Taking The Descartes Challenge

I’m calling you to task for having a problem with me quoting something from post #4, then saying, you said something else somewhere else and I should know which one you “really” meant. I can only deal with the words on the screen. Maybe I need to come out to Colorado and we can have a week-long retreat and figure this out. We should probably invite a Shaman to moderate.

But that is not suggested. Your brain is a data processor based on non-binary interactive electrochemical information via mathematical guiding principles.

2H + 1O = H2O , a mathematical equation. Sensory data is transmitted via electrochemical input and transmission and reconverted into non-binary electrochemical “action potentials” by the brain.

Well, here is a comprehensive analysis of the brain and its functions.

Information about the Brain


“I think, therefore I am.”
—Rene Descartes, 17th-century philosopher

Few of us question the crucial importance of the brain. It is vital to our existence. Our brains enable us to think, as René Descartes so skillfully pointed out nearly 400 years ago. Yet the human brain is responsible for so much more. It directs almost everything we do. It controls our voluntary movements, and it regulates involuntary activities such as breathing and heartbeat. The brain serves as the seat of human consciousness: it stores our memories, allows us to feel emotions, and gives us our personalities.

The spinal cord conducts sensory information (information from the body) from the peripheral nervous system to the brain. After processing its many sensory inputs,the brain initiates motor outputs (coordinated mechanical responses) that are appropriate to the sensory input it receives.

The human nervous system can be subdivided into the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS).

more … Information about the Brain - NIH Curriculum Supplement Series - NCBI Bookshelf

Dang real to the person having the thoughts! Sorry for the misunderstanding.

I reject that frame of mind because it pretends (implies-if that’s more politically correct), that pressure waves, photons, neural messenger, molecular signaling, etc. aren’t “real”.

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But these pervasive wave lenghts are not “observable” by the brain.

You can feel the warmth of infra-red on your skin, but you cannot see it or imagine it from direct experience.

You need to accept that the brain is an isolated organ as much as the liver is an isolated organ. The human biome is not nearly as sensitive to environmental conditions as, say insects who can feel atmospheric changes even before our weather instruments record them.

Do bugs know when its going to rain? Many insects can sense atmospheric pressure differences**. Honey Bees for instance, just stay home if they sense a storm coming. Other bees, like Mason Bees may stay out and forage in light rain but will take shelter when it starts raining too heavily or the wind gets too intense. Apr 20, 2015
What Do Bugs Do When It Rains? | Ask an Entomologist

Sorry, to me that seems that a perverse philosophical perspective, that disregards the biology reality.
I don’t accept it.

I know some people like to reduce biology to information systems and nothing more,
but that’s assuming we have the where with all to understand the entire system and its interconnections.

Many scientific articles/talks start with reminding us of how unbelievable complexity brain and body systems are, these days seems like scientists are drowning in data, they can barely process, or don’t even comprehend enough to know how to process.

Go figure. We agree on that.
But notice you acknowledge it’s a spectrum,
I don’t think “I” (mind) can feel atmospheric changes, but I know my body possesses physiological systems (physical reality) that can, and or, are effected by atmospheric changes.

Oh, and that can have knock on effects that my mind can sense.

I agree with the way you put that.
But I interpret that as bodily sensory transmissions that the brain can process. The thing is that except for some kinetic cellular responses, it is the brain that processes all electrochemical data. If I feel pain in my toe it is the brain that tells me where it is.

Note that there are people who cannot feel pain because some neural defect prevents the signals from reaching the brain. OTOH , many people can still feel a limb after it has been amputated, because the brain still receives signals from remaining neurons.

Phantom pain - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic

Many experts believe phantom pain may be at least partially explained as a response to mixed signals from the brain. After an amputation, areas of the spinal cord and brain lose input from the missing limb and adjust to this detachment in unpredictable ways. Jun 11, 2021

The limb is gone, but the brain still receives data and thinks the limb is still there. It has no data to the contrary.
A typical example of the autonomous brain “believing” the data it receives.
https://www.mayoclinic.org › syc-20376272

I have the feeling you’re assuming it’s all been figured out already.
plus you have a way with rigid categorizing that does no credit to all the amazing things being discovered within the past few decades.

Then comes the anecdote, that distracts.

I assume no such thing. But I like to think that natural selection eventually selects for the most efficient system that yields a survival advantage. And that usually means the fine-tuning of existing resources.

Just think of the body’s ability to produce Adrenaline, a marvelous survival chemical that both increases the body’s strength metabolism and causes the production of endorphins to mask pain that might otherwise interfere with facing challenging circumstances.

The brain is a superb control mechanism of bodily functions and will always try to protect the body from harm which of course starts with the fight or flight response. Every evolved survival mechanism is a survivor of the tests the environment presents the organism.

Adrenaline tells your body how to reallocate resources, causing the physical responses, one of which includes the release of endorphins, neurotransmitters that act as your body’s natural painkillers. With endorphin release, your after-accident pain may be partially or completely masked.

After effects of a fight-or-flight response

When you aren’t dealing with a prolonged stressful incident, the hormone response may be problematic. Adrenaline tells your body how to reallocate resources, causing the physical responses, one of which includes the release of endorphins, neurotransmitters that act as your body’s natural painkillers. With endorphin release, your after-accident pain may be partially or completely masked. It may take days, in fact, for the full extent of pain from your injuries to reveal itself.

Understanding the stress response

July 6, 2020

Sounding the alarm

The stress response begins in the brain (see illustration). When someone confronts an oncoming car or other danger, the eyes or ears (or both) send the information to the amygdala, an area of the brain that contributes to emotional processing. The amygdala interprets the images and sounds. When it perceives danger, it instantly sends a distress signal to the hypothalamus.

Command center

illustration of brain showing areas activated by stress328x268

> When someone experiences a stressful event, the amygdala, an area of the brain that contributes to emotional processing, sends a distress signal to the hypothalamus. This area of the brain functions like a command center, communicating with the rest of the body through the nervous system so that the person has the energy to fight or flee.

However, there is a price to pay from chronic stressful conditions.
Adrenaline is a very potent drug that robs the body of vital resources.

Chronic stress puts your health at risk

Chronic stress can wreak havoc on your mind and body. Take steps to control your stress.
By Mayo Clinic Staff

Your body is hard-wired to react to stress in ways meant to protect you against threats from predators and other aggressors. Such threats are rare today, but that doesn’t mean that life is free of stress.

On the contrary, you likely face many demands each day, such as taking on a huge workload, paying the bills and taking care of your family. Your body treats these so-called minor hassles as threats. As a result, you may feel as if you’re constantly under attack. But you can fight back. You don’t have to let stress control your life.

Understanding the natural stress response

When you encounter a perceived threat — such as a large dog barking at you during your morning walk — your hypothalamus, a tiny region at your brain’s base, sets off an alarm system in your body. Through a combination of nerve and hormonal signals, this system prompts your adrenal glands, located atop your kidneys, to release a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol.

So, it is the body that produces the chemical survival responses, but it does so on command of the brain.

I believe the brain function is called issuing “action potentials”

Neuron action potentials: The creation of a brain signal

Google Classroom

Your body has nerves that connect your brain to the rest of your organs and muscles, just like telephone wires connect homes all around the world.

When you want your hand to move, your brain sends signals through your nerves to your hand telling the muscles to contract. But your nerves don’t just say “hand, move.” Instead your nerves send lots of electrical impulses (called action potentials) to different muscles in your hand, allowing you to move your hand with extreme precision.

Neurons are a special type of cell with the sole purpose of transferring information around the body. Neurons are similar to other cells in that they have a cell body with a nucleus and organelles. However, they have a few extra features which allow them to be fantastic at transferring action potentials:

  • dendrites: receive signals from neighboring neurons (like a radio antenna)
  • axon: transmit signals over a distance (like telephone wires)
  • axon terminal: transmit signals to other neuron dendrites or tissues (like a radio transmitter)
  • myelin sheath: speeds up signal transmission along the axon

But you make it sound like the command and control - well is a command and control.
but the body works as a whole and in unison, with multiple feedback loops, not to mention “quorum sensing” happening at specific levels and so on.

This sort of reminds me of reading Descartes’ Method, on the one hand I assume him being as smart as he was, he knew dang how much he didn’t understand, yet he can write with this inner sense of certainty that I could never understand.

The brain does NOT work in isolation, visualizing our brain as our body’s "Command and Control Center, like some HQ sending solder off to Gallipoli or something, misses the whole point of sciences new insights.

I agree, the brain needs input! Regardless where that input comes from.
That is what Descartes was about. You could hook up a computer that generates the same data codes and you make the brain believe anything you input.
If that input is the coding for walking, then the brain must assume it is walking as its best guess of what the input source is doing.

Of course it is more complicated than that, but fundamentally , the brain cannot make first-hand observations and must always rely on input from a secondary source such as the body’s senses. And complicated as that may be in practice, the underlying function is as simple as that.

i.e. “garbage in → garbage out”

Stop it, Descartes lived four hundred years ago,

you haven’t a clue what “Descartes was about” - neither do I,
we can make best guesses from what we know,
seen through our personal cognitive lenses.

{Oh and let’s not forget, part of Descartes’ intellectual makeup was an absolute certainty in a God and an obsession with “truth” and “certainty” something that we appreciate these days as a human folly.}

You believe this with all your heart. ( and you continue forgetting the thoughts/imagination~matter divide)

If you do a little googling you’ll find people much smarter than me explaining the nuances of why, what you are proposing there is an absolute fiction. Even your “data codes” where are you going to find a complete list of the body/brains “data codes”? Let alone formate them for a binary code ?

It’s this insistence on the BUT, that so often misses the essence and makes you resemble all the other self-certain experts throughout scientific history, who were glaringly wrong, once more data and experiences were collected?

And you think this is good enough to encapsulate the cognitive experience of life on this evolving Earth on all its myriad of levels - you know, those folds within folds of constructive harmonic complexity?

Thanks for giving me a good excuse for sharing this video, since I think it has lessons that apply to this discussion:

I was asked to write an article addressing the question whether some research in physics has become too speculative. I did as I was asked, and all seemed fine, until someone on the editorial board of the magazine decided that physicists would be too upset about what I wrote. The exact text of my opinion piece was too long to copy it here, so I put it up on my blog: http://backreaction.blogspot.com/2021…

You mean “hallucinations” from lack of input, or “best guesses” from input?

I may miss particulars, but I seldom miss the essence.
The reason for this confidence is contained in the fundamental truth that reality did not originate from “irreducible complexity” and must have had simple beginnings, just like the simple equation of 1 + 1 = 2 started the expansion of the universe and everything that followed.

This is what makes Tegmark’s hypothesis so attractive.
He proposes that even today some 31 relational values plus a dozen or so equations should be able to explain the entirety of universal reality.

Too many people see size as com[plexity, but if one end of the universe is exactly the same as the other end, size becomes irrelevant and what is observable and described in one end is sufficient for observation and description of everything, everywhere.

The table of elements is exactly the same on earth as it is on a planet 3 billion light years from here. Gravity is the same throughout the universe. This is why we have the expression of “universal constants”.

Well yeah, seems to me, you try not to acknowledge the distinction.

I’m running out of things to say, but Sabine has more interesting perspectives to share on the general topic.

SabineHossenfelder | Jan 9, 2021

In this video I talk about a few approaches to mathematically describe consciousness and their shortcomings. I also briefly talk about what such studies could one day be good for. You can watch the talks from the workshop that I mention (and many more!!) here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWgI…

Thanks for the link!

Note Sabine’s citation of Tegmark’s objection to quantum collapse was based on his judgment that it was occurring too fast for the brain to process .

But in view that microtubules have displayed short term memory this objection seems premature and in fact has been debunked by the ORCH OR team and the theory stands firm.

The main problem is that quantum is too fast for our instruments and getting coherent data signals is still beyond our ability. Today all we hear is “noise”, but as proposed by Tim Palmer “noise” is instrumental in the emergence of conscious differentiation.

Hmmm, in our macro world, experiences unfold over seconds and minutes,

Is that what it is when a ball is flying at your face in a hurry?

Sounds to me like mathematical skeletons at the very boundary between matter and energy. I don’t have to doubt any of the math - to still recognize that there is an awful lot of emergent stuff and dynamics, between that ultimate minuscule foundation of foundations and the world I inhabit as I interact with other biological living beings and inanimate stuff.

Beyond that, the “correctness” of our notions regarding that most minuscule “patterns” - is irrelevant to a human getting a better grasp of the themselves and our human condition and this dance of consciousness (with ourselves as well as others) within this macroscopic world we inhabit.

Hmmm. How short term?

“this objection seems premature” is that what it’s called when there isn’t enough evidence at hand.
I know they poopoo’ed Wegener, but isn’t that how science is. Show us the evidence, explain the dynamic, then claim victory.
Or, as I warn kids, don’t 'count your chickens before they hatch.

Interesting thread but unfortunately, the topic is starting to sound like a broken record in this forum. We have Write4u always focusing on the “trees” as if they’re the forest. And we have CitizenC focusing on the forest, but crossing back and forth a bit and not realizing his “forest” is too small - what happens on our little spec of dust really doesn’t add up to much. And Lausten, well he’s like Danny Rose just trying to keep the plates spinning.

My two cents is the trees don’t matter in the big picture. There’s something called consciousness and it has levels. Bottom line. Now, you gotta bless those scientists for trying to figure it out. They’re why we can go to the moon and so forth so their investigations are important, but ultimately not the point. Whatever consciousness is, it arose in this thing we call the universe. Now what conclusions can we draw from that? That to me is the interesting part. Put another way, it’s very cool how a piano works and we definitely need piano tuners, but ultimately it’s the music that’s important.

So let’s not make the mistake of thinking we’re talking about the forest when all we’re talking about is the trees. And visa versa, let’s not worry too much about the trees when we focus on the forest. And most of all, let’s not mix the two. Consciousness exists and has levels. Now what?

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What is the fastest event (shortest time duration) that can be measured with today’s technology, and how is this done?

Just how fast an event is depends somewhat on your point of view. In nature around us there are various physical events that occur on time scales from the yoctosecond (10^-24 second) to the exasecond (10^18 second).

In the time it just took your heart to beat once, the computer on the desk next to you completed about one billion clock cycles, whereas the electron of a hydrogen atom could have circled its proton about 1 quadrillion (10^15) times.

On the other hand, that very slow heart beat is actually quite fast and fleeting if one considers it relative to the 500 quadrillion (500 x 10^15) second lifetime of our universe.

Within this tremendous range of time scales, science and technology, which are constantly improving, determine how accurately different events can be measured or inferred.
What is the fastest event (shortest time duration) that can be measured with today's technology, and how is this done? - Scientific American

Now consider this mindboggeling discovery and its consequences.

Quantum Leaps, Long Assumed to Be Instantaneous, Take Time

An experiment caught a quantum system in the middle of a jump — something the originators of quantum mechanics assumed was impossible.

A quantum leap is a rapidly gradual process.

When quantum mechanics was first developed a century ago as a theory for understanding the atomic-scale world, one of its key concepts was so radical, bold and counter-intuitive that it passed into popular language: the “quantum leap.”

Purists might object that the common habit of applying this term to a big change misses the point that jumps between two quantum states are typically tiny, which is precisely why they weren’t noticed sooner. But the real point is that they’re sudden. So sudden, in fact, that many of the pioneers of quantum mechanics assumed they were instantaneous.

A new experiment shows that they aren’t. By making a kind of high-speed movie of a quantum leap, the work reveals that the process is as gradual as the melting of a snowman in the sun. “If we can measure a quantum jump fast and efficiently enough,” said Michel Devoret of Yale University, “it is actually a continuous process.”

The study, which was led by Zlatko Minev, a graduate student in Devoret’s lab, was published on Monday in Nature. Already, colleagues are excited. “This is really a fantastic experiment,” said the physicist William Oliver of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who wasn’t involved in the work. “Really amazing.”

But there’s more. With their high-speed monitoring system, the researchers could spot when a quantum jump was about to appear, “catch” it halfway through, and reverse it, sending the system back to the state in which it started. In this way, what seemed to the quantum pioneers to be unavoidable randomness in the physical world is now shown to be amenable to control. We can take charge of the quantum.

All Too Random

The abruptness of quantum jumps was a central pillar of the way quantum theory was formulated by Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg and their colleagues in the mid-1920s, in a picture now commonly called the Copenhagen interpretation. Bohr had argued earlier that the energy states of electrons in atoms are “quantized”:

Only certain energies are available to them, while all those in between are forbidden. He proposed that electrons change their energy by absorbing or emitting quantum particles of light — photons — that have energies matching the gap between permitted electron states. This explained why atoms and molecules absorb and emit very characteristic wavelengths of light — why many copper salts are blue, say, and sodium lamps yellow.

IMO , this means that we only experience reality half of the time or half of reality all of the time… image

Why wouldn’t that surprise me at this point.

Excuse me, in the unfolding of our conscious awareness.
I’m talking about the human mind and perceiving our minutes, hours and days passing by.

I’m told a blink is about 100-150 millisecond, one moment leading to the next. Coming with all sorts of nifty trivia about measuring time, is basically a diversion.
Oh, and hot off the press ‘quantum events might be instantaneous’, go figure, are we supposed to be shocked, or amazed, how does it matter?

What’s it got to do with the price of tea in china, or the way we perceive the sands of time seeping through our hands?