Corante

About this Author
DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: derekb.lowe@gmail.com Twitter: Dereklowe

Chemistry and Drug Data: Drugbank
Emolecules
ChemSpider
Chempedia Lab
Synthetic Pages
Organic Chemistry Portal
PubChem
Not Voodoo
DailyMed
Druglib
Clinicaltrials.gov

Chemistry and Pharma Blogs:
Org Prep Daily
The Haystack
Kilomentor
A New Merck, Reviewed
Liberal Arts Chemistry
Electron Pusher
All Things Metathesis
C&E News Blogs
Chemiotics II
Chemical Space
Noel O'Blog
In Vivo Blog
Terra Sigilatta
BBSRC/Douglas Kell
ChemBark
Realizations in Biostatistics
Chemjobber
Pharmalot
ChemSpider Blog
Pharmagossip
Med-Chemist
Organic Chem - Education & Industry
Pharma Strategy Blog
No Name No Slogan
Practical Fragments
SimBioSys
The Curious Wavefunction
Natural Product Man
Fragment Literature
Chemistry World Blog
Synthetic Nature
Chemistry Blog
Synthesizing Ideas
Business|Bytes|Genes|Molecules
Eye on FDA
Chemical Forums
Depth-First
Symyx Blog
Sceptical Chymist
Lamentations on Chemistry
Computational Organic Chemistry
Mining Drugs
Henry Rzepa


Science Blogs and News:
Bad Science
The Loom
Uncertain Principles
Fierce Biotech
Blogs for Industry
Omics! Omics!
Young Female Scientist
Notional Slurry
Nobel Intent
SciTech Daily
Science Blog
FuturePundit
Aetiology
Gene Expression (I)
Gene Expression (II)
Sciencebase
Pharyngula
Adventures in Ethics and Science
Transterrestrial Musings
Slashdot Science
Cosmic Variance
Biology News Net


Medical Blogs
DB's Medical Rants
Science-Based Medicine
GruntDoc
Respectful Insolence
Diabetes Mine


Economics and Business
Marginal Revolution
The Volokh Conspiracy
Knowledge Problem


Politics / Current Events
Virginia Postrel
Instapundit
Belmont Club
Mickey Kaus


Belles Lettres
Uncouth Reflections
Arts and Letters Daily
In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

In the Pipeline

« Not Enough Progress Against Cancer? | Main | Weirdness: A Cold Fusion Demonstration? »

January 25, 2011

Weirdness: Montagnier Again, Teleporting DNA

Email This Entry

Posted by Derek

Well, no sooner do I speculate about whether Luc Montagnier has lost it then he makes headlines with a "water memory" story about teleporting DNA. There are, of course, umpteen reasons for this not to be a real result. We'll start with contamination of vials, which in a system like PCR can be disastrous, and work from there. The other major problem I have with this is one of the major problems I have with homeopathy: if incredibly small dilutions of things have such an effect, then why aren't we seeing it happen all the time? There are tiny amounts of DNA everywhere: how come all our experiments aren't turning into fuzzy blurs of results from all the small but oh-so-powerful fragments and traces in every sample?

Well, Montagnier himself says that he thinks that this experiment will be replicated by others, so I'll hold my fire until that's tried out. Until then, I note that this experiment has apparently made Deepak Chopra's day. It's hard for me to imagine that anything that has inspired such a fuzzy-brained column from such a fuzzy-brained man could lead to any good. But perhaps we'll all be surprised.

Comments (23) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Snake Oil


COMMENTS

1. OldLabRat on January 25, 2011 9:56 AM writes...

Hmmm. Besides the issues raised by Derek how about:

Pure water? Is there such a thing?
If a weak field is necessary to shield the system, wouldn't the plethora of fields in which the world exists, disrupt the "phenomenon"?
What's the effect of exposure time on the results?
Where's the electromagnetically isolated "pure" water sample as a control?
If this is a real phenomenon, wouldn't all DNA be imprinting all water all the time? Seems like this would be a noticeable effect on all life forms.

The line in the linked article about "when it's published in a peer-reviewed journal" was good for chuckle, especially in light of the recent discussion about peer review.

Permalink to Comment

2. RB Woodweird on January 25, 2011 10:32 AM writes...

"if incredibly small dilutions of things have such an effect, then why aren't we seeing it happen all the time?"

Well - do you whack your dilution vials against a leather Bible or do you just use astupid old Eppendorf?

Permalink to Comment

3. Lester Freamon on January 25, 2011 2:17 PM writes...

Derek, no post on the new NIH institute for drug discovery/development?

Permalink to Comment

4. Dr. Manhattan on January 25, 2011 2:25 PM writes...

Just read the link to the Deepak Chopra comment:

"Is the universe conscious? Is everything happening in the mind of God? Does the mind exist outside the brain? Once preposterous, these questions seem to hold the key to the future, in both physics and biology".

If those questions hold the key to the future of both physics and biology, I think I'll stop now and just drink beer...

Permalink to Comment

5. Dr. Manhattan on January 25, 2011 2:29 PM writes...

Just read the link to the Deepak Chopra comment:

"Is the universe conscious? Is everything happening in the mind of God? Does the mind exist outside the brain? Once preposterous, these questions seem to hold the key to the future, in both physics and biology".

Once preposterous?? How about even more so based on what we have learned the past 200 years or so! If those questions hold the key to the future of both physics and biology, I think I'll stop doing science now and just drink beer...

Permalink to Comment

6. pharmadude on January 25, 2011 5:52 PM writes...

Deepak would make for a really cool uncle. Can you imagine as a kid hanging out with Uncle Deepak, lightin up and shootin the shoot about the mind of god and is the universe really in your brain?

Permalink to Comment

7. Spiny Norman on January 25, 2011 9:09 PM writes...

This dude makes Pauling's vitamin C stuff look like the epitome of rationality and scientific rigor.

Maybe we should just out Montagnier, Duesberg, and Mullis in a jar and shake it.

Permalink to Comment

8. Everybodyknows on January 26, 2011 9:56 AM writes...

I'm neither here nor there with regards Montagnier's claims (we'll all just have to wait and see) or Deepak's comments. But I do wonder at some of the commentator's responses.

Science is a branch of philosophy - natural philosophy. It's sphere of thought is the relationship between objects. Whilst science is particulalrly successful within this sphere it makes the mistake of assuming that this is the be-all-and-end-all of human knowledge.

The debate about mind/brain/consciousness is one of the clear areas where natural philosophy gets into deep water. Science has in no way clarified or settled this issue, and it never will. You can see science's philosophical dilema in any basic textbook describing how 'we see': rays of light enter the eye, are projected onto the retina, converted into electrochemical nerve impuses then... (by magic?)... turn into the experience of colour and form - consciosness.

How can a string of objects (light, chemicals, brains) end with the subject (consciousness)?

In the scientific model consciousness is assumed to be an effect of the brain, but this a-priori assumption is not proven (nor provable by scientific method), yet it is clung to with religious zeal. However, there is a fundemental error of logic in the sequence of concepts that goes: 'real' external object --> nerve impulses --> conscious experience.

The illogical step is that all we actually have, a-priory, is conscious experience. The external object, light rays and brain are all observed 'through' the observer's consciousness. No scinetist has learned anything about the world except through his consciousness. It is ridiculous to assert consciousness as an effect when no human has ever experienced anything without it. If the observer loses consciousness then for all intents and purposes the entire external universe vanishes, along with the possibility of any scientific argument.

In fact (and getting the logical order right) all evidence for the 'external' universe arise WITHIN consciousness. Consciousness is always here first. Despite being a subjective experience, conscious perception is the only truely objective (i.e. universal) phenomena. In contrast, the contents of consciousness are secondary, and come and go (e.g. planets, Australia, percepts, rays of light, eyeballs, whatever). They are only as real as the characters in a film. Sure we can pretend that they are real, and tell a story about them, because they behave 'as if' they were real, but they are just an effect of a projected image. Our imagination fills in all the missing bits that are off scene, out of camera. In the same way, the external objects that science describes behave 'as if' they had a separate independent existance, but they are nothing more than a collection of our individual 'sense percepts' (consciousness). The extended external universe that scientists imagine is 'really there' and study is nothing more than a construct of their imagination filling in for the bits that they are not currently experiencing, the bits that are 'off-camera'. But as Einstein and Bohr discussed - that's not science. You can't prove it. It is an assumption.

(Einstein: "Do you really believe that the moon is not there when no one is looking at it?"
Bohr: "Can you prove it is otherwise?")

The philosophically dense, who might be finding this hard to follow, should ask themselves the following, potentially, enlightening question: What would you rather lose - a precious object (car, wife, money, house etc) or consciousness?

The loss of consciousness is the loss of everything. So show a bit of philosophical humility before you dismiss ideas that lay outside the scope of natural-philosophy.

Permalink to Comment

9. Hap on January 26, 2011 1:55 PM writes...

Well, no logic + no data = no credibility. I'm sure there's plenty of room for humility in science, but normally you have to earn it by giving people some reason to believe you other than "Wow, that sounds cool. Can you hand me the water pipe, please?" Answering questions that people can't answer is one way, but we already knew the answer to "Will people with more money than sense give me money if I express sufficiently warm and fuzzy thoughts?" That doesn't really earn any humility, just contempt.

Stupidity and wishful thinking are not philosophies, even if they bump up against questions that could generate legitimate philosophical insights. Consciousness is a pretty key point for philosophy and science, and insights into its nature would be helpful. They're just probably not coming from Chopra.

Permalink to Comment

10. qetzal on January 26, 2011 11:33 PM writes...

@Everybodyknows

Questions like "Is the universe conscious" are certainly not outside the scope of natural philosophy (i.e. science). At least, not if you start from basic assumptions like 'the universe objectively exists' and 'our conscious perceptions provide at least partly reliable information about the universe.'

If you reject such assumptions, then science doesn't exist and the whole issue is moot. Otherwise, we can observe that only entities with brains ever exhibit signs of consciousness. That's one easy example of a scientific observation that addresses whether the universe itself might be conscious, or whether the mind might exist outside the brain.

Clearly, such ideas are not outside the scope of science. Not if you accept the existence of science at all.

Permalink to Comment

11. everybodyknows on January 27, 2011 6:29 AM writes...

@ qetzal

Taking your points in order:

(1) I maintain that any question about consciousness IS outside the domain of natural philosophy. Natural philosophy is the study of what can be known about the relationship between objects (A vs B). But consciousness is the subject (A vs me!). To study consciousness you have to observe it working in yourself. As you will know, Scientists 'don't do introspection'. Hence they have chosen to ignore half of the available information about the universe.

(2) It is foolish to assume the Universe 'objectively exists'. The conundrum "Does a tree falling down in a wood make a noise if no one is there to hear it?" is as old as philosophy itself, yet it has taken the arrogance of 'objective' science 300 years to discover that their best description of reality (quantum physics) comes back to the very same question (schrodinger's cat) as epitomised in the Einstein quotation I gave above.

(3)Re:'our conscious perceptions provide at least partly reliable information about the universe.' True. Consciousness is all you have. But if you have decided, a-priory, that the universe is objectively real, and you choose to exclue introspection then you will limit your understanding of it. All assumptions do this.

(4) 'Rejecting such assumptions' does not mean, of necessity, that 'science doen not exist'. It still does. But it is the limited study of how object A affects object B. For example, "Which nut fits on this bolt" is an entirely scientific proposition. Whereas "Is the universe conscious?" requires insight into the nature of one-self, the subject - the only conscious being one has access to. But science doesn't do introspection and is only interested in objects yet assumes that it can provide insights into consciousness!

(5) The comment that 'only entities with brains exhibit signs of consciousness' is one of the false conclusions that come through lack of introspection. Consciousness is only a property of the observer (The one you call 'I'). Everything you think you know about 'brains' and 'signs of consciousness' exist in your consciousness. If you become unconscious they would cease to exist for you. If you ever see a brain, it exists inside your sense of sight at that moment. If you think about a brain you are imagining it. If you state a fact about a brain you are remembering or deducing it. Seeing, remembering, thinking, imagining and deducing are all subjective acts of consciousness. You can observe yourself doing these things if you pay attention to them. Consciousness creates your imagined objective universe by these acts. These things are not going on inside your brain - which is the objective organ, they are going on inside your mind/consciousness the subjective experience. There is only subjective experience. This is immediately obvious once you see it, and takes no deduction or imagination - two crutches natural philosophy relies on to prop up its false constructions. It does not want to observe the false nature of its assumptions because that would bring down the whole false edifice it has created.

(6) Does the mind exist outside the brain? Science can't answer this, again, because the mind is what you are experiencing now. It is the entirely subjective reality of immediate sensory perceptions, thought, feelings and attention. The brain is an object observable within the mind. All brains exist within the observers mind. Of course, as the observer is the mind, it can imagine that the mind is within the brain. But once the observer is ready to give up creating dreams out of the imagination it sees that all brains exist indide the mind. It also sees there is only one mind. An understanding of what is behind the idea of the 'mind of God' may then follow.

Permalink to Comment

12. qetzal on January 27, 2011 6:06 PM writes...

Everybodyknows,

"To study consciousness you have to observe it working in yourself."

No, I can also observe it working in others. Assuming, of course, that others exist and are conscious.

"[Science] is the limited study of how object A affects object B."

If nothing exists outside my consciousness, there is no A or B.

"Consciousness is only a property of the observer (The one you call 'I'). Everything you think you know about 'brains' and 'signs of consciousness' exist in your consciousness."

Everything I think I know about everything exists in my consciousness. If that prevents me from scientifically studying consciousness, then it prevents me from scientifically studying anything. Anything I might think to study is really just part of my consciousness, and you're insisting I can't study that.

Science is only possible if I assume that there are, in fact, things that exist outside my consciousness, and that I can gain some (imperfect) knowledge of the nature of those things. That's the way science is defined by me and 99%+ of all the other seemingly conscious beings external to me.

Of course, if there are no other conscious, external beings, then my definition is the only one.

Permalink to Comment

13. Mikesh on February 3, 2011 5:57 AM writes...

Everybodyknows, Berkeley's immaterialism is just one point of view. There is plenty of other epistemologies and onthologies.

Permalink to Comment

14. everybodyknows on February 5, 2011 11:30 AM writes...

Mikesh. Thankyou. I did not know of George Berkeley and will, no doubt, enjoy reading his views further as he does appear to share some of my perceptions.

Of course there are different 'point's of view', but in all things we seek the truth do we not? Otherwise why would we present ideas and evidence to challenge points of view that appear limited or incorrect in a given context? The context here is the arrogant dismissal of Deepak Chopra's comments as if scientific method is the only mode of enquiry that can produce valid conclusions. Yet consciousness is one of the areas where science really struggles to make meaningful comments. I was trying to show that a completely different philosophical approach can not only shed light on consciousness, but also offer a consistant explanation as to why science gets in such a muddle in this area.

It seems to me that with the rise of the militant atheists and rationalists like Dawkins, Colquhoun and Goldacre it is imperative that those of us who see beyond rational materialism speak out. I challenge science (even though I am a physics lecturer myself), because it is a limited (albeit successful)vehicle for aquiring knowledge.

My 'point of view' is not just another 'point of view' it is a real perspective that opens a window of knowledge beyond the sphere of science. I am not anti-science per-se, just anti-'science is the only reliable source of knowledge'.

Permalink to Comment

15. Mikesh on February 7, 2011 11:30 AM writes...

Everybodyknows, Berkeley is covered in almost any introduction to philosophy. I think you would also be interested in the works of Kant.

Permalink to Comment

16. everybodyknows on February 7, 2011 5:41 PM writes...

OK, I'll try to give an example of how science gets it wrong where consciousness is concerned.

Take the question "How do we see (a particular object)?"

Science:
"Light from a source travels to the object (ray 1) reflects off the object and arrives on the retina (ray 2) of the observer... Nerve impulses... Neurones... mumble mumble... Experience of colour! Hurrah!"

Note, in this scientific view the observer is a 'you', an object with eyes, retina, nerves, brain etc. (all further objects), over there.

Now consider this 'model' from the first person singular perspective, from the point of view of 'I' seeing the object: The only ray I see is ray 2, and I see it 'end on' so it does not have extension, and is really just a point of colour in my field of vision. Ray 1 is purely a mental (imaginary) construct, a convenient explanation, but not a real thing. Whereas ray 2 (or at least the end-on-point of colour that I actually see) is real: I experience it. I do not experience my eye,retina, nerves or brain. Nor do I experience rays travelling across my field of vision as ray 1 is purported to do. I only experience colour, or those rays coming straight towards me.

If I am willing to accept the model of rays of light, then from a first person perspective, I must acknowledge that the only real rays are those travelling towards me. The (visible) universe is best modelled, then, as a one way incoming stream of energy - like so many spines on a hedgehog, all pointing towards I the observer at the centre, or like a firework rocket exploding in reverse.

Now I am saying that this is how it actually is, how the universe actually is - look at it - don't think about it, or you will introduce imaginary elements - look around you, it is a universe made of ray2 only!

It's like a TV screen: We can all talk about the characters moving around on the screen, what they are doing and why (science), but really the whole experience is a one-way incoming stream of light - that's what a tv screen is - any sense that things move across the screen is an illusion - just like ray 1 - it's not really there. Only ray 2 is really there, the rays coming from the surface of the screen.

While science spends its time talking about 'yous' (third person - objects) instead of I (first person singular) it is lost in the illusion of what is going on in the TV show of existance. Only when the scientist stops to observe 'I' will he see how the TV (consciosness) works. In the meantime scientists are lost in the show (objective existance) and trying to explain how it all works (fair enough) but then wondering how it gives rise to experience - it doesn't! Experience comes first. Turn off the TV (go unconscious) and it all disappears.

I know I'm going on, but I think it is really important to try and get this across. So finally, consider this: If you watched a physics demonstration about the reflection of light on a TV show isn't it clear that the real rays you are seeing are those coming straight from the surface of the TV? Whilst those rays in the physics demo TV show, which you think you are seeing travelling from source to object etc, are just illusiory, made up of switching pixels. If you look closely at your own visual experience now you will see it is just the same.

Science is true in the same way that the TV programme is true - we can all follow the story because TV world behaves 'as if' there really are objects moving across the screen, we can even watch physics demos on TV explaining rays reflecting off mirrors and eye sight - it all seams to make sense - as if it were really there, but actually, all there is is a one way incoming stream of visual information. It is all coming straight towards 'I', the observer. Such is the universe when you look at it from the first person singular perspective. Such is consciousness.

Permalink to Comment

17. djd on February 8, 2011 6:06 AM writes...

@ everybodyknows:

Question: How do we see things?

everybodyknows (paraphrase): "Experience of colour! Hurrah!"

This is a fair summary since you explicitly denied the reality of anything not directly experienced. As you yourself said: "The only ray I see is ray 2, and I see it 'end on' so it does not have extension, and is really just a point of colour in my field of vision." You never see rays at all (to say they are "end on" is to introduce an imaginary construction), nor do you see a universe; you only see points of colour.

In other words, only the 'qualia' of colour are directly experienced - the rays of light giving rise to them are inferred, as are the objects radiating those rays.

The description you attributed to "science" comes off rather better as an explanation, since yours boils down to 'we see things by seeing them'.

Also, the earlier Bohr quote is telling: "Can you prove it is otherwise?" Yes: the fossil record indicates that long before humans occupied the Earth, there were tides, therefore there was a Moon when nobody was looking.

Permalink to Comment

18. everybodyknows on February 8, 2011 4:35 PM writes...

djd. Thank you for your thoughtful reflections. But I do not think we need be in conflict here.

When I said "...Experience of colour! Hurrah!" this was in the context of the scientific paradigm that would try to get from objects (rays, eyes, retina, nerves) to conscious experience (colour). It fails. This switch from object(ive) to subject(ive) is the hard problem of consciousness that science struggles to approach let alone explain.

As I have said in comments above, science provides the perfect methodology for explaining the relation between things (objects, A vs B, rays vs. retina vs. brains) - this is the domain of natural philosophy - but it cannot, and will never, explain consciousness, the subjective (A vs me).

The idea in science that objects have an independent existance is not the most contentious or problematic assumption, the more significant andf hence troublesome, assumption is that there is no place for the study my subjective experience (introspection). In the scientist's universe there is no 'I' only 'yous'. This is a crazy starting point as every sceintist has experienced everything since his birth to this day from the perspective of 'I' not you! I am trying to show that by studying one's own subjective experience, that a coherent view can be reached that revelas why consciosness is beyond the scope of science, and yet leaves one free to explore and discover new 'truths' without dependence on what has become a quasi-religious adherence to the 'scientific method'. This does not deny the persuit of science within its own domain, as this is absolutely appropriate for the deduction of 'physicsl reality' - the relationships between objects.

I suggest that the reason you find my perceptions in need of challenge is because you feel they push science aside, or reject its methods or findings. As I have said, science is the correct tool for studying the relationship between objects (A vs B) - there is no conflict there for me. However, consciousness is not an object. It is the subject, 'I'. And I can only study I (the first person singular) in myself, can't I?

The challenge of our times for we intelligent and reflective individuals is to begin to study consciousness in ourself. In this pursuit the familiar 'certainties' of science simply will not do - they rely on imagination. We have to regain the subjective ground, and observe the 'qualia' of our senses and more importantly the functions and operations of our inner experience (thought and feelings), exactly as they present themselves - not adding to them or deducing from them with unexamined assumptions (imagination).

If we do this earnestly and sincerely, a coherent and compelling new horizon emerges. It is not in conflict with science's A vs B natural philosophy, but it reveals the true nature of A vs me, the subjective, consciousness.

Being, if you like, a 'different science' it is not surprising that it has its own methodology, distinct from those of natural science. Its methods are:

(1) observe what is immediately present in your own experience of being the subject ('I')
(2) observe the way imagination operates in your own daily and intellectual thinking
(3) observe how imagination constructs that which is not immediately present in your experience.

If you apply these principles - which, granted, require a different intellectual application than normal objective science - you will see that a coherent view emerges which is independent of imagination - an extraordinary thing.

The world we imagine is around us certainly acts 'as if' it were real and extended. I myself act on a daily basis 'as if' the imagined extended world around me is real. I do not say "I cannot see my car, so it does not exist" - this is the silly interpretation of demi-philosophies like solipsism. I know the world behaves 'as if' my car is 'probably' where I left it. This is what experience tells me.
Hence I accept everyday science, because it describes how existance will 'probably behave'.

However, when it comes to reality, it is rather like trying to tell a friend who is a film critic that his explanation of the film he is watching is not real, and that he is just looking at a series of pixels turning on and off. It is clearly a true statement, but understandably he might feel offended or intruded upon - I'm not talking his language. However, if he can remain calm and open he will see the truth of this, and that it in no way detracts from his perceprtion of the story of the film.

Science describes the 'film' that takes place on the screen of my sensory experience, but if you focus only on the TV show (objects - natural science's domain) then the show (existence) appears real and compelling. However, it depends for its effect on an uncritical yeilding to imagination. A person who moves 'off camera' or behind another character is imagined to really be there. The film-world certainly behaves 'as if' the 'off camera' person is really there, but it is only an impression created by imagination.

This, I suggest, is why you deduce that the common scientific description of how we see is the better description, because it describes the story, and fits comfortable assumptions about how it all works. But it is only true within that frame of reference. I would be a very boring film partner if I kept interjecting that "No, we are only seeing coloured pixels turning on and off". However, my perception would still be true. It does not, in fact, diminuish your perception. So when you say that my 'qualia' say less than the standard scientific explanation I emplore you to look carefully: both domains are true. But if you wish to understand consciosness you must observe yourself, exactly as you are, and put aside the object-object scientific habit of deducing from your imagination - however comforting that might be. If you have decided, a-priori, that deducing conclusions from incomplete facts (e.g. ray 1) will give you the truth then there is precious little I can do to persude you otherwise. You will assume that the scientific conclusion is valid (even though it patently fails to explain consciousness). On the other hand if you will simply observe your own subjective experience and see it as it is, you will discover an alternative mode of perception. My experience in this regards has shown me the following: The universe exists inside my senses. There is only now. The past only exists in imagination. Hence the question of creation changes from 'how did the universe begin' to 'how is this (sensory experience) being created now? From this perspective the Big Bang is patently wrong. The universe was never created (in the past) - it IS being constantly created now (in the present). Science has yet to see this, yet it is patently obvious to the first-person-singular perceiver.

You, my friend, are studying the TV show played out in your senses. I am studying the TV.

On your point that ray 2 is a mental construct too, yes I agree. The difference is that the model I arrived at with only ray 2, creates an image that points towards the observer ('I'), and in this way helps one pass from the objective (ray diagram) to the subjective edxperience (qualia view).


Finally, the existance of fossils & tides at best only shows that the moon did exist. Did exist is not evidence that it does exist.

Quantum physics tells us that all things are held in a probability wave that contains all possible locations as they unfold in time. Evidence that the moon did exist is no difference to the tracks caused by an electron in a bubble chamber. Each bubble records the position of the electron at those moments only. Between each bubble the electron existed only as a probability wave. So however many times you look at the moon, directly or indirectly in the fossil record, any continuity of existance is only in your imagination. It does not prove it is there now unless you are seeing it now.

Permalink to Comment

19. Fifi McFifi on February 8, 2011 5:09 PM writes...

Everybody Knows has just rumbled the Mystery. Every wondered why it is always 'now'? Now you know. There is nothing but now. Everything, however 'old' is at it's newest, most recent state now. Fossils are now. Moon is now. 'Then' is illusiory. Get lost in the TV show at your peril, take ownership of the TV instead. You need not refer to any other autority, or rather I need not. I am the author.

Permalink to Comment

20. djd on February 9, 2011 6:08 AM writes...

everybodyknows,

Thanks for overlooking my slightly dismissive tone. I would at least like to think I am honestly engaging your argument.

You appear to accept the existence of an external world, although you don't explicitly say so ("'as if' it were real", but you also refer to science's describing "existance" as though existance had been established). Is it real or not?

This is a key issue because it must be settled by postulate. It is also an excellent example of one reason I am challenging you: you seem unable to commit to a definite position. It gets worse when you make incoherent arguments:

"The difference is that the model I arrived at with only ray 2, creates an image that points towards the observer ('I'), and in this way helps one pass from the objective (ray diagram) to the subjective edxperience (qualia view)."

You discarded ray 1 based on its non-observability. Ray 2 is only directly observable as a point, not a ray, so its ray-ness must also be discarded. This defeats the 'pointing' feature of the model. The model does not tie the qualia view to the ray diagram view, the latter is explicitly discarded (recall you said that ray 1 was "not a real thing"). The broken-ness of the model lets me classify it as not helpful.

"This is what experience tells me."

"The past only exists in imagination."

These two statements appear to be incompatable.

"You, my friend, are studying the TV show played out in your senses. I am studying the TV."

How are you studying the TV? All you experience are sensory perceptions (TV show) plus subjective consciousness. Unless your subjective consciousness is the TV (solipsism which you call "silly" so I assume you reject), you have no information about the TV except that which comes from the show. Further, I have exactly the same knowledge of the TV that you do. If you must use analogies, at least use ones that advance your argument.

"So when you say that my 'qualia' say less than the standard scientific explanation I emplore you to look carefully: both domains are true."

According to you, the standard scientific explanation contained qualia ("experience of colour") plus other things. I showed that your explanation contained only qualia. Does that not imply that your explanation said less?

"If you have decided, a-priori, that deducing conclusions from incomplete facts (e.g. ray 1) will give you the truth then there is precious little I can do to persude you otherwise."

Either I can establish as fact something I do not directly perceive or I can not. If I can then both rays (1 and 2) are facts. If I can not then no ray is a fact.

"You will assume that the scientific conclusion is valid (even though it patently fails to explain consciousness)."

Am I still talking to the same person who implied that they would not "push science aside, or reject its methods or findings"?

Well, I'm starting to feel trolled here. On the off chance that you are both in earnest and capable of improvement: Shorter posts are easier to check for errors. Clearly defining what (if anything) you postulate as real would save us both effort. Your opinion as to the applicability of inductive (not deductive) reasoning in science would be appreciated.

Permalink to Comment

21. everybodyknows on February 9, 2011 5:58 PM writes...

DJD

Thankyou for taking the time to give some feedback. I am not trollng you. And, yes, sorry about the post length - I will try to be briefer.

I think your last point gets to the nub of it, what do I consider real?

I say that only now is real, and by now I mean only the immediate ‘fields’ of qualia of my senses, thoughts (imagination), feelings and attention.

Each of these fields is immediately verifiable by direct observation every moment, now. No imagination of other things, other places, other times is needed.

Hence the external world beyond what I can directly observe now (e.g. the room next door, my car, wife, Australia or the moon) is not real. This is because I can not observe them now, I can only think about them (imagine them).

If we look carefully at the process of imagination inside ourself we see that it is the ability to represent objects in its own abstract space ‘inside my head’. If you bring to mind some familiar object - such as your favorite mug or the face of a loved one, and examine it carefully, you will notice that the image you is strangely vague, yet somewhat convincing. Strangely, the more you examine it the less substantial it appears. (Imagination relies on our uncritical compliance and non-observance, to work its tricks in us.) If I ask you, (in your imagination still), to look at the writing on the bottom of your mug, or to check the shape of your loved one's ear, you can't - imagination provides no new information. Only objects in one's immediate experience can provide new information. Yet unchecked imagination can make us run from imagined foes - it can be very convincing.

When imagination is reigned in by reason, as is the case in science and our common-sense mental maps of 'the world', it is acting as a predicting machine. It tries to model the repetition and recurrence of the phenomena that pass across the screen of the senses. It then imagines a 'real' external world, where there is none. Clearly my car, the room next door, or the moon have no qualia, no new information for me unless I am observing them now.

So the 'external' (imagined) world is not real, which I have said means in my immediate experience, but it exists (in my imagination) - which is useful, because it describes reasonably well the comings and goings of the qualia/objects in my immediate experience.

(I've run out of time now, which is good, because I maybe have not said too much!)

Permalink to Comment

22. djd on February 10, 2011 3:31 AM writes...

everybodyknows:

"Thankyou for taking the time to give some feedback. I am not trollng you. And, yes, sorry about the post length - I will try to be briefer."

I really need to spend less time trying to write my comments, then I will not end up making myself annoyed then acting like a jerk (the troll comment was out of line, I should have just asked for a focus on one thing at a time).

"I say that only now is real, and by now I mean only the immediate 'fields' of qualia of my senses, thoughts (imagination), feelings and attention."

I honestly wasn't expecting you to hold that position. Full marks for explaining it well, though - thanks!

"So the 'external' (imagined) world … describes reasonably well the comings and goings of the qualia/objects in my immediate experience."

Is there a reason this description-of-qualia is accurate? If so, what is it?

For example, as I type this I expect to see letters appearing, and I do. I would describe the process as mediated by external reality, i.e. that my imagined external world is analagous to an actual external world. My intention-to-act causes me to act, in external reality, which causes my subsequent perceptions. (I admit that both times I said 'causes' in the previous sentence, that only parts of the causation have been explained scientifically and critical gaps remain.)

Permalink to Comment

23. everybodyknows on February 10, 2011 3:18 PM writes...

djd

I appreciate your patience, and thank you for questioning me. It helps me examine my perceptions more closely. I trust it is serving you too.

You said "Is there a reason this description-of-qualia is accurate? If so, what is it?"

I agree that the fact that my expectations are so often met, that the objects of qualia arise in rythmic and predictable ways which allow me to formulate laws that work reasonably well does seem to require explanation, and would lead many people straight back to assuming the imagined external world is in fact real. However, even in the realm of physics we can see that suitable concepts exist to deal with such concerns.

In quantum physics there are two relevant concepts - the wave function (which is a probability wave that contains the superposition of all possible scenarios) and the collapsed wave function (which is the particular concrete result we discover upon observation). The world of physics has a hard time with these two seemingly incompatible ideas - but that is their problem not mine!

The qualia in my field of perception each moment IS the collapsed wave function - ie it is the concrete 'Oh, here are my keys' reality. Everything outside my immediate perception is a wave function. It has no concrete reality (qualia). It is only a probability wave. While my keys were apparently outside my field of perception they were purely a probability wave. Hence there was a good chance that they were still to be found where I left them, a chance that someone had picked them up or moved them, and an infinite number of other less likely possibilities. I cannot know which will 'manifest' until it does.

My point in using quantum physics concepts here is only to show that it is possible to account for the regularities and predictability of the objects of my perceptions without having to insist that the objects have a physically enduring presence independent of my perception of them. Hence the qualia behave 'as if' the external world were real and extant, when it can be seen as one huge probability field - an abstract wave function. (I think by most peoples judgement that counts as not being there when not observed doesn't it?)

However, quantum physics is itself part of imagination - an attempt to describe the apparent external world at the most fundemental level. i.e. it is just a model (funny though how well it fits the universe as I am presenting it, isnt it?)

So for me there has to be a direct perception of this 'probability wave' for it to be describing a reality rather than being pure imagination, after all it is only an explanation (of how qualia behave) not the governing reality itself. The reality, as I see it, is the direct perception of the nothing behind everything. Nothing is the 'stuff' in which qualia arise, or the screen on which they are projected. It is real (observable) and not to be confused with the mere absence of something. But I wouldn't blame you if you gave up on me at this point.


Permalink to Comment

POST A COMMENT




Remember Me?



EMAIL THIS ENTRY TO A FRIEND

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):




RELATED ENTRIES
Scripps Update
What If Drug Patents Were Written Like Software Patents?
Stem Cells: The Center of "Right to Try"
Speaking of Polyphenols. . .
Dark Biology And Small Molecules
How Polyphenols Work, Perhaps?
More On Automated Medicinal Chemistry
Scripps Merging With USC?