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Weird Science

Discussion in 'GMD Social Forum' started by Einherjar86, May 16, 2018.

  1. Einherjar86

    Einherjar86 Active Member

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    Generally speaking, yes. There were multiple sources of influence, but Dan O'Bannon (who created the creature with Giger) admitted to drawing inspiration from insect lifecycles, specifically parasitic wasps.

    https://alienseries.wordpress.com/2012/10/26/facehuggerchestburster/

     
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  2. CiG

    CiG Terminal Perversion

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    That's awesome. I always thought O'Bannon was a genius, he truly tapped into some nightmare fuel with that.
     
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  3. Einherjar86

    Einherjar86 Active Member

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  4. CiG

    CiG Terminal Perversion

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    Just over 2 minutes in and "ants can recognize themselves in mirrors" already fucked my brain up.
     
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  5. Bloopy

    Bloopy Active Member

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    The mirror test is quite fascinating. The question may be whether it indicates self-awareness in the sense of intelligence/emotions at all, or simply in a more physical sense - adapting to use a shiny new tool.

    Cats haven't passed the test yet, but this particular cat appears to recognise itself:

     
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  6. Dak

    Dak mentat

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    Watts failed to answer his own question, or acknowledge that he failed to answer it still. Good talk otherwise though.
     
  7. Einherjar86

    Einherjar86 Active Member

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    I'm not sure his point was to offer an answer. As someone familiar with his ideas and writing, he's way more interested in exploring the complexities and uncertainties of these topics than offering resolutions to them.
     
  8. Dak

    Dak mentat

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    Well I expect someone to offer an attempt at a resolution if they keep bringing up a question. He keeps "sneaking" (not really sneaking) in the parasite idea without labeling it an "answer", but it's not an answer either, even if consciousness is a parasite in some sense. That's a quality, not consciousness qua consciousness. His biggest problem is that it's not the greatest philosophical move to attempt to think of things that can be done without consciousness to figure out what consciousness does. Ask the wrong questions you get the wrong answers.
     
  9. Einherjar86

    Einherjar86 Active Member

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    Maybe that's your problem, and not his. :D

    He's showing that consciousness isn't necessary to perform many of the actions for which we often assume it's necessary. His motivation is to demonstrate that every time we come up with some explanation for consciousness's purpose, we discover the capacity for the fulfillment of that purpose in presumably non-conscious organisms. There's no problem with that, philosophically speaking.
     
    #69 Einherjar86, Mar 10, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2019
  10. Dak

    Dak mentat

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    I think it is a problem if he's going to be all huehue about it. Maybe that makes it "my problem", but it's a problem.

    He's showing it, but it doesn't lift any weight, which you miss (in the same way Watts does) by the usage of the word "capacity." Lots of things have the "capacity" for movement (for instance). That doesn't mean that there's no efficiencies or differences in different modes of movement.
     
  11. Einherjar86

    Einherjar86 Active Member

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    Only for you, though.

    You're going to have to be clearer, because none of this strikes me as something Watts would object to. I certainly don't object to it. Of course different organisms move differently. I don't see how that analogy serves to critique what you see as the shortcoming of Watts's comments.
     
  12. Dak

    Dak mentat

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    He raises it as something he will resolve but he doesn't. It's mostly a presentation error. If it's not an error it's an intentional sleight of hand, which is disingenuous, which is not a problem which I only I may find.

    Not surprised. Watts claims he cannot find the purpose for consciousness because he can imagine fulfilling all purposes for consciousness without consciousness. First, there is the assumption that all ends are met identically by disparate means. Then, there is the blindness in the assumption that such assuming imagination occurs without consciousness and is thus free of its already enumerated faults. Talk about Blindsight.

    Are his listed neuro publishings science? Most likely (I say that as opposed to "yes" due to the replication problems in SS). Do they lead where he suggests? Not probably. He touts the interests of Neuroscientists as some sort of interesting factoid. I find that discomfirmative, as neuroscientists are generally more understanding of rat brains as opposed to humans (or rats) (Edit: and I mean as opposed to humans or rats as a whole, vs some spark or chemical transaction in a particular segment of the brain). That whole "the instrument/measurement construes the finding" issue, or however you would say it given the specific context.
     
    #72 Dak, Mar 10, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2019
  13. Einherjar86

    Einherjar86 Active Member

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    He raises it as something he'll resolve? You think he presumes he can do that?

    What's that supposed to mean?

    First, Watts doesn't assume that all ends are met identically by disparate means. He's demonstrating that the purported ends (i.e. purposes) of consciousness can be met by disparate (non-conscious) means. That doesn't translate into the assumption that all ends are met by disparate means.

    Second (or "Then"), he doesn't assume that such "assuming imagination" occurs without consciousness. This "assuming imagination" just might be the one end that consciousness is capable of achieving but non-conscious brains can't! Watts never denies that possibility.

    However, he also takes pains not to confuse the internal experience of "assuming imagination" with the outward performance (or imitation) of "assuming imagination." For all he or any one of us knows, the internal experience of "assuming imagination" might be unique to consciousness; but that's not something that's currently provable by observation of external presentation, and Watts isn't naive, humanist, or egotistical enough to say "But I have the internal experience of making assumptions, and non-conscious organisms can't do that!"

    All the ends that Watts is interested in manifest externally to the body, or between the body and its environment. The "assuming imagination" is an entirely internal experience, and he doesn't presume to be able to test that scientifically.

    So any work that neuroscientists publish on consciousness is irrelevant or unconvincing because most of them don't study human consciousness? Even if it's true that most study "rat brains," that doesn't make the ones who study human brains somehow illegitimate.
     
  14. zabu of nΩd

    zabu of nΩd Free Insultation

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    A guy with a biblical worldview struggling to understand the value of leaving questions unanswered? I'm shocked.
     
  15. Dak

    Dak mentat

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    I'm not saying he presumes he can do that. He's an entertaining presenter and he provides a lot of good data, but the reason he is giving the presentation is this idea of his of consciousness being good for nothing, and maybe actually detrimental in several ways. I'm critiquing his method at arriving at this conclusion, and this "some neuroscientists find the idea intriguing" as some sort of validation. It's something approximating a rhetorical sleight of hand. I'm not surprised that you don't understand the critique because you're a fan of his work and likely share approaches to things with him as a writer/literary person generally moreso than I would.

    I want to be clear when I say he's assuming all ends are met identically by disparate processes. This was what the movement example was meant to explain. A car, a bike, and walking are all methods of getting from point A to point B. Saying that bikes can't be for transportation because cars transport people faster is fallacious, and also misses that while the car is faster than the bike, the bike is faster than walking.

    Watts doesn't deny this about imagination, but he doesn't address it really either, which may in fact be due to what you refer to next:

    It's fair to be concerned with what's manifested behaviorally because that's easier to measure. The problem is that this creates a bit of a standards problem when trying to assess something that mediates the relationship, to some degree (even if negatively), the relationship between electrochemical interactions in the nervous system, and manifest bodily behaviors. "I can't figure out how this helps or what it does, so it must be for nothing or negative" is a similar but opposite move of "God of the Gaps" thinking (which, I think might be what @zabu of nΩd was talking about, but I'm not really sure, and I don't see myself making any such moves or claim).


    Most neuroscientists aren't studying consciousness. I'm saying that neuroscientists study lots of things, but mostly in rats instead of people, and then the ones studying humans aren't looking for consciousness per se. The closest thing we are getting to it is the fMRI data identifying areas for certain shapes etc (trying to read dreams etc). I'm going to discount neuroscientist opinions on something they aren't studying, especially when/if they aren't even studying humans.
     
  16. Einherjar86

    Einherjar86 Active Member

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    No, I don't understand because I still think you're making misplaced judgments. You think you have a more objective position because you're not invested in him personally/professionally. I think you're going out of your way to make accusations because you don't like the implications of what he's saying.

    But these are personal disagreements, and won't get us anywhere.

    You're not getting the point if this is what you think he's saying.

    You're arguing that consciousness can still be for all these things even if other embodied functions achieve the same ends. That's not untrue, but it's an incomplete version of the question Watts's is posing. He's responding to a well-established question among cognitive scientists/philosophers: what is consciousness for that makes it evolutionarily beneficial for humans? In other words, what unique function does consciousness allow for that other organisms can't perform? He's not denying that consciousness can be for any of the possibilities he enumerates; he's saying that in terms of evolution, other species had already developed the capacities for these possibilities in ways that didn't involve consciousness. He's critiquing the idea that consciousness is special and achieves some purpose inconceivable in non-conscious organisms.

    In terms of evolutionary development, consciousness is new to the scene. Every species evolves differently and specifically to the form of their embodied relationship to the environment; but every time we look for a function of consciousness unique to humans, we stumble upon examples of those functions in other organisms--whether self-awareness, communal play, higher-order conceptualization, future planning, etc.

    Well, you seem to be saying it's not worth exploring questions if you're not going to try and find whatever god is lurking in the gaps. I simply think you're protesting too much and really just finding fault for your own sake.

    Do you think Watts doesn't understand the implications of his questioning/speculation? I'm confident that he's completely cognizant of the seeming presence and simultaneous invisibility of whatever "mediates the relationship between electrochemical interactions in the nervous system and manifest bodily behaviors." I have no doubt he's obsessed with what appears to be the threefold structure of consciousness: chemicals/electricity, bodily behavior, and what communicates between those two factors. I've read enough of Watts (unlike you, I imagine) to know that this isn't something that escapes him.

    If consciousness serves an evolutionary purpose unique to humans, then it should facilitate some function between embodied behavior and environment that other organisms can't do. He's saying we've yet to find that function.

    Also, having read a lot of Watts, I know that he's pretty much ready to accept that consciousness might not be for any special purpose. It could just be a kind of modification on basic human anatomy that fulfills no unique or evolutionarily beneficial function. So again, it's not that consciousness isn't for anything; it's just not for any particular human specialty that can be scientifically quantified or qualified.

    I find these comments unconvincing and uninformed. There's an entire branch of neuroscience devoted to the study of consciousness. It even has its own journal.
     
    #76 Einherjar86, Mar 11, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2019
  17. Dak

    Dak mentat

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    I get that that is the question, I just don't think it's the right way to approach the problem. Humans (obviously) aren't other species. We also aren't AI, since algorithmic performance gets added in for comparison as well. Not finding the evolutionary benefit to humans because theoretically purported benefits of consciousness can be or have been provided in other ways (even in superior fashion) in non-humans doesn't answer a valuable question. Instead of wanting a completely unique ability of consciousness, seen behaviorally, a better question would be, "why the conscious process instead of the non-conscious process"? The context for human evolution is entirely unique by definition, so finding some unique cognitive phenomena arising from it shouldn't be surprising. Humans have different bodies and different needs.


    Apparently you and zabu have both apparently misconstrued my questioning of his questions as taking a stance of these things being "not worth exploring", when I see the emboldened portion as an example of him not finding consciousness worth exploring further because his bad line of questioning lead to a dead end. So how is it that I am the one not interested in exploring consciousness? I think the key word you used to describe consciousness is "special", and maybe that's what Watt would use to given the framing of his questions. I'm not saying it has to perform any special (unique) heavy lifting at this point. It just seems that it performs certain functions in humans that don't appear to be require consciousness in various other non-human entities. So the question then is why consciousness for humans (and really that's a less interesting question than what or how at this juncture. Hard to answer the why without the what/how)? It's a radically speculative (this is, of course, the domain of science fiction, or speculative fiction) to conclude then it is pointless and/or harmful. Radical speculation being a nice way of saying a logical leap.

    One area where he is likely speculating (or more accurately, inferring from relevant data) accurately is that there won't be any "I" to decouple from a "hive mind" once connected. If we understand the consciousness/personality/etc emerging from the combination of more and more synapses and transmissions (or generally speaking, more bandwidth and information sharing), it is likely the case that increasing hemispheres/power/etc will change the nature of that consciousness. He seems as concerned about that as I am, although maybe not for an entirely overlapping set of reasons. I do find it interesting though that he doesn't seem to pose a larger hive mind as some new parasite (unless I missed it), only our internal dual-hemisphere "hive-mind" as the parasite.


    Yes. There is a branch of neuroscience dedicated to the study of consciousness. It's just in the substantial minority, and general study of human brains is in the minority. Granted, this article is a decade old, so I don't know how the field may have shifted, but likely not much given systemic inertia and the many legal hurdles to studying human subjects:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2605402/

    The study goes on to note it's limitations and why they believe those are mitigated. It also goes on to address the potential problems in extrapolating from mouse/rat research to humans. Again, I'm not saying that neuroscientists studying consciousness don't have relevant subject matter expertise. I'm saying that "neuroscientists" as a broad group don't automatically have subject matter expertise.
     
  18. Einherjar86

    Einherjar86 Active Member

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    But again, you want him to give an answer--and it's not incumbent on him to provide one. He's gathered data to demonstrate that consciousness doesn't appear to have any special application in human evolutionary behavior.

    There's an assumed position here that he's challenging: the one that posits human consciousness as an evolutionary boon and benefit to our existence. He's not out to explain away the problem; he's out to challenge that supposition, which still has disciples in philosophy and the sciences.

    Of course he finds it worth exploring. That's why he explores it. He's also aware of the cruel irony that in exploring it, we seem to stumble upon ample evidence that suggests it isn't all that special to begin with. Evolution has played a joke on us, and he gets it. We can be fascinated by consciousness and simultaneously recognize that it doesn't seem to be all that crucial to survival (generally speaking) or special in terms of its functions for humans.

    I think you're being presumptuous in your response to what he actually says.

    So? This is all just value judgments on your part, not critiques of any method. He's not confusing speculation with syllogism; he's just offering speculation.

    I think it's amusing that you don't like the fact that he speculates.

    When he says that "some neuroscientists find the idea intriguing," to whom do you think he's referring? Neuroscientists "as a broad group"--or those who focus on this topic?
     
    #78 Einherjar86, Mar 11, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2019
  19. Dak

    Dak mentat

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    No, he hasn't. Apparently I can't make it any more clear, unfortunately.

    I'm not being presumptuous at all. I'm taking what he says at face value and saying that his line of questioning is "barking up the wrong tree" (to save repeating everything all over again).

    I have zero problem with him speculating for the plot purposes for fiction. There are no rules there other than "sell books." I read Starfish iirc. Entertaining. He's an entertaining speaker. I don't even have a problem with him wanting to extend his speculation to actual possibilities. But at that point he opens himself to critique (beyond literary or sales critiques). I offered a critique, which either you've ignored or don't understand, which is maybe my problem in explaining, I don't know.

    Based simply on the greater number of rat neuroscientists, but as well as my direct interactions with rat neuroscientists, I suspect rat neuroscientists. Even rat neuroscientists aside, one doesn't even need to be a neuroscientist of any stripe to engage in the stark materialism in biomedical fields. Also, "finding the idea intriguing" doesn't mean much scientifically. I also find it intriguing while not finding it logical or scientific.

    Edit: By "stark materialism" I mean not understanding contextual/contingent/emergent factors etc.
     
    #79 Dak, Mar 11, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2019
  20. Einherjar86

    Einherjar86 Active Member

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