Just because a large number of people now and in the past believe in angels doesn’t mean that they exist. People believe in a lot of nonsense for personal reasons, including many people who are convinced that Trump won the popular vote (including Donald Trump, who’s convinced that he did, only that there were a large number of fraudulent votes against him).

    Michael Egnor, in the previous thread on demonic possession, wrote:

    ‘The developed Christian understanding of demons (and angels) is that they are pure forms – intelligences without matter. Metaphysically, they’re certainly plausible. Our modern understanding of seizures as episodic abnormal electrical discharges in the brain does not address whether or not some seizures are caused by intelligences without matter’.

    So, sophisticated theology has now virtually defined angels and demons and angels out of physical existence, despite most believers thinking that angels and demons have physical form. Demons maybe cause epileptic seizures, except when they don’t, and there’s no way of distinguishing between whether they do or whether they don’t. And the treatment of epilepsy is the same regardless of whether it’s ‘demonic’ or not.

    Laughable.

    Anything that’s asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

  105. BillyJoe7on 25 Dec 2016 at 11:54 pm

    Rupert Sheldrake:

    “Genes, in my view, are grossly over-rated. They only account for the proteins that the organism can make, not the shape or the form or the behavior.”

    “Every species has a collective memory, even crystals do”

    “The Sun is conscious”

    “Rats in London learning a new skill makes it easier for rats everywhere in the world to learn that skill”

    “So, take a squirrel living in New York now. That squirrel is being influenced by all past squirrels”

    “Dogs know when their masters are coming home”

    “The commonest kinds of seemingly telepathic response are the anticipation by dogs and cats of their owners coming home”

    “People can sense when they are being stared at”

    “As human beings, we once had a symbiotic relationship with the world-girdling intelligence of the planet that was mediated through shamanic plant use. This relationship was disrupted and eventually lost by the progressive climatic drying of the Eurasian and African land masses.”

    “I still say the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ every day. It covers a lot of ground in our relation to the world”

    “The speed of light is decreasing [based on his faulty analysis of a graph]”

    Just like the resident troll, his own words destroy him
    No need for a take down.
    If you can spare the time, listen to some of his videos.
    He has found god and now he wants to prove he exists.
    And the nonsense he has to believe in order to do so knows no bounds.

  106. BillyJoe7on 26 Dec 2016 at 12:11 am

    The resident troll:

    “Almost all of humanity, past and present, are and were gullible idiots”

    No, you are not part of a majority.
    Idiots comprise less than 1% of humanity.
    It is truer to say that you are almost unique.

    😀

  107. BillyJoe7on 26 Dec 2016 at 1:12 am

    Rupert Sheldrake: amusing anecdotes:

    “In April 2008, Sheldrake was stabbed by a man during a lecture in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The man told a reporter that he thought Sheldrake had been using him as a “guinea pig” in telepathic mind control experiments for over five years.
    Sheldrakes assailant was found guilty but mentally ill”

    😀

    “Scientists around the world consistently get different measurements for such “constants” as the gravitational force or the speed of light, [but] they insist that the variation is attributable to experimental error or they “make up” proportions of dark energy and matter, assuring that the variations they’ve observed can be made to fit into the established paradigm.
    “What if the laws of nature vary during the day” Sheldrake asked”

    😀 😀

    “In 2005, the Journal of Consciousness Studies devoted a special issue to Sheldrake’s work on the sense of being stared at. For this issue, the editor could not follow the journal’s standard peer review process because…
    Making successful blind peer review a condition of publication would have killed the project at the outset”

    😀 😀 😀

  108. hardnoseon 26 Dec 2016 at 1:24 am

    “I still say the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ every day. It covers a lot of ground in our relation to the world”

    It is so sad that you think this is ridiculous.

  109. BillyJoe7on 26 Dec 2016 at 1:43 am

    The sad thing is that a grown man actually does that.
    An even sadder thing is that he is not embarrassed to say so.
    It’s been many decades since I did similar and the memory still embarrasses me.

    But I’m all grown up now.
    Now I believe in The Garden Faery….

    http://www.desktopwallpaperhd.net/view/fantasy-garden-fairy-girls-media-180828.html

    😉

  110. bachfiendon 26 Dec 2016 at 5:22 am

    “‘I still say the Lord’s Prayer every day. It covers a lot of ground in our relation to the world’.

    It’s sad that you think this is ridiculous”.

    I haven’t recited the Lord’s Prayer for over 45 years (I doubt that I remember the words), and since then my understanding of the world (and the Universe) has broadened and deepened considerably.

    I doubt seriously that there’d be a high proportion of nominal Christians who’d recite the Lord’s Prayer daily.

  111. michaelegnoron 26 Dec 2016 at 7:40 am

    Nothing Sheldrake says is anywhere near as crazy as ‘everything came from nothing for no reason’ and ‘survivors survived explains life’.

    It’s a rich irony that Sheldrake’s views are mocked by materialists who in any rational age would be deemed certifiably insane.

    The ’emergence of the universe without intelligent cause’ is magic on a scale that dwarfs anything Sheldrake ever said.

  112. tmac57on 26 Dec 2016 at 11:17 am

    “The ’emergence of the universe without intelligent cause’ is magic on a scale that dwarfs anything Sheldrake ever said.”

    But the emergence of an “intelligent cause” without a cause is okey dokey?

  113. hardnoseon 26 Dec 2016 at 12:58 pm

    “The sad thing is that a grown man actually does that.
    An even sadder thing is that he is not embarrassed to say so.
    It’s been many decades since I did similar and the memory still embarrasses me.”

    Poor little you.

  114. bachfiendon 26 Dec 2016 at 3:30 pm

    I’m not embarrassed that once, over 45 years ago, I used to be a believing Christian.

    But as someone once wrote:

    ‘When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things’.

    It’s time for some people, such as hardnose and Michael Egnor, to put aside their childish things and to think and understand as adults, and to learn reality rather than their ignorant versions of what science actually has established as being true with a reasonably high probability of being true.

    I’m bemused by their evidence-free attempts to convince sceptics that their versions of reality, incoherent though they are, are true.

  115. BillyJoe7on 26 Dec 2016 at 4:23 pm

    If nothing else this thread has finally put the lie to the troll’s claim that he is not religious.
    We already know that he is not a retired scientist and that he does not have a Phd.
    Either that or he is in the early stages of dementia and remembers nothing of what he used to know.

  116. bachfiendon 26 Dec 2016 at 5:26 pm

    BillyJoe,

    I’m charitable enough to believe that hardnose earned a PhD in something connected with computer science (which has as much to do with real science as stamp collecting has to do with history) in his mature years. Althpigh he has little to no knowledge of and dpertise in real science.

    Not all PhDs are equal. There’s the example of ‘Dr Dino’ for one. In Australia, a recognised university conferred a PhD on a candidate who did shoddy work on immunisation and the dubious claims that it causes autism.

  117. BillyJoe7on 26 Dec 2016 at 6:22 pm

    …and notice how neither ME or TT (The Troll) have been able to offer any argument in support of RS against my extended debunking of this crackpot.

  118. BillyJoe7on 26 Dec 2016 at 6:31 pm

    bachfiend,

    Fair enough.
    Perhaps my BS (unfortunate acronym!) is actually heavier than his PhD!
    I certainly understand science an order of magnitude better than he does – which is not saying much!

    “Althpigh he has little to no knowledge of and dpertise in real science”

    Stll recoverng hey? 😀

  119. BillyJoe7on 26 Dec 2016 at 8:22 pm

    More Egnorance:

    “The ’emergence of the universe without intelligent cause’ is magic on a scale that dwarfs anything Sheldrake ever said”

    The following link is about criticism of evolution theory but applies equally well here:

    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10539-016-9557-8

    critics dislike standard theories…and wish to see them undermined. The reasons for this dislike are not always scientific, but involve anxieties about agency and overall purpose…The anxieties are easy enough to understand…and in some accounts, the imaginary agents are not even humans. Anxieties can be real, even if they are baseless, and the aims of these critics are best viewed as therapeutic.

    To this end, theories…can be undermined in any number of ways. A common strategy is to diffuse the imaginary agency more liberally around the system…and to redescribe the system using the language of agency…The result need not be a genuine alternative theory…that might be used to predict or explain anything. As long as the description…seems easier to bring into relation with our moral feelings, it might help us to behave or feel better. If the imaginary agency is sufficiently diffuse, dynamical systems theory can become a sort of mysticism.

    I think he has Michael Egnor down to a tee.

  120. Ian Wardellon 27 Dec 2016 at 2:36 pm

    I find it curious that materialists have no problem in understanding that the coloured light coming from a prism cannot be *completely* accounted for all by the prism itself — an extra ingredient is required, namely white light.

    And they have no problem in understanding that what is shown on a TV screen cannot be *completely* accounted for by the TV set all by itself — an extra ingredient is required, namely TV signals.

    But when it comes to the brain and consciousness, they insist that the fact conscious states are affected by brain states entails the brain *all by itself* must create consciousness.

    And this despite the fact that it is as equally . .nay . .*more* mysterious how brains all by themselves can create consciousness than to suppose a prism all by itself creates coloured light, or a TV set, all by itself, creates the output in the form of the programme being shown.

  121. mumadaddon 27 Dec 2016 at 3:36 pm

    Well, if you base your understanding of consciousness on analogies to TVs and prisms, you’re doomed.

    What should we expect to learn about consciousness from prisms or TVs?

  122. tb29607on 27 Dec 2016 at 3:40 pm

    IW,
    Your remedial examples have to be a set up.
    Out of morbid curiosity, what do you imagine the demonstrable input is into our brains?

  123. bachfiendon 27 Dec 2016 at 3:40 pm

    Ian,

    Well, a prism doesn’t create a coloured spectrum and a television set doesn’t create a programme. Both require something else, which we know exists, coming from outside.

    There’s no evidence that there’s anything else, coming from outside, causing either consciousness or the mind in the brain. If you want to claim that, then what is that something else?

    As a related phenomenon, if the something else coming from outside isn’t there, for example if part of the retina, due to disease, isn’t sending visual signals to the brain, so that part of the visual field is lacking, then the brain is perfectly capable of replacing the missing part of the visual field with something else, which can be completely bizarre, not present in the external world.

    Oliver Sacks in ‘Hallucinations’ discusses this. It’s called the Charles Bonnet Syndrome. It’s perfectly explicable on the ‘materialist’ viewpoint. The brain is constantly filling in areas of the visual field which are absent, for example each eye has a blind spot, corresponding to the part of each eye where each optic nerve exits and there’s no visual receptors, and would have the apparent size of the Moon (around 0.5 degrees across), but which the brain fills in.

    What is the non-materialist explanation for the Charles Bonnet Syndrome? What is the ‘something else’ coming from outside causing the image in the brain that doesn’t exist outside? What is the visual signal causing the visual image in the brain (using your television analogy)?

    And the false visual images can be very bizarre (the Kindle sample Amazon provides free would contain the account of the syndrome since it’s in the first chapter, so I suggest you go and read it, before returning).

  124. chikoppion 27 Dec 2016 at 3:45 pm

    The brain isn’t a prism or a TV. This is a particularly weak argument from analogy. “There are things that act to modulate a signal from elsewhere, therefore the brain must be modulating an external signal.”

    If a physical system is acted upon by an external agent then it should be possible to detect that interaction. In a prism, the refractory angles of light can be mapped through the material to the point at which the wavelengths converge, coinciding with external illumination. A TV has an input port. Nothing similar has ever been observed in a brain. No input has been detected. No signal has been detected.

    The world is filled with examples of emergent properties, especially in chemistry and biology. The more complex a system, the more those emergent properties are likely to be irreducible. The brain is a very, very complex system.

    Damage to the brain alters consciousness. Damage to specific parts of the brain alters consciousness in specific ways. We have many, many examples of normal brains, abnormal brains, brains in all stages of development, brains disrupted by chemicals or electrical fields, etc., etc. In every case, the observed properties of consciousness correlate to the function of the physical object.

    Evidence is consistent with consciousness as an emergent property of brain function. Until such a time as substantial new evidence appears it is not rational to assume otherwise.

  125. mumadaddon 27 Dec 2016 at 4:04 pm

    Ian,

    The problem I have with the arguments for dualism isn’t one of metaphysics or philosophy, but one of evidence.

    Why should whatever the magic ingredient is so successfully elude detection? Why does is there no hole in the standard model of physics, for example, in the shape of whatever particle might explain consciousness to your satisfaction? Why can’t effects such as disembodied consciousness, or any prediction of dualism that isn’t already accounted for by current scientific explanations, be recreated under controlled conditions?

    It wouldn’t be that difficult to leave a materialist explanation of consciousness in tatters. Just one disembodied consciousness would do it.

    And meanwhile, neuroscience continues apace and our ability to predict and elicit effects on consciousness by manipulation of the brain is constantly improving.

    Personally, I wish this wasn’t the case, but the evidence on one side of this argument and none existent on the other.

  126. mumadaddon 27 Dec 2016 at 4:08 pm

    Personally, I wish this wasn’t the case, but the evidence *is overwhelning* on one side of this argument and none existent on the other.

  127. RickKon 27 Dec 2016 at 5:22 pm

    Ian Wardell asks how we can believe that something as simple and insignificant as a human brain can create consciousness.

    And I wonder what thing in this universe is more complex than the human brain? What is it that Ian is inventing or imagining “out there” that is more intricate than the billions of connections and chemicals and proteins and processes in the human brain.

    What is it, Ian? Where is it? And why do you insist that your fabulously complex brain isn’t up to the challenge of making you aware?

    And before you post a link to your blog, stop.

  128. mumadaddon 27 Dec 2016 at 5:31 pm

    Completely ignoring evidence, and reframing the conversation so that evidence doesn’t matter, is for trash talking about a sports team. It is not for making serious assertions about the nature of consciousness.

  129. hardnoseon 27 Dec 2016 at 6:11 pm

    “The brain is a very, very complex system.”

    And it’s so complex that it is mostly not understood by science.

    And yet this extremely complex machine has no wireless capabilities, according to materialists.

    How do they “know” this, if the brain is not well understood? Well, they “know” it has no wireless capabilities because so far they have not found any.

    Have they looked? Well no, why look for something you “know” is not there?

  130. hardnoseon 27 Dec 2016 at 6:14 pm

    https://www.elsevier.com/about/press-releases/research-and-journals/discovery-of-quantum-vibrations-in-microtubules-inside-brain-neurons-corroborates-controversial-20-year-old-theory-of-consciousness

  131. mumadaddon 27 Dec 2016 at 6:22 pm

    “Have they looked? Well no, why look for something you “know” is not there?”

    Show me an impressive trick and I’ll ask you how you did it; run around with your own thumb between your fingers, yelling, “Got your nose!” and I’ll just feel sorry for you.

  132. mumadaddon 27 Dec 2016 at 6:34 pm

    “Show me an impressive trick and I’ll ask you how you did it; run around with your own thumb between your fingers, yelling, “Got your nose!” and I’ll just feel sorry for you.”

    I suppose that’s not very clear. What I meant was, why look for a special cause for an effect that has an obvious and mundane explanation.

  133. bachfiendon 27 Dec 2016 at 8:31 pm

    Hardnose,

    ‘And yet this extremely complex machine (the human brain) has no wireless capabilities, according to materialists’.

    Have you ever heard of transcranial magnetic stimulation? Scientists aren’t refusing to consider that electromagnetism and sound waves don’t influence the brain. It’s not impossible that the human brain could produce radio signals from moving electrons in neural circuits, which could affect other human brains, resulting in telepathy, but it’s extremely unlikely.

    Transcranial magnetic stimulation requires enormous energy sources to have an effect, and it needs to be directed to the site to be stimulated. The human brain produces of the order of just 10 Watts of power, which is a minuscule amount of energy, and that includes all its functions.

    The human brain could produce modulated radio waves, by some unknown mechanism, but they’d be of enormously low power, incapable of affecting surrounding brains.

    Quantum vibrations in microtubules, if that’s the mechanism of consciousness, doesn’t advance your brand of woo.

  134. chikoppion 27 Dec 2016 at 8:57 pm

    [hardnose] Have they looked? Well no, why look for something you “know” is not there?

    FIRST

    As per usual, you cherry pick a phrase out of context and pretend that you are replying to the entirety of my comment.

    A) Have they looked? Yes. I doubt any organ is or has been so intently scrutinized as the brain.

    B) All observations and all measurements are data. No one is “not looking.” Neither the evidence for the imposition of an external signal nor direct evidence of an external signal is found within the research.

    C) No one “knows it is not there.” That isn’t how science works, much unlike the straw man you incessantly prop up. “Science” says there is not sufficient evidence for adoption of the premise. In contrast, there is a mountain of evidence to support the premise that consciousness is an emergent property of brain function. That’s not the final word (there is no final word) but it is the highly probable and rational position given what we actually know.

    SECOND

    You post a reference that does absolutely nothing to support your premise.

    This from the authors, refuting Deepak Chopra’s defense of dualism:

    [Hameroff, Penrose]
    (A) Science/Materialism, with consciousness having no distinctive role.
    (B) Dualism/Spirituality, with consciousness (etc.) being outside science.
    (C) Science, with consciousness as an essential ingredient of physical laws not yet fully understood.

    We agree with [Deepak Chopra] that ‘View A’ fails to show how matter and energy create mind, how molecules can ‘think’ (i.e. perform cognition accompanied by conscious experience). But we also recognize the shortcomings of his ‘View B’, e.g. how can mind create energy and matter? Orch OR and ‘View C’ bridge these two views, and, in principle, point to a solution for both their problems: (C) Consciousness results from discrete physical events [objective reductions, ‘OR’]; such events have always existed in the universe as non-cognitive, proto-conscious events, these acting as part of precise physical laws not yet fully understood. Thus, in our view, a ‘proto-conscious’ source of mind is omnipresent in the universe as OR events which shape reality (as in ‘View B’). However experientially rich, human-like consciousness required biological evolution of a mechanism to ‘orchestrate’ OR events, and couple them to brain neuronal activity (as in ‘View A’).

    In context with the actual paper, “quantum uncertainty” (discreet physical events) contributes to neuronal activity. That consciousness is an emergent property of a physical system acting in accordance with physical laws. It is specifically a rejection of dualism.

    I have repeatedly refuted your second persistent straw man, that of “materialism.” Science IS NOT “materialistic,” it is monistic (monism).

    This paper does not suggest that consciousness resides outside of the brain.

    THIRD

    Your reference to the paper refutes your own claim that researchers are not asking difficult questions or challenging the current consensus.

    You don’t like the consensus? Fine. But stop pretending that it doesn’t exist for good reason or that it was arrived at due to ideological dishonesty. It was formed by producing and testing evidence and reflects what that evidence indicates. If you want to believe something else then yours is the ideological position.

  135. BillyJoe7on 27 Dec 2016 at 11:06 pm

    http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2010/09/23/the-laws-underlying-the-physics-of-everyday-life-are-completely-understood/

    http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2010/09/29/seriously-the-laws-underlying-the-physics-of-everyday-life-really-are-completely-understood/

    http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2010/10/01/one-last-stab/

    http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2013/01/04/the-world-of-everyday-experience-in-one-equation/

    http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2015/04/21/quantum-field-theory-and-the-limits-of-knowledge/

    http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2008/02/18/telekinesis-and-quantum-field-theory/

  136. BillyJoe7on 27 Dec 2016 at 11:52 pm

    The Challenge.

    TT, IW, and ME all refuse to read the following links (spread over three posts to avoid moderation), because they are written by Sean Carroll and because he is an atheist. Nevertheless, in order to support their own view, they will need to read them and show us all why he is wrong. I can confidently state that they will not be able to do it.

    Are they up to the challenge?
    Are they scientifically literate enough (one even claims he has a PhD!)?

    http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2010/09/23/the-laws-underlying-the-physics-of-everyday-life-are-completely-understood/

    http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2010/09/29/seriously-the-laws-underlying-the-physics-of-everyday-life-really-are-completely-understood/

    http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2010/10/01/one-last-stab/

  137. BillyJoe7on 27 Dec 2016 at 11:56 pm

    Icing on the cake:

    http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2013/01/04/the-world-of-everyday-experience-in-one-equation/

    http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2015/04/21/quantum-field-theory-and-the-limits-of-knowledge/

    http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2011/07/18/the-effective-field-theory-of-everyday-life-revisited/

  138. BillyJoe7on 28 Dec 2016 at 12:05 am

    Applying what you’ve learned to telekinesis, telepathy, or any other parapsycological claim:

    http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2008/02/18/telekinesis-and-quantum-field-theory/

    http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2011/05/23/physics-and-the-immortality-of-the-soul/

    My guess, is that none of you (TT, IW, or ME) will even bother to read even one of the links.
    If you think I have given you too much homework, then just read the first two links (two pages in total). If you don’t understand what he is saying, just ask. If you do understand what he is saying, then please show us where he is wrong. If you can’t show us where he is wrong, then please stop making unjustifiable claims, because they will necessarily be imbedded in ignorance. And that’s not an ad hominem, just a simple statement of fact.

    Are you up to the challenge?

  139. BillyJoe7on 28 Dec 2016 at 7:17 am

    And here is Bjork, the cutest pop star the world has ever produced, explaining how televisions work:
    (She reminds me of my first ever girlfriend so I may be a little biased here)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75WFTHpOw8Y

    In case you didn’t know 😉

  140. BillyJoe7on 28 Dec 2016 at 7:24 am

    “…but then I read the truth, the scientifical truth. And that’s much better…you shouldn’t let the poets lie to you” 🙂

  141. RickKon 28 Dec 2016 at 7:51 am

    hardnose – if you have any intellectual integrity, you’ll read and respond to Chikoppi’s comment on 27 Dec 2016 at 8:57 pm.

  142. Ian Wardellon 28 Dec 2016 at 12:26 pm

    “[Hameroff, Penrose]
    (A) Science/Materialism, with consciousness having no distinctive role.
    (B) Dualism/Spirituality, with consciousness (etc.) being outside science.
    (C) Science, with consciousness as an essential ingredient of physical laws not yet fully understood”.

    I agree with “C” too. To paste in from my blog (don’t worry, won’t link to it):

    “I see no reason why science in some larger sense — that is to say science that is not limited by our current conceptualisation of it — could not in principle come up with a theory that explains this [substantial] self and relates it to the physical world. We often are compelled to hypothesise additional entities in order to explain some phenomenon. Compare the way TV signals play a pivotal role in understanding where TV programmes come from. But since the self and its conscious states are non-material, it cannot be as science is *currently conceived* dealing as it currently does with merely the purely quantitative. It has to be a radically *new* theory that introduces consciousness and the self into the world as *realities in themselves* rather than being derived phenomena. Perhaps some interpretation of Quantum Mechanics might fulfil this role. But, if not, then some deeper physical theory will be required. Potentially such a theory will resolve all problems. It should, of course, explain how the self interacts with its brain and dispel any interaction problems such as causal closure. It will also be able to account for a causally efficacious self.

  143. Ian Wardellon 28 Dec 2016 at 12:50 pm

    Billyjoe, instead of simply linking to Sean Carroll’s articles, you need to link, or paste in, his argument that the refinement of current laws is sufficient to understand consciousness.

    I submit that it is not possible to argue for this *unless one assumes some type of materialism at the outset*. Of course he can argue for materialism. This of course takes him outside science and into philosophy. So where are his arguments?

    Anyway, I’ve addressed Sean Carroll’s arguments before:

    http://ian-wardell.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/sean-carroll-and-philosophy-of-mind-and.html

  144. BillyJoe7on 28 Dec 2016 at 2:41 pm

    Ian,

    I’ve done that twice previously, but it made no difference. The Troll dismisses Sean Carroll as an atheist and feels no need to answer the questions he poses, even though, and probably because of the fact, that Sean Carroll destroys his world view.

    I suggest you read the first two links (one page each!) because any summary I give here will simply be misunderstood. In the first article, he is very careful to point out what he is not saying – at least three times! – and, despite this, he was still misunderstood. The second link attempts to clarify all these misunderstandings.

    Also, he does not assume materialism. In his argument, he uses only what science has discovered about our everyday existence in this universe.

    “Anyway, i’ve addressed Sean Carroll’s arguments before” with a link to your blog!

    Instead of simply linking to your blog, you need to…. 😉

  145. BillyJoe7on 28 Dec 2016 at 4:00 pm

    Okay then…
    A summary of Sean Carroll’s first article:

    “The laws underlying the physics of everyday life are completely understood”

    More specifically, so there is no misunderstanding:

    “I have no idea how close we are to a comprehensive theory of absolutely everything. But I do know how close we are to having a comprehensive theory of the basic laws underlying the phenomena we encounter in our everyday lives – we already have it!”

    And, again, so that there is no misunderstanding:

    “Obviously there are plenty of things we don’t understand [ie dark matter]. But we don’t need to know any of those things to account for the world that is immediately apparent to us [ie dark matter does not affect our everyday lives]”

    Also:

    We don’t have anything close to a complete understanding of how the basic laws actually play out in the real world [ie consciousness]. But these are manifestations of the underlying laws, not signs that our understanding of the laws are incomplete.

    And the facts are that:

    “All we need to account for everything we see in our everyday lives are a handful of particles — electrons, protons, and neutrons — interacting via a few forces — the nuclear forces, gravity, and electromagnetism — subject to the basic rules of quantum mechanics and general relativity”

    Clarifying further:

    “A hundred years ago it would have been easy to ask a basic question to which physics couldn’t provide a satisfying answer [ie why a table is solid? Why the sun shines?]. But now we understand all that stuff. Again, not the detailed way in which everything plays out, but the underlying principles

    Expanding further (and this is important):

    “We can classify the kinds of new particles and forces that could conceivably exist, and go look for them. It’s absolutely possible that such particles and forces do exist, but…either the particles are too massive to be produced, or decay too quickly to be detected, or interact too weakly to influence ordinary matter; or the forces are either too weak or too short-range to [influence ordinary matter]. In any of those cases, if they can’t be found by our current techniques, they are also unable to influence what we see in our everyday lives”

  146. Ian Wardellon 28 Dec 2016 at 4:40 pm

    I’ve read his arguments. He fails to address the relevant points. I think he simply fails to understand the relevant issues. Similar to you guys, including Mr Novella.

  147. chikoppion 28 Dec 2016 at 4:41 pm

    [Ian Wardell] It has to be a radically *new* theory that introduces consciousness and the self into the world as *realities in themselves* rather than being derived phenomena.

    That’s what an emergent property is; a property that exists in a system that is not reducible to (not found in) the constituent parts of that system. An emergent property is no less real by virtue of being irreducible or indivisible.

  148. Ian Wardellon 28 Dec 2016 at 4:42 pm

    To repeat some notes I made before about Carroll’s arguments against psi:

    Not only is consciousness left out in our current scientific description of reality, but it could not possibly be accounted for. The interactions of atoms — or any other ultimate physical primitives — simply could not in principle account for the existence of consciousness. Nor indeed could they account for the causal efficacy of consciousness to voluntarily move our limbs, or indeed account for the causal efficacy of consciousness to direct the progression of our thoughts when we think something through.

    And of course, as Carroll rightly points out, nor could the interactions of atoms conceivably account for psi. I would suggest though that if science could not in principle account for consciousness, we ought not to be too surprised that it also could not account for the causal efficacy of conciousness or any psi ability. Pointing out though that science not only makes psi impossible, but also makes the ability to move your limbs impossible, or the ability to think impossible, and indeed the very existence of your consciousness itself impossible, might not be quite so effective in persuading his readers that psi doesn’t exist.

  149. bachfiendon 28 Dec 2016 at 5:08 pm

    Ian,

    Consciousness is NOT left out of our understanding of reality. Our current understanding of reality does not include psi ability because there’s no evidence that psi ability actually exists.

    Making evidence free assertions isn’t argument.

    I challenged you to come up with a non-materialist explanation for the Charles Bonnet syndrome, in which the brain fills in gaps of the visual field due to disease of the retina with hallucinations which don’t exist in reality.

    So what is it?

  150. BillyJoe7on 28 Dec 2016 at 6:01 pm

    Ian,

    “Not only is consciousness left out in our current scientific description of reality, but it could not possibly be accounted for”

    The point is that “our current scientific description of reality” or “the physics of everday life (core theory)” HAS to account for consciousness – because there is nothing else! We know all the particles and all the forces that affect our everyday lives. Any conceivable partical is either too large to have not yet been found, too weak (less than one millionth the strength of gravity!), or too short range (less than one tenth of a millimeter) to affect our everyday lives. In other words, we don’t know exactly how these particles and forces play out to produce consciousness, but we know that they MUST do so – beacause there is nothing else!

    “The interactions of atoms — or any other ultimate physical primitives — simply could not in principle account for the existence of consciousness”

    To repeat, it HAS to – because there is nothing else.
    Electrons, protons, and neutrons acting via the nuclear forces, electromagnetism, and gravity, subject to the rules of quantum mechanics and general relativity HAS to account for everything the affects our everyday lives (including consciousness) – because there is nothing else!
    Until you address that point, your assertion that they could not “in principle” account for consciousness, can be dismissed as your “unsupported opinion”.

    Carroll rightly points out, nor could the interactions of atoms conceivably account for psi”

    In his own words:
    “If parapsycologists followed the methodology of scientific enquiry, they would look at what we know about the laws of physics, realise that their purported subject of study had already been ruled out, and within thirty seconds declare themselves finished”
    All the particles and forces that could possibly affect our everyday lives have already been discovered, and they do not account for PSI. Therefore PSI can not exist. Period.

    “science could not in principle account for consciousness…the ability to move your limbs…the ability to think impossible”

    Please do not say “in prinicple”, when you men “in my unsupported opinion”.
    We do not know how these particles and forces PLAY OUT in our everyday lives, just like we do not know how they PLAY OUT to produce weather. But we do know that those particles and forces subject to the laws of quantum physics and general relativity HAS to account for them – because there is nothing else left to be discovered that could possibly affect our everyday lives.

    Note:
    This is the conclusion of an accomplished particle physicist and his views are not controversial amongst particle physicists. He is simply giving voice to the implications of what particle physicists have discovered, for our everday lives

  151. hardnoseon 28 Dec 2016 at 6:02 pm

    “Our current understanding of reality does not include psi ability because there’s no evidence that psi ability actually exists.”

    Experiments don’t count as evidence?

  152. hardnoseon 28 Dec 2016 at 6:07 pm

    “Your reference to the paper refutes your own claim that researchers are not asking difficult questions or challenging the current consensus.”

    They are alternative scientists, and they are not materialists. I’m sure Novella never heard of them, or if he did I am sure he ignores their research.

  153. hardnoseon 28 Dec 2016 at 6:08 pm

    “All the particles and forces that could possibly affect our everyday lives have already been discovered”

    What a profound level of ideological BS.

  154. Steve Crosson 28 Dec 2016 at 6:34 pm

    @hardnose,

    “Experiments don’t count as evidence?”

    They do if they’re well designed and repeatable by other researchers. That has never happened for any psi research.

    “They are alternative scientists, and they are not materialists. I’m sure Novella never heard of them, or if he did I am sure he ignores their research.”

    Why is it that NONE of these alternative scientists can ever provide any of the evidence you claim to be so fond of? If they actually did provide good quality evidence, the consensus would be adjusted — it has happened many times in the past and still does when the evidence supports a change.

    “What a profound level of ideological BS.”

    Looking forward to your explanation of the mistakes in the Standard Model, exactly where there is room for new particles or forces, and, most important of all, exactly how we should go about designing an experiment to discover these new particles/forces.

  155. BillyJoe7on 28 Dec 2016 at 6:52 pm

    And here is a “jesusandmo” cartoon especially for ME:
    (And TT who has recently blown his cover as a religious fanatic 😀 )

    http://www.jesusandmo.net

    A cartoon summarising John Loftus’ “The Outsider Test for Faith”:
    https://www.amazon.com/Outsider-Test-Faith-Which-Religion/dp/1616147377

  156. BillyJoe7on 28 Dec 2016 at 7:00 pm

    The Troll.

    His one-liners simply prove that he has not even bothered to read the linked articles or that, if he has, he has completely misunderstood them.
    Hard scientific fact becomes “ideological BS” only in the eyes of the clueless.

    So, in the words of Christopher Hitchens:
    “What can be presented without evidence can be dismissed without evidence”

  157. BillyJoe7on 28 Dec 2016 at 7:12 pm

    Steve Cross:

    “Looking forward to your explanation of the mistakes in the Standard Model, exactly where there is room for new particles or forces, and, most important of all, exactly how we should go about designing an experiment to discover these new particles/forces”

    😀

  158. chikoppion 28 Dec 2016 at 8:11 pm

    [hardnose] They are alternative scientists, and they are not materialists. I’m sure Novella never heard of them, or if he did I am sure he ignores their research.

    Once again, you fail to address the totality of my comment.

    No true Scottsman followed by non-sequitur. There. Your reply is invalidated.

  159. Willyon 28 Dec 2016 at 9:46 pm

    Oh you silly materialists, always asking for evidence and such.

    “They are alternative scientists” ROFLMFAO!!!!

    Criminy, ya just cain’t make this stuff up.

  160. tb29607on 28 Dec 2016 at 10:41 pm

    What exactly is an “alternative scientist”?

    Is there an alternate scientific method that I missed?

  161. Pete Aon 29 Dec 2016 at 1:41 pm

    Ian Wardell,

    I find it curious that materialists have no problem in understanding that the coloured light coming from a prism cannot be *completely* accounted for all by the prism itself — an extra ingredient is required, namely white light.

    I do not find it even slightly curious that the vast majority of non-materialist have no idea how a prism, let alone a television receiver, actually works.

    Therefore, I do not find it even slightly curious that the vast majority of non-materialist have no idea how the brain, let alone the mind it produces, actually works.

    BTW Ian, the coloured light coming out of a prism does not require white light as an input; it just requires light that has a bandwidth greater than zero: as does a mirror and every other optical device 🙂

  162. hardnoseon 29 Dec 2016 at 6:52 pm

    “They do if they’re well designed and repeatable by other researchers. That has never happened for any psi research.”

    When psi experiments are replicated successfully dozens of times, as with Daryl Bem’s research, the news is blocked and obliterated and all you hear about is Wiseman’s one stupid failed attempt. It happens every time!

  163. hardnoseon 29 Dec 2016 at 6:54 pm

    “I do not find it even slightly curious that the vast majority of non-materialist have no idea how the brain, let alone the mind it produces, actually works.”

    And you are implying what? That materialists DO know how the brain produces the mind?

  164. hardnoseon 29 Dec 2016 at 6:57 pm

    [What exactly is an “alternative scientist”?]

    Well if you get all your information from mainstream news and college textbooks, you would never have heard of alternative science.

    The reality is that scientists are ejected from the mainstream if they do not agree with the mainstream consensus in their field.

    It’s the same as with alternative medicine, which you must have heard of unless you have been living in a cave for the last century.

    Alternative scientists and physicians usually have their own journals.

  165. mumadaddon 29 Dec 2016 at 7:02 pm

    “When psi experiments are replicated successfully dozens of times, as with Daryl Bem’s research, the news is blocked and obliterated and all you hear about is Wiseman’s one stupid failed attempt. It happens every time!”

    Links?

  166. mumadaddon 29 Dec 2016 at 7:06 pm

    ““When psi experiments are replicated successfully dozens of times, as with Daryl Bem’s research, the news is blocked and obliterated and all you hear about is Wiseman’s one stupid failed attempt. It happens every time!”

    Yeah, ‘news’, ‘blocked’ and ‘obliterated’ seem inappropriate; ‘stupid’ is relevant but misapplied.

  167. mumadaddon 29 Dec 2016 at 7:09 pm

    “Alternative scientists and physicians usually have their own journals.”

    Yep, shit ones that aren’t taken seriously by scientists, because the ‘alternative scientists’ are making outrageous claims based upon shoddy evidence.

  168. mumadaddon 29 Dec 2016 at 7:19 pm

    I had a pet hamster once. Of course I stuffed its cage full of hidden cameras. The hamster could be reliably observed to awaken at 6pm, give or take 30 minutes. My hamster had no way of knowing that I usually left work at 6pm, give or take 30 minutes.

    Hamsters are psychic — QED.

    Of course, I haven’t observed the waking times of my hamster over a period of more than a week, or the waking times of hamsters in general, or compared them to the arrival times of their ‘owners’, but that’s quantum physics for you…

  169. tb29607on 29 Dec 2016 at 7:23 pm

    HN,
    John Christy is a climate researcher and professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
    He is a skeptic of anthropogenic causes being the major contributor to global warming. This puts him well outside of mainstream. He still gets published, research funding, and invited to debates.
    He does not not have or need his own journal.

    Is he not “alternative” enough? Why is he not being blocked or obliterated?

  170. tb29607on 29 Dec 2016 at 7:33 pm

    Although now that I think about it I should also sincerely congratulate you for putting forth a real life and testable theory.

    Look at you go little buddy. You might be growing up before our very eyes.

  171. mumadaddon 29 Dec 2016 at 7:33 pm

    The kicker is that, if hn’s chiropractor told him that Bem’s research was crap, he’d believe it.

    Just like hn believes his chiropractor when he says hn’s insomnia is getting better because spinal manipulation affects magic forces being beamed into his head from space.

    But of course, this revelation is being suppressed by Big Science, who just want to stop you from realising that you can make a ton of money stealing human fat from liposuction clinics and turning it into fancy soap.

    https://typeset-beta.imgix.net/rehost/2016/9/13/2028a133-dd96-45af-8f58-c7ca6e42b2c0.jpg

  172. Steve Crosson 29 Dec 2016 at 8:22 pm

    Hardnose,

    I agree with mumadadd. Let’s see some links to all of these replicated psi experiments. And while you are at it, how about some examples (or even just one) of a verified incident where someone was able to use “psi” powers to do something constructive.

    And I don’t mean after the facts claims of credit. I’m talking about someone announcing ahead of time some specific result that they can achieve using psi powers. Any psi power at all — your choice.

    Obviously, it must be under controlled conditions where trickery is prevented. I’m pretty damn sure you can’t name even one example. Face it, all you true believers are simply deluding yourselves thanks to the variability of random chance.

    If ANYONE actually could use psi powers reliably, someone would have won Randi’s million dollar challenge a long time ago.

  173. Willyon 29 Dec 2016 at 9:01 pm

    hardnose: PLEASE just stop posting. You are very tiresome, boring, predictable, and empty headed. I know this is true because an alternative scientist told me so. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, just crawl back under your rock.

  174. chikoppion 29 Dec 2016 at 9:35 pm

    [hardnose] The reality is that scientists are ejected from the mainstream if they do not agree with the mainstream consensus in their field.

    It’s the same as with alternative medicine, which you must have heard of unless you have been living in a cave for the last century.

    Demonstrable hotseshit. All that matters is the quality of the research.

    You know what they call ‘alternative medicine’ that has passed clinical trials and been proven to work? ‘Medicine.’

    And here’s an article about the experience of one of those ‘non-mainstream’ scientists when confronting the ‘mainstream consensus.’

    http://www.talkreason.org/articles/Heresy.cfm

    In light of the ID advocates’ censorship claims, therefore, it may come to a surprise that this very key evolutionary principle, most sacred tenet of darwinian “orthodoxy”, has been in fact openly challenged in some of the most prestigious scientific journals, and that this challenge spurred not witch hunts and Stalinist purges, but a research effort that is now almost two decades old, to which both “heretics” and “traditionalists” equally contributed with prominent publications.

    Quality research is not rejected. Quality research is responsible for establishing, expanding, challenging, and correcting the ‘mainstream consensus.’ What you want is to discard the rigor of the scientific method in favor of limited, credulous, ideological, un-testable, and un-accountable personal intuition. Francis Bacon dispelled that dangerous and irrational approach to investigating reality way back in the 16th century.

  175. BillyJoe7on 29 Dec 2016 at 11:57 pm

    Daryl Bem’s Research.

    Bem’s hypothesis is that the future can effect the past.
    So, for example, if you are asked to choose one of two pictures, one erotic and the other non-erotic, placed face down, you are more likely to pick the erotic picture because you are later shown both pictures face up.

    In other words, the fact that you will be shown which picture is erotic in the future (ie in two minutes time) makes it more likely that you will have chosen the erotic picture in the past (ie two minutes ago)
    I kid you not.

    This research is what we call BS research, because the plausibility rating is practically zero. And there is no known or putative mechanism. At the very least, it is an extraordinary claim which, therefore, requires extraordinary evidence. But all we get are results that are marginally statistically significant. And that assumes there were no methodoligal flaws in the experiment. But there were heaps of methodological flaws.

    Here is a summary of the flaws that have been found, based only on what Bem himself reported about his experiment. We can only guess at what other flaws there may have been that were not inadvertently revealed by Bem.

    http://www.csicop.org/specialarticles/show/back_from_the_future
    (Scan about one third of the way through the article to where you see the heading “Bem’s Research”)

    Note also that Bem’s research was published in the highly respected American Psychological Association’s Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. They saw no reason to reject it simply because it was not “mainstream research”. This applies also to all the prominent parapsycologists who came before him (see the first third of the article). Their research was all published in respected journals, not rejected by them. Of course, it is true that the findings of this research was finally rejected, but not because it was not “mainstream” but because of the methodoligical flaws. In fact, there is a history of not publishing replicated research that reaches the opposite conclusion.

    Of course, James Alcock is probably an atheist so his article can probably be dismissed without comment.

  176. BillyJoe7on 30 Dec 2016 at 12:27 am

    Why this is BS research.

    – the future cannot affect the past. COME ON!
    – there is no possible mechanism.
    – imagine you sat for an exam in which you got a bad result. You could then study up on the exam questions and get a better result. But wait…the results are already out!

    Regarding the last point: I suppose this could work if you don’t yet know the result – just like those pesky quantum delayed choice experiments!
    Oh yeah…

    – no, the answer is not quantum mechanics!

  177. BillyJoe7on 30 Dec 2016 at 12:45 am

    Another challenge for HN, ME, and IW:

    This following is advice given by Daryl Bem to his research students (published on his own website) about what to do with the data they have obtained from their research.

    Please list all the errors he is advising his students to commit.

    “The data: Examine them from every angle. Analyze the sexes separately. Make up new composite indexes. If a datum suggests a new hypothesis, try to find additional evidence for it elsewhere in the data. If you see dim traces of interesting patterns, try to reorganize the data to bring them into bolder relief. If there are participants you don’t like, or trials, observers, or interviewers who gave you anomalous results, drop them (temporarily). Go on a fishing expedition for something—anything—interesting…

    When you are through exploring, you may conclude that the data are not strong enough to justify your insights formally, but at least you are now ready to design the ‘right’ study. . . . Alternatively, the data may be strong enough to justify re-centering your article around the new findings and subordinating or even ignoring your original hypotheses…

    Your overriding purpose is to tell the world what you have learned from your study. If your research results suggest a compelling framework for their presentation, adopt it and make the most instructive findings your centerpiece. Think of your data set as a jewel. Your task is to cut and polish it, to select the facets to highlight, and to craft the best setting for it. Many experienced authors write the results section first.”

    My guess is that none of you have any idea what is wrong with this advice!

  178. Pete Aon 30 Dec 2016 at 10:10 am

    [Ian Wardell] The interactions of atoms — or any other ultimate physical primitives — simply could not in principle account for the existence of consciousness. Nor indeed could they account for the causal efficacy of consciousness to voluntarily move our limbs, or indeed account for the causal efficacy of consciousness to direct the progression of our thoughts when we think something through.

    The interaction of physical primitives fully accounts for your comment appearing on this website. It does not require the invocation of non-materialistic agents in your keyboard, mouse, computer, the Internet, and/or in our computing equipment.

    To me, explanations that include some yet-to-be-discovered non-materialistic aspect are declarations of the explainer’s extreme intellectual laziness and their total disrespect towards past and current experts who’ve dedicated themselves to painstakingly unravel the mysteries of our universe.

    It takes decades to learn, from first principles, how just a dozen or so things actually work. E.g. nobody should ever expect an expert in, say, Internet routing protocols to also be an expert in the design of computers and their peripherals. Similarly, an expert in database design does not need to understand how transistors and Internet protocols work — even though an electronic corporate database would be completely useless without transistors and Internet protocols.

    If an expert in Internet protocols or an expert in database design persisted in claiming that the interactions of atoms — or any other ultimate physical primitives — simply could not in principle account for the existence of computing devices, the Internet, and self-driving vehicles, I would seriously question their motives, their sanity, and their competence to perform their job.

    Nothing is easier in life than adopting the role of being an armchair critic of science and its methods. Nothing is harder in life than properly learning critical thinking skills, science and its methods, and meaningful co-operation.

  179. TheGorillaon 30 Dec 2016 at 10:45 am

    The hard problem is not an appeal to ‘I don’t know.’

  180. hardnoseon 30 Dec 2016 at 11:28 am

    “Yep, shit ones that aren’t taken seriously by scientists, because the ‘alternative scientists’ are making outrageous claims based upon shoddy evidence.”

    Yes, according to the mainstream in a given field, scientists with different results and different opinions are considered wrong. The mainstream doesn’t need good evidence to support its opinions, just a majority consensus.

    Emotions and tribalism are just as alive and well in scientific research as they are in politics.

    This blog and its “skeptic” organization are cheerleaders for the mainstream tribe in science and medicine. You will NOT ever see these “skeptics” say anything skeptical about the mainstream opinion on any subject.

    They almost never criticize any aspect of Big Drug, Big Medicine, Big Science, Big Food, or Big Government. Almost never. Show me one example.

  181. chikoppion 30 Dec 2016 at 12:13 pm

    [hardnose] Yes, according to the mainstream in a given field, scientists with different results and different opinions are considered wrong. The mainstream doesn’t need good evidence to support its opinions, just a majority consensus.

    Here’s HN in a nutshell, slave to his own ideological narrative. Verifiable evidence to the contrary was given above. He can’t consider it, because doing so would mean recognizing that there is actually an objective standard of evidence and that not all opinions are equal or even valid.

    Does the scientific method have value? Does the quality of the methodology determine the quality of the evidence? Is there an objective standard? Should theory model the best available evidence, especially where the overwhelming preponderance of that evidence is in agreement?

  182. tb29607on 30 Dec 2016 at 12:21 pm

    HN,
    Several years ago some pediatric cardiologists were treating Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) in infants with propranolol. A drug which has been around for ages, is generic, and costs pennies per pill. They noticed that kids who also had hemangiomas had dramatic regression and resolution of their hemangiomas in 3-4 months. This is now standard treatment for kids with hemangiomas. It has cost cosmetic surgeons, many specialized in removing these and did nothing else (not to mention lost OR time for hospitals). Dermatologists who recieved substantial reimbursement for laser treatments. And drug companies who were researching and developing new drugs.
    The reason propranolol is now the treatment of choice is because is worked. Despite costing “Big medicine”, “Big drug”, and let’s not forget “Big science” as many research dollars were being used for hemangioma research.

    So here is an example of a small study out of Australia, with no money or influence from “Big” anything that is now mainstream. This discovery hurts all the “Bigs” and yet became mainstream in less than 10 years.

    Please explain how this could happen given your concept that only mainstream research sees the light of day.

  183. BillyJoe7on 30 Dec 2016 at 1:30 pm

    There is just one pesky fact that destroys that narrative – all of mainstream science was once not mainstream science. So the narrative is necessarily false. And it became mainstream because it passed muster. Some people just get butt hurt when their pet views don’t pass muster. Daryl Bem’s reseach, based on his pet hypothesis that the future can affect the past, despite having almost zero plausibility, was printed in a prestigious journal, duly considered, found to be methodological flawed, failed replication and has, therefore, not being accepted as mainstream.

  184. tb29607on 30 Dec 2016 at 3:44 pm

    And by the way,

    hardnose is now advising schizophrenics to stop taking their antipsychotic medications.

  185. Ian Wardellon 30 Dec 2016 at 4:13 pm

    There’s no point in me responding because no one has addressed my arguments.

  186. Pete Aon 30 Dec 2016 at 4:14 pm

    Not quite true, hardnose has publicly ‘diagnosed’ a commentator as being a schizophrenic without him:
    1. having the mandated medical qualifications and registration;
    2. having met the ‘patient’ in person.

    That automatically dismisses all of his comments as being trustworthy. He’s not even wrong.

  187. Willyon 30 Dec 2016 at 4:16 pm

    “hardnose is now advising schizophrenics to stop taking their antipsychotic medications.”

    Thankfully, it appears that “Dr. Hardnose’s” (gag, choke) psychiatric recommendations have been rightfully deleted.

    How dense, how conceited, how naive, how utterly foolish must a person be to offer “medical advice” (gag again) like hn did? It boggles the mind.

  188. Pete Aon 30 Dec 2016 at 4:24 pm

    [Ian Wardell] There’s no point in me responding because no one has addressed my arguments.

    There is indeed no point in you responding: a fact that we’ve been painstakingly pointing out to you for several years.

    The reason is not because “no one has addressed my arguments”, it is because of your abject refusal to learn how to construct logically valid arguments, and your abject refusal to admit when you are wrong.

  189. chikoppion 30 Dec 2016 at 4:47 pm

    @Ian

    [Ian Wardell] The interactions of atoms — or any other ultimate physical primitives — simply could not in principle account for the existence of consciousness.

    The properties of atoms can’t account for many things that are made from atoms, including fundamental chemical and thermodynamic interactions. These things exist in the complexity of the system, but not in the constituent parts.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergence

    In philosophy, systems theory, science, and art, emergence is a phenomenon whereby larger entities arise through interactions among smaller or simpler entities such that the larger entities exhibit properties the smaller/simpler entities do not exhibit.

    Emergence is central in theories of integrative levels and of complex systems. For instance, the phenomenon of life as studied in biology is an emergent property of chemistry and psychological phenomena emerge from the neurobiological phenomena of living things.

    In philosophy, theories that emphasize emergent properties have been called emergentism. Almost all accounts of emergentism include a form of epistemic or ontological irreducibility to the lower levels.

  190. chikoppion 30 Dec 2016 at 5:12 pm

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cplx.20249/abstract
    (Part 5)

    https://arxiv.org/abs/nlin/0101006
    (Entropic proof)

    http://www.emergentpublications.com/(S(0yfvrfspvfdkdu3t3focwrtu)X(1))/ECO/ECO_other/Issue_7_2_9_FM.pdf
    (System-level effects)

  191. BillyJoe7on 30 Dec 2016 at 5:13 pm

    Ian,

    “There’s no point in me responding because no one has addressed my arguments”

    Ian: Blah, blah, blah, blah…
    Other commenters: No, because of this, and this, and this, and….
    Ian: There’s no point in me responding because no one has addressed my arguments.

    😀

    So, when your arguments get destroyed, simply pretend they haven’t even been addressed.

    (And, of course, re-present them next time, ignore the demolition job…repeat, repeat, repeat…)

  192. Pete Aon 30 Dec 2016 at 5:21 pm

    Chikoppi,

    Sadly, you are wasting your time.

    I have previously explained to Ian Wardell, and to other readers of Dr Novella’s website, the fallacy of composition and the fallacy of division. But, whatever we say results in only increasing their evidence- and logic-lacking belief systems.

    QUOTE (from The Backfire Effect, by David McRaney)

    The Misconception: When your beliefs are challenged with facts, you alter your opinions and incorporate the new information into your thinking.

    The Truth: When your deepest convictions are challenged by contradictory evidence, your beliefs get stronger.
    https://youarenotsosmart.com/2011/06/10/the-backfire-effect/

  193. BillyJoe7on 30 Dec 2016 at 5:22 pm

    chikoppi,

    Your first two links contain equations so they will be completely beyond the abilities of TT, IW, and ME.
    (The third link gets a 404 error)

  194. BillyJoe7on 30 Dec 2016 at 5:24 pm

    PeteA,

    Yeah, we are not not talking to TT, IW, or ME.
    We are talking through them to the wider audience.

  195. chikoppion 30 Dec 2016 at 5:28 pm

    [BillyJoe7] The third link gets a 404 error

    If you copy/paste the entire line (http … pdf) it should work. (The double-parenthesis in the URL confused the auto-formatting in WordPress.)

  196. Pete Aon 30 Dec 2016 at 5:40 pm

    BillyJoe7,

    Yeah, we are not not talking to TT, IW, or ME.
    We are talking through them to the wider audience.

    Yes indeed.

  197. Ian Wardellon 30 Dec 2016 at 6:23 pm

    chikoppi, I’d like some justification for your claim that fundamental chemical and thermodynamic interactions cannot be reduced.

  198. Ian Wardellon 30 Dec 2016 at 6:39 pm

    Reading the rest of the comments people seem to be quite happy with chikoppi’s alleged “refutation” of reductive materialism, which is the only form of materialism worthy of its name. That’s interesting and encouraging.

    Normally when scientists use the word “emergence”, they mean something entirely different from true emergence. A house has properties not contained in the bricks which it is composed of. Clocks tell the time, but its components — wheels, gears, springs etc — do not. Tornadoes behave in a manner that none of the air and water molecules that constitutes the tornado behave. But there’s nothing remotely mysterious here. The properties that “emerge” can still in principle be derived from the smallest constituents. Unlike consciousness.

  199. Pete Aon 30 Dec 2016 at 6:48 pm

    Ian Wardell,

    Before you even think about asking for justification of claims that fundamental chemical and thermodynamic interactions cannot be reduced, you are long overdue for explaining, in your own words, how a prism actually works and how a television receiver actually works.

    Your pathetic level of comprehension of how these everyday basic items actually work is the very same thing that will forever preclude you from understanding thermodynamics: your wilful ignorance.

  200. Ian Wardellon 30 Dec 2016 at 7:06 pm

    Instead of throwing out red herrings., let’s stick to the crux of the matter shall we? Do you “Pete A” deny reductive materialism? What about you chikoppi?

    My suspicion is that people are confusing strong emergentism with weak emergentism. Chikoppi is claiming that chemical and thermodynamic interactions are strongly emergent. I doubt he can justify this astonishing claim.

  201. hardnoseon 30 Dec 2016 at 7:12 pm

    https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/may/12/psychiatric-drugs-more-harm-than-good-expert

  202. Pete Aon 30 Dec 2016 at 7:22 pm

    Ian Wardell,

    Please show us all of the articles on your website that have been openly and honestly updated in the light of new evidence.

    Please explain how a prism actually works and how a television actually works before you have the audacity to ask me if I deny ‘reductive materialism’, FFS!

  203. chikoppion 30 Dec 2016 at 7:29 pm

    @Ian

    Read the papers, that’s why I included them. It isn’t my claim, it is a basic premise of many thermodynamic principles (the full text from Richardson lists 15, six of which are expanded upon in the excerpt I referenced). There are included mathematical proofs of entropic emergence, this isn’t remotely a controversial topic.

    [Ian Wardell] Reading the rest of the comments people seem to be quite happy with chikoppi’s alleged “refutation” of reductive materialism, which is the only form of materialism worthy of its name. That’s interesting and encouraging.

    No, it isn’t.

    You and hardnose both prop up this boogie-man of “materialism” which doesn’t begin to approximate the actual philosophy of science (a point I and others have made time and time again). You are tilting against a strawman born of your own misunderstanding.

    See “Non-Reductive Physicalism” for a primer:
    http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_monism.html

  204. tb29607on 30 Dec 2016 at 7:30 pm

    HN,
    Did you read your own article?
    At no point did this brief summary article suggest schizophrenics should stop antipsychotics.
    It discusses stopping antipsychotics and other medications in ADHD and dementia.

    And then the rest of the article refuted the first doctor’s opinion.
    At no point was there any reference to an actual study.

    No respectable doctor would ever base a decision on something that flimsy.
    Feel free to try again though.

  205. tb29607on 30 Dec 2016 at 7:32 pm

    Ian,
    I asked you what was the input you felt was creating consciousness.
    You have not answered.

    P.S.
    Please include supporting data.

  206. hardnoseon 30 Dec 2016 at 7:38 pm

    “Did you read your own article?”

    I sure did, and many others like it.

    You obviously did not read it.

  207. Ian Wardellon 30 Dec 2016 at 7:40 pm

    @chikoppi

    There’s absolutely no point in reading those abstracts since they are so much meaningless gobbledegook to me. I am not a scientist and the topic of relevance is concerning metaphysics.

    So answer the question. Are you or are you not claiming the existence of *strong* emergence?

  208. Ian Wardellon 30 Dec 2016 at 7:42 pm

    @tb29607

    I don’t think we have reason to suppose consciousness is created. I regard it as a fundamental existent. Perhaps the *only* fundamental existent.

  209. Pete Aon 30 Dec 2016 at 7:47 pm

    tb29607, Are you seriously expecting a rational answer from Ian Wardell, who has clearly demonstrated that he doesn’t even begin to understand how a prism actually works, let alone the brain and its resulting consciousness.

  210. chikoppion 30 Dec 2016 at 8:31 pm

    [Ian Wardel] Are you or are you not claiming the existence of *strong* emergence?

    You’re right, that is a metaphysical distinction, but in this case an irrelevant one.

    Here is your claim:

    [Ian Wardell] The interactions of atoms — or any other ultimate physical primitives — simply could not in principle account for the existence of consciousness.

    You are assuming a reductionist premise, wherein the properties exhibited in the system must reside in the constituent parts. Both weak and strong emergence are supervenient and both recognize properties of the complex system as distinct ontological entities. Weak emergence is sufficient to invalidate a purely reductionist claim. You will not find emergent properties in either case unless you observe the system as a whole.

  211. tb29607on 30 Dec 2016 at 8:32 pm

    Pete A,
    Ha! Not anymore.

    HN,
    Yes I did read your article and if you consider that evidence then I now understand how you can think the way you do.

  212. Willyon 30 Dec 2016 at 8:38 pm

    My 4:16 post above is in error. I confounded two different threads. I wish I was correct at 4:16–deletion of hn’s posts would be proper.

  213. chikoppion 30 Dec 2016 at 8:48 pm

    RE:
    https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/may/12/psychiatric-drugs-more-harm-than-good-expert

    Contravening evidence:
    http://www.bmj.com/content/350/bmj.h2435/rr-7

    Faults in the methodology and call for retraction:
    http://www.bmj.com/content/350/bmj.h2435/rr-18

    DON’T EVER TAKE MEDICAL ADVICE FROM AN INTERNET FORUM. SEE A LICENSED PHYSICIAN.

  214. BillyJoe7on 30 Dec 2016 at 11:10 pm

    Seems we have conflated two threads.

    In the other thread The Troll presumed to give advice to a poster with schizophrenia inviting her to stop her anti-psychotics! She didn’t even enquire about her medication!

    Above he provides his “evidence” – the link on which he based this advice:

    – his link is a media article – not a peer-reviewed study in a professional journal.
    – his link is a cherry pick – not a systematic review or meta-analysis, which is what is required here.
    – his link is actually an opinion piece by a single author.
    – the opinion of this author is also based on cherry picked studies.
    – the author is promoting his own book.

    Nevermind, the author is against the mainstream view, and that is enough for The Troll.

    chikoppi:
    “DON’T EVER TAKE MEDICAL ADVICE FROM AN INTERNET FORUM. SEE A LICENSED PHYSICIAN”

    Let me repeat with emphasis:

    DON’T EVER TAKE MEDICAL ADVICE FROM AN INTERNET FORUM. SEE A LICENSED PHYSICIAN.

  215. BillyJoe7on 30 Dec 2016 at 11:29 pm

    Ian,

    “I don’t think we have reason to suppose consciousness is created. I regard it as a fundamental existent”

    In your opinion, consciousness is like god – is, was, and always will be.
    This is a non-explanation! 😀

    And you’re wrong about mainstream science and reductionism.
    Science is approached from both top down and bottom up.
    Both are useful:

    Consider Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics.
    Individual molecules have position and momentum – they do not have temperature and pressure.
    Collections of molecules in a gas does have temperature and pressure.
    Temperature and pressure are emergent properties when molecules combine to form a gas.
    This is not a mystery.

  216. BillyJoe7on 30 Dec 2016 at 11:41 pm

    From the other thread:

    Sarah:
    “I have no intention of going fully off of meds again. I was for the first four years, and it was hell. As to side effects, the only one I am worried about is diabetes. I stopped eating as many sweets when I went on and trying to eat healthier. Now my fasting glucose test things are coming back lower than before I started the risperidone”

    Compare and contrast with the obsessive compulsive anti-mainstream-for-the-sake-of-it rants of The Troll.

  217. Ian Wardellon 31 Dec 2016 at 7:05 am

    chikoppi

    “You are assuming a reductionist premise, wherein the properties exhibited in the system must reside in the constituent parts. Both weak and strong emergence are supervenient and both recognize properties of the complex system as distinct ontological entities. Weak emergence is sufficient to invalidate a purely reductionist claim. You will not find emergent properties in either case unless you observe the system as a whole”.

    Reductionism is how science has worked since the birth of modern science in the 17th century. The whole is the sum of all its parts. A clock’s hands movements can be understand as a consequence of all the causal chains of causes and effects in all the components composing that clock.

    Oh yes, and a distinct ontological entity entails *strong* emergence, not weak.

    If you want to reject reductionism that’s fine. But this means you’re saying certain phenomena arise out of complexity as a brute fact about the world. And, of course, perhaps consciousness might do too. Well I’ve addressed this possibility in an essay I’ve already linked to in these comments.

    To paste in the relevant part:

    iii) We can still hold on to the view that the brain produces consciousness, but give up on the idea that consciousness can be reductively explained. It might be that certain physical processes — perhaps due to their complexity – create conscious experiences as a simple brute fact that cannot be further analysed.

    It is debatable whether this would constitute a genuine scientific hypothesis though since it denies that the most fundamental particles and/or fields that exist can actually explain consciousness. We have to be satisfied with additional non-reducible psychophysical laws linking specific brain states with specific mental states.

    But this is deeply unsatisfactory. For what we are saying here is that physical processes, which wholly lack any qualitative features or intentionality, nevertheless, as a brute fact about the world, are accompanied by qualitative features and intentionality. This seems nothing short of miraculous. And given that the consciousness so produced can neither be derived nor is definable in quantitative terms, then it seems a stretch to label consciousness as material or physical, even if produced by the material.

    And there are other problems. I’m sure we all have a very strong sense that we are literally the very same individuals throughout our lives. But our bodies, including our brains, are in a constant state of change and hence our mental states too. Indeed, compared to ourselves now, as children we had very different personality characteristics. So if the brain produces consciousness, how can we literally be the very same self throughout our lives? Or indeed, how can someone be literally the same person sober as when he is drunk given that his personality might change so much when drunk? It seems that we have to conclude that quite literally we are different selves throughout our lives (see my does the self as opposed to a mere “sense of self” exist? for more detail on this idea.)

    Additionally, as I argue in my can consciousness be causally inefficacious?, our consciousness necessarily has at least some causal efficacy. So (iii) would have to have consciousness in its turn affecting brain processes. I’m not sure if this is a problem or not, but it would be interactive dualism even though the brain produces consciousness. As such it wouldn’t curry much favour amongst the intelligentsia.

    For all these reasons (iii) seems somewhat implausible, although, unlike (i) and (ii), it remains a possibility, albeit in my opinion an unlikely one.

  218. Ian Wardellon 31 Dec 2016 at 7:09 am

    BillyJoe
    “Consider Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics.
    Individual molecules have position and momentum – they do not have temperature and pressure.
    Collections of molecules in a gas does have temperature and pressure.
    Temperature and pressure are emergent properties when molecules combine to form a gas.
    This is not a mystery”.

    Yes such weak “emergence” is entirely unproblematic. Bricks don’t resemble a house at all. But place them together in a certain arrangement, and hey presto! A house appears. This is weak emergence and clearly does not contravene reductionism (the whole can in principle be understood by its parts).

  219. BillyJoe7on 31 Dec 2016 at 7:56 am

    Well, you misunderstood my point. Or me yours before that.
    Okay, for some reason, you think that strong emergence is a problem for science?
    The properties of H2O cannot be predicted from the properties of its constituent atoms, so H2O has properties that are strongly emergent.
    How is this a problem for science?

  220. BillyJoe7on 31 Dec 2016 at 9:22 am

    Ian,

    In fact, strong emergence is no different from weak emergence in the sense that properties at the lower level do not actually cause the properties at the higher level, and that is true for both strong and weak emergence. Electrons, protons, and neutrons obey the same laws of quantum physics regardless of whether they reside in an atom of H or O, or a molecule of H2O, and regardless of whether the molecule of H2O is in the form of a gas, or liquid, or solid. Similarly, these same elementary particles do not cause the pressure and temperature of the gas in which they reside (my first example).
    There is no problem for science here.

    And there is no reason why this does not also apply to consciousness.

    Fluidity is a property of water, and consciousness is a property of brains. They are simply descriptions of these macroscopic objects at that level and are described by their own laws at that level. They are not caused by the lower microscopic level entities which have their own laws describing their behavior at that level.
    I think maybe you have missed some of your physics lectures.

  221. BillyJoe7on 31 Dec 2016 at 9:37 am

    …of course your bricks and houses example is off base. They are descriptions at the same level. It is not an example of what is known as Emergence.

  222. hardnoseon 31 Dec 2016 at 11:07 am

    “In the other thread The Troll presumed to give advice to a poster with schizophrenia inviting her to stop her anti-psychotics!”

    I never told anyone to stop taking drugs. I said the drugs are harmful and long term they are not effective. They can be useful to get over acute crises.

    Patients should be aware of possible adverse effects. Their doctors will not usually tell them.

  223. Willyon 31 Dec 2016 at 11:47 am

    You are full of bull, hn. Most doctros go into excritiating detail on possible side effects/. The paper work that come with ANY medication is so full of warnings as to scare many users off.

    As for EXACTLY what you said: “Good advice mumadadd. She could benefit from the expert help of a psychiatrist and get a prescription for those wonderful drugs that make schizophrenia worse in the long term, and damage health meanwhile.”

    Also: “Because I tell the sad truth about modern psychiatry. You could have looked it up and found it for yourself, but you would rather stay ignorant and arrogant.
    They have found — and this is mainstream research — that schizophrenics who take anti-psychotic drugs are less likely to recover and less likely to function well long term.
    The new drugs are also awful for the body in general, increasing the risk of all the modern chronic diseases.”

    hn, the really nice thing about the drugs is that they are helpful in preventing what you so casually call “acute crises”. You know, fool, “acute crises” where a mentally ill person OFF his or her meds might kill or injure themselves or others, not mention the consequences of bad decisions on ones financial and family situations.

    I’ve seen ’em up close and personal,I KNOW whereof I speak, you–why you have “alternative opinions”!? I’M NOT IMPRESSED.

    SHUT UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  224. Willyon 31 Dec 2016 at 12:12 pm

    hardnose: Just to expose a few more of your foolish statements to the light of truth:

    You said: “schizophrenics who take anti-psychotic drugs are less likely to recover and less likely to function well long term.” The fact is, NO ONE “recovers” from schizophrenia. Or bipolar. EVER!!!

    You said: “Their doctors will not usually tell them.” Comically, the person to whom you were giving your profoundly idiotic and uninformed opinion seemed quite well informed of the side effects of the drugs she was taking. And, as I pointed out earlier, every prescription comes with a printout of possible side effects. Have you EVER seen a drug commercial?

    Elsewhere, you referenced “the wisdom of the ancients” or some such similar tripe. Tell us, what exactly did the ancients know and do about mental illness?

    If you have the capacity for self reflection, I suggest you stop trying to defend your foolish statements and take a LONG TIME to reflect on yourself.

  225. chikoppion 31 Dec 2016 at 12:30 pm

    [Ian Wardell] Reductionism is how science has worked since the birth of modern science in the 17th century. The whole is the sum of all its parts. A clock’s hands movements can be understand as a consequence of all the causal chains of causes and effects in all the components composing that clock.

    Please read the references I provided. I promise you will be able to understand them despite the math. The well-established premises of some of the most fundamental principles in physics and thermodynamic theory, the underpinnings of scientific inquiry, are demonstrably non-reductive.

    [Ian Wardell] But this is deeply unsatisfactory. For what we are saying here is that physical processes, which wholly lack any qualitative features or intentionality, nevertheless, as a brute fact about the world, are accompanied by qualitative features and intentionality. This seems nothing short of miraculous. And given that the consciousness so produced can neither be derived nor is definable in quantitative terms, then it seems a stretch to label consciousness as material or physical, even if produced by the material.

    This is the concept of supervenience; that a system is dependent upon constituent components and yet possesses properties not determined or predicted merely by the properties of those components. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has an incisive definition.

    A set of properties A supervenes upon another set B just in case no two things can differ with respect to A-properties without also differing with respect to their B-properties. In slogan form, “there cannot be an A-difference without a B-difference”.

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/supervenience/

    Qualia (“intentionality”) may not be present in the properties of quanta (particles) and yet be present in the greater system which is supervenient on those quanta. ‘Consciousness,’ as a property of a complex system, need not require a reductive mechanism dependent upon a primitive or fundamental component.

  226. BillyJoe7on 31 Dec 2016 at 6:36 pm

    Ian,

    “Reductionism is how science has worked since the birth of modern science in the 17th century”
    I’m sorry, but this is clearly not correct.

    “The whole is the sum of all its parts”
    Science has actually established that this is not the case.

    “A clock’s hands movements can be understood as a consequence of all the causal chains”
    Science is more than just description at the macroscopic level. At the quantum level, interactions are probabilistic rather than causal.

    “a distinct ontological entity entails *strong* emergence, not weak.”
    Scientists treats them identically – lower levels do not cause the upper levels.

    “If you want to reject reductionism that’s fine”

    Scientist do not reject reductionism. A brick really is composed of molecules, which really are composed of atoms, which really are composed of electrons, protons, and neutrons. That is the form of reductionism that scientists accept. But they do reject the idea that upper levels are describable able in terms of the lower levels of description

    “But this means you’re saying certain phenomena arise out of complexity as a brute fact”

    In a sense, that is correct. Scientists make observations about the world and then describe and formulate the regularities that they have observed. What they have found is that there are different levels of description which they have labelled particle physics, solid state physics, molecular chemistry, cellular chemistry, physiology, biology, psychology, and sociology. They do not claim that the lower levels cause the upper levels, because this is not consistent with their observations. It is, in your words, a brute fact about the world that the lower levels do not cause the upper levels. It is also a brute fact that quantum interactions are probabilistic. It is also a brute fact that if you combine hydrogen and oxygen in the correct proportions at the correct temperature you get a substance that flows. There is no causal chain for fluidity but it occurs reliably and consistently whenever hydrogen and oxygen combine at the right temperature to form water. To repeat for emphasis – you always get a substance that flows.

    “And, of course, perhaps consciousness might do too”
    There is actually no reason why the qualia of consciousness are any different from the fluidity of water.

    “It might be that certain physical processes…create conscious experiences as a simple brute fact that cannot be further analysed”

    It is actually an open question whether they can be further analysed. And this is as true for consciousness as it is for water. It may be that, in the future, scientists may discover that the properties of hydrogen and oxygen do cause the properties of water. But it doesn’t matter if that turns out not to be the case. If it turns out to be a brute fact, then it is will be a brute fact. Period. It will still be science.

    “It is debatable whether this would constitute a genuine scientific hypothesis though since it denies that the most fundamental particles and/or fields that exist can actually explain consciousness”

    Why would it not be a scientific hypothesis?
    Science is all about observing nature, finding regularities, and and describing and formulating them. Through observation, science has found that there are different levels of description. That is all so far. There may turn out to be causal connections between these levels, but there doesn’t need to be.
    The present hypothesis is that there are no causal connections between these levels and all the observations are so far consistent with this hypothesis.

    “For what we are saying here is that physical processes, which wholly lack any qualitative features or intentionality, nevertheless, as a brute fact about the world, are accompanied by qualitative features and intentionality. This seems nothing short of miraculous”

    Being a brute fact is not miraculous.
    And having qualitative features is not miraculous.
    What would be miraculous is if hydrogen and oxygen did not reliably and consistently combine to produce the fluidity of water. What would be miraculous is if zombies existed – that there could exist a brain identical to yours or mine that did not have the property of consciousness.

    “And given that the consciousness so produced can neither be derived nor is definable in quantitative terms, then it seems a stretch to label consciousness as material or physical, even if produced by the material”

    But how does this sound: And given that the fluidity of water so produced can neither be derived nor is definable in quantitative terms, then it seems a stretch to label water as material or physical, even if produced by the material.

  227. BillyJoe7on 31 Dec 2016 at 6:42 pm

    Ian,

    “I’m sure we all have a very strong sense that we are literally the very same individuals throughout our lives. But our bodies, including our brains, are in a constant state of change and hence our mental states too. Indeed, compared to ourselves now, as children we had very different personality characteristics. So if the brain produces consciousness, how can we literally be the very same self throughout our lives?”

    We are not the “very same self throughout our lives”. Our “selves” change from moment to moment. The “selves” of our infancy are clearly different from the “selves” of our adulthood. Why is this controversial for you? We have “a very strong sense that we are literally the very same individuals throughout our lives” because of memories stored within our brains. Interestingly, these memories change along with our brains so that the memories of our past “selves” are likely to be highly inaccurate.

    “Or indeed, how can someone be literally the same person sober as when he is drunk”
    I have read some of the stuff you wrote while drunk and, believe me, you are not the same person. 😉

    “It seems that we have to conclude that quite literally we are different selves throughout our lives”
    Again, why is this controversial for you?

    “So (iii) would have to have consciousness in its turn affecting brain processes. I’m not sure if this is a problem or not, but it would be interactive dualism even though the brain produces consciousness. As such it wouldn’t curry much favour amongst the intelligentsia”

    There is no evidence that any upper level has any effect on any lower level.
    The properties of water have no affect on the properties of hydrogen and oxygen. The properties of hydrogen and oxygen have no affect on the properties of electrons, protons, and neutrons.
    There is no evidence and no reason to think that the properties of brains, such as consciousness, have any affect on the firing of neurons.

  228. chikoppion 31 Dec 2016 at 8:34 pm

    [BillyJoe7] There is no evidence and no reason to think that the properties of brains, such as consciousness, have any affect on the firing of neurons.

    That’s a tricky proposition and not necessarily true. I’m going to borrow some nomenclature from the Wikipedia article on emergence.

    M (initial mental state) > (supervenes on) P (initial physical state)

    If M is an emergent property of the system, not reducible to P, then any change to that initial mental state also necessitates a change in P.

    M* (new mental state) = (leads to) P* (new physical state)

    Here, the act of cognition (M*) is not caused by P*, because M is an irreducible emergent property. M is not merely the sum of P and therefore M* at least appears to have downward causality (“causing” P*).

    It isn’t clear to me that, as Ian suggests, this arrangement implies dualism. It appears like a form of feedback, wherein emergent effects of a higher order of complexity impact properties at a lower order within a system. I believe this effect is known as symmetry breaking in physics and it is a common occurrence in purely physical complex systems (but my terminology may be wrong, I’m stretching my bona fides a bit here).

    I also don’t think emergence or supervenience need be either strong or weak within a system. Both varieties are likely in effect, whereby changes to P may directly cause changes to M and vice versa.

  229. BillyJoe7on 31 Dec 2016 at 11:24 pm

    chikoppi,

    Let me re-phrase that:

    – the behaviour at the lower levels does not cause the behaviour at the upper level. And…
    – the behaviour at the upper level does not cause the behaviour at the lower level (to change).

    The scientific meaning of emergence is that, although you cannot predict behaviour at the upper level from the behaviour at the lower level, the behaviour at the upper level at not independent of the behaviour at the lower levels. If the upper level was truly independent of the lower level, then philosophical zombies could exist alongside normal humans (same physical state, different conscious states), and this would be proof of dualism.

  230. BillyJoe7on 31 Dec 2016 at 11:48 pm

    BTW..

    Here is my proof that philosophical zombies are impossible:
    (This is the first time I have tried this out, so any criticisms are welcome – )

    You have two test subjects:

    – a normal human
    – a philosophical zombie who is otherwise identical to the normal human.

    Ask both if they are conscious.

    If the human answers “yes”, he is telling the truth; and if he answers “no”, he is lying.
    If the zombie and answers “yes”, he is lying; and if he answers “no”, he is telling the truth.

    You still won’t be able to distinguish between the two, but their physical states WILL be different.
    (If you had a super-advanced fMRI you would be able to distinguish between the two)
    Therefore the existence of philosophical zombies is refuted.

  231. hardnoseon 01 Jan 2017 at 3:49 am

    “a mentally ill person OFF his or her meds might kill or injure themselves or others”

    In case you wonder why mentally ill patients are feared and stigmatized — it is ignorant statements like these.

  232. bachfiendon 01 Jan 2017 at 4:54 am

    Hardnose,

    Well, it’s not an ignorant statement. People suffering from untreated schizophrenia and having auditory hallucinations ordering them to kill other people, and acting on the commands, do. kill other people.

  233. tb29607on 01 Jan 2017 at 5:20 am

    HN,

    My grandfather was shot and killed by a schizophrenic who was off his medications. They were actually friends when the guy was medicated. My grandfather thought he could intervene and defuse the standoff between the police and his friend who would not drop his gun.

    I do not expect sympathy or for you to change your opinion but I do ask that you drop the schizophrenic topic.

  234. Pete Aon 01 Jan 2017 at 8:16 am

    Most electronic systems use: inductors; capacitors; resistors; semiconductors; and conductors. The system circuit diagram shows how these components are connected together, but no amount of analysis of the circuit diagram of a computer will reveal the operating system it is running and the software installed. Similarly, no amount of analysis of the software will reveal the circuit diagram. But, if either the hardware or the software develops a fault then the computer will not function correctly, if at all.

    The OSI model of computer networking is a good example of having each layer supervene upon the layers below it.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OSI_model

    It would be absurd to attempt to explain the workings of e-mail in terms of, say, the audio being transferred via a dial-up modem connection. It would be equally absurd to attempt to explain the mind in terms of fundamental particles or neurons. Which is why knowledgable people don’t attempt such explanations 🙂

  235. yrdbrdon 01 Jan 2017 at 11:29 am

    Pete A.,

    The circuit diagram of the CPU will reveal the structure of the CPU architecture, which is directly correlated to the instruction set and machine code that will run on that CPU. Whatever OS runs on that CPU will ultimately be executing the machine code built on that instruction set. Same for applications, they will run on the OS, which in turn runs the machine code, which controls voltages in the circuits. The circuit diagrams of I/O devices and other peripherals will similarly determine what you can do with those devices: store data, light pixels, move an actuator, etc.

    It’s convenient that we don’t have to think about the voltage changes in circuits that are letting us write software, or run an app. But they are there, and there’s an unbroken chain of causality from the app to the electrons, and there are people, like chip designers, who have to understand the whole chain.

    To bring it back to your analogy, no, looking at the circuit alone won’t tell you what OS or app is running. But understanding the circuit will help you understand what type of OS or apps can run on that system (if any).

    Cheers,
    yrdbrd

  236. Willyon 01 Jan 2017 at 11:43 am

    You are dumber than a bag of hammers, hardnose. SHUT UP!

  237. hardnoseon 01 Jan 2017 at 2:16 pm

    “People suffering from untreated schizophrenia and having auditory hallucinations ordering them to kill other people, and acting on the commands, do. kill other people.”

    Oh yes, this happens all the time.

    Schizophrenics should be forced to wear T-shirts saying “Warning! I am schizophrenic and I might shoot you if I forgot to take my meds!”

    Maybe we need a law for schizophrenics similar to the child molester law, so people will know when a schizophrenic is living in their neighborhood. Maybe we should put signs in front of their houses.

  238. bachfiendon 01 Jan 2017 at 3:07 pm

    I agree with Willy. Hardnose is an ignorant fool.

    All I wrote was that people suffering from untreated schizophrenia and having auditory hallucinations (one of the defining features of the disorder) ordering them to kill other people, and acting on the commands, do. kill other people.

    I didn’t write that it happens all the time.

    Now he’s blaming them for their misfortune by comparing them to child molesters.

  239. tb29607on 01 Jan 2017 at 3:35 pm

    The most helpful intervention for the schizophrenic population would be to increase or at least stop reducing funding for inpatient psychiatric beds.
    Far too many actively hallucinating and/or delusional people are discharged (due to bed shortages) before they are stable on their medications. They then commonly end up being brought in to emergency departments by police due to their actions causing concern for public safety. This has gotten so common that most ED’s now have dedicated psychiatric units where patients stay for multiple days (3 weeks is the most I have witnessed) while they wait for the next inpatient bed to open up. The time, money, effort, and resources spent to address these easily predictable problems far outweigh the comparatively modest savings from reduced inpatient beds.

    HN, if you are even remotely sincere in wanting to help schizophrenics, why don’t you work to help increase funding for inpatient psychiatric beds?

  240. Willyon 01 Jan 2017 at 3:42 pm

    My personal involvement with a bipolar person (off meds) involved an attempted suicide and subsequent hospitalization where she met several people that had attempted suicide. It isn’t at all uncommon.

    It’s almost comical watching hardnose continue to try various arguments–foolish accusations, really–in sequence, never actually addressing criticisms of his statements. He just jumps to another, even more idiotic, line of attack. What makes it not so funny is the seriousness of this particular issue. He’s clueless, yet doesn’t know it.

  241. hardnoseon 01 Jan 2017 at 4:12 pm

    The myth that schizophrenics are often violent perpetuates and worsens the stigmatization they already suffer from.

    It is a known fact that young men are more likely to be violent than the rest of the population but they are not forced to take drugs to lower their testosterone.

    Anyone who really wants to help schizophrenics would try to convince materialist mainstream psychiatry that they will never figure out schizophrenia as long as they cling to their warped world view. And their insistence that drugs are the best solution is leading nowhere.

  242. hardnoseon 01 Jan 2017 at 4:14 pm

    Are schizophrenics really more likely to be violent? You seem to think the answer is a simple “yes,” showing that you have never really thought about it or tried to find out.

  243. hardnoseon 01 Jan 2017 at 4:15 pm

    And of course we have the incessant PR from the drug companies telling us that drugs allow mentally ill patients to have normal lives. Is that true? Who knows, but if you are counting on truth from the big drug companies, you are very gullible.

  244. stewarton 01 Jan 2017 at 5:10 pm

    Interesting to see this topic come back again. I recall an article in Science, many years ago, about John Lorber, doing early work with CT imaging, finding similar things (‘Is your brain really necessary’, http://science.sciencemag.org/content/210/4475/1232), which gets revisited from time to time. These results are just what I’d expect from someone who has had significant hydrocephalus, and they haven’t discussed other issues, such as memory and attention, which are generally compromised. Dr. Egnor, you may be a fine neurosurgeon, but you are no neuropsychologist; stick to your last.

  245. bachfiendon 01 Jan 2017 at 5:33 pm

    Hardnose,

    You’re an ignorant fool.

    No one is saying that people suffering from schizophrenia are inherently violent or that drug medication is perfect.

    There’s more than one form of schizophrenia, it’s not a single disorder, when I last studied psychiatry as a medical student over 40 years ago, it was recognised that there were four subtypes, one – paranoid schizophrenia – being associated with delusions of persecution, and if associated with auditory hallucinations commanding the person to kill their persecutors can lead to innocents being killed.

    It also varies in severity. I had a cousin, who was brighter than I, who suffered from schizophrenia as a late teenager and just lost all his motivation and eventually died of self neglect young. He wasn’t a risk to others but definitely a risk to himself, sadly.

    I don’t know about pharmaceutical company PR. In Australia, and most other countries, drug companies aren’t allowed to advertise prescription drugs directly to patients, just to doctors (which is a problem, since many doctors aren’t knowledgeable enough to be able to judge the efficacy and risks of the drugs they prescribe). Advertising of over the counter drugs is also controlled. A large pharmaceutical company was recently fined $6 million (an inadequate amount) for claiming that their brand of ibuprofen was especially effective against back pain, headache, period pain… with a specific formulation for each, which actually the identical one.

    Should pharmaceutical companies be regulated? Yes, yes, yes!

    What do you have against psychiatry? You’re not a scientologist are you? Your beliefs seem crazy enough as they are.

  246. Willyon 01 Jan 2017 at 6:07 pm

    hardnose: You might be the one who needs to read more: http://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/180/6/490

    http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/articles/suicide-attempts-and-completions-patients-bipolar-disorder

    The most “incessant” thing is see on this thread is you beating an empty drum. You really don’t know when to shut up, do you? I guarantee you that no one is impressed and that we are all laughing at you. You remind of a young kid I was camping with who insisted that he had seen a “snipe” in the dark woods.

    When are you going to tell us how the wise ancients handled mental illness? What do “alternative scientists” recommend? More acai juice?

  247. hardnoseon 01 Jan 2017 at 7:53 pm

    No one has a cure for schizophrenia. We alternative scientists do have an opinion however. In traditional tribal cultures, the people we now call schizophrenics were the healers and visionaries of the tribe. When they first showed signs of having the “disorder,” they were given training in how to use their special abilities.

    Schizophrenia can be terrifying to modern people who have no idea what is happening to them. It also can be terrifying to traditional people, before they are trained to understand and control their special “openness”.

    But they wind up being indispensable members of the community. Here, they are drugged and discarded and despised.

    I am not saying we should follow the example of traditional tribal cultures. I have no idea if their views are really “correct.” But I do know that symptom-dulling drugs are not the only option. They are at best a temporary emergency measure. It is better to be drugged than chained. But better solutions are desperately needed.

    Understanding of schizophrenia, and other mental illness, has barely progressed in over 100 years.

  248. hardnoseon 01 Jan 2017 at 7:59 pm

    And if you ever read the Old Testament (which I doubt), you would know there have always been individuals who experience auditory hallucinations. In ancient Israel they were considered prophets.

    Now of course you will say all religion and mysticism is childish nonsense. You choose to remain ignorant and intolerant of most of what humanity has believed and experienced.

  249. chikoppion 01 Jan 2017 at 8:21 pm

    [hardnose] We alternative scientists do have an opinion however.

    There is no such thing as an “alternative” scientist. Either one follows the scientific method or one is not ‘doing’ science. If one is following the scientific method then there is a testable hypothesis and experimental data that establishes the plausibility of that hypothesis.

    What YOU have is vague mysticism based on nothing but incomplete and biased anecdote.

  250. Kabboron 01 Jan 2017 at 8:22 pm

    Please please please, go find a group of five or so people with auditory hallucinations. Ask them to tell you everything they hallucinate and write us up a new bible and post it to a website with a snappy name like HardnoseChatterBible.com or something. That is fun and interesting homework for everyone involved.

  251. Pete Aon 01 Jan 2017 at 8:26 pm

    “In ancient Israel they were considered prophets.” This is what happens when critical thinking skills are not a mandatory part of the national curriculum.

  252. tb29607on 01 Jan 2017 at 8:39 pm

    Drug reps have not been allowed in my hospital in the U.S.A. for at least 15 years so I have no idea about any drug company PR efforts.

    The changes in the cingulate gyrus in the brains of schizophrenics include increased excitatory neurons and decreased inhibitory neurons which is believed to be a result of abnormal neuronal cell migration during embryonic neurogenesis. Other changes have been noted as well but less consistently which is consistent with the multiple types of schizophrenia and also changes in symptomatology over time (such as paranoid schizophrenics having fewer hallucinations and becoming more antisocial over time).
    At least that is what I recall from medical school histopathology in the late 90’s.

    This is closer to Steve’s area of expertise so I will defer to him if he disagrees but the main problem with studies showing antipsychotic drugs producing harmful effects on brains over time is that the natural history of schizophrenia is to have progressive loss of brain mass globally but more pronounced degeneration in certain areas. These changes have been studied and described since the late 1800’s which was well before the existence of antipsychotics. I have not seen a study that convincingly differentiates expected degeneration from drug effect. The biggest hurdle for obtaining such evidence is that the needed pathology slides can only ethically (and legally) be obtained from cadavers. So samples are mostly from older people with more advanced disease and also subjected to the changes that occur with death.

    But HN, please, don’t change your mind about science knowing “nothing” about schizophrenia. If you or someone you are close to needs psychiatric care by all means, go to Denmark to be (not) treated by Peter Gotzsche. Continue to give potentially harmful advice on subjects you have only rudimentary knowledge (and with this one you should also pray really hard that your god is a extremely forgiving one). Oh, lest I forget, be sure to continue Trolling otherwise pleasant, interesting, and informative sites to meet your own need for attention.

  253. bachfiendon 01 Jan 2017 at 9:00 pm

    Hardnose,

    ‘We alternative scientists…’

    So now you’re an alternative scientist?

    You’re an ignorant fool.

    Our understanding of schizophrenia and other mental disorders (such as autism) has progressed ENORMOUSLY over the past 100 years.

  254. Willyon 01 Jan 2017 at 9:09 pm

    An example of stream of consciousness, mindless idiocy:

    “We alternative scientists do have an opinion however. In traditional tribal cultures, the people we now call schizophrenics were the healers and visionaries of the tribe. When they first showed signs of having the “disorder,” they were given training in how to use their special abilities.
    Schizophrenia can be terrifying to modern people who have no idea what is happening to them. It also can be terrifying to traditional people, before they are trained to understand and control their special “openness”.
    But they wind up being indispensable members of the community. Here, they are drugged and discarded and despised.”

    You can’t make this stuff up, er, well, I guess hardnose can.

    How’s about you ‘splain to us how you know schizophrenics were considered special and “trained” to use their abilities? What abilities are you talking about? Who did the “training”? Can you tell us how people who were bipolar were treated or how the “wise ancients” made their diagnoses?

    I am tickled to hear that you think the OT prophets were disturbed. And yes, I’ve read the entire Bible. I laughed a lot when I read it. The story of Balaam is especially stupid. You know, Balaam’s donkey talks to him and Balaam isn’t surprised, he just argues back with the donkey. The 40 bears tearing up little kids is cute, too. We mustn’t forget Jepthath burning his daughter on an altar, either.

  255. Joe vandenEndenon 01 Jan 2017 at 11:21 pm

    Ah, hardnose. So much ammo, so little time.

    “And if you ever read the Old Testament (which I doubt), you would know there have always been individuals who experience auditory hallucinations. In ancient Israel they were considered prophets.
    Now of course you will say all religion and mysticism is childish nonsense. You choose to remain ignorant and intolerant of most of what humanity has believed and experienced.”

    I am one of the rare atheist bible enthusiasts. What I’m about to say isn’t right just-because-I-said-so (it is the consensus of theologians and biblical historicists).
    The entire old testament was an amalgamation of ~500 BCE oral story-telling traditions (emphasis here) that has no basis in actual history. In other words, prior to Maccabees, there is no actual history. Most of what comes after Maccabees is fictional too, but for different reasons.
    Finally, I am indeed intolerant, but FAR from ignorant of “what most of what humanity has believed.”

  256. BillyJoe7on 01 Jan 2017 at 11:38 pm

    The Troll believes in angels, so why not prophets (and schizophrenic to boot!), mystics, healers, visionaries….it seems that, as long as it’s not mainstream (ie plausible and evidence-based), The Troll is for it. That is his only criterion.

  257. BillyJoe7on 02 Jan 2017 at 2:23 am

    The Edge has an “Annual Question”, and this year’s question is:
    “What scientific concept or term ought to be more widely known”

    There is one about Emergence, and three others that are related: Complementarity, Effective Theory, and Coarse Graining.

    Emergence by Antony Lisi: https://www.edge.org/response-detail/27149

  258. BillyJoe7on 02 Jan 2017 at 2:23 am

    Complementarity by Frank Wilczek: https://www.edge.org/response-detail/27095
    Effective Theory by Lisa Randall: https://www.edge.org/response-detail/27044
    Coarse Graining by Jessica Flack: https://www.edge.org/response-detail/27162

  259. hardnoseon 02 Jan 2017 at 12:06 pm

    “Our understanding of schizophrenia and other mental disorders (such as autism) has progressed ENORMOUSLY over the past 100 years.”

    Oh really. I wonder who “our understanding” refers to. Not psychiatrists, obviously.

  260. RCon 02 Jan 2017 at 1:14 pm

    And we have yet another interesting thread completely derailed by the troll’s nonsense.

    I get the idea that it can be constructive to see poor arguments deconstructed, and people can learn from that – but that’s not what is happening here anymore. It’s an endless stream of nonsense assertions with no backing evidence, worthless one-liners, and insults.

    It’s like trying to have a conversation in the same room as a child throwing a temper tantrum.

  261. Pete Aon 02 Jan 2017 at 2:16 pm

    “It’s like trying to have a conversation in the same room as a child throwing a temper tantrum.”

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

    “Teach the Controversy” is a campaign, conducted by the Discovery Institute, to promote the pseudoscientific principle of intelligent design, a variant of traditional creationism, while attempting to discredit the teaching of evolution in United States public high school science courses.

    The overall goals of the movement were stated as “to defeat scientific materialism” and “to replace [it] with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God.”

  262. BillyJoe7on 02 Jan 2017 at 3:10 pm

    At least IW just shuts up when he has been defeated. 😉
    Or perhaps he is still hung-over. 😀

    IW’s problem, of course, is that he thinks philosophy doesn’t need to be grounded in science, about which he knows very little. This is called “armchair philosophy” and it is worthless.
    I guess he won’t understand this joke, but here goes:

    Q: What is The Third Law of Armchair Philosophy?
    A: For every armchair philosopher there is an equal and opposite armchair philosopher.

    It was the reason science was invented.

  263. bachfiendon 02 Jan 2017 at 3:16 pm

    Agreed. Yet another interesting thread completely derailed by an ignorant fool of a troll throwing yet another of his childish tantrums.

  264. Willyon 02 Jan 2017 at 3:16 pm

    “A: For every armchair philosopher there is an equal and opposite armchair philosopher.”

    LOL I’m stealing that one!

  265. Willyon 02 Jan 2017 at 3:38 pm

    I took a shot at Newton’s first and second laws. I’m sure someone can do better and I hope someone tries.

    The first law: An armchair philosopher with an idea cannot be swayed from that idea even if presented with overwhelming evidence (the law of inertia).

    The second: Obfuscation results when an armchair philosopher acts on an idea.

  266. Pete Aon 02 Jan 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Q: How can we be sure that entropy always increases — when we know that the entropy of science continually decreases?

    A: The overall entropy always increases due to the exponentially increasing number of non-scientific, pseudoscientific, and anti-scientific armchair philosophers.

  267. BillyJoe7on 02 Jan 2017 at 4:14 pm

    Armchair philosophers are so full of $#!+ that, if you gave them an enema, you could bury them in a match box.
    (Stolen from Christopher Hitchens commenting on Jerry Fallwell)

  268. hardnoseon 02 Jan 2017 at 4:43 pm

    What do psychiatrists understand about mental illness that they did not know a hundred years ago?

    It’s easier to call me ignorant than to actually show evidence.

  269. chikoppion 02 Jan 2017 at 4:59 pm

    No, it’s about as easy…

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/demystifying-psychiatry/201108/what-has-neuroscience-done-psychiatry-lately

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4799391/

    https://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=contributions+of+neuroscience+to+psychiatry&hl=en

  270. bachfiendon 02 Jan 2017 at 5:09 pm

    Hardnose,

    Well, you are ignorant. And a fool. In your very first comment on this thread, you claimed that there are many people with hydrocephalus of similar degree to the person the subject of this thread with IQs way above the average.

    Steve Novella challenged you to provide a link to a similar case with an IQ way above the average, and you failed to do so.

    You’re not interested in evidence. You just make assertions which reflect your idiotic worldview.

    When you reform, then we’ll treat you with respect.

  271. Willyon 02 Jan 2017 at 6:10 pm

    Hardnose isn’t real good with logic. Not too far above, he mocks someone who claimed schizophrenics can have auditory hallucinations, then claims a bit further down that Bible prophets had exactly such experiences (as he says people in “traditional tribal cultures” do). He then explains that these traditional tribal cultures knew how to exalt these “special” people. Then, of course, he also knows that psychiatry is bunk.

    He’s a real “alternative scientist” fer shure. And he just isn’t smart enough to SHUT UP!!!

  272. Pete Aon 02 Jan 2017 at 7:22 pm

    Hardnose, if you hear a voice in your head that is speaking the written text of these comments (and other written text), are you normal or abnormal? Whether your answer is yes or no, please specify the sigma value that you used to differentiate between normal and abnormal. Please also provide peer-reviewed evidence to support your chosen mean value to which your sigma value relates.

  273. matt goreon 08 Jan 2017 at 10:13 pm

    I have read you off and on for a while and I love your practical views on logical conundrum – bias and fallacy and that empirical science and reasoning mind stuff – and it gives me interesting subject matter to talk about. It really is a service to humanity. OMG tho! There are times when you get the feeling the joke is on humans and I deal with some qualia – you know – some unbearable existential burden of “truthiness”. It’s this inscrutable muck that Dan Dennett calls semantics or what Wittgenstein said was word games or Lacan made it part of the Real that persuades the acceptance of the Churchlands’ view of having philosophy marry neuroscience – and not because i got some mindful materialism thing but because there are thought experiments and double-slit experiments that are divorced from the act of reasoning and they inspire a certain je ne c’est qualia. I mean that in that they are both phenomena that imply stuff about the meaning of life and the universe and they are divorced from what Patricia Churchland calls ‘common sense’. You are right to note that critical thinking can be the counterpart to the mind and give it awareness of the senses and the sciences and all the muck – that tripe and vigour of our misbegotten era finding out instead of knowing and that I just get lost in and in which you find meaning – that there is one resounding implication and it’s not intuitive. Sometimes the universe begins with WTF and it sometimes ends in WTF so in the midst of its conundrum i will admit to static awe and it may be the pleasant time and place I live in the universe talking – but I actually appreciate some of the droll. The fact is inscrutable that other people do too and they read it on Facebook with the real news and tabloids and infographics never had it so good together – so, I hearken back to the saying that inspired our times – WTF! I think it may be because people really appreciate those WTF moments and I have to agree that they help keep science a part of human intelligence. WTF is a real fundamental qualia nowadays and its a part of human mental states and human intelligence but wholly unintuitive that a state that inspires a lack of reason is part of a good life.

  274. matt goreon 08 Jan 2017 at 10:22 pm

    I was more just responding to other phenomena, though. Like the miniature brain terratoma being so well formed like a hippocampus in a Chinese girl’s womb – and the questions it fill me with or just plain awe. The critique is likely on point, bro!

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