Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Why Discoveries in Neuroscience are not a Problem for Substance Dualists

Modern discoveries in neuroscience are exciting and fascinating. Recent discoveries have given great insight in how the brain works and processes information. Different regions of the brain have been shown to process different emotions and physical stimuli. But introduce these fascinating discoveries into an increasingly materialistic society and one gets interesting metaphysical claims. Many people simply assume that science has put the philosophical stance of substance dualism (aka Cartesian dualism or Platonic dualism, etc) to rest. Look, you can damage the brain and totally change the way a person acts. Or you can stimulate a part of the brain and cause sensations that look like religious experience. Or you can split the brain down the middle and get interesting results. This proves that the brain simply is the mind, or the mind is a phenomena that is purely caused by the physical relations of the neurons and chemicals that make up the brain, doesn't it?

Well no. In fact, this is blatantly fallacious reasoning of the type that John Polkinghorne has called "confused nonsense" (in a response to a question about Daniel Wegner's claims to have disproved dualism and free will here). What we see in neurobiology is correlations between certain states of the brain and certain states of the mind. When a person thinks of a pleasant thought, a certain part of the brain undergoes a chemical reaction. Does this show that that chemical reaction just is the pleasant thought? Well no. Does it show that the chemical reaction is what caused the pleasant thought? No, it actually looks like the pleasant thought caused the chemical reaction.

The problem here is that some have tried to take a correlation between two events, the brain event and the mind event, and equate them. In other words, to say that the brain is identical to the mind. This kind of reasoning can simply never work. Correlation is never enough to show identity or causation. Therefore it is intellectually irresponsible to proudly assert that neurobiology has made mind/body dualism passé. It has done no such thing.

As an aside, this metaphysical confusion has led to other weird reasoning, such as in the field of artificial intelligence. Some people think that at some point we will program a self conscious machine. Get enough electrical connections together in the right configuration and *poof* a new sentient being. While certain theological convictions keep me from thinking this could happen (I think God has an intimate role in crafting the soul and placing it in the body), I also lack any convincing reasoning from strong AI theorists that would entail that configurations of matter are enough to produce conscious, self-introspective, thinking things. The fact that a machine may at some point mimic human behavior doesn't mean that it is experiencing human behavior.

69 comments:

Zachary Kroger said...

Hey there! I am very interested in this, and I would really appreciate your feedback on a couple of questions I have.

You mentioned brain damage, changing how a person acts. However, it also changes how the person thinks. For example, damage to certain brain areas render a person unable to produce or recognize language, recognize the existence of everything to their left, or even lose their vision and all visual memories, simultaneously, rendering them blind without them even knowing it.

So, my question is, on substance dualism, what is happening here? Why is the persons consciousness messed up? Is it actually not, and it just seems like it is? What happens to the mind when the brain is damaged?

Next question regards deep sleep, and unconsciousness. Where does our mind go when we are sleeping, or when we have been knocked out, according to SD? If our mind is not dependent on the brain, how is it possible to be unconscious?

Next, when a person gets their corpus callosum cut in half, and two separate spheres of consciousness emerge, each with different ideas and goals, how is this not an example of a mind being directly connected to the brain? According to SD, what is going on here when one hemisphere is trying to walk one way, and the other half is trying to walk a different way?

Next, you mentioned that chemical reactions don't cause emotions. According to SD, what is the deal with SSRIs, or other mood enhancing substances?

Lastly (I apologize for so many questions), what would you think of the idea that your muscle and strength aren't causal, but only correlational? That is, your muscle isn't what makes you strong-- muscle is just a receiver from the immaterial musoul (ha, get it!?) that actually is responsible for your strength. Working out and building muscles doesn't actually make you stronger, it just makes the muscle larger, which allows for more "bandwith" from your musoul. The alleged connection between strength and muscle mass is just materialist nonsense.

To me, this seems to be the exact same thing that the SD people claim, in regards to the brain.

Bonus question: Why should we care what a physicist (Polkinghorn) has to say about neurology and philosophy of mind? ;)

Set me straight! And thanks for your time.

bossmanham said...

Zach,

These are all very good questions that I think dualists of any stripe may have ideas about, but there may be no one established answer on, as I'm not sure anyone could know the exact relation between the mind and brain. All I'll be giving here are my initial thoughts on the issue. My main point in the post is to show that the correlation between the mind and brain, even the tight correlation, does not show identity.

Brain damage does change how a person thinks. I'm ashamed to admit it, but I have been drunk before. In that situation, you have chemicals that enter the brain and interfere with the chemical connections. It causes multiple symptoms that interfere with how you think. What does this show? It shows that things that happen to the brain affect the mind. There's nothing about that statement that would conflict with dualism. Dualists through the ages, DesCartes for instance, were aware that people knocked in the head sometimes changed. They've always been aware of the tight correlation between the brain and mind.

I think that the mind uses the brain to think in some profound way in the physical body. So when its physical tool is damaged, the mind becomes confused and cannot operate the brain correctly to accomplish certain physical tasks. This in turn leads to mental confusion. A good analogy would be to think of a pianist and his piano. If you damage the piano and the pianist would attempt to play it, he would exhibit different behaviors, even becoming confused, due to the damage of his tool. There is a tight correlation between the behavior of the pianist and his piano.

In a deep sleep, our mind isn't using the brain in the same way. Perhaps the mind enters a dormant state itself which leads to the dormant brain state associated with the slow brain waves. But there's obviously not NO activity in either the mind or brain.

As far as I understand the brain splitting phenomena, one retains a sense of I, and retains a oneness of person, but when put in certian circumstances, the mind cannot decipher between two different pruposes, such as combining a word when two separate parts of the word are shown to each eye. I would go back to the piano example. Split the piano in two and you would get decidedly different results when the pianist tried to play a song. Perhaps the mind, unable to connect to both sides of the brain simultaneously, has an issue deciphering the physical stimuli it receives in a cohesive manner, becomming confused. Or perhaps it has to operate both sides seperately instead of as a unity, maybe like if someone had two separate PC's that weren't networked together. I think, however, the retention of a oneness of person is far stronger than the peculiar effects it has on how that person perceives the world. Why should I think that the brain and mind are identical simply because of these strange effects?

bossmanham said...

Next, you mentioned that chemical reactions don't cause emotions. According to SD, what is the deal with SSRIs, or other mood enhancing substances?

I never said that it is simply the mind that causes brain states. It works both ways. Tell someone to think differently and their brain will test differently than at previous points. Send a bullet through someone's brain and it will also alter the way they think. Both sides can alter the other.

On the muscle issue, I'm not sure why you think that's relevant. If you have good arguments showing that there is an immaterial thing known as strength, I'm certainly open to that. I've got good reasons beyond correlation not showing identity to think that the mind and brain are separate.

To me, this seems to be the exact same thing that the SD people claim, in regards to the brain.

It may be similar, but it's certainly not exact. For instance, muscle and the effects they produce are all physical. One physical cause follows the other. Mental events don't seem to be physical at all. Rather if one imagines a pink elephant, there is an image of that elephant in the mind. You can't find that pink elephant in a brain scan. You may find chemical reactions that correlate to that image, but not the image itself. But clearly that image actually does exist in your mind. I can't see a similar situation with muscle and strength (though in an actual sense, those two things are separate, though causally connected).

bossmanham said...

Also, what does Polkinghorne being a physicist have to do with his ability to speak on the issue? He has written quite a bit on the relationship between science and religious thought, which gets into the philosophy of both areas. It seems that he simply understands the fallacious reasoning being employed.

Zachary Kroger said...

Hey BM, thanks for the quick and thoughtful responses. It is much appreciated!

I guess my main thing is that I don't have any idea of what a mind would be without a brain. You mentioned that the mind uses the brain to think (I have also heard WL Craig say this). However, that seems almost nonsensical. Does that mean that a disembodied mind can't think? And if the brain is what is doing the thinking, then what is the mind doing? What does it mean to be conscious but unable to think? Is that even coherent? If the mind becomes confused when the brain is damaged, what happens when the brain is destroyed? (I am not trying to throw a hundred questions at you, I am just explaining my thoughts as I read your comments). It seems like if our consciousness can exist independent of our brain's death, there is no reason that this consciousness should ever go away, while we are sleeping or anything.

I appreciate the piano analogy, but it doesn't seem to be a strong representation of what is going on with the brain. Especially from the example of slip-brains... if you cut a piano in half, the pianist isn't going to start playing one song on one half, and a different song on the other half.

Speaking of split brains, yes, your left hemisphere (which is responsible for producing language) has a sense of I. However, the right hem now also has a sense of I. This is seen with things like alien hand syndrome. You can even teach the right hem to communicate, and it will often have completely different ideas, goals, etc than the left hem. But why would this be, if the mind (or, the "piano player") is still intact?

You suggested, "Perhaps the mind, unable to connect to both sides of the brain simultaneously..." but why would this be an issue for the mind? It can already interact with a physical brain, so why would splitting the brain in half have any effect at all, unless the mind had a physically causal relationship? Like with the piano, cutting it in half doesn't cause two different songs to be played.

My point with the muscle thing is that most dualists seem to say that a strong correlation doesn't imply causation (I agree). So it seems that you could make the same argument that strength is not the same as muscle, and it is actually independent of it. Though, I understand your point about the difference between mental and physical events. And that brings us to the next point...

Zachary Kroger said...

In regards to opening your brain to find a pink elephant... sure. But likewise, if you have a pic of a pink elephant on your computer, there is an image of that elephant on your screen. However, you can't find that pink elephant in the computer. You may find electrical reactions that correlate to that image, but not the image itself. But clearly that image actually does exist in your computer. Of course, I think you would agree that this doesn't imply that the computer is using anything non-physical. And the same can be said for the brain.

However, recent research has actually made some really cool discoveries that are relevant to this. Researchers showed subjects basic images, scanned the subjects visual cortices and DID see the images in the brain! Super cool! It's called fMRI Visual Stimulus Reconstruction.

Lastly, in regards to Polkinghorn... I just don't see what training or expertise a physicist or theologian has that would make him qualified to discuss such matters. I mean, I could quote Massimo Pigliucci, stating that WL Craig's views on the likelihood of the resurrection are irrational, but I doubt that that would have any weight with you. Though, I could be wrong.

Point being, why not just get a quote from an actual neuroscientist or philosopher of mind? If the logic is so bad, surely there are tons of qualified people that say so. My skeptic alarms always just go off when a non expert tells an expert he is wrong.

Anyway, I apologize for writing so much. Thanks for your time!

bossmanham said...

Zachary,

I'm not sure if it matters that you don't have any idea of what a mind without a brain is, though I think you do as you are a mind, so you interact with it every day. Indeed, the basic belief of most people, and almost all children, is some sort of dualism. One must be convinced of a materialistic or reductionistic paradigm, and is a uniquely western development.

I think it's obvious from NDE's and revelatory examples in the Bible, particularly Paul's and John's, show that a mind does think and retain memories apart from the body (though Paul did say he wasn't sure if he was in or out of the body, but that seems to imply that it could be an indistinguishable experience).

On Craig's paradigm, perhaps when connected to the body, the mind requires the aid of the interpretive powers of the brain, or vice versa, to correctly operate the body, but when separated the mind has the ability to act on its own.

I didn't say anything about being conscious but unable to think. I don't think that is coherent. When the brain is destroyed, it seems to me, from NDE reports, that the mind defaults to some sort of cohesive personal thinking thing sans a body. I don't know what goes on exactly.

It seems like if our consciousness can exist independent of our brain's death, there is no reason that this consciousness should ever go away, while we are sleeping or anything

This is an argument from ignorance.

As far as the piano analogy goes, I did use it beyond the brain splitting scenario. But I think it's quite clear that the pianist could play two different tunes. In fact, each half of the piano would perform different spectrums of the musical scale; one the low and one the high pitches. That seems to fit the analogy quite well.

Speaking of split brains, yes, your left hemisphere (which is responsible for producing language) has a sense of I.

This is begging the question for a materialistic paradigm. You haven't shown that it just is the left hemisphere that is doing this.

As it pertains to alien hand syndrome, it seems to me that the mind has lost control to some extent of the hand. But the person has no experience of this different person, rather researchers observe the hand performing different tasks. This could be a case of part of the body reverting to a sort of philosophical zombie state, of perhaps of demonic possession of part of the body.

Unless you've simply read one side of the issue, you'd also know that interpreting the behavior of those who have undergone a corpus callosotomy as someone suddenly having two centers of consciousness is not uncontroversial. One interpretation I've seen is that one hand may be operating on some sort of subconscious level and is behaving similarly to someone who has Tourette-syndrome (as they don't seem to be in conscious control of their outbursts). No one interprets that as a separate consciousness (though I'm open to demonic influence).

You suggested, "Perhaps the mind, unable to connect to both sides of the brain simultaneously..." but why would this be an issue for the mind?

You suggested, "Perhaps the mind, unable to connect to both sides of the brain simultaneously..." but why would this be an issue for the mind?

For the same reason someone using two computers may not be able to do everything at once.

bossmanham said...

It can already interact with a physical brain, so why would splitting the brain in half have any effect at all, unless the mind had a physically causal relationship?

This certainly isn't a necessary conclusion, as it is just correlation, and is therefore not a sufficient defeater for the arguments in favor of dualism.

You seem to be thinking that I am using the observation that correlation does not imply identity as an argument for dualism. That isn't correct. The observation about correlation is to show that non-dualistic arguments based on neuroscience don't provide defeaters for the dualist position. They are simply interesting observations, but not indicative of the claims of the monist. As it pertains to muscle and strength, I am unaware of any arguments for dualism of that sort, and therefore the correlation would be evidence of causation (but still not identity, as strength seems to be a property that muscles have, and is therefore distinct).

In your computer/pink elephant example, I don't think the pink elephant actually is contained in the computer. The physical arrangement of the magnetic particles exist on the hard drive. Without a video card to eventually translate that physical information into an image of a pink elephant on the monitor, that physical arrangement on the hard drive is meaningless. It must have a device that translates it. So no, the pink elephant is not in the computer, but rather appears on the screen under the right circumstance.

As I understand Visual Stimulus Reconstruction, a machine takes the input it receives from the brain's output and interprets it as an image. The image isn't literally on the brain (for all that happens in the brain is chemical reactions), but rather the chemical reaction is interpreted in a certain way by the computer. Furthermore, this is an instance of light entering the eye and producing an image in the mind, not of the mind imagining an image and then forming it. But whatever the case, this seems like you're equivocating to an extent.

I think Polkinghorne is entirely worth quoting, as a highly educated person who has written on these issues, in commenting on the silliness of a logical fallacy. I think I'm qualified to do that. This kind of reasoning is utterly silly.

If the logic is so bad, surely there are tons of qualified people that say so

Philosophers aren't qualified? I still don't see the problem, but I could quote Karl Popper and John Eccles as saying that, "the theory of brain-mind identity...is an attempt rationally to explain this one-to-one correlation which it takes, uncritically, for granted" (from The Self and its Brain p. 93, emphasis theirs). Polkinghorne's more represented what I was thinking at the moment, however, and is why I chose it.

Fred said...

bossman,

Reading your comments over at 315. Listen, God bless you! Reading over your replies, I look like one of those nodding Chihuahua dogs.

Kudos, thank God, and pass the ammunition!

Zachary Kroger said...

Hey BM, thanks again for your responses.

I started typing out what I meant by not being able to imagine having a mind without a brain. But then I realized we might be talking past each other. So first, I am curious, what do you think the brain does? Does the brain actually store memories? Does it process vision, and other information? You had mentioned before that you think the mind uses the brain to think. Do you think that minds without brains can’t think? I am also curious what role brains play according to SD. If our conscious mind does not depend on them, then what are they for?

I suppose you put more weight in NDEs (I am guessing you mean out of body experiences) than I do. Anecdotes don’t really do much for me, be it alien abductions, NDEs, or anything else. And while there are a number of reasonable biological explanations (I have actually experienced them a handful of times while on the verge of sleep), I know that some researchers have attempted to validate them, unsuccessfully so far, by putting random number generators on upward facing screens in ER rooms. So, if someone ever is able to say what that number is, I will be convinced. However, it seems that if anything, only a few people have souls, since not everyone experience NDEs while they are near death. But I don’t think it’s accurate to say that it is “obvious”, since there are very few researchers who think they are anything other than a biological effect of a highly stressed brain (among other things, like drugs, sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, etc).

Saying that NDEs are evidence that an intact mind can exist on its own begs the question. It hasn’t been demonstrated that NDEs are supernatural. Also, I think it is a bit odd to say that NDEs occur when brains are destroyed. If that is the case, how do we have any reports of them? Who are the people that are reporting NDE’s, post brain destruction? I think it is more accurate to say that, “in some cases, when people are under highly stressful events, such as near death, they will sometimes report the sensation of hovering over their body. However, these can also occur in situations where death is nowhere near.”

You later mentioned that with NDEs, the mind might default to some sort of cohesive state. This brings up my question again of, if a cohesive mind doesn’t require a brain, what do brains do? And what does a cohesive state even mean, if the brain is constantly changing? Meaning, would a dead baby’s mind default to a full mental state, being able to process language and whatnot?

I am not sure why it’s begging the question that I think it is odd that we could be unconscious during sleep, when consciousness is supposedly not seated in the brain. Just like how the piano player is still around, even when he isn’t playing a song, why wouldn’t the mind be around, when the brain is sleeping?

Zachary Kroger said...

Speaking of pianos, I don’t see how the same song played at different scales could be analogous to a person who is fighting for control over his body, or each hemisphere having separate goals.

You said that I haven’t shown that just the left hem has a sense of I. But I didn’t argue that. I said that both hems have a sense of I. However, it is only the left hem that can vocalize (in most people). But the right hem seems to be, in many cases, quite aware, and behaves just as you would expect if there was an “I” that couldn’t speak. Postulating demons (lol wut?) really breaks Ockham’s razor, and begs the question. And if you want to say it is a zombie, why not just say that the left hem is a zombie too?

And as I mentioned before, the right hem can be trained to understand simple sentences, and can communicate in simple ways. It also seems quite clear that the left hem person experiences the other person. There are tons of crazy examples of this, like a woman who would try to dress herself with one hand, while the other would try and undress her, or close the drawer so she couldn’t get anything out. Or a man whose right hem would try and make him walk to his ex wife’s house, whenever he was on a stroll. Or a man whose hemispheres disagreed on a number of things, like ice cream flavor, and even the existence of God. If this isn’t evidence for another mind, I am not sure what could be. And while there is always room for debate, the idea of dual/split consciousness is pretty well accepted. So well, in fact, that it is taught in undergrad neurology classes as the predominant view (I still have the power point slides). As for Tourettes, the tics are not subconscious at all. The tics happen because of a buildup of an urge, sort of like when you feel you have to clear your throat. The longer you hold it, the more uncomfortable it becomes. Check out “Premonitory Senseory phenomenon in Tourette’s Syndrome” to read about just how conscious it actually is.

You stated that a mind can’t use two sides of a disconnected brain, just like we can’t use two separate computers. But that isn’t analogous at all. Two computers would equal two brains (unless you agree that splitting the brain creates two different minds). It seems more analogous to say that you have two computer screens hooked to the same computer, but can’t navigate between the two screens. However, this doesn’t work either, since the mind is immaterial, and isn’t constrained by physical barriers (on dualism).

I read your comments about the pink elephant not existing in the computer a few times, and while I appreciate your response, I think it is pretty clear that my “rebuttal” works perfectly. Saying that a picture doesn’t exist in a computer, because it is just magnetic particles on the HD, that can only appear with the aid of other computer parts is exactly like saying that the picture doesn’t exist in the brain, because it is just neurons, and can’t be translated unless you have certain brain systems, like a visual cortex and memory, that make it appear in the right circumstances.

I am not sure why you think I said philosophers are not qualified to comment on this stuff, since I specifically said that a philosopher of mind would be well qualified. Though, I appreciate your explanation of why you chose the Polikinghorn quote. I definitely think that Popper and Eccles is a great example (though, there position, I believe, is more of property dualism, but I could be wrong) or a relevant quote.

bossmanham said...

Zach,

I've already prefaced everything I've said by saying anything I say about the way the mind and brain work together is speculation. I don't KNOW with any kind of certainty how this relation works, nor am I sure one can know how it works. But I do think I know, based off of several lines of argumentation (scientific and philosophical), that the mind and brain are not identical.

I said earlier, in this vein, that the mind uses the brain to think in this physical body. I do think minds without brains can think. I think NDE's provide pretty good testimony to this fact; testimonies that can't be explained away as easily as brain misfirings (which I will point out in a second). There could be several reasons this is so. Pure Cartesian dualism could be correct, in that the mind itself is a thinking thing and only uses the brain as kind of an interpretive intermediary or something. Perhaps a more subtle version of substance dualism is required.

You decry anecdotes, but really, any scientific claims you believe in would be an anecdote to a degree, unless you've actually personally performed some sort of primary research in the field. We all rely on second hand testimony. I suppose we could question the trustworthiness of one giving us their account of an NDE, but wouldn't we need reasons to do that? Also, wouldn't some accounts be hard to explain away in this manner, like in some NDE's where dying people know of events that happened in other rooms or miles away (or on the roof of the hospital they'd never been to)? There are many NDE's that cannot be so easily brushed aside by materialistic presuppositions.

One of my blogging friends recently posted an interesting and rigorous study done on a woman's NDE here. Another would be the woman who saw the blue shoe on the roof of the hospital she'd never been to, nor had anyone been on the roof in quite a while. When she told the nurse what she saw while dying, the nurse went and found it exactly as described. Reductionistic responses in these cases begin to sound particularly ad hoc.

How does viewing witness testimony of someone's NDE beg the question? Are you speaking of circular reasoning, or the incorrect usage that politicians and news pundits call "begging the question" (something raises a question)? The case of NDE's doesn't have to be "demonstrated to be supernatural", whatever that means, to be some evidence that needs to be considered in this issue.

I never said you begged the question when asking about unconsciousness. As it pertains to the piano player, yes he's still around. I never said the mind left.

I also never said the same song was being played in my analogy, though now it seems like you're trying to take it too far. An analogy is only meant to give an example of something to simplify the concept, not to be a perfect representation of the concept. Otherwise I wouldn't need the analogy.

In your explanation of alien hand syndrome, saying that one hemisphere of the brain is having the sense of I is begging the question, as it hasn't been established that this is the case at all. It hasn't been shown that a conscious 'I' is experiencing or willing anything at all in those movements.

bossmanham said...

Ockham's razor doesn't mandate materialism or naturalism. Ockham's razor says not to multiply causes beyond necessity. I think demons could be the cause of strange uncontrollable behavior of this sort.

I don't say the left hem is a zombie because I can talk to a person who is having experiences. Perhaps look up what a philosophical zombie is (ie a biological automaton without a consciousness or will).

You explaining the lady who attempted to dress herself is a perfect example of begging the question. I could accept all of that as a dualist. 1) It doesn't show anything akin to monism. 2) It's relying on the fallacy I've already pointed out. 3) It's assuming that the mind simply is the brain. But there are also cases of split brains where this strange stuff doesn't happen, and a person still has complete control of him/herself unless. Also, as dutch psychologist Titus Rivas points out, these "phenomenon would presumably be caused by the peculiar experimental setting which makes the simultaneous conscious integration of all the data into one total picture impossible" (source). He goes on to say that the experimental setting may have a lot to do with the hands expressing subconscious behavior. Similarly, some settings make some people subconsciously bite their fingernails or shake their leg due to being nervous. Not so strange.

As for Tourettes, the tics are not subconscious at all. The tics happen because of a buildup of an urge, sort of like when you feel you have to clear your throat.

Something that the individual doesn't willingly control...Perhaps we have a different definition of what a subconscious act is.

The two computers analogy is meant to describe one person performing one task on two computers, trying to unify the results, perhaps doing half on one half on the other. Again, an uncharitable reading of an analogy. And it's pretty obvious my analogies aren't using immaterial agents in the analogy. It's an analogy for goodness sake.

Your rebuttal to the pink elephant example does not work, because when you try to translate it into the mind-body issue, you don't have a place where the pink elephant actually shows up. With the computer, it's on the computer monitor. With the human person, the image actually appears in the person's mind. The wild firing of neurons and synapses in the brain is meaningless without a mind to experience and unify whatever thought is to be experienced, in this case the pink elephant.

bossmanham said...

Fred, I hope you don't think I'm ignoring you. Thanks for your comment.

John said...

Bossmanham,

A simple answer to Zach's question would be David Chalmers paper about the hard problems of consciousness. I think you basically summarized what Chalmers had written extensively on. The paper ofcourse could be found online.

Havok said...

BMH: Your rebuttal to the pink elephant example does not work, because when you try to translate it into the mind-body issue, you don't have a place where the pink elephant actually shows up.
You don't have a place where it "turns up" in either case (except as "self report").

BMH: With the computer, it's on the computer monitor. With the human person, the image actually appears in the person's mind.
No, with the computer, it appears in the computer RAM, in the same way (on a physical mind) the image would appear in the persons neurons.

BMH: The wild firing of neurons and synapses in the brain is meaningless without a mind to experience and unify whatever thought is to be experienced, in this case the pink elephant.
But the firing of neurons is not wild - it is coherent and coordinated (else we couldn't correlate neurological events with "mind events").

To push the computer analogy a little further, you could have a suitable elephant "recogniser" running the computer (say, a neural net trained to distinguish images of elephants). This recogniser could interrogate the contents of the RAM, and report that indeed an elephant is represented there. The report could be to either an external agent, or to another module running on the computer. This surely indicates that the image of the elephant is present in the encoding of computer memory, rather than only when presented on a monitor.

Havok said...

One of my main problems with substance dualism is it seems to require that the particles in our brains behave differently to those outside of our brains (conservation of energy, for instance), but thus far no evidence of such a claim has been presented.
Without such evidence, the best the dualist seems able to claim is that the immaterial mind can "read" the state of the brain, but is unable to exert influence itself, leaving the mind causally impotent - an epiphenomenon.

Havok said...

Another couple of problems, just off the top of my head, which seem somewhat catastrophic to substance dualism.

- Why are our brains so large. If, as claimed above, our "immaterial minds" are able to carry out all of the required functions (memory, personality, information processing etc), why are our brains so large and complex. A tiny mouse brain is able to manage the functions of a similarly complex (though smaller) body to our own, so why are our brains not only larger in an absolute sense, but also relative to our bodies?

- Why do we have physical senses (eyes, ears etc) if our immaterial minds are able to "see" and "hear" without input from our brains?

Havok said...

BMH: Another would be the woman who saw the blue shoe on the roof of the hospital she'd never been to, nor had anyone been on the roof in quite a while. When she told the nurse what she saw while dying, the nurse went and found it exactly as described. Reductionistic responses in these cases begin to sound particularly ad hoc.
If this is the case of a Seattle woman named "Maria", then not only does there appear to be no independant corroboration of this event, but the shoe was on a ledge which was easily visible upon entering the patients room (investigative report here) :-)

bossmanham said...

Havok, how could anyone know if the shoe were visible if there were no independent corroboration?

There obviously is independent corroboration, ie the nurse Maria told the account to and Maria herself. It is also noted in the story that the ledge was not visible from the ground, nor from any of the nearby buildings. The initial report also says she was interviewed by several other witnesses that day who corroborated the story.

So I'm relying on first and second hand reports and on primary research, and you're relying on the several internet infidel sites dedicated to dogmatically disproving God that pop up when you Google the story....you again display your dogmatheism, and these sites display their dishonesty.

bossmanham said...

Havok,

I almost didn't even respond, as it's not really worth it, but you've made it extremely easy, so it'll just take a few minutes.

You don't have a place where it "turns up" in either case (except as "self report").

Um, yeah. It appears in the person's mind.

No, with the computer, it appears in the computer RAM, in the same way (on a physical mind) the image would appear in the persons neurons.

Uh, the physical events in the computer's RAM isn't any more intelligible than what's on the hard drive, and an image does appear on the monitor, so...yeah.

But the firing of neurons is not wild - it is coherent and coordinated (else we couldn't correlate neurological events with "mind events").

Actually, it is. Also, no two people's brain events are the same when having the same mind event.

conservation of energy

Is irrelevant to an immaterial agent.

Why are our brains so large.

So they can be used to operate the particular physical body we inhabit. Clearly you've not read anything that's been written here.

Why do we have physical senses (eyes, ears etc) if our immaterial minds are able to "see" and "hear" without input from our brains?

Because we wouldn't be able to as attached to the physical body if we didn't.

Next!

Dakota said...

Hey, I just came across your blog by doing a bit of blog-surfing and I'm glad I did! I've added myself as your newest follower, and I hope you'll check out my Christian devotional site as well.

Have a blessed day!

In Christ,
Dakota - A Look at Life from a Deerstand

David said...

"It is also noted in the story that the ledge was not visible from the ground."

Doesn't the "primary research" indicate that a shoe on a third floor ledge would be visible from the ground? The research here is the research that was done by those who actually went to the hospital to test the reliability of the witness's story.

I think that fact that you first referred to a shoe "on the roof" shows how these stories become embellished over time. with the retellings, the events become harder to explain, but the inexplicability to mostly a product of the embellishments.

Don't these out of body experiences seem rather physically limited to you? Maria's mind could have gone anyway. But apparently, it just hung out on hospital window ledges quite close to the physical body.

Ryan Anderson said...
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bossmanham said...

Doesn't the "primary research" indicate that a shoe on a third floor ledge would be visible from the ground? The research here is the research that was done by those who actually went to the hospital to test the reliability of the witness's story.

No, it came from the primary witness, the nurse, who actually corroborated the existence of the shoe. Skeptics who come along later and say, "YUH HUH you could see it from the ledge," wouldn't have the same evidential support as a primary witness. There's always a nay-sayer.

Don't these out of body experiences seem rather physically limited to you? Maria's mind could have gone anyway. But apparently, it just hung out on hospital window ledges quite close to the physical body.

You're assuming an awful lot in this statement of ignorance.

Ryan,

I don't allow your comments here anymore, if you remember.

bossmanham said...

David, I think I accidentally deleted one of your comments thinking it was Ryan's.

Ryan Anderson said...
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Ryan Anderson said...
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David said...

"Skeptics who come along later and say, "YUH HUH you could see it from the ledge," wouldn't have the same evidential support as a primary witness."

Why not? What does or does not count as "evidence"? In reality, the witness could be wrong for any number of reasons, and the witness's evidence may not be valid. If you can see the ledge from the ground, then you can see the ledge from the ground, and this can be determined with a little research. If the witness claims that you can't see the ledge when you can, then the witness is wrong and the witness's evidence is called into question.

Witnesses make mistakes. It happens. I think you place too much faith in falliable human witnesses. Nothing wrong with a little healthy skepticism. Cuts down on the number of times one is fooled.

So, how was it that a shoe that was on a ledge in the original version of the story ended up on the roof in your version of the story? When stories are retold, more errors are introduced. It happens.

"You're assuming an awful lot in this statement of ignorance."

Yes, I'm assuming that if a mind is truly not tied to a body, it ought to be able to go a little farther than the window ledge. Seems likes a reasonable conclusion, even given our state of ignorance.

Point is, if the independent roaming mind is only seeing things that the physical brain might have seen or overheard, that's hardly the evidence that we're looking for here.

Ryan Anderson said...
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Ryan Anderson said...
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bossmanham said...

Why not? What does or does not count as "evidence"?

Well for one, assumedly the shoe was no longer there.

In reality, the witness could be wrong for any number of reasons, and the witness's evidence may not be valid.

But you could say that about literally anything. Unless there's some reason to doubt a witness, which none has been given beyond "I'm a materialistic naturalist who simply can't allow anything beyond my pale and dogmatic worldview to be an explanation."

If you can see the ledge from the ground, then you can see the ledge from the ground, and this can be determined with a little research.

I can see the ledges of a lot of buildings but not necessarily see what's on them. The multiple witnesses cited in the original report all corroborated that the shoe could not be seen from the ground or from adjacent buildings. Then skeptic Billy Bob comes along and says, "yur can too see dat dere ledge. Ergoo, yuh cud see dat dere shoe!!! YUP!"

Witnesses make mistakes. It happens.

Silly skeptics make mistakes too, it happens. The skeptics in this case are trying to disprove the account years and years after the initial reporting was done, which is about as dumb as investigating the OJ Simpson murder scene today to prove that he didn't do it. "SEE there's no blood here. There's no body. OJ is innocent!"

So, how was it that a shoe that was on a ledge in the original version of the story ended up on the roof in your version of the story?

Um, because the place where the shoe was tucked was, "on an upper ledge of the hospital roof."

And slight discrepancies in historical accounts don't change the core of the story, which is the same in every account. 1) Maria nearly died. 2) She reported having left her body and seen a shoe on a ledge. 3) The shoe was not visible from the ground or from adjacent buildings. 4) The shoe was found exactly as described by the nurse (Kim).

Finding discrepancies in retellings doesn't change those 4 facts, and doesn't call the story into question. I'm not sure why you'd think its relevant.

When stories are retold, more errors are introduced. It happens.

Same could be said about attempts to discredit the story. This doesn't introduce any defeaters at all.

Yes, I'm assuming that if a mind is truly not tied to a body, it ought to be able to go a little farther than the window ledge.

What reason do you have to assume that it should, or should want to, or had time to? Are you saying simply because it didn't, we suddenly have a defeater for believing the report? How would that follow? Just because she could (and there are accounts of people traveling miles from where their body is, btw) doesn't mean because she doesn't there's something wrong. That's like saying if I had a car and could drive across the state, the fact that I didn't should lead us to skepticism about whether I have a car.

So your assumptions that it's strange that she didn't travel farther away are unjustified.

Ryan Anderson said...
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Ryan Anderson said...
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Ryan Anderson said...
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David said...

"Um, because the place where the shoe was tucked was, "on an upper ledge of the hospital roof."

Huh? I'm confused. Was the shoe on a ledge of the hospital roof or on a third floor ledge?

bossmanham said...

Huh? I'm confused. Was the shoe on a ledge of the hospital roof or on a third floor ledge?

I'm honestly not sure its relevant, as it could be one and the same thing. The third floor could be right under the roof. It doesn't undermine the rest of the case just because there are differences in the report.

David said...

"I'm honestly not sure its relevant, as it could be one and the same thing."

To remind, you said "another would be the woman who saw the blue shoe on the roof of the hospital she'd never been to, nor had anyone been on the roof in quite a while."

In fact, your first account of events is inaccurate. (Had I made such mistakes, you'd have probably accused me of deliberately lying.)

Does it matter? Of course, it matters.

If the shoe is on a third floor ledge, and if Maria had been to the hospital three days before, then we have a plausible explanation for the alleged NDE.

On the other hand, if the shoe is on the roof (you said "on the roof", not on an upper ledge of the roof), if no one had visited the roof, and if Maria hadn't been to the hospital before (as you originally stated), then Maria's report of the shoe becomes much more amazing. But none of these claims is accurate.

See how embellishment works? Start with something that is odd, but has a plausible explanation, change the details a little bit at a time, and presto, we have something inexplicable.

"It doesn't undermine the rest of the case just because there are differences in the report."

Yes, it does. Discepancies suggest error. And in the case of claims such as this, the devil is in the details. It's the difference between (1) odd, but explicable and embellished and (2) totally inexplicable.

bossmanham said...

To remind, you said "another would be the woman who saw the blue shoe on the roof of the hospital she'd never been to, nor had anyone been on the roof in quite a while."

What does that have to do with the original report's veracity? Because I (presumably) flubbed up in recalling the story from memory it changes the published paper's veracity? That's reaching even for you, David, though I'm flattered you think my mistakes have such a bearing on reality.

In fact, your first account of events is inaccurate. (Had I made such mistakes, you'd have probably accused me of deliberately lying.)

What? How would you know what I'd do?

If the shoe is on a third floor ledge, and if Maria had been to the hospital three days before, then we have a plausible explanation for the alleged NDE.

No we don't, and the people who published the story didn't either, as it is still the case that the shoe was not visible from the ground or from any adjacent building. In fact, it took Kim, the nurse, several days to locate it. And she hadn't been to the hospital before.

On the other hand, if the shoe is on the roof (you said "on the roof", not on an upper ledge of the roof), if no one had visited the roof, and if Maria hadn't been to the hospital before (as you originally stated), then Maria's report of the shoe becomes much more amazing. But none of these claims is accurate.

You've not shown that.

See how embellishment works? Start with something that is odd, but has a plausible explanation, change the details a little bit at a time, and presto, we have something inexplicable.

You've not shown that the other account (third floor) has a materialistic explanation, nor that stating that the shoe was on a "roof ledge" is inaccurate. Nice try though.

Yes, it does. Discepancies suggest error.

But it doesn't suggest total falsehood, nor the disintegration of a core story, which points I cited.

Further, MY account here doesn't change what the actual account said, of which has garnered interest.

David said...

Kim, the nurse?

According to Clark's account, Clark found and retrieved the shoe. I'm confused.

I'll get back to the rest later.

David said...

“What does that have to do with the original report's veracity? Because I (presumably) flubbed up in recalling the story from memory it changes the published paper's veracity? That's reaching even for you, David, though I'm flattered you think my mistakes have such a bearing on reality.”

I don’t think that you follow my point. Your “flub” demonstrates the process of embellishment. Look at how you “flubbed”. You got several key facts wrong, and you got them wrong in such a way as to make the story more fantastical. Why did you flub in this particular way? You wanted this story to be fantastical than it was. When you recalled the story, you get it wrong in such a way as to enhance the story’s fantastic nature. Is this just a coincidence?

This should tell you something about how the human mind works. I’m not saying that it conclusively disproves the fantastic claims of the story, but your actions are still instructive. Look at how and why you got the story wrong. There is a broad lesson to be learned about how the mind works. Look and learn.


“No we don't, and the people who published the story didn't either, as it is still the case that the shoe was not visible from the ground or from any adjacent building.”

Well, we only have one witness to this claim.

“In fact, it took Kim, the nurse, several days to locate it. And she hadn't been to the hospital before.”

Again, Nurse who?


Clark says that she found the shoe. To find the shoe, she had to see the shoe. If she could see the shoe, then others could see the shoe. If others saw the shoe, they could have talked about the shoe. This could have been overhead by Maria. Yes, there is a plausible explanation.


“You've not shown that.”

Yes, I did. The shoe was not on the roof. Maria had been admitted previously. This information was provided by Clark herself. Further, you admitted that you flubbed these facts. So, how can you claim that I didn’t show that the claims you made in your original telling of the story were not accurate?


“You've not shown that the other account (third floor) has a materialistic explanation, nor that stating that the shoe was on a "roof ledge" is inaccurate. Nice try though.”

Are you kidding me? The materialist explanation has been provided. Even if you disagree with the explanation, the shoe was clearly not on a “roof ledge. If it was on a “roof ledge” (notice how you changed roof to roof ledge), then how did Clark see the shoe from the INSIDE of the hospital? Nice try? Hey, if the shoe was really on a “roof ledge”, then CLARK got it wrong.


“But it doesn't suggest total falsehood, nor the disintegration of a core story, which points I cited.”

I think that it does indeed suggest that possibility of the core story’s disintegration. Once the layers of embellishment have been added, who knows what the “core story” is? Again, all of this tells us much about the workings of the human brain.


“Further, MY account here doesn't change what the actual account said, of which has garnered interest.”

What matters with your respect to your account is WHY and HOW you got the facts wrong. Think about it.

It doesn’t bother you that Maria’s mind only travelled such a short distance and gathered only information that was also available to her physical brain?

bossmanham said...

David, Kimberly Clark Sharp is the name of the nurse who worked at the hospital and helped take care of this woman, Maria.

I don’t think that you follow my point. Your “flub” demonstrates the process of embellishment.

So? How is that relevant here? I have access to cited accounts of the story. If I'm incorrect, it doesn't change what the original account says. You act like we don't have print and digital media or something.

You got several key facts wrong, and you got them wrong in such a way as to make the story more fantastical

I got (presumably mind you, as I'm simply accepting this for the sake of argument to show that you still have no leg to stand on) one thing incorrect.

And it didn't make the story any more "fantastical," as wherever the shoe was, it was not visible without actually going to the place the shoe was.

Well, we only have one witness to this claim.

Actually the account says that there were several witnesses who can corroborate what happened beyond Kim Clark.

Clark says that she found the shoe. To find the shoe, she had to see the shoe. If she could see the shoe, then others could see the shoe.

She searched the hospital for several days to find the shoe, looking in possible spots following the description of Maria. What you're saying is nowhere in the account. You're making it up and not dealing with the actual eyewitness testimony. Don't become a lawyer or historian, please.

Yes, I did. The shoe was not on the roof

Uhm, no, you've not shown that. The shoe was presumably on an upper ledge of the roof of the building.

Further, you admitted that you flubbed these facts.

Boy, you have awful trouble with reading comprehension or something. I never said that. I always said presumably, as in I'm assuming it for the sake of argument.

Are you kidding me? The materialist explanation has been provided.

And it's terrible, and doesn't follow the facts of the story, which means one disregards it. If the shoe wasn't visible, it wasn't visible.

If it was on a “roof ledge” (notice how you changed roof to roof ledge), then how did Clark see the shoe from the INSIDE of the hospital?

Uh, some hospitals have a layout such that some of the parts of the hospital extend higher than others so that one roof is higher than another. One could presumably access one roof from one part of the hospital through a window. Kind of like one new hospital near where I live.

I didn't think I'd have to kindergarten this for you, David. What atheistic thinking does to the human reasoning abilities...

I think that it does indeed suggest that possibility of the core story’s disintegration. Once the layers of embellishment have been added, who knows what the “core story” is?

Remember, little David, we have books and magazines and *gasp* computers now. If it worked 2000 years ago, I'm gonna guess we have a handle on source material today.

Havok said...

BMH: If the shoe wasn't visible, it wasn't visible.
Yet the investigators, who placed another shoe where the social worker claimed to have found the shoe, indicated it was visible from various places (and that the description of the windows and ledges from the original account) was also mistaken.
There do seem to be some irregularites here :-)

David said...

“David, Kimberly Clark Sharp is the name of the nurse who worked at the hospital and helped take care of this woman, Maria.”

So, Kim the Nurse is Kimberly Sharp. One and the same person. So we are indeed down to one witness.

“If I'm incorrect, it doesn't change what the original account says.”

Which account, exactly, is the “original account”?

And again, this wasn’t my point. My point was about how stories change and acquire embellishments. If you wish to ignore this lesson, that’s your choice.

“I got one thing incorrect.”

Which thing was that? Since you dispute the roof issue, I assume that you are referring to the question of a previous admission for Maria. This is a key fact in the story, so your error is a significant one. You erred on the side of increased spookiness.

“And it didn't make the story any more "fantastical," as wherever the shoe was, it was not visible without actually going to the place the shoe was.”

Well, it seems to me that the “visibility” of the shoe is an open question, isn’t it? Who saw where the shoe was before the shoe was moved?

“Actually the account says that there were several witnesses who can corroborate what happened beyond Kim Clark.”

Which account are you referring to?

“She searched the hospital for several days to find the shoe, looking in possible spots following the description of Maria. What you're saying is nowhere in the account. You're making it up and not dealing with the actual eyewitness testimony. Don't become a lawyer or historian, please.”

What “account” are you using here?

Anyway, this answer does not address my point. Are you denying that others could have seen the shoe? Are you saying that only Clark could look out of a third floor window and see the shoe? Are you arguing that it is incorrect to conclude that if Clark could see the shoe, then others could see the shoe? How could Clark see a shoe that was invisible to everyone else?

This has nothing to do with playing lawyer or historian. This is just reality. If Clark could see a shoe from a third floor window, then others could have seen the shoe. Did Clark ask everyone who worked in the hospital if they’d seen a shoe on a ledge?



“Uhm, no, you've not shown that. The shoe was presumably on an upper ledge of the roof of the building.”

Presumably? Why do you get to “presume”? When I make presumptions about what others in the hospital may have seen and talked about, you say that I’m “not following the facts of the story”. In what specific account is the specific word “roof” used?


>Further, you admitted that you flubbed these facts.

“Boy, you have awful trouble with reading comprehension or something. I never said that. I always said presumably, as in I'm assuming it for the sake of argument.”

Ah, so now you’re denying that you flubbed the facts. Tell me, is it fact that Maria had not been in the hospital before the incident in question? Yes or no. You stated that she had never been in the hospital before. Is this not what you said? Is this an accurate statement?

David said...

“And it's terrible, and doesn't follow the facts of the story, which means one disregards it. If the shoe wasn't visible, it wasn't visible.”

How does it fail to follow the facts of the story? Don’t you also disregard the facts of the story when you “presume” about the architecture of the building?


If the shoe wasn’t visible, how did Clark find it? Who, besides Clark, saw the shoe before Clark moved the shoe?


“Uh, some hospitals have a layout such that some of the parts of the hospital extend higher than others so that one roof is higher than another. One could presumably access one roof from one part of the hospital through a window. Kind of like one new hospital near where I live.”


So now you get to imagine what the hospital looked like. Again, in what account is the word “roof” used?



“I didn't think I'd have to kindergarten this for you, David. What atheistic thinking does to the human reasoning abilities...”

Well, I’ve seen what theistic thinking does to human reasoning abilities, so…glass houses, etc.

Sorry, dude, this isn’t a matter of “atheistic thinking”. Don’t confuse terms and issues here. The question of the existence of God is a separate question. Could be all kinds of gods out there and it wouldn’t necessarily affect the questions about brains and minds.


“Remember, little David, we have books and magazines and *gasp* computers now.”

And we still have human error and “misremembering”.


“If it worked 2000 years ago, I'm gonna guess we have a handle on source material today.”

Did it “work” 2000 years ago? I dunno about that.

I see you don’t want to consider the implications of apparent geographical limits of “mind travel”.

David said...

Hey, you know what we need? We need a photo of the building. Any chance that your "account" includes a photo of the building?

cl said...

Well, I briefly followed the thread, but... couldn't get motivated to add anything. These conversations seem to always take a predictable trajectory. Remember, Descartes. One can doubt anything except their own doubt.

If anyone's interested, we ran this same conversation at my place last week [http://thewarfareismental.wordpress.com/2011/03/30/amp-5/].

bossmanham said...

Yet the investigators, who placed another shoe where the social worker claimed to have found the shoe, indicated it was visible from various places (and that the description of the windows and ledges from the original account) was also mistaken.

Which guarantees that the conditions were exactly the same, and that small details about the shoe (such as the threadbare qualities) are preserved, eh? But the eyewitness says she was on the ground looking for the shoe and couldn't see anything from the ground. So this supposed investigation, which I've seen no citation for, isn't necessarily even relevant.

So, Kim the Nurse is Kimberly Sharp. One and the same person. So we are indeed down to one witness.

Uhm, no.

And again, this wasn’t my point. My point was about how stories change and acquire embellishments. If you wish to ignore this lesson, that’s your choice.

The lesson is irrelevant if a core narrative can be found. No historian treats text as the atheist wants, let alone atheists.

Well, it seems to me that the “visibility” of the shoe is an open question, isn’t it? Who saw where the shoe was before the shoe was moved?

No one, which means it wasn't visible unless you went to where it was or it was planted, but no one has a reason to think it was planted due to the multiple corroborating witnesses at the scene.

Anyway, this answer does not address my point. Are you denying that others could have seen the shoe? Are you saying that only Clark could look out of a third floor window and see the shoe? Are you arguing that it is incorrect to conclude that if Clark could see the shoe, then others could see the shoe? How could Clark see a shoe that was invisible to everyone else?

Could != did. Nor does any of this appear to be relevant.

This has nothing to do with playing lawyer or historian

Except the means of historical study are what is being used here.

Ah, so now you’re denying that you flubbed the facts.

Haha. David, you appear to thrive on twisting what people have written in text. I'll leave it to others to see if I've either accepted or denied that I've flubbed a fact.

I see you don’t want to consider the implications of apparent geographical limits of “mind travel”.

Because you've neither showed that any exists or that it's relevant in this case.

What's at issue here for all of you reductionistic materialists is if the account happened as Kimberly Clark Sharp has described it, then you have something that's pretty hard to explain on your view, as is paid testimony to by all of the ad hoc attempts to explain this away. Sure, this is a conditional if, and you can deny that it happened if you want to I guess. But then we must ask why you'd have a reason to do so. What reason do you have to call the lady who had the NDE and her nurse and the people present that day liars or deluded? That's what you have to do, and one must stretch rational credulity to maintain the materialistic mindset. But that's par for the course for the atheist today.

bossmanham said...

CL,

Yeah, I've found that the materialist is willing to do all varieties of mental gymnastics to obscure accounts of NDE's, as the one commenter has done on your post. Annoying, but not surprising activity from the internet infidel crowd.

David said...

"Could != did. Nor does any of this appear to be relevant."

But could does mean could. Relevance? We could have a boring, materialistic explanation for the events in question.

"The lesson is irrelevant if a core narrative can be found."

Is every core narrative accurate? How do you know that this narrative is accurate? You have the word of a single woman with respect to the location of the shoe, the words of Maria, etc. Not much, given the claims in question.


"Because you've neither showed that any exists or that it's relevant in this case."

I didn't show the limits. YOU showed the limits by telling this story. I think that the relevance is clear. I also see that you prefer not to think about it.


"I'll leave it to others to see if I've either accepted or denied that I've flubbed a fact."

You said that Maria had never been to the hospital in question before the shoe incident.

This is incorrect.

You said that the shoe was on the roof, or later, on a roof ledge.

This is incorrect. As far as I can tell, there is no account that uses the word "roof" or "roof ledge".

Two clear errors here, both significant in demonstrating how the mind works and how unreliable humans can be.

You say there are "corroborating witnesses".

You've failed to provide any names or references with respect to these witnesses. What accounts are you using as a source of information? Who are the witnesses, what did they see, when did they see it? Did any other person actually see where the shoe was located before Clark removed it?

Did any of these witnesses work at the hospital? Did Clark interview others at the hospital to determine if anyone else had seen a shoe on a ledge? If Clark had never been to the hospital before, then it's very, very unlikely that she would be aware of what others in the hospital had seen with respect to the shoe.

"What reason do you have to call the lady who had the NDE and her nurse and the people present that day liars or deluded?"

Well, we're talking about some pretty fantastic claims (minds wandering around window ledges would be pretty amazing). The claims are made by a woman who has reason to want certain things to be so (e.g. NDEs) and who has profitted from the "NDE industry". It's been my experience that fantastic claims do not hold up when examined closely, especially when the witness is strongly predisposed towards the fantastic ("mindset"s work both ways, you know, so I'd be careful about too much emphasis on "materialistic mindset").

I'm not saying that I know that fantastic, non-materialistic explanations will never hold up. I'm not saying that I know with absolute certainty that the mind can't wander from the body(although I see little evidence that it can). What I'm saying is "fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me".

Now, it seems to me that much of the disagreement could be settled if we had some photos of the outside if the hospital. Do you have any such photos? This would be quite useful if we wish to avoid the "predictable trajectory".

bossmanham said...

But could does mean could. Relevance? We could have a boring, materialistic explanation for the events in question.

Unless no one did see it. And the testimony from Ms. Sharp is that she couldn't see it from the ground.

Is every core narrative accurate? How do you know that this narrative is accurate?

No. How do you know it isn't accurate?

You have the word of a single woman with respect to the location of the shoe, the words of Maria, etc. Not much, given the claims in question.

And you have nothing to the contrary. I have the words of Ms. Sharp, Maria, and the others at the hospital at the time (as reported by Gary Habermas here. He says, "Maria was later interviewed by several other researchers. Sharp communicated regularly with Maria over a three-year period...". You've not said why the testimony of Ms. Sharp isn't admissible on its own anyway. Do you have a reason to question her veracity other than your own presuppositions? It's quite bold to label someone a liar because you don't want to accept the possibility of immaterial spirits.

I also see that you prefer not to think about it.

Because there's no reason to think that it's true and that there was any constraint on the ability to travel elsewhere.

You said that Maria had never been to the hospital in question before the shoe incident.

This is incorrect.


No it isn't, as Habermas says, "Maria had just arrived in Seattle and Sharp had interviewed her the exact same day as this NDE. Maria had never been in the area of the hospital where the shoe had been located..." But of course we won't see a citation from your end.

Two clear errors here, both significant in demonstrating how the mind works and how unreliable humans can be.

Which is undeniably irrelevant to the case in point.

Now, it seems to me that much of the disagreement could be settled if we had some photos of the outside if the hospital.

Photos

for

silliness sake

Since you have nothing of any real value to add, David, this is an exercise in futility. Unless I see something worthwhile, I won't respond, since you've seen my answers about 4 times now.

bossmanham said...

I've gone through and read all of the comments in the mod filter and posted ones that brought up different issues that are relevant in actually casting doubt on the NDE we were discussing. As you see, none of them made the cut and they have now gone to wherever dead comments go. Sorry guys, repeating ourselves doesn't accomplish anything. Deal with the actual testimony, or admit that you have to deny the veracity and truthfulness of someone you have no reason to claim is mistaken, deluded, or lying.

David said...

"Deal with the actual testimony, or admit that you have to deny the veracity and truthfulness of someone you have no reason to claim is mistaken, deluded, or lying."

I dealt with the actual testimony. It's uncorrorated. How about dealing with the absence of corroborating witnesses?

I've given you very specific reasons why Clark could be "mistaken, deluded or lying". You choose to ignore them. I can even show you a photo that supports the conclusion that Clark could be "mistaken, deluded, or lying".

I think that you'd have very different standard if the fantastic claim in question was contrary to your beliefs. You would reject these claims, even if you could not prove beyond any doubt that the individual was mistaken or deluded. Since you're happy with what Clark says, you believe her even in the absence of independent corroborating evidence or witnesses. Fool you twice, shame on you.

bossmanham said...

I dealt with the actual testimony. It's uncorrorated. How about dealing with the absence of corroborating witnesses?

Even if there were no witnesses to "corrorrorate" it, it doesn't show hers is insufficient in any way, as I've already shown. Lack of corroboration doesn't show a lack of truth. In fact, we have corroboration in character witness of Ms. Clark Sharp herself, who is in a position of high repute and has been in the public eye for some time. The burden of proof lies with the one who claims that she's a liar. But it doesn't even apply here, as I've repeated over and over.

I've given you very specific reasons why Clark could be "mistaken, deluded or lying". You choose to ignore them

No you didn't, you appealed to the passage of time, which doesn't show anything even if it were true that she never told the story for seven years.

I can even show you a photo that supports the conclusion that Clark could be "mistaken, deluded, or lying".

A photo taken by whom? Someone who saw the shoe there? No...

I think that you'd have very different standard if the fantastic claim in question was contrary to your beliefs.

I don't lack corroborating accounts, as one could simply go to the hospital and talk to the people Clark Sharp refers to in her account, or look at Ms Clark Sharp's history and see there's no reason to question the voracity of her claims.

Also, I have OTHER REASONS AND ARGUMENTS to doubt other fantastic claims by, for instance, other religions. I have good reasons to think that Christianity is true, and that would nullify claims that would be incompatible with Christianity. You have no good reasons to think that Ms. Clark Sharp is deluded or lying.

So, your attack on my epistemology is unfounded, David.

bossmanham said...

And you didn't deal with the testimony, because you kept bringing up things that weren't in said testimony and stating them as facts.

David said...

"I have good reasons to think that Christianity is true."

No doubt the faithful of the other religions would say the same of their faith. It's easy to say when you don't apply the same standards of testing to your own faith. Well, nothing new here.

"The burden of proof lies with the one who claims that she's a liar."

No, not when we are dealing with claims such as these. If someone told you that they were abducted by aliens, anally probed and then sexually serviced by exotic beauties from Alpha Centuri, how could you prove they were lying?

"A photo taken by whom? Someone who saw the shoe there?"

No, a photo that shows you the actual depth and width of the windown, a window that was no where near a roof.

"I don't lack corroborating accounts, as one could simply go to the hospital and talk to the people Clark Sharp refers to in her account."

Ok, do it. Go the hospital. Good luck with that.

What account? I keep asking for accounts that provide the names of true corroborating witnesses, but I never get these accounts. I've read Clark's account that was published in 1984. In its entirety. No names of witnesses.

After much talk of "multiple witnesses cited in the original report all corroborating that the shoe could not be seen from the ground or from adjacent buildings"...

There are no multiple witnesses. All we have is a woman cashing in on the NDE trade and woman who was sick to the point of death. Good enough for you, I guess.

Ok, you believe her. Fool you twice.

bossmanham said...

No doubt the faithful of the other religions would say the same of their faith.

So? The arguments for other religions are very scant and very insufficient.

It's easy to say when you don't apply the same standards of testing to your own faith

Well, nice assertion, buy you really don't know me or the testing I subject my faith to.

No, not when we are dealing with claims such as these

Yes in dealing with claims such as these. A person who is honest all the time and not prone to overstatement is one whose testimony should be seriously considered even without corroborating testimony. That's why character witnesses exist.

If someone told you that they were abducted by aliens, anally probed and then sexually serviced by exotic beauties from Alpha Centuri, how could you prove they were lying?

If they were an honest person in a respectable position, I wouldn't necessarily without any other defeaters, though I have other reasons to think such beings don't exist, which are defeaters.

No, a photo that shows you the actual depth and width of the windown, a window that was no where near a roof.

According to someone who actually saw the shoe? I saw the hospital, there were a lot of windows. I saw the windows from the ground, not easy to see much from the ground. I have no reason to think that anyone could make out a shoe and its details from the ground.

Ok, do it. Go the hospital. Good luck with that.

Perhaps I will.

There are no multiple witnesses. All we have is a woman cashing in on the NDE trade and woman who was sick to the point of death.

Yeah, because that's so lucrative. You also have no evidence of that, nor any reason to think she's lying, but it was fun to see your attempts to degenerate into a flailing of your proverbial arms and stomping of your proverbial feet.

David said...

"Yeah, because that's so lucrative. You also have no evidence of that, nor any reason to think she's lying, but it was fun to see your attempts to degenerate into a flailing of your proverbial arms and stomping of your proverbial feet."

Such faith in your fellow humans.

You asked for reasons to doubt her. This is a legitimate reason. You're denying that she's made money in the NED trade? Money is money, be it in large amounts or small. There is also the joy of being a center of attention (never to be underestimated). But again, I never said she was lying. I think we're dealing with something subtler here.

Flailing?

Given the number of factual errors that you've presented since this exchange began, and your inability to back up your statements and "facts", I'm not so sure that I'm the one who's degenerated into flailing.

And the multiple witnesses are? Names of witnesses? Any independent testimonies or corroborations? Anyone in the room during the exchanges between Clark Sharp and Maria? Anyone else look for the shoe and fail to see it?


"I have other reasons to think such beings don't exist, which are defeaters."

And I have other reasons to think that minds don't float around independently of bodies, which are defeaters.

Therefore, I know that Clark Sharp was either lying, deluded or mistaken. So there you go.

David said...

"I have no reason to think that anyone could make out a shoe."

You sure about that? Wanna see?


"Yeah, because that's so lucrative. You also have no evidence of that, nor any reason to think she's lying, but it was fun to see your attempts to degenerate into a flailing of your proverbial arms and stomping of your proverbial feet."

Such faith in your fellow humans.

You asked for reasons to doubt her. This is a legitimate reason. You're denying that she's made money in the NED trade? Money is money, be it in large amounts or small. There is also the joy of being a center of attention (never to be underestimated). But again, I never said she was lying. I think we're dealing with something subtler here.

Flailing?

Given the number of factual errors that you've presented since this exchange began, and your inability to back up your statements and "facts", I'm not so sure that I'm the one who's degenerated into flailing.

And the multiple witnesses are? Names of witnesses? Any independent testimonies or corroborations? Anyone in the room during the exchanges between Clark Sharp and Maria? Anyone else look for the shoe and fail to see it?


"I have other reasons to think such beings don't exist, which are defeaters."

And I have other reasons to think that minds don't float around independently of bodies, which are defeaters.

Therefore, I know that Clark Sharp was either lying, deluded or mistaken. So there you go.

bossmanham said...

David, the simple fact that you're using a line of reasoning that says that my alleged misstatements constitute a defeater for believing Ms. Clark Sharp's account shows the desperate nature of your position. Though I'm flattered you think I'm so powerful, I must point out the fallacious reasoning it has brought about.

And since you're not coming up with anything new, nothing more need be said. Don't bother posting unless it's not a repetitive statement.

Zachary Kroger said...

Hey BMH, I will keep this short, as it seems there are tons of people responding now.

So far from what I gathered, on dualism, we have no idea what the brain does, what the mind does, or how either work. It simply asserts that an immaterial mind is responsible for everything that modern neuroscience has already explained via the brain. And since neuroscience can’t 100% disprove an immaterial mind, dualism is still a viable option. This seems very inelegant, unnecessary and even incoherent to me.

I am aware of zombies, but the ability to speak proves nothing. This is what made Georges Ray’s comment to Steven Pinker funny, when he told Pinker that he had been a zombie since age 15, after he was in a bicycle accident.

Tourettes is not subconscious at all (in the sense that neurology uses it). Did you look up the paper I cited? You could also just talk to someone who has it. It is just like when you have an itch, and you want to scratch it. You don’t HAVE to scratch it, but the longer that you don’t the more uncomfortable it is… so you eventually give in.

You’re right, you didn’t say that the mind left when we slept… you said it was dormant. I fail to see the difference in experience between a dormant mind, and a mind that no longer exists.

It seems abundantly clear that the elephant in the computer works as a perfect analogy, but I will let other readers decide for themselves.

If it is begging the question to assume that the right hem in a split brain has a sense of I, then it is begging the question to think that the left hem has one either. Language is not a prerequisite for consciousness. If specific opinions, goals and desires aren’t evidence of a mind, I have no idea what could be.

I will wrap up our convo (on my side) with two quotes to match yours. One from a Nobel prize winner, and one from a philosopher of mind.

All mental processes, even the most complex psychological processes, derive from operations of the brain. -Eric Kandel

No dualist has ever been able to give an account of how a brain can affect a mind, or how a mind can affect a brain. Dualism, for most philosophers today, is not a real option. –John Searle

Thanks for the convo. Take care.

cl said...

Well, I guess David's got it all figured out.

David said...

Only one new thing. Whether you post it is up to you.

Just want to point out that there is no more physical evidence or independent corroboration for the Clark story than there is for the typical alien abduction story. If you can conclude that the alien abductee is either lying, mistaken or deluded on the ground that there are other reasons to think such things don't exist, then it is perfectly reasonable for me to conclude that Clark is either lying, mistaken or deluded. Good for the goose, good for the gander.

David said...

(Continued)

...In other words, how you interpret the Clark story depends on mindset. Not just my mindset, but your mindset, too. So, who knows what's true? It's all a matter of subjective mindset.

David said...

"Well, I guess David's got it all figured out."

This is not what I've been trying to do here. What I'm saying is that there is a reasonable likelihood that there is a boring, non-fantastic explanation for the origin of the story in question, and that this is story that is no better supported then your typical alien abduction tale. In the end, it all comes down the uncorroborated word of a single woman. And when I hear hoofbeats, I've learned that it's best to look for horses first before concluding that it's zebras. Cuts down on the number of times one gets fooled. But hey, for all I know, Maria's mind went to Disney World during her heart attack.

By the way, I've been reading some of Clark Sharp autobiographical writings. She is one crazy lady!

bossmanham said...

Zachary,

So far from what I gathered, on dualism, we have no idea what the brain does, what the mind does, or how either work.

Even if this is true, what does some process being mysterious have to do with its truth?

It simply asserts that an immaterial mind is responsible for everything that modern neuroscience has already explained via the brain.

No it uses certain arguments to show that the reductionistic view of the brain cannot account for certain phenomena associated with the mind.

And since neuroscience can’t 100% disprove an immaterial mind, dualism is still a viable option.

No, it argues that since those who argue from neuroscience to reductionistic materialism are making a fallacious leap in logic. THAT, my friend, is inelegant.

You don’t HAVE to scratch it, but the longer that you don’t the more uncomfortable it is

...Because you have a subconscious, uncontrollable desire to do so...I think one's free will CAN overcome the desire, it just becomes hard to do it. Just like one could keep themself from eating till they starve to death.

You’re right, you didn’t say that the mind left when we slept… you said it was dormant. I fail to see the difference in experience between a dormant mind, and a mind that no longer exists.

I don't see how that's a difficult distinction.

If it is begging the question to assume that the right hem in a split brain has a sense of I, then it is begging the question to think that the left hem has one either

I didn't claim anything. You're the one claiming that two separate consciousnesses appear without argument. I'm pointing out that without argument, your saying so is circular reasoning.

And re: your two quotes, I'd ask for their arguments to that effect.

You also take care too, as you are far more pleasant to converse with than some other.

Havok said...

BMH: Even if this is true, what does some process being mysterious have to do with its truth?
It would certainly have bearing on whether and how we can know it to be true, even provisionally.

BMH: No it uses certain arguments to show that the reductionistic view of the brain cannot account for certain phenomena associated with the mind.
It attempts to show that a reductionist account of the brain fails, but hasn't gotten there yet. And, if that is all the substance dualism account is purported to do, then why claim it to be different than the various non-physical accounts of the mind (there are quite a few of these)?

BMH: No, it argues that since those who argue from neuroscience to reductionistic materialism are making a fallacious leap in logic
Once again, it attempts to show this, but hasn't as yet (else there wouldn't be any physicalists within the fields of neuroscience and philosophy of mind).

BMH: I don't see how that's a difficult distinction.
unconsciousness generally is difficult for substance dualism, since the mind seems to cease to function when certain brain states are absent. Why that should be so seems to be unanswered.

BMH: And re: your two quotes, I'd ask for their arguments to that effect.
Zachary's first quote would seem to require argument, thought the strong correlation between brain states and mental states, along with the various difficulties of postulating a seperate mind (breaking known laws of physics or being left with an impotent "thing" for example) would seem to argue in it's favour.
The second quote, from Searle is simply an observation that accounts of substance dualism fail to support their own claims (evidence in support of conservation laws failing in our skulls would go some way towards changing this) :-)

bossmanham said...

It would certainly have bearing on whether and how we can know it to be true, even provisionally.

No, it would have an impact on whether and how we know HOW it works. You can know something is true without understanding how it works.

It attempts to show that a reductionist account of the brain fails, but hasn't gotten there yet.

Sure it has. There are good sound deductive arguments that end with non-reductionism.

Once again, it attempts to show this, but hasn't as yet

Uh, it's not hard to show that correlation doesn't entail identity. Since this is the line of reasoning used, it shoes that those who argue from neuroscience to reductionistic materialism are making a fallacious leap in logic.

unconsciousness generally is difficult for substance dualism, since the mind seems to cease to function when certain brain states are absent.

It's never been a problem in the 2500 year history of dualism. And you've cited a correlation, which doesn't prove anything other than the two states correlate.

Of course in the NDE cases, there is no brain activity and people report high levels of events their minds partake in...

The second quote, from Searle is simply an observation that accounts of substance dualism fail to support their own claims

Of course they don't. I'd also ask Searle how any of these observations lead to belief in reductionistic materialism (though I don't think Searle is a reductionist).

bossmanham said...

I already said that I'd not be allowing repetitions on your arguments.