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Talk:Quantum consciousness

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This Quantum woo related article has been awarded BRONZE status for quality. It's getting there, but could be better with improvement. See RationalWiki:Article rating for more information.


Quantum Mind =/= Quantum Woo[edit]

This page paints with a particularly broad brush. Implying that all quantum mind proposals are somehow New Age woo, is guilt by association. There are some fringe people who adopt these views to argue for things that don't have scientific support. However this does not discount mainstream scientists like Penrose, Zizzi, Stapp, Hameroff, etc. who work on the physics of the mind.

Even older big names in physics such as Wigner, Heisenberg and Pauli came to the conclusion that the mind had quantum mechanical aspects based on the conclusions of the field. Unless historically important scientists such as Heisenberg, Pauli, Penrose are to be classified as pseudoscientists, I suggest that we should be careful to differentiate between good science and actual woo.— Unsigned, by: Jfraatz / talk / contribs

It doesn't say that, though. It explicitly states that Orch-OR is scientific in the sense that it's testable as opposed to Chopra's New Age nonsense. But its predictions have been falsified, so them's the breaks. It doesn't help that Hameroff has been palling around with Chopra, either. You won't find quantum consciousness in the psychology, neuroscience, or cognitive science textbooks except maybe as an offhand reference to a fringe theory. It's definitely not mainstream science. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 00:21, 12 June 2012 (UTC)
The problem with citing very early quantum mechanical scientists on this is that they were working in a time where neurology practically didn't exist but they were working on a field that apparently defied causality. Hence opening up one interesting avenue for "free will". Not that this concept even made sense at the time - QM is probabilistically controlled, so how that equates to "free will" is anyone's guess - but now we know a lot more about the limitations of quantum effects. Scarlet A.pngnarchist 06:55, 12 June 2012 (UTC)
Well of course textbooks will not have this because not enough is known about the brain yet. Textbooks rarely delve into speculative topics. Jfraatz (talk) 17:03, 28 August 2013 (UTC)Jfraatz

Quantum biology[edit]

There is an "emerging field" called quantum biology, the existence of which suggests that there could be some connection between the quantum and biological worlds. WP also has article. Doesn't mean that there is any connection to mental states of course, but it would seem to mean that the idea shouldn't be rejected out of hand.Weirdstuff (talk) 17:38, 25 September 2012 (UTC)

It wouldn't be dismissing it out of hand to say that (non-trivial) quantum effects probably aren't the source of consciousness. In the case of photosynthesis I'm struggling to see how the effect is being lumped in as "non-trivial" considering you're exploring photo-excited states, where obviously quantum effects will come into play because you're manipulating spins during those reactions. Spotting non-trivial quantum effects into the purely thermochemical world of neurology is something else entirely. Scarlet A.pngpatheticModerator 00:30, 27 September 2012 (UTC)

Quantum effects[edit]

... have consciousness - so deserves full voting rights.

Might make for interesting election results. (talk) 18:26, 21 January 2013 (UTC)

Intellectually Dishonest Opening Paragraph[edit]

The reason consciousness is correlated to quantum mechanics by some researchers is NOT because both are mysterious. Stop removing the corrected edits, without even any discussion. — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs

Please bring up your objections/corrections on this page before leaping in on the article page. Scream!! (talk) 23:34, 21 January 2013 (UTC)
If it's referring to the edits regarding the "hard problem", then it's not particularly useful because many philosophers doubt that the "hard problem" is a problem at all. Further I think that it's just called that to try and give the impression that it's important rather than just a piece of misdirection, much like calling "Is there a God?" a "Big Question". Scarlet A.pngsshole 17:44, 22 January 2013 (UTC)
Yes, philosophers who think of themselves as p-zombies, or who deny the existence of qualia. They do not speak for the majority of philosophers of mind. And it's not a piece of misdirection. If it was we would already know how it is possible that something innately objective should give rise to something innately subjective. We don't. Denying the hard problem smacks of intellectual dishonesty in and of itself.— Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs 16:43, 10 June 2013‎

No Stapp?[edit]

This may be one of the most unfairly biased pages on rationalwiki, straw man style.— Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs 08:28, 22 May 2013‎

Dangerous exclusive predictions[edit]

While I'm sympathetic to the idea of stomping on the cockroaches that exploit human gullibility, I have some real concerns with this page, low priority though it may be. I personally have the suspicion that Penrose is more right than most people would like to give him credit. In any case, a strictly materialist explanation would have to include all of physical theory, not just the classical parts. I'll have to re-read the article to be sure my concerns are unfounded, so I thought I'd mention it in the meantime, so as to prevent the article from getting lost in its own awesomeness. TheLastWordSword (talk) 22:25, 28 May 2013 (UTC)

Having read somewhat deeper, I'm now even more disturbed. What, exactly, is wrong with the idea of free will, such that it is pseudo-scientific all by its lonesome? How is it that Roger Penrose is courting the approval, support, or alliance of Deepak Chopra or anyone else of his ilk? Do you have a source for this, or is it your gut "Truthiness"?? I've run out of time for the moment, but please consider some of the more strident arguments of the article. -- TheLastWordSword (talk) 22:44, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
It's not a problem with free will, but using bad, pseudoscientific arguments to support free will. Also, I'm not sure about Penrose, but Hameroff has made appearances with Chopra and appeared in the pseudo-documentary What the Bleep Do We Know?. There is definitely some bleed-through into pop quantum mysticism. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 23:19, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
Okay, I finally had some decent time to look at the footnote (people pestering me in meatspace). I don't know Hammeroff from anyone else, so I can't really say anything on his viewpoint. The article is still written from a strictly Incompatibilist view, and there is no hard evidence that this position is more reasonable than any other. While it may seem naive to some, I can imagine there might arise a theory or set of theories that reconcile free will and materialism. In which case, all we have to do is worry about D.C. selling books on the idea that buying and reading his books are a solution to some problem other than his making a living. -- TheLastWordSword (talk) 00:45, 29 May 2013 (UTC)

To Properly Critique Something...[edit]

To properly critique a position one must first understand the stated reasons for that position. For example without a look at the Godelian argument or the details of the observer effect one can hardly understand the reasons for the various quantum mind theories put forwards. Strawmans do not do this and provide no educational content. The quality of this page has be significantly cleaned up. Jfraatz (talk) 17:44, 28 August 2013 (UTC)Jfraatz

Replacing Childishness With Substantive Content[edit]

The opening section of the page is clearly a childish strawman with no substantive content. Obviously no serious quantum mind researcher argues that the mind is weird just like QM, therefore the two must be related. I move that it at least be changed to substantive content, and then intellectually honest critiques can be levied against it if need be. If people are going to critique it, they may as well at least first understand the position they are critiquing. Jfraatz (talk) 17:08, 28 August 2013 (UTC)Jfraatz

No. - David Gerard (talk) 17:16, 28 August 2013 (UTC)
"No" =/= a reason. Jfraatz (talk) 17:33, 28 August 2013 (UTC)Jfraatz
The reason is that you're still the crank you were a year ago - David Gerard (talk) 18:07, 28 August 2013 (UTC)
Ad hominem nonsense. Pure rubbish. Troll somewhere else please. Jfraatz (talk) 18:10, 28 August 2013 (UTC)Jfraatz
Yawn. Please push your crank theories elsewhere, we're not interested here. --Marlow (talk) 18:12, 28 August 2013 (UTC)
Well then go somewhere else if you don't care to discuss it. Jfraatz (talk) 18:42, 28 August 2013 (UTC)Jfraatz
Gerard is one of the regulars here, and has been seen to do consistent good work. Calling him a troll and telling him to go away is laughably ineffective as a rhetorical technique. You, on the other hand, I've mentally tagged as a snake-oil salesman from your involvement with memeshock. Go, or stay, as you like, but don't expect many RW editors to come kissing your ass. Not in the job description. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 18:51, 28 August 2013 (UTC)
Yeah. No. I'm going to side with Johanan and say you're being a troll here. Sorry. (talk) 12:02, 2 September 2013 (UTC)
Agreed. This entire page is a strawman and does not present the actual reasons behind quantum mind theories. Seeing that the RW regulars here are so reluctant to discuss this topic further leads me to question their actual rationality. Especially seeing that we're resorting to ad hominem attacks instead of engaging in open-minded discussion. How about a little intellectual honesty here, no? ~Æ (talk) 13:43, 23 September 2013 (UTC)
If you know what said "actual reasons behind quantum mind theories" are, please post them here so we may know and discuss them. Thanks. Nullahnung (talk) 13:51, 23 September 2013 (UTC)
Gladly -

1.) The Existence of the Cartesian Ego: The Cartesian ego or "I" is irreducible. Thus if we are to assume the world is made of all one substance (monism) whatever substance the "I" is made of must also be irreducible. This necessarily places it at fundamental physical level in the quantum regime. Argument can be framed as follows:

P1) Consciousness is irreducible and therefore fundamental.

P2) Quantum physics is fundamental.

C) Therefore, assuming consciousness is physically fundamental rather than supernaturally fundamental it must be a function of quantum physics.

2.) Godel's Theorem: The human mind can understand statements which according to Godel's Incompleteness Theorem can not be derived computationally. Therefore to understand these statements (such as the natural numbers) the mind must engage in non-computational behavior. The only place we see non-computational behavior in nature is in quantum uncertainty.

3.) Holonomic Brain Activity: The brain has been shown to display very distinctive non-local behavior. When a hemispherectomy is performed, the patient suffers no memory loss, indicating that his memories are spread out non-locally throughout the brain. The only place that non-local behavior has been observed however is in the phenomenon of quantum entanglement.

4.) Free Will: The existence of our free will necessitates that the mind be able to violate causality. The only place in all of science were causality can be violated is in the quantum regime.

5.) Quantum Tunneling Activity in Synaptic Processes: In a paper by John Eccles it was demonstrated that signals were unable to pass through dendrite barriers via classical means. The dendrite barriers were simply too thick. The only remaining explanation is that synaptic activity requires some form of tunneling through the potential barriers of the dendrite walls.

Note that the primary argument (1.) has been presented on this talk page but never thoroughly addressed. Only dismissed off hand. Which, seems to be the trend around here. ~Æ (talk) 14:01, 23 September 2013 (UTC)

The only place that non-local behavior has been observed however is in the phenomenon of quantum entanglement. Again with the equivocation, this time regarding "non-local behavior" in brain activity.
Back in the seventies there was a metric boatload of breathless gee-whizzery about holograms. They were produced in photographic emulsions using beams of coherent light. (Silver halide photography was then a mature technology; it had been around for about a century, since the time of Daguerre. Coherent light was still a novelty.) While photochemical reactions and lasers make use of quantum effects, a hologram, once made, is just a glorified diffraction grating, with redundant information spread out all over it. Cut it in half, and the entire image is present in both pieces. That's got about as much to do with quantum non-locality as do multiple copies of a printed book, or the deliberate redundancy introduced into schemes for detecting and correcting errors in data transmission. Quantum entanglement, my ass. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 15:32, 23 September 2013 (UTC)
Bite? I'll do more than bite! Time to tear into argument one from a couple perspectives:
  • You have not demonstrated that consciousness is irreducible. Consciousness appears to be reduced to chemistry. This has been demonstrated by injection of chemicals into the brain which alter conscious experience, showing that conscious experience either arises from or is dependent on chemistry. Even if it turns out I am wrong and consciousness is not reducible to chemistry, you must offer further positive proof that consciousness is not reducible to anything.
  • You have not shown any reason why we ought to accept irreducible implies fundamental.
  • The structure of the argument is horribly flawed. It is essentially: "A is C, B is C, therefore A is a function of B." This cannot stand on its own. You must offer additional clarification of why the property of being C (in this case "fundamental") specifically implies that A and B must be a function of one another.
  • Quibble: the argument, if sound, would seemingly also prove that quantum mechanics is a function of consciousness.
Shadow of Lords talk 16:33, 23 September 2013 (UTC)
"When a hemispherectomy is performed, the patient suffers no memory loss, indicating that his memories are spread out non-locally throughout the brain." So what? We know that memory systems are distributed throughout the brain, but that doesn't mean it's just free-floating. Spatial memory, for example, is heavily dependent on the hippocampus. The fact that memory can survive a hemispherectomy is due to plasticity and redundancy. (See what happens when you remove the hippocampus entirely.) This has nothing to do with quantum non-locality. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 17:03, 23 September 2013 (UTC)
I don't understand this obsession with conflating quantum mechanics and philosophy. Do people not understand that quantum mechanics, as a subset of physics, is a hard science with all of the associated burden of proof? Argument (1.) may be well and good in the world of philosophy (or maybe not; I'm not a philosopher), but in the scientific world, it has no merits. As Nebuchadnezzar points out, the quantum mechanical concept of non-locality is not the same as what you're citing in your arguments. Physical non-locality implies that one can have an effect that lies outside of the light cone of its cause. - GrantC (talk) 17:17, 23 September 2013 (UTC)

Can Someone Care to Refute This Before Changing It Back?[edit]

1.) Consciousness is irreducible and therefore fundamental. 2.) Quantum physics is fundamental. 3.) Therefore, assuming consciousness is physically fundamental rather than supernaturally fundamental it must be a function of quantum physics.

1.) is substantiated by the explanatory gap in philosophy of mind -that 1st person states can not be explained in terms of 3rd person states.

Jfraatz (talk) 18:24, 28 August 2013 (UTC)Jfraatz

That's God of the gaps, i.e. "I don't understand consciousness". Assuming mind is a fundamental entity is the definition of supernaturalism. So, just no - David Gerard (talk) 18:34, 28 August 2013 (UTC)
That's not God of the gaps. That's an argument from irreducibility. God of the gaps is where you lack an explanation and thus fill in something supernatural as an explanation. Quantum mechanics is not supernatural however. And what is your argument for concluding that this follows? ---> "Assuming mind is a fundamental entity is the definition of supernaturalism." Jfraatz (talk) 18:45, 28 August 2013 (UTC)Jfraatz
The entire point of quantum mind theories is to AVOID substance dualism (aka supernaturalism) in explaining the problems posed by philosophy of mind. Jfraatz (talk) 18:46, 28 August 2013 (UTC)Jfraatz

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I see two problems with the above argument.

Firstly, it equivocates "fundamental" as describing both consciousness and quantum physics. Resistance to compression is fundamental to the stability of a stone arch. Compressible flow is fundamental to the flight of an aircraft. Therefore, by similarly absurd logic, incompressibility is a function of compressible air flow.

Perhaps more significantly, I see no reason to grant your first premise. What does it mean to say "consciousness is irreducible" anyway? Is consciousness something all vertebrates possess? If only humans have it, how do you explain the appearance of cognition in chimpanzees, elephants, and cetaceans? If consciousness is present in any suitably developed organism, does it come in various degrees, or is human consciousness equivalent to the consciousness of a goldfish? Does an octopus exhibit any degree of consciousness? How does intelligence relate to consciousness? Is "irreducible consciousness" an axiom here, or is it subject to investigation?

In the spirit of the rationalist taboo, I ask that you explain things like I'm five, which will include not using the name "Searle" in your response. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 19:11, 29 August 2013 (UTC)

Oh Christ no... I figure if Searle is cited anywhere then it automatically becomes wrong. Scarlet A.pngtheist 18:17, 30 August 2013 (UTC)
Actually, there is no equivocation. If consciousness is ontically irreducible but nevertheless a process, it must belong to the fundamental levels of the universe, i.e. the quantum level. Your analogy using the stone and airplane doesn't establish why you think there is any equivocation in Raatz's argument. It just gives an example of what equivocation is. (talk) 16:57, 30 August 2013 (UTC)
"Consciousness is irreducible" means that it cannot be reduced to anything except itself. Atoms are reducible to protons, neutrons, and electrons. Protons and neutrons are reducible to quarks, etc. However, key features of consciousness like qualia (which might be consciousness itself!) do not reduce to neuronal activity or parts of the electromagnetic spectrum because of the hard problem and the epistemic gap between the objectivity of macroscopic physics and the subjectivity of consciousness. Therefore, consciousness has to exist in a way that is ontically objective (and thus irreducible -- there's that Platonic stuff again). You can't "cut the color red down and get something else", so to speak. For all of Dan Dennett's bad attempts at "debunking" qualia (Chase and Sanborn HAVE to form judgments due to memory. It can't be any other way!), he classifies them as ineffable and intrinsic, which is basically what we're saying. (talk) 16:57, 30 August 2013 (UTC)
So if we're going to avoid mysticism and say consciousness is some kind of physical process, we must accept that whatever consciousness is, it is associated with the fundamental levels of the universe itself, i.e. the quantum level. Penrose takes a more direct route through his highly-criticized (yet probably sound) Gödel-Turing argument, in which he claims that a feature of consciousness is non-computability. Hence, we need to find us some non-computable physics. Ergo, gravitational topological quantum computation via the Penrose interpretation of QM. (talk) 16:57, 30 August 2013 (UTC)
Once we figure out what consciousness is and how it relates to the observable world, we can lock down whether animals are conscious or not via the processes we find. We can't do that before we understand consciousness, since we run smack into the problem of other minds. (talk) 16:57, 30 August 2013 (UTC)
Here's one way to look at intelligence. Since consciousness is awareness, understanding is the awareness of truth (a priori stuff), and intelligence is the application of understanding, it follows that consciousness --> understanding --> intelligence. This is basically what Penrose says. It makes me wonder why Scott Aaronson uses him as his straw-man so much... (talk) 16:57, 30 August 2013 (UTC)

In case anyone is really planning to debate our old friend Jfraatz, let me remind you what you're getting into: his style of argument is centered on basically meaningless semantic games (e.g. "fundamental" here), but he will go on and on with pages of gibberish. See e.g. the all-members-of-RW pile-on in this trainwreck, or his dismissal from CP for "unthinking silliness" by ASchlafly after being called out as a "pseudo-intellectual doofus of the highest order", despite advocating very conservative views. Of course my ad hominem here is not a refutation of his edits here, but come on, they're transparently silly. Just ignore and revert and maybe he'll go troll somewhere else. --MarkGall (talk) 17:13, 30 August 2013 (UTC)

That's beautiful. ListenerX also ah fails to work to his strengths - David Gerard (talk) 18:15, 30 August 2013 (UTC)
Is "go read Douglas Hofstadter" an appropriate response? Scarlet A.pnggnostic 18:19, 30 August 2013 (UTC)
While GEB definitely looks like an awesome book, his arguments against Lucas either aren't very good (Whiteley sentence, refuted by Martin and Engleman, 1990) or based on appeals to ignorance (I think one was, "Transfinite ordinals are really, really complicated; ergo, we're machines!"). I don't see how they'll work against Penrose, whose argument is more wide-ranging to different mathematical systems as well as both strong and weak AI. Also, while I do like Hofstadter's idea of the strange loop as an analogy for consciousness, I don't like where he takes it. It just looks like a lot of circular reasoning. In fact, his ideas are kinda harmful for materialism (or friendly to Penrose's own thoughts!) if you think about them long enough. (talk) 19:13, 30 August 2013 (UTC)

First off, JFRaatz's arguments aren't centered on semantic games. They're based on terms used in the literature. And once again, there is no equivocation on the term "fundamental". I explained why above. I hardly see how this exchange is "gibberish", and I also fail to see how his edits are "transparently silly". They're actually very informative and provide a fair treatment on a subject that's unfairly characterized as "New-Age Woo" by idiots who think they're smart. Sorry to be harsh, but I need to call it like it is. (talk) 19:13, 30 August 2013 (UTC)

Hmm, I see "" and JFRaatz have been tag-team edit warring this same trollery on the basically unrelated wp:Microtubule. Odd they both watch that page so carefully. I wonder if they've met!
Don't worry about the harshness, I think I can handle it. --MarkGall (talk) 20:29, 30 August 2013 (UTC)
Actually, you can "cut the color red down and get something else." Focal red is based in neural physiology, and may be seen as a set of closely related colors named "red" by members of a population. It has a basis in pulse trains coming from the retina: without those, there is no red. "Platonic stuff" is of historical interest, but in this discussion it cuts no ice with me. I find more interesting questions to be how tactile, kinesthetic, intentional, visual, auditory, and even olfactory consciousnesses interact. Just saying that "there is some irreducible thing or process they all have in common" does not make it so.
If you go deeply into what forms the static arch and the moving airplane, you may find that both processes rest on quantum mechanics, but QM is not useful nor interesting in the analysis of such macroscopic processes. Consciousness may be finer grained, but who has shown that it must rest on subatomic particles and their wave functions, rather than grosser aggregates of chemical interaction? Without that, the accusation of "fundamental" equivocation still stands. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 22:01, 30 August 2013 (UTC)
Indeed, we have yet to get past the question of whether or not consciousness is irreducible (for which there hasn't been a good case). From the things I see above about what consciousness is supposed to be (quote:"it follows that consciousness --> understanding --> intelligence"), I feel there is a fundamental disagreement or gaping hole on what we're even talking about when we use the word 'consciousness'. Being on the same page is key to constructive discussion, see. That seems to be the problem here. Nullahnung (talk) 01:16, 31 August 2013 (UTC)
I am a friend of Johanan's. I'm not willing to discuss my name right now. Want to remain an anon. Shouldn't be that big of a deal, I hope. :P (talk) 02:06, 31 August 2013 (UTC)
Er... Sprocket, I'm referring to the phenomenal sensation of redness, not the correlates of redness, which is what you're referring to. Correlation does not mean identity, especially with consciousness. And once again, there is no equivocation. Irreducible means that it can't be reduced to something else. Consciousness being irreducible means that if we're going to find a science of consciousness and solve the hard problem, we need to look to the places where stuff can't be reduced to other stuff. This would mean we need to look into the deepest levels of the universe, possibly at the level of quantum gravity. I know this sounds like a god-of-the-gaps argument, but it's more of a Sherlock Holmes-style method of ruling everything you know can't be the answer until you find a match. (talk) 02:06, 31 August 2013 (UTC)
With regards to how such microscopic processes can affect macroscopic ones, there can be a kind of bubble-up effect, like what Penrose and Hameroff are trying to do. (talk) 02:46, 31 August 2013 (UTC)
Nullahnung, a lot of people define consciousness as the awareness ("what it is like" feeling) of a knowing subject. This includes John Searle, David Chalmers, and Giulio Tononi. With understanding as the awareness of truth, it follows that consciousness precedes and intelligence (decision-making, problem-solving, etc.) follows. I hope that helps. (talk) 02:06, 31 August 2013 (UTC)
There are still too many unanswered questions to let "consciousness is irreducible" stand as an absolute given. For one thing, consciousness comes and goes. I expect to lose it and regain it several times in the course of any 24-hour period.
Leaving aside the spectrum that might be said to run roughly from "wide-awake adult human in the prime of life" to somewhere near "groggy goldfish," every one of us lives every moment of every day with some degree of anosognosia or other. (See the Dunning-Kruger effect, for example. While it has become fashionable in some circles of discourse to accuse disputants of being D-K cases, I hasten to add that I am not pointing fingers here.) One could even take a stance resembling an extreme form Last Thursdayism, questioning whether phenomenal sensations or qualia are constant from one moment to another. Never mind whether I "see the same 'green'" as you do— do I see the same "red" as I did three seconds ago? Since memory of past events has been shown to act like memory of the most recent time the event was recalled to memory, going down that rabbit hole may not be as preposterous as it might seem.
The substrate of consciousness may make use of quantum effects or grosser electrochemistry, but if you want to call consciousness a physical process, it seems useful to think of it as an epiphenomenon of that substrate's physical behavior. Without vastly detailed knowledge of that behavior, attempts to define or characterize consciousness risk being seen (accurately, in my view) as armchair hand-waving.
The notion that consciousness is an illusion leads to further unanswered questions. How is it possible to nail down the essence, or characterize the features all conciousnesses may have in common, of something so evanescent, something so impalpable? Introspection is so faulty that logic alone can't achieve much of a result here. There may be hope for empirical investigation by observers outside the conscious individual, but I'm not holding my breath. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 15:59, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
"For one thing, consciousness comes and goes." Hehe. Yes, I know. But we're talking about conscious experiences when they occur, so what you're bringing up is just a matter of how consciousness interacts with the body. (talk) 17:38, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
"While it has become fashionable in some circles of discourse to accuse disputants of being D-K cases, I hasten to add that I am not pointing fingers here." OK. I can take a hint. ;) (talk) 17:38, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
"do I see the same "red" as I did three seconds ago? Since memory of past events has been shown to act like memory of the most recent time the event was recalled to memory, going down that rabbit hole may not be as preposterous as it might seem." Well, judgments on how different qualia are can be totally areactive as well. I can just say it's a different quale than before because it feels some way or another, but I don't need to say HOW they're different in order to come to that conclusion. And even if this argument worked, all we've found are the neural correlates of consciousness, but not why and how subjective experience exists at all. (talk) 17:38, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
"Without vastly detailed knowledge of that behavior, attempts to define or characterize consciousness risk being seen (accurately, in my view) as armchair hand-waving." Well, I don't know about that. It just seems like an argument from ignorance to say, "I don't know, but I know quantum mind is wrong and emergence is right." It's just playing to the wrong card. There's also some problems with epiphenomenalism due to the epistemic gap mentioned earlier. If consciousness is ontically irreducible but emergent at the same time, we wind up at a contradiction. (talk) 17:38, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
"The notion that consciousness is an illusion leads to further unanswered questions." That's my main complaint against Dennett, yes. :D (talk) 17:38, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
"How is it possible to nail down the essence, or characterize the features all conciousnesses may have in common, of something so evanescent, something so impalpable?" Well, this is pretty much why I like quantum mind in the first place. (talk) 17:38, 1 September 2013 (UTC)

"Introspection is so faulty that logic alone can't achieve much of a result here." Well, I'd say introspection is very helpful in this case. Consciousness as Descartes showed is primary, so what better place can one "look" at for data? (talk) 17:38, 1 September 2013 (UTC)

Well, Descartes did get criticisms and not everyone agrees with him about that... Nullahnung (talk) 17:50, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
He gets criticized for dualism, not really for the cogito. It's a reductio ad absurdum: If I'm not conscious, then I'm conscious. (talk) 18:59, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
Actually, the cogito has been challenged. "It ignores the pervasive and indispensable workings of the cognitive unconscious. ...that operates via conceptual metaphors, metonymies, and image schemas." "It is sobering to realize that students studying Anglo-American philosophy are taught all (or at least most) of these metaphorical entailments [of Aristotle, Descartes, and Kant] as truths. ... Yet there is nothing sacred about [them]." (from Lakoff and Johnson, Philosophy in the Flesh, pp. 544~548 or so) Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 21:19, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
Oh, that's right. Damn. Now I REALLY don't like Lakoff's work (he apparently thinks math is metaphor too, never mind that the examples he gives to support this assertion are trivial and that there are parts of math that CANNOT correspond to physical stuff to the point where the metaphor thing breaks down, but moving on...). I think what I'm trying to say is that I've never seen it refuted. For example, Lakoff doesn't consider that I can DOUBT the existence of my unconscious mind or brain! I could also doubt my language and the metaphors I've grown up with and how much they correspond to reality. I can doubt the existence of my own body. But I cannot doubt that I am conscious. Consciousness still exists even if everything else can be consciously doubted. The argument, and thus a priori knowledge, the primacy of consciousness, and the need for introspection, still stand. (talk) 21:46, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
Also, Lakoff is creating a straw-man by saying that we're "dogmatically taught that these thinkers are right", which no one does. If their arguments hold up, then they hold up. If students find a flaw in their arguments, they'll be refuted. Another one of his arguments says that Platonism is evil because it supposedly asks people to memorize things as unassailably true and shuns the poor students who suck at math (which it doesn't), or some other straw-man/ad-hominem. (talk) 21:46, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
That "dogmatically taught" quote may not be the most apt one available, but it's the first one I found with my limited willingness to spend a lot of energy on this. You are probably aware that conceptual metaphors and literary metaphors are different sorts of critter. The conceptual ones can be more difficult to spot, since they are not products of art, but rather unconscious results of using a body to experience the world. Someday I'd like to spend more time exploring their taxonomy, since they make sense of some things that have puzzled me ever since I was first asked to read Plato's dialogues. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 23:49, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
I'm aware of that, yes. I just don't think mathematics qualifies as conceptual metaphor (it doesn't vary from culture to culture, some of it seems innate, etc.), nor do other forms of a priori knowledge (the "I"). Also, I don't think metaphors or mapping would occur in the first place if we didn't use some kind of a priori stuff to go back to. In any case, I can see you're tired of this, but I've appreciated the discussion. Could we just edit the page a little and be done with this whole thing? (talk) 12:11, 2 September 2013 (UTC)

"There may be hope for empirical investigation by observers outside the conscious individual, but I'm not holding my breath." Well, unless we cross the subjective-objective gap, that's fine. But what quantum mind people are doing is (quite literally!) putting the observer back into science without any hand-waving-away of the nature of consciousness. (talk) 17:38, 1 September 2013 (UTC)

This just seems like a bizarre argument by analogy. If consciousness is irreducible, then it would make sense to study it on its own terms, not in terms of something else tangentially related but also irreducible (i.e., QM). This seems to be leading us down the road to panpsychism. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 18:33, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
Well, it's more like proto-panpsychism (which is basically panentheism, but not necessarily so ;) ). Also, it's not really an argument from analogy as much as it is an argument from identical properties. You could also have Thomistic hylomorphism, but quantum mind seems more scientific, logical, and satisfying. (talk) 18:59, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
Anyone else thinking that Jfraatz is secretly Deepak Chopra? "Consciousness is spooky and weird. Quantum Mechanics is spooky and weird. Therefore, Consciousness and Quantum Mechanics are related." Shadow of Lords talk 14:06, 23 September 2013 (UTC)


I don't know if I'd qualify it as pseudoscience. It's more of a philosophy of science position on the mind-body problem. Max Planck, Eugene Wigner, and other influential QM founders believed in this stuff too. Even atheist philosopher Quentin Smith has written a defense of quantum mind: (talk) 00:19, 1 September 2013 (UTC)

Is there any merit to the BoN's edits[edit]

Here. BoN, not from you please. Let's have some comment from others. Scream!! (talk) 13:29, 1 September 2013 (UTC)

Why that not format nicely?) Scream!! (talk) 13:32, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
Excess space. Fixed - David Gerard (talk) 13:57, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
Quantum mind theories are not so much "quite controversial" as "fringe nonsense". Most of the BoN's edits are aimed at shifting the tone of the article towards the former. Maybe a couple of the edits are worthwhile, but it's too much trouble to sift through the crap. WP didn't want this guy's stuff in wp:Microtubule (see the talk), and they're the ones trying to be fair and balanced. --Benod (talk) 13:49, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
tl;dr no - David Gerard (talk) 13:57, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
If quantum mind is nonsense, tell me why instead of merely asserting it. My time on the "Microtubules" page was a learning experience, but I thought about the arguments for a while and didn't think they had much merit. Also, some of the people there (WingGundam) were being stupid (actually putting Penrose's interpretation of QM under "pseudoscience") while others like Microtubules were quite helpful. (talk) 15:21, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
It would be good to improve the article and elaborate on why it is nonsense. But this is indisputably the scientific consensus, and the position that should be presented in the RW article. I agree this is not a great article, and would benefit from an editor knowledgeable about these things.
What we don't need is a bunch of edits "teaching the controversy" when there isn't one.
In any case, I don't think RW is really the right place to assess whether it is nonsense or not. The overwhelming consensus is that it is: see, for example, the references on wp:Orch-OR. If the consensus changes, the RW article can reflect that, but we are in no position to lead here. --Benod (talk) 16:10, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
Excuse me, but there is no scientific consensus that quantum mind is "nonsense", despite Victor Stenger's insistence and the stuff WingGundam puts on the Wiki page. Most scientists seem to disagree with it, but in more of a "wait-and-see" kind of a way. The Reimers-McKemmish criticisms have been responded to in various ways by Jack Tuszynski and his team (Orch-OR can work well with weak Frohlich condensates, it never required strong or coherent ones, etc.), and Danko Georgiev's Op-Eds for Neuroquantology (!), which criticize Hameroff's model but endorse his own model of OR (Yes, he's a quantum mind theorist too!), have criticisms that look huge, but aren't that insurmountable (Hameroff was aware of the de Zeeuw paper. He was only speculating that DLBs could be found near gap junctions, etc.). I've actually been keeping up with Stuart Hameroff and Anirban Bandyopadhyay, by the way. Apparently megahertz to gigahertz resonance and topological qubits have been found in microtubules in vitro by Sahu et al. (in a 15-paper series that started this year), and Penrose and Hameroff will be presenting an updated version of their model in the fall, with invited commentary by Reimers and McKemmish. There is no way this is anything like intelligent design-style "controversy". This actually has some merit, unlike the agenda-driven stuff Dembski, Meyer, and Behe put out. A "wait-and-see" attitude would be far more objective at this point, which is why I edited it the way I did. (talk) 16:38, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
I think that some of it could supplement the article, in the sense of providing a clearer target for criticism. For example:
The primary argument for quantum mind goes:
  1. Consciousness is irreducible and therefore fundamental.
  2. Quantum physics is fundamental.
  3. Therefore, assuming consciousness is physically fundamental rather than supernaturally fundamental it must be a function of quantum physics.
In other words:
  1. I don't understand consciousness.
  2. I don't understand quantum physics.
  3. Therefore, consciousness must be a function of quantum physics.
It's god of the gaps with "quantum" and related concepts as the all-purpose gap filler.{ref}Note that this is the case even if, as with Penrose, you do know your quantum physics.{/ref}
And then address the specific points later in the article. Anyway, question for How is a quantum mechanical basis for consciousness fundamentally different from classical neurochemical explanations with respect to the philosophical argument used to conclude a quantum basis for consciousness? Everything is built using a quantum system (the universe), but not everything traces its properties to the quantum level. For example, topology is irreducible and therefore fundamental, but quantum mechanics does not provide any insight into knitting. How do you know that what you characterize as irreducible operates on a quantum level? 192․168․1․42 (talk) 03:31, 2 September 2013 (UTC)
Er... no. If you show the argument, you can't proceed to straw-man it beyond recognition like you're doing here. After all, the argument is BASED on an understanding of quantum mechanics and consciousness IN THE FIRST PLACE! It is not a god-of-the-gaps argument, as I've been trying to tell you a thousand times. If you're going to "address specific points", please address them instead of giving straw-men as usual. (talk) 12:28, 2 September 2013 (UTC)
Well, actually, I DO think mathematical structures are embedded in that scale as well. I think Penrose does too. Penrose and Hameroff place the precursors of mathematics, morality, and qualia (proto-qualia which are eventually assembled into conscious experiences, like Tononi's model) on this scale. However, we're also looking for something that has a causal relation to the world as well, since consciousness, though irreducible, must have the ability to cause something, while mathematical stuff (being acausal) does not. Hence, why people invoke the observer effect in QM, though other processes (decoherence?) might play a part as well. (talk) 12:28, 2 September 2013 (UTC)
That could be good - buuuut I'd want some good-quality checkable citation that that is actually the argument used for quantum consciousness - not just some individual fringe lunacy justification spouted by Jfraatz and his IP as a personal thing not put forward by anyone else. That is: is this actually the target? - David Gerard (talk) 08:09, 2 September 2013 (UTC)
Well sure. It just looked to me that the second set of points (currently in the article) was responding to that argument, so I thought that someone (apparently you) had checked it out. 192․168․1․42 (talk) 10:12, 2 September 2013 (UTC)
Look, the second set of points IN NO WAY responds to the first, as I've tried pointing out. David, quit calling this "fringe lunacy". It's not. This is a philosophical and scientific argument, and it's implicit in Penrose's, Stapp's, and Wigner's reasoning. You are strawmanning the position and acting childish towards Raatz. By the way, has anyone here even looked at the Quentin Smith citation I gave? (talk) 12:28, 2 September 2013 (UTC)
Let's go through them then: "Consciousness is irreducible and therefore fundamental." A cursory look at the animal kingdom and human experience suggests that consciousness is not meaningfully irreducible. Also, as pointed out above, even if consciousness really is "irreducible and therefore fundamental (in an obviously different sense than the fundamentality of quantum mechanics)," it doesn't follow that it meaningfully relates to quantum phenomena because "fundamental" things also emerge from higher levels of organization, like the topological considerations of knitting. Hence the "I don't understand consciousness". "Quantum physics is fundamental." Leaving aside for now the knowledge that quantum physics is an incomplete description of reality, probably being a special case of a unified model, the fundamentality of quantum physics does not imply that quantum effects provide insight into higher-level emergent phenomena, which implies that any particular unexplained phenomenon cannot a priori be attributed to quantum effects. Returning to the incompleteness of quantum physics, it makes just as much sense to say that because General Relativity is fundamental, consciousness must be based on it. Hence "I don't understand quantum mechanics." I assume that you don't have an issue with the third points. 192․168․1․42 (talk) 20:14, 3 September 2013 (UTC)
"A cursory look at the animal kingdom and human experience suggests that consciousness is not meaningfully irreducible." I'm sorry, but I don't know what this means. We've showed you that conscious experiences are ineffable and not epistemically objective, but instead ep. subjective. That leaves ontic objectivity, aka the state of being "fundamental". And if we're going to be scientific about this and avoid dualism, that leaves consciousness in the area belonging to the deepest levels of the universe with some kind of causality. (talk) 02:09, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
"in an obviously different sense than the fundamentality of quantum mechanics" Again, no. We meant fundamental to the universe as a whole (you can even extend it to quantum gravity!), but interacting with processes at this scale, i.e. quantum events. (talk) 02:09, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
"it doesn't follow that it meaningfully relates to quantum phenomena because "fundamental" things also emerge from higher levels of organization, like the topological considerations of knitting." OK. I'm not familiar with topology (I have a general understanding of mathematics ATM), but I think we're talking about two different things here. I define "irreducible" to mean "cannot be reduced to anything except itself" not "looks irreducible, but in fact is just a whole integrated of many parts". Some people will define consciousness as integrated information, but it quickly turns into panpsychism, with qualia being components of the universe. And I know how much you guys like that. ;) (talk) 02:09, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
"Leaving aside for now the knowledge that quantum physics is an incomplete description of reality, probably being a special case of a unified model," Irrelevant for the moment, since there are good reasons to think QM and consciousness are related to QM independently of what is presently known about it. (talk) 02:09, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
"the fundamentality of quantum physics does not imply that quantum effects provide insight into higher-level emergent phenomena" Well, given enough conscious events taking place in a certain period of time (and at a certain level of isolation at which quantum effects take place), you can satisfy the emergence requirement. (talk) 02:09, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
"General Relativity is fundamental, consciousness must be based on it." Or GR is based on consciousness at the level of QG. ;) But what I'm saying is something that has a causal component, which would be at the quantum scale. (talk) 02:09, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
We've showed you that conscious experiences are ineffable and not epistemically objective, but instead ep. subjective. No, you've asserted it. You are actually saying there "I don't understand consciousness, therefore ..." - David Gerard (talk) 09:48, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
I [] have not "asserted" anything. That's what you've been doing. There is a gap between subjectivity and objectivity with regards to consciousness. You assert that there isn't one for no reason. This gap is what generates the hard problem, and further introspection (key word) allows us to realize that conscious experiences things are ineffable phenomenally, as many philosophers agree. If it's reducible, it's not the same experience. [If you say something here about belief in fairies, ghosts, or the Dunning-Kruger effect, I'll go crazy.] Even Dan Dennett tries to "refute" this quality of experience (to no avail, IMO) in "Quining Qualia". "You are actually saying..." And YOU, my friend, are actually saying, "I couldn't tell the difference between subjectivity and objectivity to save my life, but I'll go with objectivity because it just FEELS good to me!" (talk) 15:21, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
What if subjectiveness is an illusion? What if phenomena we experience "subjectively" could one day be explained by various neurochemical processes, thereby closing this 'gap'? Doesn't seem entirely unreasonable to me, but who knows. Nullahnung (talk) 17:01, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
Well, the notion of "illusion" is still third-person, not first-person. No matter how much third-person you pile on, you're never going to get first-person subjectivity. It's like trying to heap piles of sand on top of each other and expecting to get the Empire State Building. More than being an argument from ignorance, it's just category error. That was the point of the "Mary the Color Scientist" thought experiment. Even if we found a mechanism that could "explain" why we subjectively feel, knowing the workings of that mechanism would never give us the data of subjective experience it wanted to explain in the first place. It's a self-refuting idea. (talk) 21:38, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
Only if you don't actually understand consciousness, i.e. completely understand the mechanisms by which consciousness arises and operates. If you do, you would know how to bridge first and third person experience, and how to map the subjective experiences of one person to another. The arguments that you have raised rely on ignorance of this, so they are, in essence, arguments from ignorance, and boil down to "I don't understand consciousness." 192․168․1․42 (talk) 03:03, 5 September 2013 (UTC)
Oy. Did you even read what I wrote? This is the exact argument I was addressing above. The entire point was that you can't pile up third-person data in order to get first-person data. You and Dennett are the ones making an argument from ignorance, basically saying, "I see the gap, but I'm siding with objectivity and heterophenomenology because it just feels good to me." But ignoring that, let's follow Dennett's counter to the end, shall we? If Mary knew everything objectively about what her body does in reaction to the sensation of a blue banana, she'd still need to subjectively experience what it is like to have the reaction! It just pushes the issue back one step. If you repeat this to find the mechanism of what causes you to react to the reaction, and so on, you wind up with an infinite regress! You haven't solved anything at all. You've simply set "what things do" equal to "what things subjectively feel like" for no good reason and hand-waved the gap away. Oh, and, by the way, WE UNDERSTAND WHAT CONSCIOUSNESS IS INNATELY. If we didn't, it wouldn't be called "consciousness"! (talk) 11:08, 5 September 2013 (UTC)
I think Dennett's argument goes like this, if I'm not wrong: If we could label objectively every little detail about the reaction of Mary's body, those labels would correspond one-to-one to each and every little detail in turn of Mary's subjective feel of the same event (assuming she has the understanding to break down her own subjective feel to such a detailed degree). Then when all the labels correspond one to one, they are equal descriptions of the same things and we have bridged said gap between the objective and subjective. I didn't spend too many hours reading this stuff, but did I get Dennett right? Anyways, as far as I understand, it doesn't seem entirely unreasonable to me, just sayin'. Nullahnung (talk) 11:27, 5 September 2013 (UTC)
Yep, that's it. It does seem reasonable at first, but it turns out to be an argument from ignorance on its own ("I don't know, therefore eliminative materialism"), in addition to being susceptible to an infinite regress of experiences ("What is it like to have the reaction your stimulus has?" "What is it like to react to the reaction?" etc.). It misses the point of what the Jackson argument was saying in the first place about the principal difference between subjectivity and objectivity, and basically expects us to pile more sand on top of other sand and somehow get the Empire State Building "if we just try hard enough". (talk) 16:09, 5 September 2013 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────While I don't find Dennett's reply particularly satisfying, I don't see how this proves your point. If conscious experience is totally ineffable, then intersubjectivity is impossible. Psychology itself collapses. Huge portions of art and literature disappear. Maybe we can never know exactly what it's like to have someone else's (or even a bat's) subjective experience, but we can gain some knowledge of it. In addition, if we understand what consciousness is innately, why is it so hard to define? Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 17:14, 5 September 2013 (UTC)

Because we are trying to define it the wrong way around. It's logically incoherent and leads to a hall-of-mirrors style infinite regress to try to define it in terms of third person categories. Look up "Neuroscience infinite regress" on Youtube for a simple demonstration. In first person it doesn't need any defining. The only reason it is so difficult is because what we are trying to do by defining it in third person is not only wrong but conceptually incoherent to begin with. ~Jfraatz
Well-said. Actually, in a weird way, quantum mind is just a compromise between these very mystical ideas of consciousness and physicalist theories, both of which are wrong when separated, but work well when put together. (talk) 21:03, 5 September 2013 (UTC)
I'm sorry, but this "infinite regress" stuff doesn't strike me as particularly convincing. The notion that it is a problem at all presupposes first that all these consequent thoughts that make up the "infinite regress" are distinct in such a way that they require different neural activities (not necessarily so if you consider these neural activities to be recursive). It in fact seems to presuppose that you cannot construct all of these with the same neural building blocks. It in no way invalidates a neurochemical theory of consciousness. Nullahnung (talk) 02:28, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
Er... Nullahnung, there are no presuppositions going on. Dennett is not only strawmanning the argument (the point is not to "tell the difference between blue and yellow"; the point is to separate the objective "What stuff is" and subjective "What stuff feels like" aspects of the world), but also making an argument from ignorance ("We're going to cross this gap if we just look hard enough!"). If anything, there's presuppositionalism going on on the materialist side. Aside from this, your argument against the "infinite regress" (whatup with the scare-quotes?) doesn't work because we are aware that all these experiences are distinct from one another, while neuronal activity is limited to recursive configurations, as you pointed out. At this point, you can say consciousness is just an illusion, but that would be denying what's (literally!) right in front of you. The point is that, in principle, there is a gap. There is not "a gap that's just an illusion based on our lack of knowledge". There's just a gap, and this gap is based on what we DO know, not what we don't. May I recommend Graham's PHILOSOPHY OF MIND: AND INTRODUCTION for an example of the consensus views on these topics? It deals with Dennett's and Churchland's arguments. We're not "ruling out a neurochemical theory" either. We're not dualists or total mystics. We want to help brain science. (talk) 13:00, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
Well, I will try to read what you recommend ... eventually. The scare quotes are because I am doubtful of the supposed problem of infinite regress as you are describing it (reaction to something, reaction to reaction, etc.). I am not convinced that these experiences, when they happen, consist of cognitive activity that is distinctly different enough in each case to not be precisely representable by recursive neuronal activity. Nullahnung (talk) 13:29, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
I understand, but the best way to do it is through some kind of integration mechanism, like Tononi's IIT. Of course, this also leads smack into (proto?)panpsychism and is very friendly to quantum mind hypotheses like Orch-OR. Hameroff has even made mention of it in his publications. (talk) 14:53, 8 September 2013 (UTC)


Who added this, and what rates it as one? - David Gerard (talk) 22:52, 1 September 2013 (UTC)

No-one? Removed - David Gerard (talk) 06:59, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
Osaka Sun added it, btw. I doubt he cares, though, since he didn't answer here. Nullahnung (talk) 07:52, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
It was in the article originally... (talk) 15:22, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
I think I might have put that in, but it's poorly worded on my part then. The main point there is that, at least the Penrose and Hameroff models are falsifiable, make specific predictions, and are based on some knowledge of QM. In that sense, there may be some contribution to science there as opposed to Chopra's nonsense, which is just gibberish. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 16:29, 5 September 2013 (UTC)
Sure, but the category is mostly reserved for things that turned out to be wrong. I don't think it's quite there yet... (talk) 00:27, 6 September 2013 (UTC)

So Is This Settled?[edit]

Have we moved past the black-and-white idea that this is all "woo" yet? (talk) 22:46, 7 September 2013 (UTC)

We haven't talked at all about the quantum physics part, so it just seems we've only been having half the conversations we should have been having in order to reach a conclusion. Nullahnung (talk) 02:33, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
We have talked about QM, actually. (talk) 13:01, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
Not really. Most theorists in quantum mechanics (especially fundamentals) would find this conversation interesting, but would be dismissive of your conclusions (and rightly so). Frankly, this isn't science, any more than arguing whether the many worlds theory of quantum mechanics is correct. It's philosophy at best, and while some quantum theorists will have their opinions either way and might enjoy discussing it (as one of said theorists, I consider the many worlds interpretation to be completely bunk), it's certainly not a serious form of scientific research. This quantum consciousness stuff is no different. There is no conclusive proof to back up Penrose's assertions, and most (if not all) of my colleagues would (and do) consider this to be entirely woo. - GrantC (talk) 13:28, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
Well, I put it under "philosophy" when I was editing it for a reason. But regardless, this is far from woo. I can't verify whether or not you're an actual scientist, but I very much disagree with you. JFRaatz has provided links indicating that certain parts of cognition are better-modeled by QM-related mechanisms, Freeman and Vitiello did a paper in 2006 indicating that gamma synchrony is best explained by quantum field theory, and Sahu et al. have evidence of topological qubits in a single microtubule at room temperature in vitro. That's pretty big for Orch-OR and other quantum mind hypotheses. Also, Tononi's Integrated Information Theory seems very friendly to the proto-panpsychist ideas of Orch-OR. I think a "wait-and-see" attitude would be more objective than the attitude that dismisses it outright. Many quantum mind theorists try to distance themselves from woo, like Penrose himself or Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner. They even teach a college course on the quantum enigma! (talk) 14:46, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
Here's one example of the quantum cognition debate, a commentary on Pothos and Busemeyer's work. (Hameroff provides a reply of his own in the conversation, but the authors are agnostic about his idea, and I think many others are as well): (talk) 14:46, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
Would you be able to provide reference numbers for those papers you mention (or at least publication dates and the journals they are published in)? I just don't see the evidence as terribly convincing. I did try to find papers on the subject, and I can't find any that reference how decoherence could be avoided long enough for any actual quantum processes to take place. The brain is a ball of constantly firing electrochemical receptors sitting at room temperature. This is hardly an environment that is conducive to any kind of quantum processing. - GrantC (talk) 14:57, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
Well, Hagan et al. 2002 disputed Tegmark's estimates. He didn't attack Orch-OR, he went after a model of his own (something about a soliton channel, not necessarily the microtubules Hameroff's team was after). Rosa and Faber had some critiques of Tegmark on their own (though they also disputed Hameroff's team's conclusions). Here they are:
1. Hagan et al. 2002:
2. Rosa and Faber 2004:
It should be noted that 8 MHz resonance has been found in microtubules by Jiri Pokorny. Reimers and McKemmish based their criticism of Orch-OR on the idea that the hypothesis wouldn't work with such weak condensates, but Hameroff says it can (strong and coherent condensates were never required to begin with). This criticism has been addressed by Hameroff at the 2010 TSC conference: Tuszynski's team had a reply of its own: (from the 2010 Journal of Physics Conference Series), (There's a brief mention in the beginning of the Discussion section). I've personally heard from Hameroff that he and Penrose will be addressing these criticisms this fall. We'll see how that goes. (talk) 18:03, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
Thank you for the references. As I mention briefly below, the sum total of the evidence (if you sift through the math) is that this is not necessarily impossible. That's not enough information to say this is credible. When actual evidence is found that bridges the gap conclusively, then I'm willing to change my views. Until then, this just isn't something that can be supported. - GrantC (talk) 18:35, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
Yeah, but there's also such a thing as cranking the burden of proof up way too high. This is not "possible in the way that unicorns are possible". This is possible in the way that you can make a scientific case for it. (talk) 21:32, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
The burden of proof is to show that this is at least viable. So far, the papers you've sent me either only go a small fraction of the way to bridging the gap, or they are purely speculative. It should be easily apparent why that doesn't meet any standard for a proper burden of proof. You'll notice that this article on the wiki makes good fun and ridicule of the portion of this stuff that is plainly woo, and it doesn't mention the rest. Why not? Because the rest is purely speculative, fringe science with limited evidence to back it at best. - GrantC (talk) 00:31, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
OK. You're citing the Wiki page, which doesn't give the full breadth of the issues involved, and yet you accuse me of not paying attention to the full nuance of these issues. It seems to me that most of this is based on what we already know about how computers work and what entails a quantum computer. Pokorny seems to have accepted Bandyopadhyay's conclusions. In fact, he found it pretty revolutionary that microtubules could have this high megahertz to gigahertz frequency range. If it's close to superconductivity, chances are it's going to be quantum. You haven't given any arguments against that besides the "point-band gap", which I don't think he uses, but I could be wrong. (talk) 12:12, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
He does use the point band gap; he uses it in his response to the first question asked at the end of the video. The questioner asks how he can be sure this is a "new" type of conduction, and Bandyopadhyay points to the point band gap as evidence that what is being observed is not a standard conductor, semi-conductor, or insulator. This is the entire thrust behind his point that microtubules show features similar to superconductivity, and in fact, it's one of the most important points he makes. The energy band structure of a material pretty much uniquely determines its conduction properties (even vortices often show in the band structure). Also, superconductivity is a quantum mechanical effect, but its presence does not actually imply anything about the entire 'system' being quantum. - GrantC (talk) 15:27, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
Fair enough. My (huge!) mistake... I admit I was wrong there. Still, he goes through why this is an example of quantum conductance through the accumulation of electricity at around 22:20. He also says that they can switch between conducting and semiconducting states. When I was talking with a friend of mine (whom I have now realized for the umpteenth time to be unreliable... it wasn't Raatz...), he said they found superconductivity. It doesn't seem that way. The team did, however, refer to it as "ballistic" conductance when talking with Penrose. That's still quantum-mechanical, though. And it does show that when microtubules process information, they act in a quantum-mechanical way. Hence, evidence for topological quantum computation. Hameroff wired me that they're doing preliminary tests in neurons as well as between two microtubules. So we'll see how that goes. (talk) 19:12, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
No worries on the mistake there. Ballistic conductance is indeed a quantum effect. However, if you take a cursory look into solid state physics (another area of my research), you'll note that while ballistic transport is a property that could be exploited to help in quantum computations, you'll note that it's more than possible to obtain classical results using ballistic transport. To make an analogy here, all electron scattering is quantum mechanical in nature, but it goes on around us every day in perfectly classical systems. This is not sufficient proof to show that quantum computation is occurring. - GrantC (talk) 19:39, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
BC can be classical. Bandyopadhyay is arguing that that's not the case for microtubules, however. As you have said to me, possibility is not the same as "actual". (talk) 20:33, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
It should also be said that there IS some evidence for superconductivity, at least to the same Japanese group that found the topological qubits (It's part of a long series of papers going into 2015 for publishing). Researcher Anirban Bandyopadhyay has been presenting this at various TSC conferences for feedback. Here's one version of his presentation given for Google Tech Talks: It might also shed light on this essay for the book ARTIFICIAL NEURAL NETWORKS:
Last but not least, the Freeman-Vitiello paper: Whew! I hope all of this helps. Let me know if you need anything more. ;) (talk) 18:03, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
I don't believe the video you provided means what you think it means. What he is discussing is the specifics of electron transport within microtubules. Notably, he points out that there still remains no evidence that Frohlich condensation occurs, and that the process providing coherence could still be entirely classical. - GrantC (talk) 18:39, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
Er... yes, it means what I think it means. It includes the presentation of there being topological qubits in microtubules. That was all I was trying to give to you. Sorry if I worded that wonkily. Also, what he ACTUALLY says regarding Frohlich condensates is (6:30), "There was no direct experimental evidence for this type of condensation until now." He then proceeds to talk about how the experiments indicated this. He also referred to Jiri Pokorny who discovered weak condensates in about 2004. He said that they still could be entirely classical. He then says how it's really a topological qubit rather than a classical bit or qubit (topological qubits -- so he says -- are easier to detect). I think you're strawmanning, but I could be wrong. (talk) 21:32, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
I did misunderstand you in that I thought you were trying to pull more evidence than that (my apologies). That said, I'm not strawmanning. My point, though perhaps worded poorly, was that he jumps from "it could still be entirely classical" to "but no, it's a topological qubit" without providing the weight of evidence needed to get there. See my reply below for more details on that. Even if the microtubules did contain topological qubits, there's a huge gap between that and having a working quantum computer. I can grab you a couple litres of chloroform and you would have billions upon billions of qubits; none of them are usable, however. - GrantC (talk) 00:31, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
Look, I understand that chloroform has qubits. You have made that abundantly clear. What I'm telling you is that there is good reason to think that these things are useful. I looked at your replies below. I'm pretty sure the point-band gap is not the only piece of evidence he cites. (talk) 12:12, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
Of course they are useful! Hell, if you want to perform some basic algorithms, C13-enriched chloroform in a liquid state NMR system works just fine for that. The point I'm trying to make here is that even if all of his evidence is fool-proof, there is still a massive gap between finding qubits and actually finding a quantum computer. Your point that finding computation and then finding qubits means quantum computing is likely is just wrong, as I've pointed out below. Hell, we don't even know what proper quantum computation looks like. Even the 32 qubit beasts that have been constructed recently are rudimentary processors at best, and there is currently no system we have built that shows what a processor with memory storage looks like, for example. - GrantC (talk) 15:27, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
OK. You've provided a lot of interesting stuff here, mostly because I used the vague term "useful". I mean "useful to the Orch-OR/quantum computation hypotheses." I think we have a very good idea of what quantum computing looks like, by the way. And while memory storage is a daunting task, it doesn't seem that insurmountable: Now the main question is how is memory stored in microtubules. Hameroff's team have proposed that CaMKII proteins regulate memory storage in microtubules. Again, while it's not conclusive, the writing is on the wall. (talk) 19:12, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
The writing is certainly not on the wall. Hameroff's proposal needs to be tested and evidence must be found for it before I give it any weight. The problem of quantum memory is not insurmountable, but it is difficult. You're giving this far too little weight than it's worth. We are a good ten years away at least from even producing a quantum computer (if it's at all possible). Talk to the researchers who are actually working on building implementations of quantum computation (hey, I'm one of them) and you'll get the same answer. - GrantC (talk) 19:39, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
We do not understand quantum computation at all, actually. The nuts and bolts of the theory? Kind of, except that most real systems are still out of reach of our ability to model them. See some of Daniel Gottesman's work on the subject, and specificall the Gottesman-Knill theorem. We can't actually simulate quantum computation efficiently unless we're only allowed to draw gates from the Clifford group. Unfortunately, the Clifford gates are not universal, so we cannot simulate all computation using them. The implementation? Absolutely not. We're a good decade off from that. The ramifications? Hell no. Quantum complexity theory is a huge question mark. - GrantC (talk) 19:44, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
I will also point out that this is not evidence for superconductivity. Bandyophadhyay cites evidence showing a point band gap. If anything, that is more strongly indicative of a material more like multi-layer graphene, which has a similar band gap structure called a Dirac cone. Notably, graphene is not a superconductor, but rather a semiconductor with some unique properties. - GrantC (talk) 18:45, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
I don't think the point-band gap is the only thing he cites... (talk) 21:32, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
I can't verify whether or not you're an actual scientist User:GrantC contains way more verification than you're offering that you're anyone at all. - David Gerard (talk) 15:03, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
I'm a layman with a huge amount of interest in this. I'm also a student. I'm not pretending to be anything more. If I've given you that impression, it was not my intention. (talk) 18:03, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
The general rule of talking about anything quantum: Equations or go home - David Gerard (talk) 15:03, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
I'm trying, dude. (talk) 18:03, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
(EC) In addendum, the comment about finding topological qubits in microtubules is, frankly, uninteresting (in the context of this particular discussion). There are examples of qubits all over the place. In fact, a single molecule of chloroform at room temperature makes for a great two-qubit system. However, that doesn't mean chloroform makes for a useful quantum processor. As well, even from the theoretical perspective, the situation is far more complicated than that discussion paper you linked. I would like to see a theoretical model for quantum consciousness that actually extends beyond a basic "spherical cow" approximation. - GrantC (talk) 15:05, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
Right, but there's also been a high degree of resonance found. In addition, microtubules do act as at least classical computers in their ability to process information:
When you couple this with the topological qubits, the megahertz-to-gigahertz resonance that allows for Frohlich condensates, and the idea that the best-known neural correlate of consciousness, global gamma synchrony, is best explained by a quantum mechanism, it becomes pretty apparent that this is all very good news. ;) (talk) 18:03, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
Right, but a high degree of resonance isn't the important part. Again, chloroform also shows a strong resonance as well. I realize that these papers may seem convincing to a layman, but the issue is that they are not widely supported, and the actual evidence required to bridge the gap still doesn't exist. Even the papers you provided only manage to reach the conclusions of: "we still think it might not be impossible", which is hardly enough to meet the standards required for this to be considered a valid theory. - GrantC (talk) 18:35, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
I know. But once again, the whole is more than the parts. That's what I was going for here. The entire argument of Orch-OR is that microtubules are gravitational topological quantum computers. I tried showing the plausibility of this by things that build on top of each other (Rosa and Faber think they act as information processors, but wonder if they can be quantum; everything else shows that they can, etc.), not with things that are completely unrelated. I agree that it's not quite valid yet, but it's something that should be taken seriously, and not as "woo". I find that to be a very limited view. (talk) 21:32, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
You`re making a massive jump from "we found things that could be considered to act like qubits in microtubules" to "these microtubules are quantum computers". I'll give you a bit more information: I work in a lab whose most significant goal is making quantum computers a reality. Having a bunch of qubits doesn't make something a quantum computer, and none of the sources you've provided make that jump. Ask any serious physics researcher in quantum information whether quantum computers are even feasible and the answer you'll get (if they're not looking for funding) is "I don't know". So little is known about quantum computing that it can't even be said that it's physically possible. We've seen no evidence of qubits actually working together in such a way that they form a quantum computer, so how could there possibly be a point to compare to for this research you're throwing at me? Not quite valid yet is a huge understatement. - GrantC (talk) 00:31, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
Again, I understand. Saying, "There are topological qubits" doesn't mean "This is a topological quantum computer." I'm using this stuff in complement to the evidence that microtubules act as computers in the first place. Given that, it's more than likely that they are. Also, are you aware of the D-wave quantum computer? (talk) 12:12, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
Microtubules appear to act as classical computers, and they also contain qubits. This is not actually evidence that they act as quantum computers, since quantum computation doesn't look anything like classical computation, and in fact, classical computers are far better at some tasks than theoretical quantum computers are. Evidence of computation + qubits != quantum computer. As well, the D-Wave "quantum computer" is a bit of a standing joke among the quantum information community. The best guess at the moment is that it uses quantum annealing as a shortcut to make classical computations much faster. Note that this is again not at all the same as actual quantum computation. - GrantC (talk) 15:27, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
Look, I said that microtubules act (not just "appear to act") as some kind of computer (signaling, communication, and conductivity). This abstract might help a little: The question is whether they're quantum computers. I was showing you that they could be. (talk) 19:12, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
Note again that qubits + classical computation != quantum computation. A statement as vague as saying that they "could" be is not enough conclusive evidence. You need to bridge that gap. - GrantC (talk) 19:39, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
I didn't mean "could" in that way. I was being facetious for "they are". (talk) 20:33, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
One final addendum: Given that we currently can't even solve the general Nakajima-Zwanzig equation without a host of approximations (including, most importantly, the approximation of Markovianity, which is a terrible approximation for any real system), I'm not sure how we can make any claims about whether quantum theory can accurately model consciousness. All of the math I've seen so far has been simplistic calculations based on a closed system model (all of that junk in BRA-KET notation). As David Gerard says, show me the math and maybe I'll be convinced. - GrantC (talk) 15:11, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
Unfortunately, I'm only a layman, so I can't really provide the math. I just have an interest in this stuff and think people could be more objective than they actually are. However, just because we haven't solved one particular thing yet doesn't mean we can never solve it, nor does it refute the main point behind the quantum models of cognition. (talk) 18:03, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
Right, well you may believe me or not if you so wish, but I'm not a layman. So far I've seen no concrete evidence that this concept could even be remotely considered real. The issue here is that the jump from actual quantum mechanics to quantum consciousness (bridging the physics with the philosophy) is entirely unsupported. The default position to take in science is that until evidence surfaces showing that a viewpoint has merit, it isn't science. Currently, all I've seen from this topic is conjecture, and until I see actual math behind it, the quantum "models" of cognition aren't even models. The word "model" also has a precise definition in science and physics, and the sources you've cited don't back any sort of scientific quantum model of cognition. The idea behind a model is that it should be testable. In fact, the thesis I'm currently writing is examining one particular model for expressing non-Markovian stochastic quantum dynamics. So far, my research is showing that the model fails for some parameters: it isn't a good model for some subset of acceptable parameters. Tell me how I'm supposed to test these models of quantum cognition when the math and the actual science behind them is non-existent.
This is what I object to here. Philosophizing that perhaps consciousness is more complex than we think is one thing, but slapping "quantum" on it because it's more complex without any evidence backing that is disingenuous and entirely unscientific (hence why it's woo). - GrantC (talk) 18:11, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
We've argued against this "mysteries of QM" objection on this page. Consciousness is ontically irreducible, and belongs to the fundamental levels of the universe, i.e. quantum mechanics or even quantum gravity. We're not dualists. We're trying to put the mind INTO science while still acknowledging its properties. This is testable. There are specific things you can look for, including whether or not cognition can be modeled quantum-mechanically and whether or not the neural correlates of consciousness require a quantum mechanism. That's not cherry-picking or hand-waving. (talk) 21:32, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
I'm sorry, but just because two things are irreducible and fundamental, that doesn't mean they are related. I also don't buy the idea that consciousness is irreducible and fundamental in the first place, and yes, I read the above discussion. I have seen no proof in the papers you cited that cognition can be modelled quantum mechanically. You have yet to respond to my comments about that, in that the only papers you have provided me show a very weak argument based on an incredibly simplistic and heavily approximated system. - GrantC (talk) 00:31, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
Again, that's not what the argument is saying. I don't care if "you don't buy it". You need to provide arguments for why you think it's not irreducible. (Dan Dennett tried it. He failed.) And again, what we are saying is that if we're going to look for a physics of the mind (hint, hint!), we need to look to the fundamental levels of the universe, i.e. the quantum level. Where else are you going to find "fundamental"? This isn't an argument from analogy. This is an argument from identical properties. "You have yet to respond to my comments about that" First, please. Spare me the finger-pointing. I don't need that. I consider you a very knowledgeable individual. Second, are you referring to the topological qubit work or the quantum cognition work? Most of your comments were directed towards the topological qubit stuff. (talk) 12:12, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
My intention was not to point fingers, but rather to point out that earlier in this discussion I pointed out that the quantum mechanical models of quantum consciousness (at the theoretical level) were very simple speculative papers, and none had the detail necessary to actually model cognition. You have yet to provide me references about that. Also, no, it is not 'my' responsibility to show that consciousness is not irreducible; it is your responsibility to show that it is. The burden of proof always lies on the person making claims. Finally, you have yet to show me these identical properties, as again, the papers you sent my way are simplistic at best. - GrantC (talk) 15:27, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
No, you need to provide evidence that consciousness is reducible. Firstly the person making the positive claim has the burden of proof, and that would be reducibility not IRreducibility. This is in exactly the same way that other negative claims such as A-theism and IM-materialism do not have a burden of proof. Secondly as of this moment there is not one shred of evidence in favor of it, and most discussion of qualia point out that it is not reducible (Chalmers, Levine, Jackson, Nagel etc.), so there is no reason to believe otherwise. If you can demonstrate otherwise please show the "parts" qualia such as red yellow or blue reduce to. As for quantum consciousness, it being "speculative" is different than it being "woo." Speculative means that there are serious researchers (such as Penrose, Kauffman, Bandyopadhyay etc.) who are studying it, and the likes of Penrose and Kauffman do not engage in "woo." ~Jfraatz
Actually, GrantC has not made the claim that consciousness is reducible. That is to say, he hasn't taken a stance at all on the issue of whether or not consciousness is reducible. The people who maintain that consciousness is irreducible are making a claim that it is irreducible. The difference here is between the people who haven't made any claim whatsoever and the people who have made a claim. Nullahnung (talk) 18:16, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
Yes, Nullahnung, we know. The point is that he can't simply say "I don't buy it" and leave. He needs to say WHY he doesn't buy it. That is the point you and GrantC are missing. (talk) 19:12, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
Why SHOULD I be buying the part about consciousness being irreducible? All I have to go on so far are assertions. Nullahnung (talk) 19:25, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
(EC) I have been continually saying why I don't buy it. There's a massive gap between "we see qubits and we see computation" and "this is quantum computation". You also have yet to provide evidence that a working quantum mechanical model actually describes consciousness. No, saying that both are irreducible is not enough evidence. If such a model exists, show it to me! Yes, that means the math. - GrantC (talk) 19:39, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
On matters concerning 'irreducibility' - A conscious experience is indeed irreducible - which is to say that at any moment we are having 1 experience composed of many concepts (consider - you cannot separate the experience of seeing red, and seeing a triangle rather than seeing a red triangle - the experience is 'integrated' and 'whole'. But just because an experience is irreducible does NOT mean it is 'fundamental'. consider - a face is irreducible because a face is the emergent 'gestalt' of the features a face has (nose, eyes etc.). it is irreducible because a 'face' is not generated by a nose or eyes alone. would you then suggest that a 'face' is 'fundamental'?
To say an experience is 'irreducible' is to say that it is held by a single entity with a single intrinsic experience that is finite. Further more - many experiments have demonstrated that our experiences flow at around 1 subjective moment every 100ms or so. Given our experiences are irreducible in both spatial AND temporal grain - It would be hard to claim that our experiences are being generated at such a fine-grain level as quantum events.
The best current theory of consciousness is Tononi's Integrated Information Theory. It takes the irreducibility as an axiom of experiences and indeed considers experience to be a fundamental 'force' - which is to say it simply what happens when you integrate information - it feels like something to be that integration. But this does NOT place experiences as the PRIMARY fundamental of reality - just one of many - such as 'charge', 'magnetism', 'mass' etc. there is no reason to invoke quantum events. — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs

Qualia, consciousness and irreducibility?[edit]

If qualia are irreducible, how can an individual accumulate more of them with experience? For example, a naive young Claude Monet sees a lilypad as green, end of story. After years of practice rendering colors on canvas, when depicting another lilypad, for all practical purposes identical to the first, each brush stroke may be loaded with a different hue. Say each brushload is M. Monet's attempt to convey a quale or cluster of qualia. Do those new, different qualia come from a subdivision of the earlier ones, or are they freshly generated in each instant?

At this point in human history, declaring qualia to be irreducible seems equivalent to Democritus positing uncuttable atoms as fundamental to matter. Beyond bare assertion, what have we got to show they are in fact irreducible? Ignorance of their constituent components is not an argument for irreducibility. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 19:54, 9 September 2013 (UTC)

(ec) For one, you do realize that Jackson has repudiated his own argument, right? He now rejects it on the ground that experiences do not have properties, but represent them, so Mary learns nothing. (See here, under the description of his papers "Postscript on Qualia" and "Mind and Illusion.") The (mis)use of the terms "fundamental" and "irreducible" seem to be classic fallacies of composition, or equivocation at the very least. There are also irreducible polynomials, so why not a theory of "polynomial consciousness"? Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 20:02, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
Once again, this is not based on what we don't know. This is based on what we DO know about qualia. They are metaphysically irreducible due to the subjective-objective gap (not our bare assertions!). Actually, qualia ARE properties in and of themselves. This is what leads to property dualism. In fact, you can take qualia and make them the ONLY properties that exist! It just looks like a bare assertion on his part to say that. You can try hand-waving this away by citing Dennett or Jackson's later views on the matter, or saying that we're "equivocating" on what we mean by "fundamental" when we're not, but this is something the philosophical community agrees on. Also, I think Frank Jackson was tired of seeing his arguments go to waste by dualists. The subjective-objective gap is still there. GrantC, I asked you why consciousness in the philosophical sense was irreducible, not what you thought about qubits. Please stay on-topic. (talk) 20:24, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
Also, with regards to the "how come we accumulate more qualia as time goes on if they're so irreducible" objection, the answer is that although something is ontically fundamental, it doesn't need to exist in our minds in order to exist at all. It could exist, for example, as proto-qualia that are then combined together to form other qualia through something similar to the binding problem (read: information integration). This preserves their irreducible nature at the quantum level (thus allowing for conscious decision-making to take place, i.e. free will) while at the same time allowing for this stuff to be falsifiable without being ad hoc. (talk) 21:09, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
The simple fact that everything that quale could be reduced to are themselves defined in terms of qualia (observations) demonstrates they are irreducible. Without observations any of these other things they would supposedly be reducible to, would be as existent as the invisible dragon in the proverbial garage. With observation you would essentially be reducing qualia (observations) to things defined by (qualia) observations. So any claim that qualia are reducible would just be circular reasoning leading to an infinite regress. So of course qualia are irreducible because the opposite claim is not even a coherent concept. ~Jfraatz
@ First off, I believe by 'fallacy of composition' or 'equivocation' Nebuchadnezzar was referring to your attempt to do an irreducibility link between quantum mechanics and consciousness, so you interpreted that wrongly.
Also, there is hardly a consensus that conscious experiences are irreducible. Have you considered Lewis' position on qualia? Have you considered representationalism? There is nothing sacred about the notion that this subjective-objective gap cannot be bridged by physicalism (which says among other things that everything mental is basically physical).
ALSO, you should abstain from making qualia the ONLY properties that exist, because that leads to solipsism, relativism or similar silliness. Nullahnung (talk) 05:03, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
I know that was his argument. As you can tell, I don't buy it. As for Lewis and representational qualia, that's actually really cool. I kinda like David Lewis's ideas. Chalmers might have something to say about it, though... (talk) 22:24, 12 September 2013 (UTC)
And I just found out he did. Qualia is also knowledge-that, not just knowledge-how. As in, "I know THAT it is like this to see red" etc. (talk) 23:22, 11 February 2014 (UTC)

GrantC's issues...[edit]

Here is where we can discuss them, since they're taking up space everywhere else. This isn't a bad thing, but I just want to give him some more room... (talk) 20:15, 9 September 2013 (UTC)

I don't care whether consciousness is irreducible in the philosophical sense. I care about whether it's irreducible in the physics sense. Quantum mechanics is (as far as we can tell) physically irreducible, but one cannot equate scientific and philosophical irreducibility.
You have yet to provide me a reference that shows a physical model of quantum consciousness, and you have yet to show me proof that the computation in these microtubules is actually a quantum computation. I have asked you variations of both of these questions several times now, and you have yet to give me what I'm asking for. Not only are you deliberately ignoring a massive gap in information between theory and experimental results, but you're also blatantly ignoring most of the theory and asking me to take it on faith. - GrantC (talk) 22:47, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
Look, stop with the finger-pointing. I'm tired of it. I'll be talking to some people this week, but it just looks like you're grasping for straws. Your argument basically boils down to "Oh no, we don't know enough about quantum computation, therefore this is woo" (It's not, because what we DO know about quantum computation allows us to make these conclusions), "You're just saying that if it's a classical computer that has quantum bits, then it's a quantum computer" (I'm not saying this, for the final bloody time. I said that if microtubules are cellular computers that act via quantum mechanisms and have qubits, they are quantum computers BY DEFINITION), and "It's just classical with some quantum stuff" (which looks like a cop-out on the surface, but I'll look into it anyway). BTW, D-Wave is the equivalent of an analog computer right now. Of course it's going to be slower than most computers. It can still solve things differently than others. (talk) 23:41, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
It has to be unless one holds to substance dualism. In order for the mind/body problem to be soluble, the philosophic(1st person/mind) and scientific(3rd person/body) halves must match. Otherwise they are forever apart and thus dualism would be true. I understand that this is not usually how business would be conducted, but the Mind/Body problem raises epistemic issues that can not be solved by a purely empirical approach alone -even in principle. -Jfraatz
You're not understanding me here. If consciousness can be modelled by quantum mechanics, then there must exist such a mathematical/physical model. Throw your mind/body problem all you want, but you can't say "quantum mechanics does it" and then say "but we can't know how". If quantum mechanics is the reason this is the case, then there will be a quantum mechanical model (complete with math and physics) that describes it; end of story. - GrantC (talk) 23:33, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
And you're not understanding me. It's associated with the fundamental levels of spacetime and the collapse process. That's what the Orch-OR model DOES, if you actually read the earliest publications. (talk) 23:43, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
Here's the math: (talk) 23:44, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
"You'll notice that this article on the wiki makes good fun and ridicule of the portion of this stuff that is plainly woo, and it doesn't mention the rest. Why not? Because the rest is purely speculative, fringe science with limited evidence to back it at best. - GrantC (talk)"<------Yes, but that's why this article is essentially trash. The issue is not whether or not their are woo ideas out there, or whether or not these ideas are speculative. The issue is that speculative ideas even if false do not constitute woo. -Jfraatz
"then there will be a quantum mechanical model"<-----There already is. It's called the Orthodox Interpretation of QM (just Copenhagen made consistent through Wigner's friend). It's not a COMPLETE picture, but no one said it was. It just demonstrates that there is a link, and thus that this is where the answer (whatever it may be) lies. Though this should be obvious if one starts with (the primary evidence of) consciousness itself. -Jfraatz
Oh for Christ's sake. I'm done with this discussion. What I'm telling you is that your definition of "quantum computer" is wrong, and nobody who is taken seriously in the world of quantum information would agree with you. Nobody in quantum information gives two shits about the people you've cited. Your arguments are full of shit mostly made by fringe researchers and one legitimate mathematician who should know better. Your understanding of what science actually is is entirely non-existent, and it's a complete and utter waste of my time to continue this conversation. You may continue to post here all you want, and perhaps some other editor will eventually let your crap slide, but I'm done. If I see you adding this crap to the page itself, you can bet I'll be reverting it. As someone else has suggested to you already, go peddle your shit on Citizendium. - GrantC (talk) 23:53, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
P.S. See for a nice summary of all of the other reasons Orch-OR is crap, and is not a suitable quantum model for consciousness. - GrantC (talk) 00:03, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Dammit. These people I'm citing know what they're doing. Stop asserting that they're not taken seriously. As far as I can tell, they are. Sahu et al. are taken seriously by Pokorny (he considers their findings revolutionary), Rosa and Faber are credible quantum information theorists as is Jack Tuszynski, and Hameroff is one of the people who has opened up a world of discussion via the Towards a Science of Consciousness conferences. I'm trying to take your arguments seriously, but they just look like a bunch of cop-outs right now. I'm sorry. And I have looked at those criticisms, by the way. I was responding to most of them IN OUR DISCUSSION. (talk) 00:07, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
"What I'm telling you is that your definition of "quantum computer" is wrong<---- I don't know what Nicolas has claiming about quantum computers regarding the D-Wave, but no researcher to my knowledge is claiming to KNOW what what the mind IS in terms of this. Just that this is where the answer lies, (per Wigner's friend) which is actually an entirely modest claim. "I know/don't know" is an entirely different claim than "I know where the answer lies." -Jfraatz

BoN edit 02:38, 18 January 2014 (UTC)[edit]

From UPdate no evidence? check

Bunch of ORCH-OR stuff, referencing Penrose and Hameroff. I reverted it. Discuss. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 02:38, 18 January 2014 (UTC)

There's nothing really new here, and I for one am still very much fatigued by the discussions that came up before. I don't believe it's anything really credible. - GrantC (talk) 02:40, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
GrantC, please listen. The standards you have set for Orch-OR are WAY too high. I don't see how they're scientific at all. Reimers and McKemmish brought up your objections and Hameroff's reply actually works: Asking for the level of precision you seem to be looking for at this point is ludicrous. Once the basic ideas get off the ground (i.e. whether microtubules can have topological quantum computation AT ALL), you can bring up more specific forms of quantum computation and how these correspond to certain cognitive processes. I hardly see these conversations as tiring, too. (talk) 14:24, 9 February 2014 (UTC)
Also, Sprocket, you shouldn't have reverted it. They brought up several good points, and I'm sure BoN brought up several as well. I'd hate to go off on an ad-hom here, but your guys' biases are shining through more than your reasoning is, and I think that explains your reluctance to these ideas more than a concern for scientific integrity. I'm sorry. (talk) 14:24, 9 February 2014 (UTC)
One more thing: With consciousness, you NEED to understand philosophy. There's no "equivocation" on "philosophical irreducibility" and "physical reducibility". If you were using this argument in front of cognitive scientists or philosophers of mind, you'd be laughed out of the room. The point is that if consciousness is metaphysically irreducible, as the arguments we've given seem to show (don't bring up Dennett here or I'll give papers that debunk every argument he has), it follows that it interacts with the fundamental levels of physical reality, i.e. the irreducible parts of physical reality. If you want to avoid dualism (Who doesn't?), this means that you need physics that is, in itself, metaphysically irreducible. This is the point of the "new physics" approach Penrose and Hameroff have taken. (talk) 14:24, 9 February 2014 (UTC)
That last paragraph is utter tripe. It's trivially obvious that everything reduces to physics at some point, since physics is a description of the laws that make the universe (and everything in it) work. That has absolutely nothing to do with philosophy. If you tell a physicist that philosophy (beyond perhaps the philosophy of science) is required to understand some physical concept, you would laughed out of the room (and rightly so). If Hameroff's model makes it into the mainstream of scientific opinion, then it will be worth changing the article. Until then, no it isn't. You don't understand how science works, and it shows. The standards I'm setting for Hameroff's model are the same standards that scientists in general are setting. There are holes in many theories in which we do not have suitable explanations for them (in certain limiting cases). Hameroff's model has holes in it that have nothing to do with limiting cases whatsoever. Those types of holes are bad. - Grant (Talk) 17:14, 9 February 2014 (UTC)
[ec]Saying "it follows that it interacts with the fundamental levels of physical reality," without laying out the nature and scope of the putative interaction, is vague hand-waving of negligible utility. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 17:20, 9 February 2014 (UTC)
Wow! You didn't comprehend a word I wrote, did you? I'm not saying physicists need to handle problems in physics with philosophy. I'm saying you need philosophy to tell you that something is a problem for physics *in the first place*, and that there are better ways to approach it than others. That's why philosophy of mind is a part of cognitive science, actually! Again, you would be the one who's laughed out of the room, but nice try on flipping that back on me. I'll give you that. By the way, I understand how science works enough to tell you that the holes are not as huge as you're making them out to be. First we need some way by which this mechanism can occur AT ALL, after which various opportunities for further development can occur. Hameroff has been tuning the model with his co-authors to reduce the holes while still retaining the key premises they began with. It's exploratory, but not in an unfalsifiable way. Please stop appealing to your own authority. (talk) 19:28, 9 February 2014 (UTC)
And no, you don't "change the article when it becomes more accepted". I could hand-wave away a bunch of hypotheses just like that. The least you can do is state that Hameroff has given direct replies to a great deal of the criticisms, even if you just send a link to them and don't flesh them out. Second, this is Rationalwiki. It's known for promoting woo of its own. Look at your completely unobjective historical Jesus page, which lumps apologists in with non-religious historians! You've got forgeries listed as real (the Serapis letter) and a complete lack of knowledge of first-century Roman, Greek, and Palestinian culture on there. Not only is this not a site for objectivity, it's definitely not being objective here. (talk) 19:28, 9 February 2014 (UTC)
Sprocket: That's hardly hand-waving. Once we agree on that principle, and that it's possible that such a thing can occur, THEN we can discuss the mechanism. Phenomenon first, explanatory model second. This is something that's regularly discussed in philosophy of science. (talk) 19:28, 9 February 2014 (UTC)
I'm being a jerk right now, yes, but I've come to realize this is the only way of dealing with certain people. (talk) 19:28, 9 February 2014 (UTC)
Pointing at other RW articles is not helping your case here. If you were a competent philosopher, you would know that sort of rhetoric may be categorized as casuistry. See what I did there?
I didn't say the mechanisms of the alleged interaction need to be nailed down before proceeding. I said, in so many words, that the term "interaction," without further particulars, is too vague to be of use in considered discussion. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 20:14, 9 February 2014 (UTC)
And I've learned that the best way to deal with some people is to ignore them. I will continue to revert your edits to this article until the above conditions are met (i.e. that this becomes adopted as a reasonable position in mainstream science). You'll also note that those others who are here on RW who have a scientific background generally feel the same, given that this article exists in the first place. If you think this is some fringe argument based on my own authority, I'll point you to the sound rejection this has received on WP as well. And no, I don't need philosophy to tell me something is a problem for physics, thanks. Gravity is what it is regardless of what any philosopher thinks about it. - Grant (Talk) 20:18, 9 February 2014 (UTC)
Sprocket: OK. Yes, but the interaction is either a form of non-Cartesian dualism (if you're into the Copenhagen material), an information-monist one, or some kind of new physics (Orch-OR). There are various options by which the interaction can take place.
This isn't casuistry. That article speaks of a common trend I see in a lot of RW articles, which I could go on about for quite a while. As far as I've gathered, it's just another internet skeptic site whose greatest attribute is its debunking of intelligent design which any biologically-literate middle-schooler can do. (talk) 21:04, 9 February 2014 (UTC)
Grant: I'm not the one making the edits! I don't care if you or others have a scientific background. You are not applying good reasoning here. And again, you do need philosophy to tell you whether or not consciousness can be solved by physics. Saying something about gravity and philosophy (why not make an example out of WLC's stupid neo-Lorentzian stuff while you're at it?) doesn't change this fact. Gravity is strictly in the scientific domain by definition (there's some philosophy for you). Mind, for the moment, needs to involve philosophy. Whatever your attitudes towards said subject (philosophy) are, this is a fact you need to deal with. (talk) 21:04, 9 February 2014 (UTC)
WP is a little better now that WingGundam (who put the OR theory under "pseudoscience" just because of its connection to Orch-OR, AND despite the fact that it's BEING TESTED) and Danko Georgiev (who has rival models of Q-mind contra Hameroff and Stapp) have relaxed a little. And just because something is controversial in areas that aren't as clear-cut as you portray it to be, that doesn't mean you need to ridicule them like this. All you need to say is "few scientists support Orch-OR completely", which is an honest statement that even Hameroff would be fine with. Again, refer to the Physics of Life Reviews material for a great rebuttal to the critics. (talk) 21:04, 9 February 2014 (UTC)

break point[edit]

Consciousness itself is a somewhat fuzzy issue, but we are happy to accept its existence. But as far as I understand we are not clear on how consciousness is generated.

Now, let's, for the sake of argument, assume that something quantum is happening in the brain. Even granting this - why would we assume that this consciousness thing is generated by this proposed quantum thing?--Coffee (talk) 21:19, 9 February 2014 (UTC)

Perhaps BoN would be kind enough to tell us, in terms intelligible to a studious middle schooler, how he has ruled out emergence from biochemistry as the generator of consciousness. If "generator" is inapt, kindly supply a better term. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 22:05, 9 February 2014 (UTC)
OK. NOW we're having a better, more productive conversation. (talk) 22:30, 9 February 2014 (UTC)
Sprocket: I guess I would cite Chalmers's arguments in THE CONSCIOUS MIND and related papers regarding p-zombies, which deal with the supervenience thesis. Johanan has an identity-based argument that works around the coherence of having phenomenal experiences and their properties in an immaterial, solipsistic universe, something which the properties of matter don't entail for themselves. Thus, mind shares different properties from matter, and by Leibniz's law, mind is not matter. Note that these arguments are not the same as an epistemic "for-all-we-know" possibility, since such a possibility could be used to prove that Clark Kent is not Superman. Churchland takes this route in all the editions of MATTER AND CONSCIOUSNESS, as does Dennett, to some extent. Instead, this is a case of our being aware and having knowledge of all the relevant properties of a subjective conscious experience needed to make modal claims like these. That's just what the definition of "subjective experience" entails. All the content of a conscious experience is inside consciousness, so there's no need for further intensions. This is also a good identity argument, since we don't see anything identical to brain states when we introspect! I would also cite John Searle's and (the somewhat controversial) Roger Penrose's arguments against strong (and weak) AI. In short: computers operate on syntax while humans operate on semantics; computer-minds can't prove their own Halting computations while we can. If you want to discuss specifics of these arguments, we can, though I've probably taken up too much room here. (talk) 22:30, 9 February 2014 (UTC)
Coffee: To be clear, I'm fine with emergence at a certain level of complexity. I just think it happens on a deeper scale, due to the arguments presented above. The only area I can see that allows for an intimate relation with the first-person is QM (Copenhagen, irreducible ontology), and the only area that opens the door for this non-computationally-simulated material (if Penrose is correct) to play a significant role. (talk) 22:30, 9 February 2014 (UTC)
AFAIK right now you're just establishing that consciousness could be somewhat directly quantum-based. Even if it was somewhat directly quantum-based, the specific attempts at modelling this, by Hameroff, do not appear to be able to make it through peer review/gain scientific acceptance. Nullahnung (talk) 02:24, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for coming back but I'm still not getting it. Why (if it is happening) would the quantum thing cause the consciousness thing?--Coffee (talk) 09:25, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
Nullahnung: Actually, Hameroff's work has been peer-reviewed: There was a paper prior to this which was published in the spurious JOURNAL OF COSMOLOGY, the ideas of which this paper presents and further refines. I'm guessing it was mostly because of special request, as there are other very credible authors who published quantum mind papers there around the same time. It's not representative of their work, and if anything, it was just a special "peek" into their most recent ideas. As far as I can tell, Hameroff is fine with constructive criticism, but the main points of Orch-OR haven't been refuted just yet. (talk) 19:31, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
Coffee: Well, consciousness isn't quantum because both of those are really mysterious. They're connected because consciousness is irreducible to physical stuff. So if we have this ontically irreducible thing like consciousness that still interacts with the physical world (or we wouldn't be here to talk about it), it would have to interact with the physical via the most irreducible element with respect to the physical, i.e. the area of quantum-mechanical phenomena. If we're going to avoid dualism (Cartesian or not), we'll have to resort to a "new physics" by which consciousness is put into science, although it would require major overhauling of what you mean by "science" and "the physical", and might need some speculative informational theory of reality. I know all of this might just be gobbledygook to some people, but does that help? (talk) 19:31, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
But how do you know that consciousness is "irreducible to physical stuff"? The fact that we presently have no "physical stuff" explanation for its production doesn't mean that there isn't one. (And isn't quantum included in "physical stuff" anyway?) It all sounds a bit "God of the gaps" with "quantum" taking the place of "God".--Coffee (talk) 20:06, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
Coffee: I just argued why consciousness is irreducible to physical stuff above. A god-of-the-gaps argument is positing god or quantum with no explanation whatsoever. Here, I'm not doing that. I'm giving REASONS why it's at the level of QM. It's not "irreducible to physical stuff we currently know about". It's irreducible to physical stuff IN PRINCIPLE. No matter what "physical stuff" you show me, now, in the future, or whenever, it won't match up. Consciousness INTERACTS with the levels of QM phenomena but is not, itself, physical or quantum mechanical. As I also said, you could take the approach of Penrose (the new physics), as a way to avoid such god-of-the-gaps reasoning while still being honest about consciousness. Penrose and Hameroff are on your side, as odd as that sounds. However, their ideas require a strange redefinition of what we mean by "the physical". It's a type of information processing at the level of quantum gravity with microtubules acting as the intermediary. It's more informational than physical, if you ask me. (talk) 13:09, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
I've had a look and can't seem to find it. Could you direct me to the part where you demonstrate that "It (consciousness)is irreducible to physical stuff IN PRINCIPLE." Thanks.--Coffee (talk) 17:09, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
It's at the part where I say "I guess I would cite David Chalmers's THE CONSCIOUS MIND" right above. Hope that helps. (talk) 02:51, 12 February 2014 (UTC)
Nicolas (I feel more like calling you by a human name than some bunch of numbers) you have not explained things in terms a studious middle schooler can understand. You have alluded to some off-site tap-dancing, and used some fancy terminology. I don't care what other scholars have to say about it. I'm not a student of the history of other people's arguments, and I do not yet have a sense that you are a serious student of cognitive science. In small words, and few of them, what's your take on it?
Consciousness is transient, and would seem to be a supervening layer upon cognition. Or maybe cognition supervenes upon consciousness. I don't know, but I might be persuaded to care. Here and now, can you persuade me that the alleged irreducibility of what we reify (correctly or not, that's another question) as consciousness has anything to do with the alleged irreducibility of some quantum analysis or other? Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 20:34, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
Sprocket: I haven't been hand-waving. I've been trying to give you rather complex arguments in a simple-to-understand way. I can't simplify them any more than I already have. If you call all this "tap-dancing with some fancy terminology", I'm really sorry. I'm not a neuroscientist, yes, and I am only a student, but that doesn't stop me from having an informed opinion on this. Again, please don't accuse me of hand-waving while doing hand-waving of your own. (talk) 13:09, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
Once again: The properties of conscious experience are such that it is coherent that conscious experience can exist in an immaterial, idealistic universe, where qualia of different mind-levels replaces the physical like Lego building blocks. In other words, it can exist in the universe of Berkeley's god or other idealist ontologies. Matter doesn't have said properties. Therefore, consciousness is not material. (talk) 13:09, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
I mean, please take the time to read what I'm writing. I think any philosophically-literate middle-schooler will get this. (talk) 13:09, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
I've been reading your writing all along, but when you say things like "conscious experience can exist in an immaterial, idealistic universe" I start to lose interest. If consciousness emerges from the array of neurochemical interactions contained within an individual body, then "immaterial, idealistic universe" will not cut the mustard. Such fanciful notions may be useful as approximations to what really happens, but I'm a firm believer in studying what really happens, if you want to know what really happens. That's a hint of where my sense of philosophical hand-waving comes from. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 14:23, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
I will also point out that the kind of philosophical reduction argument the BoN is using "it interacts with quantum stuff, therefore it must be quantum" is not the way science is done. Sprocket's attitude is far closer to the truth, where we devise physical theories based on physical evidence. The premise that consciousness must be quantum requires this kind of reduction argument to succeed; there is a significant lack of actual evidence pointing to it. - Grant (Talk) 16:58, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
It's difficult to make sense of what the IP is saying, for sure. On the one hand consciousness is supposed to not be reducible to any sort of physics including QM, but on the other hand we apparently have to avoid dualism, so there must exist some kind of informational connection between physics (meaning QM) and consciousness. My only question is: Why? Nullahnung (talk) 23:55, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
Sprocket: *Facepalm* Listen. You are going about this backwards. We need to examine whether or not it IS emergent. You don't just ASSERT it's emergent. You need to argue for it. I'm giving you an argument AGAINST emergence. You can't counter an argument against emergence by just saying "emergence"! It's like going up to a creationist, explaining why creationism is false because of evolution, and then having them say, "But that doesn't work, because creationism is true". (talk) 23:21, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
Grant: Are you keen on misrepresenting me? I never made that argument. My argument was that consciousness interacts with the physical world at the level of QM, not that consciousness IS quantum stuff. That's all my arguments above were trying to present. However, Orch-OR goes a step further, and argues that proto-qualia are at these fundamental levels of physics based on further arguments from Alfred North Whitehead and Roger Penrose. Sprocket couldn't be farther from the truth. I have no idea why you're backing him up. There are experiments by people like Dean Radin that suggest this, but I know how much you love his work, so I won't go into that here. In any case, philosophical investigation is good for now, in order for us to understand whether or not something is scientific, and how it's scientific. (talk) 23:21, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
Both of you: Stop with this "I'm an objective scientist, therefore you're an idiot" talk. I hate it. You need to address arguments like these in the best way, which you're not. What we are trying to understand is whether or not consciousness IS emergent at the classical level you want, or a scientific question at all. I'm arguing that it's not, based on the data supplied to us in introspection and modal reasoning we can use to understand said data. You two are arguing based on the faith that "Since this science works for all this, it'll work for this. Why? Because it will." Congratulations. You've just made a materialism-of-the-gaps argument. (talk) 23:21, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
So I think I may be helpful in reconciling the views presented here. IP address guy, you should really post those criticisms of Dennet, because he is, in my opinion, one of the only philosophers who even seems to try to understand neuroscience. The others just propose thought experiments (China brain, Chinese room) which attempt to discredit materialism with simplistic notions of what consciousness is. You can find rebuttals to those thought experiments online, but just ask if you want my own, I don't feel like typing them out right now. The reason for the harsh treatment of ORCH-OR here is due to its parsimony (more accurately lack of). It adds a completely useless explanation (quantum mechanics) for consciousness. Not only does it never even explain why the problem of consciousness should be intractable for neuroscience, it doesn't explain why it should be a tractable problem for QM. Despite popular opinion, there really isn't much reason to think that consciousness can't be explained in non-classical ways. I can understand how it seems like you are being unfairly treated here by people who are trying too hard to act objective, but in reality philosophers tend to misrepresent scientific facts, leading to apparent disagreements between philosophy and science which don't really exist. As of yet, we have learned very little about how the millions of complex circuits in the brain interact and function; but we have learned that some circuits play a role in "watching" the other circuits and regulating their activity, immediately suggesting something strange and inherently metacognitive about brain function. Sorry if this last bit seems a bit ad hominem, but if you actually think neuroscience and quantum mechanics are highly related, then you don't understand the principles of either and the scales they are occurring on. — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs 12 May 2014
+1. Not only is there little reason to believe the two are related, but Orch-OR is riddled with enough holes that philosophy isn't a sufficient stop-gap to justify it. - Grant (talk) 22:05, 12 May 2014 (UTC)
"Materialism of the gaps," seriously? I really doubt special pleading like this is going to fly here. --Marlow (talk) 23:35, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
(EC) Everything interacts with the physical world on the level of QM, because QM is the fundamental basis of every macroscopic object and interaction in the physical world. Perhaps you forget that "classical" mechanics is just a limiting case of quantum mechanics. Sure, the theory doesn't cover things as large as celestial bodies yet, but there is an active area of science working to close that gap. The premises Orch-OR takes are the things I was attacking before.
No, in fact, we need to do no such thing. I stated above that I would be happy to change my viewpoint if this moved into the scientific mainstream. Until then, my view stands. You're damn straight I'm saying "Since this science works for all this, it'll work for this". Do you know why? Because that's the point of falsifiability. The scientific theories we use today are considered correct until physical scientific evidence shows up to prove otherwise, at which point they are adjusted as necessary. This is not "faith"; it's science. - Grant (Talk) 23:38, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
Excuse me, but where did I assert that consciousness is emergent? I cast that as hypothetical, if you care to look again. As a matter of fact, the neuroscientists I've asked regard emergence as a better basis for consciousness than whatever else has been proposed so far. Their activity is producing results in the rehabilitation of damaged human beings. I haven't heard anything of how disputes about duality, Cartesian or otherwise, has accomplished anything like that. In my view, cognitive scientists are doing a batter job of cataloging the properties of conscious experience than any introspective philosopher could hope to do. Sorry you don't like Lakoff, but I'd urge you to re-examine the neurology of conceptual metaphors. There is a whole taxonomy of them at which to marvel. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 00:08, 12 February 2014 (UTC)
Grant, again, stop with the "man-of-the-world" crap. Please, for goodness's sake, pay attention, because I don't think I'm coming through. First we need to see if it's a scientific issue at all. When we do, then it's a matter of finding out WHERE the scientific investigation should be done, and THEN developing a hypothesis in said domain, with predictions to falsify said hypothesis. But until you get that first thing off the ground (i.e. whether this is a scientific question and if so where should we be looking), you have nowhere to go. And until you do, it is a faith position to say it will apply here. Is. That. Clear? (talk) 01:30, 12 February 2014 (UTC)
Sprocket: See my reply to Grant. Even if you didn't "endorse emergence" (that obviously matters!), you're still countering an argument against the idea that emergentism in a purely materialistic way produces minds by saying that it could. It's stupid. Neuroscientists have addressed the easy problems, and yes, there is stuff to marvel at. But they haven't addressed the problem of conscious experience. (talk) 01:30, 12 February 2014 (UTC)
Marlow: How is that special pleading? I think you mean "ill-applied", not "special pleading". But it's not even that. Good try, though. (talk) 01:30, 12 February 2014 (UTC)
By the way: I don't HATE eliminative materialists. I like Douglas Hofstadter, though I disagree with him on a lot. I don't dislike Lakoff as much as I did, but I don't see how conceptual metaphors really gets to the meat of conscious experience. It's not that I don't think analogy just isn't important to cognitive processes. I just think it's overextended to places where it doesn't quite help. (talk) 01:50, 12 February 2014 (UTC)
I'm sorry, but I'm not the one here arguing that we should give more consideration to a crackpot theory. By your own argument, Hameroff and Penrose are approaching this problem backwards, trying to slap a half-assed scientific explanation on an arbitrary field of science with absolutely no physical basis for it. I will also mention that if you're going to say that there must be some interaction with matter on a quantum level, you are already within the domain of science. Whether you like it or not, there's no philosophical handwaving around quantum mechanics. If you're going to pop in here and try to justify us being "nice" to Orch-OR based on philosophy, then I'm going to continue to think you're ignorant. If you would like to make a purely philosophical argument about consciousness, then leave quantum mechanics (and science in general) out of it. - Grant (Talk) 01:54, 12 February 2014 (UTC)
It's not crackpottery, as I've been trying to tell you a thousand times (and have given you plenty of reason why). I hardly see how they could be approaching this backwards. They're saying "Consciousness has X, Y, and Z properties as taken from various philosophical analyses, so we should be looking at this "new physics" area, which is most likely OR, can be correlated with the brain, and has certain key predictions for its key premises that are falsifiable." To be clear, they put consciousness as this strange "moment of experience" at the level of space-time geometry, which, at least to Penrose, is Platonic. Hameroff takes this as immaterial. In fact, in some interviews, he says this is "reductionist, but not materialist". There's still immateriality and information monism, much like in Tononi's IIT, which I also like, but there's also correlations with quantum gravity and how this information is related to the brain. They also took considerations from Alfred North Whitehead. Again, I'm not doing "philosophical handwaving to save Orch-OR and bring in QM", you dumbass. I'm using philosophical considerations to argue that we should be looking at the level of QM in general, and yes, based on the implications of QM, you can do that. Then work can begin on a more specific, more scientific model. We can then address important details of the proposed model, like Orch-OR. Until you get what I'M saying here, I will continue to think of you as ignorant. (talk) 02:51, 12 February 2014 (UTC)
Their premise is flawed. We do not build scientific theories based on philosophical analyses. We build scientific theories based on physical evidence. As someone who as already professed not to be a scientists of any kind, it's unsurprising that you continue thinking this is a good way of doing science. However, you would be wrong, and you're not going to find any traction on RW, Wikipedia, or in the broad scientific community. Good luck with your crusade, though I'm not sure what you honestly hope to accomplish with it. - Grant (Talk) 03:12, 12 February 2014 (UTC)
No, you idiot, that's not what I'm saying at all. Look, they're considering physical evidence, such as observations from Freeman and Vitiello regarding gamma synchrony, indications of the plausibility of OR, and the role of microtubules in addition to philosophical analyses. But you can't throw out philosophical analysis in an issue like this. And I never said philosophy, therefore hypothesis. I said, philosophical analysis, specific area of research, observations, and formulation of a hypothesis. Again, this is just the way you approach an issue like consciousness. I know you don't like it, but I ultimately don't care. It's how IIT and physicalism work as well: Philosophical modeling on whether or not this can be scientifically understood in a specific area, followed by comparison with physical observation and the formulation of a hypothesis. I'm not going to sit here trying to make this basic thing clear to you. What starts off as metaphysical, depending on how you approach it, can be analyzed from a physical perspective. It's all about where you decide to look. (talk) 03:41, 12 February 2014 (UTC)
And I don't care about Wikipedia, though I find it odd that you put it and RW along the scientific community as paragons of intellectual integrity. This conclusion (Q-mind) hasn't been "rejected by the scientific community". There's just huge disagreement. Learn to tell the difference. (talk) 03:44, 12 February 2014 (UTC)
You put "rejected by the scientific community" in quote marks, as relating to Q-mind, as if anyone has written that. I can't find the quote on this page, though. It seems nobody's actually saying that the scientific community rejects Q-mind. Strawman. Nullahnung (talk) 09:50, 12 February 2014 (UTC)
Nullahnung: GrantC was just going on about how I wouldn't be taken seriously by the scientific community, with reference to Orch-OR as a crackpot theory. Even if he didn't exactly say that, it's a valid inference about intention. So no strawman. (talk) 12:22, 12 February 2014 (UTC)
Actually no, it is not a valid inference. There's a few crucial differences between "Orch-OR is rightfully not taken seriously by the scientific community" and "Q-mind has been rejected by the scientific community". Nullahnung (talk) 12:41, 12 February 2014 (UTC)
There doesn't seem to be much of a difference, if you operate by scientific consensus. But in any case, this is just one of my minor points. Why focus on just this? (talk) 20:27, 12 February 2014 (UTC)

Should This Be Filed Under "Philosophy"?[edit]

At this point, Q-mind is a valid philosophical position, as much as physicalism or dualism. In fact, it kind of *is* a physicalist position, and it was a particular brand of philosophy the founders of QM held to. This isn't to say there are NO scientific aspects to it, however. You could put under it: "Whether or not this sort of thing is a metaphysical question or can be scientifically understood is not currently known." (talk) 19:36, 10 February 2014 (UTC)

Message from BoN...[edit]

OK. I think we're just talking past each other right now. I'll let you keep your pages if you want, because right now we're just butting heads. I'll go away now. (talk) 12:24, 12 February 2014 (UTC)

Childish introduction[edit]

Whoever wrote this article doesn't remotely understand science at all. Science is a sub-set of the Philosophy of Science. Philosophy of Science is the foundation of science, which the childish introduction suggests the author has absolutely zero understanding. Try writing in a more rational and objective manner. Everything can be written in a scientific and logical way. You must study logic and philosophy of science to be able to do this properly.Your personal bias has no place in science. Revise all this and try again. — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs 5 April 2014,‎ 23:17(UTC)

Well you're entirely wrong. But hey, whatever floats your boat I guess. - Grant (talk) 03:34, 6 April 2014 (UTC)
Thank you for your highly specific and detailed feedback. I will action that immediately. Scarlet A.pngtheist 14:41, 6 April 2014 (UTC)
Didn't you get the memo? Every scientist worth their salt needs to have close working relationship with a philosopher of science, to make sure the science is being done right. Without that, all credibility is lost. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 15:49, 6 April 2014 (UTC)
Well damn; it seems that my entire life has been a lie! Here I thought I was doing science, and instead I've just been flailing around and accomplishing nothing. - Grant (talk) 15:51, 6 April 2014 (UTC)

Article inadequately sets the stage for the Victor Stenger quote[edit]

So I've skimmed this:

And it seems to be putting down various notions of 'mind over matter' that people have come up with, and that is also apparent in the bit quoted in our article. The article makes no mention of any sort of 'mind of matter' concept whatsoever. The quote would make more sense if did integrate something like that in one of the preceding sections. Nullahnung (talk) 23:55, 6 June 2014 (UTC)

Yeah, I'm sure we have an article in which that quote fits, but I doubt this is it. - Grant (talk) 00:09, 7 June 2014 (UTC)
I'm commenting it out until the article addresses this gap. Nullahnung (talk) 08:56, 8 June 2014 (UTC)

RW record stained[edit]

RationalWiki almost perfect record is stained with this article - simply, this is not pseudoscience, at least as long as sci community consider it worthy of constructive criticism and debate. Certainly it's not woo nothing more then String Theory is, and to put it in same category with real crackpot science, New Age or woo, while equating Penrose (even Hameroff) with Chopra and Icke, is nothing short of perverse !--Santasa (talk) 15:44, 7 February 2015 (UTC)

I sort of weekly agree. The problem is , I suspect, that as so much woo involves "quantum" then sceptics are highly suspicious of anything which takes the word "quantum" out of its natural habitat. On the other hand "quantum biology" is a legitimate thing - as far as I am aware - so it seems to me that suggesting that quantum effects may be involved somewhere in brain functioning does not seem immediately outrageous.
But the problem is that as we don't really understand consciousness and few people fully understand quantum mechanics (I don't) - so there is a regrettable tendency to explain one magical poorly understood thing in terms of another.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 16:00, 7 February 2015 (UTC)

Why not break the article in two?[edit]

Here is a suggestion, why don't we reorganize the article into proto science and woo sections? While Quantum Consciousness is not currently the scientific consensus it is still a topic of discussion and debate, it may even prove to be true it wouldn't be the first time in the history of science that the less popular idea prevailed and this isn't even all that out there. What I think Rationalwiki really wants to go after is the woo misters of the world but not discourage legitimate scientific and philosophical inquiry.-- (talk) 03:10, 13 July 2015 (UTC)

Um, is any of this good at all? Not really. The Penrose stuff is still ill-founded nonsense, even if he can actually do quantum - David Gerard (talk) 09:58, 13 July 2015 (UTC)

Quantum Computing, Decoherence and Woo[edit]

The idea that the mind functions as a quantum computer and thus tquantum mechanical phenomena are needed to explain consciousness is almost universally rejected by neuroscientists as well as physicists and theoretical computer scientists studying quantum computing on the grounds that neurons are simply too large and the brain too hot for quantum decoherence to make psychic phenomena explainable by anything more than classical physics. Quantum computing researcher Scott Aaronson has discussed this numerous times in his blog and in both academic and public talks (cf.

Discussions of exotic forms of physics as responsible for consciousness are rooted in unfalsifiable hypotheses.

Quantum biology is largely concerned with ab initio calculations for events on a much smaller scale than neural activity, so discussion of field is irrelevant. A quick browse of the literature settles this.

Arguments from formal epistemology invoking Goedel's Incompleteness Theorems à la Lucas-Penrose and the writings of Haim Gaifman are rooted in misunderstanding of the implications of results in mathematical logic for the theory of computation as well as the formal definition of undecidability. Comments from Hilary Putnam and more recently Avi Widgerson provide an accessible summary. 04:35, 27 September 2015 (UTC)

Be honest in the opening argument for quantum consciousness.[edit]

I changed the opening argument because it is a strawman of the actual reasons given for quantum consciousness. If you want to disagree with it fine, if you want to call it pseudoscience also fine, but at least be honest about the motivations given for it. - — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs 22:48, 3 November 2015

Reasons which are God of the gaps, which is precisely what it said.
1) Something must explain X - (Something must explain thunder/Something must explain tides)
2) The only thing that seems to explain it is Y - (The only thing I can think of is Zeus bowling/The only thing I can think of is God)
3) Therefor Y causes X - (Therefor thunder is caused by Zeus bowling/Therefore God makes the tides)
The only difference is changing a god to quantum and adding a few extra letters. Replace quantum with bunnies, god, or angel farts and the syllogism still makes as much sense. -EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 23:19, 3 November 2015 (UTC)