Talk:Non-materialist neuroscience/Archive1

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This looks fun[edit]

This looks fun. BTW, i was just going over some of the Grier et al crap. I pulled up their "study" in Neuroendo. Letters, but didn't find any response/critique in the same journal yet (didn't look hard) but the methodology is horrible.--PalMD-Goatspeed! 16:58, 13 July 2007 (CDT)

Have you gotten to the part where they formed their own IRB made up of their relatives and friends to approve the ethics of their research? Wonderful people... tmtoulouse beset 17:01, 13 July 2007 (CDT)
Makes me wish for a Hell to damn them to. I can't even get people to fill out a survey without closer scrutiny. BTW...never mind, ill email you--PalMD-Goatspeed! 17:04, 13 July 2007 (CDT)

I hope you don't mind if i spend a little while on this editing and such. 20:39, 14 July 2007 (CDT)

I am trying to decide how I feel about this. On one hand, I want to think they are like children going "no huh mine is better than your 'science'". On the other hand, I feel like they are challenging science to a penis measuring contest while assuring us that "it gets bigger".because I like linksthe_anti-drug(elk murder) 18:20, 13 July 2007 (CDT)

Should we add this to the lists of pseudosciences? ThunderkatzHo! 15:16, 16 July 2007 (CDT)

Link collection for research[edit]

I am sticking links here for me to remember, and for anyone else to take a look at who wants to explore this issue and help develop the article. Some of it maybe behind journals that require a subscription. If someone does not have access to a paper and wants it just alert me on here, e-mail or my talk page and I can get you an "educational" copy:

Michael Egnor[edit]

Mario Beauregard's stuff[edit]

Interesting works on materialist evidence of thought[edit]

tmtoulouse beset 13:12, 14 July 2007 (CDT)

On the general topic of "quantum mind" nonsense, good starting points are A. Litt et al., "Is the Brain a Quantum Computer?" Cognitive Science (2006) and Scott Aaronson's Quantum Computing Since Democritus. Oh, and I wrote about Egnor here and here, among other places. (The comments to the latter post contain some irritating trolling, so be forewarned.) Feel free to adapt what you find helpful. Blake Stacey 15:28, 16 July 2007 (CDT)

Awesome stuff Blake thank you, a lot of that will be useful particularly some of the historical background stuff which is not my strong suit but should be put in for context. 15:45, 16 July 2007 (CDT)

Too technical? Doesn't make sense?[edit]

I am trying to walk a fine line between trying to give a feel for just how great and detailed our knowledge is, while making it understandable and am I doing with that? I notice a comment that some of the imaging correlate stuff was confusing, can you expand on that? tmtoulouse beset 15:27, 18 July 2007 (CDT)

I just meant that "For example, activation of the medial prefrontal cortex is associated with memories and judgments involve self-references and not when the same thoughts are processed about other people." is a poorly written sentence. I can't fix it because I'm not exactly sure what you're trying to say. But I think you're doing a good job of being both knowledged and readable. ThunderkatzHo! 15:35, 18 July 2007 (CDT)
I understood it, but it should say "that involve" not "involve". And it needs a comma after "self references" so the reader can catch their breath. Tmt sometimes works too fast, is all. humanbe in 23:56, 30 August 2007 (CDT)
The section "Drug manipulation, surgery, and injury" Has this third sentence: "While powerfully suggest direct manipulation of brain structures is needed to demonstrate causation." While I can make a stab at making it make more sense, I can't do so while keeping the rest of the paragraph coherent. Any ideas?--Bob_M (talk) 12:59, 31 August 2007 (CDT)

I guess I should finish this now[edit]

Hopefully I will be motivated now to finish this up. tmtoulouse beset 23:46, 29 August 2007 (CDT)

Quantum mind[edit]

Does anyone want to touch his quantum mind stuff? I can do it but if we have some quantum physics geeks who want to tackle it, it might be better? tmtoulouse beset 22:00, 30 August 2007 (CDT)

Um, have we bought "math" yet? It might be helpful. And, while I sometimes "understand" quantum stuff, it's been a long long long time since I could discuss it meaningfully. And this article needs more than some guy saying "this concept is ludicrous and I abandoned it twelve minutes after I made it up in 1982". humanbe in 23:50, 30 August 2007 (CDT)
I'd be curious to be know where the concept of "quantum phenomena implies a mind is in control" comes from (I'm a novice at best when it comes to neuroscience). Is that something unique to specific quantum phenomena that they say are applicable to neuroscience? Or are they saying that all quantum phenomena are associated with a "mind"? If I make a quantum harmonic oscillator, have I also created a "mind"? I've heard people try to explain remote viewing with quantum mechanics, and they tend to ignore what the actual science is and only focus on aspects that they think "support" what they want to believe (non-locality and so forth). Kind of a "science a la carte" policy. Seems like that could be the case here.--BayesHave a cold one! 00:58, 31 August 2007 (CDT)
The "paper" where he talks about it is here if you want to take a look. From what I can tell they really are trying to make the claim that a "mind" is needed to collapse a wave function and since some chemical interactions in neurons might have quantum effects a "mind" is needed to control those effects. So yea, as far as I can tell things like the double split experiment are creating a "mind". tmtoulouse beset 01:03, 31 August 2007 (CDT)
As far as math, I can't buy it till we break that $150 mark or else pay pal is going to get hit me with fees we don't need. Once I get another $10 or so in the account I will pay back colin and "buy" math. tmtoulouse beset 01:05, 31 August 2007 (CDT)


This user has been vandalising this article and deserves to be blocked. I have reverted his edits before, only to be reverted and threatened with a block. He has never contributed anything of value to it. He should really be blocked. Preferably for a long time. Bohdan17 23:54, 30 August 2007 (CDT)

Please provide sufficient difflinks to support your case. While this user is known to us as a mostly incompetent (and thus harmless) edit-warrer, we need a stronger case to tie his hands more effectively. Bohdan71 23:59, 30 August 2007 (CDT)
No, the article is evidence itself. Tmtoulouse is a vandal. Block him now! Bohdan37
I would also like to bring to your attention User:Human. He vandalised the article earlier. He should be removed as an admin and blocked for a very long time. Bohdan61
Yes, we have that nefarious character in our sights, too. Trouble is, he keeps slithering out of our grasp just when we think we finally have him nailed to rights. Bohdan29
Some pervert named "Etoraced" has also been trying to pwn this article. I suggest we pwn him, chop him up, and eat him with goat fritters, then blockerate him. Bohdan31

Hmm...multiple personalities, nefarious plotting, fishy smell...I wonder who could have written this section?--BayesHave a cold one! 22:37, 31 August 2007 (CDT)<--always suspected Bohdan's Human's pwnage had a Tolkien twist to it
On the contrary, look at the history. It was Human who posted all those in my name! Bohdan 22:39, 31 August 2007 (CDT) Human has been the mastermind all along. Makes sense, given his deceitful username intended to mask his work.--BayesHave a cold one! 22:48, 31 August 2007 (CDT)

Completely unimportant[edit]

We all know google ranks prove nothing, but our google rank proves we (meaning the writers of this article) are awesome. We're fourth/seventh (depending on how you look at it) and all the sites ahead of us are toxic landfills for O'Leary. ThunderkatzHo! 08:01, 31 August 2007 (CDT)

Top, one might say, because the top page is against us. -- מְתֻרְגְּמָן וִיקִי שְׁלֹום!
Do you think that boost might be because we link to them? ThunderkatzHo! 09:46, 31 August 2007 (CDT)
That was unclear. Do you think it's high because it's rank was boosted by us linking to it? ThunderkatzHo! 09:47, 31 August 2007 (CDT)
I don't know, but shurely it will bring in traffic anyway. Google rankings can just be people laughing at O'Leary (who will probably like RW) - a popular site because of the widespread ridicule does exist.-- מְתֻרְגְּמָן וִיקִי שְׁלֹום!
I don't think its from our link because all EL links on mediawiki are nofollow tagged. Our high google rank is what made O'Leary decide to write about us to begin with I am sure. Maybe we could spark a bit of a debate in the blogosphere is some sympathetic to us decide to write about the situation. tmtoulouse beset 13:02, 31 August 2007 (CDT)

Skeptics' Circle!![edit]

Another successful day of Goatery for TMT! He's in the 69th Sketpics' Circle for this here article.--PalMD-Berate Me 07:54, 13 September 2007 (MDT)

I like it.[edit]

An excelent piece of work, the hard work of you rationalpedians has produced wonders :) REELrun 18:05, 3 October 2007 (EDT)

THanks, we like it too!--PalMD-Oy, mein tukhas! 18:17, 3 October 2007 (EDT)

cover story[edit]

user:Thunderkatz added the nomination template.

This is one of our best articles, and already in "featured content", so I am going to "be bold" and jump straight to approval. humanUser talk:Human 19:15, 28 January 2008 (EST)


Errors in reasoning:

False analogy[edit]

Major premise: Matter has the properties of mass, length, temperature and location
Minor premise: Ideas do not have the properties of mass, length, temperature and location
Conclusion: Ideas cannot be created from matter [1]

Quod erat demonstrandum, right?

Major premise: The transistors inside a computer have the properties of location, charge, voltage and temperature.
Minor premise: The letters on this wiki page do not have the properties of location, charge, voltage and temperature.
Conclusion: The letters on this wiki page cannot be created from transistors inside a computer.

This is a cheap false analogy. Letters on a page (minor premise in 2) are not ideas. Ideas are information encoded in the form of those letters by the person who put them in that particular order to reflect that particular idea. You'd do better to say:

1) The transistors inside a computer have the properties of location, charge, voltage and temperature.
2) The ideas stored and transmitted by the transistors in this computer do not have the properties of location, charge, voltage and temperature.
3) Therefore the ideas on this wiki page cannot be created from transistors inside a computer.

But of course, that holds true. Transistors don't think. So once the false analogy is exposed, the argument means nothing. Except maybe to a transistor.

To interrupt your flow, since you made headers. I edited "letters" to say "ideas", thank you for your help! humanUser talk:Human 02:09, 13 February 2008 (EST)
but now the analogy cuts against the author's argument! Transistors can't originate ideas -- they only store and transit ideas that originate outside them! That's the argument made about the brain! -- (guy who started this thread)
Egnor's argument really is one of shard properties, he really thinks that if ideas were caused by material properties then the ideas should have mass and weight. Which is just stupid. What you are arguing is a little different and is argued against a little differently. 19:14, 13 February 2008 (EST)

Egnor's argument is silly, but so's the refutation IMO -- the refutation should go to the merits of the argument, not the silly analogy. Ideas are subjective experiences, not objective objects. Being stabbed with an objective knife causes subjective pain transmitted through objective nerves. So it is with ideas. He endows subjective experience with objective reality. That's his mistake. - gwstt.

Adding or removing stuff[edit]

Should this be added?

Further more,

Major premise: God is a spirit, immmaterial, immutable, perfect.
Minor premise: The Universe is material changeable, imperfect.
Conclusion: The universe does not come from God.

Should the stuff about transistors come out? Proxima Centauri (talk) 09:20, 12 June 2011 (UTC)

Circular reasoning[edit]

If Egnor wants to be taken seriously he must come up with a way to identify, measure and test the ghost in his machine.

This assumes what it seeks to prove. The author assumes that in order "to be taken seriously," one must use the scientific method. But what of all the things in this world that cannot be tested through science? Like the scientific method itself, which is a philosophy, not falsifiable science to be observed and tested. It's folly to place so much faith in a process that you exclude the potential validity ON THE MERITS of anything that we don't have the capacity to test according to that method. It assumes what it seeks to prove.

"what of all the things in this world that cannot be tested through science?" I challenge you: name three. humanUser talk:Human 02:10, 13 February 2008 (EST)
Love, Beauty, and Human Stupidity? (Two can't be measured because they're intangible, one because it's infinite.) :D --Gulik 03:32, 13 February 2008 (EST)
I don't consider those "answers" to my question, so much as more challenges to the lovely bunchofnumbers that thinks they pwned this article. humanUser talk:Human 04:14, 13 February 2008 (EST)
I think they're pretty good answers actually -- are they not in the world or are they testable? I'll add some more -- the accuracy of my memories and theories about the origin of life -- (guy who started this subsection)
Actually, you're only asserting they can't be. People have done work on what people find beautiful, for instance. I see no reason why it isn't possible for science to explore, and possibly even understand, what is behind "love". (one kind of love, bonding with babies, has a number of components that I think are understood). And human stupidity (haha) can be catlogued, just not prevented. Yet. humanUser talk:Human 20:07, 13 February 2008 (EST)

How would you empirically test whether an object is beautiful or not? Or the quality of a person's judgment? Or how life came to exist? - gwstt

You're kind of putting it backwards. First, we would have to understand what causes the reaction in humans that makes us say something is beautiful. Since "taste" varies so much, there would be sure to be many variables. If, however, some core was identified, we could then test our idea by formulating a way to make a beautiful object (or music, or face, whatever) and using the formula to make an object, which would then be "tested" by seeing if people thought it was beautiful. And, of course, people have been trying to do this for millennia. And many have succeeded to an extent. To then do the empirical test for beauty, one would analyze an object for the traits in the formula. By the way, symmetry is a common one in human faces, from what I recall. I have no idea why you appended that part about how life started. Oh, I see, it's another "thing that can't be tested". Well, it couldn't be proven that it is "how things really happened", but, um, people are also working on this - essentially recreating old Earth conditions to see if they can get simple/complex molecules of the sort we see in life to form. And, ideally, to crudely self-replicate...
By the way, since when are love and beauty "things"? humanUser talk:Human 21:23, 13 February 2008 (EST)

Interesting ... But even if they found a way it could have happened, it wouldn't be a test to show it DID occur that way ... Also, without a way to find the "core" of beauty, how can we say something is beautiful, as we do every day? Finally, I think that love and beauty are subjective experiences, not material things. But our life is so full of those experiences that our thought needs to leave room for them. Ungtss 21:54, 13 February 2008 (EST)

Well, here's my two cents, I think that we probably can understand love and beauty through science in a personal sense. So for a paricular person we define beauty by what the person finds beautiful, humour by what they find funny etc... and we can study the responses of this person to stimuli in detail and discover exactly what they find beautiful, funny, etc... We do this on a practical level already. We can judge our own taste in aesthetics quite well and we can learn to judge another's taste satisfactorily. As to why a particular thing may be beautiful to a particular person, the result I guess, is due to evolution, cultural and social factors. The people we find beautiful are obviously determined by our genetics but the other two factors are important in aesthetics in general. People from the boroque era would not enjoy modern music that we enjoy for example. It is possible however that cultural and social effects are limited, so you can't make people like any old random art even if they are brought up with it. I freely admit that these are based on speculation and anecdotal evidence but in theory they are testable with the scientific method. However, what about the most important example given, the scientific method itself, or more generally, any ideology? There are thousands of religious, philosophical, political and cultural ideologies that I hope you will agree, are important things in the world and that they cannot be tested with the scientific method. Should we disregard all books written about politics or morality? Should we abandon our ideals?


Beauregard's arguments owe a lot to intelligent design and creationism, since he has basically co-opted their successful two tier strategy. First, create a false dichotomy and then second, find something interesting and proclaim that you don't see how that could happen without a God/soul/alien interfering so therefore a God/soul/alien must have done it.

The materialist alternative is of course to find something interesting and proclaim that it functions solely through materialistic means, even though we don't know what they are; but surely they'll be materialistic, because that's all that exists anyway.

It's too late for me to tear through anymore of this tripe. Mind you, I'm no dualist. I just know nonsense when I see it. 01:53, 13 February 2008 (EST)

Please, return when you have more time and address these issues as you see fit. If you want to write a brilliant article (or essay) refuting materialism, and all it entails, I welcome your efforts --- and contributions. humanUser talk:Human 02:13, 13 February 2008 (EST)
Uh we know a lot about how the physical properties in the brain effect thought and ideas, this article includes many examples. 19:09, 13 February 2008 (EST)
IMO both materialism and dualism are unfalsifiable -- ergo no point trying to prove either false. For now. But at least we can think logically about these things! -- (guy who started this thread)
Eh, maybe in the most absolute sense of those philosophies that is true. But methodological naturalism and pragmatism in general means that non-materialism is pretty worthless. All advancements in neuroscience have come about by assuming material causes. No prediction or worthwhile research program has ever arrisen out of the assumption of non-materialism. tmtoulouse beset 19:18, 13 February 2008 (EST)

What's your definition of worth so as to make it worthless? What if, despite its worthlessness, it's actually true? Sure seems harmless to me. - gwstt

A couple more.[edit]

Straw man[edit]

The thought, behavior, emotions, and consciousness all appear to be reliably predicted by the activation of particular brain regions. This is very powerful evidence for materialist based explanations of the "mind" and defiantly not a prediction of any dualist model

Dualism can allow for the activation of particular regions of the brain for certain mental states. The brain can be envisioned as transmitting those pieces of information and/or stimuli, which originate in the great nebulous "mind." Think of a network router transferring data from computers connected to it. The transfer of data through the router does not prove that there are no humans out there, not physically connected to the router, originating the data ... — Unsigned, by: Ungtss / talk / contribs

I did not have to "think" of my router, I "looked" at it. It's a fairly materialist hunk of hardware and software. I'm still looking, however, for evidence of the ghost in the machine. humanUser talk:Human 00:31, 15 February 2008 (EST)
I may not have been clear. Information that originates in your mind is transmitted and stored through electronic circuits. A dualist could argue that same about the mind. The mind originates ideas and will, which are transmitted and stored in the brain. Again, I don't hold this opinion myself. But I don't think "science" has defeated it. It remains a question of interpretation and philosophy. As they say, the most viscious debates are those for which there is no good evidence either way. So it is with philosophy of mind. Ungtss 12:40, 15 February 2008 (EST)

Begging the question[edit]

As models grow in sophistication and other areas of research converge we will slowly approach the ability to accurately model inside computers all of those electrical patterns that were thought to be uniquely "human" and be the source of the "mind" or "soul".

The author assumes this is possible, and uses this assumption as his basis to argue that such research is a "death knell to dualism." Predictions of future discoveries do not falsify alternative theories -- only the discoveries themselves! — Unsigned, by: Ungtss / talk / contribs

Bu the "gaps" do keep getting smaller, don't they? As in, where does the humunculous "exist", and, most importantly - how does it make neurons do stuff in our physical universe? (hint: Jesus Is Magic - Sarah Silverman - ok, that part is pure snark and not an "argument" or "position", but it kind of gets at what I am saying.) And Ungstt, please sign your posts with four tildes, k? humanUser talk:Human 00:34, 15 February 2008 (EST)
Personally, I don't think the gaps are getting smaller. I think the gaps are getting bigger. The more I learn about the brain, the more irreducibly complex and inimitable and "more than the sum of its parts" it begins to look. Don't get me wrong. I'm not a dualist. But I don't think the materialists will have won in any meaningful scientific sense until they can comprehensively explain and duplicate the brain. Until then, I think there's room for both POVs in this world. Unfortunately, both POVs are all too anxious to prematurely proclaim victory through poor reasoning like that demonstrated above ... the author assumes the brain will be comprehensively explained in solely materialistic terms, and then uses that assumption to proclaim victory. Yikes. Ungtss 12:37, 15 February 2008 (EST)
I tend to agree in a conditional sort of way. While we may someday devise a computer and software sophisticated and complicated enough to accomplish the equivalent of thought, it will take some doing. The sum is clearly greater than the parts. The way the brain balances the interraction between sense impressions and memory is an incredibly complex (and fleeting) web of connections, neurotransmitters, receptor sites, etc. It boggles "my" mind. I believe everything that happens in the brain is the result of physical interactions, I don't think there's a "soul" in there, but I suspect there are emergent properties of a system that complex. PoorEd 12:54, 15 February 2008 (EST)
Personally, I totally agree with you. I just think it's still a matter of interpretation of evidence and philosophy, rather than science. Maybe someday we'll have a scientific answer. 'Til then I hope we can all get along with all our different, unfalsifiable opinions:). Ungtss 13:13, 15 February 2008 (EST)
I think that the hardest part of making an artificial "brain" won't be making a complex thing "like it" - it will be adding in the sensory input and motor abilities that build the impressions on the "newborn" brain. You know, like making a "baby" machine of some sort to hold that artificial brain. humanUser talk:Human 14:08, 15 February 2008 (EST)
Yeah, like that movie where the robot keeps looking for more "input, input". It is science that is making progress in understanding the brain, slow and piecemeal as that progress is. We are perhaps in our understanding of the brain where they were with an understanding of how bacteria caused illness back when the microscope was first discovered. PoorEd 14:15, 15 February 2008 (EST)
I'd agree with that assessment. humanUser talk:Human 14:42, 15 February 2008 (EST)

double slit experiment claim[edit]

Excellent piece, but one statement worried me:

"It is not the researchers' “mind” that causes the light to act as a wave or a particle but rather the mechanical nature of the slits in which the light travels through."

My understanding of the classic double-slit experiment was that observing the slits makes the interference pattern disappear (i.e. it makes the electrons stop behaving as waves and start behaving "normally" as particles). That behavioral change (or "observer effect") might be caused by the mechanical nature of the observation technology introduced into the experiment, but the statement above makes it sound like the effect is caused by some kind of change in the slits themselves, which seems very unlikely.

mufi 11:21, 17 May 2008

I don't think that's the case. As I dimly recall, other tests get results that show electrons acting as particles, however, the double slit one produces an interference pattern - something that could only happen if they were acting as waves. The observer's mind has nothing to do with the results except for any part it played in setting up the experiment (choice of tests). humanUser talk:Human 14:30, 17 May 2008 (EDT)

I tend to agree that "The observer's mind has nothing to do with the results except for any part it played in setting up the experiment (choice of tests)." In fact, that is why I offered an alternative explanation, one that I find much more plausible than either observers' minds or "the mechanical nature of the slits" as causal factors in the wave collapse, when I referred to "the mechanical nature of the observation technology introduced into the experiment."

But, whatever the cause, the fact is that the interference pattern is only lost when someone observes the slits (initially, to confirm that electrons have indeed passed through such and such a slit). No one really knows for certain (thus, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle) what is going on at that scale, but my point here is that "the mechanical nature of the slits" seems as much of a non-starter as the observers' minds in explaining the wave collapse.

I say that while it's true, the mind is having a very direct effect on the light, it's not controlling it, just reacting to it, flipping it's finger to push up the switch and starting the machine.

MykalOfDefiance 07:50, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

It's a minor nit, but one that could help to strengthen an otherwise excellent treatment of the subject. [Not that you should take my word for it. I'm a web developer, not a quantum physicist.]


I agree with you. But you should sign your posts with four tildes, like this: ~~~~ <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Sleepy Jack the fire drill 15:24, 17 May 2008 (EDT)
No, by the time you are "observing" the slits, the physical geometry of the experiment has changed - a device is in place at the slit(s) to track electrons based on their particle properties. Which forces their wave function to collapse and kills the pattern. It's got nothing to do with "a person" doing any observing. humanUser talk:Human 19:14, 17 May 2008 (EDT)
IANAPhysicist, but as I recall from doing this in physics lab, it is not the physical setup that causes the collapse of the wave function, but the observation...User:PalMD
That's what I was informed. Can we get someone expertical in to settle this? <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Sleepy Jack the fire drill 19:26, 17 May 2008 (EDT)
I'm gonna try to look it up somehow. I think one confusion here does come from the conflation (similar to the "evolution is just a theory" argument) of what consititutes "measurement", or , more importantly, "observation" in science. The "act" of observing is not about a mind being present, it's in the mechanics of the lab set up. But as I said, let me see if I can dig up some clarity from old notes and new innertubes. humanUser talk:Human 15:30, 18 May 2008 (EDT)

After reading this article it strikes me that you are not so familiar with the proper definitions of what you are talking about. There used to be a distinction between materialism and dualism that refered to substance dualism; that there are two different substances, mind and matter. However, that distinction has been all but abandoned when considering the so-called mind body problem. The modern discussion is about property dualism; there are different sets of properties that adhere to one substance, matter. Within that discussion come the physicalists or reductionists, and the property dualists. Both sides of the debate have individuals who have different formulations of their respective camp. For instance, some property dualists favour anomolous monism as depicted by Betrand Russell and some favour the supervenience theory. Some property monists favour reducing 'mental' properties to 'physical' properties via a computational analogy and some favour the linguistic analogy.

The point of all this is that non-materialist neuroscience is not necessairily pseudo-science. Science cannot justify itself anymore than arithmatic can justify itself. Any such self-justificaation would be circular and hence no justification at all. Since such a justification of science comes from philosophy one should not denigrate philosophy as much as this site seems to do. Remember that it was philosophers that identified what rationality is and they did not state that science is the end all be all of what is considered rational.

If the article to which I am commenting on is limited to only exposing the incorrect thinking of a small number of people then at least do the charitable thing and state that you are not targeting everyone who holds a more cogent theory of non-materialist neuroscience. Of course, adhering to the principle of charity is the rational thing to do. — Unsigned, by: Sethdeth / talk / contribs

An Oxymoron?[edit]

Isn't science inherently uses Methodological materialistic such that Non-materialistic ones are defying the restrictions? That leads to the Non-materialistic "Science" not using any methods to study, and so not doing anything at all. Thieh 23:35, 28 April 2009 (UTC)

I think that's pretty much what the article is about, yes. It's the biology equivalent of creation science. ħumanUser talk:Human 23:37, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
I guess I have to make things more clear: creation science doesn't have such linguistic problem, as science can be used to create something (Only when you go deep enough as who creates what, which then becomes a problem). Never I have heard wording of a subject of knowledge in an oxymoron. Maybe it should also be in the War on Words sections, if RW happen to has it. Thieh 23:46, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
Yes, true. The thing is, there are idiots arguing for "Non-materialist neuroscience". They think it's a way to keep dualism alive perhaps. ħumanUser talk:Human 00:02, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

Hagan, Hameroff, Tuszynski reference[edit]

This article contains the following:

The first is that quantum effects dominate not just in small spaces but in really small time scales and the time scales that operate in the brain remove any basis for quantum mechanics to have any significant effects. [22]

The link to [22] takes me to:

21. S Hagan, SR Hameroff, and JA Tuszynski, “Quantum computation in brain microtubules: Decoherence and biological feasibility,” Physical Review E 65, no. 6 (2002): 61901.

(I just added a link to the actual paper in a previous edit)

First of all, there seems to be something wrong with the alignment of reference numbers, as I believe the intention is for [22] to take me to footnote #22, not to #21. This alignment error is especially egregious here because the cited paper by Hagan et al actually reaches the opposite conclusion regarding time scales. Here are some key excerpts from the paper:

"The Penrose-Hameroff orchestrated objective reduction (orch. OR) model assigns a cognitive role to quantum computations in microtubules within the neurons of the brain...The model has been criticized as regards the issue of environmental decoherence, and a recent report by Tegmark finds that microtubules can maintain quantum coherence for only 10^{-13} s, far too short to be neurophysiologically relevant." (Abstract, page 1)
"When appropriately revised, both theoretically and numerically, decoherence times due to the tidal influence of Coulomb forces appear to be in line with the relevant dynamical times, in the range 10^{-5}-10^{-4} s, in accord with biological phenomena. These revisions place the microtubule decoherence time in a range invalidating Tegmark’s assumption that the decoherence time scale is much shorter than relevant physiological dynamical time scales, and suggest that the approximation scheme used is inappropriate to the superposition under consideration." (Outlook, page 10)
"Thus the issue of organized quantum processes in the brain remains open, and subject to experimental verification, an indication that there is cause for optimism that some of the enigmatic features of the cognitive processes occurring in consciousness might yet be understood in a quantum theoretical framework." (Outlook, page 10, last sentence of paper)

In light of this, this section needs revision. One of the following seems to be in order:

  1. Remove any statements regarding incompatibility of time scales.
  2. Retain statements, but acknowledge qualified different viewpoints, referencing the Hagan et al paper.
  3. Retain statements, mention different viewpoints, again referencing the Hagan et al paper, but label all such attempts as failed by referencing other papers that specifically debunk them.

On the whole, the footnote alignment problem is a very serious one for this article, and needs to be fixed to make the article more useful.

Dshin 04:17, 19 June 2009 (UTC)

I think the footnote alignment issue is a MW bug - it used to be endemic, but I thought it was solved a while back. No comment on the actual content of your critique, hopefully Trent will turn up and fix it or discuss it. ħumanUser talk:Human 08:12, 19 June 2009 (UTC)

BON's critique of Egnor "rebuttal"[edit]

There is a fallacy in this example. the ideas on this wiki page were not created from the transistors inside a computer. The transistors inside the computer merely displayed the ideas that was created by some other source. It could then be argued that the brain works like a computer and facillitates the ideas that are generated by some other source.

While that is generally true of text displayed that was written by a person (yeah, like on "this wiki page"), a computer screen can display things that were created by its transistors alone. That said, perhaps a better counterexample might be forthcoming? ħumanUser talk:Human 21:59, 13 September 2009 (UTC)

Here's what I think. A computer screen can remember information, display it, and communicate. Neuroscience says, why can't the brain just be a machine like that? It probably is just a machine. I agree completely with that. I'm saying, why am I conscious and the computer's not, if we're the same thing, varying only in complexity? :D

MykalOfDefiance 07:19, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

But with the argument up there, I'm not trying to debate, just sharing my ideas, the computer does have memory. The internet really doesn't add any functions, just acts on the ones already in the computer.

MykalOfDefiance 07:36, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

Just asking questions to learn.[edit]

Alright, it says that neuroscience is the death-knell of dualism. Neuroscience is the reason I like dualism. Neuroscience shows that every reaction we make is triggered by neural interactions, which act on the spinal cord to act on the muscles and make us react. We're seriously a godly complex, robotic machine. My reply to that is, then why do I get an audience to that? If nothing in me is alive, where does my life come from? If we, godly complex machines, have this large amount of consciousness, why don't simplistic machines, like robots, and ecosystems have minds? I don't think robots and ecosystems have minds. I think that neuroscience does nothing in explaining where my consciousness comes from.

MykalOfDefiance 07:01, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

The flaw in your argument is that consciousness and determinism are not mutually exclusive. As Schopenhauer put it, "You can do what you will, but in any given moment of your life you can will only one definite thing and absolutely nothing other than that one thing." Human beings are thinking, conscious creatures, but that does not mean that neuroscience is wrong. Instead, neuroscience will eventually show us how the human brain creates the human mind through examining how the brain functions. Tetronian you're clueless 16:26, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
Wait, let me re-explain myself. I know consciousness and determinism aren't mutually exclusive. That's actually what I'm arguing. I'm saying that neuroscience and determinism don't explain consciousness, and that dualism and neuroscience can, and should, until dualism is disproven, coexist. I don't think neuroscience is wrong, I agree with it. I'm a determinist myself. I just want to know that if a really complex machine is conscious, why aren't less complex machines like computers. Neuroscience says we're only really complex machines, and it's backed by a bunch of facts and scientific observations. I just don't think neuroscience explains consciousness, and therefore is not an answer to the mind-body problem. MykalOfDefiance 20:43, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
Consciousness is an emergent phenomenon of a sufficiently complex brain or brain-like organ. Note how many larger-brained animals seem to display the same traits, but to a lesser extent, and as neural complexity decreases, we see less and less of them. Simply being "aware" is probably not as special as we think it is ;) ħumanUser talk:Human 21:04, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
So then why don't computers exhibit a very small amount of awareness, directly proportional to their complexity compared to the complexity of the human brain? Not arguing, just wondering. MykalOfDefiance 21:06, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
I think there are a few reasons - one is that they aren't actually that complex. Another is that they are purpose-built, like a car engine, to do just one thing, which leaves very little room for learning and self-awareness. Also, how do we know they aren't aware? They might be, at some micro-electronic level, but are unable to "express" it due to the rigid control of their I/O systems. Also also, let's say they are "aware" in some way, even if not very much - they are so different from us we might not even recognize the signs of it. ħumanUser talk:Human 21:14, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
I get it. There is no clear line drawn to separate the aware from the unaware. It's a gradual thing. And nature reflects that. That makes sense, coming from bacteria to instinct-driven bugs to humans. It's a progression. Okay. Thanks a lot for the help! MykalOfDefiance 21:22, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
I suppose another thing to ponder is how do you know that a computer isn't aware. Perhaps some are but have no means to express it in a way that we'd understand. Or perhaps, by the standards of a hypthetical alien race, we aren't aware - thus would be liable for extermination to build a hyperspace express way much in the same way that we have no qualms about destroying hornet's nests for construction work. Scarlet A.pngsshole 21:55, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
Sounds a lot like The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Universe. MykalOfDefiance 18:29, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
Exactly. There might also be another reason computers are not conscious: have you ever heard of the Chinese Room thought-experiment? Tetronian you're clueless 18:36, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
While a good enough point, it ignores the big issue of whether the human mind is the same as the person in the room, comprehension may well be an illusion and may also be a sliding scale. Which is possibly what "Dennett's reply from natural selection" is getting at further down the article. Scarlet A.pngsshole 18:43, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
Dennett's reply is interesting, but I'm not sure if it is logically sound. He is saying that p-zombies would eventually outstrip real humans by natural selection, but I'm not sure why if they are identical except for not having a true "mind." Regardless, I don't see what's wrong with Searle's presupposition that "brains cause minds." (But then, I disagree with Mykal in that I think neuroscience can explain consciousness.) Tetronian you're clueless 18:57, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
Searle's argument could also be applied to claim that humans aren't "conscious" and have no "understanding" of what they do. We just follow incredibly complex programs, and process our inputs into outputs. I'd ask the computer "are you aware?" and if it said "yes", take its word for it. ħumanUser talk:Human 19:18, 6 November 2009 (UTC)

(undent)Obviously, because that's all you can really do to prove another human is conscious and self aware. Although an interesting idea, there's a lot wrong with the Chinese Room thought-experiment that I've been thinking about since I read it. Perhaps an article on it may be worth while, particularly as I can think of some good rationalist arguments to go with it and WP's is long, convoluted and not particularly easy to follow. Scarlet A.pngsshole 21:26, 6 November 2009 (UTC)

Indeed. Let us articlify the Chinese room? ħumanUser talk:Human 03:34, 7 November 2009 (UTC)
I started it, but it needs lots of work. Tetronian you're clueless 04:28, 7 November 2009 (UTC)

Philosophical journals[edit]

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences isn't a philosophy journal. It's a scientific journal. It's for more speculative or exploratory pieces by scientists working in biology. There are philosophical arguments for dualism, but they would be published somewhere like Philosophy or Nous, not a Royal Society journal. And those advancing philosophical arguments for dualism (I'm guessing they must exist - most philosophers these days seem to be in the materialist or the reluctant property dualist camp) generally aren't claiming that neuroscience is backing those arguments up. At least, that's what I can gather from the limited knowledge I have of the literature in philosophy of mind - it's not an area I keep up with. As for non-materialist neuroscience, I think it's a bit of a stretch to say it's as nakedly political as ID. Yes, Discovery Institute are involved, and it's worth noting that - but I haven't seen non-materialist neuroscience advocated for the high-school classroom - but that may only be because neuroscience/psychology/philosophy of mind (etc.) doesn't really get taught at high schools (ID is strange like that: generally scholarly advances are trickle-down - learn new stuff, then you start teaching postgrads new stuff, then undergrads, then high school etc. With ID, you convince the school kids first, then convince the professors!) --Tom Morris (talk) 11:21, 22 December 2009 (UTC)

What about Qualia?[edit]

I havent read the article nor the discussion completely, so please, consider completely ignoring this or just telling me "you overlooked the answer", but what about the inherent problem of explaining qualia as an emergent phenomenon, that defies any objective understanding (because it can never be looked at objectively) - and the long, ongoing discussions about it.

Note that this doesn't necessarily mean objecting to the scientific method, nor to the fact that qualia and neurological processes are linked, but just that it is in fact non-materialist (qualia is discussed as being something new, emerging from material processes), neuroscience (because it deals with the question of how consciousnes is formed and it's relation to the brain).

In fact, I think thought experiments like Mary's room do have validity. - (talk) 06:55, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

Some problems with this article[edit]

I may be guilty of not reading closely enough here, and feel free to correct me, but there seem to be some serious flaws in sections of this article.

First, the section on computer modelling seems to be bad science presented as a counter to bad science. The claim that "computers serve as an interesting counter example to dualism in and of themselves" relies on some fairly tortured reasoning. Computers are a useful analogy for understanding the human brain. This does not mean that what holds true for a computer holds true for the human brain. Surely the error in logic is obvious in the following formulation:

The human brain seems to work similarly to a computer; Computers do not have souls; Therefore, humans do not have souls.

The claim that then follows, "As models grow in sophistication and other areas of research converge we will slowly approach the ability to accurately model inside computers all of those electrical patterns that were thought to be uniquely "human" and be the source of the "mind" or "soul", is pure science fiction. It is a plausible hypothesis that a computational model of the brain is only a sufficient magnitude of complexity away from, say, writing literature. But there is certainly no evidence as of yet to make the claim so boldly. This is particularly unfortunate, as the non-materialist argument is initially condemned for relying on a fanciful leap of imagination. Both arguments are as bad as each other.

The second claim is less serious but still weakens the strength of the article. The article observes currectly that neuroscience presently indicates correlation rather than causation between consciousness and brain activity: that is, we know that activity in the brain is predictably related to areas of human consciousness, but beyond that we cannot as yet scientifically decide whether this is causal.

The points about drugs and brain injury are an attempt to demonstrate that in fact it *is* a causal relationship. This strikes me as a weak section, not the strong section it frames itself to be. It loses sight of the dualist position being criticised: a non-material "soul" mediates with the brain to produce consciousness. Dualism does not hold that the brain has no role in consciousness, perception, and identity, and that damage to the brain cannot affect behaviour and consciousness. This is a rather obvious strawman that does the article no favours. These are still important points to make in the article, but as presented they are weak points.

It seems to me that we would be better to stick to the closing line of the article: "Some may consider science, in principle, unable to conclusively prove that there is no immaterial component to the human person, due to the inability to conceive what that sort of proof may look like (since it is regarding something traditionally considered outside the material domain)." Surely, in the end, the argument here is not one that can be scientifically addressed. The proposition that the brain mediates soul cannot yet be disproved by computational modelling or by neuroscience. Therefore we do science no credit by aggressively posturing as if that were so.

Needless to say, the proposition cannot be proved scientifically either - and that is really all that matters here. (talk) 06:20, 6 March 2011 (UTC)

If the soul is outside the universe and there is no possible evidence for or against its existence (it is undetectable) then its existence is moot because there is no way it could affect the universe at all. Science can't explain or detect the completely invisible purple dragon in my garage, but that doesn't mean that there is one in there. Indeed, by definition it can't really exist, which is the point. Although I think it could be worded better in the article. I can see the problem with the computer example, however, I think you may have worded it in an odd way that negates the actual point (and we should check the article to see if it implies it wrongly). It should be that if a computer can effectively replicate conciousness without the need for us to wave a magic wand and create a dualist soul then we can happily infer the same thing for a human brain. There is nothing particularly special about a brain composed of neurons made of atoms in the material world, and a brain composed of neurons that is simulated in a digital world given a so-called "materialist philosophy". A non-materialist philosophy would imply that there is something special. Given this, we can propose an experiment to test for a soul (which is in conflict with the other part that says detecting a non-materialist soul is supposedly beyond science). Scarlet A.pngsshole 14:21, 6 March 2011 (UTC)
tl;dr. But why couldn't something that is "outside" the universe change it, and isn't your awareness of your own consciousness clear evidence that it has? -- (talk) 15:23, 6 March 2011 (UTC)
BoN: if it's too long to read, don't try to argue with it. Come back when you've read it. 15:35, 6 March 2011 (UTC) SusanG Toast
@BoN: The problem is that you are wrong about consciousness being "outside the universe." What neuroscience and cognitive science have shown is that consciousness comes from your brain; so it no longer makes sense to discuss consciousness as if it's some otherworldly thing. Tetronian you're clueless 15:57, 6 March 2011 (UTC)
My dog has a mind. It has emotions - sometimes strong ones; it recognises me; it behaves in a different manner when it thinks I'm watching her compared to when she thinks I'm not; it behaves in another manner when it thinks my wife is watching her - all of which indicates that she understands the difference between her wants and the wants of others; she can make limited plans in respect of the immediate future - OK quite limited, but she's a dog; she can generate novel solutions to novel problems. Some studies indicate that dogs are capable of deception and have a sense of fairness.
So I'd say my dog has a mind. Does that mean she has a soul?--BobSpring is sprung! 16:05, 6 March 2011 (UTC)
Since the BoN didn't seem to understand, I'll clarify. It's perfectly possible for something "outside" the universe to affect it. But if that was the case, then it certainly wouldn't undetectable and miraculously beyond any scientific study - as dualists like to claim the soul is, and apologists like to say God is. Indeed, if that was the case it wouldn't entirely be "outside" the universe, because its effects are observable inside the universe. Thus if something can affect the universe, it can be detected. In much the same way that atoms are "outside" the range of normal human vision, but can still be detected through other means that does affect what is in our normal range of vision (tiny little lights in a computer monitor, for instance). If it's for some reason unable to interact with and affect our universe, it cannot be detected. Its existence is on par with Russel's teapot, the IPU and my invisible pet dragon. Scarlet A.pngsshole 18:14, 6 March 2011 (UTC)

Objection to title[edit]

"Non-materialist neuroscience" is a bad title, in that it suggests that non-materialists must subscribe to a different neuroscience than materialists do. Some non-materialists may believe they need some alternative neuroscience to justify their non-materialism; but not all non-materialists feel the same way. Dualists may be troubled by contemporary neuroscience; but as an idealist nothing worries me. To me, mainstream neuroscience isn't just materialist neuroscience; it's idealist neuroscience too. --(((Zack Martin))) 11:42, 18 March 2011 (UTC)

And yet[edit]

People and many creatures do behave in ways that is not entirely predictable from the ways in which their brains are constructed. "Summat more than grey/white matter and neurons' is responsible for people choosing between Conservapedia, Rationalwiki, Wookiewiki and (any other wiki of choice).'

What is the "rule" that goes along the lines that no matter how carefully you arrange the experiment, the creature will do exactly as it wants.' (And not just cats.)— Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs

Free will? ADK...I'll stink your memo! 14:15, 13 May 2011 (UTC)
Also, assuming something more than the material brain is required to explain behaviour because neuroscience can't fully predict it doesn't follow. Neuroscience is science, and is as such, incomplete. It has an ability to predict, but that doesn't mean 100% accuracy. Similarly, stating that you can't predict behaviour from looking at the brain confuses a random system from a chaotic, i.e., complex, one. They may, in principle, be indistinguishable and equally unpredictable if you can't gather enough information but that doesn't mean there aren't underlying rules at work. ADK...I'll suck your mitten! 14:18, 13 May 2011 (UTC)

We can agree that much of mental activity is driven by the mechanical-biological structure of the brain (and certain external aspects - life in Omyakon, the centre of a major city and at the bottom of the ocean will be very different), and much is determined by chance. #But# there does seem to be some aspect of 'mental autonomy not determined by the physical universe' in many humans and some other creatures - and 'what makes "a person" such' has been discussed for centuries. Paraphrasing Hamlet, there is more to heaven and on earth and humans in particular than in purely pysical philosophy.— Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs

Can you give a specific example of something in animals or people that can not be explained by material processes? Tmtoulouse (talk) 15:07, 13 May 2011 (UTC)
And "it hasn't been explained yet" doesn't count. Though indeed, saying that there is something "beyond reality" is a little weird anyway, because how does that beyond reality bit interact with reality? Surely it then does become detectable and as such part of reality. ADK...I'll advocate your virus! 15:13, 13 May 2011 (UTC)

So what makes you variously Tmtoulouse, ADK, Armondikov etc rather than 'a group of undistinguished autonoma'? The 'sense of personal identity' is determined by more than 'a collection of genes and physical phenomena.' (talk) 16:53, 17 May 2011 (UTC)

The point I was trying to make is that 'the science of the brain' and 'pschology' (whatever its use, and opinions thereof) while explaining much do not explain 'the mind'/creativity/humour/why we find nature beautiful (rather than just humans) and so on. (talk) 18:40, 20 June 2011 (UTC)

We can explain which areas of the brain are active during which of those sensations, experiences or expressions. We can show how when those active areas are damaged people lose this qualia. We can show how specific chemicals act to enhance or dampen these qualia. We can also propose how the development of these qualia have advantages in an evolutionary scenario, and show genetic relationships between such qualia. All this without the need to grasp at some undefined, untestable "element" of human psychology. Tmtoulouse (talk) 18:49, 20 June 2011 (UTC)
I"m not going to get into this in an editing sense, cause i'm not a scientists, but i have to agree with the "user", TMT that we have virtually no idea how the mind works. the scientific study called "Theory of mind" is less well understood than that big bang, or black holes, or most anything in cosmology (other than say, the "darks"). We know ***a little** about where things are stored in the brain, but we've found out since mRMI that we made lots of assumptions based in brain injury, that really are not accurate. we know that the brain works on "electro magnetic energy", but not "how do we actually store memories? What makes them retrieved? Why when we are speaking do we suddenly out of the blue "miss a word', and most of the tiem find that our thoughts precede our actual awareness of those thoughts. Being a linguist, I'm constantly reading new studies on the Science of the Theory of the Mind, and the biggest consensus is we have just started to know "what we know". but at a baby step level. --Sun mowse.pngEn attendant Godot 19:07, 20 June 2011 (UTC)
I diasgree, we actually know quiet a bit about everything you listed. I am not sure what mRMI is, I will guess fMRI. MRI technology, brain injury, lesions, drugs, etc. all work toghther to form our picture. You pick memories are your example, we have substantial information about memory storage and retrival. Down to very specific issues. For example, neuronal genesis in the dentae gyrus is used to help create storage templates for similar but different memory contexts. We have computational modesl that show in intricate detail how neuronal turn over allows for this, we have irradiated rats that show when we remove those new neurons they lose the ability to rembmer specific things. We have structural MRI that can show relative differences in neuronal turn over in humans and correlate that directly with specific memory based cognitive tasks. We don't know everything but we know a lot, and what we know is increasing by the second. Through all of our advancement one constant remains, we do not have to rely on any idealist qualia like a "mind" or "soul" to explain anything. Materialist properties are proving adequate all the way down. You can propose a god of the gaps argument for the "mind" but its just like any such argument, it provides nothing to the people who study it, and shrinks daily. Tmtoulouse (talk) 21:56, 20 June 2011 (UTC)
The words "we know very little about x" often seem to be followed up by an argument totally ignorant of and unfamiliar with the research in the relevant field, no offense. Schacter's Seven Sins of Memory has good answers to these questions. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 22:09, 20 June 2011 (UTC)

Egnor's Syllogism[edit]

It's an overly verbose section. What he really is saying that matter cannot create the ideas because matter does not (have the property of being capable to) create ideas. -- (talk) 10:51, 19 June 2011 (UTC)

If that is what Egnor says it's a circular argument. Proxima Centauri (talk) 15:29, 19 June 2011 (UTC)
He might be tacking something onto it but in the end it boils down to this. -- (talk) 15:32, 19 June 2011 (UTC)

Can someone explain to me how non-materialist neuroscience is any different from psychiatry? The mind is an abstract concept of human thought. How can it suffer from a disease? Unless the definition of disease is debased. --Dirk Steele (talk) 22:58, 26 September 2012 (UTC)

Please stop talking. Scarlet A.pngbominationModerator 00:13, 27 September 2012 (UTC)

Gcolvin's edits[edit]

GrantC just undid my edits, which I just put redid. Somebody seems to think that the Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B: Biological Sciences is not a peer-reviewed scientific journal, when it is in fact the oldest one. This point matters because it is implied that the authors, rather than being respected scientists, publishing in respected journals, are engaged in a war on science. Also, the cited criticisms of this article are not themselves from peer-reviewed journals.— Unsigned, by: Gcolvin / talk / contribs 19:21, 23 September 2013‎ (UTC)

If your additions only corrected the point that Phil. Trans. is a peer-reviewed scientific journal, that would be one thing. However, your edits also fundamentally changed the feel of the article. Why don't you provide some evidence to back up your claims? - GrantC (talk) 19:32, 23 September 2013 (UTC)

OK. I just now removed the false statement about the Transactions of the Royal Society. If removing a false statement changes the "feel" of the article I can't help that. I won't bother pointing out that Streater's critique is not peer-reviewed. I fail to see that either claim needs any evidence beyond following the cited links. I also think that accusing Schwartz et. al of being anti-science is a claim lacking in evidence. Gcolvin (talk) 21:13, 23 September 2013 (UTC)

So now Stabby reverts my change. The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society are peer-reviewed scientific journals. Therefore the claim that Beauregard did not publish the article cited in such a journal is nonsense. I have yet again removed that bit of nonsense. Gcolvin (talk) 23:01, 23 September 2013 (UTC)

Dude is right about the journal. PowderSmokeAndLeather: Say something once, why say it again?.Moderator 00:40, 24 September 2013 (UTC)
Yes he is. The confusion was likely due to the term "Philosophy" in the journal title, but it's not actually a philosophy journal. While the paper itself only skims the surface of any quantum physics, the statement he inserted on that point is still correct. - GrantC (talk) 00:48, 24 September 2013 (UTC)

I think this article has more troubles than small edits can fix. Having fixed the misunderstanding about Phil. Trans. I don't see the point of much that follows. This Wiki is for the critique of anti-science and pseudo-science, but the paper by Schwartz, Stapp & Beauregard is peer-reviewed science by respected scientists. It is speculative and controversial, but it is still science. So the entirety of section 2 seems misguided and should be removed. Section 3 could be rewritten to not refer to Beauregard, but mostly it is a review of neuroscience that Beauregard and even Egnor would not deny, so I don't see it doing much work. That leaves a critique of a Discovery Institute blog, and a passing reference to a popular book by Beauregard and O'Leary. If a review of that book shows it to be anti- or psuedo-science then a critique would fit here. Otherwise it shouldn't even be mentioned.Gcolvin (talk) 22:42, 11 November 2013 (UTC)

Another take on the "war on science."

The Antique Roadshow: How Denier Movements Debunk Evolution, Climate Change, and Nonlocal Consciousness

Stephan A. Schwartz


This paper describes the rise of three “denier” movements in the United States, and describes how each is actively engaged in trying to debunk and impede the free development of science: the Creationist Anti-evolutionists, the Climate Change Deniers, and the Consciousness Deniers. The last, a group that cannot, or will not, consider consciousness as anything other than physicalist processes. Each Denier group is described, and something of its history is given. The charges of a lack of ethics that dog these movements are discussed through examples. The strategies and tactics of the three groups are detailed, showing that Denier movements have a great deal in common, and are growing closer. The lack of substance in the Denier arguments is described, as is the fact that regardless of this lack these movements represent powerful forces in the American culture that have already produced detrimental effects, which are described and discussed. The paper argues that while the controversies involving the three Denier movements might superficially appear to be “inside baseball” arguments of interest only to the various research communities these three Denier movements all, in one way or another, impede the quest for fact-based knowledge. All are manifestations of the growing anti-intellectualism arising against science, a trend of willful ignorance with profound implications for America in the 21st century. The paper concludes that Deniers are like pranksters putting up false direction signs; they waste precious resources and time. Worse, they poison the atmosphere of scientific inquiry itself, serving not truth but bias. Gcolvin (talk) 23:15, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

A critique of Beauregard and O'Leary's "The Spiritual Brain."

Neuroscience and the Soul

Martha J. Farah and Nancey Murphy

Science 27 February 2009: 1168

Gcolvin (talk) 23:31, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

An excerpt of "The Spiritual Brain" is at

And here is an abstract from the American Psychological Association:

Do religious experiences come from God, or are they merely the random firing of neurons in the brain? Drawing on his own research with Carmelite nuns, neuroscientist Mario Beauregard shows that genuine, life-changing spiritual events can be documented. He offers compelling evidence that religious experiences have a nonmaterial origin, making a convincing case for what many in scientific fields are loath to consider--that it is God who creates our spiritual experiences, not the brain. Beauregard and O'Leary explore recent attempts to locate a "God gene" in some of us and claims that our brains are "hardwired" for religion--even the strange case of one neuroscientist who allegedly invented an electromagnetic "God helmet" that could produce a mystical experience in anyone who wore it. The authors argue that these attempts are misguided and narrow-minded, because they reduce spiritual experiences to material phenomena. Many scientists ignore hard evidence that challenges their materialistic prejudice, clinging to the limited view that our experiences are explainable only by material causes, in the obstinate conviction that the physical world is the only reality. But scientific materialism is at a loss to explain irrefutable accounts of mind over matter, of intuition, willpower, and leaps of faith, of the "placebo effect" in medicine, of near-death experiences on the operating table, and of psychic premonitions of a loved one in crisis, to say nothing of the occasional sense of oneness with nature and mystical experiences in meditation or prayer. Traditional science explains away these and other occurrences as delusions or misunderstandings, but by exploring the latest neurological research on phenomena such as these, The Spiritual Brain gets to their real source. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Gcolvin (talk) 23:57, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

A slightly outdated curriculum vitae for Beauregard: Gcolvin (talk) 02:47, 28 November 2013 (UTC)

Why scientists should be wary of philosophers, from Monty Python: Gcolvin (talk) 05:10, 11 December 2013 (UTC)

Computational modelling section is really outdated[edit]

I just added a little to it. But if the point of it is to debunk non-materialism from a computational neuroscientific perspective I think it should be even more up-to-date and flow better. Also, I can see some merits in not just focussing on Peter Dayan's work (and work coming out of the Gatsby, in general) as the field is much much broader these days. Especially since these days they are focussing more on reinventing the wheel, e.g., coming up with new names for pretty old school stuff, than pushing the boundaries of science.dildzzzz 09:24, 20 April 2014 (UTC)

Go for it, basically. I think this article is pretty old and not fantastically maintained. Though Trent does actually know >0 about the area, with a recent Ph.D - David Gerard (talk) 21:42, 21 April 2014 (UTC)

Perhaps I should wait, till he shows up. Either way, after my Ph.D. (in the same subject) I'd have more time... dildzzzz 09:43, 22 April 2014 (UTC)

Buddhism and neuroscience?[edit]

What is the current correlation between buddhism and neuroscience? It seems to me that buddhism, apart from more accomodating views, is an idealistic point of view and rejects materialism and physicalism.

Consider this:

What do you think about it?

Is buddhism wrong and a farse or is materialistic neuroscience outdated?

Here is a source linked that accounts against the brain being a machine and a mind its product:

Gianga23 (talk) 10:59, 28 May 2014 (UTC)

Sorry, correlation? There's no correlation. Buddhism is a religion and neuroscience is science. Materialistic neuroscience is not outdated. - Grant (talk) 15:19, 28 May 2014 (UTC)
if we regard Buddhism as a combination of a philosophy, psychology and religion, then how much mileage can we get from the first two aspects before we have to start invoking religious faith?
Many people are unaware that there is such a thing as Buddhist psychology. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 16:21, 25 July 2014 (UTC)


Rational Wiki will be more persuasive if we present the views we disagree with as fair-mindedly and compellingly as possible - and then demolish them. As a scientific rationalist, I confess I'm a bit disappointed that the contributions I make are simply deleted without explanation by a pseudonymous user. Our critics, presumably, would say they aren't remotely surprised. — Unsigned, by: Davidcpearce / talk / contribs

"the phenomenology of one's mind reveals the intrinsic nature of the physical - the elusive "fire" in the equations about which physics is silent"
It's saying that there is something outside of physics that influences the physical... Physics is the natural science that describes the physical, to say that there is something outside it is, while not outright antiscience, still very much unscientific. Nullahnung (talk) 11:42, 7 June 2014 (UTC)
When a mainstream materialist like Steven Hawking acknowledges that we have no idea what "breathes fire into the equations and makes there a world for us to describe", most of us will assume that this elusive "fire" is devoid of phenomenal properties.
Strawsonian physicalists challenge this presupposition.
But I wasn't seeking to weigh the merits of competing claims about the intrinsic nature of the physical. Rather, I was highlighting how scientific rationalists may legitimately disagree. This should be acknowledged - not suppressed. --Davidcpearce (talk) 12:42, 7 June 2014 (UTC)
(fyi, it's Stephen Hawking, not Steven Hawking)
The question is, why do we need to mention non-anti-science disagreements with materialism that makes no direct attempt to say anything about neuroscience in this article, when this article is about non-materialist neuroscience? It seems out of place, where you put it. Nullahnung (talk) 12:56, 7 June 2014 (UTC)
Also, despite how smart Hawking is, he's not a neuroscientist and doesn't have experience in the area. |₹Λ¥$€₦₦ Red rose 02.svg He ceases to be a wrongdoer. He ceases also to be a creature of moral choice. 13:17, 7 June 2014 (UTC)
If we're going to "demolish" some views that Strawsonian physicalists have, then there's an appropriate way to do so. These points should be introduced with appropriate citations in an appropriate (or new) section in the article (not the lede) and countered there. Adding some view that one guy apparently has without any citations to back that up isn't a great thing to do.
Raysenn also has a point here. Talking about Hawking makes more sense when dealing with things like quantum mechanics or astrophysics. In other fields, it's little else but an appeal to authority. Hawking is a very smart guy, but specific fields of science are tight enough that it's rare for scientists outside the specific field in general to make anything more than broad strokes. If we're going to talk about neuroscience, Hawking isn't a great resource. - Grant (talk) 15:49, 7 June 2014 (UTC)
And similarly, if we're talking about non-materialist neuroscience, including a section about Strawsonian physicalism would weaken the focus of the article that is currently on neuroscience-related non-materialism. Nullahnung (talk) 15:59, 7 June 2014 (UTC)

If there were a consensus to do so, I'd be happy to add a section on Strawsonian physicalism.

Either way, we shouldn't give the impression that a commitment to scientific rationalism is identical to a commitment to materialism. Materialism and physicalism are often assumed to be close cousins; but - as the example of Strawsonian physicalism illustrates - this needn't be the case. --Davidcpearce (talk) 20:24, 7 June 2014 (UTC)
  1. Ideas, Matter, and Faith