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Comment Watching the decision process with FMRI (Score 1) 386

Book: The Illusion Of Conscious Will by D. Wegner In this book they place people in FMRI scanners and ask them to touch their fingers together at some random time. The results suggest that the decision area of the brain (neo-cortex) gets involved quite late in the process. Worse than that, there research to suggest that there is a region of the brain whose job is to construct some narrative so that it seems like we actually made the decision. (Some patients have lost this area due to stroke, and they can produce strange results in testing).

Comment Re:This is why India is poor (Score 2) 137

The citizenry of of modern societies face not one potential inside enemy (the government) but two (government and corporations). The trick is to balance these so there is healthy commerce while not abusing too much of the citizenry. To be honest, any sane society will keep an eye on any center of power, it is a problem with all large organizational structures (Scientology). Remember that government is at least theoretically responsible for keeping the system healthy for citizens, while in the US, for practical purposes, corporations have a charter (sometimes enforced by shareholder lawsuit) to make a profit at any cost.

Comment Infinities are a problem (Score 1) 225

It seems to me that once you start looking backward and asking origin type questions, you are eventually forced to confront infinities. Either we assume something has always existed, or a god created it, and god was around for infinity. My understanding is that infinity is a mathematical symbol, and not yet observed in the physical universe. Would it even be possible to witness any infinite thing, or it's infinite-ness ? Aside from mathematics, I am not sure the word infinity qualifies as an actual signifier of anything.

Comment Re:Obligatory (Score 1) 172

I totally agree that language allows us to pose questions that do not map to reality. (How old is the current kind of France ?) And I understand there are cosmological answers that look reasonable as long as I agree not to ask certain questions relating to what I experience. I do not ever experience the king of France however. I do experience [the illusion of] time, and it totally makes sense to think of a previous moment in time. Your answer regarding the big bang is a good answer, but it requires my acceptance of something I have never experienced and can make no sense of. Materialism holds that that the universe moves through a series of states via a series of causes. Except for the first state. That troubles me. The origin problem remains, you just say that I must not [cannot ?] ask the question.

Comment Re:Obligatory (Score 1) 172

We probably differ on very little. The god described in the Bible, I cannot see that as being true. But something else ? What would a god be anyway ? My original point was there is no easy answer to the origin problem, not in theism, not in atheism. You can decide not to ponder the question. Otherwise, the remaining imaginable options are all problematic. I am burdened with the same problem as everyone else. If I do believe that something rather that nothing exists, (I do, I at least know I am conscious, even if I am dreaming) then I either have to adopt some metaphysical position, which puts me in the faith camp. Or remain agnostic and continue to ponder it. People who are only considering the biological genesis problem, or the cosmological problem, don't realize there is a much bigger problem, the ontological problem.

Comment Re:Obligatory (Score 1) 172

But just saying you don't know doesn't absolve you of taking a stance on the matter.

If I don't make a claim or take a stance, how would you know ? Let's say I wake up in a strange room that is on fire, with a door to the left and a door to the right. As a practical matter I choose the door on the left, but at no time do I make a claim that it is in fact the exit. Just a practical decision, no claim to truth. While you will find me making certain practical decisions, you won't often hear me announcing truth claims.

Even if you answer this with "I'm not sure", this is essentially the same as saying "they have similar possibilities of being correct."

Sorry, I don't agree, the second part there would constitute a claim.

my brother is 1 millimeter tall or 6 feet tall,

The 1mm answer would be silly of course, but I don't think it makes your argument that I have made a claim. Your argument seems to imply that it would not be possible for me to truly not know the answer to certain questions.

Comment Re:Obligatory (Score 5, Insightful) 172

I am responding to the post above, not how evolution got started, which is a somewhat smaller problem. The context of the above post was about how anything got started, a place you end up ultimately if you keep thinking about it. I am an agnostic because I think the burden of proof rests with those who make a positive claim. When I say I don't know, there is nothing I need to prove.

Comment Re:Obligatory (Score 5, Insightful) 172

Agnostic here. IMHO we really have no way to think or talk about the origin problem. We can insert some placeholder, that semantically answers the question (like God started it all, or time goes back infinitely, or time started at the big bang), but ontologically, we still got nothin'. How do we make sense of a beginning with no previous moment ? Or an infinitely backward extending line of time ? Go ahead and act like the problem is resolved, but it is still an open question. And this is a problem because I have a belief that something, rather than nothing, exists, which raises these nasty origin questions.

Comment Re:And duct tape will do it all (Score 1) 119

I recently tried gaffer's tape in making valves for a harmonica. Worked pretty well. The small rectangular piece of tape is sits over a rectangular hole in the reed plate. The tape is attached to the brass plate at one end. When you blow the harmonica, air travels up thru the slot, lifting the tape (valve) so that air passes thru. But then you draw (suck air) the tape clamps down, blocking the air flow, forcing all the air thru the opposing draw reed. Which gives a different sound, and allows the pitch bending of notes not normally bendable.

Comment Re:The endgame? Pay me. (Score 1) 151

Your question is sadly relevant. We create these huge powerful organizational structures (corporations, governments, religions, etc) without any thought of what might go wrong. And if you haven't had any experience in these large organizations, you could look at a number of studies suggesting that the top layers of these organizations are reserved for psychopaths, and people with some variety of anti-social disorders / no capacity for empathy. History suggests all these structures will eventually fail and be replaced. I think it will be a more painful process in these modern times.

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