Author Topic: Episode #697  (Read 6690 times)

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Offline The Latinist

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Re: Episode #697
« Reply #30 on: November 19, 2018, 06:40:24 PM »
Sorry, Devin, but I consider attempting to draw conclusions about consciousness and free will based upon a layman’s understanding of quantum mechanics purest woo.  I don’t think it’s better when an M.A. in philosophy does it than when Deepak Chopra, M.D. does. I’m sorry if you thought that buying your way onto the podcast would buy your woo credibility, but it doesn’t in my book. All it does is destroy the SGU’s.
I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell

Offline The Latinist

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Re: Episode #697
« Reply #31 on: November 19, 2018, 06:41:10 PM »
Am I the only one who sees this as a fundamental issue with the integrity of the podcast?

Yes.

No.
I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell

Offline Devin Bray

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Re: Episode #697
« Reply #32 on: November 19, 2018, 07:05:20 PM »
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« Last Edit: November 19, 2018, 07:16:39 PM by Devin Bray »

Offline Devin Bray

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Re: Episode #697
« Reply #33 on: November 19, 2018, 07:07:12 PM »
Sorry, Devin, but I consider attempting to draw conclusions about consciousness and free will based upon a layman’s understanding of quantum mechanics purest woo.  I don’t think it’s better when an M.A. in philosophy does it than when Deepak Chopra, M.D. does. I’m sorry if you thought that buying your way onto the podcast would buy your woo credibility, but it doesn’t in my book. All it does is destroy the SGU’s.

Good thing quantum mechanics aren’t important for my account of free will! Really, i would be happy to answer any questions, but I imagine my view and Steve’s are actually in essence very similar.  Where is it that the failure of communication is happening, and how can I remedy it?  I’m saying things not dramatically different from other prominent skeptics, just perhaps in a way you aren’t accustomed to.  I can assure you that if you’re filing away what I’m saying as “quantum woo” or putting me in the same boat as Chopra, you're being needlessly uncharitable.  We almost certainly share more opinions on this topic than you're currently estimating.

Do you think science is currently able to demonstrate the impossibility of any conception of free will, including deterministic ones?
« Last Edit: November 30, 2018, 06:34:21 PM by Devin Bray »

Offline Devin Bray

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Re: Episode #697
« Reply #34 on: November 19, 2018, 07:02:52 PM »
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« Last Edit: November 19, 2018, 07:16:51 PM by Devin Bray »

Offline Devin Bray

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Re: Episode #697
« Reply #35 on: November 19, 2018, 07:09:47 PM »
Ugh, iPhone triple post.  Sorry.

Offline The Latinist

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Re: Episode #697
« Reply #36 on: November 19, 2018, 07:56:42 PM »
Sorry, but I’m out all night.  I will respond when I have more time.
I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell

Online CarbShark

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Re: Episode #697
« Reply #37 on: November 19, 2018, 08:18:34 PM »
Sorry, Devin, but I consider attempting to draw conclusions about consciousness and free will based upon a layman’s understanding of quantum mechanics purest woo.  I don’t think it’s better when an M.A. in philosophy does it than when Deepak Chopra, M.D. does. I’m sorry if you thought that buying your way onto the podcast would buy your woo credibility, but it doesn’t in my book. All it does is destroy the SGU’s.

Phew - good thing quantum mechanics aren’t important for my account of free will! Really, i would be happy to answer any questions, but I imagine my view and Steve’s are actually in essence very similar.  Where is it that the failure of communication is happening, and how can I remedy it?  I’m saying things not dramatically different from other prominent skeptics, just perhaps in a way you aren’t accustomed to.  I can assure you that if you’re filing away what I’m saying as “quantum woo” or putting me in the same boat as Chopra, you haven’t made a very honest attempt to listen.

Do you think science is currently able to demonstrate the impossibility of any conception of free will, including deterministic ones?

If quantum mechanics are not important for your account of free will, why are they included?
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Offline brilligtove

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Re: Episode #697
« Reply #38 on: November 19, 2018, 08:43:40 PM »
IIRC he said something like, "I don't think quantum mechanics is relevant to this question because they don't have much effect beyond Planck scales." I don't recall hearing him say anything about consciousness depending on QM in any way.

Am I the only one who sees this as a fundamental issue with the integrity of the podcast?

Yes.

No.

I think some of us are confusing "patronage" and "donation". Patrons are not donors. Patrons are not giving a gift to an artist / scientist / skeptic / etc. Patrons provide support (financial, political, and other kinds) to a person or group that does something the patron cares about. A traditional patron might demand specific targets, deliveables, or creations. In modern crowd-funded patronage the artist defines those benefits.
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Offline Devin Bray

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Re: Episode #697
« Reply #39 on: November 19, 2018, 09:52:32 PM »
Sorry, Devin, but I consider attempting to draw conclusions about consciousness and free will based upon a layman’s understanding of quantum mechanics purest woo.  I don’t think it’s better when an M.A. in philosophy does it than when Deepak Chopra, M.D. does. I’m sorry if you thought that buying your way onto the podcast would buy your woo credibility, but it doesn’t in my book. All it does is destroy the SGU’s.

Phew - good thing quantum mechanics aren’t important for my account of free will! Really, i would be happy to answer any questions, but I imagine my view and Steve’s are actually in essence very similar.  Where is it that the failure of communication is happening, and how can I remedy it?  I’m saying things not dramatically different from other prominent skeptics, just perhaps in a way you aren’t accustomed to.  I can assure you that if you’re filing away what I’m saying as “quantum woo” or putting me in the same boat as Chopra, you haven’t made a very honest attempt to listen.

Do you think science is currently able to demonstrate the impossibility of any conception of free will, including deterministic ones?

If quantum mechanics are not important for your account of free will, why are they included?

I brought up the availability of nonlocal hidden variables in Bell's Theorem for two reasons, both of which you might find surprising given how you've been interpreting me so far:

1.)  To show that it's not clear there even IS any quantum indeterminacy.  It's still a live option that the supposed "randomness" is explainable in terms of hidden variables - just not local ones.

2.)  To show that it may be a fundamental metaphysical error to think all causality reduces to the "bottom" level.  Things banging into each other at the level of the smallest putative entities is probably not a good overall picture of causation, especially given that it's not very "thing-like" down there at all.

Does this have relevance to thinking about how it's possible that something like an idea, communicated to you in words, could have causal relevance to the chemical activity in your brain?  Maybe!  Or perhaps it IS the case that consciousness is entirely epiphenomenal.  Either way, we're not going to show how we have a "free will" in virtue of indeterminacy at the particle-level.  Instead, I'm suggesting that we ought to think more carefully about feedback loops crisscrossing multiple levels of organization - if anything, dynamic systems theory, not QM, will show us some meaningful sense in which our experienced first-person perspectives were a worthwhile evolutionary investment.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2018, 09:56:58 PM by Devin Bray »

Offline fuzzyMarmot

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Re: Episode #697
« Reply #40 on: November 19, 2018, 10:04:36 PM »
I, too, was uncomfortable with Dr. Brey citing recent papers on quantum mechanics and particle physics to make points about philosophy. I was also disturbed by his mentions of dynamical systems theory.

Quantum physics is a mathematical theory. We have cartoon metaphors like "particles" to try to understand it. These metaphors are extremely limited and often misleading (as Dr. Novella noted). This has been widely recognized for a very, very long time.

I think Dr. Brey should have been clearer that he is advocating for a change in the cartoon version that is communicated to lay-people, not how scientists understand science.

It worries me a little when people who don't understand quantum theory make arguments about how it should be explained it to lay-people.

I hope none of this offends Dr. Brey. It sounds like he is an extremely intelligent philosopher engaged in fascinating work.


Offline Devin Bray

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Re: Episode #697
« Reply #41 on: November 19, 2018, 10:20:14 PM »
I, too, was uncomfortable with Dr. Brey citing recent papers on quantum mechanics and particle physics to make points about philosophy. I was also disturbed by his mentions of dynamical systems theory.

Quantum physics is a mathematical theory. We have cartoon metaphors like "particles" to try to understand it. These metaphors are extremely limited and often misleading (as Dr. Novella noted). This has been widely recognized for a very, very long time.

I think Dr. Brey should have been clearer that he is advocating for a change in the cartoon version that is communicated to lay-people, not how scientists understand science.

It worries me a little when people who don't understand quantum theory make arguments about how it should be explained it to lay-people.

I hope none of this offends Dr. Brey. It sounds like he is an extremely intelligent philosopher engaged in fascinating work.

This is a fair point, and certainly based on the response I've received here, in retrospect I wish I'd chosen one of my other articles/topics for conversation when canvassing potential topics with Jay.  I thought I could cover this in a sensible way and articulate myself clearly given the amount of time I had to prepare and speak, but obviously it was nowhere near the level of clarity it needed to be at.  I am not a physicist, and so it's imperative that I extrapolate from scientific findings in the most conservative, direct way possible.

As you point out, though, the idea that particles are just a convenient metaphor is not well-appreciated by non-physicists.  The problem is, I think, that non-physicists (including philosophers,) who are trying to be scientific tend to work with a picture of the world much as Democritus would have had it:  "the world is, on the final analysis, a collection of particles." 

This can have big consequences.  It's very easy, working with a picture of physics based (even subconsciously) on this Democritean picture, to leap to the conclusion that free will doesn't make any scientific sense.  I am not arguing that any particular scientific finding supports any particular "mechanism" for free will, but rather that the conclusion that free will is impossible is often inferred from the outdated scientific picture we have been discussing.   It may be time that we learn additional metaphors.  Even if such a train of thought regarding free will is on the right track, it wouldn't yield a picture where we're somehow "causes unto ourselves" by amplifying "quantum randomness" or some other nonsense.  Instead, it would just show how a deterministic system can be determined by processes at multiple levels of organization.  This would potentially give us some insight into what the phenomena of "willing," "deliberating," and "self-control" are all about.  But we'd still be, in the end, very complex deterministic systems.  No magic.   
« Last Edit: November 19, 2018, 10:30:39 PM by Devin Bray »

Offline fuzzyMarmot

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Re: Episode #697
« Reply #42 on: November 19, 2018, 10:31:24 PM »
Thanks for that clarification, Dr. Bray. For what it's worth, I thought you did a phenomenal idea on the show. Communicating deep philosophical ideas in a condensed way while keeping up witty banter is an incredibly difficult undertaking. I was very impressed! I applaud you for going on the show and explaining these topics.

I learned a lot from listening to you on the show, and it has sparked my interest to do some further reading. My knowledge about philosophy is embarrassingly meager, but you explained things in an accessible and exciting way.

I apologize for my knee-jerk criticism. I'll attribute my reaction to seeing mathematical ideas taken out of context too many times in the past. Sorry about that!

Offline Devin Bray

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Re: Episode #697
« Reply #43 on: November 19, 2018, 10:32:48 PM »
Thanks for that clarification, Dr. Bray. For what it's worth, I thought you did a phenomenal idea on the show. Communicating deep philosophical ideas in a condensed way while keeping up witty banter is an incredibly difficult undertaking. I was very impressed! I applaud you for going on the show and explaining these topics.

I learned a lot from listening to you on the show, and it has sparked my interest to do some further reading. My knowledge about philosophy is embarrassingly meager, but you explained things in an accessible and exciting way.

I apologize for my knee-jerk criticism. I'll attribute my reaction to seeing mathematical ideas taken out of context too many times in the past. Sorry about that!

It's understandable.  I think the clarity that's emerging in this conversation here was probably absent on the show, which would be my fault.

Offline gebobs

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Re: Episode #697
« Reply #44 on: November 20, 2018, 09:06:48 AM »
Am I the only one who sees this as a fundamental issue with the integrity of the podcast?

I completely forgot about it after hearing him for about 5 minutes. Good job, Devin. Way to represent us shawties!

 

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