Does the brain really "cause" consciousness?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Magical Realist, Dec 8, 2012.

  1. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    All true. No one is saying silly thing like: “You did not solve the problem,” nor that problems are not solved in the unconscious and then communicated to the conscious mind later. These ideas are more “straw men” your lack of understanding of the experiments has set up.

    It is not uncommon for me to go to sleep thinking about a problem and wake up the next morning, not immediately knowing the solution, or even consciously thinking about the problem when after the first 15 minutes of the wakeful state, the solution, or at least the key to the solution, "just pops into my consciousness." Although no one really knows why we need to sleep, one theory of mine is that sleep has some survival values because in the dream state one is not as constrained as in the wakeful state. I.e. you "think outside the box" better while dreaming.

    I say you still do not understand the point of the experiments as your posts continue denying things that no one claims / asserts. The point is that the experimenters were aware that the subject found a solution (or unconsciously thought he/she had) and had an unconscious "aha moment" that the experimenters could detect in the EEG traces about 8 seconds BEFORE the subject had the "aha moment" experience consciously.

    There was a time limit on how long the subject could try to solve the hard problem. A significant fraction of those tested could not solve the problem. Did not produce either the unconscious "aha moment" signals in the EEG nor any conscious solution (even a false one they did not understand was false) about 8 seconds later as did those who found a solution, which they believed they consciously had found but obviously had found it unconsciously ~8 seconds earlier.

    This is just one of many demonstrations that what we believe we do in consciousness is not done there. It is done unconsciously and then consciousness is informed, and we fabricate a reason for why we think as we do. This is very well demonstrated in "split brain" patients. (Corpus Coliseum cut to prevent epilepsy from spreading from one side of the brain to the other.) Again I note that many solutions are found consciously. For example, all problems of algebra where one must consciously process symbols according to consciously known / learned rules.

    Here, from memory, is well known case:
    Subject is shown a barn with some chickens near it and a snow scene, but each eye sees only one* and asked to pick up a tool which he may need using the hand controlled by the side of brain that saw the snow scene (other hand is constrained) and quickly takes the toy snow shovel.

    The subject’s speech center is in the side of the brain that saw the chickens and the barn in summer scene. When asked why he took the toy representing a snow shovel, without the slightest hesitation, the reply is something like: "Well chickens make a lot of mess and I´ll need a shovel to clean out the barn."

    It was you who mentioned Dan Dennett. (I had read several of his papers and I was going to go to Acapulco two days after Consciousness Explained was to be released by publisher. I paid $10 extra for airmail special delivery ~20 years ago so could read it on vacation. As it turned out, having that book with me is why I met my Brazilian wife there. Book was a disappointment, but wife is still great and a well recognized expert in how learning takes place in the congentially blind, etc. for others with limited senses. -18 published books.) Anyway Dan thinks consciousness is just the constantly being revised, mostly fabricated, story we tell our selves.

    I don´t think that is correct, but certainly agree that most of what we believe about non-physical "facts" is an evolving fabrication trying to make sense of what we do, often for unconscious reasons that may be totally different from the fabricated story we create. (Psycho -analysis earn their livings by trying to help people understand more valid reasons for what they do.) Don´t misunderstand physical facts, like water boils at 100C, etc. we learn -do not fabricate, but much of reasons we believe are true / correct/ for doing what we do / the choices we make/ etc. are fabricated in consciousness

    * To keep it simple I falsely said "shown separately to each eye," but signals for the eyes divide in the Optical Chiasm, prior to the LGN, so that the retinal image on the left side of the retina (which is the right side of the scene viewed) from both eyes goes to the left side of brain (to left V1 after passing thru the LGN). Thus, each eye is presented with both the chickens and the snow scene, but the chicken image is only on one side and snow on the other side of the retina. (During the test, the subject fixates on spot between both scenes.)
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 16, 2012
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  3. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Then the simple question is what is "causing" you to choose the pre-existent chain that you do?
    At some point in such a scenario one either has to make the assumption that there is some non-material "cause" - in which case one is introducing to the material realm something that is uncaused (from a material perspective) and non-random (i.e. guided toward one over another) - or one concludes that consciousness, free-will, etc are all nothing but part and parcel of the great complexity of causal-chains.

    It depends on what you view "free-will" to be.
    I do feel we have free-will, but I view free-will to be as illusory as our own consciousness - in that it is not what our consciousness makes us think it is. Although I have no option but to operate according to the illusion - we can not break away from it, although we can understand its illusory nature.
    As such I wholly accept that there are "reasons" we do what we do, and that we have "choice" etc... but that these are all things that operate on the same category-level as consciousness... they only have meaning at a conscious level.

    And since we operate at a conscious level, those things that only have meaning at a conscious level are of paramount importance in how we operate, or at least in how we perceive we operate. So things such as ethics, morality, free-will etc, are all just as valid and fundamental to our conscious operation as if you hold consciousness to be a separate "thing". We don't suddenly lose our free-will, or abdicate responsibility for our actions, just because we have a different understanding.
    And this is why I don't hold with "knee-jerk" arguments that consider views such as mine to be de-humanising, psychopathic, abhorrent etc.
    I do accept that one's understanding of consciousness may lead to one philosophy over another (e.g. religion or not), but it can no more turn you toward psychopathism or anything else like that - as we still, and can not help, but operate according to our own consciousness.

    Underneath the level of consciousness however, as far as I understand what the evidence shows at the micro-level, there is no "choice"... just matter interacting with matter. And so at some point between that level and our "conscious" macro-level you either conclude there to be something non-material guiding us (and introducing uncaused non-random effects into the material realm) or that "consciousness" is merely emerging from the complexity.
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  5. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    All but the part I made bold is, IMHO, certainly true and even that bold part I think probably is too, but not necessarily is it true as you think it to be. I hope you may think slightly differently after reading my (Oct 2005) posting of the "long essay" describing the RTS at: OR more recently at: which may have slight modifications but both posts are focused mainly on the Free Will question.

    And perhaps read other links given in post 75. If after that, there is no slight change in your POV, let’s discuss why not.

    PS my search for this old post turned up so many others that gave now forgotten support for the RTS, I am considering extending the search and collecting the evidence from old posts into a new thread in biology or some more appropriate forum. If I do, I will probably reproduce part of my 1994 paper there too. It is 80% about how visual perception may be achieved. Few appreciate how complex a task the brain solves to make a 3D, high resolution visual perception of the entire world from the fragmented and completely different neural stimulations of 2D retinal images each fixation gives to the brain. In the 1994 paper, I explain much of this mystery AT THE NEURAL ACIVITY LEVEL, using known properties of neurons and of their mutual interconnections in V1, not the bunch of high level, hand-waving, generalizations that are typically offered as to how we perceive a 3D visual scene from 2D data which has high resolution only in less than 1% of the retina - the fovea.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 16, 2012
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  7. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    I read the link above... and I don't think it changes my POV, as all it seems effectively be doing is reinforcing the concept that our brain creates illusions (visual or otherwise), and how it is this illusory world, this RTS, that the "we" live in.
    I.e. you are merely taking it a step further rather than changing the point of view. But it is all part and parcel of the idea that freewill operates on the same categorical level as consciousness... i.e. within the same illusion... it is only with respect to consciousness that free-will has any meaning.

    Your conclusion to allow GFW because the GFW exists within the RTS (or what you are basically referring to as the illusion that the brain creates) and because the RTS is more "real" to "us"... is really just saying that we have the illusion of GFW because "we" (our consciousness) inhabit and is part of the illusory realm.
    So again - I don't think it's saying anything different, rather just a slight change of angle, if not just rewording the same basic idea but coming from a slightly different angle.
    It's rather like sitting in a car and one person saying that the car is moving and the world is stationary, and another person saying that the car is stationary and the world is moving.
    It's not as though one person is saying that the car is being pushed by an invisible hand.

    So whether we want to term it "GFW in the RTS", or an illusion, is neither here nor there to me.

    Or am I mistaking your position?
  8. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    I understand what you are asserting--to the extent that you are asserting anything. I still say, which you continuously ignore, that a brain activity in the brain does not necessarily equate to someone deciding or solving anything. The flaw in all these studies is that the signal IS ipso facto the moment of decision or solution to the problem. No evidence is provided to support this assumption. The signal could be anything. For instance, often people will solve a problem but not really believe the solution till they check it. I do this all the time as I am always surprised I can find the solution to anything. So maybe these people are consciously doublechecking their hunched solution and then 8 seconds later are convinced it is a solution. Solving problems is a much more complex process than these studies seem to imply. I imagine there are elaborate feedback processes going on between our unconscious and conscious minds that defy localization as one event occurring any one point in space or time.
  9. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Quote by Benjamin Libet:

    "I have taken an experimental approach to this question. Freely voluntary acts are preceded by a specific electrical change in the brain (the 'readiness potential', RP) that begins 550 ms before the act. Human subjects became aware of intention to act 350-400 ms after RP starts, but 200 ms. before the motor act. The volitional process is therefore initiated unconsciously. But the conscious function could still control the outcome; it can veto the act. Free will is therefore not excluded. These findings put constraints on views of how free will may operate; it would not initiate a voluntary act but it could control performance of the act. The findings also affect views of guilt and responsibility. But the deeper question still remains: Are freely voluntary acts subject to macro-deterministic laws or can they appear without such constraints, non-determined by natural laws and 'truly free'? I shall present an experimentalist view about these fundamental philosophical opposites."
  10. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    No the "aha" signal in the EEG can not be anything as it is present ONLY in the subjects who about 8 seconds later have the "aha" experience consciously and think they have just then consciously solved the problem.

    I don´t know if they unconsciously find a solution and then unconsciously check it before producing the "aha" signal or not. I.e. the "aha" may indicate they are satisfied with their unconsciously achieved solution and not tell when they found the solution unconsciously which then would be even more than 8 seconds before they consciously have the solution and believe they just then consciously found it.

    It does not matter which of these two alternatives is indicated by the “aha’ signal made unconsciously 8 (or more) seconds BEFORE there is any conscious knowledge they have solved the problem occurs consciously. Point is the solution was found unconsciously and experimenters know which subjects will later claim to have found the solution and which will not before the allowed time limit is up.

    The subject, as is often the case in other circumstance believes he did something by his conscious efforts, but in fact this belief is demonstrable false – the unconscious did it, made the decision, made the choice, found the solution, etc. and only informed the conscious mind of the results later. Many different scientific experiments show this to be often the case.

    Probably this is so as it is known that much more "parallel processing" can be done in the unconscious. Read about "dichotic listening" experiments.* Consciousness servers mainly as a "bottle neck" to insure only serial processing leads to acts. I.e. Consciousness is serial information flow as you can not do both "A" and "B" if they are mutually impossible acts.

    * Basically with head phones, two different story steams are played, one to each ear, and subject is told to concentrate or "follow one" and ignore the other. Often one is told by a man and the other by a woman as this makes it easier to follow only one. (Also this is some times called the cocktail party effect - where you select which of many conversations you want to lessen in on) Although you have zero conscious knowledge of the unattended story stream, its words are looked up in your brain´s "lexicon", it sentences are full parsed, for their meaning etc. but the results of this unconscious parallel processing is not given to your serial consciousness; none the less, it can and often does resolve ambiguities in the story stream you are paying attention to.

    Here is a well known example: The attended story may have: "Growing tired of this activity the boys started throwing stones at the bank." (Bank is ambiguous - it could be the side of a river or place where money is keep.) If a few seconds early the unattended story had: "He was so happy to finally hook a fish that he slipped, slid down the bank and got all wet." Then is highly probable that the ambiguity in the attended stream´s meaning of "bank" will be resolved / understood / as a river bank. - I.e. strong evidence that both story steams were fully unconsciously processed for their meaning but serial bottle neck consciousness can only follow one.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 16, 2012
  11. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

  12. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    I told this aready in post 74:
    Yes, it was less than a year after Libet´s results were published that others were finding possible errors in the conclusions he drew from them. Lipet was the pioneer who motivated others to do these experiments better.

    Since the "Aha" signal in the EEG, 8 seconds before conscious knowledge, correlates perfectly with which subjects do (or don´t) solve the problem there can be no other meaning for it. Reading an EEG for fine scale meaning is usually impossible, but another EEG signal with well known meaning is the P300 spike. (in less formal discussion, it is often called the "startle spike.")

    I worked two summers, on weekends, and quite a few evenings of the winter between, unpaid, with studies on Rhesus monkeys. It was a bit of bravado, but I got quite good at watching the EEG with my back turned to the monkey in the restraining chair at telling some of his gross behavior. Things like "head turning or eyes looking left," etc. Very probably these recognizable parts of the EEG machine signal were not true EEG signals, but mussel/electric artifacts. Not rarely, I assisted the JHU neurosurgen at times during brain surgery. - Once he was called back to the hospital to be there when car accident patient with head injury arrived. Fortunately the hard part of that operation was already done and I did very little more than just close up.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 16, 2012
  13. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    Yes, when "I highly doubt your bias can be overcome" it is a bit pointless to try. But if you insist...

    Free will is not "doing what we consciously want to do", as a causative world sets limitations. Free will is best described as the ability to do otherwise. It is a priori to assume free will must be "an uncaused non-random event". Quantum indeterminacy is neither deterministically caused nor random. Only individual events seem random, but a large enough pool of results shows them to be probabilistic. This is a big difference that usually eludes hard determinism advocates.

    Quantum indeterminacy only implies a naive randomness of individual quantum events. These are actually probabilistic, which necessarily implies some freedom in individual result values so long as the collection satisfies the probability. This is easily analogous to personality. A person is free to choose in any individual event, but is necessarily bound by a consistency with their own character. Since we do not know the mind of any fellow human, we cannot even fully predict their choices in a probabilistic manner. So humans are a confluence of both inherent and measurement-based indeterminacy.

    A number of philosophers have argued that lack of determinism does not entail absence of causation. For instance, Karl Popper writes

    "For the thesis of philosophical determinism, that 'Like effects have like causes' or that 'Every event has a cause' is so vague that it is perfectly compatible with physical indeterminism."
    "Indeterminism — or, more precisely physical indeterminism — is merely the doctrine that not all events in the physical world are predetermined with absolute precision."

    [1] (The statements of determinism he uses are drawn from Hume). Physicists generally however make the distinction between intrinsic indeterminism as for example claimed by the Copenhagen interpretation, and the mere inability to measure the variables (limits of precision).

    Hence free will is not required to be uncaused, just not deterministically caused.

    There can be seemingly random inputs to a non-random event. Just because a single event appears completely random does not mean that it is not guided by something that, collectively, is not.

    Quantum indeterminacy is evidence of both indeterministic causes and random single events, both of which logically allow for free will.
  14. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    Nonsense. For one, this is not a test of making a choice, so its relevance to free will is dubious, at best. Secondly, problem solving utilizes both unconscious and global processes which necessarily have precursors as the mental links to a solution are made. It is trivial that we can predict the perception of a solution based on a critical mass of such links being formed. Even prior to an actual solution, the mind knows when it is on the right track.
  15. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Nor was there any such claim made, by me, or the authors of the paper that their experiments related to free will. I think you are being too generous with "dubious" - All that was shown was that the experimenters could accurately predict which subjects could solve a hard problem within the allowed time AND for those that would solve it, identify them about 8 seconds before they themselves believed that they had a solution.
    Certainly that is all true, except the mind does NOT know it is on the right track, but only believes it may be. “Knowing" is ONLY achieved when that believed to be correct track leads to the desired end. (a solution in this case).
    For example: I had many experimental difficulties to achieve my Ph. D. which was to measure the shape and shift of some spectral lines from an ionized atom. (Hans Griem, had just perfected a theory of how high electron density in plasmas would shift and distort the line shapes, but not one test of his theory for an ionic radiator had been made.) I was quite sure for nearly a year I was on the right track. Grinding and polishing ADP crystals to be optically flat. Their index of refraction is very significantly changed by an electric field, so with a rapidly changing E field applied to the thin metal films on polished parallel side of an ADP crystal I would have a created an ultra fast scanning Fabri-Perot and be able to measure the shape of line radiated from my electron dense plasma. What I forgot in this wasted year solution, was the “shot noise” problem – I.e. in each narrow wave length slice scanned rapidly thru the line profile only a few photons would be collected and only a fraction of them would activate the photomultiplier tube detector.

    I had to start all over again with a different approach – spent a year more making a high electron density plasma so reproducible that two separate discharges of the plasma gun made two different plasma so identical that their light signals from any one spectral line made traces on an oscilloscope and recorded on Polaroid’s film, that appeared to be one trace – fell exactly on top of each other. –Thus I could use a conventional Fabri-Perot for its high resolution set to slightly different pass wavelength slices within the line profile with each successive plasma made and solved the “shot noise” problem.

    I was so sure (to work a year on a dead end solution) that I even started patent application work on my “ADP based, electrically rapid scanning, Fabri-Perot interferometer." It is not easy to make by hand as both sides must be optically flat and parallel, but would work if the light source were very bright (A-bomb explosion, etc.)

    My point is that it is highly probable that the unconsciously mind can believe it is on the “right track” to solving a problem for a few seconds as I was sure I was on the right track for nearly a year!

    Back to the subject: Many may think for a few seconds, even unconsciously, that they are “on the right track” and if that were all that is needed for them to make the "aha" signal in their EEG, then the experimenters would see “aha” signal that did not indicate that a found solution was soon to be consciously known. Thus the experimenters would not have a near perfect predictions of who would and who would not solve the problem; but as they did have near perfect predictions, we can conclude that just being on the right track (or thinking briefly that you are when you are not) does NOT produce the "aha" signal in the EEG. A near perfect correlation between the "Aha" signal in the EEG ~8 seconds before the subject consciously learns from his unconscious and the solution "just pops into his head" PROVES, beyond all reasonable doubt two things:
    (1) The solution was unconsciously found before consciously known &
    (2) The presence of the "aha" signal in the EEG by unconscious mental activity does indicate that a solution has been found (or believed to be a solution if in fact it is not a true solution). I.e. the 8 seconds early "aha" signal does NOT indicate any other thing. Does not indicate "I on the right track”, "I just had a processing break thru that may lead to a solution.", "Perhaps, if we assume X that will lead to a solution." Or "I now have a critical mass of facts that may lead to a solution," ETC. - If the "Aha" signal in the EEG indicated any of these then, the experimenters would falsely predict that some subjects would have a solution consciously about 8 seconds later when in fact they could not solve the problem.

    SUMMARY: It is nonsense to think, or even suggest, that the near perfect prediction of who would and who would not solve the problem is possible if the "aha" signal in the EEG indicates anything other than: "I got the solution." / "I solved the problem."

    BTW, My professor´s only other Ph.D. candiate also working on high density plasmas, followed a "on the right track" solution to his problem for nearly two years before learning that "right track" lead to a "dead end." Time consuming false "right track paths" are not uncommon in experimental physics research for the Ph.D.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 17, 2012
  16. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    That is true, but it requires a very strange concept of free will. Normally, free will implies an active choice by a living agent. What you have noted as a possibility mechanism for free will is no different than "coin flip" free will.

    I.e. just like QM´s single events, each coin flip is randomly head or tail, but also like many QM events, result of many coin flips gives essentially a predictable result.

    What do you think is different between letting "your choice" be determined by the random result of (A) an QM event deep in the brain or (B) a external coin flip?

    The only difference I can see is with the coin flip you are aware of how the choice was made, and with QM random event in the brain you are not, but with either it quite a stretch to claim you made a free will choice.

    YOU, a living agent, are not making a choice, have no free will, with either QM or coin flip making decisions for you.
  17. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Okay, I can work with that definition – as you still consider it to be an operation at the conscious level. And the arguments I’ve given still apply to your definition… which I shall happily use here.
    I never actually assumed those things – but instead concluded them through applying logic to the knowledge I do have, and to the definitions of free-will given… including the one you have provided above.
    First, I am not an advocate of hard determinism – I am an advocate of a probabilistic determinism, as you outline above. I have never once claimed otherwise.
    Second, quantum indeterminacy is probabilistically random… it is a perfect example of randomness, albeit randomness within the confines of probability – as I have previously posted. Other examples include radioactive decay of individual atoms… yet when you look at a group of atoms you be reasonably sure that roughly half will decay during it’s half-life.
    When I talk of uncaused and non-random, such probabilistically random events as quantum indeterminacy is included within the random – as it is not possible to force a single result to be anything other than random (within its probability function).
    The analogy might be similar but it is flawed (fallacy of equivocation) as in one you claim “implies some freedom” and the other you claim “free to choose”. You seem to be equating the two, yet in the former there is no ability to choose… the outcome is random but within a probability function. The second explicitly states choice. Thus they are not equivalent.
    As for only implying a “naïve randomness” – it is the individual quantum events that are key in the discussion – as this is the micro-level where interactions occur.
    Unless you are saying that we can somehow influence the outcome of these events – that you can “choose” which outcome within the probabilistic set that you want - and do so while not actually being part of the causal chain that they drive, then you really aren’t saying anything of value here.
    Yes, at the macro level we have “choice” and “freewill” – but, if you have been following my posts, these are merely interpretations by our consciousness – and are illusory with regard the underlying nature of the activity – which is what is being discussed here.
    This last statement is a non-sequituur – it does not stem at all from the quotes above. All the above states is that physical indeterminism – i.e. the inability to precisely measure the physical world - does not equate to being uncaused. So what? I have never stated that it does.
    And it certainly does not counter what I have previously concluded – that free-will requires an uncaused and NON-RANDOM event to occur – and yes, quantum indeterminacy (as per Copenhagen and similar interpretations) – is included within those things that I deem to be random.
    In order for free-will to exist within such interactions, one must be able to influence the outcome of such individual events, and do so without the cause also being merely another part of the same chain of events.
    The “guiding” is what is at question – and you have yet to show anything of how this can occur without it also being of the same ilk as every other interaction. How does the “guide” manage to be “free” while still following the same material interactions as everything else? Or are you advocating that what provides the “freedom” is non-material?
    As BillyT points out, they allow for no such thing - unless your argument is, as BillyT examples, that a coin has free-will over which side it lands on??

    Further, while you claim that they allow for free will you have provided nothing but your confidence with which to support it. You have bandied around Popper as though that answered it for you, yet all this said was that physical indeterminacy did not equate to being uncaused.
    You have also claimed that such criteria (uncaused and non-random) that I conclude upon are due to a priori assumptions within my definition of free-will… yet it still applies to the definition you have provided – that “free-will is the ability to do otherwise in a causative world”.
    From the principles that every interaction is either strictly determined or probabilistically so (yes, i.e. allowing for quantum indeterminacy), free-will – “the ability to do otherwise” (your words) – requires that at the level of individual interactions you go against either the strict determinism (same inputs always give the same outputs) or the probabilistic variety (same inputs always give outputs that follow the same probability function) - neither of which processes are themselves “free” – which logically leads to the conclusion that for such freedom to exist as anything other than a perception by our consciousness (i.e. an illusion) then somehow consciousness inserts itself into the otherwise “unfree” causal chain and alters its direction at the micro level.
    And to do this, as far as I understand it and have shown/argued, requires uncaused and non-random events… which have never been observed.
    Now you can of course argue that the assumptions are invalid, or that the logic is flawed – and by argue I don’t just mean claim but provide relevant counter of. But if you try to claim the conclusions are a priori assumed in the working definition of free-will, then first bear in mind that the definition is yours.
  18. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    There was no self-reported indication of confidence in a solution. So how well a person may have known the solution to be correct is unclear. Now we might assume that the false positives were low confidence "correct solutions", but the results do not directly address this possibility. The signal would then be differentiating high confidence correct solutions, which would indicate the mind knowing it was on the right track, barring some sort of prescience.
  19. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    Quantum indeterminacy is not random, individual events only appear to be so. Indeterminacy is not equivalent to random. Hence there is no "coin flip" involved. Neither are individual events predictable, as only a significant number of events can be collectively predicted probabilistically. This is simply because any single given input can have more than one outcome, the essence of free choice.

    This directly parallels human behavior. Knowing a person's character and history, you might be able to predict a general trend in their choices over a significant time period, but you could not predict any single choice with any real confidence. Nor is their choice random, as they consciously deliberate between options and can give reasons for choices made.

    This "random cause" argument is nonsense, and does not even correspond to the physics it exploits.
  20. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    In these experiments it was totally irrelevant as to whether or not the "unconsciously found solution" is valid or not. Even it was an invalid solution that produced the "aha" signal in the EEG that the unconscious mind reported to the conscious mind ~8 seconds later, that case would still be counted as a correct prediction by the experimenters. - They are not judging the validity of the solution. Only showing that they can accurately predict who will think they have a solution about 8 seconds before the subject himself believes he has a solution. Perhaps with some conscious checking the subject will find a flaw in the solution his unconscious mind has offered up. The prediction by the experimenters that about ~8 seconds after the "aha" was seen in the EEG, the subject will at least briefly think he has consciously found a solution is confirmed. It may take many seconds of conscious effort (or even a year in my Ph. D. case told in prior post) to discover that the "solution" is not valid.

    Again valid or not has NOTHING to do with what these experiments showed. The experimenters only demonstrated that ~8 seconds before a subject would think he had (consciously found) a solution, they knew he would soon think that he had found a solution.
  21. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Einstein and a few others believed that the unpredictability of QM events was only due to our ignorance of the "hidden variables" - that every thing occurring in the universe followed deterministic laws (which if that were the case your argument for genuine free will is destroyed.)

    AFAIK, not one Ph.D. physicist now believes in "hidden variables" and a completely deterministic universe. That has no supporting evidence - was based only on the faith that "God does not roll dice."

    Now some complex experiments using (I forget name just now) "----------´s inequality" have eliminated Hidden Variables" as a plausible alternative - althought not yet proven to be complete non-sense, but only to be in conflict with other very firmly held physical facts / views.

    Why do you believe individual QM event outcomes with more than one out come (due to being initially in a mixed wave functions state) are not random?
    Do you believe in "hidden variables" as your act of faith? If that is the case, why not just say: "I have faith that genuine free will exist and nothing will break my faith."
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 17, 2012
  22. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Perhaps you just forgot my post 93´s question, so I´ll ask it again:

    What do you think is different between letting "your choice" be determined by the random result of (A) a QM event deep in the brain or (B) an external coin flip?

    Especially now that you are suggesting even individual QM events are not random !

    I.e. you now seem to be trying to ram free will into a completely deterministic universe !!

    If you believe that some non-material* "spirit" gives you your "free will" then just say so.

    * Non-material spirits are not known to exist, but would not be subject to the laws of Chemistry and Physic, but even their moving a single atom that is subject to these laws, is a violation of those laws - I.e. a miracle.
  23. wellwisher Banned Banned

    Consciousness stems from brain hardware design. Neurons, at rest, define their highest potential, due to active cationic pumping and exchange. ATP energy is used to create a membrane potential. The firing of neurons will lower this potential. Neuron firing, can be spontaneous, since it follows the natural flow of energy from higher to lower potential. The brain and neurons then regenerate the membrane potential so neurons become like a constantly firing engine.

    Since the cations, sodium and potassium, are segregated on opposite sides of the membrane, this situation also creates an entropy potential. The direction of increasing entropy will attempt to balance the cations on both sides of the membrane. The second law of thermodynamics says, entropy has to increase. The cations have to swap or fire, flow and further randomize.

    The overall situation is energy potential plus entropy potential, with the energy trying to lower and the entropy trying to increase. Entropy has many definitions, with one connected to randomization; wishes to randomize the cations. The neurons is hardware that is design to lower energy; fire the memory, with some potential for randomization via entropy potential.

    The creative process will use the same memories as anyone else. The difference is it will go down a new path. We have short and long term memory. Short term memory has more entropy potential. It allows us to see new relationships even with the same input data. The more you look at something new connections can appear. It is taboo to use too much entropy since the data organization can deviate too far.

    In my observation, the conscious mind or ego conscious appears to be at lower potential than the neural memory. This allows the conscious mind to drop the floor, causing memory or neurons to gain relative potential; more potential to lower potential and fire. The ego appears to be variable, like lowering and raising the floor, to get more or less energy entropy flow. The higher potential; lower the floor, allows the higher flow to depart beaten paths; slosh over.

    Necessity is the mother of invention, because necessity creates a conscious stress that lowers the floor, in a targeted way, so there is more potential to fire and slosh over.

Share This Page