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We’re all hallucinating so shut up and do as I tell you

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From Anil Ananthaswamy at New Scientist:

Welcome to one of the more provocative-sounding explanations of how the brain works, outlined in a set of 26 original papers, the second part of a unique online compendium updating us on current thinking in neuroscience and the philosophy of mind.

In 2015, the MIND group founded by philosopher Thomas Metzinger of the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, Germany, set up the Open MIND project to publish papers by leading researchers. Unusually, the papers were published in open access electronic formats, as an experiment in creating a cutting edge online resource – and it was free. The first volume, spanning everything from the nature of consciousness to lucid dreaming, was a qualified success.

The second volume, Philosophy and Predictive Processing, focuses entirely on the influential theory in its title, which argues that our brains are constantly making predictions about what’s out there (a flower, a tiger, a person) and these predictions are what we perceive.

Everything we perceive, including ourselves, are simulacrums of reality. The takeaway here is this wild thought: we are always hallucinating. More.

Curious that the same source that tell us that our thoughts are hallucinations publishes calls for censorship and shutting down comments. Like we said, when reason has been debunked, the will to power remains.

See also: New Scientist: We need more censorship because free speech is censorship

Bill Nye would criminalize dissent from human-caused global warming claims.

and

Objectivity is sexist.

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18 Replies to “We’re all hallucinating so shut up and do as I tell you

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    Everything we perceive, including ourselves, are simulacrums of reality. The takeaway here is this wild thought: we are always hallucinating.

    This sounds like sloppy writing. It sounds like the scientists are investigating the concept that the world we all see around us is a model or simulation of what we assume is actually out there, which is not exactly a new idea. An hallucination, by definition, is a sensory ‘image’ of something that is not there. At best, it is poetic license to refer to hallucinations but it is not good science reporting.

  2. 2
    mike1962 says:

    Better to say our consciousness is watching a highly processed movie playing in our brain.

  3. 3
    Origenes says:

    Predicting sensations
    In a nutshell, the brain builds models of the environment and the body …

    Very interesting! BTW what is steering this process? Don’t tell me that it is blind chemistry, because then chaos would reign supreme and the world no longer makes any sense.

    … which it uses to make hypotheses about the source of sensations. The hypothesis that is deemed most likely becomes a perception of external reality.

    “Deemed most likely on what basis”? Is blind chemistry determining what is “most likely?” Or if the assessment is done by a rational process, how does it force its conclusion on the neurons of the brain? How does it control chemistry in order to steer neurons towards the correct perception?

    Of course, the prediction could be accurate or awry, and it is the brain’s job to correct for any errors – after making a mistake it can modify its models to account better for similar situations in the future.

    Yes of course. Sure. But exactly how does the brain “modify its models?” Does it have the knowledge and ability to alter its neurons? How does that work? What is planning this change and what is orchestrating its execution?

    Everything we perceive, including ourselves, are simulacrums of reality.

    Fascinating, thought provoking stuff! All this talk of simulacrums, illusions and hallucinations. Naturalistic “philosophy” is so rich! One minor question: who is the “we” who perceives? Or are “simulacrums of reality” perceiving “simulacrums of reality”?

    The takeaway here is this wild thought: we are always hallucinating.

    You do enjoy provocative thinking don’t you. You may like this question: are ‘we’ (whatever that means) also hallucinating when we conclude that we are always hallucinating — or are we then no longer hallucinating?

  4. 4
    Dionisio says:

    Origenes

    who is the “we” who perceives?

    That’s quite a precise bottom line question. Excellent!

    Please, show more compassion to your politely dissenting interlocutors. Next time ask easier questions, ok? 🙂

    Let me give you an example:

    What do they mean by ‘perceive’?

    Maybe David Chalmers had a reason to call this “The hard problem of consciousness”?

    Did he mean that the problem of consciousness has placed science between a rock and a hard place?

  5. 5
    Origenes says:

    Dionisio,

    What can I say? The elite has gone psycho, deranged, unhinged and stupid. These are scary times.

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:

    It’s hallucinations all the way dowwwn . . .

  7. 7
    Seversky says:

    Chalmers called it the hard problem of consciousness not the insoluble problem of consciousness. J B S Haldane once wrote ” “My own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.” He may well be right but we will never know unless we try. Quantum theory is unsettling because it upends some of our previous comforting certainties. Perhaps the true underlying nature of reality is even stranger than that but, as in The Matrix, many prefer the cozy and familiar simulation to the far less congenial reality the may actually be out there. Which pill do we choose?

  8. 8
    Dionisio says:

    Chalmers was forced to call it the hard problem of consciousness because it has placed science between a rock and a hard place.
    That’s all.
    We can sweep and mop the floor with any nonsense explanation they may think of.
    It’s all hogwash for the credulous masses out there.
    Ok?

  9. 9
    JDH says:

    I am sorry, I really do not understand this. Some men study consciousness and conclude that it is not soluble, so rather than say — “Maybe the lack of even an imaginable materialistic model of consciousness is evidence that the supernatural (and ultimately God) exists” they choose to say, “The universe is really queer.”

    The sad thing is they argue that there is no evidence for God even when talking about the biggest piece of evidence there is.

  10. 10
    Dionisio says:

    JDH,
    Exactly that’s why Chalmers is forced to call it “The HARD problem of consciousness” because the whole issue places science between a rock and a hard place. Otherwise he could have just called it “the problem of consciousness” without the adjective HARD.
    The Aussie professor said it honestly.
    He believes the problem can be eventually resolved within a radically different scientific approach, but it ain’t easy at all. It’s a hard problem to resolve.
    We can sweep and mop the floor with any nonsense explanation they may think of.
    It’s all hogwash for the credulous masses out there.
    Ok?
    Some of us believe we know the Maker of consciousness. Hence we sing hallelujah! and rejoice.

  11. 11
    Origenes says:

    Dionisio,

    regarding Chalmers …

    Wiki: The hard problem of consciousness is the problem of explaining how and why we have qualia or phenomenal experiences—how sensations acquire characteristics, such as colors and tastes.[1] The philosopher David Chalmers, who introduced the term “hard problem” of consciousness,[2] contrasts this with the “easy problems” of explaining the ability to discriminate, integrate information, report mental states, focus attention, etc. Easy problems are easy because all that is required for their solution is to specify a mechanism that can perform the function. That is, their proposed solutions, regardless of how complex or poorly understood they may be, can be entirely consistent with the modern materialistic conception of natural phenomena. Chalmers claims that the problem of experience is distinct from this set, and he argues that the problem of experience will “persist even when the performance of all the relevant functions is explained”.

    Chalmers: The really hard problem of consciousness is the problem of experience. When we think and perceive there is a whir of information processing, but there is also a subjective aspect.

    I am focusing on what Chalmers considers to be “easy problems” (see quote above). Specifically I am asking what controls “the ability to discriminate, integrate information, report mental states, focus attention, etc.”

    My claim is simple and straightforward: if blind chemistry is behind the control panel, then we cannot expect mind stuff to proceed in a coherent way.

    IOWs a mechanism that performs e.g. the function of focusing attention, does not explain focusing attention on the right thing, at the right time and in the right amount. It does not explain focusing attention within the context of coherent behavior. My point is that behind the control panel there must be something with overview, something that preserves overall coherence, something akin to an orchestral conductor.

  12. 12
    asauber says:

    ___Humans aren’t exceptional___ so shut up and do what I tell you.

    Andrew

  13. 13
    LocalMinimum says:

    Origenes:

    Focusing attention could be emulated as a thread control algorithm, with processing resources distributed against, say, some “concern” amplitude defined by some metric of the “importance” values attached to the elements of the subjects within each thread. The importance value itself would be defined by correlations with primal motivators: preservation of self or others, moral directives, preference of symmetry/ aesthetics.

  14. 14
    Origenes says:

    LocalMinimum @13

    I wonder if attention focusing wrt abstractions, e.g. Thomas Aquinas contemplating the First Cause, can be emulated. However, symbol processing without understanding can certainly emulate a lot, but emulation is no explanation. What it does is separate source and execution of behavior — the programmer & the computer respectively.
    What it boils down to is this: naturalism only has a point if blind particles in motion can perform just as well as the computer programmer.

  15. 15
    LocalMinimum says:

    Origenes:

    Oh, I wasn’t offering an explanation for the existence of such a system, just an appeal to the feasibility of its existence. The system as a structure and its initial data including the initial set of primal motivators, all scream engineering.

  16. 16
    Origenes says:

    LocalMinimum @15

    LM: The system as a structure and its initial data including the initial set of primal motivators, all scream engineering.

    Indeed. Let’s note that Chalmers views the listed abilities in isolation and considers them to be “easy” problems for naturalism. I instead focus on their contextualization and see an insurmountable problem for naturalism.

    For clarity, when I pose the question:

    … what controls “the ability to discriminate, integrate information, report mental states, focus attention, etc.?”

    and then go on stating:

    … if blind chemistry is behind the control panel, then we cannot expect mind stuff to proceed in a coherent way.

    and also:

    … behind the control panel there must be something with overview, something that preserves overall coherence, something akin to an orchestral conductor.

    I am talking about the “explanation for the existence of such a system”. I am talking about the ‘programmer’.

  17. 17
    LocalMinimum says:

    Origenes:

    Ahhh, ok. I was reading it as a local operator rather than programmer.

  18. 18

    So glad I don’t suffer under the delusion of a/mat philosophy. I might actually feel bad for those lost souls if I didn’t dislike them so much.

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