Brian Cox and the idolatry of nerds

Jeroboam's Idolatry. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

A couple of weeks ago, a Twitter war broke out between Deepak Chopra, a well-known proponent of integrative medicine, and Brian Cox, a physicist and TV-star who is famous for science documentaries on UK television. The war was covered in a highly tendentious way in an article in the New Statesman. Here, however, I want to focus on what the Twitter exchange seems to reveal about the appalling state of our culture. To give you a flavor of the exchange, I want to start with specifics. Then, I will move to broader, more generalized commentary.

Specific commentary

The contentious part of the discussion seems to have started with the exchange illustrated in the figure below. Chopra’s point is philosophically sound and quite easy to understand. As Bertrand Russell stated, science can only explain one thing in terms of another thing [Russell, B. (2007). The Analysis of Matter. Nottingham: Spokesman Books]. This way, one can never scientifically explain the primary creation event, for there would be, by definition, nothing else in terms of which to explain it. For example: we can scientifically explain the human body in terms of tissues; tissues in terms of cells; cells in terms of molecules; molecules in terms of atoms; atoms in terms of subatomic particles; and subatomic particles – tentatively – in terms of an imagined Big Bang. But we cannot explain the Big Bang, or whatever else science considers the primary creation event, in terms of anything else. After all, by definition, nothing else existed. Chopra’s intent is clear: with the term ‘Big Bang’ he is actually referring to the primary creation event, whatever that may be called in today’s cosmology. In his necessarily-short Twitter message, he says ‘Big Bang’ simply because that is popularly understood to mean the primary creation event.


Yet, Cox replies to Chopra’s statement as if it had been false and naïve. That he felt the need to add an infantile hashtag is as disturbing as it is revealing but, for the sake of substance, let’s leave that silly detail aside for now. In his reply, Cox refers to the theory of eternal inflation, clearly suggesting that it offers a scientific cause for the Big bang. It’s outside the scope of this essay to elaborate on the theory, but the essential point is this: eternal inflation only offers a scientific cause for the Big Bang if we drop the notion that the Big Bang was the primary creation event; that is, if we assume that there was something else prior to the Big Bang. Indeed, eternal inflation simply pushes the primary creation event further into the past [Linde, A. D. (1986). Eternally Existing Self-Reproducing Chaotic Inflationary Universe. Physics Letters B, 175 (4), pp. 395–400]. It leaves the epistemic hole pointed out by Chopra completely intact. As such, Cox’s reply doesn’t at all refute the essence of Chopra’s message and Cox obviously knows this. Yet, he seems to have willfully chosen to use his authority to – there is no other way to say it – mislead his Twitter audience for the sake of making someone else look like a fool. What can possibly motivate such behavior from a scientist and public educator? Answers later. For now, bear with me.

Cox goes on to throw highly-specialized scientific literature at Chopra. Under different circumstances, this would be an entirely valid attempt to claim the scientific high-ground. But, in this case, Cox obviously already had the scientific high-ground to begin with, for he is the physicist in the discussion. So what is he trying to accomplish? The implicit but clear message seems to be this: because Chopra is not a physicist, he is not qualified to conclude anything from physics in order to interpret the broader aspects of reality. Only physicists, as the new priesthood of modern culture, are supposedly qualified to do that. Yet, this contradicts Cox’s own outreach efforts to explain physics to the common men and women on the streets. The whole point of that effort can only be to equip people to interpret their broader reality on the basis of physics. That Chopra does precisely this is either entirely legitimate or Cox should give up his TV-star role as science educator for the masses. One can’t have it both ways.

I am sure Cox would react to what I just said above by claiming that Chopra’s understanding of physics is simply wrong. He would claim that his reference to technical papers makes this clear. Peer-reviewed scientific papers, as such, seem to be considered by Cox as sufficient to give legitimacy to an ontological position, even if they don’t necessarily prove it. Are there, then, peer-reviewed scientific papers corroborating Chopra’s main claim that reality is not objective but, instead, entirely in consciousness? There are plenty. Here are just some, all of which have been published in the most respected scientific journals in the world:
  1. Kim, Y.-H. et al. (2000). A Delayed Choice Quantum Eraser. Physical Review Letters 84, pp. 1–5. The authors show that observation not only determines the reality observed at present, but also retroactively changes the history of what is observed accordingly. This is entirely consistent with the notion that reality is fundamentally a story playing itself out in mind.
  2. Gröblacher , S. et al. (2007). An experimental test of non-local realism. Nature 446, pp. 871-875. The authors show that reality is either entirely in consciousness or we must abandon our strongest intuitions about what objectivity means. As far as the practical applications of Chopra’s claims are concerned, the differences between these two alternatives are not so significant. Physicsworld.com, in a related article, went as far as to claim that ‘quantum physics says goodbye to reality.’
  3. Lapkiewicz, R. et al. (2011). Experimental non-classicality of an indivisible quantum system. Nature 474, pp. 490–493. The authors show that, unlike what one would expect if reality were independent of mind, the properties of a quantum system do not exist prior to observation. Renowned physicist Anton Zeilinger, in a related New Scientist article suitably titled “Quantum magic trick shows reality is what you make it,” is quoted as saying that “there is no sense in assuming that what we do not measure about a system has [an independent] reality.”
  4. Xiao-song Ma et al. (2013). Quantum erasure with causally disconnected choice. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 110, pp. 1221-1226. Again, the authors show that no naively objective view of reality can be true, which is consistent with Chopra’s claim that reality is fundamentally subjective. A less-technical explanation of the experiment in this paper, as well as its results, can be found here.
  5. A bunch of others, too numerous to comment on individually:
    Aspect, A. et al. (1981). Experimental Tests of Realistic Local Theories via Bell’s Theorem. Physical Review Letters 47(460).
    Aspect, A. et al. (1982). Experimental Realization of Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen-Bohm Gedankenexperiment: A New Violation of Bell’s Inequalities. Physical Review Letters 49(91).
    Aspect, A. et al. (1982). Experimental Test of Bell’s Inequalities Using Time-Varying Analyzers. Physical Review Letters 49(1804).
    Tittel, W. et al. (1998). Violation of Bell Inequalities by Photons More Than 10 km Apart. Physical Review Letters 81(17).
    Weihs, G. et al. (1998). Violation of Bell’s Inequality under Strict Einstein Locality Conditions. Physical Review Letters 81(23).
    Etc.
So where does this leave us? The conclusion is inescapable: according to Cox’s own values, Chopra’s key message that reality is in consciousness cannot be cavalierly dismissed as New Age woo or nonsense. Rigorous science lends more than merely suggestive support to it. What motivates Cox’s behavior then? Answers shortly. For now, I want to beat this dead horse a little more.

As Carl Jung put it, consciousness – that is, subjective experience itself – is the only carrier of reality anyone can ever know. The very act of knowing is an act of consciousness. Can you know what you aren’t, have never been, and will never be, conscious of? Materialist scientists like Cox infer a fundamentally unknowable, unprovable and abstract universe outside consciousness because they believe that this is the only way to explain empirical reality. If reality is fundamentally subjective, like a dream, how do we then explain the fact that we all seem to share the same reality – that is, the same ‘dream’? How do we explain the undeniable correlations between brain activity and subjective experience? How do we explain the effect of psychotropic drugs or physical trauma to the head, both of which undeniably and reliably alter consciousness? How do we explain the undeniable fact that the laws of physics are utterly independent from our egoic volition? After all, if you jump off of a building you will fall, whether you change your mind about it during the fall or not. How do we explain the fact that the world goes merrily on while we sleep in apparent unconsciousness? Etc.

These are all valid questions. The thing, however, is that they have been answered. The latest, most contemporary set of answers to these questions is in my own book, Why Materialism Is Baloney, where I take pains in 250 pages to tackle each of these points logically, rigorously, and with plenty of empirical substantiation. But I haven’t been the first one to do this. Already in the early 18th century philosopher George Berkeley did it. To this day, he remains a respected figure in philosophy. It’s true that many non-philosophers are put off by Berkeley’s use of the concept of ‘God’ in his argument, which was an entirely legitimate move in his own time. However, as I elaborate upon in the video below, we can very clearly and logically articulate and defend the notion that all reality is in consciousness – a notion called ‘Idealism’ in philosophy – without using the concept of a deity.


Now, the moment we can show that Idealism has enough explanatory power to make sense of all reality, including scientific observations, it must be accepted as the preferred, default ontology. The reason is as simple as it is irrefutable: consciousness is the primary datum of existence; it is the one undeniable element of reality and necessary precondition for all knowledge. If one can explain everything without postulating anything beyond consciousness itself, parsimony comes into play and we must refrain from multiplying hypotheses unnecessarily. Postulating a universe outside consciousness when reality can be explained entirely as complex excitations of consciousness is akin to believing in the Flying Spaghetti Monster. And if Brian Cox thinks that I am deluded in claiming this, I herewith challenge him to debate me publicly on the matter. Since he is gutsy enough to call Deepak Chopra a “whining teenager” while referring to himself as a “rational grown-up,” he should have no problem accepting this challenge and proving to the world that I am a fool.

The apparent counter-intuitiveness of Idealism is merely a reflection of deeply-ingrained, hardly-conscious prejudices embedded in our culture. Often, as I illustrate in the video below, materialists beg the question when disputing Idealism. In other words, they assume materialism in their argument to defend it, which is obviously a fallacy.


Our culture, somehow, has come to completely invert the situation: when we say that all reality is in consciousness, most people believe it to mean that reality is inside our heads. In fact, it is materialism that says that the reality we experience is entirely inside our skulls, since experience is supposedly generated by our brains. If, instead, reality is in consciousness, then our heads are in consciousness – not the other way around – and the world we experience around us is, indeed, outside our heads. Idealism, in other words, grants reality to be exactly what it seems to be. But our culture, somehow, has come to attribute to materialism the intuitiveness of Idealism, while attributing to Idealism the absurd implications of materialism. See the video below.


General commentary

It is this inversion that allows Brian Cox, and others in science, to get away with the dangerous combination of narrow-mindedness and hubris that he displayed in his exchange with Chopra. As I discussed in an earlier essay, science-as-you-know-it has come to deface reason by uncritically co-opting the metaphysics of materialism. By turning itself into a church of materialism, science-as-you-know-it no longer represents an unbiased and ontologically neutral method of investigation. And because our culture mistakenly takes technological success to be evidence for a deep understanding of the nature of reality, we are all guilty, at least by omission, of allowing the new priesthood of science to appoint themselves arbiters of ontological truth. This is as insane as appointing a 5-year-old kid, who happens to break records playing computer games, chief architect at Apple Inc. because the kid’s game-playing prowess must imply deep understanding of computer engineering. Or must it not? The fact that one has figured out, through trial and error, how to play the game of technology does not imply any deep understanding of the nature of reality.

Because of our growing cynicism as a culture, long ago has wisdom been abandoned by our value systems. We have given up on the idea of elders: those who, irrespective of formal education, are firmly in touch with the full spectrum of their humanity and its intimate connection to the universe at large. We have given up on our poets, artists, healers and philosophers as guides. But the archetypal human need to receive guidance and reassurance from an external source remains intact. We naturally need to place our projections of wisdom and superior knowledge onto something or someone else. The gap left had to be filled. And in our technology-obsessed culture, we tragically filled the gap with the spokespeople of science. Having done so, we now find ourselves in the insane position of expecting wisdom and guidance from – pardon my blatant sincerity – semi-conscious nerds; intellectual specialists who can solve abstract mathematical puzzles but are largely disconnected from life and the depths of their own psyche. No teenager would make this silly mistake among his or her own circle of friends, as a visit to any schoolyard will show you. Yet we, as a culture, do it all the time.

Why do we behave like this? What are we getting from this insane projection of wisdom onto some of the least sighted amongst us? A cogent analysis of none other than Brian Cox himself, by James Sheils, helps shed some light on the question. Sheils argues that “Cox’s science documentaries stupefy the public into remembering disconnected and obscure ideas they do not understand.” Yet, the public is fascinated by these documentaries because the obscure mysteries they hint at instigate a misplaced sense of amazement and awe. This “amazement and awe,” Sheils continues, “do not advance a person’s understanding of scientific ideas. And to settle for this response is to encourage your audience to be satisfied with feeling bewildered and overwhelmed.”

Shiels is on to something here. Our progressive abandonment of our relationship with the mysteries of transcendence since the Enlightenment has left a gaping hole in the human psyche. Our culture is desperate to get intellectual permission to believe something else instead, to peek into some new and obscure mystery, so long as it inspires the same amazement and awe previously reserved for transcendence. The new priesthood of science sensed an opportunity and rushed to fill the gap not with real science, but with the science fiction of parallel universes and the like that Brian Cox is so fond of. Cox, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Stephen Hawking, Laurence Krauss, Richard Dawkins: scientists or TV stars? Men of wisdom or priests of misplaced wonder? Here is Brian Cox – whose lectures discuss “obscure quantum mechanical assumptions used to introduce counter-intuitive effects and explain obscure astronomy,” to quote Shiels again – arrogantly blasting Deepak Chopra because of the latter’s obscure appeal to quantum mechanics. How ironic. And here is Neil deGrasse Tyson preposterously suggesting that science has rendered philosophy redundant, a position whose absurdity and danger has been made painfully clear by Prof. Austin Hughes. And they all get away with it! What’s going on?

Conclusions

It is we, as a culture, who project onto figures like Brian Cox maturity, authority and wisdom they’ve never had. And, as any psychologist will tell you, those who receive such projections begin to believe them themselves, in a process sometimes called inflation (no pun intended). They then take their preferred methods, values and particular way of thinking to be the only valid ones, snubbing all others. As a consequence, true intuition, imagination and direct experiential knowledge are disregarded today in favor of purely conceptual exercises in abstraction. Our projections have given semi-conscious nerds the power to impose their idiosyncratic values and dominant psychic functions onto the rest of us. This has been costing more to our culture than we can imagine today, but will realize one day with jaw-dropping horror.

All this said, we can also withdraw our projections and change this tragic state of affairs rather quickly. In doing so, we need not give in to woo, hysteria, intellectual nonsense, or any such drivel. We only need to learn and separate style from substance, personal taste from content, argument from conclusion. Personally, I also have distaste for New Age jargon and style. I’ve always had it and never made a secret of it. I also think that a lot of the New Age ideas and theories are complete and utter bunk; even dangerous bunk. You will find in me no sympathy for lack of intellectual rigor or lack of skepticism; much to the contrary. But my idiosyncratic taste and preferences are no basis for dismissing Chopra’s claim that reality is in consciousness, because that simply is the best explanation around. My idiosyncratic taste and preferences are no basis for dismissing Chopra’s claim that our psychic state is directly related to our physical health because, as I articulated in an earlier essay, that is also quite likely and reasonable. He was saying these things before I ever had the maturity to even contemplate them as possibilities, so I can only respect him despite any difference in style or values. The fact that Chopra may have never articulated his positions with the degree of thoroughness and rigor that I personally require does not mean that he is wrong. By pre-judging the claim based largely on his distaste of the claimant’s style and way of communicating, Cox is committing an ad hominen fallacy whose cost is enormous: he is desensitizing his large audience to hypotheses about the nature of reality that aren’t only very likely to be true, but also essential to our physical, psychological, and spiritual advancement as a civilization.

Finally, if Brian Cox thinks I am foolish or in any way wrong, the least he can do is to accept my challenge for a public debate. Please wipe the floor with me, Brian, if you can. Or, to paraphrase your comment to Chopra, just “shut up.”

Comments

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. With you all the way until you mentioned fracking. If you're genuinely interested in reducing anthropogenic CO2 output, fracking is the way to go. That said, it's a topic for some other venue and I wouldn't have mentioned it if you hadn't first.

      Delete
    2. Um. So burning fracked oil and fracking it will reduce CO2 output?

      Delete
  2. you guys are so far away from the actual topic that you don't even know it. What physics has to do with the the wisdom of living a life.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I would dearly love to see you debate Brian Cox; his nonsense has often wound me up. I don't use Twitter: do you intend issuing the challenge that way? If there's any way I can contribute to making this happen, do please let me know: and I daresay others would be interested too, whether that involved use of social media or donations or whatever.

    It's quite possible he won't have the cojones to take you on, but I'm an eternal optimist: there's probably a way to make it happen. I'll post something at Skeptiko to make them aware of your challenge. Maybe Alex could help with another podcast on the topic? If you can get some momentum to develop, you never know.

    ReplyDelete
  4. One of the links claims this which leaves me pretty agnostic for the whole QM business:

    "Our work disproves the view that a quantum system might, at a certain point in time, appear definitely as a wave or definitely as a particle. This would require communication faster than light – which is dramatically at odds with Einstein's theory of relativity. And so, I think that this view needs to be abandoned completely. In a certain sense, quantum events are independent from space and time", says Anton Zeilinger.

    Quote source: http://phys.org/news/2013-01-non-causal-quantum-eraser.html

    This is why I am agnostic of Quantum Mechanics in general. There are studies who contradict each other in QM. There are people like Cox who claim this and other claim that. I think no one really knows what QM is about including the author of this post. So jumping to conclusions that there is some consciousness involved is laughable and far stretched. If consciousness is involved in some acts of QM then the universe must be full of life itself because QM acts happen all the time around the whole universe. There must be consciousness everywhere and on every planet where some QM action is taking place. I will wait and see what will turn this whole QM thing out because as always in human history, people find new things and disprove the first like we had first Newton physics and now we have QM physics. I am waiting what will be here in 50 years so I am not jumping to conclusions here but some people already are from reading this article. The only thing which can be said for certain is that NO one really knows what QM is about and many things are contradicting themselves there even in QM theories.

    However when the author is right I am waiting that I will control my Quantum Mechanics computer with my thoughts and I would not need no special thing to achieve this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe nobody understands QM fully, which then includes Brian Cox. Either way, the point is that there are serious studies and results on Chopra's side of the issue. That's a fact. If you discard these studies on the basis of your naive comments, you would have to discard _all_ QM studies, which no physicist will ever do since QM is the most successful scientific theory ever. So Chopra's "Cosmic Consciousness," no matter how distasteful the name, cannot be dismissed as self-evident nonsense. I thought this point was clear in the article.

      The point of Idealism is not that consciousness is "involved" in creating a reality outside consciousness, but that all natural phenomena play out _in_ consciousness.

      Also, when we say that all reality is IN consciousness it means that life itself is in consciousness, NOT consciousness in life. Therefore, you misunderstand the point completely when you implicitly suggest that there must be life on every planet for the planet to exist. Planets can exist fine without life, and still be in consciousness, since only through consciousness do we know about the existence of any planet or anything at all. You should watch my video on the top-10 materialist fallacies, because you're victim of a few of them.

      Finally, suggesting that if reality is in consciousness we should be able to control it with our thoughts is a silly misunderstanding of the issue. You are mixing up consciousness with volition. Something can be in consciousness without being under the control of egoic volition, otherwise nobody would ever have a nightmare, involuntary visions or schizophrenic hallucinations.

      Delete
    2. You cannot control quantum computer with your thoughts, because a cosmic consciousness controls your mind. The author's community claims that everything in this is universe "is" because it is deliberately created and controlled by a cosmic consciousness. Why and how? Why do you ask? Is this not enough that the they declared it is? and who is this stupid scientist to challenge them? What authority does he have? Did cosmic consciousness gave him that authority? All these scientists are ignorant because they try to rely on facts. Why rely on scientific facts when you can just create your own to fit any hypothesis you have? I think some philosophers are giving a bad name to the community because they challenge science. Throughout the human history structured religions had that role.
      Philosophy was never supposed to be about science. If a philosopher suddenly gets the urge to deal with fundamental facts of the universe, he can not choose to reject the science, and thus the scientists who provided them that knowledge in the first place. Just because you cannot understand something, does not mean it cannot be true. Science does not deal in emotions and philosophy does not deal with physical nature of the universe. A Philosophical hypothesis by its very nature cannot be proven wrong unless it contradicts science, because scientific facts are not a collection of random thoughts.

      Delete
    3. Philosophers challenge science when science does philosophy. Materialism is a metaphysics -- a philosophy -- not an ontologically-neutral model of the patterns and regularities of nature. More on this here:
      http://www.newdawnmagazine.com/articles/the-fairytale-of-materialism-how-fundamentalists-hijacked-science
      The rest of your commentary plainly displays your inability to argue with me on substance, or counter what I said in the article. Throwing a little tantrum may even be acceptable, but doesn't count as argument. Moreover, even a brief glance at the body of my work will show that discussing the "what's" and "how's" is precisely what I do. But, of course, you aren't interested in facts and arguments, just in expressing old, tired, and silly prejudices.

      Delete
    4. Really Bernando? It is interesting that you mock physicists in your own article but quote them to support you position? Is this not odd?

      Your quote: Only physicists, as the new priesthood of modern culture, are supposedly qualified to do that.

      Also I am interested in the facts but you are not even Anton Zeilinger according to this interview does not precisely claims that Quantum Mechanics is full of strange things and is NOT for the New Age world view:

      I maintain: it is so random that not even God knows the answer.

      Uncertainty, coincidence, spooky effects – doesn't it make you dizzy sometimes?

      It's all pretty crazy. The spooky effect at a distance is a process outside time and space that even I can't really imagine. But I believe that quantum physics tells us something very profound about the world. And that is that the world is not the way it is independently of us. That the characteristics of the world are to a certain extent dependent on us.

      Zeilinger denies New Age thinking in QM:

      That almost has a New Age ring.

      You have to be careful not to be cubby-holed. I mean it's like this: an experimenter can determine through his choice of measuring equipment which physical size becomes reality. Take a particle with an uncertain location and an uncertain velocity. When you look at it through a microscope and locate it, the particle gives you an answer: "Here I am." That means, the location becomes reality at that moment. Beforehand, the particle had no location at all. With the choice of the measuring equipment we've had a major impact on reality. But the answer that nature gives is completely random.

      Quote: http://www.signandsight.com/features/614.html

      Also Zeilinger was not completely right particles cannot go faster then light it is even on the wikipedia I am countering his argument from one of your links - http://phys.org/news/2013-01-non-causal-quantum-eraser.html:

      The uncertainty principle implies that individual photons may travel for short distances at speeds somewhat faster (or slower) than c, even in a vacuum; this possibility must be taken into account when enumerating Feynman diagrams for a particle interaction.[27] However, it was shown in 2011 that a single photon may not travel faster than c.[28]

      Quote: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faster-than-light#Quantum_mechanics


      I know you claim you are not for New Age in the article but you are defending a New Age guru is strange.

      "The rest of your commentary plainly displays your inability to argue with me on substance, or counter what I said in the article. "

      Really? You claim with certainty that everything can be like you claim this is false from the beginning because we do not know where science can bring us in the future. Quantum Mechanics are NOT mastered to 100 percent and to claim that there is consciousness involved is false because the judge is still out and not settled. Quantum Mechanics is still very opened and researched and there are papers who contradict the motion that consciousness is involved if you like it or not.

      "Moreover, even a brief glance at the body of my work will show that discussing the "what's" and "how's" is precisely what I do. But, of course, you aren't interested in facts and arguments, just in expressing old, tired, and silly prejudices."

      Argument from authority. I do not care what you do. Second you are not also a physicist if you want to play out the argument from authority card. You work in Computer Engineering.

      Also why should I again read a article which attacks everything from you because you do not agree with it?: http://www.newdawnmagazine.com/articles/the-fairytale-of-materialism-how-fundamentalists-hijacked-science

      So again if this is all you have I still remain on the agnostic side of Quantum Mechanics because your arguments did not persuaded me.

      Delete
    5. Not sure how to react. You seem to attribute to me all kinds of claims that I haven't made. I didn't claim QM was fully understood. I didn't claim that QM _proves_ that Idealism is correct. I didn't claim that QM supports New Age in general. I didn't claim that QM is final. I didn't claim that I am a physicist. Nor did I claim that you were wrong by remaining agnostic; in fact, I think it's a wise choice to remain agnostic.
      My claims were quite precise, for at least I tend to choose words carefully. My claims include:
      -- Brian Cox is not agnostic about QM. He thinks QM does NOT provide any support to Idealism.
      -- Because of this, Brian Cox is wrong. He should, at least, have remained somewhat agnostic like you or Zeilinger. Instead, he chose an adolescent hashtag.
      -- There is more than just suggestive support from certain QM experiments to the idea that reality is entirely in consciousness, and in consciousness alone. In technical terms, physicists say this when they claim that many 'realist theories' have been invalidated by recent QM experiments. Only a small class of non-local hidden variables realist theories may still be viable, hypothetically, but even those would entail that objectivity is very unlike what we ordinarily intuit it to be.
      -- Brian Cox is wrong for not acknowledging, or understanding, the above.
      -- The popularity of Brian Cox reflects a general psychological problem with our culture today, which I elaborate on in the article.
      That's it. I take responsibility for what I wrote in the article, not for whatever else you or anyone may attribute to be from prejudice, ignorance of my work, or by association. I ask you to remain agnostic also of me, insofar as things I haven't said.

      Delete
    6. "Maybe nobody understands QM fully, which then includes Brian Cox. Either way, the point is that there are serious studies and results on Chopra's side of the issue. That's a fact. If you discard these studies on the basis of your naive comments, you would have to discard _all_ QM studies, which no physicist will ever do since QM is the most successful scientific theory ever. "

      Quantum Mechanics is the most successful theory ever??? What? A theory that only a few chosen ones understand and is NOT completely understood is the best theory ever? Wow I am speechless.

      I do not ignore the studies which were done on the double slit experiment. I am only claiming that NO one knows anything for sure in QM and jumping to conclusions is wrong and this is what you have done along with Cox and Chopra in my opinion.

      "So Chopra's "Cosmic Consciousness," no matter how distasteful the name, cannot be dismissed as self-evident nonsense. I thought this point was clear in the article."

      Why it cannot be dismissed as nonsense? Does he have any evidence besides the double slit experiment which has many interpretations?

      "The point of Idealism is not that consciousness is "involved" in creating a reality outside consciousness, but that all natural phenomena play out _in_ consciousness."

      I know what is the point of idealism. I do not want to discuss it here. It would take too much time and not worth it.

      "Also, when we say that all reality is IN consciousness it means that life itself is in consciousness, NOT consciousness in life. Therefore, you misunderstand the point completely when you implicitly suggest that there must be life on every planet for the planet to exist. Planets can exist fine without life, and still be in consciousness, since only through consciousness do we know about the existence of any planet or anything at all. You should watch my video on the top-10 materialist fallacies, because you're victim of a few of them."

      Your video was debunked by skeptics and other people. I found your video not very convincing either.

      "Finally, suggesting that if reality is in consciousness we should be able to control it with our thoughts is a silly misunderstanding of the issue. You are mixing up consciousness with volition. Something can be in consciousness without being under the control of egoic volition, otherwise nobody would ever have a nightmare, involuntary visions or schizophrenic hallucinations."

      This is from your video and its wrong. There are many reasons why. However I do not want to discuss it here.

      Note: I am not the Annonymous poster who posted this: AnonymousSaturday, July 12, 2014 9:40:00 AM.

      Also I posted this: AnonymousSaturday, July 12, 2014 10:44:00 AM

      Thanks for the reply and your time reading this.

      Delete
    7. By the way, I am not sure I'm replying to one or two people here. I thought at first that two different 'Anonymous' replied in this thread. Maybe one of them is taking my comments to the other as a reaction to himself. Please consider the entire thread to check this.

      Delete
    8. Yes, QM is the most successful theory ever created. You can do a google search on "Quantum Mechanics Most Successful Theory" and see what happens. Here is one example:
      http://www.siue.edu/~evailat/pdf/qm-intro.pdf
      I am not jumping to conclusions. My article was clear in its choice of words. I said that certain reliable experiments lend support to the notion that reality may be solely mental. If anything, it is Brian Cox who is jumping to conclusions by claiming categorically that QM lends NO support whatever to Idealism.
      Your insistence is asking me why Idealism cannot be dismissed as nonsense is tiring and repetitive, since it is the argument I make in the article.
      To claim that my video was 'debunked' is a gratuitous and childish thing to claim. Where was it debunked? By whom? :-) The entire record of my discussion with the 'skeptics' you refer to is publicly available right under the video.
      You wrote: "This is from your video and its wrong. There are many reasons why. However I do not want to discuss it here."
      Well, I guess this sums it up, huh?
      Thanks for commenting.

      Delete
    9. "-- Brian Cox is not agnostic about QM. He thinks QM does NOT provide any support to Idealism."

      That is true. I agree. Cox is a materialist.

      Again thanks for reading this and your time.

      "Because of this, Brian Cox is wrong. He should, at least, have remained somewhat agnostic like you or Zeilinger. Instead, he chose an adolescent hashtag."

      Hard to tell if he is wrong or not. He is protecting his side and he is on the side of evidence which points out that consciousness is not involved the universe. You must admit also that there is evidence which points out that the double slit experiment or non-locality can be explained in a materialistic point of view without the need of a observer.

      "-- There is more than just suggestive support from certain QM experiments to the idea that reality is entirely in consciousness, and in consciousness alone. In technical terms, physicists say this when they claim that many 'realist theories' have been invalidated by recent QM experiments. Only a small class of non-local hidden variables realist theories may still be viable, hypothetically, but even those would entail that objectivity is very unlike what we ordinarily intuit it to be."

      Yes to some extend there are - non-locality and double slit experiment but just to claim on these that reality is entirely in consciousness is very far stretched. There is also evidence that consciousness is brain based and is nothing more then just produced by the brain and nothing more so when the brain dies consciousness dies. Therefore consciousness has no god like position.

      Also the first explanation must not be the correct one, the more we learn the more this can change and mostly it happens that way in science and in human history and the more our technology evolves.

      I am still looking forward how Quantum Computers will be dealt with and other things in Quantum Mechanics because so far we are just scratching the surface of it.

      "-- Brian Cox is wrong for not acknowledging, or understanding, the above."

      Maybe he does understand more then I do or you do or maybe not. I also would like to know how he would tackle the issue but for me Quantum Mechanics is still on the agnostic side until Quantum Mechanics will no longer be so mysterious for the general public and there are some scientists who try to do this. He can also look it from a other perspective then just Quantum Mechanics.

      "-- The popularity of Brian Cox reflects a general psychological problem with our culture today, which I elaborate on in the article."

      The same can be said about Chopra who has the same followers as Cox. Sometimes it is not about truth but about the personality cult.

      Delete
    10. Reply to this post Saturday, July 12, 2014 11:14:00 AM.

      “Yes, QM is the most successful theory ever created. You can do a google search on "Quantum Mechanics Most Successful Theory" and see what happens. Here is one example:
      http://www.siue.edu/~evailat/pdf/qm-intro.pdf”

      Yeah there are many theories like this and? We still do not have all the ends tied up and many things do not understand it. Even the experiments you proposed as evidence for Idealism are not so clear and are contradicting themselves. This is my point. I can find other theories which claim the same. Like in this article:

      Quantum mechanics must be one of the most successful theories in science.

      Quote: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20130124-will-we-ever-get-quantum-theory

      Also this shows how QM is hard:

      Yet the weird thing is that no one actually understands quantum theory. The quote popularly attributed to physicist Richard Feynman is probably apocryphal, but still true: if you think you understand quantum mechanics, then you don’t. That point was proved by a poll among 33 leading thinkers at a conference in Austria in 2011. This group of physicists, mathematicians and philosophers was given 16 multiple-choice questions about the meaning of the theory, and their answers displayed little consensus.

      Quote: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20130124-will-we-ever-get-quantum-theory


      “I am not jumping to conclusions. My article was clear in its choice of words. I said that certain reliable experiments lend support to the notion that reality may be solely mental. If anything, it is Brian Cox who is jumping to conclusions by claiming categorically that QM lends NO support whatever to Idealism.
      Your insistence is asking me why Idealism cannot be dismissed as nonsense is tiring and repetitive, since it is the argument I make in the article.”

      However you are attacking physicists. Another problem is that maybe Brain Cox is claiming that because NO ONE truly understand QM and everything can be in QM and it even is. People use QM as a place holder for spirits, god or gods and anything. This is a fact. There are at least three theories of Quantum Mind from Penrose, Stapp to Pribram who even contradict each other at least from reading about the theory of Penrose and Strapp.

      “To claim that my video was 'debunked' is a gratuitous and childish thing to claim. Where was it debunked? By whom? :-) The entire record of my discussion with the 'skeptics' you refer to is publicly available right under the video.”

      Here: http://www.skepticforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=23635

      “You wrote: "This is from your video and its wrong. There are many reasons why. However I do not want to discuss it here."
      Well, I guess this sums it up, huh?”

      Why? When this comments about the article above and not the video. You wrote about the video on a different post.

      “Thanks for commenting.”

      Likewise.

      Delete
    11. Hi Anonymous;

      Can you point me to specific evidence showing that "consciousness is not involved [in] the universe?" I'd like to see a specific experiment.

      While you're at it, please tell me of one scientific experiment which has the capacity to actually detect consciousness (and if you can't, of course that would prove the previous statement to be groundless).

      I've asked materialists this before, and they often point me to brain scans and similar experiments. But a brain scan does not detect consciousness. It doesn't actually "detect" anything, but I'll let that slide for now. If you want to use the word 'detect" (which implies sentience, but again, let that go), a brain scan detects objective activity in the brain, which we (because we are conscious) believe is associated with our subjective experience.

      So that wouldn't count.

      Again, i'd like to hear of a scientific experiment that can DIRECTLY detect consciousness. I'm not aware of any, but then, perhaps I (and Alan Wallace, who has for the past 2 decades asked world-class neuroscientists for an example and so far none have come up with one) am simply not aware of it.

      I am eagerly looking forward to being wrong.

      Delete
    12. Happy to oblige Don.

      Here you have a experiment where they have turn down consciousness:

      http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22329762.700-consciousness-onoff-switch-discovered-deep-in-brain.html?full=true#.U7k-XfldV8H

      It is the first study of its kind.

      Also can you show me a experiment besides Quantum Mechanics where consciousness is involved in the universe and can change something??

      I can show you that consciousness is NOT involved in the universe in people who have Alzheimer, Dementia or other problems. Just spend some days with them like my friend did. You will see how this will end up.

      Delete
    13. Anonymous, you're going in circles and not arguing anything of substance. Great discovery about turning off consciousness: I do it every night. Except that I don't: I just change the state of my consciousness and later cannot recall long periods of that altered state. Lack of memory of consciousness is not the same as lack of consciousness. Similarly, disorganized or limited consciousness is not the same as lack of consciousness. The rest of your points aren't really coherent, so I will refrain from continuing the discussion.

      Delete
    14. Anonymous, in 1973 Swami Rama did an experiment at the Menninger foundation demonstrating awareness in deep sleep (his brain was producing delta waves). There have been thousands of experiments (much of the transcendental meditation research literature has bad methodology but some studies are good; but there are many others besides the transcendental meditation research) since then showing pure consciousness (awareness in deep sleep).

      The "turning off" and alzheimer's "consciousness' you're talking about is waking consciousness. And in fact, even that research has nothing to do with experienced consciousness. It has to do with changes in the brain.

      Again, you haven't answered my question. What experiment actually DETECTS subjective awareness? There are none, but you have to think about it before reacting and just typing a few keys and flying off with a response. Alan wallace is not an idiot, and the world class neuroscientists he spoke with, who agree with him that with current methodology, it is impossible to actually detect subjectivity, are not idiots. You're deliberate ignoring of them implies that you think that people like Ramachandran, who agrees with Wallace, is an idiot and can't think as clearly as you can.

      Perhaps you know more than most scientists, but I think you have to demonstrate some logical reasoning before just making a blanket assertion.

      So again, can you even conceive of an experiment - perhaps one that has never been done - that can detect experience?

      Delete
    15. Wrong Bernardo. Read the article please it was not about sleep or anything the authors were very precise about it:

      "To confirm that they were affecting the woman's consciousness rather than just her ability to speak or move, the team asked her to repeat the word "house" or snap her fingers before the stimulation began. If the stimulation was disrupting a brain region responsible for movement or language she would have stopped moving or talking almost immediately. Instead, she gradually spoke more quietly or moved less and less until she drifted into unconsciousness. Since there was no sign of epileptic brain activity during or after the stimulation, the team is sure that it wasn't a side effect of a seizure.

      Koubeissi thinks that the results do indeed suggest that the claustrum plays a vital role in triggering conscious experience. "I would liken it to a car," he says. "A car on the road has many parts that facilitate its movement – the gas, the transmission, the engine – but there's only one spot where you turn the key and it all switches on and works together. So while consciousness is a complicated process created via many structures and networks – we may have found the key.""

      Quote: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22329762.700-consciousness-onoff-switch-discovered-deep-in-brain.html?full=true#.U7k-XfldV8H

      What you wrote is just a excuse to hang on on your believes.

      Also I would be more interested if a person with dementia or schizophrenia would be able to do the double slit experiment. Why not test it with people who have damaged consciousness or the Grey Parrot who according to the Cambridge Declaration has consciousness.

      Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_consciousness#Cambridge_Declaration_on_Consciousness

      However if you want to play this way Bernardo. I think I also pass the opportunity to discuss this more. Why for? You already made up your minds here and will believe no matter what..

      However I thank you all for the replies and your time reading this.

      Delete
  5. If you think I am a fool and this article is foolish, please write to Brian Cox and ask him to debate me publicly so he can prove my foolishness to the world.
    http://www.manchester.ac.uk/research/brian.cox/personaldetails

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. By the way Bernardo, I have no illusions about anonymous - I know he's not going to actually respond in a rational manner. But I find talking with such people has a two fold benefit - one, most important for me personally, it teaches me to watch my reactivity and attempt to respond with equanimity (I think i started to lose it with the last response) and I almost always learn some new bizarre trick they use to avoid dealing with the issue in a reasonable way. I find often it helps me in later conversations with more rational people.

      Well, we'll see if anonymous proves me wrong, and actually reflects before hitting "Publish". I doubt it, but you never know - miracles can happen (oops, sorry anonymous, I guess there are no miracles, forgot:>)))

      Delete
    2. Don, anonymous is young and just gets a kick from arguing and getting responses. Try reading his comments again with this in mind. It will become clear.

      Delete
  6. Hi Bernardo, I very much appreciate your article and clear vision. I hope you keep doing what you do so well- busting the illusions of materialist TV stars and continuing to move humanity forward.

    Also, I would truly love to see you debate Cox at Chopra's Sages and Scientists Symposium in August. Deepak has already invited Cox I think, so why not make it a special meeting between the two of you or maybe a panel, or both. I'm sure it is possible and would be a good thing for all, a way to further our collective understanding. What do you think?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If Cox goes and accepts to debate me directly, I will find a way to go! I'm also happy to go to England and debate him somewhere there. Of even via Internet, in writing, audio, and/or video. Heck, I'll debate him anywhere I can go.
      Thanks for your kind words and encouragement, Aurora!

      Delete
    2. I love your energy and passion, it reminds me of Cox, even if you have such different points of view :)) I think Cox should be able to appreciate such an opportunity to affirm his theories in a highly published event. I'll ask him on Twitter, maybe he would love a good debate.
      Are you on Twitter Bernardo? If not,I think you'd love it.

      Delete
    3. I created a Twitter account only yesterday! :)
      @BernardoKastrup

      Delete
  7. Bernardo, this post resonated with me to an unusual degree. There was so much in it that made me want to applaud--too much to list. It seems to me that much of your "voice," much of what you really want to say, is drawn out by this intersection of culture, science, and materialism.

    I must admit, living in England, that I find Brian Cox unwatchable. He's taken the Carl Sagan wonder-at-the-cosmos stance to a sickening and self-indulgent degree. I just can't watch more than a few seconds. I am not a big fan of Chopra, either, to be honest. I admire much of what he is trying to do, but find his manner and rhetoric overblown and careless.

    Anyway, I really appreciated the "full-throatedness" of this post (though I possibly would have stopped short of saying "semi-conscious nerds"!). I would love to see a debate between you and Brian Cox. Your credentials as a physicist put you in a unique position. However, it's obviously not a good career move for him to debate you.

    On the other hand, I wonder how William Lane Craig, the Christian apologist, gets all these scientists and atheists to debate him. I guess it's because he represents a large segment of the population, which you don't. I wonder if there is some way for you to get on the debate ladder. Maybe you start lower on the totem pole than Sam Harris or Brian Cox and then work your way up. I would really like to see you in that circuit, if it's possible.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Robert! For the record, I am a computer engineer who worked with physicists at CERN (in the same ATLAS project as Brian Cox, ironically enough...). I used to build experiments for physicists, before I moved to the corporate world.
      Regarding debates, my intent is not to build a career out of it. I just feel sometimes that the BS of those supposedly vested in the robes of 'reason' should be called.
      Thanks for your continuing encouragement, I sincerely appreciate it!

      Delete
    2. I can understand you not wanting to build a career out of debates. I would just like to see you in them, to satisfy my own needs. Whenever I watch one of those science and religion debates, I always feel that both sides are united in studiously ignoring the most important evidence, that evidence which points to a spiritual reality. It's as if there is an unspoken agreement that at all costs that "guy" must be kept out of the room. I think you would be a good representative of that guy, if you could get in the room!

      Delete
    3. "I can understand you not wanting to build a career out of debates. I would just like to see you in them, to satisfy my own needs."

      You put that very well, Robert, and I wholeheartedly concur. IMO, Bernardo has the gravitas and intellectual chops to debate any of the well-known spokespersons for materialism. He's also not a soft target, because he's not a religionist, and is as able as anyone to spot New Age woo. I myself am not that fond of Chopra, but even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and one should focus on what is said rather than who is saying it.

      Being a telegenic spokesperson with a PhD apparently absolves one from the necessity of engaging in logical argument, and allows one to coast along whilst basking in the adulation of crowds and the imprimatur of the MSM. Which latter, by the way, is largely staffed by arts graduates who like to borrow the authority of consensus science, often for political or ideological reasons.

      Actually, I think Bernardo is telegenic too, not that he's likely to become a darling of the media like Brian Cox. His big failing in that regard is that he's too much of an independent, critical thinker, and, unfashionably, has an awareness of philosophy and metaphysics and the role they have played, and continue to play, in that latter day and misshapen offshoot of Natural Philosophy we've come to call modern science.

      Delete
  8. I have not read your book (though, I plan to), but I cannot see any practical relevance in having either a materialistic or an idealistic viewpoint. What is the point?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Many. For one, under Idealism, when you die your consciousness de-localizes and expands, but doesn't end. Also, Idealism grants primary validity to something crucial to human life that is seen as secondary and derivative under materialism: emotions. There are other differences that I discuss in the book.

      Delete
    2. Is this de-localization what "awakened" people experience when they manage to drop their egos?

      Delete
    3. I don't think so. I think they just learn to dis-identify with the ego, but the ego is still there, pretty localized. A de-localization would probably give you what people would call a 'mystical experience', or 'trance,' or 'NDE,' or whatever transcendent experience that is bound in time. Awakening is not about an temporary experience, but a new sense of identity.

      Delete
  9. Bernardo:

    I have a question. There seem to be 2 very different ways of understanding how the mind has an effect at the quantum level.

    1. The actual awareness or consciousness of the physicist - the subjectivity, the experiential aspect of consciousness or mind, if you will - has a direct effect on the subatomic level. To put this in your language, my individual mind (that is, if I'm the physicist) has a direct impact on the collective mind, causing an actual physical change directly as a result of the workings of my mind, my subjectivity.

    2. The "choice" I make as a physicist determines what I find on the subatomic level. To use your language, my consciousness - my awareness, my subjectivity - doesn't have a direct physical impact on the collective consciousness, but WHAT I KNOW about the collective consciousness is determined by the choice I make as to how the experiment is conducted.

    Chopra, over several decades, has expressed both views and seems often to conflate the two.

    Alan Wallace, as far as I can understand him, seems to veer primarily toward #2, though in his language, it seems sometimes as if he's referring to #1.

    I for a long time wondered about #1, but since Ken Wilber came out with his Quantum Questions in 1982, I tended to go by #2 (though having to rely on others since I have no formal training in physics).

    My friend, Ulrich Mohrhoff, who has been published in mainstream physics journals, quite adamantly insists on #2 - he describes the "wave function" and other related concepts as nothing more than "mathematical formalism" and as such, consciousness as "sentience" is not going to have a direct physical impact on it.

    I, by the way, have absolutely no problem with psychokinesis, but I don't think psychokinesis is what's going on here (I hasten to add, I agree that Cox has no idea what he's talking about, and I generally agree with your critique, i just think this distinction, as minor as it may appear to some, is very important, as it brings about a premature closure in the materialism challenge that could be quite problematic down the line. Finally, I would say that Zeilinger, who appears at times to be supporting #1, has told Alan Wallace that he definitely always intends #2, not #1)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is one of maybe 3 really deep questions that are still not completely clear to me. I am inclined to go with #2, but I may change my mind... :)

      Delete
    2. Ah, then we're on the same page on this. Good, that's going to go over MUCH more easily with the materialists.,

      I would class this (as - again, sorry if it seems I bring him up too much) as one of the 3 most important challenges to materialism (much more than exceptions to evolution, or things like psi, NDEs, placebo, mind body effects, etc).

      1. #2 quantum interpretation, above
      2. Qualia - I have found almost invariably (though only in person, never online) within 5 minutes with even the most hardened dogmatic skeptic materialist, when you point out that the entire experiential world disappears when you subtract "mind" of any kind, they just become speechless and stammer out, "well, I don't know how to respond and I have to think about it" but never figure out a response. This is quite different from your "the world is in the skull" because they never accept that. But that's another point.
      3. This is the clincher for me: patterns (so called laws) of nature. Absolutely impossible, unthinkable, in a mindless world. This stops them cold. I just had an online conversation with a rationalist religion professor from some place in Indiana. He just had no idea what I was talking about and couldn't compute, no matter how many different ways I put it.

      Ah well, when I get my site up in 2017, #3 is where I'm going to start. then LOTS of videos on #2.

      Thanks for your answer. Some day maybe you'll write a post on those deep questions.

      Delete
    3. Did you see my earlier comments to you regarding #3? Patterns can emerge from randomness plus law (laws of physics). We see this even in computer simulations called Cellular Automata: beautiful patterns emerge from random initialization, so long as the right rules are applied. Patterns don't emerge magically from randomness, but materialists don't need this. It is the laws of physics, particularly gravity, that created patterns out of random quantum fluctuations in the primordial universe. I don't see #3 as a big deal, to be honest. I agree with #1 and #2.

      Delete
  10. Bernardo,

    You said: "Indeed, eternal inflation simply postpones the primary creation event forever, by proposing that the universe is eternal"

    My understanding of this is that it's even worse than that. Eternal Inflation is only eternal into the future, not the past (unless some developments have changed this recently). Therefore, all they have done is "pass the buck". Now instead of asking what came before the Big Bang, we can just ask what came before the Multiverse ... but it's really the exact same problem! i.e. eternal inflation solved nothing when it comes to Chopra's point as you outlined it above, because there would still have to be a "primary creation event" some finite time ago in the past.

    But, you might want to "fact check" what I said, because I haven't stayed current with eternal inflation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. From a Paper (2007) By Alan Guth, founder of inflation:

      "Although inflation is generically eternal into the future, it is not eternal into the past: it can be proven under reasonable assumptions that the inflating region must be incomplete in past directions, so some physics other than inflation is needed to describe the past boundary of the inflating region."

      http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0702178

      Be careful running with that though, I am sure there are subtleties here that Cox has the expertise to twist in his favor to no end.

      Delete
    2. The key point remains whatever the case: eternal inflation presumes something BEFORE the Big Bang, the multiverse, so it takes away from the Big Bang the aspect of primary creation event. And what Chopra meant was the primary creation event. Correct?

      Delete
    3. Yes, that's pretty much my take on it. However, there could still be a "primary creation event" it just wouldn't apply to the Big Bang, rather it would apply to the "past boundary of inflation". To me, it seems like the key point of Chopra's claim is about "a primary creation event". Does it really matter if it applies to the Big Bang itself, or the Multiverse, as long as the key message is the same ... that science cannot refer causally back to before some point?

      For Cox to not point this out and act like he won some kind of argument here seems intellectually dishonest, imho.

      Delete
    4. Ethan, I was thinking about it. Yes, inflation cannot theoretically go indefinitely into the past. But we cannot know how far into inflation we are at present. In other words, although there should be a past moment when it all begun, we can make it arbitrarily far into the past. So, in effect, inflation allows us to postpone the primary moment of creation arbitrarily backward simply by making the present moment arbitrarily long after it. So it works precisely as I described in the article. Let me know what you think.

      Delete
    5. OK, I removed a few words from the text in order to remain agnostic on this point. It isn't needed to make my case anyway.

      Delete
    6. I totally agree with your piece, but in any debate you need to be careful because I suspect that Cox will claim that time BEFORE the first big bang never existed (if that doesn't muddle tenses too much). I also remember that Stephen Hawking claimed in "A brief history of Time" that time near the big bang might be complex! So I guess it might be better to argue in terms of the causal chain of events which neatly side steps actual discussion of time!

      Delete
  11. Nice Article and discussion! I too explore these issues in my own book and blog - Sto-ology. Let's blog!

    ReplyDelete
  12. "Argument from authority. I do not care what you do. Second you are not also a physicist if you want to play out the argument from authority card. You work in Computer Engineering."

    "This is from your video and its wrong. There are many reasons why. However I do not want to discuss it here."

    :) priceless!

    Well Bernardo it's going to be an interesting ride.

    I actually look forward to you debating Materialist philosophers or inclined intellectuals, of at least equal intellectual caliber to you. They must exist. Who do you think would be a tough and worthy opponent?

    Bob

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. BTW, Sam Harris' new book is titled "Waking Up - A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion". :)

      It would be a fantastic debate!

      Delete
    2. Unless we quickly agree, in which case it would be a boring debate... :)

      Delete
    3. And what do you think would be a specific topic for a debate that Harris might find irresistible?

      Delete
    4. idealism as a basis for science.

      Delete
    5. I can't think of anything he couldn't resist... :) But I'd like to debate the claim that there is no universe outside subjective experience.

      Delete
    6. Great article! Brian Cox may be flogging a dead horse. I feel that the general public is losing interest in all this hot air, bluster and showmanship. As for the Twitter exchange, I would expect nothing more thoughtful from Cox. On average physicists seems to have part of their brain missing and functionality is clearly impaired.

      I doubt that there is a materialist out there worthy of your attention, Bernardo, since the doctrine is just too easy to refute. They would have to be a sophist of great skill and cunning. No names come to mind.

      Delete
  13. Since one doesn't exist in slow-wave sleep because there's TOO FEW neurons interacting, when the brain is dead one won't exist because there's NO neurons interacting.

    It reminds me you're arguing for immateriality because you want to be immortal, arguing for what you like is dangerous, you should argue for what is true, even if it's appalling.

    The more the brain is damaged (nerve cells die) the more the mind is lost. It follows that when the whole brain is damaged (brain death - every brain cell dead) that the entire mind is no longer existent. Having overdosed on cough syrup and damaged my brain I've realized that nothing of me is eternal, that everything of me can be lost. My feelings, emotions, complex thought and quality of memory are gone and aren't coming back.

    Mind is disruptable and totally dependent on a functioning brain, consciousness doesn't exist in syncope/coma or anesthesia. I've been 'put under,' there is simply nothingness. I went unconscious from overdosing. It's wishful thinking to suppose survival of brain death when there's not a shred of evidence for immaterial mind.

    Consciousness/mind requires oxygenated blood being pumped to the neurons constantly for them to be able to communicate and give rise to mind. That's why if you get up too fast after laying for a long time you go unconscious because the nerve cells aren't getting adequate blood flow.

    There's no evidence for soul or anything immaterial about awareness, so there's nothing that will continue living when the brain dies. An immaterial entity wouldn't be affected by strokes, tumors, brain damage, senility, dementia and Alzheimer’s.

    No one remembers anything before life.

    People that are dead are unresponsive to external stimuli, they cant walk or talk. There's nothing in the body.

    The universe favors matter/energy, it favors unconsciousness, mind is an emergent little accident. Everything about science shows us how insignificant we are.

    You're afraid of becoming nonexistent for eternity, or your ego can't handle it. Trying to find any way to fool yourself that you're immortal, almost like you plug your ears on materialism only because it trashes the worth of your existence.

    The world exists independently of your consciousness. If you were dead/nonexistent it would still be there.

    Mind being 'there' hinges on sufficient neural interaction. Biological systems hinge on so many factors to work.

    You have doubt in what you're saying, yet you won't show it to anyone. If your brain is vaporized then your mind will be annihilated. You'll be nowhere in which you'll never come back from.

    "As is uncontroversial in scientific circles, the mind, psyche or “soul,” as well as consciousness and personality, is a component of the functioning brain."

    "As a dependent variable, the impossibility of afterlife may be inferred with near absolute certainty"

    "provided that the same may be done with its aforementioned premise: the identity of mind as a component of the functioning brain. That the mind is a component of the functioning brain is beyond reasonable doubt, for it has been demonstrated empirically on countless occasions."

    "There is no scientific evidence that suggests consciousness survives the death of an organism."

    "Brain death is a chronic disorder of consciousness characterized by lack of response to external stimuli, lack of observed activity and lack of observed behavior."

    'Something after life is a fairytale for people afraid of the dark.'

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *Yawn*...
      Now that you said what you needed to say, please don't flood the comments section. No need to repeat.

      Delete
  14. Nothing to say of course.

    Drugs dont produce effects like before now with brain damage.

    Ringing two years later.

    Dead dick.

    Do you think everyone is everyone, that there's only one self in the reality?

    Only the unconscious matter of the brain would create physical/emotional pain, an infinite consciousness shouldn't torment and trap itself in localization.

    I used to get spontaneous mystical/transcendental feelings, now after brain damage they never happen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I think there is only one space of subjective experience, only one 'self,' with multiple split-off complexes, or localizations of the flow of subjective experience, which we call individual life. These may emerge naturally, not in a necessarily 'planned out' manner. Yet, to state this does not mean that only good should exist; that's naive romanticism. Nature is nature. To say that nature unfolds in one 'self' doesn't deny the reality of pain, suffering, cruelty, etc., which is plain to the eye not only in human society but amongst animals too. After all, animals have to kill to survive and that is undeniably an inherent part of nature. I discuss this more in the book, but the essence is this: to say that all reality unfolds in consciousness does not, in any way, imply that all should be beautiful and loving. It may indeed imply, however, that all is _meaningful_ in subtle and profound ways, even the pain and suffering.

      Delete
    2. Maybe we're the ultimate reality. We're the unstable nothingness that spawns innumerable universes which we appear as all lifeforms in. Lived in endless brains before this life, will live as endless after this one. Just random. Will live a certain life trillions of times in a row sometimes, with no memory each time it starts over. Everything is now. All universes existing now. Don't have to go off for you to relocate in another brain. It might be possible for me to appear in another brain during their life and not notice I relocated.

      Delete
  15. In deep sleep/coma/syncope we lose all individuality, we-dom, a direct oneness with all psyches reality produces. We can only be in each brain that ever was one-at-a-time.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I totall agree with your comments Mr. Kastrup. And who better to quote here then Max Planck: "
    As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.
    Max Planck "

    ReplyDelete
  17. What do you think about Donald d Hoffman, theory of mind?
    http://www.cogsci.uci.edu/~ddhoff/ConsciousRealism2.pdf

    ReplyDelete
  18. Great article Bernardo. I love your scurrilous approach. In answer to RHC's question I cannot think of one expert materialist who would be worth you arguing with or who would present you with a challenge. There must be one or two, I presume, but they haven't written anything I've ever read. Most have little or no understanding of philosophy, which usually makes such debates too simple-minded to be useful. My view would be that anyone who adopts a dogmatic materialism is not a scientist or philosopher in any meaningful sense.

    (Hopefully this post will appear. The last two were eaten by the system.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Peter, you have to click on "Load more" at the very bottom of the page to read the newest comments. The system does this after 60 comments in order to prevent long page loading times.

      Delete
    2. Thanks. Got it now. The 'show more' button is very discreet. Sorry for the repetition.

      Delete
  19. Deepak Chopra is a straight-up conman. He used to claim that one could completely stop aging with the right attitude (clearly it has not worked for him) . In a newer book he claims that following his program for a mere 10 weeks can reverse one's biological age by 15 years!

    THIS is the person you want to go to bat for? lol

    ReplyDelete
  20. Bernardo, this piece is fantastic! Your observation that mastery of technology does not imply mastery of an understanding of the fundamental character of reality is incredibly prescient and well-stated. Most people probably don't even realize that they've made this assumption. Thanks again for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I think it's mistaken to think quantum mechanics has anything to do with consciousness. Surely, taking quantum mechanics seriously (instead of trying to force a badly-fitted glove like Bohmian mechanics onto it) should lead to anti-realism about sharply-defined physical quantities, but I think QM leads to just as much trouble with realism about consciousness.

    The biggest problem with introducing consciousness into the picture, and saying that people's conscious states are definite, is that you now have an objective boundary to place the Heisenberg cut (that is, the cut between what is to be treated quantum mechanically, and what is to be treated classically, as a measuring device)ーnamely, at the boundary between the conscious being and the unconscious world. Presumably the former cannot be treated quantum mechanically because it is manifestly unphysical. In orthodox quantum mechanics the placement of the Heisenberg cut is arbitrary because the state is subjective. To have an objective place for the Heisenberg cut suggests the state is objective after all, and reduction of the state (also called collapse of the wave function) is an objective process. This violates Lorentz invariance, since the way that the state reduces for joint measurements of spacelike-separated, correlated systems depends on the frame of reference employed (which is good reason to believe in subjectivity of the state).

    However, you can't really have subjectivity of the state if reality supervenes on consciousnessーnot if there's more than one conscious being in the world. Otherwise Wigner could prepare his friend in a state that, for Wigner, is a state of indefinite conscious experience. But this would contradict the absolute reality of the other person's conscious experience. (cf. Wigner's friend for the thought experiment on this topic.)

    Another problem would be that you'd actually need a way of identifying, at least in principle, where exactly the boundary between conscious being and unconscious world lies, so you know exactly when state reduction happens. You'd need to identify a specific part of the physical world that corresponds to a conscious being in some way, and I don't see how either materialism (which is what you're trying to repudiate) or mind-body dualism (which has a myriad of problems, though different ones depending on the flavor of dualism embraced) can be avoided if you make such an identification.

    Quantum mechanics is an assault on fundamental ontology altogether, not just against materialism.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I couldn't follow all of that, Shintaro, but it seems to make some good arguments. There seems to be a good objection in it, but I can't quite grasp it. There is, I agree, a tricky issue here about the distinction between conscious and non-conscious entities.

      I'd see QM as assault on most ontologies, but it is certainly not an assault on an ontology for which nothing really exists, and such an ontology is possible under idealism. It would be possible to see QM as more or less a proof of Buddhism, which has been arguing for a 'fields on fields' view of physical phenomena since the beginning. A fundamental ontology does not have to reify anything but what is fundamental, and this does not have to be (and obviously is not) the particles of the Standard Model.

      Delete
  22. I just watched Human Universe Episode 2 and he does the same thing. I haven't heard of the inflation model coming sequentially before the big bang itself before now but if he doesn't do so in this, Cox still conflates the two events and implies the inflation of the universe was actually the cause of the big bang itself making a glancing reference to quantum mechanics and then showing us a postcard of the cosmic microwave background to apparently prove his theory. His point being that there are an infinite amount of parallel universes and that above all there can never ever, ever be a state where nothing happens, ie there is always "energy". And never nothingness. I'm not convinced by postcards though. What Brian Cox does is get all ontological on us because he abhors the vacuum. And then he confuses his ontology with phenomenology. And totally forgets all about the ontic, which was the presumably the point of doing science in the first place. I'm thinking that in the face of Nietzsche's abyss, Brian Cox has lost the plot.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Most popular posts of the past 12 months

Dismantling idols: the current cultural inflection point

Upcoming Sages & Scientists event

Thoughts and plans for 2017

The LSD study: you're being subtly deceived (again)

Conquering the fear of oblivion (in 15 minutes)