Posts Tagged ‘Mind’

On the 4th of July, the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN) announced that the two largest experiments at the Large Hadron Collider had uncovered evidence for the Higgs boson. This ‘particle’, called by some the ‘God particle’, and the Higgs quantum field that causes it, have been hypothesized as being necessary to explain how mass comes into being. As the science writer Jim Baggott says in his recent book Higgs: The Invention and Discovery of the ‘God Particle’: “Mass is constructed entirely from the energy of interactions involving naturally massless elementary particles… The physicists kept dividing, and in the end found nothing at all.” Mass, and so matter, are derived aspects of an insubstantial process of reality. In fact, they’re also products of aspects of reality that are immaterial, ie not material at all. However, this conclusion should not come as a shock, for if there is one thing that has been established by the science of quantum mechanics, it is the fact that ‘materialism’ must be abandoned as a viable metaphysical position. In fact, the belief in the existence of solid material stuff which exists completely independent of mind is now about as scientifically acceptable as the phlogiston theory of heat. This is why physicist John Gribben has written a book entitled The End of the Matter Myth; not to forget pronouncements such as that made in 1931 by the instigator of quantum theory, Max Planck, that he regarded “consciousness as fundamental, I regard matter as derivative from consciousness,” or that by Erwin Schrödinger, “Mind has erected the objective outside world … out of its own stuff” (What is Life? 1944). Regarding the metaphysical implications of the quantum revolution, quantum physicist Professor Henry Stapp of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California, says in his article ‘Why Classical Mechanics Cannot Naturally Accommodate Consciousness But Quantum Mechanics Can’: “the ‘matter’ that occurs in classical physics … does not exist in nature.” As we shall see, there is absolutely no ‘material stuff’ to be found anywhere in the fundamental grounds of the Universe – that is, as ‘material stuff’ has been classically (mis)understood.

On ‘Known-To-Be-False’ Materialist Philosophies of Mind | Issue 93 | Philosophy Now

What Will Come After Language? By: Ben Goertzel

Posted: December 29, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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I’m going to talk a bit about language, and how it relates to mind and reality … and about what may come AFTER language as we know it, when mind and reality change dramatically due to radical technological advances. Language is, obviously, one of the main things distinguishing humans from other animals. Dogs and apes and so forth, they do have their own languages, which do have their own kinds of sophistication — but these animal languages seem to be lacking in some of the subtler aspects of human languages. They don’t have the recursive phrase structure that lets us construct and communicate complex conceptual structures.Dolphins and whales may have languages as sophisticated as ours — we really don’t know — but if so their language may be very different. Their language may have to do with continuous wave-forms rather than discrete entities like words, letters and sentences. Continuous communication may be better in some ways — I can imagine it being better for conveying emotion, just as for us humans, tone and gesture can be better at conveying emotion than words are. Yet, our discrete, chunky human language seems to match naturally with our human cognitive propensity to break things down into parts, and with our practical ability to build stuff out of parts, using tools.

What Will Come After Language? By: Ben Goertzel

Posted: December 21, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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IQ tests are misleading because they do not accurately reflect intelligence, according to a study which found that a minimum of three different exams are needed to measure someone’s brainpower.

For more than a century our intelligence quotient (IQ) has been used to measure how clever people are and Mensa, the society for the intellectual elite, has even used the test to weed out sub-par applicants. But now the scale has been dismissed as a “myth” by scientists who found that our intelligence can only be predicted by combining results from at least three tests of our mental agility. Different circuits within the brain are used for different thought processes, the researchers showed, meaning separate tests of short-term memory, reasoning and verbal skills are needed to measure someone’s overall intelligence. Their landmark study was based on the results of an online intelligence test which was launched by the Daily Telegraph and New Scientist two years ago, and attracted more than 110,000 responses. Dr Roger Highfield, the Telegraph columnist and one of the authors of the paper, said: “When you come to the most complex known object, the human brain, the idea that there is only one measure of intelligence had to be wrong. (via IQ tests ‘do not reflect intelligence’ – Telegraph)

Creativity is important—without it, human society cannot survive—yet finding an appropriate method to quantify imagination has scientists stumped

NEW YORK — While jazz musician Vijay Iyer played a piece on the piano, he wore an expression of intense concentration. Afterward, everyone wanted to know: What was going on in his head? The way this music is often taught, “they tell you, you must not be thinking when you are playing,” Iyer said after finishing his performance of John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps,” a piece that requires improvisation. “I think that is an impoverished view of what thought is. … Thought is distributed through all of our actions.” Iyer’s performance opened a panel discussion on music and the mind at the New York Academy of Sciences on Wednesday (Dec. 13). Music elicits “a splash” of activity in many parts of the brain, said panelist Jamshed Bharucha, a neuroscientist and musician, after moderator Steve Paulson of the public radio program “To the Best of Our Knowledge” asked about the brain’s response to music. “I think you are asking a question we can only scratch the surface of in terms of what goes on in the brain,” Bharucha said. [Why Music Moves Us]

Music’s Effects on the Mind Remain Mysterious: Scientific American

Scientists have discovered for the first time how humans — and other mammals — have evolved to have intelligence. Researchers have identified the moment in history when the genes that enabled us to think and reason evolved. This point 500 million years ago provided our ability to learn complex skills, analyse situations and have flexibility in the way in which we think. Professor Seth Grant, of the University of Edinburgh, who led the research, said: “One of the greatest scientific problems is to explain how intelligence and complex behaviours arose during evolution.” The research, which is detailed in two papers in Nature Neuroscience, also shows a direct link between the evolution of behaviour and the origins of brain diseases. Scientists believe that the same genes that improved our mental capacity are also responsible for a number of brain disorders. “This ground breaking work has implications for how we understand the emergence of psychiatric disorders and will offer new avenues for the development of new treatments,” said John Williams, Head of Neuroscience and Mental Health at the Wellcome Trust, one of the study funders.

Origin of intelligence and mental illness linked to ancient genetic accident | e! Science News

According to psychological lore, when it comes to items of information the mind can cope with before confusion sets in, the “magic” number is seven. But a new analysis by a leading Australian psychiatrist challenges this long-held view, suggesting the number might actually be four. In 1956, American psychologist George Miller published a paper in the influential journal Psychological Review arguing the mind could cope with a maximum of only seven chunks of information. The paper, “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two. Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information”, has since become one of the most highly cited psychology articles and has been judged by the Psychological Review as its most influential paper of all time. But UNSW professor of psychiatry Gordon Parker says a re-analysis of the experiments used by Miller shows he missed the correct number by a wide mark. Writing in the journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, Scientia Professor Parker says a closer look at the evidence shows the human mind copes with a maximum of four ‘chunks’ of information, not seven. “So to remember a seven numeral phone number, say 6458937, we need to break it into four chunks: 64. 58. 93. 7. Basically four is the limit to our perception. “That’s a big difference for a paper that is one of the most highly referenced psychology articles ever – nearly a 100 percent discrepancy,” he suggests.

Four is the ‘magic’ number for our mind coping with information | ZeitNews

Posted: November 26, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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READ of the day:

The name of the game is active-control

Research to date links mindfulness practices to alterations in health and physiology, cognitive control, emotional regulation, responsiveness to pain, and a large array of positive clinical outcomes. However, the explicit nature of mindfulness training makes for some particularly difficult methodological issues. Group cross-sectional studies, where advanced practitioners are compared to age-matched controls, cannot provide causal evidence. Indeed, it is always possible that having a big fancy brain makes you more likely to spend many years meditating, and not that meditating gives you a big fancy brain. So training studies are essential to verifying the claim that mindfulness actually leads to interesting kinds of plasticity. However, unlike with a new drug study or computerized intervention, you cannot simply provide a sugar pill to the control group. Double-blind design is impossible; by definition subjects will know they are receiving mindfulness. To actually assess the impact of MT on neural activity and behavior, we need to compare to groups doing relatively equivalent things in similar experimental contexts. We need an active control.

Does Mindfulness lead to neuroplasticity? Summary of my recent paper. « Neuroconscience