Consciousness & Science

#2
As somebody on You Tube said:
1:48:55 - listen to Don Hoffman speak the unbelievable truth - suck it up folks
Which is more or less what is being proposed here in The Simulation Hypothesis
Not sure whether this has been posted here before. If not I may make a separate thread on it.
 
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#3
Full Disclosure: I haven't watched the video I posted yet (busy packing for my journey home tomorrow). I do intend to watch though. These are some well informed thinkers in the field. I've been following Hoffman for years (I once wrote to him for permission to use an article he wrote on a website I used to have). Stapp is one of the big names in Quantum Physics and Consciousness.
 
#4
Bon voyage David from NZ to UK.
I expect you're familiar with these two Hoffman talks. The TED one is the shortest but both have questions at the end
On a side issue, am I right in thinking that the ID people would disagree with his statement that the human eye is very badly designed?
TED talk

Entangling Conscious Agents www.youtube.com/watch?v=6eWG7x_6Y5U
For some reason this link won't work so you'll have to Google it!
 
#5
On a side issue, am I right in thinking that the ID people would disagree with his statement that the human eye is very badly designed?
I can't speak for the ID crowd nor am I qualified to judge the merits of the design of the human eye, of course. My thoughts on ID are that selection and adaption takes place but are intelligently directed. I don't believe in a celestial designer working from a set of blueprints. It might be the case that we - the whole biosphere - constitute an experimental project. Perhaps creative avenues are explored, adaptions are allowed to mutate and mistakes are learned from. Why should ID be the product of some omnipotent super-engineer? It might even be a collaborative effort between "higher" beings and the various species busy adapting to the conditions and challenges here.

Just my tuppence-worth.
 
#6
Particularly apt for this forum. Sorry if it has been posted elsewhere:

I watched it a few weeks ago, and very much enjoyed it... it was a good memory jogger as the panellists explored their own beliefs.

But it just reminded me of the blind men and the elephant. I got the destinct impression that everybody had different focuses, and they were all pretty much in the dark about what is going on.. like everybody else... Lol.

In that sense it very much restored my sense of faith that nobody has the inside track on these sorts of questions.
 
#7
I haven't found any old thread regarding the topic I want to post something on, so I thought I'll take this one, because the name fits. I guess there have been lots of discussion concerning this point, but it is hard to find them via the search function. So here we go:

One of the things that has always kept me more in the sceptical position is the state of consciousness during coma and anesthesiology. I have until now never found any explanation how consciousness can survive death or be independent from the brain if it can be "turned off" by damage or drugs. While we are asleep we at least still have some kind of diminished awareness, but in coma? For me this is the strongest hint that the brain produces consciousness (no clue how of course) and I cannot find any valid reasoning against this point. As I experienced anesthesiology myself, I can say that I did not experience anything while being sedated. So it seems that the drugs interrupt brain circuits that are needed to produce consciousness. Likewise damage to the brain resulting in coma.

I would love if someone could point me to some kind of scientifical article strengthening the proponent position or maybe give me his or her personal opinion, reinforced by weeks and months of pondering about this topic :)
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#8
Isn't it enough to then say dreamless sleep is proof against consciousness being independent from the brain?
 
#9
I haven't found any old thread regarding the topic I want to post something on, so I thought I'll take this one, because the name fits. I guess there have been lots of discussion concerning this point, but it is hard to find them via the search function. So here we go:

One of the things that has always kept me more in the sceptical position is the state of consciousness during coma and anesthesiology. I have until now never found any explanation how consciousness can survive death or be independent from the brain if it can be "turned off" by damage or drugs. While we are asleep we at least still have some kind of diminished awareness, but in coma? For me this is the strongest hint that the brain produces consciousness (no clue how of course) and I cannot find any valid reasoning against this point. As I experienced anesthesiology myself, I can say that I did not experience anything while being sedated. So it seems that the drugs interrupt brain circuits that are needed to produce consciousness. Likewise damage to the brain resulting in coma.

I would love if someone could point me to some kind of scientifical article strengthening the proponent position or maybe give me his or her personal opinion, reinforced by weeks and months of pondering about this topic :)
I doubt you'll find many here who think the brain isn't an important part of your experiences... the problem is more subtle than that.
 
#10
Isn't it enough to then say dreamless sleep is proof against consciousness being independent from the brain?
Well, here the problem is, as science goes and as far as I know, that some say that there is no dreamless sleep, we just cannot remember them. Contrary to the state of coma, areas of the brain deemed important for dreaming are active in sleep.

Max_B said:
I doubt you'll find many here who think the brain isn't an important part of your experiences... the problem is more subtle than that.
That surely is clear and I did not say otherwise :)
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#11
Well, here the problem is, as science goes and as far as I know, that some say that there is no dreamless sleep, we just cannot remember them. Contrary to the state of coma, areas of the brain deemed important for dreaming are active in sleep.
You're saying that you reject the idea that dreamless sleep is proof mind=brain because areas of the brain are active? This seems circular to me?
 
#12
You're saying that you reject the idea that dreamless sleep is proof mind=brain because areas of the brain are active? This seems circular to me?
If there is dreamless sleep, then I do not reject the idea. But as I stated, is it sure, yet, that we only dream in REM phases? Current scientific understanding is the latter, but I read an article some time ago, that even this was no clear, yet. Cannot find it anymore, though.

My point is that if we can turn off consciousness by manipulating the brain, this is, in my eyes, a strong hint that consciousness is being produced by the brain. The strongest one I could find, yet.
 
#13
If there is dreamless sleep, then I do not reject the idea. But as I stated, is it sure, yet, that we only dream in REM phases? Current scientific understanding is the latter, but I read an article some time ago, that even this was no clear, yet. Cannot find it anymore, though.

My point is that if we can turn off consciousness by manipulating the brain, this is, in my eyes, a strong hint that consciousness is being produced by the brain. The strongest one I could find, yet.
I think you do have to be careful that you don't reach too far here, the best we can really say is that you may not have explicit recall of an experience. We can certainly show implicit memory, through indirect behavioural effects, without any explicit recall.

We can also show behavioural effects on organisms using 'external' hyper-weak magnetic fields - thousands of times weaker than the earths local magnetic field.

We can also substantially destroy the brains networks causing loss of memory, yet following robust recreation of these networks, memory does return, suggesting such severe damage merely prevents recall, not that memory is lost.

Memory is also subject to the environment, learning under one condition, but recalling under another does cause problems - a well known problem for deep sea divers.

You can look at retrograde amnesiac effects of drugs like Midazolam, where we also see a strong anterograde reinforcement of memory from the period before the drug was administered - theories abound.

You can look at 'blocking effects' in molluscs, that have so few neurons, that the idea of higher processing taking place within the brain becomes rather unattractive.

The idea that the brain is somehow involved in my experience is hardly controversial, but what is really going on remains unclear. My own view is that past brain states 'directly' interfere with present brain states. I mean directly too. I don't know how we define that using our current terminology, because it is in my brain, but not my brain from now, it's from my brain in the past.

If your brain state in the past was different, and incompatible with your normal current brain state, it might be that in some cases the reason we do not have explicit recalled experiences are because you simply lost access to memory, because it was laid down in an incompatible way, you could no longer access it.

Once we involve effects from the past, we have to start looking at similar effects over space too.
 
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#15
Sorry for the late reply, but better late than never :)

I think you do have to be careful that you don't reach too far here, the best we can really say is that you may not have explicit recall of an experience. We can certainly show implicit memory, through indirect behavioural effects, without any explicit recall.
But what does that explain? Does it not "only" explain that we can gain memories even if we are not conscious? But how does that memory differ from memories that we gained while being conscious? I would assume that we can only recall memories consciously that we have experienced while we were conscious (there surely is some kind of threshold).

We can also show behavioural effects on organisms using 'external' hyper-weak magnetic fields - thousands of times weaker than the earths local magnetic field.

We can also substantially destroy the brains networks causing loss of memory, yet following robust recreation of these networks, memory does return, suggesting such severe damage merely prevents recall, not that memory is lost.

Memory is also subject to the environment, learning under one condition, but recalling under another does cause problems - a well known problem for deep sea divers.

You can look at retrograde amnesiac effects of drugs like Midazolam, where we also see a strong anterograde reinforcement of memory from the period before the drug was administered - theories abound.

You can look at 'blocking effects' in molluscs, that have so few neurons, that the idea of higher processing taking place within the brain becomes rather unattractive.

The idea that the brain is somehow involved in my experience is hardly controversial, but what is really going on remains unclear. My own view is that past brain states 'directly' interfere with present brain states. I mean directly too. I don't know how we define that using our current terminology, because it is in my brain, but not my brain from now, it's from my brain in the past.

If your brain state in the past was different, and incompatible with your normal current brain state, it might be that in some cases the reason we do not have explicit recalled experiences are because you simply lost access to memory, because it was laid down in an incompatible way, you could no longer access it.

Once we involve effects from the past, we have to start looking at similar effects over space too.
Very interesting points and nothing to deny here. Though most of them do not really touch the question if consciousness is produced by the brain or might survive death. They all hint towards a different understanding of memory processing and recalling than we currently think, though. But maybe I am not thinking far ahead enough :)
 
#16
Arnold Mindell has done work with people in coma that appear to demonstrate some level of consciousness within the coma.

Eben Alexander has written about his subjective experience of consciousness while in a coma.
Do you have some links regarding this work of Arnold Mindell?

Concerning Eben Alexander, I followed his story, but I am very sceptical about his experience. Not only because of the controversies regarding his person, but also because it was very religious, which for me is a strong sign that the experience is bogus.
 
#17
Illusion,

One very interesting piece of evidence is the fairly well established phenomena of deathbed visions. In the case of a few people dying of severe dementia, they seem to become lucid again for a short period before death. See for example here:

http://allnurses.com/general-nursing-discussion/death-bed-visions-301825.html

This only seems to make sense if the mind does indeed separate from the brain at some point, and maybe these phenomena occur somewhere in that process. If the mind were generated by the brain, why would the brain start to function again after so much damage and at the point of death?

This obviously relates to NDE's, but there it is always possible to claim that either the brain can function even on very low blood oxygen, or that the memories are constructed after the event (except that many of them relate to details in the resuscitation process.

David
 
#18
Illusion,

One very interesting piece of evidence is the fairly well established phenomena of deathbed visions. In the case of a few people dying of severe dementia, they seem to become lucid again for a short period before death. See for example here:

http://allnurses.com/general-nursing-discussion/death-bed-visions-301825.html

This only seems to make sense if the mind does indeed separate from the brain at some point, and maybe these phenomena occur somewhere in that process. If the mind were generated by the brain, why would the brain start to function again after so much damage and at the point of death?

This obviously relates to NDE's, but there it is always possible to claim that either the brain can function even on very low blood oxygen, or that the memories are constructed after the event (except that many of them relate to details in the resuscitation process.

David
David,

During terminal lucidity, assuming the brain only filters consciousness but doesn't produce consciousness, how do you think the mind is able to express itself through the body with a damaged filter?

A materialist can make the following argument: You have to have a material explanation for how the damaged filter can work during terminal lucidity. Whatever that explanation is, it could apply equally well if the brain produced consciousness.

How would you answer that?
 
#19
David,

During terminal lucidity, assuming the brain only filters consciousness but doesn't produce consciousness, how do you think the mind is able to express itself through the body with a damaged filter?

A materialist can make the following argument: You have to have a material explanation for how the damaged filter can work during terminal lucidity. Whatever that explanation is, it could apply equally well if the brain produced consciousness.

How would you answer that?
No I don't think it could. If the brain produces consciousness and it stops doing that because it is damaged by illness, there is no reason to argue for an improvement at the very end. The change is happening because the consciousness is in the process of being freed. I know you are arguing devil's advocate, but I think the point is that the evidence is by no means as obvious as people seem to assume.

David
 
#20
David,

During terminal lucidity, assuming the brain only filters consciousness but doesn't produce consciousness, how do you think the mind is able to express itself through the body with a damaged filter?

A materialist can make the following argument: You have to have a material explanation for how the damaged filter can work during terminal lucidity. Whatever that explanation is, it could apply equally well if the brain produced consciousness.

How would you answer that?
In the case here, if the article is authentic, then there was no brain left but the man said goodbye to all his family.

http://content.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,1580392,00.html
 
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