New Civilization News: What do you believe ...    
 What do you believe ...11 comments
picture 10 Jan 2005 @ 20:43, by Flemming Funch

Edge posted this question to a bunch of smart people: "What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?" Which is a great question to ask, and particularly interesting to ask of scientific types who often try to insist they only believe things they can prove.

Now, at first I thought it was just going to be some inspiring things to quote from. But there are some interesting subtexts going through most of the answers. You know, most of these guys are materialist atheists. But yet the red thread that goes through all of them is *consciousness*. A bunch of them quickly move to very dogmatically declaring that there's no God, no design to the universe, and everything is just the result of random accidents. They seem very convinced of that. But of course they indeed are answering the question, because they can't prove it, and they know it. Another bunch of them make very hopeful declarations of being very sure that it is "just around the corner" that we'll discover what part of the brain consciousness comes from and how it works, and we'll able to duplicate it in computers or the like. And implicitly admitting that such things aren't in any way proven, and nobody actually have done so. But, again, they seem very sure of it. And, indeed, most of them are practically squirming and bending over backwards to try to make the case for what is essentially a negative belief. That there's no consciousness and anything that can't be proven in a materialistic sense is just stupid supersticious nonsense. Oh, none of them actually say there's no consciousness, but they wrap it up in it just being an illusion or some phenomenon that happens late in the evolutionary process or some chemical neuro-physiological phenomenon.

Quite remarkable, to see the amount of fear that is stirred up, and the convoluted beliefs that people construct in order to avoid the more simple and unified answers. And the peer pressure that obviously must exist amongst scientists, to look and sound scientific and objective at all times, even when the truth is that you can't really prove very much about anything.

Anyway, there are still many inspiring statements there, and a few of them aren't just hiding behind negative dogma. So, here are a few I liked:
Anton Zeilinger:"What I believe but cannot prove is that quantum physics teaches us to abandon the distinction between information and reality. The fundamental reason why I believe in this is that it is impossible to make an operational distinction between reality and information. In other words, whenever we make any statement about the world, about any object, about any feature of any object, we always make statements about the information we have. And, whenever we make scientific predictions we make statements about information we possibly attain in the future."

Paul Steinhardt: "I believe that our universe is not accidental, but I cannot prove it. Historically, most physicists have shared this point-of-view. For centuries, most of us have believed that the universe is governed by a simple set of physical laws that are the same everywhere and that these laws derive from a simple unified theory."

Gregory Benford: "Why is there scientific law at all? We physicists explain the origin and structure of matter and energy, but not the laws that do this. Does the idea of causation apply to where the laws themselves came from? Even Alan Guth's "free lunch" gives us the universe after the laws start acting. We have narrowed down the range of field theories that can yield the big bang universe we live in, but why do the laws that govern it seem to be constant in time, and always at work? One can imagine a universe in which laws are not truly lawful. Talk of miracles does just this, when God is supposed to make things work. Physics aims to find The Laws and hopes that these will be uniquely constrained, as when Einstein wondered if God had any choice when He made the universe."

Alison Gopnik: "I believe, but cannot prove, that babies and young children are actually more conscious, more vividly aware of their external world and internal life, than adults are. I believe this because there is strong evidence for a functional trade-off with development. Young children are much better than adults at learning new things and flexibly changing what they think about the world. On the other hand, they are much worse at using their knowledge to act in a swift, efficient and automatic way. They can learn three languages at once but they can't tie their shoelaces."

Lynn Margulis: "That our ability to perceive signals in the environment evolved directly from our bacterial ancestors. That is, we, like all other mammals including our apish brothers detect odors, distinguish tastes, hear bird song and drum beats and we too feel the vibrations of the drums. With our eyes closed we detect the light of the rising sun. These abilities to sense our surroundings are a heritage that preceded the evolution of all primates, all vertebrate animals, indeed all animals. Such sensitivities to wafting plant scents, tasty salted mixtures, police cruiser sirens, loving touches and star light register because of our "sensory cells"."

Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi: "When I first read your question, I was sure it was a trick—after all, almost nothing I believe in I can prove. I believe the earth is round, but I cannot prove it, nor can I prove that the earth revolves around the sun or that the naked fig tree in the garden will have leaves in a few months. I can't prove quarks exist or that there was a Big Bang—all of these and millions of other beliefs are based on faith in a community of knowledge whose proofs I am willing to accept, hoping they will accept on faith the few measly claims to proof I might advance."

Randolphe Nesse: "I can't prove it, but I am pretty sure that people gain a selective advantage from believing in things they can't prove. I am dead serious about this. People who are sometimes consumed by false beliefs do better than those who insist on evidence before they believe and act. People who are sometimes swept away by emotions do better in life than those who calculate every move. These advantages have, I believe, shaped mental capacities for intense emotion and passionate beliefs because they give a selective advantage in certain situations."

Douglas Rushkoff: "I can't prove it more than anecdotally, but I believe evolution has purpose and direction. It appears obvious, yet absolutely unconfirmable, that matter is groping towards complexity."

But the only one that actually wasn't afraid of believing in consciousness is this guy:
Donald Hoffman: "I believe that consciousness and its contents are all that exists. Spacetime, matter and fields never were the fundamental denizens of the universe but have always been, from their beginning, among the humbler contents of consciousness, dependent on it for their very being.

The world of our daily experience—the world of tables, chairs, stars and people, with their attendant shapes, smells, feels and sounds—is a species-specific user interface to a realm far more complex, a realm whose essential character is conscious. It is unlikely that the contents of our interface in any way resemble that realm. Indeed the usefulness of an interface requires, in general, that they do not. For the point of an interface, such as the windows interface on a computer, is simplification and ease of use. We click icons because this is quicker and less prone to error than editing megabytes of software or toggling voltages in circuits. Evolutionary pressures dictate that our species-specific interface, this world of our daily experience, should itself be a radical simplification, selected not for the exhaustive depiction of truth but for the mutable pragmatics of survival.

If this is right, if consciousness is fundamental, then we should not be surprised that, despite centuries of effort by the most brilliant of minds, there is as yet no physicalist theory of consciousness, no theory that explains how mindless matter or energy or fields could be, or cause, conscious experience."

Right. And that is to a large degree what I get from the eloquent statements of most of these other prominent folks I'm not quoting. They have failed to come up with any reasonable explanation, let alone proof, as to how mindless matter accidentally develops consciousness, or how a beautiful and very functional system of natural laws and evolution of life emerges by mere accident. They have no proof, so they make long explanations to try to delay that realization, and most of all they BELIEVE strongly that they're right, so they are willing to continue to the bitter end without any shred of evidence for that which they believe in.

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10 Jan 2005 @ 23:24 by vaxen : You...
could tell them about the RAG. GUM 9999 to 10,000 and the CCC and about theta universe and how we dump our creations in MEST. About how we make universes via postulates and destroy them too on VIA's or...

I wish you'd get back on the bridge and start auditing 'them!' I wish you'd claim your right to the OMNI experience. I wish you'd get an emeter and start auditing, again, and make all the money you could possibly ever want! I wish you'd go on to 17 18 19 and 20 and 40 and...on and on.

Too bad that none of these so called 'scientists' know a lick about the other universes, so blatantly staring them right in the face, and that it's all been postulated time and time again. Too bad that they do not know that this plan-ET they think they 'live' on is just a copy and that a real prime exists!

the eXperience Entity of the Not is-ed Universe laughs, in derision, at them and their endless con. We, on the other hand, clean up our act. MEST remains the dumping grounds that it has always been. I go to retrieve that bone I buried, so long ago, in Arslycus. I need it for the 'Telepathic war' we are playing in the Theta Universe.

"The best way to win is to BECOME the enemy."---R Sheesh! What ethics condition is that? Power?

"Intelligence we do with a whisper. Investigation we do with a yell!"---R

The mission, goal, activity of theta: location in space of particles and energy. The highest level 'cause' is a postulate. It needs no reason for existence and doesn't have to be articulated.

Self determinism could be said to be an effort to achieve the goal of theta. This is the highest level of attack. Above survival, beingness, and way above the level of action.

Logic 9: A datum is as valuable as it has been evaluated.

"To create a safe environment in which the 4th Dynamic (engram) can be run out."---Original SO command intention.

Optimize the incredible!

The clear cognition could help these chaotes: The clear cognition is the awareness that the individual is mocking up his own bank and pictures.

Who killed that 'mocking' bird? Hey, Flemming san, they get paid to be stupid!



11 Jan 2005 @ 05:21 by astrid : Ming,
I talked to Paul Glover today. He asked me to say Hi to you. He became nostalgic, thinking about the dinner/s you guys had together at your House. He'll be checking out NCN again. Gave him the URL.  

11 Jan 2005 @ 14:08 by ming : Paul Glover
Cool. Hm, I don't remember having dinners with him, but, hey, that shouldn't keep us apart. He's a great guy, and great you're in touch.  

13 Jan 2005 @ 09:16 by Lion Kimbro @ : The Conscious Mind
Yes; I understand. I've met a ton of scientists that insist that "we're being fooled," and "consciousness doesn't exist." (Who's being fooled again?)

Two things you may be interested in seeing: The Conscious Mind, by David Chalmers. It's useful to me as something to refer people to, when we talk Consciousness.

The next is the Awareness wiki, a wiki intended for talking about awareness.  

13 Jan 2005 @ 12:06 by ming : Consciousness
Yeah, it surprises me that otherwise smart people can't see the logical flaw, and think they're being clever when they say things like: "You don't really think freely, you just THINK you think freely!" And how the hell would I do that, if I can't in the first place?

The hard problem to solve is not how one might make something that is aware of stuff. It is how it can manage to be aware of being aware that's the kicker.

Hydrogen can bond with oxygen and produce water. Which might be surprising to us based on the properties of hydrogen and oxygen. But it aint gonna happen unless they had the inherent property to combine that way. It is not a new capability that suddenly gets introduced into the universe (from where?) but something that was there all along. Not that they suddenly out-of-the-blue fool themselves into thinking they're water. Same with consciousness.

Where is the Awareness Wiki?  

13 Jan 2005 @ 17:14 by jstarrs : You talking about...

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