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Debunking Pseudo-Neuroscience

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  • #16
    Originally posted by David Bailey View Post
    Do you want to elaborate - I mean is there anything that she says that you disagree with?

    David
    Well, I didn't get a chance to see what she had to say because of the censorship from the New World Order.

    I really liked her book (Mistakes Were Made But Not By Me).

    Linda

    Comment


    • #17
      Originally posted by fls View Post
      I really liked her book (Mistakes Were Made But Not By Me).

      Linda
      So why exactly would you suggest that she would appeal to the woo woo crowd (not a term I naturally use)?

      I mean, my take on what she is saying, is to pour a lot of cold water on fMRI interpretations, and to some extent on the fMRI methodology.

      David

      Comment


      • #18
        Originally posted by David Bailey View Post
        So why exactly would you suggest that she would appeal to the woo woo crowd (not a term I naturally use)?
        Not "appeal to". I suspect she thinks they would benefit from her messages. Stuff that's meant to change our mind is rarely appealing.

        I mean, my take on what she is saying, is to pour a lot of cold water on fMRI interpretations, and to some extent on the fMRI methodology.

        David
        I don't know what that's supposed to mean for this forum.

        Linda

        Comment


        • #19
          Originally posted by fls View Post

          I don't know what that's supposed to mean for this forum.

          Linda
          Well for me, and I think others, an important part of the picture, is the difficulty of explaining conscious experience in terms of physical changes.

          Modern neuroscience purports to offer some of the explanation of consciousness, and I think she was trying to point out that fMRI results can be hyped to be what they are not.

          I like an analogy. Suppose computers were artifacts left on earth by an alien race, and we were trying to understand them. Someone might discover that the temperature of the various chips would vary in a consistent way as (say) a word processor was started. An immense amount of data might soon be collected showing how particular chips (e.g. memory chips, but 'we' would not know that!) warmed up while the brain (sorry, computer) was doing particular things.

          The problem is, that information would tell scientists next to nothing about what was really going on in the computer, if they had no underlying theory (bits, bytes, memory, registers, paging, etc.) My feeling is that the explanation of consciousness hasn't really advanced at all over the years, but that pretty pictures of the brain give a superficial impression of growing understanding.

          I've not had any personal psi experiences - at least you have your OBE's (and I wish you would talk more of them) - and one big reason why I am here, is that I don't see any chance of a reasonable physical explanation of consciousness, so I think it is worth looking at non-physical explanations.

          David

          Comment


          • #20
            Originally posted by David Bailey View Post
            Well for me, and I think others, an important part of the picture, is the difficulty of explaining conscious experience in terms of physical changes.

            Modern neuroscience purports to offer some of the explanation of consciousness, and I think she was trying to point out that fMRI results can be hyped to be what they are not.

            I like an analogy. Suppose computers were artifacts left on earth by an alien race, and we were trying to understand them. Someone might discover that the temperature of the various chips would vary in a consistent way as (say) a word processor was started. An immense amount of data might soon be collected showing how particular chips (e.g. memory chips, but 'we' would not know that!) warmed up while the brain (sorry, computer) was doing particular things.

            The problem is, that information would tell scientists next to nothing about what was really going on in the computer, if they had no underlying theory (bits, bytes, memory, registers, paging, etc.) My feeling is that the explanation of consciousness hasn't really advanced at all over the years, but that pretty pictures of the brain give a superficial impression of growing understanding.
            Okay. I was under the impression it was already established that whatever neuroscience had to say about consciousness could be disregarded here. I didn't realize anyone was still looking for something they could regard as confirmation of that perspective.

            I've not had any personal psi experiences - at least you have your OBE's (and I wish you would talk more of them) - and one big reason why I am here, is that I don't see any chance of a reasonable physical explanation of consciousness, so I think it is worth looking at non-physical explanations.

            David
            I think talking about my OBE's is less useful than talking with people who had to learn how to have them. I find it difficult to convey something I experience spontaneously to someone who doesn't. It's like trying to teach someone I know algebra when I can 'see' functions and she can't. I have to find alternate ways of getting to the same point.

            Linda
            Last edited by fls; April 15th, 2013, 02:48 PM.

            Comment


            • #21
              Originally posted by fls View Post
              Okay. I was under the impression it was already established that whatever neuroscience had to say about consciousness could be disregarded here. I didn't realize anyone was still looking for something they could regard as confirmation of that perspective.
              I would hope that whichever 'side' people are on, they are still interested in both sides of the argument.

              There are exceptions, such as the neuroscientist Donald Hoffman, but on the whole there seems to be a faith that all is needed is to tease out yet more brain chemistry and related info, and it will solve the mind-brain problem. I suppose I find an answer like that frustrating, because explanations usually work on a series of levels, from crude to very detailed. For example think of blood circulation. The crude picture would be as in a school textbook, then lots of details could be added as you moved towards a heart surgeon's understanding.

              However with consciousness there doesn't seem to be that crude way to understand what is going on - just a belief that given yet more details, the whole explanation will emerge.

              I suppose the whole point of debates like this, is to find out how others see the central issues.



              I think talking about my OBE's is less useful than talking with people who had to learn how to have them. I find it difficult to convey something I experience spontaneously to someone who doesn't.
              Well, as someone interested in science, I am sure you must puzzle over those experiences, and talking to you might be more interesting than talking to someone who takes astral travel for granted!


              It's like trying to teach my daughter algebra when I can 'see' functions and she can't. I have to find alternate ways of getting to the same point.
              I have encountered something similar. I decided to compare a function with a bit of machinery - like say a food blender. You put a tomato in, and you get blended(tomato) out! Then another function might be like a grill, and you get grilled(tomato) out!

              I actually think students lose a lot of time puzzling over conceptual issues in maths. For example, I used to ask "what is a matrix really?", and get the reply that it was just a rectangular array of numbers that obeyed addition and multiplication rules! I'd get a similar flavour of answer if I asked what a group "really was". You can't really absorb the details, until you 'get' the core ideas, and not just in abstract definition form.

              David

              Comment


              • #22
                I like your tomato -> blended tomato approach. Do you have some similar teaching tricks for groups and representations? BTW I recently read a beautiful paper on “Exploratory experimentation and computation,” in Notices of AMS by David Bailey.

                Comment


                • #23
                  It seems that brain is always pictured to be "qualitatively similar" to the most complex mechanism recently invented at a given time, starting with cogwheels, transistors, telephone central, computer, internet....

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Originally posted by jumbo View Post
                    I like your tomato -> blended tomato approach. Do you have some similar teaching tricks for groups and representations? BTW I recently read a beautiful paper on “Exploratory experimentation and computation,” in Notices of AMS by David Bailey.
                    That wasn't me! Possibly someone called David H Bailey.

                    I did groups, but the memory has faded a bit over the years. Thinking of groups as symmetry operations seemed a bit too abstract, but thinking of them as matrix operations was a bit more concrete because I could program the operations!

                    I think the worst thing about groups, is that they aren't anything concrete at all. I mean one particular abstract group can be represented in many different ways.

                    I reckon just about everyone has a point (different for different people) at which maths concepts simply become too abstract and nebulous to work with!

                    It seems that brain is always pictured to be "qualitatively similar" to the most complex mechanism recently invented at a given time, starting with cogwheels, transistors, telephone central, computer, internet....
                    Yes, and this seems so different from other types of understanding. Other examples of scientific understanding always seem to start with a crude level - something that could be taught in school, perhaps - and then the complications fill in the details.

                    Think about understanding the solar system. You can get a useful model just by swinging a weight on a piece of string round and round. There are crude models for just about every explained phenomenon in science - even the Higgs was compared with molasses! I am very suspicious of the idea that an explanation for consciousness will suddenly emerge out of unbelievable complexity.

                    David
                    Last edited by David Bailey; July 16th, 2012, 01:03 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Originally posted by David Bailey View Post
                      Yes, and this seems so different from other types of understanding. Other examples of scientific understanding always seem to start with a crude level - something that could be taught in school, perhaps - and then the complications fill in the details.

                      Think about understanding the solar system. You can get a useful model just by swinging a weight on a piece of string round and round. There are crude models for just about every explained phenomenon in science - even the Higgs was compared with molasses! I am very suspicious of the idea that an explanation for consciousness will suddenly emerge out of unbelievable complexity.

                      David
                      Yes I completely agree. In my view there is no satisfactory theoretical model of the brain and consciousness at present.

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by David Bailey View Post
                        I would hope that whichever 'side' people are on, they are still interested in both sides of the argument.

                        There are exceptions, such as the neuroscientist Donald Hoffman, but on the whole there seems to be a faith that all is needed is to tease out yet more brain chemistry and related info, and it will solve the mind-brain problem. I suppose I find an answer like that frustrating, because explanations usually work on a series of levels, from crude to very detailed. For example think of blood circulation. The crude picture would be as in a school textbook, then lots of details could be added as you moved towards a heart surgeon's understanding.

                        However with consciousness there doesn't seem to be that crude way to understand what is going on - just a belief that given yet more details, the whole explanation will emerge.

                        I suppose the whole point of debates like this, is to find out how others see the central issues.


                        Well, as someone interested in science, I am sure you must puzzle over those experiences, and talking to you might be more interesting than talking to someone who takes astral travel for granted!



                        I have encountered something similar. I decided to compare a function with a bit of machinery - like say a food blender. You put a tomato in, and you get blended(tomato) out! Then another function might be like a grill, and you get grilled(tomato) out!

                        I actually think students lose a lot of time puzzling over conceptual issues in maths. For example, I used to ask "what is a matrix really?", and get the reply that it was just a rectangular array of numbers that obeyed addition and multiplication rules! I'd get a similar flavour of answer if I asked what a group "really was". You can't really absorb the details, until you 'get' the core ideas, and not just in abstract definition form.

                        David

                        Both of you have given a wonderful illustration of the fact that metaphors are how we understand the world.

                        Comment

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