Politics, God and Religion vs. Science

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Norton

Social climber
the Wastelands
Feb 28, 2013 - 04:43pm PT
Doctor to patient: "How would you rate your pain on a scale of one to ten?"

VERY subjective indeed, but I would guess there are lots of things, feelings, etc, that one can rightfully assign numerical values to when given a framework

I usually say a 5, based on how bad my damn back is hurting



Malemute

Ice climber
the ghost
Feb 28, 2013 - 05:05pm PT
Eventually, brain research will give us a foolproof lie detector.
That will be the end of politics, religion, wall street, and war.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Feb 28, 2013 - 05:32pm PT

One wonders how someone got the notion that a numerical value could ever be assigned to qualia or subjective experiencing itself

Doctor to patient: "How would you rate your pain on a scale of one to ten?"


I meant to say that it was suggested that a numerical value could be assigned to experience with such precision that one could later, by way of the numbers, forward engineer the original subjective experience "exactly."

This presumes that the subjective and objective are merely arbitrary terms, even though none of us actually live our lives like this.

But it's even trickier than that - by a long shot.

It remains rather easy to assign numbers to some experience to measure subjective states relative to a mean average. But if a mean average is not in place, like "normal" temperature or blood pressure, the numbers are meaningless. Jumping to the idea that the number ARE the experience, or that experience can be derived FROM the numbers, is to believe in what I call the voodoo side of scientism, like that crackpot in Europe saying he was going create a machine that could fall in love inside of 20 years - providing you fork over a cool 50 million Euros. It's a steal at twice the price.

That such people are not called out as the merest frauds and charletans amazes me. I've even seen such foolishness defended on this very list.

JL
Dr. F.

Big Wall climber
SoCal
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 28, 2013 - 05:36pm PT
Credit: Dr. F.
MH2

climber
Feb 28, 2013 - 05:45pm PT
Pain ratings are a way to tell if a person's pain is increasing, decreasing, or about the same, in the patient's opinion. Pain is what the patient tells you it is. This is a time when it is best to put your own subjective response aside and just listen to what the patient tells you. Sure, the patient may be exaggerating or even lying, but can you come up with a better way to assess another person's pain? There are other telltales, of course, like sweating, increased heart rate, dilated pupils, and such.
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Feb 28, 2013 - 06:07pm PT
I never know what to tell the doctor. What is level ten pain anyway? What one would have experienced in Saddam Hussein's torture chambers just before passing out? I can only reply in terms of my own experience. I would rate amoebic dyssentary like this, having my arm set without pain killer like that, an absessed tooth like this and my current problem about here in comparison. But do I know where on my scale level ten is ? The answer is no and I still have no idea what number to give the worst pain I've experienced.

I do think this illustrates the nature of the disconnect on quantifiables and consciousness. The medical science types are comfortable with numbers. The patients haven't got a clue but they want to make the doctor happy so they give a number, either stoically or histrionically depending on their personality and how much they want drugs. We can't call it either scientific or truly subjective, since the doctor doesn't have more than 15 minutes to deal with you, and you did just quantify a feeling, but somehow it works more or less.
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Feb 28, 2013 - 06:56pm PT
MH2: Let's suppose you could record "consciousness" in a way exactly resembling the experience. What could you then learn from that? If you could play it back would it be like The Matrix? Would it be an entertaining way to relive parts of your life?
Largo: This assumes that consciousness is a "thing," a kind of bio product that we can quantify into bits of information and in turn perform a "telecine" transfer much as they transfer film to tape. This of course requires you to assign values to aspects of consciousness like awareness that are demonstrably non-discrete.

One wonders how someone got the notion that a numerical value could ever be assigned to qualia or subjective experiencing itself. What experiences would a person have to have to think the subjective is collapsible into an objective quantity?

Did you read that link on the mice? Laying aside discussion about whether quale exist, it shows without a doubt that we can quantify "aspects of consciousness" into "bits of information" and "perform a 'telecine' transfer" of a conscious experience.

largo: To do so i believe we must first confuse brain info processing with consciousness. This allows us, in theory, to make the map the territory, behind which is the belief that the objective could "exactly" resemble the subjective (experience). Meaning objectification has no limits = scientism.

Here we do get into the qualia discussion. I'm not saying those linked experiments are recording and transmitting subjective experience (qualia), but they are definitely recording "aspects of consciousness" sufficient to provoke or induce specific subjective experience or qualia at the other end of the transmission.

largo: When we come to seemingly insuperable problems of assigning, say, a digital summation about the EXPERIENCE of getting laid which is an exact resemblance of actually getting laid...

Those experiments make it excruciatingly clear that it would be entirely possible, if not trivial, in some not-to-distance future to record someone getting laid such that anyone appropriately outfitted could in fact replay, not a "digital summation" of getting laid, but a blow-by-blow which would in turn provoke quite similar quale in the recipient - i.e. it's now possible to give someone have the subjective experience of seeing red even when they're not.

... but perhaps we can work up a digital Sheela given a rich enough data stream.

That is exactly what it means - we now can.
WBraun

climber
Feb 28, 2013 - 07:00pm PT
Did you read that link on the mice?

It was rats dude, rats.

Nothing new .... all these rats here on the internet have been doing it for years .....

:-)
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Feb 28, 2013 - 07:10pm PT
Mice, rats, people - in the case of the implications of that link the difference is pretty inconsequential, they'll all push a lever for the right reward.
MH2

climber
Feb 28, 2013 - 07:22pm PT
The medical science types are comfortable with numbers.


Not so much, really. The numbers are for charting and the managers. When asked to give a number to your pain you should just say you will let them know if it gets better or worse, or better yet ask for more or less pain meds directly. Anything you are asked should be connected to how to care for you. The staff may appear overly concerned with procedures and technology but don't let them forget the reason they are there. You.
Psilocyborg

climber
Feb 28, 2013 - 07:23pm PT
I found this article interesting and entertaining, I just thought I would randomly share it here.

https://www.dmt-nexus.me/forum/default.aspx?g=posts&t=26524

The hyperdimensional matrix is a medium of transport; not physically, but of awareness. A message to a loved one that is already across can be transcribed into a rhythmic pulse of code, and an oscillating tension is created between subject and object that drives the momentum of transport. Awareness, if not physical matter, can be carried across impossible topological void. Time and space may not be insurmountable obstacles. Rescue may be achieved.

At first, following the code trace is obvious, like foot prints in snow, but it soon becomes subtle, and before long, one follows nothing more than a flickering memory thru a blue void. The key component in the process is a willing conspirator. Snow is obvious, but it melts. Memory is so subtle, but enduring.

Such a pulse may be incorporated into any medium that may convey information. A message of complete banality can have specific meaning to the one who has been maintaining and following the exchange, and thus may be perfectly camouflaged amongst refuse data. The message is transferable to the querent via any available media, the arrangement of which is the primary clue as to the personality and nature of the symbiont. It is perfectly capable of speaking through any mode of exchange, according to its appetite. It may be as subtle or blindingly obvious as needed.

A map of hyperspace may be imagined as a series of interfolded spheres. The outermost is the largest and most ephemeral from our perspective. It is the realm of impossibility; anything within this category is ontologically null. There are a myriad of interfolded layers within, increasing in probable domain toward the center, from the hugely unlikely toward the outside, to the nearly certain textures inside. At the absolute center is the formal manifest actuality. Every particle in physically real existence is surrounded by a hyperspatial field of probability as described; permutations within the probability field may affect consensus reality.

We are as neurons in a beast of intradimensional nature. We pass attention amongst ourselves, much like the circuitry in our minds. Networks of any nature are related across scalar values. Relationship between objects is of the same fundamental stuff as relationships between neurons, or in any system. Relationship is attraction and repulsion, and is the driving engine for our little beast’s metabolism.

Genetic researcher Richard Dawkins has suggested that information structures may be selfreplicating through the behavior of language users. He suggests that discrete idea complexes may behave autonomously, seeking to propagate themselves. This virus-like model of information theory is called memetics. The symbiont appears somehow encoded within memes, much in the way our own physical blueprint is encoded within DNA.
Norton

Social climber
the Wastelands
Feb 28, 2013 - 07:39pm PT
I asked my doctor about the pain number thing.

He told me the number itself is not particularly significant because a patient has made it into the office under their own power and over the course of the appointment the doctor can judge pretty well how truly uncomfortable the patient really is.

The number is to establish a baseline over a couple of visits, a "mean" of pain reported.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Feb 28, 2013 - 08:10pm PT
Those experiments make it excruciatingly clear that it would be entirely possible, if not trivial, in some not-to-distance future to record someone getting laid such that anyone appropriately outfitted could in fact replay, not a "digital summation" of getting laid, but a blow-by-blow which would in turn provoke quite similar quale in the recipient


This misrepresentation of experience fails on various levels. First, it assumes that all subjects are equal, so if only you produced the right stimulai, every recipient would have the same "experience." Not remotely so - we can easily see why. Second, said "blow-by-blow" is and can only be another stimulus package since if it is a digital "thing," is is entirely devoid of a subject, fundamental to having a "subjective experience."

But the part that you have flubbed most handsomely is the crucial, qualatative aspect of subjective experience which the subject himself provides.

Another fact is that experience is not a thing but a process which exists only in the current moment. So unless you learn how to time travel for real, you're out of luck.

Experience is not a movie you can get in he can and replay.

JL
MH2

climber
Feb 28, 2013 - 08:40pm PT
I had a look at the brain-to-brain interface paper:

http://www.nature.com/srep/2013/130228/srep01319/full/srep01319.html


It isn't of personal interest to me so it is hard to read it carefully. Plus it makes the dubious assumption that rats have brains.

The kind of in-the-brain recording that they did is very important for people who want to use such signals to control prosthetic limbs. If recordings of brain activity can discriminate between whether a person is, for example, lifting or lowering their arm, that could be used to control a device. To make such recordings investigators plant an array of small electrodes in a region of the brain involved in arm movement. Each electrode typically picks up activity from many neurons but the separation between electrodes means that each samples a somewhat different group of neurons. In the arm example, the timing and amplitude of responses across the array of electrodes could be associated with arm movements.

You can also relate sensory information to brain activity by the same method. Put a recording electrode in the appropriate part of the brain, push on a bit of skin, and your electrode will show activity if the neurons around it connect to that patch of skin.

If you could put enough tiny recording electrodes in the brain you should be able to resolve sensory and motor activity in great detail, and, since you have an idea of what the subject perceives and does, you can correlate the brain activity to sensory stimulation or movement.

Sensory and motor neurophysiology are well studied. Following how activity gets from sensation to action is hard, though, for activity more complicated than yanking your hand back from a hot surface.


Back to the rat study. The approach they used did transfer information from one so-called brain to another. However, the rat at the receiving end may have only been aware of a different sort of tingling sensation which it learned to associate with pressing the correct bar, eventually. I could easily be wrong, but it looked to me as if the same result could be accomplished by zapping the receiving rat on the outside, on the skin, rather than in the brain, according to what the sending rat did.

An exciting result would be to transfer a maze-running task from a trained rat to a naive one. That would require new understanding. What the rat paper describes is technology, which is not to be sneered at because it can lead to new understanding.
jogill

climber
Colorado
Feb 28, 2013 - 09:15pm PT
Surprised someone hasn't mentioned the Book of Urantia with its Thought Adjusters.
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Feb 28, 2013 - 09:36pm PT
Those rat impulses were actually transmitted through a computer and the internet as the two rats involved in the brain research were in North and South America respectively. And the second rat was only able to respond properly 7 times out of 10 while random chance would have been 5 out of 10. If we were talking ESP in humans, nobody here would recognize any validity to the experiment with those numbers.
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Feb 28, 2013 - 10:09pm PT
Urantia..I remember when that book was flying around in Hilbert Space.

Neuroscience is an area of nature that is becoming very interesting now that there are measuring devices that can tie a person's experience with anatomy. This stuff isn't even remotely new. With the availability of FMRI and PET scans, anatomy is now being observed to react in actual, real time experience.

The brain is an evolved organ of great complexity. Since it is unethical to cut into a living person's head and zap or record nerves, noninvasive techniques are used. Rats are different, and I'm sure that we've all seen rat's walking around with a cap of wires coming out of their heads.

A brain surgeon can, and does, check on nerve connections by stimulating a particular nerve with a small amount of electricity. It is a part of medicine already, and is used in nerve grafts, severed nerves, and who knows what else. If we had a real neuroscientist here, I think half of this conversation would get its ass spanked, and modern neuroscience is very young.

OK. I'll come out and say it. I think that JL is full of sh#t half the time. I agree that much of experience is subjective in the way that we perceive it, but that is how the mind operates. It would take a vast amount of storage space and power for a person to remember every leaf and blade of grass that he has seen in his life.

Hilbert Space. I had to look that one up. My math and physics is limited to ten hours of physics and three calculus classes. I never heard a mention of Hilbert Space...ever...until JL started talking about it. Did you pick that one up in your carpool, JL?

John likes to say never. He is totally convinced of his version of wha wha that it has become boring to me. I don't understand how you can convince yourself that you are having direct knowledge from meditation. Is that where you heard of Hilbert Space?

Meditation has been studied objectively and has been shown, objectively, to be healthy in some ways for those who practice it. I'm not an expert in meditation, but I have heard that. Correct me if I'm wrong. In that sense, I'm all for meditation and used to bug MikeL about it in emails. I've been curious about that for ages.

I see no difference between the Zendo and Scientology, other than Zen is older. Both became popular around the same time in the U.S., according to what I've read about Scientology.

You can measure subjective experience. It is done all of the time in the soft sciences such as psychology and sociology, and the results can be quite valuable. Hell, that is how elections are won these days.

Things like happiness are very important to every one of us, but even happiness can be studied. Counselors and therapists do this every day. Call them "brain coaches."

Finally, there is very little that we can say about nature that is complete. In theory, nothing is settled. All science does is chip away at it with new ideas. I've seen my work go through several upsets over the years, and eventually the best idea wins.

OK. Here is an ism for John.

constructivism: belief that knowledge and reality do not have an objective value.

Yeah, I stole it from the cool "ism" site.

Constructivism in that sense seems to mean that you can construct whatever universe you like and sell it on the street corner. That doesn't mean that it is correct. I think that identism (doctrine that objective and subjective, or matter and mind, are identical) is closer to reality than relying on a text or ancient teaching, such as Zen.

I still haven't gotten any kind of concensus on what spirit or spiritualism are.



BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Feb 28, 2013 - 10:16pm PT
Well, he uses it like it is his left hand.

I looked it up, and it is pretty strange. Not something I would find in an undergrad math class.
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Feb 28, 2013 - 10:19pm PT
Largo: First, it assumes that all subjects are equal, so if only you produced the right stimulai, every recipient would have the same "experience." Not remotely so - we can easily see why. Second, said "blow-by-blow" is and can only be another stimulus package since if it is a digital "thing," is is entirely devoid of a subject, fundamental to having a "subjective experience."

At no point did I say anyone would interpret and respond to the data they received identically - but, hand-for-hand, lip-for-lip, penis-for-penis stimulus - definitely. And in these experiments the the rats had a visual experience of a light [in their cage] going off which is highly suggestive that one day a complete visual datastream could be transmitted. At that point the "aspects of consciousness" transmitted would be quite high. But already, the rat perceiving and experiencing the light in their cage going off when it didn't would argue against your latter point.

Largo: But the part that you have flubbed most handsomely is the crucial, qualatative aspect of subjective experience which the subject himself provides.

Actually, I flubbed nothing whatsoever and explicitly delineated the distinction between the data stream and the subjective experience it provokes at the other end of the wire. Why would you imply otherwise?
TomCochrane

Trad climber
Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay
Feb 28, 2013 - 10:21pm PT
do we invest time and resources to investigate them [unusual phenomena] or is there anything you are prepared to dismiss out-of-hand as a waste of time and resources based on what we do currently know?

Healyje, this is a very good question and rather basic to this discussion.

One of the biggest challenges for each of us is how to allocate our time and attention. And people tend to push their opinions about this onto others. My mother tried for most of my adult life to persuade me to lose interest in rock climbing. go-B (and my father) wanted us to look for all our answers in the Bible. My own interests usually seem rather random to most people, but follow a dedicated common thread in my mind...specifically an interest in awareness and intelligence.

One basic issue here is differentiating between awareness/perception vs concepts/analysis. It is one thing to observe something, and another thing entirely to assign a framework concept of understanding to it. As a wilderness wanderer and tracker I have never seen evidence of a Sasquatch. But there are lots of people who think they have, leading to a local Big Foot Museum here in the Santa Cruz Mountains. If I did see something like that, I'd immediately do a detailed track analysis to determine all sorts of factors, such as whether it was a large man in a monkey suit or a 500lb Himalayan bear or...whatever is written in the tracks. One of my good friends, owner of a management consulting firm in D.C., flew to Albuquerque to show me a UFO mother ship. Once I explained the nature and dynamics of lenticular clouds, these things were no longer unidentified ...requiring a substantial shift in her world view. It is important to not force convenient concepts onto factual observations.

Another basic issue has to do with honesty in reporting and the dissemination of false information for various discreditable reasons. Our society is verifiable controlled by a very small group of people whose chronic abuse of power includes obsessive secrecy and dishonesty and disinformation about all sorts of things. Space aliens and UFOs seem to be a favorite topic, although again I haven't seen such. Calling it all BS and ignoring all contrary evidence is a convenient socially acceptable approach. Sorting out truth is very challenging.

Some of the subjects you mention have a lot of reports of evidence that is very difficult to verify or evaluate. One of my long term friends who is a very careful and persistent researcher, has devoted her life to gathering evidence and trying to understand some of these unusual phenomena. There is clearly too much evidence to just dismiss it. I trust her to look into these matters much more than I ever will, and find her conclusions very interesting.

However a good tracker tries with great discipline to withhold judgement and conclusions until finding the track with the foot still in it.
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