virus: Anon

Ken Pantheists (
Thu, 09 Jan 1997 13:38:42 -0700

Many apologies to Alex and Anon.

I am late in posting this because I ahve been working brain-destroying
hours on a multi-media project.

I did 29 hours straight (no breaks except one meal and many cans of
apple juice) in my last session and I think I have done something bad to

Anyway here is anon's post


Alex, thanks for that FAQ. I have begun to read it and will post again
after I'm finished. It looks very good.

As for the question of metaphysics, I like some of what you say, but I
wholeheartedly agree.

You say:

>The reason that metaphysics raise the ire of the disputants in these
>sorts of discussions is because metaphysics are essentially
>non-scientific and non-rational.

Isn't that circular reasoning? Like saying I don't like metaphysics
it is metaphysics? Of course metaphysics is non-scientific and
non-rational. Unfortunately, the 100% Logica meme launched by Aristotle
centuries ago now leaves us with the delusion that nature is pure
When that is not necessarily the case -- not in quantum mechanics,
astrophysics, biology or dozens of other sciences.

According to Neils Bohr, "[t]he epistemological lesson contained in the
development of atomic physics reminds us of similar situations with
to the description and comprehension of experience far beyond the
borders of
physical science, and allows us to trace common features promoting the
search for unity of knowledge." What he saying is that there is more to
nature than simple reason can explain. There are certain mysteries
science simply cannot solve. Bohr's appeal for "unity of knowledge" is
two-pronged attack: a combination of pure reason with intuition, that
yield a more complete description of the universe than either strategy

>There is no experiment that you can
>conjure that tests the existance of God.

Agreed. But that could be evidence for or against your point of view.
cannot hope to know everything via experimentation. Do you see what I

>Likewise, reverting to
>vitalism by accepting the Copenhagen interpretation has no basis in
>science because it assumes difference between observer and
>non-observer that has no grounding in anything but wishful thinking.

I'm not sure what you mean by "vitalism." Could you clarify please?
further, it's unclear what you mean by wishful thinking in this context.
The Cophenhagen interpretation is the dominant one because it is the
explanation we have. As soon as any of us comes up with anything
better, we
can gradually switch over to that. Simply calling it "wishful thinking"
isn't really appropriate. You can point out flaws in the theory, if you
choose; you can also offer suitable alternatives. Until you do both
effectively, it's probably not fair to cast aspersions on the dominant
of modern physics.

You also wrote:

>[Y]ou're interpreting the entrails of geese and calling it
>science, essentially. A memetic (memetics, you know, the subject of
>this ML) argument can be made that a certain degree of contention is
>/necessary/ for the development of fully coherent theory.

Very funny. I haven't mentioned anything about avian excreta as yet. I
think you are resorting to name-calling again. Let's stick to the
Contention is not ~necessary~. And saying so is a sorry excuse.
is ~sometimes~ sufficient in memetics, although that is unfortunate. We
could go much further if we worked together and kept our heads cool.
does contention have to do with rationality, anyway?

>The MWI is really composed of two parts; one which is purely an
>artifact of the mathematics and rules which leads to testable
>possibilities and the second which is metaphysical dithering over
>`what it means.' The latter is not science nor should it be confused
>with science.

Again exactly my point. Look only at part one, but look carefully.
realize that we are talking about a theory as bizarre as the many
interpretation. Strange and fascinating enough that objective evidence
might force many of the best and brightest physicists to accept it.

Therefore, as far as "metaphysical dithering" is concerned, I'm
mystified by
your use of the phrase. Please use arguments, if you can.

The hardcore proponents of pure reason might like to say, "Yes, MWH is
unusual, but don't look at the theory too closely and everything is
That's a cop out however (particulary if you have respect for memetics).
Take MWH to its logical extreme (as Wheeler has done).

I wrote:

>> >Intuition, imagination
>> > and storytelling have always played a role in human development and
>> > discovery. It is part of human nature. Thus, perhaps it is genetic.

You replied:

>A genetic predisposition toward structuring internal models in terms
>of our language would have to be an extremely recent development in
>evolutionary terms and is something I don't believe is genetically
>based. I strongly suspect that such culturally-based developmental
>structure is a direct result of our minds' facility for abstraction
>and the ability to host a rapidly changing memesphere.

Where does this "mind" you mention come from if not the human brain?
mind certainly depends on what the brain is doing and vice versa, don't
agree? And is this "mind/brain" combination not the product of
processes, at least indirectly?

(See the quote at the end of this message.)

Your point about "the mind's facility for abstraction" rings true for
but you ~are~ dividing mind and brain, you have to admit. They are
different, it is true, but the distinction is troubled. Proving that
can be handled separated is akin to showing whether or not there is a

I wrote:

>> > My assertion is that an approach of 100'% Logica can also be contrived,
>> > we have been playing some kind of Freudian game of denial to pretend
>> > otherwise rather than taking a more holistic (but still highly rational,
>> > intellectual and objective) view. We have to concede that the 100%
Logica approach delivers >>> a description of the world that is at best

You responded:

>That the majority of the unscientifically trained and foolish cling to
>foolish things when presented with facts which suggest they are
>responsible for their own situations and that things beyond their
>control do not move to some `greater order' does not surprise me...

Doesn't surprise me either. In my view it is caused by our failure to
"sell" the mysteries of hard science by making engaging stories out of
"The X-Files" are infinitely more attractive and easier to sell than
mechanics. The makers of "Jurassic Park" diligently replaced the word
"carnivore" with "meatosaurus" throughout. (That DNA animation was
excellent, though.)

>I disagree that a more
>holistic approach is somehow more `complete' than the process that has
>given you a network with which to dispute with me, medicine that has
>improved the quality of your life and a cheap means of transportation
>that can move you hundreds of kilometers within hours of your whim.

That ~is~ a good argument, I'll admit. Why rock the boat if the
scientific tradition has brought us so far? You mentioned medicine,
transportation and computer networking. Here are some counter examples:

( 1 ) In medicine, we are still far away from curing cancer and AIDS.
fact, people are getting sick and dying, some of them by the very
that were designed to help them. Holistic and "metaphysical" Chinese
medicine are achieving great success over traditional science in this

( 2 ) In transportation, we have brought about a near-collapse of the
echo-system with all of the planes, trains and automobiles zipping
As Thoreau once declared, "We do not ride upon the railroad, it rides
us." The ramifications of new technology are usually unpredictable and
far-reaching. It calls for vigilance, skepticism and respect.

( 3 ) In networking, the attainment of that elusive global state of
collective consciousness is far from complete. The construction of the
first large-scale computer network engineered by the U.S. firm of Bolt
Beranek and Newman in 1969 was an attempt to produce such an artificial
nervous system on a massive scale. It was initially designed to protect
American military industrial complex in the event of a nuclear attack,
to be used by the citizenry. The "holistic" "power to the people"
of the Sixties and Seventies helped make that possible. But today we
be on our guard; a Big Brother scenario thanks to networking is easily

Sure, humans are smart. But they could do much better thinking from
hemispheres, if you get my drift.

>A 100% Logica approach can completely describe the entirety of the
>physical universe.

That's what Einstein kept promising, but where is he now when we need

>When it comes to dealing with human emotion and
>psychology, you're no longer dealing with the physical universe but
>the memetic one, and you should use the tools appropriate to the

And these tools are?

>The problem is that people, especially those pretending to
>multidisciplinary studies or holistic approaches like to confuse the
>two techniques in an effort to rectify the unrectifiable.

By saying "unrectifiable" do you give up trying for any reconciliation?
least where the confusing of techniques is concerned, I wholeheartedly
agree. One ought to know which technique is which.

"Mind belongs to a different level of description than the brain... mind
brain represent complementary descriptions of the same system and not
contradictory ones. I like to draw
an analogy of between hardware and software in computing -- the brain is
like the hardware and the mind is rather like the software. We
mind with information, input and output,
processing and so on, while we associate the brain with little
circuits and so forth. In my view the wave-particle duality in quantum
physics is not only very closely analogous to these other
dualities but is actually part of the same basic problem

The reason for this is that the quantum wave encodes the information
that we
have about the system. So that's a bit like the software. On the other
hand, the particle-like aspect is rather like the hardware. Therefore
act of making a measurement means that we are really coupling these
of mind-body and particle-wave together."

-- Paul Davies

  Ken Pantheists