Monday, October 19, 2009

Schwarz's challenge to the materialist assumptions of neuroscience

Apparently he is allied with the people who make a good deal out of quantum mechanics.


Blue Devil Knight said...

I thought that sounded familiar in the previous post.

I've read that paper that Dembski cites (and unsurprisingly misrepresents, so I won't blame you for mischaracterizing what the article says). The paper isn't dualistic but argues that the basis of mind should be quantum mechanical rather than standard neuronal.

I would again have to ask what their evidence is. The QM-philes tend to have no evidence for their views, even basic correlations between mental states and quantum states. Their theories haven't been useful in neuroscience, especially for the higher-level (network level) phenomena that is likely most relevant for consciousness.

What bugged me about that paper was their crazy tendentious interpretation of basic results from biophysics about the narrow pores in ion channels. No calculations, nothing about the actual mechanisms of ion transport, just flat out bald assertion that this has major implications for quantum mechanics in brains. Indeed, I actually emailed one of the authors of that paper last week to ask him what he thought of the Stapp attack, but I haven't heard back from him.

I plan to read Mario Beauregard's stuff more closely, as he at least tries to use real neuroscience to support his conclusions, and he is a neuroscientist. Of course I don't buy his speculative QM kookiness, but it will be fun to take on his arguments for the soul.

That said, I can't kill QM theories of mind any more than I can presently kill dualism. I can provide arguments that my neurocentric views provide the best fit with the evidence, and equally importantly ask for evidence from the other competing theories. Time will tell, this won't be settled by the armchair pilots or theoretical physicists, but the experimentalists.

Victor Reppert said...

I seem to remember a blogospheric battle between a quantophile named Wiest and yourself about four years ago, when you first started commenting here at DI.

Can't remember what blog it was on.

Anonymous said...

It's over, the Panda's Thumb has dealt its damage to the situation. Some of the comments there are insightful, though.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Good find anonymous!

The comments descend into the usual drivel that comes up when a bunch of skeptics try to talk about consciousness and they don't know any science of the subject.

There is a standard template:
A. Consciousness? Oh, I think language is required for self consciousness.

B. I don't mean something that complicated, but more something like perceptual awareness.

A. You haven't defined your terms clearly, so you are spouting BS.

B. Your mother spouts BS, and I think even tadpoles are conscious.

A. Dennett says that Jaynes says that only language using humans are conscious, and I think he agrees with it.

B. Good for you.

A. Therefore, only language-using humans are conscious, and consciousness is the center of narrative gravity.

B. Yes, that's some cutting edge science right there. A metaphor straight out of the literature department.

A. There is no fact of the matter so shut up.

C. Hey guys sorry I missed the thread, but I think it would be really cool if science looked at this stuff in, like, chimpanzees and stuff.

B. Lord, shoot me now.