RE: virus: conscious/subconscious (form. level 0)

Schneider John (
Tue, 17 Dec 1996 02:58:09 -0500

XYZ wrote:
> >From: Dave Pape <>
> >My take on dreams is that dreams are memes/ideas not subject to
> >(very much) selection pressure from sensory input. Your eyes are
> >closed, your limbs aren't moving, and so ideas can arise in your
> >mind which normally would be outcompeted by more everyday ideas,
> >which are supported by neural firing patterns from sensory
> >information processing. These ideas, the output of your neural
> >processing system, are then the only input from which to build
> >the next set of outputs.
> Complete and total speculation. I see this kind of guess work all
> the time on the new-age newsgroups and even in the Christian talk
> rooms.

Everybody speculates. The difference is that some will believe
irrationally in whatever they speculate, and do so even after the
evidence is mounted against them. I don't believe the person who
made the above speculation is that daft. Why not just give your
contradictory evidence and spare us the smartass remarks?
(Note, I am not defending that particular thread of speculation,
in which I agree with XYZ - it is just speculation; I only defend
the right to go ahead and speculate!)

> A very easy to find reference on dreams is the Sci American
> magazine article for November 1990. It is titled "The Meaning
> of Dreams".
> I will summarize this article for you, but let me strongly
> encourage you to read the article anyways:
[clip of summary, the gist of which is: the non-REM-sleeping
echidna can function with an extremely large prefrontal cortex,
but other mammals get by having smaller brains and REM sleep.]
> So you can see when I say that this idea that this computer is
> "dreaming" or having "near death experiences" is pure hogwash.
> It is meant only to sell the magazine you are reading and not
> inform you of anything scientific.

No - I cannot see how you come to that conclusion. The summary
you posted says nothing about the /mechanics/ of 'dreaming'

If we observe the brain during dreams and 'near death experiences',
and also observe that some neural network behave a similarly, what
should we think about it? Should we completely ignore this seem-
ingly interesting fact?

Your article suggests to me that, maybe, a really big (huge!)
neural network would not 'need' to develop such processes, since,
like the echidna, it would have enough processing power to get by
without this newfangled 'brain mechanism' (to use that article's
term for REM sleep) An interesting question.

> >I don't have an opinion about whether dreaming is required for
> >brains to function or not. BUT I think that the ideas and memories
> >that you experience when dreaming can be thought of as memes
> >interacting unfettered by most of the evidence that our senses
> >usually provide.
> The echidna did not need dreaming for it's mind or it's brain to
> function. Human's need dreaming for the brain to function but the
> mind that it contains could have survived without it. Of course the
> brain would have to be much much larger than what it is now to
> perform the same funtions that is does now.

So, would you be opposed to the notion that the 'minds' contained
in these simple experimental neural networks developed 'dreaming'
in order to survive, and did so because, 'living' in such a tiny
neural structure, it had to 'evolve' a new 'brain mechanism'?

Or, is that mindless speculation akin to new-age theology?

- JPSchneider