Comments

  1. Steven Turner says

    Hi Matt a couple of time you have mentioned about Noah being an alcoholic, could you please give me some links to the Bible that show this.
    yours Steven

    ps great show keep it up

  2. Murat says

    About Matt’s argument with protesters: By asking how he knows if he has a brain, I wonder if these guys meant that we would need not to have brains in order for God to exist?

  3. says

    living in an evidence-based world makes theists like chan quite squeamish (1:42:35) to admit that faith abandons evidence. it’s like pointing out their dr denton’s are hanging open while they pretend their keisters aren’t on full display.

  4. gnostic says

    Re: Caller Chan’s 3-part criteria for a miracle… John and Matt objected to 2 and 3, and were on-point. I would say that the first criterion, that “it needs to be a highly improbable event”, is also invalid.

    Let’s say a child is about to fall off a high ledge, at a height from which death is certain. But FSM waves his noodley appendage just enough to create a breeze that allows the child to maintain balance, saving her life, and no one is ever aware of the closely averted disaster. A thinking, caring supernatural god saved a child, but it’s not a miracle because ‘not falling off a ledge’ is an everyday occurrence?

    I don’t see what that criteria does except provide runway for theists who want to talk about bizarre hypotheticals like reincarnated beheaded priests.

  5. MZ says

    To aarrgghh @#2

    I’m not in Chan’s head so I couldn’t say for sure but if he and other theists are squeamish about evidence based thinking then it’s because their loyalties are divided. Their thinking is compartmentalized. Their faith let’s them talk to their priests but their material comfort depends on modern technology. I would guess that this kind of cognitive dissonance goes back to the first time that a native asked a proselytizing Christian missionary, “If I will go to hell because you are now are informing me about Jesus why didn’t you just leave me in ignorance?” or words to that effect.

    They have been living with this cognitive dissonance for so long that, for many, it will take time and effort to break through the defences that they have erected for themselves.

  6. Kitsunelaine says

    Is Chan a troll? He cracked up towards the end. I don’t know if he’s genuine… But I can’t get inside his head to tell. 🙂

  7. Kitsunelaine says

    I meant the last caller in my earlier post. May have gotten the name wrong. Edit button may be helpful, but I can understand why it wouldn’t be added.

  8. Tomas Pocius says

    When is Phil hosting the show again? I want to see him with someone else other than Matt so that he has more opportunities to speak.

  9. Wiggle Puppy says

    @ gnostic #3: Yeah, the problem with “highly improbable event” is that it’s poorly defined. If I wrote the numbers from 1 to 10000 on sheets of paper and then pulled one randomly out a large container, the odds of picking any one of those numbers would be highly improbable. It’s not a very crisp definition.

    On the question of the resurrection, the arguments in favor seem to come down to one giant case of special pleading. If we take the case of Mormonism, there were three eyewitnesses besides Joseph Smith that provided sworn testimonies that they had seen the golden plates and heard God explain that they had been translated properly by Smith. There were eight other witnesses that swore that they saw the plates. We have direct eyewitness testimonies and sworn statements and we know way more about these people’s lives than any of the apostles. Why did these people do this? I don’t know. But we do know enough about psychology and sociology to know that some people see things that aren’t there, that some people want to fit into a group and are willing to convince themselves of untruths in order to fit in, that stories sometimes get more elaborate as they are told and re-told, and so on. There’s no way that the *best possible explanation* is that this actually happened as told, and pretty much every orthodox Christian would readily acknowledge this. But when you’re talking about much more fragmentary texts from the first century AD – a much more superstitious era during which we understood much less about the world – suddenly the *most probable explanation* for resurrection claims is that it actually happened as recorded?? There’s just no way.

  10. verruca says

    Continuity: I love Matt’s utter confidence that a StarTrek transporter ‘kills’ you. However…

    One of the basic tenets of Quantum Mechanics is that ‘cloning’ of a quantum state is not possible. In other words, you can’t make a copy. For a transporter to work (on the quantum level, which it would have to be) the result cannot be a copy. It can only be the real deal. The intervening space is not an issue.

    It’s exactly the same as stepping through a door from one room to another – are you deconstructed in one room and reconstructed in the other? Of course not, we don’t even consider the possibility.

    So you can carry on using the transporters without any qualms. 😀

  11. Vivec says

    are you deconstructed in one room and reconstructed in the other?

    That is canonically how Star Trek transporters work, though.

    It breaks you physically down into a signal at the start point, and assembles a person based on that signal at the destination.

    Said person is identical to you when you stepped in, but it’s still basically just a clone built on a template.

  12. Twee says

    Disagree completely with Matt about the transporter thing. It doesn’t matter if you’re constructed out of different molecules after going through the transporter, you’re still the same person for all practical purposes. You wouldn’t die, your experience would seamlessly continue, you’d just be in a different place in space.

  13. Monocle Smile says

    @MZ
    Chan dug a bit into the “my worldview requires me to believe X” thing that ruffles my feathers. I think this is backwards. Worldviews should be descriptive, not prescriptive. Otherwise, how would you ever correct errors? This kind of goes hand in hand with the horrible societal meme that changing one’s mind is the worst thing ever and staunch stubbornness is valuable.

  14. ironchops says

    Did anyone else here a bubbling noise in the background during Minh’s call (at 22:37)? Was he hitting a bong while on the phone? It even sounds like he let it out very shortly afterward during Matt’s response. Just curious.

  15. Twee says

    @ corwyn #12: That’s an interesting video! But he’s wrong. The main crux of his argument (apart from nagging feelings, which don’t really prove anything – you can have nagging feelings about all sorts of untrue things) seems to be this:

    “However… step into a working transporter with a broken disassembler – and death is revealed: pre-transport and post-transport you can disagree on who is you. And when Scotty tells pre-transport you “Sorry, the disassembler is broken, give us a minute to fix it”, you aren’t going to wait around. That a copy of you made it to the destination is no consolation. The transporter has to be a suicide box.”

    First, there’s no need to disagree on who is you, because both people are you, neither is more of a “real you” than the other. You have now been split into two, different, unconnected people that share the same history up to that point.

    Anyway, the idea he’s posing here is that in this situation with the broken disassembler, the person would be reluctant to enter it once it’s fixed because it’d destroy them, and they’d be dead. And that’s true. What he’s missing is that this isn’t like the normal teleportation at all, because this time there’s no reassembly afterwards. It’s the same thing as if the person went into a regular disintegrator that never transported them somewhere else and just deleted them completely – no one would argue that wouldn’t be killing them.

    The situation seems superficially different to someone just walking into disintegrator because a reassembly process already happened previously without disassembly, so there’s another person hanging around. But by this point they’ve both had different experiences and are thus different people, so it’s irrelevant. To prevent the someone dying from entering a disassembler, they *always* have to be reassembled again *from that point*. You just have to accept there’s two of them now if you don’t want one of them to die, so yeah, make sure your disassembler is working properly.

  16. ironchops says

    To Dan-If you die and you are not resuscitated quickly enough you may not be the same person when you wake up. The brain is deprived of oxygen too long and you will most likely suffer enough damage to be mentally different. My uncle had a brain tumor and my family was afraid that when he came back from that surgery that he would not be “Bubba” anymore. Thankfully Bubba came back home.

  17. Robert,+not+Bob says

    @ #16, Ironchops-it looks like you’re talking about different senses of the words.Dan was talking about continuity of identity; you’re talking about character and personality change. I understand: I work with people with dementia, and I’ve speculated on what it would be like if we could repair their brains. The most severely demented patients would end up growing entire new personalities. The question of how much of the original brain is required for full continuity is philosophical, and may someday be legal: at the other extreme, separate copies would be accepted as the same person (I disagree with that: I would not ride a transporter).

  18. Lillith says

    Can’t match what Twee says in 10 and 15: The minute I am broken down to be transported elsewhere, I’m dead and I don’t give a rats ass about a clone of me running around with my memories up to that point creating new ones from its reassembly on. I would NEVER enter the transporter cause my consciousness would seize to exist.

  19. Lillith says

    For those of you who listen to the mp3 with Foobar2k or something that can read cue files, just save the following lines to a text file and save it to the name of the mp3 you downloaded. From iTunes that would be ‘#20.34_ Pride Recap.mp3’ so the cue file would be named ‘#20.34_ Pride Recap.cue’:

    TITLE “Atheist Experience 20.34”
    FILE “#20.34_ Pride Recap.mp3” MP3
    TRACK 01 AUDIO
    TITLE “Theme music”
    INDEX 01 00:00:00
    TRACK 02 AUDIO
    TITLE “Welcome to”
    INDEX 01 00:42:65
    TRACK 03 AUDIO
    TITLE “Announcements”
    INDEX 01 02:05:01
    TRACK 04 AUDIO
    TITLE “Austin Pride festival recap”
    INDEX 01 03:19:60
    TRACK 05 AUDIO
    TITLE “Viewer Calls: Minh”
    INDEX 01 14:03:35
    TRACK 06 AUDIO
    TITLE “Viewer Calls: Zane”
    INDEX 01 33:47:21
    TRACK 07 AUDIO
    TITLE “Viewer Calls: Dan”
    INDEX 01 54:52:06
    TRACK 08 AUDIO
    TITLE “Viewer Calls: Zaroc”
    INDEX 01 59:35:51
    TRACK 09 AUDIO
    TITLE “Viewer Calls: Chan”
    INDEX 01 65:00:51
    TRACK 10 AUDIO
    TITLE “Closing notes”
    INDEX 01 93:44:49
    TRACK 11 AUDIO
    TITLE “Russell’s ACA plug”
    INDEX 01 98:59:58

  20. Murat says

    A question for Trekkers:
    “That is canonically how Star Trek transporters work, though.
    It breaks you physically down into a signal at the start point, and assembles a person based on that signal at the destination.
    Said person is identical to you when you stepped in, but it’s still basically just a clone built on a template.” as Vivec explains, and Matt said practically the same thing, and it seems it was written and explained like that for the whole ST concept.
    Does the person in point A really need to be “dissolved into pieces and gone” for the signal / template to be formed at point B?
    Or, is this sort of “killing process” necessary just to avoid the mes that would happen in case both existed for a certain period of time?
    Remember the finale of The Prestige: “I could no longer know which one I was. The dead one, or the survivor” says Angier, as we witness many dead clones of his.
    If the whole point is to create the template to be formed in point B, then, it seems the “death” in point A is not truly necessary for the mechanism of the thing, but is performed due to the very same reason it was in backstage for Angier.

  21. corwyn says

    “First, there’s no need to disagree on who is you, because both people are you, neither is more of a “real you” than the other. You have now been split into two, different, unconnected people that share the same history up to that point.”

    Which is EXACTLY the problem. Unless both copies are sharing their experiences with the other, then the first person experience one of them is experiencing, is different from the other one (or both). If that version is killed that first person experience ceases. That person has died. The fact that there is another version is of exactly zero consolation to the person (friends and family’s mileage may vary).

    By the way, claiming that your interpretation is right and Matt’s is wrong, is massively irrational. There is quite literally no way of answering the question. Both hypotheses are unfalsifiable.

    Thank you kindly.

  22. Twee says

    @ Lilith:

    But the “clone” is you. Your conciousness doesn’t cease, it continues in a new place. The molecules used to produce that conciousness have been replaced and you’re in a different location in space, but I don’t see how that could make any difference to your experience if done correctly.

    @ corwyn:

    “Which is EXACTLY the problem. Unless both copies are sharing their experiences with the other, then the first person experience one of them is experiencing, is different from the other one (or both). If that version is killed that first person experience ceases. That person has died. The fact that there is another version is of exactly zero consolation to the person (friends and family’s mileage may vary).”

    I don’t disagree with any of this, but this is after the teleportation has happened, at which point there’s two people with different experiences, so it’s a different issue. At the moment of teleportation it’s the same person on either end for all practical purposes, so their experience would continue as it normally does.

    “By the way, claiming that your interpretation is right and Matt’s is wrong, is massively irrational. There is quite literally no way of answering the question. Both hypotheses are unfalsifiable.”

    I’m being a little bit hyperbolic – there of course may be some reason I’m wrong and one would in fact die on being put through the transporter, but I haven’t seen a convincing case for that yet. I’ve stopped short of saying Matt is wrong since I haven’t heard his argument, but the one in the video doesn’t work because, again, they don’t take into account that you need to reassemble the person after disassembly or else it isn’t the same thing.

    IMO it *is* possible to logically infer the answer to the question from what we know about conciousness and the brain, and of course assuming there isn’t some supernatural “soul” element that wouldn’t be transferred (which seems unlikely). It’s one of the few answers I’m relatively confident about!

    “Thank you kindly.”

    You too, I find this topic fun to talk about. 🙂

  23. says

    mz @ 4:

    … the first time that a native asked a proselytizing Christian missionary, “If I will go to hell because you are now are informing me about Jesus why didn’t you just leave me in ignorance?” or words to that effect.

    i can’t quite imagine this particular scenario actually occurring. but the dissonance you speak of comes from the advent of our well-justified progressive reliance on the twin pillars of reason and science. religion is simply the glorified beta version of rational thought that too many stubborn luddites insist on preserving to their own hindrance.

  24. says

    regarding so-called miracles, i’m not really interested in claims about rare or improbable events. the question then devolves to trying to distinguish a supernatural cause from a natural cause, as in the cases of the remission of cancer. if you cannot tell the difference, you cannot get the conversation off the ground because there’s no reason to believe the event may be supernatural, full stop. the only events on which a discussion can proceed are those which appear to be a clear violation physical laws, in which we appear to witness something not rare or improbable but flat out impossible. but as has been pointed out numerous times on the show, we’ve never had any examples of such events to examine.

    the following is a related comment i posted on one of lawrence krauss‘ videos:

    that the universe is comprehensible actually suggests that no gods are tinkering with it. the perfect reliability of the movement and activity of things great and small allows us to tease out the laws of physics and confirm them through prediction. we call these things laws because no one has yet shown they can be violated. any activity by the god that holder believes in — @6:00 “who is not constrained by the laws which he has made” and intervenes in human affairs — would make it much harder to discern whatever rules exist and thus harder if not impossible to comprehend. how would we discover the laws of thermodynamics if they were being violated on the whims of invisible superbeings? such a universe would appear arbitrary, unstable and ultimately unfathomable.

  25. Vivec says

    If I make a cube out of wood, throw it in a woodchipper, and then build an identical cube somewhere else in the world with the exact same dimensions, that doesn’t change that the original cube was destroyed in a woodchipper. That original cube, for all intents and purposes, no longer exists as “that cube”.

  26. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To Vivec
    To play devil’s advocate:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship_of_Theseus

    As a practical matter, IIRC nearly all of the atoms that are in your body now will not be in your body in 7 years from now. they will have been replaced.

    I’m going to lay out a list of scenarios. Please point out the first scenario where you think “death” occurred.

    Scenario:
    You. Right now. Nothing unusual. After 7 years, almost all of the atoms in your body will have been replaced.

    Scenario:
    I create a machine that – via scifi magic – replaces one atom at a time in your body with another atom from this rock. You’re free to go about your daily business, and the machine will be able to work no matter where you are on Earth. It works at a distance. I turn on the machine, and it slowly replaces all of the atoms in your body, completing in about 7 years.

    Scenario:
    I take that machine, change a switch from “7 years” to “7 minutes”, and turn it on. Again, for emphasis, all of the atoms will be replaced over a time period of 7 minutes.

    Scenario:
    I take that machine, change a switch from “7 minutes” to “7 nanoseconds”, and turn it on. Again, for emphasis, all of the atoms will be replaced over a time period of 7 nanoseconds, aka “instantaneously” for most practical purposes.

    Scenario:
    I take that machine, and reconfigure it slightly so that it will also place the replacement atoms to the right of the location of the original atom by about 1 meter during replacement. I make the machine smart enough to ensure that pre-existing chemical bonds are “copied” during the replacement, along with velocity, etc. Of course, I would need Heisenburg compensators to make this machine work. Of course, this setting only makes sense when the switch is configured to “7 nanoseconds”; this setting makes less sense when the switch is at “7 minutes” or “7 years”. In other words, it’s a Star Trek teleportation device that works by destroying the original, and making a copy about 1 meter to the right.

    I myself am completely unable to point out the dividing line where one results in “death” and another does not result in “death”. As I said in the other thread, I think our basic concepts about morality are premised on several working assumptions that things like this just do not happen, and I also believe that our morality would need a substantial rework if and when we ever create a machine of this kind. Our morality is just not equipped to handle questions like this, and if we were ever forced to handle questions like this, then we would develop rules, and I don’t know what those rules would be, and I don’t know if those rules would have any sort of objective basis at all. I am completely dumbfounded. I don’t know.

  27. Philllip Moore says

    Wow! Metaphysics. After reading this, I’m not going to be certain if it’s really the same “me” when I wake up tomorrow. For the time being I’d like to think so. At my age, I’m probably not a long way from hoping it’s not.

  28. corwyn says

    @26 EL:

    Scenario 1 and scenario 2 are not analogous. 1 is what life does, or even what life IS. 2 is not. I am not convinced that achievable will maintaining the life process. I won’t pretend to understand the implications.

    Final scenario: I don’t think 7 nanoseconds is anything like ‘instantaneous’ for THIS purpose. You would get goo.

    Thank you kindly.

  29. corwyn says

    @22 Twee:
    “At the moment of teleportation it’s the same person on either end for all practical purposes, so their experience would continue as it normally does.”

    All practical purposes save one. That one is the only one of interest to the transportee. Is my first person experience in version A, or in version B (or both)? Dispensing with that last first, if the first person experience is now that all sense data goes to both brains, and experienced in two places, then that first person experience is fundamental different, and it can be claimed that the person(s) is no longer what they originally was (and further that they are now insane). If my first person experience resides in (WLOG) in version A, then the two versions are NOT the same from my standpoint (even if there are for everyone else in the world). And if version A dies, I am dead. I have lost my sole locale of first person experience.

    Thank you kindly.

  30. Vivec says

    Yeah, I guess so EL.

    Between the transporter problem and Tuvix (Tuvok and Neelix from Voyager combine into one new person, who then is “murdered” to split them back up), Star Trek brought up some really weird holes in our moral (and mortal) framework.

  31. corwyn says

    “i can’t quite imagine this particular scenario actually occurring.”

    If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?” Priest: “No, not if you did not know.” Eskimo: “Then why did you tell me?””

    _Pilgrim at Tinker Creek_ by Annie Dillard.

    Removing the question of whether anyone actually said it, how does the logic chain work?
    1) Does god send everyone to hell who has never heard of the gospels?
    Wouldn’t that make god a total jerk?
    2) Does everyone who hasn’t heard the gospels go to heaven?
    Wouldn’t that make missionaries total jerks? Risking their eternal souls.

    Thank you kindly.

  32. Lillith says

    @Twee (22)
    “But the “clone” is you. Your conciousness doesn’t cease, it continues in a new place.”

    What about the conciousness in the old place? Is that not a person that has the same will (and rights) to live as the conciousness in the new place? Why would the old place care at all about a clone being in the new place?

  33. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To Vivec

    Tuvix

    Exactly.

    To corwyn

    Final scenario: I don’t think 7 nanoseconds is anything like ‘instantaneous’ for THIS purpose. You would get goo.

    I think it obvious that the laws of physics are such that transporters cannot be, and yet the entire point of the thought experiment is to say “ok, but what if they were possible?”. Did you really come into my thought experiment and say “no no, this machine which violates many of the laws of physics wouldn’t work like that. It would work like this.” ? That’s really bad form. I should be the one who gets to set the conditions for my hypothetical scifi-magical machine. Contradicting me like this – that is really bad form, very impolite, and outright rude. I don’t even know what you’re trying to do. It makes no sense. Are you critiquing me on misstating something, even though the intent is quite clear? What’s your problem?

    Scenario 1 and scenario 2 are not analogous. 1 is what life does, or even what life IS. 2 is not. I am not convinced that achievable will maintaining the life process. I won’t pretend to understand the implications.

    Fascinating.
    This is completely mystifying to me. They seem quite analogous to me. Would you raise the same objections to blood transplants, tissue transplants, organ transplants? Again, my position is all about showing the gradual shades of gray without a bright line. I would be terribly surprised if you would have any qualms about the possibility that tissue and organ transplants cause death.

  34. Vivec says

    I think it’s kinda similar to the whole “how many grains of sand does it take until it becomes a pile” demarcation problem, but harder since we’re adding the additional variables of consciousness and mortality.

    Either way, not really the sort of thing you can dismiss by pointing out that the thought experiment is unrealistic, given that we’re talking about morals and metaphysics.

  35. Twee says

    @ Vivec #25:

    If the cube is exactly the same, down the atomic level, then yeah, it for all intents and purposes it *is* the same cube. How could it not be? The only difference it has to the cube prior is that it’s in a different location in space, and we wouldn’t normally call it a different cube just because it’s been moved to a new location. We may personally consider it a different cube for our own reasons, but that’s just a concept; it makes no difference to the physical reality of the cube.

    @ corwyn #29:

    “All practical purposes save one. That one is the only one of interest to the transportee. Is my first person experience in version A, or in version B (or both)?”

    Both, but not in the way you describe. You don’t experience getting sensory data from both bodies, or experience the thoughts of both brains. You experience the world in exactly the same way you did previously. There’s just two of you now, and both of them are separate, unconnected and seamless continuations of your first person experience.

    Obviously this is difficult, if not impossible, to fully wrap our heads around, because our brains are built to feel that our sense of self can’t be split (even small children feel this intuitively). There isn’t even the language to properly describe it, or if there is I don’t know it. But we can’t comprehend higher dimensional space either, and that wouldn’t mean it’s not real.

    @ Lillith #33:

    “What about the conciousness in the old place?”

    It’s now moved to the new place. If you walk out of your house, the conciousness you had in the house doesn’t stop, it continues outside the house, in a new location in space. The same applies here.

  36. Lillith says

    “The same applies here.”

    It does not which is the whole point. My conciousness knows that it will be cloned to another location while being destroyed at the old. And no conciousness wants to be destroyed! If I could make a copy of you 10 feet apart and would only have to shoot you in the head for it, you would NOT allow it. It’s like Vivec said above with his woodchipper analogy. If you just don’t get this, I’m fine to leave it at that.

  37. Twee says

    @ Lilith:

    I get it, I just disagree. Conciousness isn’t a physical thing, it’s a process, emerging from the functions of the brain. If you make an exact copy of the brain including the state it’s currently in, conciousness will emerge from it in the same way. The conciousness won’t be destroyed because it’ll continue in a new place using a functionally identical body. You won’t experience anything different than if you were to simply walk there (apart from, you know, the time it takes to walk), because in a real sense there is no difference.

    In other words, there’s nothing special about the particular atoms that make you up at the moment which makes you experience being yourself; it’s the complex configuration that your brain is in that does that. If you replace that configuration perfectly with a whole new set of atoms in the same state, you won’t experience a change, because effectively nothing has changed.

    Again, it’s a confusing concept and I’m not sure of the right language to explain this, so sorry if this isn’t making much sense.

  38. Twee says

    @ Fair Witness:

    I suppose until it comes to it you can’t know for sure. But I expect so, yes, if I were sure it was working correctly.

  39. Monocle Smile says

    @Twee
    If you cloned yourself, do you think you’d experience two bodies firsthand?

  40. Twee says

    @ Monocle Smile:

    Assuming you mean the instantaneous copying we’re talking about (not growing a new embryo from copied DNA), then yes, sort of. But there’d be two of me by this point, both experiencing our own bodies separately.

  41. Monocle Smile says

    @Twee
    And here’s where we depart. “Self” does not merely refer to the pattern of matter that makes up my body. It refers to the specific instance of this pattern. A copy of me is not me. We may be identical, but we are not both “me.”

  42. superatheist says

    Imagine there being you, and an exactly identical structure and functioning copy of you. They, of course, are producing exactly the same behavior at the same time because they are functioning identically. You are instantly split down the middle of the nose head to toe in half and recombined with the opposite halves from the replica. Now there are again two live identically structured and functioning human bodies. Your original body is now part of two bodies each having exactly half of your original brain. The question is: “What are you now consciously experiencing?” Both of them are behaving like they are alive and both of them call themselves the same names, believe that they are the same person that they were before, say they have the same feelings and emotions at the same time, have the same memories etc. They do this just like they did before the split. There are several possibilities. You no longer experience anything because you are now dead. One of them carries on your consciousness and the other does not. Or both of them are producing a consciousness that you experience. I say the simplest explanation is that both of bodies are producing a consciousness that you experience. Not only that, I predict that both of the bodies produced a consciousness you experienced before the split and recombination. Matt believes that it is the body (not the structure and functioning of the body) that caries or connects the self through space and time. He would say that the self goes with the body that has the most of original’s body’s matter. Or he would say that the original did not survive. He has no idea or any way of knowing how much matter is needed from the original to be in the new original to perpetuate the original self into the new body. The needed percentage of matter could be any amount and there is no way of knowing for sure. He does not even have a theory of how specific matter perpetuates the self in one body through space and time. It is just based on his belief. Other wise, I think Matt is very bright! What do you think and why?

  43. Monocle Smile says

    Shit! We basically drew a pentagram and started chanting, so I guess this is what we get.

  44. Twee says

    @ Monocle Smile:

    I guess you wouldn’t consider yourself both “you” after the copying, because each is the “you” to that particular person and the other is a separate individual. But you’re both the continuation of the “you” that existed before the copying process, and now continues to exist as two separate people, if that makes sense.

  45. Twee says

    @ Fair Witness:

    For the record, I don’t think any of this has any practical purpose, I just think it’s a fun concept to talk about; if it’s bothering people I’ll stop.

  46. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I totally warned you guys.

    All is lost! Save yourselves! I’ll try to hold it off for as long as I can!
    ~engages in mortal battle with the enemy~

  47. Curt Cameron says

    There is a lot of thrashing about on the question of “is it still you?” but to my mind, it can be simplified.

    I am not the same person I was five minutes ago. If I get duplicated, both copies will be me momentarily, but will quickly diverge. Each would have a perception that it is me because of the continuity. Once I look at it this way, the problems go away, because it’s mostly an issue of our language not being set up to address it.

  48. Murat says

    Are we still the same person after we stop being thiests and become atheists? Or was our belief in god an undeniably crucial element of who we truly were?

  49. superatheist says

    @ 51 Curt Cameron

    You are right we do need the scientific language to deal with these complex issues of personal identity. Only when we understand what makes an ever changing “you”, continue to be you over time, can we ever actually know how, when, or if, conscious existence is possible after death for conscious beings.

  50. says

    @ Twee #49
    Oh no, you have actually been quite reasonable and coherent, even though I and others disagree with you about the transporter thought experiment. For a moment, though, you sounded kind of like superatheist who has inundated this blog in recent times with his ideas.

  51. corwyn says

    “Both, but not in the way you describe. You don’t experience getting sensory data from both bodies, or experience the thoughts of both brains. You experience the world in exactly the same way you did previously. ”

    See that is what I call ‘NOT BOTH’. They both have a (different) first person experience that they don’t share with the other.

    One last try and then I am giving up on your ever understanding me.

    So, both versions of you are standing there. I come in with a gun, and say I am going to kill one of you. Can you imagine one (or both) versions saying something like “Don’t shoot me; shoot him.”? If so, they don’t share a first person experience, and they DO care about which one is killed.

    Thank you kindly.

  52. corwyn says

    @EL:
    “Did you really come into my thought experiment and say “no no, this machine which violates many of the laws of physics wouldn’t work like that. It would work like this.” ?”

    No, not really. I think there is a death lurking in there that you are missing, and it is hiding in the details. Your point is presumably NOT to just conjure into existence something which explicitly magically circumvents the issue in question. The question of speed when moving is, I think, important, because half way through the process you have two half humans, for which particles are not caged, in the way they are for a complete human, and thus they are going to move. So both bodies must be frozen for the duration of the transfer process. So this is not in fact just a slightly different scenario from the previous ones.

    Thank you kindly.

  53. Jay M says

    While much of this discussion regarding transporters was way over my head, there are a few things i’ve thought of that may be useful. Much of the argument depends on just how the transporters actually work (in Star Trek reality). If you assume that the atoms at one transporter pad are destroyed and then the pattern is replicated at another pad, using different atoms, then yes, one body is being killed and another brought to life. But in many cases there is no receiving pad! The bodies are reconstituted in open areas on a planet, or another ship. Where do those atoms come from? There have even been instances of bodies being transported into empty space. Not enough atoms out there, I wouldn’t think.

    My impression has been that the items being tranported are actually converted from matter to energy, in a virtually 100% efficient manner, and those energy quanta are sent to the receiving end where they are reconstituted back into matter. No issues with “replacement” atoms this way.

    As for consciousness, there is at least one episode in which the show demonstrates that consciousness is maintained during the transport. In fact, Lt. Barclay even performs conscious actions while still within the transporter beam, which eliminates the problem of two consciousnesses being in play.

    Of course, the splitting of Kirk into two entities (good/bad) and Ryker being duplicated brings those problems right back into the forefront!

    Ultimately, the morality of transporter technology will be dependent upon the culture in which it is created. And chances are there will be those who are fine with it, and those who consider it abomination.

  54. chikoppi says

    Look up “monoism” and “dualism.” Also look up “ontology.”

    [ MONOISM ] A “consciousness” is not some thing that exists separate from a specific lump of physical matter. IT IS THAT MATTER. When that matter changes so too does that consciousness change. If you ‘duplicate’ the lump of matter you have created a second and separate consciousness. If you destroy that matter so too do you destroy that consciousness. They are one in the same.

    [ ONTOLOGY ] You are your body (bodies are things that exist). You are not some insubstantial pattern that flits about the universe (patterns are categories of things, abstract concepts that do not actually exist).

  55. xxxxxx says

    @Chikoppi “[ MONOISM ] A “consciousness” is not some thing that exists separate from a specific lump of physical matter. IT IS THAT MATTER. ”

    Its not quite that simple. Despite the inference often taken from the nomenclature “monism” and “dualism”, in both cases we are still talking about *two* severable concepts — a process (consciousness or agent or being or person…) and a processor (the brain and/or physical biological body). The main difference is whether or not the process can “flit around the universe” on its own independent of a material processor and, secondly, whether that consciousness “process” is materially definable and, thus, convertible into some form of information. The dualist believes the process is entirely independent of the processor, and moreover, the process itself is ineffable and thus indefinable as information.

    Monism, by contrast, defines the process as entirely dependent upon, and defined by, the material processor — but it still recognizes the difference between process and processor. Moreover, the consciousness process in monism, is like any other “process” — that is to say, its entirely representable as pure information (i.e. such as through state diagrams, for those CS majors out there) as long as one symbolically represents (1) all possible states available within the process and (2) the current state of execution within the process at a given point in time/execution.

    So, in regards to the hypothetical “transporter” discussion, a monist — while perhaps still questioning the validity of Star Trek’s teleporters or any ability to ever actually teleport matter — can still imagine the possibility that a consciousness can be converted into information and transmitted somewhere in either time or space, and then placed into another sufficient processor (brain or machine), thus successfully “teleporting” the being (if not his body). Most atheists perhaps wouldn’t go this “monistic extreme” (as I think the above discussion shows, most people here are a bit more attached to their bodies than this example requires), but the “mind separate from matter” concept, often ascribed as a strictly dualist concept, is still a hypothetical possibility under monism too.

  56. Chikoppi says

    @xxxxxx

    So, in regards to the hypothetical “transporter” discussion, a monist — while perhaps still questioning the validity of Star Trek’s teleporters or any ability to ever actually teleport matter — can still imagine the possibility that a consciousness can be converted into information and transmitted somewhere in either time or space, and then placed into another sufficient processor (brain or machine), thus successfully “teleporting” the being (if not his body).

    In order to “transmit information” you have to encode and decode it. This means there is one thing on the sending side and an-other thing on the receiving side. Even if this act of “transmission” changes the other thing so that it is an exact copy the original it still remains a wholly separate and distinct other thing. It is a different being.

    If I were make a perfect copy of you, right before your eyes, would you not care which head I aimed a gun at before pulling the trigger? Of course you would. Because that other thing, no matter how exactly similar, is not you.

    ‘Your consciousness’ is not a separate, intangible substance that can be separated from a physical medium. It is a description of the state of a particular thing, ‘your body’ (which changes moment to moment). That body, that one thing, is the being.

    P.S. Sorry if I seem abrupt. We went round and round on this topic not long ago in a series of rather frustrating threads.

  57. Chikoppi says

    @xxxxxx

    Moreover, the consciousness process in monism, is like any other “process” — that is to say, its entirely representable as pure information

    Sorry, didn’t mean to miss this…it’s why I referenced ontology (see universals vs. particulars).

    A representation of a thing is not the thing itself. ‘You’ are not the information, you are a thing the information describes.

  58. Don (not that one) says

    It would seem to me that the relevant question to the teleporter problem could be phrased differently and probably get different reactions. I’d like to start by laying out the relevant assumptions:
    1) The machine makes an exact biological and physical duplicate of whatever is in its start-point platform somewhere else in space.
    2) Upon stepping into the device and turning it on, you do not personally experience the teleportation process (as you would experience, say, hopping into a car and driving to the gas station). You don’t feel yourself being turned into a laser or something strange like that.
    (For the time being, let’s leave out the vanishing of the human who steps into the machine and turns it on. Let’s also ignore the violation of sense of self that encountering the one who comes out of the process would evoke emotionally.)
    If the human who comes out of the teleporter process on the far end looks like you, walks like you, talks like you, has exact copies of your genetic composition and even all of your memories and mannerisms and emotions and scars, thinks just like you and thinks it is you, is it right? Is it wrong? If the two of “you” simultaneously accuse the other of being an impostor, who is correct?
    Similarly but not equivalently, are each of the sequential Doctors from that one British show the same person, different people, or something else entirely? He (or they or whatever) has a continuous experience from before, during, and after the regeneration process, and can remember the previous incarnations (ignoring a certain willing self-infliction of laser-guided amnesia), but has different appearances, and bodily forms, and emotional and cognitive functions.
    Forgive me for stoking a fire that’s already well-fed.

  59. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    And this is why in all of my scifi stories, I will use instantaneous wormhole creation in place of teleportation.

  60. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To Lillith:
    My mind is still trying to drag itself off the metaphorical floor, after being floored, from that story of utter ridiculousness. Let me quote two of the commenters from there who put it perfectly:

    What’s completely backwards to me is that the provider wouldn’t remove the contraception. Um…. that would of gotten rid of the hated and loathed contraception. Providers at Catholic hospitals/systems should have been ALL OVER that.
    Put in a safe and effective contraceptive: nope.
    Remove the contraceptive (perhaps take the opportunity to vilify contraception in general, deem this one unsafe in particular, and refuse a new form of contraception): TOTALLY.

    exactly! Its all so inane. These folks are so judgemental they can’t even reason correctly within their own code of behavior. Its not just pathetic – its downright dangerous. I hope this brave woman who had the guts and caring to air her story does not have any physical consequences from their inaction.

  61. Steve Brian says

    God might not have to abide by the law of the excluded middle. There are branches of philosophy and mathematics which reject the law of the excluded middle.

  62. indianajones says

    @Steve Brian Total bollocks. The law of the excluded middle is an integral part of describing reality, speculations about reality and any definitions of god/s that are coherent (aka describable). There may be exceptions to this rule within reality, but they would be highly specialized edge cases and nothing comes to mind just at the moment.

    Tangentially I can take the well accepted definition of what I will call ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘=/=’ and ‘+’ and show you a case where A+B =/=B+A

    Take 2 standard and identical 6 sided die and place them in identical configurations in front of you.
    Let action A be the rotation by 90 degrees of a dice such that the top face becomes the right hand face
    Let action B be the rotation by 90 degress of a dice such that the top face becomes the forward face
    Perform A+B on the left hand dice
    Perform B+A on the right hand dice
    Inspect the die configurations now. They are different.

    My apologies, I am about to flounder about for terms. Jump in any time to correct me and clean up my thoughts here folks. I am pretty sure that the point I am trying to make should be able to shine through my no doubt muddled expression of it.

    The law of excluded middle is just as properly basic as A+B= B+A in most philosophical and mathematical systems. Including any systems that purport to describe or include (useful definitions of) god/s. My die in my above example, even though they do ‘violate’ the law of A+B=B+A, don’t become gods, just because I can violate a properly basic law. Being able to violate a properly basic law does not give one god like powers. Suppose I can come up with a thing that does indeed violate the law of excluded middle and exists in reality. Would that thing then become a god? Would it speak to any property that a god might have? Or have to have? Or anything useful at all?

    I think not.

  63. iancarrtheone says

    At the end of this show Matt made a comment along the lines of there being a risk of creating the next Stalin if you want to have conversations with theists that might make them question their beliefs. It’s an odd thing to say given that’s exactly what he does on every show – having conversations with theists with the goal of trying to help them think rationally about delusional beliefs and thus not be religious!

  64. Devocate says

    @70:
    You are missing a vital premise. If the person thinks that they would commit atrocities without their god belief…
    When Matt finds that he is talking to such people, he hangs up.

  65. Monocle Smile says

    @EL
    While that particular story is more absurd than most, that kind of shit happens at Catholic hospitals frequently. This is why I’m not impressed when someone sings the praises of the catholic church concerning all the hospitals they’ve set up around the world.

  66. Mobius says

    @68 Steve Brian

    No, mathematics does not reject the excluded middle. What is happening is that most logical questions in mathematics refer to things that really are two-state, A or not-A. For example, is the square root of -1 a real number. There is no middle ground to the answer. The answer is NO.

  67. Ethan Myerson says

    IndianaJones #69

    A+B == B+A is what’s called the Commutative property. The commutative property states that when two numbers are added, the sum is the same regardless of the order of the addends. You’ll notice that works just fine in addition, but not so well in, say, division (4/9 =/= 9/4). Your example doesn’t show a violation of the commutative property, because rotating dice is not an additive function.

  68. xxxxxx says

    @Chikoppi

    I did not mean to open up the debate again about the many well known contingencies that the general idea of teleportation entails– the objections you raise (in addition to the ones raised earlier in this thread) and the many others that are out there we have yet to discuss, I agree are unsolved dilemmas that, at the very least, lead one to rightly question or doubt the validity of any claim of teleportation being possible (at least any claim that didn’t also call into question the whole idea of “conscious continuity” as well). My ideas wasn’t an attempt to address those dilemmas, it was merely proposing that If teleportation can be a believable process, one could bypass the quantum mechanical objections to Star Trek’s version of “consciousness and body” teleportation by simply discussing teleportation of the consciousness alone.

    Which leads, I think into something we may actually disagree about. What I proposed did not imply or state that consciousness, in my view, was an “immaterial substance” as you inferred. I merely called consciousness “a process”. You, on the other hand (or perhaps you agree — I wasn’t sure) seem to define consciousness as “…a description of the state of…’‘your body’ (which changes moment to moment). That body, that one thing, is the being.” This definition did not make much sense to me. Are you saying consciousness is a process or something else?

    Moreover, I sensed in this same quote, that you may disagree that the process/processor distinction that I described earlier is a real distinction…or, perhaps, are you merely arguing against the entailment that I asserted that the existence of this distinction makes, at least in theory, the process severable from the processor (or, more specifically, the consciousness severable from the brain) even under a monist model of the mind/body connection. I was just curious what exactly rankled your feathers here, if you objected to either or both of these positions at all.

  69. Devocate says

    “Your example doesn’t show a violation of the commutative property, because rotating dice is not an additive function.”

    There are plenty of examples of additive functions that ARE non-communtative. Not sure that says anything for or against any given god.

  70. KsDevil says

    I have noticed this a few times on the show. After Matt has a conversation with a caller, he announces the co-host can take the next one. But when the next caller comes on, Matt takes control of the conversation.
    I don’t think Matt realizes he is doing this.
    Mat may be as cognitively dissonant as some of the callers.

  71. Chikoppi says

    @xxxxxx

    What I proposed did not imply or state that consciousness, in my view, was an “immaterial substance” as you inferred. I merely called consciousness “a process”. You, on the other hand (or perhaps you agree — I wasn’t sure) seem to define consciousness as “…a description of the state of…’‘your body’ (which changes moment to moment). That body, that one thing, is the being.” This definition did not make much sense to me. Are you saying consciousness is a process or something else?

    Ontology distinguishes things that exist from things that do not.

    For a thing to exist, it must be a particular with a unique identity (only IT can be IT). This follows from the three laws of thought:

    Law of identity: (A = A), a thing is the thing that it is.
    Law of non-contradiction: (A does not = 1 and 0), a thing cannot both be and not be.
    Law of excluded middle: (A = 1 or A = 0), a thing must either exist or not exist.

    The chair I am sitting on, for example, is a unique object. A particular thing that exists. The concept of ‘chair,’ however, is not a thing that exists. Ontologically it is a universal, a description of characteristics shared by particular things.

    A specific engine, as an object, is a particular and it has a unique identity as a thing that exists. The process of ‘internal combustion’ is not a thing that exists. It is a concept that describes a work and motion common to engines. This is true no matter how precisely you describe the process of internal combustion occurring in one particular engine. A description of a thing is not the thing itself. A description of a thing is not a particular.

    If you define ‘you’ as a “process” you have defined yourself as an ontological universal without unique identity or existance. The “process” that results in ‘your’ consciousness is only a description of what the unique thing that is your body is doing from moment to moment. That body is the particular. The “process” is a universal.

    ‘You’ is a necessarily a subjective and unique identity. Whatever ‘you’ is must adhere to the laws of identity if it is a real thing that exists.

    Only you can be you. Any other thing, by definition, is not you; it is some other thing with its own unique identity (no matter how similar).

    Sorry if that was a bit rambly. Ontology is a complex topic to unpack in brief comments.

  72. Monocle Smile says

    @KsDevil
    It’s not cognitive dissonance. Sometimes he’s just had more experience answering the kind of questions that come in.
    Are people ever going to stop whining so hard about stuff that doesn’t matter? I really don’t know what goes through the minds of people who comment for the sole purpose of doing this.

  73. corwyn says

    @78:

    That is all very well in the macroscopic realm, but I don’t think that it make sense in the light of quantum mechanics.

    How does an entangled pair of particles pass the law of identity, the law of non-contradiction, or the law of excluded middle?
    An electron does not have a unique identity, it is what you call a universal.
    Does a virtual particle exist?

    Nor do I see all processes as universal, if I take a broken chair (unlike any other broken chair since it is unique), and fix it in a very precise way, reestablishing the molecular bonds exactly, that process is unique.

    Thank you kindly.

  74. Scott E says

    @Monocle Smile
    KsDevil phrased post #77 as simple observations, so I think you’re being overly critical to label it whining. It’s also purely your opinion that it doesn’t matter, an opinion I also disagree with. John has been on the show any number of times, so it’s not inexperience keeping him from speaking. He appears to be the type who needs a moment to collect his thoughts before responding (which is fine), and that doesn’t work well with Matt’s fast responses. As incisive and knowledgeable as Matt is, there’s not much point in having John there if either he never interjects or Matt never pauses to let him talk. It’s generally a better show when both hosts talk to the callers and offer different angles or counterpoints to the discussion, and they have acknowledged that multiple times in the past.

    I think that something they could do is make an effort to pair up hosts with similar speaking styles: put two quick responders who don’t mind interrupting each other together, and on other weeks put two quiet & thoughtful hosts together.

  75. Chikoppi says

    @corwyn

    That is all very well in the macroscopic realm, but I don’t think that it make sense in the light of quantum mechanics.

    Yup. But not because the laws are invalid. A quantum particle is simultaneously a wave and a object. Both rules apply. When the particle(s) behave as a wave they exist as a wave (which, I believe, explains entanglement). Waves are still real and discreet things, whether on the ocean or in a quantum field.

    An electron does not have a unique identity, it is what you call a universal.

    No…there are definitely particular electrons, each with a discreet mass, charge, and relative spatial location (allowing for their occasional wave-like behavior). The fact that two or more things are identical doesn’t negate the fact that there are two or more discreet things, each with a unique (ontological) identity.

    Does a virtual particle exist?

    Tough one! Given my understanding of virtual particles, I’d say a particular virtual particle either exists or it doesn’t in a given moment.

    Nor do I see all processes as universal, if I take a broken chair (unlike any other broken chair since it is unique), and fix it in a very precise way, reestablishing the molecular bonds exactly, that process is unique.

    The “process” doesn’t exist. What exists is the chair. The “process” is a description of how that chair changed from moment to moment. A description is still a universal no matter how broad and abstract (things in motion) or narrowly applicable (how I fixed my chair that one time).

    Thank you kindly.

    Thank you, you made me think!

  76. Ethan Myerson says

    I think that something they could do is make an effort to pair up hosts with similar speaking styles: put two quick responders who don’t mind interrupting each other together, and on other weeks put two quiet & thoughtful hosts together.

    I was thinking about the question of host/cohost pairing the other day. I know that each has certain duties outside the show itself, and there are supposed to be different roles each plays during the show. I was thinking it might be neat to have a cohost who was assigned a sort of “Devil’s Advocate” role. Not that they’d take a theist position, per se (lest they be accused of strawmanning), but rather after a call, the cohost could continue the conversation in a direction that the caller might have taken, had the call gone on longer. Or perhaps she or he could recall past conversations that took a similar path. It would provide more of a role for the cohost to speak (there are weeks when I wish we could have heard more from Phil or Jen or Don), and it would do so in a way that lets the audience hear more counterapologetics and analyses.

  77. Monocle Smile says

    @Scott E
    It’s the gratuitous shit like “Matt is as cognitively dissonant as the callers” that gets me going. It smells like someone’s just fabricating an excuse to take a potshot at Matt or one of the other hosts.

  78. corwyn says

    @82:

    A quantum particle is simultaneously a wave and a object.

    Isn’t a wave, a process?
    Look up quantum erasure, and see if you can believe both your ontological rules, and quantum erasure.

    there are definitely particular electrons, each with a discreet mass, charge, and relative spatial location.

    Nope. I lack the physics chops to convince you of this, but physicists believe it. Something about showing that switching electrons doesn’t change the number of possible states.

    I’d say a particular virtual particle either exists or it doesn’t in a given moment.

    Again, I am under the impression that QM disagrees. Schrodinger’s cat exists in a superposition based on a particle both existing and not existing at the same time.

    The “process” doesn’t exist. What exists is the chair.

    The chair doesn’t exist. What exists are processes. The mass of a chair comes from 1) The binding energy of the molecules. 2) The binding energy of the nucleus 3) The binding energy of the quarks in the protons and neutrons. 4) The interacting of the quarks and electrons with the Higg’s field. 5) Nothing else. All processes; no objects to be seen.

    When I fix the chair, the total mass goes DOWN.

    Thank you kindly.

  79. Chikoppi says

    @corwyn

    Woo! These are good challenges. I’ll answer what I can, but I’m not a physicist.

    PROCESS Can we agree that a “process” refers to a change in a state of a thing or things over time?

    WAVE A wave is an oscillation in a field or other medium. It describes a change in the state of that medium over time. The field certainly exists. I think you may be semantically correct to argue that a wave is properly defined as a process.

    I don’t think this violates ontological principles, though I’ll have to think about. I suppose it depends on what scale you are examining existence. The purpose of ontology is to separate things from ideas about things. At some level, all there is are oscillations in fields. However, I’m not sure it is useful or necessary to reduce everything to such a degree to have a ontological understanding of existence.

    QUANTUM ERASURE It’s a neat experiment (thanks for pointing it out). I don’t see how it challenges ontology, though I’d have to invest some time in unpacking it. Plus, there is some question as to what the experiment actually signifies (see “Demystifying the Delayed Choice Experiments,” Gaasbeek).

    ELECTRONS You’d have to provide me with more context. However, the fact that you referred to ‘switching electrons’ seems to acknowledge that more than one thing with a discreet identity is at play (switching one electron for another electron implies there are two electrons).

    SCHRODINGER’S CAT Mmmm…I’m not sure about that reading. My understanding is that it refers wave function collapse. The wave(s) exists. How those waves are ultimately expressed as particles depends on decoherence. Again, ontology would scale with the meter. At a quantum level it would be appropriately applied to fields, not particles.

    THE CHAIR See above. If you insist on examining existence at the quantum level you are left with fields changing states over time. The fields are the things that exist. The “processes” are merely a description of the changing oscillations (energy distribution) in those fields and the resulting interactions between them over time.

    If you want to claim nothing in the macro world exists, well, OK. But it rather renders discussions about chairs and people moot.

  80. xxxxxx says

    @Chikoppi
    Yes, that was a bit of a ramble. I am thinking the conversation that I was aiming to have isn’t intriguing you enough to really grab your interest here….but thanks for your time.

  81. Chikoppi says

    @xxxxxx

    Sorry if I missed your intent (or if I simply wasn’t coherent). I was sincerely trying to address your comments as I understood them.

  82. Chikoppi says

    @corwyn

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Identical_particles

    “According to quantum theory, the particles do not possess definite positions during the periods between measurements. Instead, they are governed by wavefunctions that give the probability of finding a particle at each position. As time passes, the wavefunctions tend to spread out and overlap. Once this happens, it becomes impossible to determine, in a subsequent measurement, which of the particle positions correspond to those measured earlier. The particles are then said to be indistinguishable.” [wikipedia]

    I don’t think this poses a challenge to ontology. It can still be applied, given that we are now applying it to the quantum scale of existence. A particle is an expression of a wave function. At quantum scale the fields are the things that exist. The wave function describes the state of energy distribution in those fields. ‘A’ particle refers to a particular wave impulse. The state of that particle describes the current state of that particular impulse at a given time. If two impulses are interfering such that they are indistinct it makes sense that the particles that represent them should be indistinct. There are still two impulses, distributions of energy in a field that are interacting.

    I’m stretching my physics to the limits here. I could be wrong.

    However (though it’s an interesting thought experiment!) this may be leading us astray. Ontology is a logical framework used to determine whether a concept refers to a particular thing that actually exists or to an abstraction of that thing(s).

  83. xxxxxx says

    @Chikoppi

    To the contrary — you actually hit the nail on the head in your last comment. In short, we just aren’t in the same ontological “camps” when it comes down to it (i.e. from what I can tell in our short exchange, you likely subscribe to a fairly traditional “Platonic” ontology, which, in particular, rejects process ontology….and I am not at all a traditionalist). Call me a wimp if you must, but I am just not prepared to have the kind of “clarification” discussion in the comment threads of the Axp blog that our ontological differences may require (i.e. its likely an involved conservation that is best made face to face, over many sessions all involving copious quantities of food and liquor). I’ll defer to your conversation with Corwyn as the proxy to the conversation we would likely have had. The issues raised there so far regarding wave-particle duality (along with Einsteins theories that established space and time, and energy and matter to be intimately related) are what essentially lead me to reject the categorization of all processes as universals, an idea which your ontology seems to demand.

    Anyway, sorry to sound terse; I sincerely thought by your last response, that you were sensing the same ontological differences, so I just meant to throw a simple nod of acknowledgement in your direction.

  84. indianajones says

    @Ethan: Spot on about division and so on. I should have known better than to have hoped that that one would be let slide around here. But it is just a hole in the analogy, and any analogy will have holes if pressed far enough. I hope my clumsily expressed point still stands. And thanks (also) for telling me the actual friggedy name of what I was trying to express. Couldn’t think of it off hand and it has been bugging me ever since.

  85. Lahouari says

    Odysseus, was a historical person. He’s actions have been written down in detail in historical records.

  86. MZ says

    To aarrgghh at #26:

    I find a great deal of irony in the fact that the logic that Christians use to “prove” the existence of their god did not come from their holy books, but rather from pagan, ancient Greek, philosophers. It is one example among many of religion co-opting cultural inventions for their own purposes. Like the famous quote from “King of the Hill”, “They’re not making Christianity better, they’re making rock and roll worse.” What results is yet another iron chariots situation that makes their god bound by logic.This is the kind of cognitive dissonance that I was talking about.

  87. corwyn says

    @Chikoppi
    “PROCESS Can we agree that a “process” refers to a change in a state of a thing or things over time? ”
    No. Is a field a ‘thing’?

    “The field certainly exists.”
    Does it? What does it mean to say that field exists? I can define a field which is a probability that one will find Corwyn at that bit of spacetime. Does that field exist? Does that change if I replace ‘Corwyn’ with ‘Unicorn’?

    “However, the fact that you referred to ‘switching electrons’ seems to acknowledge that more than one thing with a discreet identity is at play (switching one electron for another electron implies there are two electrons).”
    I am limited by English in this case. Essentially, physics says that you can’t switch two electrons. If you do the math assuming that they can be switched, you get the wrong answer.

    “Again, ontology would scale with the meter. At a quantum level it would be appropriately applied to fields, not particles.”
    If the fields are what exists, and waves are processes in those fields (english again), then fields are the ONLY things that exist. And we are back to chairs being processes, that is, occurings (english once more) in the things that exist.

    ” If two impulses are interfering such that they are indistinct it makes sense that the particles that represent them should be indistinct. There are still two impulses, distributions of energy in a field that are interacting.
    Imagine ocean waves; do you think of those as separate impulses? What do you do if two join?
    But, back to the quantum, what if you two so called impulses (say in the electron field), interact, and the result is an ‘impulse’ in the Higg’s field, which manifests as a Higg’s Boson? The two particles aren’t indistinct, so much as something else.

    I am wandering all over the place here, but I just can’t see how your law of non-contraditction survives superposition.

    Thank you kindly.

  88. David Burroughs says

    as for me, I’d be delighted to co-host with the fast thinking and experienced, giving me the opportunity to sit back and nod wisely, and only throwing in a “why do you believe that”- sort of comment providing the talent time to organize and pursue their efforts.
    Of course, that isn’t always what can be most useful for the show.

  89. says

    There needs to be a full investigation of vote tampering in the Democratic primary. For example when there is an easy to hack electronic machine the recorded votes are more on Hillary’s side than exit polls say they should be, when there are hand counted paper ballots the recorded votes match exit polls. This happened in multiple states.

    This is not crazy conspiracy theory talk, this is well documented. There was a FRONTLINE show on how easy it is to rig voting machines to make the vote come out any way you want it to, and there are very disturbing things about this primary from Iowa to New York, for example when there is an easy to hack electronic machine the recorded votes are more on Hillary’s side than exit polls say they should be, when there are hand counted paper ballots (WHICH WE MUST INSIST ON) the recorded votes match exit polls THE SANE PROGRESSIVE YouTube channel has many videos documenting this, for example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzbK4uqf7dg

    There is only one person needed to flip thousands of votes and that is whoever programs the machine. It would only take one special interest to bribe this person. There would be no trace after it happened. The candidate doesn’t even need to know this happened.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t75xvZ3osFg

  90. Chikoppi says

    @corwyn

    “Can we agree that a “process” refers to a change in a state of a thing or things over time?”

    No.

    Ok. So we’d better start here. How would you define “a process” in this context?

  91. Monocle Smile says

    @Ted
    There seems to be a pattern of people dropping spammy, tangential, or rant-like posts on older threads down the line. What’s your beef?

  92. futrix says

    This explanation that Matt gives for how a brain restart isn’t creating a new person, I still don’t get how that doesn’t also apply to theoretical transporter tech via a Star Trek universe.
    https://youtu.be/cGamD3ACm4Q?t=57m29s

    Am I the only one who just doesn’t see a difference between the two using his rational?

  93. corwyn says

    @99:

    Ok. So we’d better start here. How would you define “a process” in this context?

    Taking an analogy from Mathematics, a process is a function parameterized by time.

    This definition (should you choose to accept it), implies that since the Universe can be described by a Hamiltonian function in time, that the Universe itself is a process.

    Do you have an argument that ‘things’ are similarly based (i.e. to the extent that it is correct) on the underlying reality of the Universe?

    Thank you kindly.

  94. corwyn says

    “Electronic voting machines should be banned.”

    Electronic voting machines should provide authentication, and confirmation of vote counting, etc. We know what it means to have fair voting systems, why aren’t we using them?

    Thank you kindly.

  95. Ted Apelt says

    Because, when it comes to election results, people close their eyes, cover their ears and sing a happy tune. Verify the results? Nah. Actually make sure no one is cheating? Don’t be silly. We all know how honest and trustworthy politicians are, why question them?

  96. Ted Apelt says

    I forgot to say something very important. We all know how the greater the number of people required to make a conspiracy work, the harder it is to pull it off. There is only one person needed to flip thousands of votes and that is whoever programs the machine. It would only take one special interest to bribe this person. There would be no trace after it happened. The candidate doesn’t even need to know this happened.

  97. David Burroughs says

    Gore himself decided to drop the issue the day after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the issue dropped. Why?
    Had the vote been declared invalid and sent to the republican dominated Florida legislature, likely Bush would have been declared winner.
    There are many issues with the ballot design and there are many issues with deciding voter intent and they are shown in one example: certain voters selected neither candidate for president and representatives from both sides were working hard to say they actually, on a ballot mostly supporting republican candidates, the voter had meant to vote G.W., and vice versa on similar Democrat ballots for Gore.
    I have also myself left blank, in California, ballot items for which I had no preference or I had incompletely failed to prepare, and I would have been unhappy if during a recount my intention was misinterpreted and misattributed.

  98. corwyn says

    “There is only one person needed to flip thousands of votes and that is whoever programs the machine. It would only take one special interest to bribe this person. There would be no trace after it happened.”

    The code actually gets audited. And after it happened, the code would still be compromised (plenty of ‘trace’).

  99. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Electronic voting machines should provide authentication, and confirmation of vote counting, etc.

    And all it takes to fuck that up is just twiddling some bits, once, in some central location. Again, no thanks. Hard paper trail every time please.

    The code actually gets audited. And after it happened, the code would still be compromised (plenty of ‘trace’).

    That is not a serious answer. Bribe the auditors. Cover your tracks by overwriting the code on the voting machine after the vote.

    Maybe I’m being slightly paranoid, but given well known facts, I think this paranoia is well-warranted.

  100. Monocle Smile says

    @EL
    Expensive, time-consuming, but more secure solution: closed network machines. Don’t link them to the internet. Instead, have clusters of closed networks that write everything to an encrypted drive that needs to be physically delivered somewhere. Anyone wanting to screw with the election would have to sabotage a large number of physical drives. With the right particulars, this becomes at least as hard to rig as a paper trail.

  101. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To MS
    I’m not immediately concerned about voting machines on the internet. I’m primarily concerned about party officials and election officials who have direct and relatively unmonitered access to the voting machines.

  102. Ted Apelt says

    It may be possible to make an Bitcoin type electronic system that “becomes at least as hard to rig as a paper trail”, but it would be much harder to get people to trust it than paper ballots that everyone can understand. Also, you could make it so that anyone who wanted to could go in and count them (with proper security of course).