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Author Topic:   Are thoughts transcendant?
petrophysics1
Inactive Member


Message 121 of 142 (430427)
10-25-2007 9:16 AM
Reply to: Message 119 by nator
10-25-2007 6:37 AM


Re: On thought and telepathy
Petro, I wondered if you missed this message?
#55

No,I didn't.

However, show me how this relates to the subject of this thread.

If you wish an answer here, please have someone from ADMIN say it is OK for me to do that, since your question and my response seem to me to be off topic.

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AdminQuetzal
Inactive Member


Message 122 of 142 (430430)
10-25-2007 9:53 AM
Reply to: Message 121 by petrophysics1
10-25-2007 9:16 AM


Re: On thought and telepathy
Petro:

I agree that a detailed discussion of an investigation into telepathy, etc, bears only an extremely limited relation to the topic. This particular discussion should likely be taken to another thread. If either you or nator wish to propose one, I will give it favorable consideration.

Good call on your part.


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crashfrog
Member (Idle past 18 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 123 of 142 (430460)
10-25-2007 3:31 PM
Reply to: Message 120 by JavaMan
10-25-2007 8:45 AM


Re: On thought and telepathy
In all three of the examples I provided, knowledge was being acquired empirically, but not through scientific investigation or deductive logic.

Science is just a rigorous form of empiricism. Any time you're trying to answer a question empirically, that's the beginning of science.

If we're both talking about empiricism, then we don't disagree, we just weren't clear with each other.

But religion, philosophy, and theology (and to some degree economics) aren't based on empiricism, they're based on sophistry. They're based on "revelation." They're based on feelings.

None of those have any power to distinguish fact from fiction. That's the only point I was getting at.


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nator
Member (Idle past 721 days)
Posts: 12961
From: Ann Arbor
Joined: 12-09-2001


Message 124 of 142 (430477)
10-25-2007 5:42 PM
Reply to: Message 122 by AdminQuetzal
10-25-2007 9:53 AM


Re: On thought and telepathy
Er, whasn't Petro using his own claimed ability to read minds as support of the idea that "thoughts are transcendent", which is also the topic of this thread?

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Kitsune
Member (Idle past 2851 days)
Posts: 788
From: Leicester, UK
Joined: 09-16-2007


Message 125 of 142 (441582)
12-18-2007 8:19 AM


What is consciousness? How do people here define it?

Many seem to take the reductionist view that consciousness is nothing more than neurons firing, and any questions we still have will be answered in those terms.

So where does the thinking come from? The personality? Likes and dislikes? Resident reductionists, please explain to me how neurons firing can possibly encapsulate everything that is involved with being conscious and self-aware.

We can get back to telepathy too. If it is not to be dismissed outright, then it also presents some problems for reductionism.


Replies to this message:
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 Message 127 by Dr Jack, posted 12-18-2007 9:10 AM Kitsune has responded
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Stile
Member
Posts: 3951
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 2.7


Message 126 of 142 (441588)
12-18-2007 8:49 AM
Reply to: Message 125 by Kitsune
12-18-2007 8:19 AM


What's wrong with neurons?
LindaLou writes:

What is consciousness? How do people here define it?

I would go with "the ability to identify 'self' as seperate from 'us'."

LindaLou writes:

Resident reductionists, please explain to me how neurons firing can possibly encapsulate everything that is involved with being conscious and self-aware.

I think the basic answer will come down to "because this is all we see happening when one is conscious and self-aware".

I mean, people have been placed under brain scans while thinking of many things.

Loving their family... neurons fire.
Annoying pet-peeve... neurons fire.
Favourite hobby... neurons fire.
Playing a video game... neurons fire.
Hated enemy... neurons fire.

In fact, I don't think there's been any thought that, once monitored, neurons don't fire. Did you have another idea?

Is there a particular thought or ability you know of that cannot be explained by neurons firing?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 125 by Kitsune, posted 12-18-2007 8:19 AM Kitsune has responded

Replies to this message:
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Dr Jack
Member (Idle past 656 days)
Posts: 3507
From: Leicester, England
Joined: 07-14-2003


Message 127 of 142 (441591)
12-18-2007 9:10 AM
Reply to: Message 125 by Kitsune
12-18-2007 8:19 AM


What is consciousness? How do people here define it?

I can't, frankly, and that's part of the problem. We don't even know what it is we're trying to explain.

Many seem to take the reductionist view that consciousness is nothing more than neurons firing, and any questions we still have will be answered in those terms.

I think that's a characature of our position. I firmly believe that consciousness involves nothing but physical processes going on in the Brain - mostly, it seems, neurons firing - but although all these processes can be reduced to that level (or further, we can go down to cell chemistry or atomic physics) the necessary explanations don't exist at that level. This isn't special pleading, it's true of almost all interesting behaviours at the macro level - I defy anyone to provide a useful description of a car engine that operates entirely at the sub-atomic level, for example, but no-one is going around claiming special stuff is needed for a car engine.

So where does the thinking come from? The personality? Likes and dislikes? Resident reductionists, please explain to me how neurons firing can possibly encapsulate everything that is involved with being conscious and self-aware.

We don't know. No-one has yet provided a useful description of how the brain causes consciousness.

We can get back to telepathy too. If it is not to be dismissed outright, then it also presents some problems for reductionism.

Prove it under properly controlled lab conditions and we'll talk.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 125 by Kitsune, posted 12-18-2007 8:19 AM Kitsune has responded

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Kitsune
Member (Idle past 2851 days)
Posts: 788
From: Leicester, UK
Joined: 09-16-2007


Message 128 of 142 (441593)
12-18-2007 9:29 AM
Reply to: Message 126 by Stile
12-18-2007 8:49 AM


Re: What's wrong with neurons?
There have been many of these types of experiments, which look at the areas of the brain that "light up" during certain conditions. They're in the news every other day. The question, however, is this: is the activity within these regions of the brain the cause, or the consequence, of the thought or experience? Chew on that for a while.

If consciousness=brain=neurons, then there are some interesting stories that would seem to contradict this. Here are a few I'm aware of.

Is Your Brain Really Necessary?

Is your brain you really necessary? The reason for my apparently absurd question is the remarkable research conducted at the University of Sheffield by neurology professor the late Dr. John Lorber.

When Sheffield’s campus doctor was treating one of the mathematics students for a minor ailment, he noticed that the student’s head was a little larger than normal. The doctor referred the student to professor Lorber for further examination.

The student in question was academically bright, had a reported IQ of 126 and was expected to graduate. When he was examined by CAT-scan, however, Lorber discovered that he had virtually no brain at all. . .

Organ Transplants and Cellular Memories

According to this study of patients who have received transplanted organs, particularly hearts, it is not uncommon for memories, behaviours, preferences and habits associated with the donor to be transferred to the recipient.

Gosh, I Was Just Thinking About You

Rupert Sheldrake talks in the Times about his telephone telepathy experiments, and the possible biological roots of telepathy.

How does "firing neurons" adequately explain any of the above?


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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Kitsune
Member (Idle past 2851 days)
Posts: 788
From: Leicester, UK
Joined: 09-16-2007


Message 129 of 142 (441595)
12-18-2007 9:38 AM
Reply to: Message 127 by Dr Jack
12-18-2007 9:10 AM


I can't, frankly, and that's part of the problem. We don't even know what it is we're trying to explain . . . We don't know. No-one has yet provided a useful description of how the brain causes consciousness.

That's got to be one of the most honest, unassuming answers I've read on this forum so far. Thank you.

For my part, I think we've learned some amazing things about the brain. I welcome further research. But I question whether reducing and reducing our scope of study is going to get us there. You mentioned a car engine. The brain (which I'm not sure the evidence completely supports as being the seat of "self") and consciousness, are not human-made automations, but your point is an interesting one. No one has figured out yet how to bridge the gap between the quantum world and the one we see -- how does the one seem to produce the other? Likewise, no scientist has been able to bridge the gap between consciousness, thought, and neurons firing.

I think there's a lot of evidence that thought is transcendent. This surely should provide an interesting new piece to the puzzle and hopefully broaden the scope of research on the subject. The links I gave above ought to be part of that study, rather than the subjects of ridicule or dismissal by skeptics.

Edited by LindaLou, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 127 by Dr Jack, posted 12-18-2007 9:10 AM Dr Jack has not yet responded

  
Dr Jack
Member (Idle past 656 days)
Posts: 3507
From: Leicester, England
Joined: 07-14-2003


Message 130 of 142 (441607)
12-18-2007 10:20 AM
Reply to: Message 128 by Kitsune
12-18-2007 9:29 AM


Re: What's wrong with neurons?
Is Your Brain Really Necessary?

The trouble with this article is we have no references leading back to the actual data. What does "practically no brain at all" mean? How many neurons were there? What pathology of the ganglions was present?

Animals spend an inorndinate amount of energy running their brains; especially so in Humans - if we don't need it why would we have evolved to do that.

Organ Transplants and Cellular Memories

This "study" is taken from Nexus Magazine, are you familiar with it? I am. I have a copy in the other room, cover stories include "Hitler's Death Debunked" and "Crop Circles of 2007" - you'll excuse me if I don't consider it a reliable source. Even if true, what we have here is a collection of uncontrolled anecdotes.

Gosh, I Was Just Thinking About You

Any links to the actual experiments? Psychic research has had positive results before, but everytime those results have vanished when errors in the experimental methods have been corrected.


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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Stile
Member
Posts: 3951
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 2.7


Message 131 of 142 (441612)
12-18-2007 10:44 AM
Reply to: Message 128 by Kitsune
12-18-2007 9:29 AM


Again, what's wrong with neurons?
LindaLou writes:

The question, however, is this: is the activity within these regions of the brain the cause, or the consequence, of the thought or experience? Chew on that for a while.

Doesn't take too long to realize that one cannot produce "thoughts or experience" without neurons. Therefore, the neurons are not "a consequence". Otherwise, the functionality would still work without them.

I don't know too much about brain activity, really. I'm using your vocabulary of "neurons" to mean "physical things that happen in the brain".

When he was examined by CAT-scan, however, Lorber discovered that he had virtually no brain at all...

Yet, strangely enough, the neurons he did have still fired as usual. I suspect, anyway. Do you have anything that implies otherwise?

it is not uncommon for memories, behaviours, preferences and habits associated with the donor to be transferred to the recipient.

And, again, their brain neurons still fired whenever they thought of these memories, behaviours, preferences and habits. Or do you have anything that suggests otherwise?

Rupert Sheldrake talks in the Times about his telephone telepathy experiments, and the possible biological roots of telepathy.

Amazingly enough, Rupert also has neurons. Neurons that fire when his telepathy experiments are going on. Neurons that fire even when he's just talking in the Times about his experiments.

If consciousness=brain=neurons, then there are some interesting stories that would seem to contradict this

How is consciousness=brain=neurons even seemingly contradicted by any of the above stories? If you really think these stories contradict such a thing, please explain how. Even "seemingly". I read the stories, see how neurons would fire, see how that would control the effects of the stories, and it seems intuitively obvious to me that these stories are entirely dependant on neurons as much as any other brain activity.

What else is there that you think is happening? Are you simply looking for an explanation that we have no idea how to explain? Neurons are that explanation. It's kinda like dark-matter. We know "something" is out there in the universe. We don't know exactly how it works. We call it dark-matter. We know "something" physically happens in our brains that controls every thought we have. We don't know exactly how it works, or why. We call those things neurons, because we see that they do fire when we think. Always.

-I am likely grossly simplifying how our brains work here. But the point remains. There are physical processes occuring in our brains that always occur for every thought, every experience. I don't think we know exactly how those physical processes result in our specific thoughts, but it's obvious that they always occur. It's also obvious that no thoughts or experiences (in any way that we normally detect thoughts or experiences) are capable without functioning neurons.

How does "firing neurons" adequately explain any of the above?

How does it not adequately explain any of the above? The firing of neurons occurs in all of your above examples. It occurs in the same way as when any other brain-controlled function occurs.

Please, if you have any indication that any of these examples work without the firing of neurons I'd really like to know about it.

If you could possibly show how a human is capable of any thought or experience without the need of physical processes in their brain, I'm positive you'd quickly be world-famous.

Hmmm... maybe I'm arguing a point you're not trying to make.

LindaLou writes:

Resident reductionists, please explain to me how neurons firing can possibly encapsulate everything that is involved with being conscious and self-aware.

If what you mean to say is "explain how neurons, only neurons, and nothing but neurons can encapsulate human consciousness" then I don't think I have a problem with such a statement. But, well, I don't think anyone would ever imply otherwise. It's obvious that other things than neurons are involved. There's a lot more in our brains than just neurons (chemicals and such). Plus we need our sensory systems to feed the brain.

I took your statement to say something like "explain how physical components can encapsulate human consciousness". That's what I'm arguing with. I have never heard of any evidence anywhere that something "non-physical" is required or used at all in human consciousness. If you have some, please talk about it.

If you just want to say "I don't think the physical can encapsulate everything so there must be something more". Well, I can't argue with a mere assertion. I would then simply say "use your imagination better".


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sidelined
Member (Idle past 4459 days)
Posts: 3435
From: Edmonton Alberta Canada
Joined: 08-30-2003


Message 132 of 142 (441626)
12-18-2007 11:32 AM
Reply to: Message 125 by Kitsune
12-18-2007 8:19 AM


LindaLou

I have a website featuring lectures by the neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran that gives an excellent overview of the work he does with brain damaged patients that I am sure you will find both fascinating an enlightening.It may lead to a better understanding of why the brain is capable of so much.

Take the time to go through each of the 5 lectures {Audio or text} and let me know what you think about it.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/reith2003/lecturer.shtml

Also I am not sure if you got ahold of that other website I recommended to get an overview of science as a discipline so I will give it again here.

http://explorepdx.com/gates.html

Check out the area on science topics.


"Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere."

Albert Einstein


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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Kitsune
Member (Idle past 2851 days)
Posts: 788
From: Leicester, UK
Joined: 09-16-2007


Message 133 of 142 (441650)
12-18-2007 12:56 PM
Reply to: Message 130 by Dr Jack
12-18-2007 10:20 AM


Re: What's wrong with neurons?
I found an article which explains the "no-brainer" more in-depth. The neurologist says the question "Is Your Brain Really Necessary?" is hyperbole -- of course it is necessary. What's interesting is how many of these people function as well as the rest of us, even though some of them have only 5% of what we would consider to be a normal brain. This in itself ought to be the catalyst for some major studies, but instead it seems to have been mostly swept under the carpet. You can read the in-depth article here.

This "study" is taken from Nexus Magazine, are you familiar with it?

Yes I am. I'd expect a skeptic to dismiss anything from it without even bothering to read it first, never mind whether or not it might contain any truth. Maybe someone else here will be willing to have a look.

Even if true, what we have here is a collection of uncontrolled anecdotes.

Another typical blanket dismissal of the skeptic. Not every anecdotal account of everything is wrong, though it's dismissed as such because of the "inherent unreliability" of anecdotes. This subject was investigated by a doctor and he spoke to quite a few different people. Taboo anecdote just the same is it? Maybe someone else here will be willing to have a look.

Any links to the actual experiments? Psychic research has had positive results before, but everytime those results have vanished when errors in the experimental methods have been corrected.

I am amazed at the fact that you are au fait with every study that's ever been conducted into psychic research, and how the positive studies have been "debunked." You must have a huge interest in this subject in order to have studied it in such depth.

What kind of link about this experiment would satisfy you? Here's one from Pubmed, about testing for telepathy in connection with emails.

And this website will give you more info about the telephone telepathy experiments.

Edited by LindaLou, : No reason given.


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Kitsune
Member (Idle past 2851 days)
Posts: 788
From: Leicester, UK
Joined: 09-16-2007


Message 134 of 142 (441654)
12-18-2007 1:03 PM
Reply to: Message 132 by sidelined
12-18-2007 11:32 AM


I couldn't really make heads or tails of your second link, which I looked at earlier today. Sounds good in principle but I think they will have to work on clarification and adding links. I've made a note of your first link here -- I'm always happy to listen to Reith Lectures -- sounds great. I'll let you know when I've listened to them; it's going to be a little while at the moment. Thanks :)

This message is a reply to:
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Kitsune
Member (Idle past 2851 days)
Posts: 788
From: Leicester, UK
Joined: 09-16-2007


Message 135 of 142 (441657)
12-18-2007 1:17 PM
Reply to: Message 131 by Stile
12-18-2007 10:44 AM


Re: Again, what's wrong with neurons?
If what you mean to say is "explain how neurons, only neurons, and nothing but neurons can encapsulate human consciousness" then I don't think I have a problem with such a statement. But, well, I don't think anyone would ever imply otherwise. It's obvious that other things than neurons are involved. There's a lot more in our brains than just neurons (chemicals and such). Plus we need our sensory systems to feed the brain.

I took your statement to say something like "explain how physical components can encapsulate human consciousness". That's what I'm arguing with. I have never heard of any evidence anywhere that something "non-physical" is required or used at all in human consciousness. If you have some, please talk about it.

It seems clear that neurons are vitally important. But attributing to them the cause of consciousness or thought, rather than saying they appear to be part of the process, is really just a guess.

There are neurons everywhere in the body, not just in the brain. Presumably this is your idea about why some organ transplant recipients seem to receive memories, likes/dislikes etc from the donee? At least you were (presumably) willing to look at this story, rather than dismissing it outright. I'm not saying it's right or wrong, there's no way of being certain, but I think it raises some intriguing questions.

You didn't actually address the telepathy experiment itself. How could neurons have anything to do with thoughts or consciousness that seem capable of existing independently from the body? The easy answer for the skeptic would be to dismiss telepathy and all paranormal phenomena as delusions. I'm not so keen on easy answers myself, I'd rather do some work and dig around. I also think that ghosts are real, though I do not believe that every single account of a ghostly experience is reliable; however if even a single one of them has been true in the whole history of reported experiences, then we have to ask again how some kind of consciousness seems to be able to exist independently from the body.

Sheldrake hasn't done any research into ghostly phenomena, but he's done quite a bit with telepathy. As far as I'm aware, he hasn't been "debunked," though a number of skeptics have dismissed his studies out of hand without bothering to read them.


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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