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Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness (split)

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rwenzori
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« on: July 12, 2009, 15:06:54 PM »


Quantum physics and Consciousness. Are they connected? The microtubule connection.

Research into the brain-body-mind problem is ongoing and one way of attempting to understand it is to ...


Looks like the same post at:

https://richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=60172&start=50&st=0&sk=t&sd=a#p1430772
http://www.sciforums.com/showpost.php?p=2144690&postcount=14
http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=127350&mode=linearplus
http://mybroadband.co.za/vb/showpost.php?p=1782572&postcount=1
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« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2009, 09:05:52 AM »

Even if so, these arguments pose no fatal problem for the model…
It seems you don’t understand the severity of the objections.

Perhaps not? But to assert they ARE in fact fatal problems would be... premature. They might be, they might not be.
Yes, each one on its own very much could be fatal.  Have you any idea how many papers in number theory begin with the phrase, “Assuming the Riemann Hypothesis to be true, …” or some variant thereof?  If tomorrow someone finds just one counterexample to the Riemann Hypothesis, most of these papers will become instantly pretty much worthless, and the possibility of a counterexample cannot be ruled out.  Many of those papers are deeply intriguing – but no less speculative for it.
Well, the Riemann hypothesis does seem to hold up so far not?

… and at present are nothing more than arguments from ignorance.
The whole quantum-consciousness model is one big argument from ignorance!  That’s the point.  It cannot even be called an “hypothesis” yet because it lacks any rigorous formulation.  We don’t have a quantum gravity model, let alone any coherent account of consciousness, and therefore we can’t even begin to speak of testable consequences.  At present, it is no more than an interesting bauble, and to base any kind of scientific explanation on it is severely to overstep what the scientific method permits.

'Luthon64

One big argument from ignorance? Well, at least it is testable.
Penrose and co. proposed a few tests.
Towards Quantum Superpositions of a Mirror
Another article you might find interesting
Comments on Proposed Gravitational Modifications of Schr¨odinger Dynamics and their Experimental Implications

And string theory? Well, don't throuh it out yet  Wink.
Physical reality of string theory demonstrated

So here are a few points that make the quantum physics, microtubules and consciousness connection at least plausible.
1) Microtubules are integral parts of the nervous system.
2) Quantum states are not too sensitive at rambient room temperature and quantum information processing at room temperature is plausible (see above).
3) Objective reduction is testable (see above).

Argument from ignorance you might argue? Well, at least it is testable.

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« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2009, 13:09:03 PM »

Are you being serious!?  Having read those linked-to papers (and not just their abstracts, either), it’s clear that none of them actually establishes anything vaguely near what you are claiming.  In fact, one is a non-trivial critique of an earlier one.  They have no direct relevance to any QM model of consciousness – at very best, merely a peripheral one.  Where is this “QM model of consciousness” (my emphasis), please?  For that matter, where is any model of consciousness?  Because so far, all we’ve been provided with is lots of loose conjecture and irrelevant obfuscation.

Assuming that you are not in fact trying to pull a fast one, it is then obvious that:—
  • you haven’t understood a word of what I wrote (or perhaps you simply chose to ignore it);
  • you are remarkably innocent on how science proceeds, and
  • you know very little of any substance about QM.

You’ll have to do quite a lot better than that.  Or are you trying to provide some kind of obscure amusement with these impostures?

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« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2009, 18:14:03 PM »

Are you being serious!?  Having read those linked-to papers (and not just their abstracts, either), it’s clear that none of them actually establishes anything vaguely near what you are claiming.  In fact, one is a non-trivial critique of an earlier one.  They have no direct relevance to any QM model of consciousness – at very best, merely a peripheral one.  Where is this “QM model of consciousness” (my emphasis), please?  For that matter, where is any model of consciousness?  Because so far, all we’ve been provided with is lots of loose conjecture and irrelevant obfuscation.

Assuming that you are not in fact trying to pull a fast one, it is then obvious that:—
  • you haven’t understood a word of what I wrote (or perhaps you simply chose to ignore it);
  • you are remarkably innocent on how science proceeds, and
  • you know very little of any substance about QM.

You’ll have to do quite a lot better than that.  Or are you trying to provide some kind of obscure amusement with these impostures?

'Luthon64

"loose conjecture" and "irrelevant obfuscation"?
You want a model? You serious? Only recently has it been discovered that quantum states and quantum information processing are possible at room temperature. Now you want a model? Not to sound rude here, but are you aware of the computational load needed to do even a 1 second model accurately of a simple protein, without even taking into account the quantum effects.
Are you aware that microtubules are multi-subunit protein complexes stretching through-out the intracellular environment of a single cell, never mind whole cellular networks?
I would like you to venture a guess IF such a MODEL is feasible in the future if the mathematics and physics can be accurately modelled (in silico or otherwise). I would like to think it is at least plausible. Surely you are not going to argue...ooh look... too complicated to model... you lose. Those type of arguments do not impress many. Or are you miffed by the use of "The Penrose-Hameroff orchestrated objective reduction (orch. OR) model provides a basis to connect consciousness with quantum mechanics." in the OP? Well you might argue it is a bit misleading in the stricktest sense of the term MODEL. I'll grant you that. So perhaps the Penrose-Hameroff orchestrated objective reduction (orch. OR) hypothesis. It is testable afterall.

You moan the articles above are not directly related? Uhm, I did not imply they were DIRECTLY related, you are right though that they are a step in the right direction in testing objective reduction... which the ORCH-OR relies on.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2009, 18:56:27 PM by Mechanist. » Logged
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« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2009, 22:18:33 PM »

But you are the one putting these speculations forward as if they are above reproach, a done deal – just read what you keep posting.  Sorry, but your reasoning is wholly inadequate.  It is not enough to say “plausible,” especially when there are huge and critical chunks simply left unaccounted for.  By that criterion, we shouldn’t reject astrology, cold fusion, chiromancy and any number of other titillating “models.”  Because, after all, with the right assumptions, they do work on paper.

Oh, and I’d appreciate it if you refrained from attempting to put words in my mouth.

Thanks.

'Luthon64
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« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2009, 08:26:04 AM »

But you are the one putting these speculations forward as if they are above reproach, a done deal – just read what you keep posting.

So... when I say it is a hypothesis, when I say that is has only recently been discovered that discovered that quantum states and quantum information processing are possible at room temperature, when I say current mathematics and physics (and even software) are not adequate to accurately model the hypothesis, and when I say objective reduction is being tested (it is testable)... that means I am saying the hypothesis is above reproach?
Oh, and I’d appreciate it if you refrained from attempting to put words in my mouth.

 
It is not enough to say “plausible,” especially when there are huge and critical chunks simply left unaccounted for.  By that criterion, we shouldn’t reject astrology, cold fusion, chiromancy and any number of other titillating “models.”  Because, after all, with the right assumptions, they do work on paper.

So now you equate the hypothesis to astrology? Nice  Huh?.
1) Objective reduction.... being tested.
2) Consciousness corresponds to 40 Hz gamma frequency band of the EEG aka “coherent 40 Hz”
E.g.
Quote
The best measurable correlate of consciousness is long-range (e.g., cortical–cortical) gamma synchrony. In animals and surgical patients undergoing general anesthesia, gamma synchrony between frontal and posterior cortex is the specific marker which disappears with loss of consciousness and returns upon awakening.

Imas, O.A., Ropella, K.M., Ward, B.D., Wood, J.D., Hudetz, A.G.: Volatile anesthetics disrupt frontal–posterior recurrent information transfer at gamma frequencies in rat. Neurosci. Lett. 387(3), 145–150 (2005). doi:10.1016/j.neulet.2005.06.018
3) Quantum states and quantum information processing are possible at room temperature.
4) Microtubules are possible structures to allow quantum states and quantum information processing at room temperature... this can be tested, (computational modeling is one way)






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« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2009, 09:01:39 AM »

And I say:
It seems that you are underestimating or perhaps misunderstanding the severity of the three problems I have pointed out.  Each one on its own is already an obstacle separately from the others to begin with merely because each one introduces some important unknowns on which the entire model’s validity is critically dependent.
… and:
It cannot even be called an “hypothesis” yet because it lacks any rigorous formulation.  We don’t have a quantum gravity model, let alone any coherent account of consciousness, and therefore we can’t even begin to speak of testable consequences.  At present, it is no more than an interesting bauble, and to base any kind of scientific explanation on it is severely to overstep what the scientific method permits.
… and:
It is not enough to say “plausible,” especially when there are huge and critical chunks simply left unaccounted for.  By that criterion, we shouldn’t reject astrology, cold fusion, chiromancy and any number of other titillating “models.”  Because, after all, with the right assumptions, they do work on paper.
… all of which you choose to gloss over as if they simply weren’t there.
 
I guess that leaves us at something of a stalemate, which raises the question why you seem to have so much vested in the supposed value of a fundamentally incomplete conjecture at the leading edge of science.

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« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2009, 18:27:11 PM »

...which raises the question why you seem to have so much vested in the supposed value of a fundamentally incomplete conjecture at the leading edge of science.


Sadly this whole speculative quantum-consciousness "theory" has been taken up by the religious amongst us as a potential explanation for the interface between "spiritual" and material, or for the pathway used by god to monitor or control our lives. Some quotes from Hameroff:

1. http://www.quantumconsciousness.org/roundabout.htm
Quote
We can understand ourselves – what/who we really are, and how we fit in the universe which I think is proto-conscious at its most basic level. Maybe we can come to a partial scientific understanding of God.


2. http://www.quantumconsciousness.org/grail.htm

Quote
I think more like a quantum Buddhist, in that there is a universal proto-conscious mind which we access, and can influence us. But it actually exists at the funda-mental level of the universe, at the Planck scale.


3. http://www.quantumconsciousness.org/surf.htm

Quote
Penrose suggested that Plato's world of pure forms, mathematical truth, ethical and aesthetic values actually exist in the quantum world, in the most basic level of the universe. That level is described through string theory, quantum gravity and so forth but is far, far too tiny to be measured. It is what makes up empty space, the fabric of nothingness. It's tiny, but vast; wherever we go, there it is! We can't see it, but according to Roger, we can feel it. He suggested that conscious thought connects to, and is influenced by, these Platonic values.

To me, that sounds like 'following the way of the Tao', 'Divine Guidance' or 'surrendering to your Higher Power'. Roger avoids such comparisons but I think it's fair to speculate along those lines.


Substitute "Jesus" for "Plato" in some way, and you have Mechanist's motivation I might suggest! Jesus iz in ur space-time, warping ur thoughts.

« Last Edit: July 15, 2009, 18:45:06 PM by rwenzori » Logged
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« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2009, 09:08:31 AM »

And I say:
It seems that you are underestimating or perhaps misunderstanding the severity of the three problems I have pointed out.  Each one on its own is already an obstacle separately from the others to begin with merely because each one introduces some important unknowns on which the entire model’s validity is critically dependent.
… and:
It cannot even be called an “hypothesis” yet because it lacks any rigorous formulation.  We don’t have a quantum gravity model, let alone any coherent account of consciousness, and therefore we can’t even begin to speak of testable consequences.  At present, it is no more than an interesting bauble, and to base any kind of scientific explanation on it is severely to overstep what the scientific method permits.
… and:
It is not enough to say “plausible,” especially when there are huge and critical chunks simply left unaccounted for.  By that criterion, we shouldn’t reject astrology, cold fusion, chiromancy and any number of other titillating “models.”  Because, after all, with the right assumptions, they do work on paper.
… all of which you choose to gloss over as if they simply weren’t there.
 
I guess that leaves us at something of a stalemate, which raises the question why you seem to have so much vested in the supposed value of a fundamentally incomplete conjecture at the leading edge of science.

'Luthon64

I have pointed out the following:
1) Objective reduction is testable.... It is being tested.
2) Consciousness corresponds to 40 Hz gamma frequency band of the EEG aka “coherent 40 Hz”
E.g.
Quote
The best measurable correlate of consciousness is long-range (e.g., cortical–cortical) gamma synchrony. In animals and surgical patients undergoing general anesthesia, gamma synchrony between frontal and posterior cortex is the specific marker which disappears with loss of consciousness and returns upon awakening.

Imas, O.A., Ropella, K.M., Ward, B.D., Wood, J.D., Hudetz, A.G.: Volatile anesthetics disrupt frontal–posterior recurrent information transfer at gamma frequencies in rat. Neurosci. Lett. 387(3), 145–150 (2005). doi:10.1016/j.neulet.2005.06.018
3) Quantum states and quantum information processing are possible at room temperature.
4) Microtubules are possible structures to allow quantum states and quantum information processing at room temperature... this can be tested, (computational modeling is one way)

I would argue that I such a MODEL is feasible in the future if the mathematics and physics can be accurately modelled (in silico or otherwise).
I am not saying it is above reproach contrary to your assertion that I did.

You ask why I am interested in the ORCH-OR hypothesis? I see it as an interesting approach to the mind-body/"hard problem of consciousness". One can reject psychological instrumentalism in favour of psychlogical realism and I don't for second believe anyone think we are mere zombies with no "self" and without any intentionality.

Now the question to you is why you are putting so much energy into equating it to astrology when you may as well in fact do it with any other hypothesis of consciousness out there.
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« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2009, 10:24:59 AM »

I am not saying it is above reproach contrary to your assertion that I did.
That is the impression you have consistently given, and continue to give.  Where have you ever acknowledged that the model is fraught with serious foundational difficulties or that it is highly speculative?



I see it as an interesting approach to the mind-body/"hard problem of consciousness".
In view of rwenzori’s previous post, I feel you’re not being entirely truthful here.  But not that it really matters.  If the model is to yield something useful for those problems, it needs to be fairly well-formed.  It isn’t.



Now the question to you is why you are putting so much energy into equating it to astrology when you may as well in fact do it with any other hypothesis of consciousness out there.
Because the default position of a rational stance on any unproven idea is to reject it, pending the arrival of compelling reason and evidence in its favour.   Because there is none such of the latter at present.  Because astrology is just as theoretically well-founded.  Because with the right assumptions it all works nicely on paper, as pointed out before.  Because the severity of the criticisms against the proposed model, as well as its grave deficiencies, remain unaddressed for all the tangoesque sidestepping.  Because there is much waffle about testability that has a small chance of being tangentially relevant.  Because a loose potpourri of disparate facts is woven together into what appears superficially to be a coherent narrative but which is, at bottom, a mere bedazzlement of an uncritical audience.  Because there is significant pretence to expertise on matters where clearly there is none.  Because, when challenged, attempts to turn the tables, to evade, to fudge (e.g., as above) are the order of the day.

And because each of these “becauses” is neatly exemplified in astrology.

That’s why.

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« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2009, 11:45:07 AM »

I am not saying it is above reproach contrary to your assertion that I did.
That is the impression you have consistently given, and continue to give.  Where have you ever acknowledged that the model is fraught with serious foundational difficulties or that it is highly speculative?

So you get the impression that I say it is above reproach after I say:
1) The Penrose-Hamerhoff model does have some serious problems (you can replace model with hypothesis).
2) A viable quantum gravity/GR formulation is a fundamental problem in contemporary physics today. Whether the solution is compatible with the model remains to be seen.
3) The reason why no-one properly understand what wave function collapse is, is because it is still a fundamental problem in quantum physics.
4) An understanding of the collapse of the wave-function is needed. Objectice reduction is compatible. OR is testable!
5) Only recently has it been discovered that quantum states and quantum information processing are possible at room temperature.
6) A MODEL of ORCH-OR is feasible in the future if the mathematics and physics can be accurately modelled (in silico or otherwise).

Ok then.... whatever makes you happy.

Now the question to you is why you are putting so much energy into equating it to astrology when you may as well in fact do it with any other hypothesis of consciousness out there.
Because the default position of a rational stance on any unproven idea is to reject it, pending the arrival of compelling reason and evidence in its favour.   Because there is none such of the latter at present.  Because astrology is just as theoretically well-founded.  Because with the right assumptions it all works nicely on paper, as pointed out before.  Because the severity of the criticisms against the proposed model, as well as its grave deficiencies, remain unaddressed for all the tangoesque sidestepping.  Because there is much waffle about testability that has a small chance of being tangentially relevant.  Because a loose potpourri of disparate facts is woven together into what appears superficially to be a coherent narrative but which is, at bottom, a mere bedazzlement of an uncritical audience.  Because there is significant pretence to expertise on matters where clearly there is none.  Because, when challenged, attempts to turn the tables, to evade, to fudge (e.g., as above) are the order of the day.

And because each of these “becauses” is neatly exemplified in astrology.

That’s why.

'Luthon64

Well, if you really want to hold to the assertion that a rational stance on any unproven idea is to reject it and compare the ORCH-OR hypothesis to astrology, you might as well vehemently reject all explanations of conscioussness and compare it to astrology. Same goes for quantum gravity formulations.

Difficulty with this position is that quantum gravity is a problem that someone will hopefully solve AND it can be tested (if solved). Consciousness is an open question, and no clear, coherent explanation for it exists at present.

BUT, like I said before:
1) Objective reduction is testable.... It is being tested.
2) Consciousness corresponds to 40 Hz gamma frequency band of the EEG aka “coherent 40 Hz”
E.g.
Quote
The best measurable correlate of consciousness is long-range (e.g., cortical–cortical) gamma synchrony. In animals and surgical patients undergoing general anesthesia, gamma synchrony between frontal and posterior cortex is the specific marker which disappears with loss of consciousness and returns upon awakening.

Imas, O.A., Ropella, K.M., Ward, B.D., Wood, J.D., Hudetz, A.G.: Volatile anesthetics disrupt frontal–posterior recurrent information transfer at gamma frequencies in rat. Neurosci. Lett. 387(3), 145–150 (2005). doi:10.1016/j.neulet.2005.06.018
3) Quantum states and quantum information processing are possible at room temperature.
4) Microtubules are possible structures to allow quantum states and quantum information processing at room temperature... this can be tested, (computational modeling is one way)

You may reject it, like all other explanations of consciousness, no worries. I find it interesting, and perhaps science can move forward to solve these problems.
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« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2009, 14:31:10 PM »

In other words, apart from selective quoting of what I wrote, you’re still arguing towards the presently unwarranted notion that the whole idea, as nebulously formulated as it is, has significant explanatory merit.


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« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2009, 14:41:30 PM »

Selective quoting....
You calling me black?


Unwarranted notion? nebulously formulated? Ok... with warm, fuzzy words like these, let's hope a more civil exchange can be had mmmkay. Hope you are not arguing that this model/hypothesis will never have any significant explanatory merit. That would just be an ugly argument from ignorance won't you agree?
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« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2009, 16:51:07 PM »

“Civility,” eh?  (Cue next horse laugh.)  Or, rather, your peculiar version of civility, I expect.  Deeply, frightfully sorry old chap, but you can play all on your own, see?  Because I have more enjoyable pastimes than playing against a stacked deck and an uncivil opponent who has the unadorned chutzpah to shout “foul!” when it is pointed out.

Henceforth, and until you put something other than monotonous repetition, tawdry irrelevancies and illusory tu quoque deflections on the table, you’re on my ignore list.

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« Reply #14 on: July 15, 2009, 16:57:03 PM »

That's a pity... I was hoping for some thoughtful insight.
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