Re: virus: Anon

Alexander Williams (
Thu, 09 Jan 1997 18:32:25 -0500

Ken Pantheists wrote:
> 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
> myself....

Better be careful with that; its a sure route to severe burnout if you
do it more than once or twice a year. Also, be sure to stock up on
orange juice and VitC, you're in for a cold from the depressed

> As for the question of metaphysics, I like some of what you say, but I
> don't
> wholeheartedly agree.

If people didn't disagree there wouldn't be any development in any

> Isn't that circular reasoning? Like saying I don't like metaphysics
> because
> 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
> reason.
> When that is not necessarily the case -- not in quantum mechanics,
> astrophysics, biology or dozens of other sciences.

OK, `I don't like to discuss metaphysics in the context of science
because its metaphysics, not science.' Nature, by definition, /is/ pure
reason, reason by dint of being nothing else. It may not be /our/
reason, but it is reason. Not even QM detaches reality from
cause-and-effect, nor in biology, astrophysics or elsewhere.

> According to Neils Bohr, "[t]he epistemological lesson contained in the
> development of atomic physics reminds us of similar situations with
> respect
> 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
> that
> science simply cannot solve. Bohr's appeal for "unity of knowledge" is
> a
> two-pronged attack: a combination of pure reason with intuition, that
> could
> yield a more complete description of the universe than either strategy
> alone.

`There is more to heaven and earth than are dreamed of in your
philosophy, Horatio.' This very well may be but that doesn't incite me
to throw off my clothes and return to Rousseau's State of Nature because
things may be currently ineffable. Bohr was a physicist, he had no
especial insight into the Mind of God. His ramblings on the
metaphysical nature of the universe hold as much water as anyone else's:

Metaphysics addresses subjects that science does not, that is the nature
of the beast. Some of us, however, have no need of this `metaphysical
universe' to ground our concerns; the field of science is large enough
to swallow a million million lives without plumbing its depths.
Metaphysics, by its very concerns, cannot `tell us something about the
universe.' It can tell us what /might/ be, or what we would /like/ to
be, but not what /is/, because if it was provable it would be
addressable by science.

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

I see that you mean that you think Points of View have meaning to the
universe at large. No matter if I'm completely convincing that I
perceive there to be no car ahead on the road, the universe will proceed
to introduce me to the scientific fields of inertia, neural pain
inductance and medicine in short order if I fail to apply the brakes.

We /can/ hope to know everything about the physical universe through
experimentation. You cannot hope to know /everything/ because not
everything is subject to scientific inquiry: what is our relative
capacity for justice? Who is braver? Is there a point? These are not
scientific questions, they are within the realm of morallists and
metaphysicians and they /are/ analyically approachable through the
science of memetics, but not for intrinsic value but only to describe
them in terms of effects.

> I'm not sure what you mean by "vitalism." Could you clarify please?

Vitalism, the belief that there is something `special' or `mystical'
about living things that makes the pursuit of their understanding
fundamentally different from understanding more `base' matter. In the
Copehagen Interpretation, the `observer' is given vitalist connotation:
what constitutes an observer? Why do they have this perverse effect on
an unconscious process?

> Still
> further, it's unclear what you mean by wishful thinking in this context.
> The Cophenhagen interpretation is the dominant one because it is the
> best
> 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
> model
> of modern physics.

I'd argue that the CI is /not/ the dominant interpretation amongst
scientists in the field and in the know. There have been surveys of
those in the field, one of which is refereed to in the FAQ I refered you
to, that demonstrate that the MWI is the dominant theory supported by
the populace.

CI is /far/ from a usable, intelligible model. MWI addresses several
weaknesses in its conformation, among them this distinction of
`observer' from `observed.' That alone is enough of a stumbling block
to render it more wishful thinking metaphysics than scientific

Again, CI is arguably not the dominant model and the FAQ I've produced
demonstrates both of what you requested. Next problem?

> 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
> facts.
> Contention is not ~necessary~. And saying so is a sorry excuse.
> Contention
> is ~sometimes~ sufficient in memetics, although that is unfortunate. We
> could go much further if we worked together and kept our heads cool.
> What
> does contention have to do with rationality, anyway?

Memetically, memespheres are composed of competing groups of memes. If
memes obey standard evolutionary responses, and one of the underpinnings
of memetics is that they do, without a predator, groups do not evolve as
quickly. When two groups compete for common resources, however, or one
predates another, /both/ groups find their evolutions increasing both in
efficency and effectiveness.

Contention is necessary lest you want to find yourself out-competed by
those that contend and that's been proven /very/ repeatedly. Rational
minds accept the need for contention to achieve higher goals and
capitalize on it.

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

The MWI is far less concerned with questions metaphysical than you seem
tied to with the CI. Given the MWI, we can plan experiments to explore
the possible parallellism of quantum muplicities and better understand
the physical results. The CI gives us no testable positions to even
/begin/ with `how does the observer's consciousness get involved?'
There is no return to science with more knowledge from the CI, only
further dithering with metaphysics and /that/ is my argument in the

> 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
> fine."
> That's a cop out however (particulary if you have respect for memetics).
> Take MWH to its logical extreme (as Wheeler has done).

And what of CI? `The observer causes the wave collapse' isn't a
cop-out? MWI makes sense /even when taken to the extreme/, the numbers
fall out expectedly, its only the metaphysics that people have problems
wrapping their minds around. I simply discard metaphysics.

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

There is a difference between the hardware that a program is running on
and the program itself. The logical processes are logically seperable
from the underlying physical matrix. That does not make it some
spiritual entity, any more than you're usurping a technocratic ghost
when emulating a NNet on a Von Neumann machine. The mind is a dynamic,
energy exchange process which can be viewed at many levels of
abstraction, many completely seperate from the consideration of the
underlying wetware.

The mind does /not/ necessarily depend on what the brain is doing. If
your neural architecture is being emulated on some gedanken machine,
your mind is functioning on some completely different underlying

The brain is the product of physical/biological processes. The mind
partakes of cultural and perceptual processes far more readily.

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

The brain does not abstract any more than my Alpha is sending this email
message. There are certain circuits that place certain charges on
certain bits, but the grand coordination of the event and any
abstraction that occurs comes into play with the software and the
manipulation of the collection of bits stored in RAM which, as far as
the hardware is concerned, could be anything. Only the software
recognizes it as `an email'.

> 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
> them.
> "The X-Files" are infinitely more attractive and easier to sell than
> quantum
> mechanics. The makers of "Jurassic Park" diligently replaced the word
> "carnivore" with "meatosaurus" throughout. (That DNA animation was
> excellent, though.)

Just because fools run the Empire that does not behoove another country
as great to accept foolish leadership.

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

Add to that the complete absence of developments /not/ based in the
Logica. Cultures and art are a special case, dealt with by memetics and
like soft sciences.

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

When I get an infection, I go take an antibiotic, not go have needles
stuck in me. I'd wager you do too, since you're still alive. The
/reasons/ that holistic and Eastern approaches have /some/ effect is
still being researched, using 100% Logica, and once the methods are
found effacious and the reason turned up (assuming that its not a
placebo effect or other like thing) you'll find it integrated in refined
form into the great panopoly of the Western medicine cabinet.

Just because I can't jump off my roof and fly is no reason to dispute
the presence of 747s.

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

There have been far /greater/ changes in the ecology at the very hands
of nature. Ignore the alarmist eco-warriors: more CO2 and methane have
been released in just Mt St Helens eruption than have /ever/ been
released by human activity in the 100,000 years or so we've been an
active biological entity. The Earth is 4.6 billion years old. Nothing
that we can do will massively disturb such a strong ecological force
which compensates readily.

Luddite opinions typically have forgotten their roots.

> ( 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,
> not
> to be used by the citizenry. The "holistic" "power to the people"
> movement
> of the Sixties and Seventies helped make that possible. But today we
> better
> be on our guard; a Big Brother scenario thanks to networking is easily
> possible.

As is a direct rule by the people from their homes. That the sword has
two sharp edges is no new news. That it exists at all is testament to
the effectiveness of the Baconian ideal of rationality and intellect.
What the fool does with the blade in his hand as compared to the magus
is not the concern we should carry.

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

He's dead. People do that, you know.

Einstein's theories helped propel many of the major technological
improvements of the past period in science, but like all men, he's
falliable. His position on QM may or may not yet be borne out.

> And these tools are?

Memetics. Rationality. An understanding that a statement made does not
make it true and that subjectivity may underlie what you're studying but
you cannot afford it.

> By saying "unrectifiable" do you give up trying for any reconciliation?

Its foolish to try and glue two puffs of smoke together.

   Alexander Williams { /}
  Prefect of the 8,000,000th Terran Overlord Government Experimental
      Strike Legion, Primary Transport TOG "Bellatores Inquieti"
   You ride in 250 tons of molecularly aligned crystalline titanium
wedded to a ceramic ablative matrix.  You carry a 200mm Gauss
cannon, two massive 10-gigawatt lasers, two SMLM fire-and-forget
missiles, a Vulcan IV point defense anti-missile system, and a
deadly assortment of other equally lethal weapons.
   Your vehicle is the ultimate product of 4,000 years of armored
   Your life expectancy is less than two minutes.