Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Steven Novella: skeptic brains are different

Novella:
Mind and Morality

One of the themes of this blog, reflecting my skeptical philosophy, is that our brains construct reality – meaning that our perceptions, memories, internal model of reality, narrative of events, and emotions are all constructed artifacts of our neurological processing. This is, in my opinion, an undeniable fact revealed by neuroscience.

For those readers who haven't already fallen from their chairs laughing, I'll clarify.

How, pray tell, can there be any "undeniable facts revealed by neuroscience" if "all of our thoughts are constructed artifacts"?

Does Novella claim that his skeptic brain is exempt from constructing artifacts, and uniquely has access to undeniable neuroscience facts?

You may have noticed that a very effective way to refute Novella is to begin a sentence with "How...", quote him, write "if", then quote him again. He refutes himself. If all of our thoughts are constructed artifacts, then "undeniable facts revealed by neuroscience" are... constructed artifacts, and they are not undeniable facts, and whatever they actually are is revealed by our neurological processing, not by neuroscience.

Either we have access to undeniable facts revealed by neuroscience, or all of our thoughts are constructed artifacts of our neurological processing.

Not both.





19 comments:

  1. Maybe Novella was thinking of this study?
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2039690/Atheism-autism-Controversial-new-study-points-link-two.html

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  2. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyJune 19, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    Novella's idiotic claim reminds me of Dawkins' claim that humans (and other organisms) are nothing but "gigantic lumbering robots" in the service of DNA replication.

    Such bullshit garners attention in academic circles for its "transgressivity" and "courage", but begs the question of why anyone should bother to listen to a gigantic lumbering robot whose reality is a constructed artifact and whose prime directive is copulation.

    Alas, I suspect such pseudo-intellectuals harbor the secret belief that they are exempt. It's the lumpenproletariat that are the meat machines. HG Wells didn't pick the name Eloi out of a hat for the Evolved Master Race in his science fiction masterpiece, The Time Machine.

    "[Y]ou will be like gods..." (Gen 3:5)

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  3. "Does Novella claim that his skeptic brain is exempt from constructing artifacts, and uniquely has access to undeniable neuroscience facts?"

    Well, whatever else he intends to say, he's saying that the brains of "skeptics" are anbormal.

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  4. "This is, in my opinion, an undeniable fact revealed by neuroscience."

    Or, translated:

    "This is a constructed artifact of my neurological processing, which my neurological processing has constructed to be an undeniable fact of a subjective reality which is itself an artifact constructed by my neurological processing."

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  5. Materialistic atheists create contradictions all the time. They can say one thing and provide its contrary as a proof.

    As an example, Jerry Coyne says he does not teach that science proves atheism and, to prove his point, he says that since science has not proved God exists, he is an atheist.

    Go figure!

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    Replies
    1. Certainly God can not disprove he was created by a super-God, and if God believes he wasn’t, then he’s an atheist as well.

      -KW

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    2. KW,
      Your stuck in a regression loop. Try a Montessori school, kindergarten, or even some sort Sunday School. Any one of those baby steps could help you understand why that kind of thinking is just a mental trap. When you're a bit older there is all that whole 'reason', 'science', and 'logic' stuff.

      Deuce,
      Note that Novella has confused (misrepresented?) opinion with fact in this line. He earlier also asserts his philosophy is analogous with science. The whole thing is one huge category error.

      Pépé,
      Precisely. They argue for a paradox. The entire position is a self refuting mess.

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  6. “Either we have access to undeniable facts revealed by neuroscience, or all of our thoughts are constructed artifacts of our neurological processing.”

    It’s not either/or. There is absolutely no reason a constructed artifact of our neurological processing can’t be considered an undeniable fact. As a matter of fact it happens all the time. Who here is ready to deny that the Earth orbit’s the sun?

    -KW

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    Replies
    1. @KW:

      If ALL of our thoughts are constructed artifacts, how do you know anything is true?

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    2. I don’t let that keep me from getting on with my day. Neither do you. We both navigate day by day relying on what we perceive as being true to guide our actions. Little of what we perceive as true is completely accurate, but some things are truer than others. When someone says “undeniable fact” they mean supported by a preponderance of the evidence with no credible refutation. In my mental construct the preponderance of evidence says the Earth goes around the Sun, nobody can refute it. For me, that’s sufficient for “undeniable fact”.

      What are your requirements before you claim something an Undeniable fact? Assuming you have some sort of threshold, doesn’t that suggest your mental process informs what is “true“, or do you just rely on gut instinct when presented with information?

      -KW

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    3. Epistemology is a big topic. We mostly go with our gut. There are no easy answers about what we can understand, and how much reality we have access to.

      Novella's assertion has nothing really to do with epistemology. His assertion is merely gibberish-- a version of the liars' paradox. If our thoughts are all constructed reality, than we cannot say that we have access to the truth that they are constructed reality without that constructed reality.

      My argument has nothing to do with epistemology, which is a huge topic. It has to do with Novella's idiocy, which is also a big topic.

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    4. KW claims to be familiar with nuclear/particle physics. This - no doubt - causes him to take the Copenhagen stance on the subject, and he has extended that view to reduce his relationship with reality to the whole 'working model' concept. He does not question, because the question itself is a distraction from his 'model'. Enigmas like consciousness and the effects of consciousness on reality are a 'no go' for him.
      Bring up a concept in his own field like superposition and observe (pun intended) him go silent or create an elaborate construct model to work around it. Confront it? Never.
      Of course, we cannot blame him for that. He is a technician, and this stuff is just not part of the manual. The numbers work, so why question what the numbers are or why there is, at the very heart of everything, a direct link with conscious observation? Go down that rabbit hole and you are either a) stuck in a regression loop or b) forced to face some sort of universal consciousness or mind. That sounds like mysticism to him. So? Plug the ears an hum loudly is the reaction.

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    5. “If our thoughts are all constructed reality, than we cannot say that we have access to the truth that they are constructed reality without that constructed reality.”

      So what? As I’ve pointed out our constructed reality is often quite accurate. This is in no paradox here.

      -KW

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    6. So what? LMAO!

      If the constructed reality is your only access to the truth, then your 'truth' is a byproduct of 'often quite accurate' constructions and therefor not truth at all, but an 'often accurate' mental construction.
      HELLO?

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    7. @KW:

      [So what? As I’ve pointed out our constructed reality is often quite accurate. This is in no paradox here.]

      Are you really that clueless, KW? You can't know if it is "quite accurate" if all of your thoughts are constructed reality. It's constructed reality, all the way down.

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    8. It’s not either/or. There is absolutely no reason a constructed artifact of our neurological processing can’t be considered an undeniable fact.

      You can "consider" anything you want to be an objective fact. But what you consider a fact can't actually *be* a fact if "reality" is just subjective artifact constructed by your neurological processing (which in turn is a subjective artifact of itself, apparently).

      As a matter of fact it happens all the time.

      Rather, materialists like you and Novella do it all the time, because you're unable to be consistent. Your penchant for contradicting yourselves is unsurprising, since you're essentially denying the supremacy and inviolability of logic as a guide to truth about reality in the first place.

      Who here is ready to deny that the Earth orbit’s the sun?

      Why are asking *us* a question that assumes we accept Novella's claim rather than rejecting it for the incoherent bullshit it is? We've got no reason to reject that observed fact in the first place. The answer is that you and Novella would reject heliocentrism as objective truth about reality if you were consistent.

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    9. So what? As I’ve pointed out our constructed reality is often quite accurate.

      And you would know, because you've compared your constructed reality to... um... your constructed reality!

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    10. It seems oddly apropos that your chosen moniker is a synonym for shit, since that's what you spout so often.

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    11. You can "consider" anything you want to be an objective fact.

      Neither Novella or KW said "objective fact". You haven't responded to what they actually said, but instead erected a straw-man and attacked that. in other words, you just spewed a pile of shit instead of actually arguing with any point they had made.

      But given that you're here, and don't realize that Egnor is the ignorant idiot his blog name states that he is, I'm not surprised.

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