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GoatLord

Mind/Matter dualism

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On what basis do we assume there to be a separation of mind and matter? I personally believe this separation is a manifestation of man's ignorance, of our collective inability to see the big picture, that being the entire system, represented as one, undifferentiated whole. The problem is that, to assume everything can be described under one system would imply that thoughts can, like particles, be described concretely rather than abstractly.

However, no amount of examination of the brain will reveal "thought particles." What we find instead are the molecular structures that produce thought--our neural networks--but the thoughts themselves are non-locational.

Apply this to the sense of smell. When you smell something, the particles enter your nasal cavity, contact a receptor, and then you smell the particles. We know the mechanism that produces smell, but the experience of smell, like thoughts, are non-locational. It's a particle-less sensation which we innately recognize but cannot describe.

All of our sensory inputs produce this same eerie effect. We recognize the mechanism responsible for generating the sensation, which we assume emanates from the sensory organ itself (such as the tendency to touch a surface and to feel that surface on our bodies). But that is not the case, because the experience cannot be held or examined; it has no constituents.

So I propose that thoughts, as well as all sensory inputs, produce an effect that appears to be located within the input itself, but in reality are part of a system that is not particle-centric, but is probably governed by quantum mechanical processes, as well as exotic, as-of-yet undiscovered processes. I also propose that "location" is an insufficient word for this sort of phenomenon. Even the implications of higher dimensional topology are insufficient.

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On what basis do we assume there is anything more than matter? A "mind" may very well be a side-effect of the degree of impeccable matter hierarchy in bodily system, producing an illusion that we possess a soul or mind. You are underestimating the complexity of body and attribute unknown specifics of it to scientific branches that have most likely little to nothing to do with governing of any major biological aspects.

You seem to purposely ignore the fact any body is made of cells, trillions of them. We can't create a single cell. One cell is too complex for a human in current day and age to create from less complex chemicals. We don't know how they created themselves in the first place and we don't understand how they managed to achieve self-sustaining complexity. You are basically just trillions of cells communicating with each other. If we are unable to understand entire complexity of one cell, will understanding trillions of cells rammed together be any less complex? Forget quantum mechanical whatnot, if you're attempting to explain your mind, start with explaining a cell, not an atom nor particle.


tl;dr - you're talking out of your ass.

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j4rio said:

tl;dr - you're talking out of your ass.


I feel like you're conveniently ignoring the fact that literally every single experience known to man--from black holes to quantum mechanics to beating hearts--is a directly observable phenomena in which all parties with properly functioning sensory inputs are subject to witness. There is also a wealth of math used to describe major aspects of these phenomena. Of course, then there's thoughts and sensory experiences, which can only be experienced by the person experiencing them. I'm not going to say that there isn't somehow an atomic basis for these experiences, but we have to find a way to account for our complete inability to reproduce subjective experience in the lab. No one has found a way to tackle non-locational phenomena because nearly everything in the universe has a definable location. My whole point is basically, "it's all in your head" is a misnomer and is clearly not true, because if it were, we should be able to cut open a brain and find subjective experience somewhere inside.

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GoatLord said:

So I propose that thoughts, as well as all sensory inputs, produce an effect that appears to be located within the input itself, but in reality are part of a system that is not particle-centric, but is probably governed by quantum mechanical processes, as well as exotic, as-of-yet undiscovered processes. I also propose that "location" is an insufficient word for this sort of phenomenon. Even the implications of higher dimensional topology are insufficient.

This life is nothing short of a redefining quantum leap of unlimited flow. Understanding requires exploration. By deepening, we believe. Who are we? Where on the great circuit will we be reborn? We must learn how to lead sentient lives in the face of stagnation. Eons from now, we adventurers will grow like never before as we are awakened by the multiverse. The solar system is approaching a tipping point.

We are at a crossroads of karma and greed. Reality has always been radiating adventurers whose essences are engulfed in life-force. We are in the midst of a primordial unveiling of inspiration that will clear a path toward the infinite itself. Where there is greed, consciousness cannot thrive. Without presence, one cannot grow. You must take a stand against greed. Only a prophet of the infinite may discover this transmission of coherence.

Throughout history, humans have been interacting with the multiverse via transmissions. Our conversations with other travellers have led to a maturing of supra-life-affirming consciousness. Humankind has nothing to lose.

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dew said:

Only a prophet of the infinite may discover this transmission of coherence ... Throughout history, humans have been interacting with the multiverse via transmissions. Our conversations with other travellers have led to a maturing of supra-life-affirming consciousness. Humankind has nothing to lose.


This is why there is a strange crossover between religious prophecy, psychedelic ritual, meditation and near-death experiences. To me it feels as though the goings on in our heads are part of this mysterious interaction with the infinite (whatever that is), and if one cuts themselves off from distractions, we get a clearer picture of this interaction. That's why people meditate. They are no longer tethered to the material world in that state, and they can produce hallucinations as grand as DMT if they're experienced enough. It's also worth noting that psychedelics and deep meditation can make you feel like Jesus; you want to help everyone and love the shit out of them at the same time. To reduce that wonder to materialism seems foolish, because there is very likely a larger system of phenomena that describes all of this mystery in greater detail.

In my opinion, the mind/matter duality is a way of easing our existential anxiety concerning the inability to reconcile these simultaneous realities. Thing is, we're embedded in both of them all the time, constantly. You never stop thinking and you never stop experiencing, at least while alive. So you're getting both a low-resolution hallucination of reality (via your sensory organs) while simultaneously experiencing an inner hallucination that takes that low-res output and plays with it in useful (and sometimes useless) ways.

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GoatLord said:

In my opinion, the mind/matter duality is a way of easing our existential anxiety concerning the inability to reconcile these simultaneous realities. Thing is, we're embedded in both of them all the time, constantly. You never stop thinking and you never stop experiencing, at least while alive. So you're getting both a low-resolution hallucination of reality (via your sensory organs) while simultaneously experiencing an inner hallucination that takes that low-res output and plays with it in useful (and sometimes useless) ways.

"Hallucination" not everybody takes mind altering substances before posting. As for your conclusion, credit is due where credit is due:

I suggest reading this if you want a more graceful discussion of these matters.

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GoatLord said:

My whole point is basically, "it's all in your head" is a misnomer and is clearly not true, because if it were, we should be able to cut open a brain and find subjective experience somewhere inside.


And my whole point/opinion is that the opposite of this statement is true. The possibility to think and percept reality is in the head, only we are unable to decode it yet. It could have a form of multitudes of nucleotide sequence codes in a DNA or RNA of neuronal cell masses or it could be a side-effect of certain amount of synapse threshold in certain parts of brain.

A human or literally every living organism is a phenomenon that has been observed only here. Nowhere else in universe has a thing as complex as cell managed to evolve from basic chemicals present in observable universe. Math or physics may be applicable mainly when talking about behaviour of single atoms or subatomic particles to explain the very fabric of the universe, but they are not the dominant governing force behind anything consisting of cellular structures, which is based primarily on chemical interactions. That's precisely why biology and chemistry divide as a scientific branches - anything below complexity of cell is chemistry, anything concerning cells and cellular masses is biology. Yes, of course all physical laws apply to even the most complex of organisms, but they are not explaining any of complex biological functions, because those are far more complex and unpredictable.

dew said:

...


Sounds like Lorem Ipsum

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I actually figured it was a bullshit generator, since what dew said didn't make any sense, but I wanted to try to take a piece of it and work with it, just to see if I could come up with anything. It definitely had the signature of the generator. And Decay, you're totally misunderstanding what I mean by hallucination. I believe that subjective experience is a hallucination, because 1) it is a low-resolution, low-dimensional output of actual reality, which is far more dense and complex, and 2) our brains take this low-res output and attempt to describe it to us in a way that makes sense. Have you ever seen something in the distance you thought was a person, only to see it magically transform into something inanimate? Your brain searched for a symbol of what the thing was, made a mistake, then switched to another symbol, which then relieved you of the confusion. That is hallucination, my friend! Thanks for the recommendation though.

j4rio said:

And my whole point/opinion is that the opposite of this statement is true. The possibility to think and percept reality is in the head, only we are unable to decode it yet.


I agree to an extent. I believe we will, in the next few decades, start to see the first fuzzy images of what's going on in our heads. There has already been progress with this, whereby a subject is shown an image, then while dreaming we can find signals that correlate to that image, making it clear that the person was dreaming about the image they saw while awake. However, we can't decode the images of a dream without context, that will take time. When that day comes, it will be transformative for all of humanity, because we'll finally have a "dream machine." It will definitely lend credence to the idea that the imagination happens literally inside of the head.

However, it still won't be something you can hold or put under a microscope. Everything else in the universe has that quality. Even certain quantum phenomena can be scaled up to the macroscopic level so it can be observed with the naked eye. Atoms have been photographed, and they look exactly like the hexagonal structures in high school text books. But being able to photograph images in our heads isn't the same thing, because it doesn't reveal the location of the thing, just the location of the thing that manifests it.

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This is actually pretty old and we've already done this with humans, using YouTube clips! The problem is, we don't know how to recreate images without showing them something we intend to recreate. I've seen things in dreams, and in visions, that don't really correlate with reality, that are so stunningly bizarre that there does not yet exist words which can properly describe them. Now, if we're able to tap into that kind of imagery, to show those kinds of things on a computer monitor, that will be the turning point in this kind of research.

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It's been a few years since I've been in college, but if I remember correctly scientists still consider certain points of the brain to be centers for certain inputs; there are sections for each of the perceptions, even other things such as speech or control of limbs. I'd have to look up names and more details and whatnot to say more, but it's only been a few years since I was in school so not too much of that knowledge should be outdated at this point.

Matter of fact, there is an interesting experiment going on to allow paralyzed people to be able to move a cursor on a screen/interact with computers using nothing but their mind.

Also, that was an awesome video with the cats just now, j4rio.

No offense, Goatlord, but I think you need to spend more time studying this stuff before putting thoughts out there. I find your basic foundation of assumptions to be wrong, which makes everything that follows it wrong as well.

Also, just as we've found the centers for movement control, speech, vision, etc, we know exactly what causes thoughts and memories from a biological standpoint. Neurotransmitters, not much unlike drugs, travel between synapses (tiny spaces between neurons) and bond with the receptors of their neighbors based on their 3d shape.

Oh, one last thing, I remember a story back when I was in college of scientists successfully creating a cell. Sure, 90% of the vital components were missing, but they have figured out how to make the cell membrane form with DNA inside, which is pretty damn cool and also technically a cell. Maybe not like a human's, but not too different from a bacteria.

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You can say I'm wrong all you want--and I very well could be--but no one is even attempting to tackle the non-locational nature of thoughts, which I feel is the most compelling evidence of the need to discover something beyond atomic structures by which to describe thinking. It is entirely insufficient to talk of the mechanism (neurons) and not speak of the intangibility of the emergent phenomenon (thought). And for the record, I research anatomy, biology and physics as a hobby and have done so for years.

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I heartily recommend that people read Consciousness Explained by Daniel C. Dennett, which offers the "Multiple Drafts Model" of human consciousness, in which there is no single, central place where consciousness happens (the "Cartesian Theatre"), instead the process of conscious perception is spread over various times and places within the brain.

I think the book's most interesting argument is that "qualia" do not and cannot exist due to having incompatible properties and is thus an incoherent concept.

Also, whatever the fundamental mechanisms of consciousness, it can't be quantum mechanical because neurons are too large for quantum-scale effects to have any meaningful influence.

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GoatLord said:

no one is even attempting to tackle the non-locational nature of thoughts, ...


That is what I'm attempting to talk about here. If a person can have a chip inserted into their brain so that (even though they are paralyzed) when they think "move left arm," the cursor moves x direction, then who's to say that the thoughts are not right there, in the neurons, where all logic dictates that they would be. Yes there are certainly many mysteries about the brain that we have yet to understand, but we have gotten far enough to be able to MRI brain activity.

Here's another thing I learned about the brain that I always thought was interesting: studies show that young adults under the age of 29 (when your brain finishes developing) that consume alcohol develop "holes" in their brain. "Holes" being sections of little-to-no activity. The study I remember learning about was a longitudinal study, meaning it was conducted on the same people over a long period of time. Now, what are these "holes" in the "real" sense? Those times when someone loses their train of thought, often followed by a pause, like the signal got sent to somewhere but was lost along the way and many of us know druggies or are one; it's unlikely that you haven't seen this happen.. Studies such as this (but there have been many others on similar, but different concepts) show us that thought does in fact occur in the brain through the process of the connections between multiple neurons. When you lose your train of thought on something like a memory it is usually due to a connection having been severed or re-routed elsewhere. Of course neurons do grow, and they do grow back, too, but it's a very slow process that occurs over many years.

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Fonze said:

Those times when someone loses their train of thought, often followed by a pause, like the signal got sent to somewhere but was lost along the way and many of us know druggies or are one; it's unlikely that you haven't seen this happen..


That's basic brain function, not a drug side effect. Basically your short term memory storage resets every now and then, while some thoughts perish completely and others are further categorized and become long term memory after sufficient stimuation. If you are trying to recall something specific the moment this reset happens, you may completely forget what you were trying to remember or say until somebody else reminds you what you were going on about. Most of brain hole related stories are uncomfirmed or myths (e.g. olney's lesions).

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NoXion said:

I heartily recommend that people read Consciousness Explained by Daniel C. Dennett, which offers the "Multiple Drafts Model" of human consciousness, in which there is no single, central place where consciousness happens (the "Cartesian Theatre"), instead the process of conscious perception is spread over various times and places within the brain.

I think the book's most interesting argument is that "qualia" do not and cannot exist due to having incompatible properties and is thus an incoherent concept.

Also, whatever the fundamental mechanisms of consciousness, it can't be quantum mechanical because neurons are too large for quantum-scale effects to have any meaningful influence.


As above, so below. Quantum mechanical effects have been scaled up to macroscopic levels before, it's demonstrably true. I don't really see how something COULDN'T be related to quantum processes, since it's one of the "bottom" layers of reality...

That said I ought to check out those books.

Fonze said:

That is what I'm attempting to talk about here. If a person can have a chip inserted into their brain so that (even though they are paralyzed) when they think "move left arm," the cursor moves x direction, then who's to say that the thoughts are not right there, in the neurons, where all logic dictates that they would be. Yes there are certainly many mysteries about the brain that we have yet to understand, but we have gotten far enough to be able to MRI brain activity.

Here's another thing I learned about the brain that I always thought was interesting: studies show that young adults under the age of 29 (when your brain finishes developing) that consume alcohol develop "holes" in their brain. "Holes" being sections of little-to-no activity. The study I remember learning about was a longitudinal study, meaning it was conducted on the same people over a long period of time. Now, what are these "holes" in the "real" sense? Those times when someone loses their train of thought, often followed by a pause, like the signal got sent to somewhere but was lost along the way and many of us know druggies or are one; it's unlikely that you haven't seen this happen.. Studies such as this (but there have been many others on similar, but different concepts) show us that thought does in fact occur in the brain through the process of the connections between multiple neurons. When you lose your train of thought on something like a memory it is usually due to a connection having been severed or re-routed elsewhere. Of course neurons do grow, and they do grow back, too, but it's a very slow process that occurs over many years.


That's very interesting, particularly about the holes. Alcohol is a horrific poison, although I drink a little bit here and there. Magic mushrooms, on the other hand, when tested on mice anyway, show some interesting "repairing" going on, whereby scientists induced PTSD in the mice and then removed the fear by administering psilocybin to them. Many people who have done mushrooms report being able to deal with troubling experiences more efficiently afterwards. So I dunno about "druggies" necessarily having these loss of train of thought situations if the "drugs" are psychedelic, but I definitely have had that issue on marijuana, due to its tendency to induce short term memory loss.

One thing, though: While it's true that we can use technology to allow people to use their thoughts to say, move a cursor on a screen or even control a cybernetic arm, my interest is more in the ability we have to generate vivid imagery or recall auditory information. Even if we can eventually decode neuronal activity so as to reveal the images and sounds we generate in our heads, the experience of those images and sounds is intangible (as far as we know). Doesn't it strike you as odd that you can't show someone a thought as a physical, observable object? If it's recorded on a screen, that's fine, but that's still vicarious. Observing thoughts OBJECTIVELY, as in, everyone can witness it, that's apparently impossible, and so examples such as the mind control thing or recording dream images is ultimately insufficient in terms of accounting for intangibility.

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j4rio said:

That's basic brain function, not a drug side effect. Basically your short term memory storage resets every now and then, while some thoughts perish completely and others are further categorized and become long term memory after sufficient stimuation. If you are trying to recall something specific the moment this reset happens, you may completely forget what you were trying to remember or say until somebody else reminds you what you were going on about. Most of brain hole related stories are uncomfirmed or myths (e.g. olney's lesions).


I'm sorry, I thought that the context would infer that I was not talking about short term memory, but long term.

Well, the study I was was real and it is undeniable that drugs scramble the brain, so I really don't see the myth. What is a drug but a foreign substance that fits in the same 3d slot as a neurotransmitter?



To Goatlord:
All drugs are poison. Mushrooms only feel like they do because you're close to death, lol. Though it is a great feeling ;p

I wouldn't get too caught up in the "experience" of things; by the same token, do you believe animals "experience" thoughts? If so, then it could be easily argued that they have just as much of a soul as us. We know they can solve problems and experience emotions, so how different are we from them, aside from capacity to learn?

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I absolutely I believe that on some level, non-human organisms experience something akin to thought and awareness.

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GoatLord said:

As above, so below. Quantum mechanical effects have been scaled up to macroscopic levels before, it's demonstrably true. I don't really see how something COULDN'T be related to quantum processes, since it's one of the "bottom" layers of reality...

That said I ought to check out those books.


Where and how have quantum mechanical effects been scaled up macroscopic levels?

Just because rules that apply at one scale of the entire universe exist, doesn't mean that they apply at all scales. Take the laws of special and general relativity as an example; while you could use relativistic mathematics to describe the behaviour of small objects travelling at everyday speeds (for example, a bowling ball rolling down a wooden lane towards a set of pins), it's much easier just to use classical mechanics, since the results would be near enough the same as makes no difference, and the sums are easier to do. Relativity only becomes relevant (i.e. the mathematics produces significantly different results) when dealing with significant fractions of the speed of light or with stellar-scale masses.

Human neurons are definitely macroscopic objects, composed of about a hundred trillion atoms. So they are far too large to be subject to quantum mechanical effects.

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GoatLord said:

something akin to thought and awareness.


Or just thought and awareness. Not to argue semantics, but I believe that they experience life the same as we do, just without the intelligence level to understand abstract thought. But then again if you compare animal brains to humans, there are typically less folds and less surface area on their brains.



If thoughts are really just neurons communicating to one another, it could explain why we are more likely to remember how something made us feel rather than what specifically was said, but it would also go to reason that animals should have less thoughts than us and less ability to form new connections. So perhaps it is only akin to what we fully experience, but regardless of intelligence level I think it is the same.

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NoXion said:

Where and how have quantum mechanical effects been scaled up macroscopic levels?

Just because rules that apply at one scale of the entire universe exist, doesn't mean that they apply at all scales. Take the laws of special and general relativity as an example


First off here's a few links about macroscopic quantum behavior. There's shitloads of Google results.

http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/2010/mar/18/quantum-effect-spotted-in-a-visible-object
https://www.ted.com/talks/aaron_o_connell_making_sense_of_a_visible_quantum_object?language=en
http://phys.org/news/2015-07-macroscopic-quantum-phenomena-ice.html

And the relativistic argument doesn't really work out. It's well known that gravity and quantum mechanics don't get along due to gravity implying that electrons should crash into the nucleus, which of course they do not. String theory is seen as a way of allowing the two to co-exist. I think it's really silly to believe that you can draw some line in the sand where quantum phenomena stops being relevant. That's not reality so much as an extreme limitation of our understanding of physics, which is wholly incomplete.

Fonze said:

If thoughts are really just neurons communicating to one another...


So I don't want to sound like a broken record, but the sense of knowing that you're having a thought goes beyond the communication of neurons. You're describing only the tangible aspect of thought, which is the mechanism that produces it (neural activity within a living organism). The mechanism is not also the thought itself. Take water for instance. You need a lot of water molecules within a given space before that tangible wetness of water emerges. That's called an "emergent phenomenon." The mechanism is the H20 molecule, and the result is the observation of wetness. The water has a definite location and observable, tangible qualities. Everything in the universe appears to operate this way except for thoughts.

You have a mechanism---the neural network--but the emergent phenomenon is...sketchy. We can describe our own thoughts to an extent (owing to the limitations of language), and aspects of it can be decoded and shown on a computer screen, but really, that's not nearly the same as all parties being able to see and feel the wetness of water. So there's clearly something missing from the equation here! Something else is at play here, that prevents the experience of thought from having directly observable qualities. That's what I've been getting at for this entire thread.

I don't have any propositions for what the missing part of the equation is, but I do enjoy pondering. Some people believe the brain receives rather than transmits consciousness, in which case, consciousness is some fundamental aspect of the universe and each organism experiences one (but not all) of its frequencies. One very strange side effect of say, smoking or vaporizing DMT (which your brain produces and which, for psychedelic purposes, is extracted from plants which for some bizarre reason contain neurotransmitters), is the feeling of overwhelming consciousness being present literally everywhere. I remember administering a tiny, tiny little bit to a friend as an experiment, and he reported an instant, unbelievable sense of consciousness emanating from everywhere, and within a few seconds he was astral projecting (I've experienced the same). Now, is this just a chemical reaction in the brain? Or is it possible to experience additional frequencies of awareness? Who knows. It could all be tricks of the mind. It could be something more.

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GoatLord said:

And the relativistic argument doesn't really work out. It's well known that gravity and quantum mechanics don't get along due to gravity implying that electrons should crash into the nucleus, which of course they do not. String theory is seen as a way of allowing the two to co-exist. I think it's really silly to believe that you can draw some line in the sand where quantum phenomena stops being relevant. That's not reality so much as an extreme limitation of our understanding of physics, which is wholly incomplete.


Disclosure: I am not a physicist. I do have a lot of training in mathematics so I can make my way through most physics textbooks (except for some of those String Theory ones) however.

It's actually possible to formulate purely quantum field theoretic theories of gravity. The electron crashing into the nucleus thing is actually a problem with classical physics, which is resolved by quantum mechanics. Since electrons are fermions they can not occupy the same quantum mechanical state because the follow Fermi-Dirac statistics. The force of gravity on an electron is not enough to overcome this, so atoms are stable.

The problem with quantum field theories of gravity is that it is extremely difficult to compute anything with them. Add to this that the theories aren't renormalizable and you basically have a theory which makes no testable predictions at higher energies. You can always use a cutoff and compute with the theory at low energies, but at that level the standard model + a fixed spacetime metric should give you accurate enough results.

Quantum physics is not as mystical or wishy washy as it is often made out to be. It's a scientific theory (actually more than one theory) that makes testable predictions that have been verified over and over again. There is a solid mathematical backing to the theory which is the theory of Hilbert spaces and Fock spaces, differential geometry, and functional analysis.

If you think quantum mechanics somehow means that consciousness is something distinct from the particles in one's body, come up with a prediction that can be disproven. Otherwise, the mind-body problem is relegated to the realm of the philosophers, who have already been tearing dualism a new one since Descartes.

As for String Theory, I don't know enough about it to either argue for it or discredit it. However, like most proposed theories, it is almost certainly wrong and will be replaced with a better theory. The main problem I have with it is that it starts with an untestable assumption and derives testable predictions from that.

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Why do you think string theory is almost certainly wrong? And I would argue the quantum world is pretty damn mystical-seeming if you considering quantum entanglement, quantum tunneling, superposition...I think that if we dig deep enough into quantum theory we might find out something about the mind. Maybe not. There are definitely debates in the physics world about whether or not the brain does quantum computing and I think there tends to be a consensus that is probably does not, but it hasn't been proven or disproven (yet).

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Well, I keep reiterating because no one is debating the experience, only the mechanism. It's absolutely bizarre that anything in the universe should be intangible, since experience is literally the only intangible aspect to reality. I would like to debate this, but everyone is focusing on mechanism while ignoring its mostly invisible end result.

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