Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Hameroff and Penrose, nonsense²

Largely, this is cut and pasted from my reply to somebody on youtube about Hameroff and Penrose's idiotic theories about consciousness. It's really hard to explain how stupid they are but I fell I did a pretty good plain English explanation. And my blog is largely for myself, with the exception of the Trivia Bot parts that actually do a public service. But, I wouldn't want to lose such a nice reply so I put it here, where I could search and cite and rehash it in the future if it ever comes up.


There's no evidence that particles that pop out of this universe likely by colliding with anti-particles or generally just doing so went into another universe. We just know that at the very very tiny spacetime is broiling with fun pops in and out of spacetime. There's very little to suggest there are any other universes involved or that this carries any information.

There are a series of experiments which have rather firmly established that what we are consciously aware of lags behind by about half a second. We can hit a baseball with a baseball bat but the actual decision isn't made consciously, but rather the conscious mind is informed of it later, and fills it in.

We've also done a lot of experiments with split brain patients and confabulation. Where a person is sat down, they are told via a message on their left side textually to stand up. They stand up. And are asked vocally why they stood up. The standing up was decided by the right brain, but the left brain is being asked to answer the question and they will wax poetic about how they were cold and left a jacket in the car or about how the chair isn't comfortable.

There's also an experiment where a person is shown two small pictures of people and asked who is more attractive. After they make the decision, the pictures are switched with a little slight of hand magic trick and they are further asked why they chose that picture (the one they didn't actually pick). They will explain the decision at length.

We know this stuff happens in the brain. But, then Hammeroff and Penrose don't think it does. It's not a quirky weird thing about the brain that consciousness is informed later and confabulates the answers as to why it made that decision. No. What happens according to them. Is that your conscious decision from the future magically travels back in time half a second through the quantum field and something about gap junctions to have actually made that decision that it could not have made.

This isn't some amazing truth they've stumbled on that means that atheists are really bad at their jobs, they are actually trying to argue that the Emperor has cloths on even though he's walking around naked. When you get passed the fancy buzz words and the physics you realize the physics has the richness of the particles and the quantum mechanics and all they have is a lot of made up stuff about how Quantum Mechanics therefore Consciousness is real rather than made up. Even though there is absolutely no indicator whatsoever that it's either needed or real.

I wouldn't really go out of your way to blame ego, or insist that he's proved souls existed because he proposed a theory you don't possess the acumen to poke holes in or the desire to do so. It's really nonsense. The universe is not a massive conspiracy to get your thoughts into your brain half a second early.

No comments: