Open thread for episode #944: Russell and Jen


While I have your attention, I have an announcement for Facebook users. I’m pleased to announce the creation of some new open participation groups: The Atheist Experience Official Discussion Group, and The Non-Prophets Official Discussion Group. While there are some other groups that are purportedly about the shows, these are the only ones that are officially connected to the Atheist Community of Austin. If you’d like a venue to discuss outside of this blog, where you don’t have to wait for us to initiate “open threads” like this one, please check them out.

Also: Tomorrow evening (Monday) I will be speaking to the Secular Student Alliance at Baylor University, as well as some other local groups in Waco. We’ll be meeting at the Waco Unitarian Church, 4209 N 27th St, starting at 7:30 PM.

Comments

  1. Monocle Smile says

    Was Simon calling in for class credit or something? Because that wasn’t a discussion at all and his tone was rather baffling.

  2. Monocle Smile says

    Gabrielle has a good best friend. I won’t even pretend to understand why anyone who wasn’t raised Catholic (or was, for the matter) would ASPIRE to be a Catholic nun.

  3. Sara says

    Gabrielle’s call brought up so many old memories and faded emotions from my teen years. Religion has a very strange way of making reasonable intelligent people doubt their ability to think rationally. Looking back on it now, faith was often pushed in a way that I could not be a good follower and think for myself. Being around a doctrine of absolutism that stood in opposition to many of the conclusions I had reached about the nature and meaning of life truly made me doubt my sanity. I was surrounded by adults and peers insisting my thought processes were flawed, using various logical arguments (riddled with fallacies), which did not make sense to me, as support for their position. Any rational mind can be convinced otherwise when continuously surrounded by the insistence of irrational truths. Statistically, it seemed more likely that everyone else was right and I was wrong and my thought processes were unsound.

    She sounded so young. I hope she knows that she has plenty of time to figure things out for herself. Look at all the information and all the evidence and trust in your own ability to reason through the implications and draw conclusions.

  4. Gabrielle says

    Thank you again, Russell and Jen!! 🙂 It feels so good to be back on the road to reason and to run to reality.

    @Monocle Smile— It’s a very, very, VERY long story. I had my reasons for wanting to become a Catholic nun and at the time they seemed like good reasons. If you’re truly interested in my story, well, check this out, there’s only one post so far: http://thedeconcersiondiaries.blogspot.com/
    But you are very right— I do have a FANTASTIC best friend. The young man is like my brother.

    @Sara—- Thank you for the reminder. Honestly, it feels like time is slipping through my fingers so often and that soon I’ll be, oh who knows, married, with kids? Have a job? Be world-famous or something? I don’t know, honestly, but I definitely needed the reminder to just worry about the here in now. If you’re curious, I’m 19. 🙂

  5. Monocle Smile says

    @Gabrielle!
    Hey, welcome to the blog! I’m always thrilled when callers show up (well, at least at first, depending on the caller) because to me it means you’re serious about the subject and want to discuss it further.

    I apologize if I came across as condescending, but looking at my post again, it was entirely honest. I’ll bookmark your blog and maybe change that…the first post is well-written and honest. For what it’s worth, you’re much more grown-up than I was at 19.

  6. jeffh123 says

    Would the pastor Jen mentioned cast his son out for getting tattoos, or wearing mixed cloth fabrics? Or how about working on the sabbath? Maybe eating shellfish? Would he kill people for that? Similar question I would have had for Bill OReilly on killing drug users. How about shooting jaywalkers?

  7. jeffh123 says

    At one job I was at, one of my fellow workers did not like Sesame Street because it taught self reliance without depending on Jesus. I found that very interesting and scary.

  8. Mobius says

    Concerning the fan of space exploration and his story that the first lunar modules did not have windows…false. In fact, the view from the tiny windows was necessary for navigation while landing the module. On Apollo 11, the first landing, they were able to see the chosen site was strewn with large boulders and almost had to abort before finding a clear spot.

  9. Mobius says

    @Gabrielle

    Your piece was very moving. I wish you the best of luck. I think Russel and Jen’s advice to contact Recovering From Religion is an excellent one.

  10. OrphanBlackOps says

    When Dan talked about Christianity having been a large part of this country, I would have just said so was slavery.
    —————-
    I don’t see how any group of people that have been repressed by a religion can still be part of that religion, i.e. LGBT. “Oh, God changed his mind so now it is ok”.
    ———————-
    The Glasgow caller demonstrated that one can have PTSD from religion. I went to a therapist one time and she mentioned Joel Olsteen and I was out of there.
    —————–
    About Ted Cruz and space, there is a joke in there somewhere.
    ————————
    In regards to cosciouness and the soul, there is a planned head transplant in a few years. Can’t wait to see what the apologists say about that and the soul.

  11. nevilleneville says

    “We shouldn’t vilify one religion over another”

    Why not? The world isn’t currently in the grips of Jainist terrorism.

  12. Sindbad says

    Hey guys,
    i really like your show and i’m thankful for all the hard work that was put into it.

    I’m a first time commenter and it’s a bit sad to do this with a critique, like so often done. Sorry for that and i will try to be a little more positive in the future.

    So, about Susan, the caller from Glasgow. I’m not sure what is was, but i think you didn’t get her point of having no atheist support in her area. It was not about having no atheists around her, it was that the other atheists wouldn’t understand her fears and her point of view in general – because beeing an atheist is in general really not a big thing in the UK (i’m from Berlin/Germany and i know it’s very similar). If you tell anyone you are an atheist they would look at you and with a big “Aaaand …?” on their faces, cause there is almost no pressure to be religious in the first place.
    And i’m telling you this because i feel Susan was somethimes a bit lost about your answers, hence it’s already her problem that people don’t get what she’s talking about, i think there is easy room for improvement.

    Anyhow, i hope Susnan will find support and comfort. And i hope you guys might have a little more insight on such perspectives in general. Keep up the good work.

    Have a nice day and all the best from Berlin!

  13. Conversion Tube says

    They provided her with Recovering from Religion foundation.

    That is exactly the group she needs to be speaking with about this. They can probably get her in touch with someone local to talk to.

  14. ironchops says

    @ #7 Gabrielle: Welcome. I am a 54 year old newbie to this whole atheist thing. I was raised Mormon until 14 and still attend a Baptist church. Kudos for learning so quickly! I too am a bit wishy-washy but I think I am about to turn the corner on religion (come out so to speak) as I really no longer truly believe that any god actually/really exist. I am not anti-Christian or anti-religious or anything like that but I do think that spirituality should only be practiced or used as a tool for personal growth via the metaphorical/artistic/poetic language that is presented in most of the stories contained within the various religious texts.

    You can certainly change your mind on the nun thing. Keep probing and learning, that is the key.

  15. Adam Kahn says

    I would love to get in touch with that girl from Illinois. I’m a non-believer near that area and would like to offer her friendship and maybe support. If you’re here, let me know – I’m from St. Louis

  16. Kenny De Metter says

    Regarding the ‘praying and finding your car keys’ , i was just thinking : the praying itself might actually have an effect, but not because any god decided to help.

    When searching for something in memory ( like a name ) , the harder you search for it, the less likely you are to actually find it. Has something to do with how the brain works. If you manage to let it go, you are more likely to find it.
    I’m wondering if a similar process might be at work when searching for physical objects.

    If so, then the act of praying might help as you are temporarily occupying your brain with something else.
    Obviously, there would be secular ways ( maybe meditation ) which can achieve the same thing, possibly even better

  17. Robert,+not+Bob says

    The thing about a spacecraft with no windows is, I suspect, a reference to a scene in The Right Stuff, regarding Mercury. It’s not surprising that people get their historical spacecraft mixed up, I hear people calling Apollo spacecraft “shuttles” all the time.

  18. Y Ddraig Goch says

    Another great show, thanks Jen and Russell! The extended time available really improves the overall feel I think. (Tech point – may have been at my own end, but I noticed some audio-dropping in, say, the last 5 minutes with the last caller, Jamar?)

    Two calls struck a chord with me today. Both, effectively, for the same reason. Gabrielle and Susan…

    Gabrielle – well, to begin with, I had planned on posting ABOUT Gabrielle, but now, it seems, I can post TO her! Hi Gabrielle! *Waves from Wales* Anyway, I’ve had to slightly redraft my initial response accordingly, but my apologies in advance if it appears that I am, rather impolitely, referring to you in the wrong way. Okey dokes, here we go…

    @Gabrielle – it seemed to me, listening to your call, and hearing what you said (and didn’t say), that you are at the border of desperation for something, ANYTHING, to fill, what I perceived anyway, a gap in your life? (I apologise if I’ve completely misunderstood, and by doing so, have upset you.) I got the impression that you feel like you’ve LOST something, somehow? Well, how about viewing it slightly differently: you’ve actually GAINED something – SPACE and ROOM for wonder, of a different, and more tangible and believable, kind: the wonder of life, the wonder of science, the wonder of the world and its wonders, which you could spend a lifetime wondering and wandering about. (So, yeah, wonder! Yay!) There is just so, so much to be fascinated about and in awe of – completely without reference to any form of religion – such as cosmology, evolution and nature. Many people, sadly, consider these inspirational subjects to be ‘boring’ (especially in school, when they can come across as being ‘rammed down our throats’) or ‘too complicated…I am not intelligent enough to understand it’, which is, of course, absolute bollocks. Understanding, like most things, is a spectrum – some understand more than others. Why not just dip your toe in?

    One could even, if one is put off in any way by intimidating subjects, start with something one IS familiar with: YOU/ME/I. Explore your sense of self – what makes you YOU? What do you want from life? What is missing? What would make you happier? What would make you think you were a ‘better’ person? What makes a good person? Make a list – does some form of religious belief make it? Where, how high up? What, on the list, do you think you are lacking in, if anything?

    It seem to me that you are in the process of letting go of a life filled with complications and moral dilemmas founded upon a complex belief system, that belief being in something for which there is no evidence. If you can successfully let go, your life, eventually, I suspect, would almost immediately become more simple and be filled with simple (usually, don’t get me started on love and relationships!) things. Turn to something or someone you can see, feel and know, rather than something or someone you can’t, and, arguably, never could. Begin by turning to YOU.

    Sorry if that all got a bit ‘preachy’ *voms*. You are a person of value. You are valuable. You do not need values from a historical – and often scary, contradictory, purposely intimidating and bloody – book to provide you with value. Your value comes from WHO you are, not WHAT you are, and it is shared and measured by what you do, for others, of course, but also for you.

    Susan, in Glasgow, I felt, was in a similar area/region of doubt, as Gabrielle. Jen picked up on ‘remnants’, I think it was, and how something that seems so deeply stained can take a lot more rubbing! In my role (I am a professional counsellor) I have found this to be very true. Russell then touched upon the ethics of therapy and counseling and was right in what he said, but I’d like to add a little more to that, especially coming from the UK, where Susan is. Sindbad (above, #17) makes a good point – atheism here is, and is becoming more so, almost ‘matter-of-fact’ (which is of course fantastic from an atheist’s perspective!). Russell mentioned that Susan should ‘fire’ any therapist/counsellor who attempts to persuade, from a not-very-well-hidden agenda, and I completely agree. However, not only should they be fired, they should be reported to the respective professional organisation for disciplinary proceedings to be expedited. ALL counsellors should be secular – it goes against professional ethical principles to be otherwise. The problem in that sentence lies with ‘should’, of course. Here in the UK, the counselling/therapy industry is not regulated – anyone can advertise and act like a counsellor or therapist. Though this matter has often been addressed by government, no regulatory laws have ever made it to statute.

    I doubt whether Susan will make it here, to this blog, but, if there is any way AE can get back in touch with her, perhaps they could provide details of what I would recommend – that is, to go through a professional organisation, such as my own (there are others) the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP http://www.bacp.co.uk/ ). We at the BACP have, in conjunction with the Department of Health and the Professional Standards Authority, set up an Accredited Register for Counsellors and Psychotherapists – http://www.bacpregister.org.uk/ – it is, until the government learns the difference between its arse and its elbow, a voluntary register. The BACP also offers a ‘Find a Therapist’ facility http://www.itsgoodtotalk.org.uk/ – with which Susan, and people like her in the UK, can find a professional therapist. At the BACP we work within an ‘Ethical Framework’ – http://www.bacp.co.uk/ethical_framework/ – which provide our ‘Commandments’, if you like, that we must always adhere to (unlike the ’10’, which can be completely ignored, it seems). Some of these are ‘Autonomy’, ‘Beneficence’ and ‘Justice’ – we do/will/can not apply OUR mindsets, we let clients discover and decide upon their own. Complete impartiality is sometimes, from a therapist’s perspective, difficult to manage but it is possible and should always be strived for. It is not right, nor ethical/professional, for a therapist to operate from and ‘sell’ any form of agenda, be it their own or their religion’s. This means that therapists can, of course, be religious in their private lives (I know many who are) but this should not seep into their professional lives at all, especially when working with a client. The flipside of this, from my own perspective as a therapist, is to maintain neutrality at all times and not let my atheism (and general disdain and ridicule for religion) leak into the therapy room – not always easy I can tell you!

    Anyway, if there is any way of contacting Susan, I’d be grateful if you could pass on the above to her. Many thanks!

    Best Wishes.

    Y Ddraig Goch

  19. says

    Why not? The world isn’t currently in the grips of Jainist terrorism.

    It’s not in the grip of Christian terrorism either, but that’s mostly because when Christians kill people, it’s not called terrorism. There’s also the issue of numbers. It’s hardly fair to compare the influence of religions when their numbers are orders of magnitude apart. Per capita, a single death cause by a Jain would overshadow the recent French attacks.

    Sure, we can argue that some religions are a more immediate problem overall, but that doesn’t address the underlying issue of why they’re a problem. It also ignores the fact that each religion is fairly diverse. There are Muslims that I’ll trust with my life and atheists I wouldn’t trust with a dollar.

    Focusing on any particular religion simply misses the point. And it gives free reins to the people who are actually dangerous.

  20. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @LykeX
    Politely disagreed.

    Sure, we can argue that some religions are a more immediate problem overall, but that doesn’t address the underlying issue of why they’re a problem.

    I’m curious. What are the underlying issues according to you of why some are more immediate problems compared to others?

    I think the best way to get to the heart of the matter is this story. As reported by Sam Harris and not refuted AFAIK by Scott Atran, they once had this conversation. Scott Atran has had many interviews with prospective and failed religious suicide bombers. Scott Atran claims to be an expert in the field, and he’s respected by many. Sam Harris asked him this question: (paraphrase) “Has there ever been a Muslim suicide bomber that killed themself with the expectation that they would be going to heaven?”. Scott answered: (paraphrase) “No. Not one.” I agree with Sam Harris when he says that this answer is wholly dishonest, or it shows an extreme form of denial. It’s borderline insane. It’s undeniable that at least a few people have been suicide bombers in part because of their particular Muslim sect’s beliefs regarding martyrdom and heaven.

    Once you accept that proverbial “foot through the door”, then it just becomes a matter of determining the relevance of various factors (including: the particular religious beliefs, history of colonialism and ongoing colonialism, Israel, and so forth). We have to focus on the particular religious beliefs because they form an important and indispensable part of the current picture.

    In particular: Would the individuals who performed the recent attacks in Paris have done so without particular religious beliefs? I hazard the guess: Probably not. Would the individuals who performed the recent attacks in Paris have done so with their religious beliefs, but without several other confounding factors, such as colonialism and Israel? I hazard the guess: Probably not.

    As much as I loathe Sam Harris today, he is still right that beliefs are operative. People operate according to their beliefs. If someone really believes a certain doctrine of Islam and martyrdom, then one should expect that they will act on it. The liberal west who are largely still nominally Christian don’t tend to take their religion seriously. They go to church, and they pay lip services, but they’re not going door to door evangelizing, nor actually following the tenants of their religion. One of the great failures of the liberal west is refusing to come to terms that most of these ISIS fighters do take their religion seriously (according to their particular interpretation). The liberal west cannot understand it because they themselves don’t take religion seriously, and so it’s hard to understand how anyone could take it seriously. These same people probably downplay the role of fundamental Christianity in all of the social ills in the U.S. too.

    Having said all of that, I am faced with a large conundrum. Let me explain by analogy. The Roman Catholic Church has had in place for at least a century an unofficial policy to protect child rapists in its ranks. This fact is basically undeniable now. If this organization was anything but a religious organization, then the members would have fled like the plague, and the leaders would be in prison. Of this I have no doubt. Individual Catholics are IMHO personally responsible (to some small degree) for the continuing systematic protection of child rapists, and inexcusably so. However, Catholics are just normal people. I’m not saying that they’re monsters. They are not monsters. The deeper problem is that normal people can easily behave like monsters when the wrong cultural conditions are in place.

    Naively, I think that the way to fix this problem is by changing those wrong cultural conditions to the right cultural conditions. Specifically, change the culture to have a strong negative attitude towards Catholics – something along the lines of how most of us feel regarding the KKK. The fix is to create the proper cultural conditions where it’s no longer accepted and obligatory to be Catholic, and instead to create conditions where it’s socially difficult to be Catholic. (Further, I want the same thing for all faith-based beliefs.)

    I face a few particular problems when I think about applying this philosophy towards Islam.

    First, many individual Muslims do not agree with their leader’s near universal advocacy for actual death in this world by human hands for Muslim apostates (true for basically every modern denomination of Islam, excepting perhaps a few minor offshoots in the west AFAIK). This is very similar to how 99% of Catholics in the U.S. use contraception contrary to the position of their leaders. So, I’m not attacking many Catholics / Muslims for their own beliefs and conditions, but because of their support of particular institutions and cultural norms.

    (I would note that according to the numbers that I have seen, there are many countries out there with majority populations who agree with their Muslim leaders on the killing of apostates, but there are also countries out there where the majority of the population does not agree with their Muslim leaders on this issue.)

    Second, and IMHO most seriously, there is a real danger of racism and ethnic tribalism concerning Islam that no longer exists for Catholics. As little as a hundred years ago, there would have been serious danger of causing ethnic tribalism by critiquing Catholics in this way in the U.S., but that perceived ethnic division has disappeared. For Islam, that perceived ethnic division is alive and well. I use the word “ethnic”, but really I mean any sort of tribalism that is distinct from adherence to the religion, including nationality and immigration status.

    If I critique contemporary Islam in the way that I want to, there is serious risk of creating additional ethnic and national tribalism, which is definitely not what I want to do. However, does that mean I shouldn’t critique Islam, and note that basically every noteworthy sect of Islam today has leaders who call for the death in this world by human hands of Muslim apostates? What does one do? I do the best I can, which is currently to make those critiques, but simultaneously point out that these are not bad people in the sense that they are not monsters. The people hurt most by fundamentalist Islam are Muslims themselves, and as a proper humanist, trying to help those people should be one of our primary concerns.

    ~sigh

  21. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    We have to focus on the particular religious beliefs because they form an important and indispensable part of the current picture.

    That came out wrong. It should read:
    We have to give focus due consideration to the particular religious beliefs because they form an important and indispensable part of the current picture.

  22. Steve F. says

    @ Kenny De Metter: Concerning the “praying to find keys” scenario, you may still be giving it too much credence. I get what you’re saying. And maybe that comes into play in some cases. It seems most likely, however, that in most cases, the misplaced item is going to be found eventually anyway, simply by virtue of looking for it.

  23. StonedRanger says

    Im really liking the way the show is working out. Im with you Russell, the show will flow better when you can have features like call holding so new callers don’t have the delay to get them on. Im glad there are more theist callers again, the show was kind of boring with the all atheist calls. Lastly, its great that you are trying to connect to more people by using facebook, but I don’t have facebook, or twitter or any of the usual social media outlets. This works just fine for me, at least here most of the hosts of the show come on here from time to time and that’s one thing that has always attracted me to this show. You don’t act like you are trying to be above us. Thanks to all who put on the show. What a great effort.

  24. Gabrielle says

    Thank you everyone for your support! 🙂 I’d reply to everyone but I just don’t have the time lately, but know that I’m reading every single comment and looking for those that mention me and all of you are spot on (especially Goch).

    I’d just like to amend that last comment. My blog is THIS: http://thedeconversiondiaries.blogspot.com/
    NOT “deconcersion” LOL

  25. says

    This is for Susan in Glasgow, if she happens to see it.

    There’s a doctor in the US who specializes in Religious Trauma Syndrome, Dr. Marlene Winell. Her website is here: http://journeyfree.org. She has articles, and a book, and other resources there that might help. You could probably even contact her for advice on finding a therapist.

    Also, if you are not able to find an in-person group to meet with in Glasgow, at the very least you can join one of the online support groups for people dealing with deconversion issues. One of my favorites is ex-christian.net. There’s a good support group among the commenters on the main page and another in the forums there.

  26. dennisdoe says

    totally unrelated to the topic of the show:

    you should make the text in the thumbnail larger so it is readable on more devices (cant even read it on my 28″ monitor). Just to make it look more “professional”. Appreciate all your work!

  27. StonedRanger says

    I can no longer see the video. In the middle of the screen it says ‘sign in to view video’. Im signed in here (obviously since im posting) but the video still says the same thing. None of the other shows have this. Is it me? What exactly is it I need to sign in to?

  28. Patrick67 says

    @StonedRanger #32

    The link at the blogs seems to be down right now. Try typing atheist experience into your search engine and you should come up with a list of atheist experience links. Click on either the link to the show archives or atheist experience-youtube. You can find find working links to this episode at either place.

  29. Jason Waskiewicz says

    For those wondering about the video: I don’t have an explanation, but I do know where to find it. For whatever reason, they uploaded a new video but did not change the link on the blog. I was confused when I got an E-mail today saying they had a new video (I thought I’d missed a whole day of my weekend somehow).

    The video is at:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AiGa7RPMwdo

    Hopefully they update the blog post. This was an interesting show.

  30. StonedRanger says

    Same thing at you tube. Not going to join google to watch the video. I saw it live last sunday, just wanted to go through it again. Thanks for the advice, I will just wait for AE crew to figure it out.

  31. Patrick67 says

    @StonedRanger:

    I’m not sure why you seem to be having such a hard time locating this video. I’m not a member of Google nor am I a subscriber at Youtube and I never have any trouble using the links to the AEX episodes. The only times I have ever experienced any problems at Youtube is when a video is restricted to a foreign country and there are only a handful of those that I have ever ran across. I’m from the USA BTW. I did try the link posted by Jason Waskiewicz and it worked just fine.

  32. corwyn says

    And maybe that comes into play in some cases. It seems most likely, however, that in most cases, the misplaced item is going to be found eventually anyway, simply by virtue of looking for it.

    I note that it is only ‘misplaced’ keys that their god helps find. No one ever offers to have some god find their keys that I have *purposefully hidden*. >:-)

  33. Rocket says

    Whenever the topic of the brain and consciousness comes up I always feel that the presenters fail to make any good or convincing arguments. They always take the stance that the brain produces consciousness and seem incapable of understanding that the scientific consensus on this is that we don’t know how consciousness is produced. To say it is the brain without proof is unscientific and yet they always stick to their unproven beliefs that it is the brain without question, much the same way theists believe that God exists but can produce no evidence.

    All hypothesis of how the brain may produce consciousness are always changing and pure speculation with no evidence to back it up. And the experiments that are referred to as somehow showing proof that the brain produces consciousness also are not able to show anything other than the fact that messing with the brain messes with the personality and stuff but does not prove anything other than this. The fundamental question still remains. It only takes a bit of research into this to see this.

    I understand that it seems obvious that the brain produces consciousness and common sense but this is just not enough to make it a fact and is the same arguments a theist uses to prove God. Also there are experiments and quantum physics which bring into question the model that the world exists as a solid and real object out there and we are objects that are able to perceive it without being a part of it and without altering it but are pure perceivers.

    To me the presenters seem to be both ignorant and arrogant on this topic. This is obvious no?

  34. corwyn says

    @38 Rocket:

    To me the presenters seem to be both ignorant and arrogant on this topic. This is obvious no?

    No.

    I can chop off your little finger, but you will still be conscious. I can stop your heart (carefully), and you can still be conscious. If I stop your brain, you will not be conscious. That alone is fairly strong evidence that consciousness is dependent on the brain. Saying that consciousness is produced by the brain is NOT the same as saying we know how it works. Nor do we need to know how it works, to know where it is coming from. I may not know how my fridge works, but I am sure that that is where the ‘cold’ is coming from.

    If you want to claim that the brain is affected by some outside force, you need to invent an entirely new force and particle, and then explain how we have not seen that particle. Be prepared to show quantum mechanical equations.

  35. Monocle Smile says

    @(Off your) Rocke[r],

    All hypothesis of how the brain may produce consciousness are always changing and pure speculation with no evidence to back it up

    fMRI? EEG? These are “speculation” now?

    And the experiments that are referred to as somehow showing proof that the brain produces consciousness also are not able to show anything other than the fact that messing with the brain messes with the personality and stuff but does not prove anything other than this

    What do you think “consciousness” is? This is exactly what we’re talking about. What else is there?

    Also there are experiments and quantum physics which bring into question the model that the world exists as a solid and real object out there and we are objects that are able to perceive it without being a part of it and without altering it but are pure perceivers

    Oh. You’re a kook. That answers a few things.

  36. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To Rocket

    Corwyn beat me to the punch. Perfectly explained by Corwyn. I might have gone into more of the examples of the “experiments” we’ve done on the brain, but it seems good enough for now.

    PS:
    Quoting Corwyn:

    If you want to claim that the brain is affected by some outside force, you need to invent an entirely new force and particle, and then explain how we have not seen that particle. Be prepared to show quantum mechanical equations.

    I’d be happy with evidence that shows a violation of quantum field theory which is specific to brains.

    To Rocket

    Also there are experiments and quantum physics which bring into question the model that the world exists as a solid and real object out there and we are objects that are able to perceive it without being a part of it and without altering it but are pure perceivers.

    This is a minority position amongst physicists. However, it’s probably the minority position because of the well-deserved and well-supported naturalistic bias of physicists.

    Still, the measurement problem is a very, very strange problem.

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qt-measurement/

    If you prefer an excellent lecture instead, I suggest this:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GdqC2bVLesQ

    Probably for no good reason, after seeing that lecture, I like the idea of spontaneous collapse as a formal mathematical theory. It’s also really fascinating that we might be able to test it in the near future.
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qm-collapse/

    It very nicely solves this measurement problem in a wholly satisfying way for a person who thinks classically about the world.

    Of course, if there were trained physicists in the room, a lot of them would probably cringe at the unity violations of this hypothesis. Still, it’s the oldest solution to the problem, being there since basically the beginning of quantum mechanics, although it was only formalized mathematically in 1985~.

    Still, I have to side with MS above: Anyone who thinks that the human brain plays a special part in physics is deluding themselves IMHO. They need to more strongly adopt the Copernican principle. In other words, believing that the brain plays a special part is an expression of hubris, unjustified pride, to think that the universe behaves specially for you. Sorry – you’re just a clump of matter whose very-complex interactions and properties are very interesting, but no more.

  37. Rocket says

    @corwyn I like your fridge analogy because it describes the facts as we experience them. Now if my finger is chopped off then yes I still am conscious, but if you chop off my brain then you will observe from your perspective that my liveliness is no more but I will not, i cannot be conscious of unconsciousness. So whilst I understand that this type of statement opens me up to be calling a kook by some, it still shows that in your assertion you switch observer points of view. What you are saying is that if you chop my finger off then you still see evidence (my liveliness) of consciousness but if you chop my brain off you don’t and so for you that is all the proof you need that the brain produces consciousness. Now to me that simply isn’t enough evidence and I require much more than that. As you know it looks like the sun revolves around the earth doesn’t it? but if we simply rely on that observation we reach the wrong conclusion, i.e. a lot more information is needed before I join the ‘brain produces consciousness’ believers.

    So for me your brain chopping off experiment show that if you chop someone’s brain out then the observation of signs of liveliness- the closest we can get to observing consciousness- stops. But that is all it does proof. If you want to proof that the brain produces consciousness then you must show the mechanism.

    Consciousness is not a thing and cannot be directly measured or quantified in the way a magnetic field can. We know very little about consciousness, that’s just a fact and the fact is that we have not proven that the brain produces consciousness however much we convince ourselves that it does. If you had the proof then as the presenters often like to say you would have a Noble prize for sure. You only have your own ideas of what you think consciousness is., and there are very very many ideas and no real consensus.

    I love talking about consciousness because it is the one subject that people make big assumptions about and yet have no proof. And if you don’t conform to the widely held but totally unproven assumptions that consciousness is produced by matter and electrons wriggling around in some way that we haven’t a clue about then you must be some new age woo person.

    But for me I do need to know how the fridge works and I want to know. The assumption held to is that matter, cells, proteins etc interact in some mysterious way and then hey presto! they become conscious of their own material. Now that sounds quite magical if you think about it and so I can’t go along with it without something a bit more concrete than assuming it must be true because if you chop my brain out then you see my liveliness end.

    I don’t claim that some outside force produces consciousness, i say that I don’t know and neither does anyone else, but my point is that people including scientists and atheists have already made their minds up on this in the same way a theist has made their mind up about God, because what else could it be? or because it is obvious? or because you are crazy if you don’t believe along with the rest of us.

  38. Monocle Smile says

    @Rocket Man

    but if you chop my brain off you don’t and so for you that is all the proof you need that the brain produces consciousness. Now to me that simply isn’t enough evidence and I require much more than that. As you know it looks like the sun revolves around the earth doesn’t it? but if we simply rely on that observation we reach the wrong conclusion, i.e. a lot more information is needed before I join the ‘brain produces consciousness’ believers.

    Corwyn gave a simple example as a direct response to your first crappy post. We have much much more than those observations, but you apparently discard things like fMRI and EEG for no reason.

    So for me your brain chopping off experiment show that if you chop someone’s brain out then the observation of signs of liveliness- the closest we can get to observing consciousness- stops. But that is all it does proof. If you want to proof that the brain produces consciousness then you must show the mechanism.

    Actually, this isn’t true at all. EL will rip you a new one for this.

    I love talking about consciousness because it is the one subject that people make big assumptions about and yet have no proof. And if you don’t conform to the widely held but totally unproven assumptions that consciousness is produced by matter and electrons wriggling around in some way that we haven’t a clue about then you must be some new age woo person.

    So you’ve fabricated a bullshit way to feel superior to people who know what the fuck they’re talking about. You DO realize there’s an entire field of study called “neuroscience,” right?

    But for me I do need to know how the fridge works and I want to know. The assumption held to is that matter, cells, proteins etc interact in some mysterious way and then hey presto! they become conscious of their own material.

    No, you dolt. We’ve been studying Turing machines for a while. Neurons are in essence Turing machines. You are right that consciousness isn’t a “thing,” but your portrayal of it being a binary entity is totally wrong.

    I don’t claim that some outside force produces consciousness, i say that I don’t know and neither does anyone else, but my point is that people including scientists and atheists have already made their minds up on this in the same way a theist has made their mind up about God, because what else could it be? or because it is obvious? or because you are crazy if you don’t believe along with the rest of us.

    /wanking motion.
    Why should anyone give a shit about your bong-induced, empty-headed blather about how you’re so much better than everyone else? Screw off.

  39. says

    @ Enlightened liberal
    Thanks for all the links I will take a look. I have had long discussions about quantum physics, and the observer effect before and truth is that whilst i love reading about it I am not a physicists and don’t have the time to research it all anywhere near as much as I would like. However it seems to me that it certainly questions many assumptions that have been held and shows how weirdly interesting the universe is and how little we really can safely assume. I also observe that with quantum physics you will find scientists who interpret the findings as very normal, nothing to get excited about, and those who think it shows that things are much weirder then we ever thought and that we can’t leave consciousness out of the equation. And I honestly do not have enough knowledge about it to attempt to proof anything with it.

    My basic point is that I don’t know how consciousness and matter interact, and yet the classical position is that we totally do and anyone who says otherwise is wrong. let’s face it nearly everyone assumes that matter produces consciousness and believes this without any real evidence. I don’t understand why people can’t say they don’t know rather than ridicule those who say they don’t know and are open to ideas about it?

    When you say sorry you are a clump of matter with interesting properties, then I wonder why you say sorry? It’s not that I hope for anything more I am simply interested in the role consciousness plays in the universe and am always stunned by the way that it causes discomfort and a clinging to the belief that it really is not very interesting and that we have it all worked out and can keep with the safe model where we don’t give it any importance.

    You saying that we are a clump of matter only is simply your belief, your value statement and has nothing to do with science or evidence. It is a value statement.

  40. says

    The great thing about consciousness is that we are uniquely able to talk about it as we all are it. But when it comes to matter then we are one step removed, we can only be conscious about matter rather than just being matter. The thing we care most about is knowing, -consciousness,- we want to know the truth – if we are just a clump of atoms then we want to know this as truth. Consciousness matters to us.

  41. says

    @monocle smile FMRI and EEG show that there is neurological activity in the brain.Where does that become : brain cells produce consciousness? Exactly where does the non thingness of consciousness emerge from cells? And how? and what contains this consciousness ? How do cells produce a non thing? and by non thing we mean no energy, no measurable field, no measurable detectable anything. We have a situate where we are saying that things cause a no thing that is aware of things and also aware of it’s own no thing. I have only found speculative theories with no data.

    See if you can answer without your consciousness producing hate and loathing.

  42. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To Rocket

    If you want to proof that the brain produces consciousness then you must show the mechanism.

    But for me I do need to know how the fridge works and I want to know. The assumption held to is that matter, cells, proteins etc interact in some mysterious way and then hey presto! they become conscious of their own material. Now that sounds quite magical if you think about it and so I can’t go along with it without something a bit more concrete than assuming it must be true because if you chop my brain out then you see my liveliness end.

    At its heart, this is a fundamental misunderstanding of science, empirical reaasoning, and proper epistemology of causation.

    Feynman is one of the best physicists of our generation, and Feynman is unable to give a proper answer to the question. Feynman explains it better than I can:

    Feynman answering “How do magnets work?”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMFPe-DwULM

    And when you explain a “why?”, you have to be in some framework that you allow something to be true. Otherwise you’re perpetually asking “why?”.

    I can’t explain that [magnetic] attraction in terms of anything else that’s familiar to you. For example, if we say the magnets attract like as if connected by rubber bands, I would be cheating you – because they’re not connected connected by rubber bands – I should be in trouble, you’d soon ask me about the nature of the band, and secondly if you were curious enough you’d ask me why rubber bands tend to pull back together again, and I would end up explaining that in terms of electrical forces, which are the very things I’m trying to use the rubber bands to explain, so I have cheated very badly you see.

    So, I’m not going to be able to give you an answer to “why magnets attract each other?”, except to tell you that they do, and to tell you that’s one of the elements of the world – the different kinds of forces, the electrical forces, the magnetic forces, the gravitational forces, and others, and those are some of the parts. […] But I really can’t do a good job, any job, of explaining magnetic force in terms of something else that you’re more familiar with, because I don’t understand it in terms of anything else that you’re more familiar with.

    The demand to see mechanism before accepting a causation relationship is wrong-headed. In a very real and practical sense, that can never be done ultimately. Every sort of mechanism I give will itself have parts with certain behaviors for which we have no mechanism.

    IMHO, the demand to see mechanism before accepting causation arises from a particular kind of unjustified bias towards the natural.

    For example, you are probably entirely comfortable if I explain some phenomenon in terms of electrical and magnetic forces, but no one understands the mechanism by which electrical and magnetic forces do their thing. In the language of modern quantum field theory, we know that there is the electric field, the magnetic field, and we know that these fields evolve over time according to the Schrodinger wave equation, but we don’t know why it’s that way instead of some other way. I cannot explain by what process these fields change over time according to the Schrodinger wave equation.

    This ready acceptance of modern particle physics but refusal to accept the evidence for “brain causes mind” is hypocritical, but probably held out of ignorance. Again, in particular, you accept the truth of modern particle physics on the basis of overwhelming evidence even though we have a complete and utter lack of mechanism and answers to the “how?” questions. At the same time, you refuse the truth of “brain causes mind” with equally compelling evidence on the wrong-headed basis that we haven’t shown mechanism.

    In short, you need to read your Hume. The proper epistemology of causation was first described by Hume. When we look at the world, and when we see an A and it’s followed by a B, and we always see Bs after As, always in constant conjunction, that’s what allows us to infer causation. This sort of simple empirical inductive reasoning is the heart of science (some of Popper’s wrong-headed ideas notwithstanding). This is sufficient to show caution. Sufficient in the sense that you don’t need anything more – such as mechanism.

    Modern scientific knowledge is rife with reductionistic thinking, the kind of thinking that relies on finding mechanisms. This kind of thinking is wildly successul. However, this kind of reductionistic explanation only works in framework where you already have something that is true, and the only way to get that something is the simple kind of Humian reasoning.

    We do not need mechanism in order to gain understanding. In a very real and ultimate sense, there is no understanding based on mechanism. All explanations based on mechanism, aka reductionistic explanations, must eventually rely on explanations that do not have mechanism, explanations in the standard Hume way.

    Ok, having dispensed with the foundational epistemological problem.

    You can cut off someone’s brain from the rest of the body and see that property of “liveness” that you described. With the proper tools to keep blood flow with borderline scifi tech, we have every reason to believe that you could keep that brain alive for a good long time, and that the fMRI and other tools will continue to report normal functioning.

    One problem is merely that this detached brain lacks a way to express itself to the outside world. Today, it is common practice to connect artificial sensing devices directly to nerves (Cochlear implants), and I’m pretty sure there’s been some limited success in connecting motory devices directly to nerves which would allow the brain to express itself. In this way, you could totally have a conversation with a detached brain. Given what we know of biological and physics, we have a very strong evidentiary basis for these conclusions.

    So, that dispenses with that empty and obviously false argument.

    By adjusting certain chemicals in the brain, I can make you into a compulsive gambler. By destroying certain parts of the brain, I can destroy your ability to generate grammatical English, but you keep your ability to understand grammatical English. By destroying a separate part of the brain, I can destroy your ability to understand English, but you keep your ability to generate grammatically correct English. By destroying another part of the brain, I can destroy your ability to do basic math. By destroying another part of the brain, I can destroy your ability to recognize faces. By destroying another part of the brain, I can destroy your ability to form long term memories.

    Every part that makes you you is identifiable with certain parts of the brain. The idea that there’s some immaterial soul which interacts with the brain simply doesn’t fit these facts. The soul idea might survive if it was just destroying sensory input connections and output motory connections, but we can do far, far more than that. Given I can destroy every part of you (your mind) one at a time by destroying certain parts of the brain, it follows that destroying the whole brain will cause the destruction of the whole mind.

    Going further, look into some of the stuff on synesthesia. Synesthesia is the catch-all term for people who have unusual brain wirings concerning sensory experience. For example, some people with synesthesia have the experience of seeing the number “4” as red, the number “5” as blue, etc. With fMRIs, we can see areas of the brain lighting up that fit the predictions of the “brain causes mind” model, and we see differences in certain areas of the brain for people with this kind of synesthesia compared to a normal person fo the population, and we see this activity in parts of the brain that can explain the difference in sensory experience. There’s lots of different kinds of synesthesia, and fMRI scans are consistent with our understanding of “brain causes mind”.

    V.S. Ramachandran at Beyond Belief 2007 Part 1
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bb-fjxmyTJc

    Again, this evidence with synesthesia doesn’t involve mechanism, but it is the bare minimum kind of reasoning necessary to show causation according to the proper Hume standard.

    My basic point is that I don’t know how consciousness and matter interact,

    Consciousness and matter do not interact. You’re sneaking a hidden assumption with your choice of language. Your choice of language assumes an immaterial soul or some functional equivalent that does something. There is no such thing. There is no separate thing called “consciousness” that has any effect whatsoever on the brain. There is no immaterial soul. The brain gives rise to consciousness, and this is a one-way interaction. In a very real sense, you are your brain.

    Now, a separate question is “how does matter give rise to first-person experience, aka consciousness?”. Also “why does this configuration of matter give rise to consciousness and this one doesn’t, ex: a live brain vs a dead brain?”. IMHO, these questions will never have answers. The questions are carefully defined in such a way as to never allow testing of possible answers, and that’s why they will never be answered.

    I can answer a lot of related questions, such as “what happens to first person experience when I poke the brain in a certain way?”. You can get lots of understanding with this line of inquiry. Again, particle physics is nothing more than this kind of reasoning. But no particle physicist ever worries about questions like “but how does a spinning electron produce a magnetic field?” aka “but why do the magnetic and electronic fields have a certain coupling, and why do they evolve according to the Schrodinger wave equation?”. It’s a non-question because it cannot be answered. Stop fretting about the impossible.

    PS:
    Also, I strongly suggest the relevant works of Daniel Dennett on this topic, including the book “Consciousness Explained”.

  43. says

    El Thanks really enjoyed reading your insightful and comprehensive post there.

    The magnet analogy is interesting, and I understand what you mean about mechanism. Magnets attract and this works in a dependable way and we can use this. But consciousness can’t even be measured in any way at all, its strength, its reach and range. I mean just nothing at all. And so it is a special case and so we can’t just say that shooting someone in the head is enough to accept that the brain produces consciousness. What we can do with magnetic fields we can’t do with consciousness. A magnetic field is known by consciousness, consciousness is known by consciousness, consciousness is trying to measure consciousness and cannot. I am trying to convey that consciousness is so much more than an observable phenomena that can be measured. Consciousness cannot be observed at all period (and even if we say we can observe its affects then this sounds crazy too, as if to say that matter produces consciousness and then this consciousness has the free will to say move a brick and then someone else’s consciousness (matter producing consciousness) observes this movement and attributes it to consciousness)- and then we say that this consciousness is nothing really and just particles doing their thing.— . Therefore personally I just can’t so easily accept that it is produced by the brain without something more concrete , there is too much unknown about it to be able to be confident about this, and surely this is very obvious?. Now as you say even liveliness is not a good indicator of consciousness and I agree you are right and so how are we able to say that a gun to the head eliminates consciousness when we can’t measure it either before or after? Surely you have shown that your brain chopping off example therefore shows nothing? it does not demonstrate that my consciousness has changed for myself and does not demonstrate that the liveliness that you observed and took as being my consciousness has changed either. So what has it demonstrated?

    Which came first matter or consciousness? Now the consensus is that matter came first and then organised itself in such a way as to produce consciousness. Sounds reasonable, but are we not really saying that consciousness and matter are really the same thing, or perhaps that consciousness is nothing other than matter in a certain state? So wherever there is matter there is or is the potential of consciousness. I don’t see consciousness as separate or that there is some cosmic soul, but maybe that the universe includes everything such as atoms, magnetic fields etc and consciousness.It is the conscious aspect that allows the universe to be seen and known. We may speculate that matter existed in some manner and arrangement before consciousness came along and attempt to separate it out through the vehicle of time but then we use consciousness to picture that ‘before consciousness’ universe. But does it really make sense to say that matter existed before consciousness? if so then in what state? and where was it located? surely location is relative and needs consciousness to relate two or more positions to each other? is there location without consciousness? Is there matter without consciousness? seeing as matter is simply a classification made in consciousness obviously. matter makes sense to consciousness but matter is not matter to itself.
    As you can see I risk a lot of ridicule here, but who cares? The harder you look at consciousness the more problematic it becomes and I think that because it then raises such big questions as i have outlined here it makes people uncomfortable as it challenges basic assumptions and takes people away from the safe assumption that matter produces consciousness and consciousness is not worth much more attention than that.

    I think that I can’t say anything for sure, so I read particle physics with interest and throw around all manner of ideas about what this means in my head but I can’t say I accept any of it as ultimate proof but it certainly does inform me and I take it on board. I agree with you about the demand for seeing mechanism can be an impediment to understanding. So I understand that messing with brains and chopping them off produces observable effects form the patients point of view and the observers. I can make my consciousness change by walking into a different room, eating honey etc and I understand that it may be so that one day we will observe consciousness emerging from cells but until that day I cannot take it on as a basic belief assumption and ridicule anyone who doesn’t adopt it along with me. And this is why I commented here. I watch this show and enjoy the way it points out the absurd nature of theists beliefs but then I am always amused by how when it comes to questioning their own basic beliefs and assumptions I see arrogance appear and a lack of open minds. The arrogance is very easy to see.

    I don’t posit an immaterial soul. You say that by destroying parts of my brain you can destroy me. Well that depends on what ‘me’ is. As a child I liked sweet things but not coffee, as an adult this changed over, am I any less or more me? The way I see it what I am is what knows the things that you can destroy or change, I am not my memories I am the knower of those memories. As in the gun to the head example you can’t show that you can destroy the knower, if consciousness is not a thing then how can you destroy it? Shooting someone dead changes your conscious observation of the scene but that’s all it does. It does not show consciousness being destroyed, it shows matter being blown up, and the assumption that consciousness has gone from being present (whatever that means) to not being present (whatever that means) is an assumption.

    I can go along with the brain causes/modulates mind and that certain areas of the brain affect certain functions, but again where is the brain causes awareness of the contents of consciousness bit happening? and surely even a little bit of mechanism, just a hint wouldn’t be too much to ask, or to at least say where. or am I asking to much and I should just believe like everyone else does and be satisfied with that?

    Synesthesia is interesting but I don’t see the relevance of it in how the brain produces consciousness, in the brain produces mind it has relevance but in the brain produces consciousness it isn’t relevant. Brains work differently and are wired differently, yes true, but where is that pesky awareness on awareness off switch, if there is one and how the heck does it work to produce nothing from something???

    My parents produced me but I am not my parents. My brain may have produced me, but I am not my brain.
    To say I am my brain is an idea only.

    I don’t believe in an immortal soul, and I don’t believe that the brain produces awareness, not until there is better evidence or at least some half decent evidence and I don’t currently find it.

    I like Daniel Dennet and find the title of that book to be an amusing oxymoron. Perhaps it should be “Consciousness explained by Consciousness” lol. I would say that consciousness already understands itself perfectly as consciousness. Ever wondered how matter can fire itself up to be a conscious cause over itself? Somewhat magical no?

  44. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    1-
    Solipsism is the idea that my mind – or your mind – is the only mind in existence, and the other humans you see are just mindless robots. Last Thursdayism is the idea that the universe might have been created last Thursday at 6 PM, and created in such a way as to look exactly like it’s billions of years old. Both of these ideas are complete non-starters. If you’re going to purport to seriously put forth these ideas, then the conversation is over, and I am going to mildly ridicule you, and then ignore you.

    2-
    You said that we cannot observe consciousness. Bullshit. We’re doing that right now. I’m making observations that you’re conscious, and you’re making observations that I’m conscious. We can see the effects of consciousness indirectly by observing the behaviors of the physical body, esp. speech.

    3-
    We have done the experiments concerning human brain damage, including lots of cases of accidental brain damage and the study of its effects by the reporting of the person who had the brain damage. Thus, it is safe to conclude that if those dozen other people report that their mind has been changed in way X with brain damage Y, then I – and you – should expect similar changes with similar brain damage. Again, the alternative is that you’re special and that the entire universe is built around you, and that your mind is privileged above everyone else’s, aka solipsism, and I’ve dispensed with that already.

    4-
    The next step is a very straightforward extrapolation. We have countless different examples of kinds of brain damage and how that damages the mind. The extrapolation is to go from “some brain damage causes some mind damage” to “total brain damage causes total mind damage”. We have so much evidence at this point that it would be perverse to deny.

    5-
    And of course, if destroying the brain will destroy the mind, then it’s seems quite obvious to me that the brain causes the mind.

    Where do you disagree? What step 1-5?

    You say that I don’t have an open mind. No, you are the one with the closed mind. You have some preconceived notions about how the world is, and you are the one who is refusing to engage the evidence and conform your beliefs to the evidence. You are the one who is pretending the world is something else when the evidence contradicts your preconceived notions about the world.

    As a child I liked sweet things but not coffee, as an adult this changed over, am I any less or more me? The way I see it what I am is what knows the things that you can destroy or change, I am not my memories I am the knower of those memories. As in the gun to the head example you can’t show that you can destroy the knower, if consciousness is not a thing then how can you destroy it?

    Let’s say someone exploded your head into ludicrous gibs.
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/LudicrousGibs

    We know that you lost the part of the brain that contains all of your memories, so you’re not going to be able to remember anything before the explosion.

    We know that you lost the part of the brain that allows you to make memories, so you’re not going to make any new memories, so you’re not going to remember anything after the explosion.

    We know that you lost the part of the brain that allows you to perform basic mental math, so you’re not going to do any basic mental math.

    We know that you lost the part of the brain that allows you to recognize faces, so you’re not going to recognize faces.

    We know that you lost the part of the brain that allows you to form and create grammatical English sentences, and so you’re not going to be able to speak nor think thoughts in language.

    We know that you lost the part of the brain that allows you to understand grammatical English (which is a different part of the brain than the part above), and so you’re not going to be able to understand thoughts in language, nor understand the language of another.

    We know that you lost the part of the brain that allows for vision, which means you’re not going to be seeing any more. Dittos for the other senses.

    We know that you lost the part of the brain for hunger, sex, fear, etc., which means you’re not going to be having those feelings anymore.

    Ad nausaum.

    What’s left? The extrapolation is simple, obvious, and undeniable. Everything that is you is lost when your brain is lost. It is foolish to believe that “you” in any meaningful way will survive the death of your brain. You are your brain.

  45. says

    1. I don’t find solipsism relevant. I see that it is hard to refute but it brings nothing to my argument. Which is that the there is an assumption that consciousness is produced by the brain and people operate out of this belief. It has never been proven and if it was then a noble prize would have been awarded to the individual proving it. Until then I refuse to be ridiculed into believing it. as I see it as a blind belief much like the belief in a God with no evidence.

    2. I agree that I read your writing and detect intelligence and assume consciousness is behind it. What I find interesting is that it is consciousness that observes and detects consciousness. It is so very different from magnetism and other fields which are also observed by consciousness. I mean try and observe your own consciousness and you can’t find anything. Because consciousness knows and observes things but isn’t a thing in itself. To detect a magnetic field then simply bring a compass and there it is. To detect consciousness? what do we do? WHere is the meter and measuring device? EEG and mri detects electrical activity and shows different states of mind but we can’t say that they measure consciousness.

    3. Yes brain damage to certain parts of the brain results in predictable effects. The mind and experience is altered but not the knowing . Knowing just knows experiences and perceptions but brain damage doesn’t turn off or affect knowing just what is known. Brain damage isn’t the only thing that causes changes to the contents of consciousness, eating honey does too. My point is that none of this is relevant to how our ability to know and thus be alive is created by brain cells. No matter how much of the brain is damaged the individual remains conscious of something whilst alive. Who knows after death, not really relevant to this.
    4. see 3.

    5. Destroying the brain doesn’t totally destroy the mind. if someone is alive then they have a mind. Try telling someone who has suffered a stroke that they don’t have a mind anymore.

    I have ideas of how the world is but first and foremost say that I don’t know. Unlike those who say that they magically do know that consciousness is produced by the brain. I need more evidence before jumping on that unproven but very popular notion. Show me how it dos this and I will nominate you for a Noble prize. Until then I say that it is no different than believing in God.
    You know evolution is hard for people to believe because it can intuitively seem wrong, but the evidence is wholly overwhelming and so it cannot be ignored or doubted, however the theory that the brain produces consciousness has scant to virtually no evidence at all. No mechanism, not even a hint, and yet people get hot under the collar when you point out these facts to them.

    —-
    I make no assertions about death and survival afterwards, why impose that on me when I have made no reference to it?
    There are people who have amnesia and forget everything, totally, and yet they are still consciousness and still themselves. In my book being me is being consciously alive period, the rest, memories etc are additional and collected.

  46. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I make no assertions about death and survival afterwards, why impose that on me when I have made no reference to it?

    Because it’s the last step of my argument. The last step of my argument uses the formal premise:
    > “braindeath causes end-of-mind” entails “brain causes mind”.
    What is your position here? Agree? Disagree? Agnostic?

    There are people who have amnesia and forget everything, totally, and yet they are still consciousness and still themselves.

    No comparison. They can still form new memories, recall memories that have been made after the amnesia incident, create grammatical English, understand grammatical English, perform basic math, recognize faces, …

    Try telling someone who has suffered a stroke that they don’t have a mind anymore.

    They have diminished capacity in one or more ways, but they still have capacity.

    Again, when seemingly every bit of capacity – competence – can be destroyed by destroying a certain part of the brain, it’s blatantly obvious that braindeath entails the end of all capacities / competences, which entails the end-of-mind, which entails that brain causes mind.

  47. Monocle Smile says

    @Rocket (to the head)

    You know evolution is hard for people to believe because it can intuitively seem wrong, but the evidence is wholly overwhelming and so it cannot be ignored or doubted, however the theory that the brain produces consciousness has scant to virtually no evidence at all. No mechanism, not even a hint, and yet people get hot under the collar when you point out these facts to them.

    So everything that EL and I have posted is nonsense? What the fuck is wrong with you?
    I’m “hot under the collar” not because you’re right, dumbass. It’s because you’ve been wrong at pretty much every turn and act like you’re some god’s gift to mankind.

    No matter how much of the brain is damaged the individual remains conscious of something whilst alive

    So a brain-dead person on life support is conscious? Please tell me you’re joking.