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Posts posted by Malkuth

  1. But look at what you're actually saying. The whole physical universe, including your body and brain, is in some massively complicated superposition of states, each of which (taken individually) corresponds to some one familiar/definite way the universe could be experienced. But, in fact, according to the theory, the world isn't that way at all. So how come we experience it to be in one of those familiar/definite configurations? How come we don't experience it as it actually is, namely, in a massively complicated entangled superposition? Because some kind of magic -- which I hold is tantamount to the collapse postulate -- is "put in by hand" (i.e., just arbitrarily asserted as a new postulate) at the physical-universe / mind boundary. Which by the way makes a hash of virtually every foundational principle in Objectivist epistemology and metaphysics (e.g., perceptual realism -- according to MWI every conscious experience anybody has ever had has been massively delusional, in the sense that its "report" about the state of the external physical world is totally false... We see a cat that's definitely dead or definitely alive, but *really* it's neither, etc.).

    It would depend on the way that consciousness/perception works. I don't think the mechanism is known, and I definitely don't know it. But we don't consciously perceive the cat as both dead and alive, only one or the other. In the same way that measurement devices geared towards measuring the position of a particle see it localized in space, and not having multiple localizations in space.

    If you want to honestly compare the parsimony of orthodox QM and Bohmian Mechanics, it's a mistake to just say "Bohm adds particles to the ontology, so it's needlessly cumbersome." Yes, Bohm posits both particles and a guiding wave (just the ordinary wave function, for the record). But because of what it "adds" to orthodox QM, it gets to subtract a bunch of stuff -- namely, all of the vague and inconsistent measurement axioms. That is, there is no "measurement problem" for Bohm's theory the way there is for orthodox QM, because, for Bohm, all physical processes are on the same footing -- there's no need to divide the world into subject and object, quantum and classical, speakable and unspeakable, measurements and non-measurements, etc. You have just one set of basic dynamical postulates which apply *all the time*, whether anybody is making a "measurement" or not.

    I'll give you the lack of measurement axioms adds parsimony. Apparently I wasn't considering that.

    Now I gather you won't be too impressed by that comparison because you don't want to advocate orthodox QM, you want to advocate MWI -- which is precisely orthodox QM but with all the measurement postulates subtracted out. And I grant that, if you got a coherent theory that way, it would indeed show that Bohmian Mechanics is not maximally parsimonious (which wouldn't be the end of the discussion, but it'd be something). But in fact you don't get a coherent theory that way. You get something that is, frankly, crazy and unscientific. And, anyway, you end up having to sneak the measurement axioms back in at the mind-matter interface -- which, as Bell once pointed out, is a very uncomfortable place to be doing physics.

    I don't really try to advocate many worlds, I just brought it up to say I actually believe it. When it gets to metaphysics, I'm not particularly good at it, and it far too often seems to be just playing around with words (less with this crowd than with "mainstream" philosophy), so I don't like to argue my ontology over other ontologies (especially since mine is considered rather fringe, and because I find it hard to convey verbally and have obviously accepted it because I have an unorthodox way of even thinking about things), though I do somehow end up doing it anyway.

    You did make the point that Bohm subtracts off the measurement axioms, though, so I can't argue it's any less parsimonious. So I have no reason to argue against it, though I still would like to defend Copenhagen.

    You seem like a smart guy, and I can only assume you have some interest in Objectivism. So I really don't want this to become confrontational. But you seem to have accepted a lot of dubious ideas from your physics training. The antidote to that is reading Bell. Get a copy of "Speakable and Unspeakable" and start reading it. As I mentioned before, "Bertlmann's Socks" is a great place to start.

    I'll look into it, thanks for the recommendation.

  2. The collapse postulate. When a measurement occurs anywhere, the wave function describing (previously-entangled) degrees of freedom anywhere else in the universe changes *instantaneously*. And of course "instantaneously" is not a relativistically invariant concept.

    . . .

    It is made to look that way by the fact that all you are ever asked to calculate in QFT courses is matrix elements (so you can calculate scattering cross sections and whatnot). But if you actually step back and think about the story the theory is telling for the evolution of the physical world over time, and what happens when somebody somewhere makes a measurement, and how other things have to evolve subsequently, you'll realize that there's no relevant difference between QFT and NRQM. They both require a collapse postulate to get the right answers, and formulating that precisely requires some un-relativistic concept of a dynamically privileged space-like hypersurface.

    I have stepped back and looked at the story, and I gave you my (rather messy and inarticulate) description of, which you dismissed as "solipsism". Which, from what I recall, is a philosophy that claims that only one consciousness exists and reality is its making. Not a philosophy that claims statements about reality must be made from the perspective of an observer, which exists in a universe bound by the laws of physics and must obey those laws like anything else.

    Wavefunction collapse doesn't "emerge" in MWI. Unless you put it back in by hand at the world-mind interface (i.e., unless you cheat).

    Yes, it does. If you were to measure the state of a particle, e.g. an electron's spin, your state would become entangled with its--you'd be in a superposition of having measured spin up and of having measured spin down. You only observe one of them; you're one of the basis states making up the superposition. One of the "many worlds", so to say, that make up the total state of the universe. The fact that the electron could've had the other spin is completely lost to you, so you observe the wavefunction as having "collapsed". That's how wavefunction collapse emerges.

    Actually we do have evidence that there are particles (think: spots on detector screens or tracks in bubble chambers), and evidence that the motion of the particles is somehow guided by a wave (think: all the little spots make an interference pattern as they accumulate). And by the way, according to Bohm's theory, when you measure the position of a particle, what you "see" is the actual pre-measurement position of the particle. So people who think that these particle positions are somehow "hidden" or "metaphysical" or "unempirical" are just wrong. If anything, it's the wave function that has that status. But I don't see anybody complaining about the wave function in other theories. I don't know what you mean by the word "classical" in the middle sentence. Yes, particles in Bohm's theory follow trajectories. But they are certainly not the trajectories predicted by classical physics. As to the last sentence, it would be nice. But it's of course fallacious to say that, in a situation that two different theories make the same predictions, one of them should be considered "verified" when its predictions are borne out, while the other should be dismissed a priori simply for making the same (empirically verified) predictions. It would be just as valid to say that orthodox QM should be dismissed until or unless it makes some prediction that is different from the predictions of Bohm's theory. The point is, when two theories make the same predictions, and those predictions are correct, you can't cite experiment directly as favoring either one. You'll have to appeal to some other standards, e.g., clarity, seriousness, parsimony, etc. And if you do that, Bohm is going to win over orthodox QM hands down.

    Quantum mechanics postulates the existence of something-or-other with both particle and wave behavior. It predicts that one gets random results from measurement that follow some probability distribution. Pilot wave theory postulates that the waves and particles are completely different things and that the particle has a trajectory in the classical sense (that is, you can (in principle, if not practice because of lack of precision) predict exactly where it is and what exactly its velocity/momentum is at any time with a set of 6 parameters (initial location and initial velocity) and the Hamiltonian; by the way, this is what I meant by "classical trajectory"). Therefore, pilot wave theory postulates the existence of more things than quantum mechanics does. If it's true, then there should be a way to empirically verify that these particles with well-defined, classical trajectories exist. It's not the job of "orthodox QM" to prove they don't exist.

  3. The primary entity should be Jesus.


    Or maybe not. Maybe if only he were a raptor. Then it'd be awesome. We could get paleontology and physics and religion into the same sphere of thought.

    Yes, what I said in this post is just as meaningful as all this banter about "instantaneous velocity being contradictory".

  4. *facepalm*

    altonhare, I don't know about you, by I'm able to see things because photons interact with my retinas. I see on my desk a mess of quarters, a flash drive, a cell phone, a book (Jacques Derrida's "Dissemination"), empty soda bottles, etc. They are solid objects--they have a "shape". I think about things that have "shape" and particles that behave like solid objects because that's what I'm used to seeing. Because I'm built that way--according to the laws of physics and my biology.

    Fundamental entities (there, I'm not giving them a specific name, don't complain) are not visible. They are too small to see. The photons they emit--if they even emit photons (see neutrinos)--can vary with energy, so even if we did see individual photons, they'd vary in color. We can't bounce streams of photons off them without altering their extent over space to allow us to sense a shape. We can't feel them. There's no way to picture them geometrically in a way that's entirely accurate. It's the limits of the way we're constructed by humans.

    The only way that we have to describe them is with our mathematics. Does this mean they're MADE of mathematical functions? Certainly not. And no-one (well, except for those Platonist idiots who think that 3's and rednesses exist) would claim that they are made of functions. They're made of something or other that doesn't behave like the things we're used to. So what do we do? We name them. And how do we name them? Through analogy to things we're used to. We've always done that. Newton used the term "force", which was previously a term encountered in religion, to describe motion. Does this mean the "forces" such as electromagnetism, gravity, etc. are due to God's will? Is the fact that someone uses the term "force" indicative of a cultish religious nature? No. Nor does the fact that we call these fundamental entities "particles" signify that we think they're beads or little specks of dust or quarters or balls or anything of the sort. And these things that we call particles--which are NOT particles in the classical sense; the equivocation is yours, not mine--are also called waves because they obey wave motion. Things that obey wave motion are called that. When people see waves in the ocean, they say "let's jump over the waves!", not "let's jump over the heaps of water that are caused by the propagation of energy through water via wave motion!"

    I'm not contradicting myself. You're equivocating and accusing me of contradiction.

  5. I understand that that's what a lot of physics texts (and papers in the "Bell literature") say. But I (and many other experts on this stuff) don't think it's correct. First off, as Bell pointed out so eloquently, it is extremely dubious to interpret relativity as merely prohibiting "signalling" or the transmission of "information". Those are curious, human-centric concepts, and relativity is supposed to be about the fundamental structure of space-time. A clean example here, that helps make this point, is Bohmian Mechanics. It, like orthodox QM, doesn't support superluminal signalling. Yet the theory is (I submit) as blatantly inconsistent with relativity as anything could be -- it requires a preferred foliation of spacetime for its unambiguous definition. That should help you see why it isn't "signalling" (or any such thing) that matters.

    I'm not sure what you mean. I thought Böhm's interpretation was completely non-relativistic. Besides, you can have plenty of "things" (which are human constructs, "nominal" things, rather than "real" things) that travel faster than the speed of light without actual information or matter going so fast. Presumably the group velocity of some microwaves have achieved such a thing (though I don't know the details, and am too lazy to look it up.)

    A signal, or information, does have a meaning independent of human interpretation. It's something that has a causal effect.

    I will also note that orthodox QM, just like Bohm's theory, also requires a preferred foliation of space-time for its unambiguous definition. This, as I think you'll appreciate, has to do with the collapse postulate and not the "ordinary" (e.g., Schroedinger) dynamics.

    How so?

    So the fact that the ordinary dynamics can be made relativistic (as in the Dirac theory, or QFT) doesn't actually produce a relativistic theories. Those allegedly-relativistic generalizations of QM *still require measurement axioms* (the projection postulate) if they are going to make the right predictions for experiments. And those extra postulates require extra, anti-relativistic spacetime structure.

    Once again, I'm not sure how this is. I'm only a student, but I've been familiar with quantum field theory for a while, but the axioms (with a few modifications to use the Heisenberg picture instead of the Schrödinger, and to account for the infinitely many degrees of freedom) have seemed to work just fine. Perfectly Minkowski spacetime and all.

    This is why lots of half-sensible people who want to reconcile QM with relativity now all believe in the many worlds interpretation -- which is essentially nothing but the orthodox theory sans measurement axioms. So it is indeed consistent with relativity in a way that (say) orthodox QFT actually is not. Of course, it's also crazy. (Hence "half-sensible"!)

    I believe many world myself (just to say), but because it has wavefunction collapse as an emergent phenomenon rather than something fundamental. Seems more parsimonious. But it's just metaphysics, and is indistinguishable from Copenhagen empirically, so I don't really argue it. And I've never seen it as "necessary" to relativistic QM.

    It's actually a complete myth that Bell's theorem says anything one way or the other about hidden variable theories (which I'm assuming is why you raise this). Local hidden variable theories fail to be empirically viable for precisely the same reason local non-hidden-variable-theories so fail -- namely, they are local!

    This isn't true.

    And non-local hidden variable theories are hardly "extremely speculative". There's a really good, plausible, physically sensible, and empirically adequate one that's been around in some form since before Heisenberg cooked up matrix mechanics. I speak of course of the de Broglie - Bohm "pilot wave" theory.

    It is speculative because it postulates the existence of things that we have no evidence for. There are particles and pilot waves, and they are separate things. And the particles have a well-defined classical trajectory. If this is true, there should exist an experiment that confirms the pilot wave theory and at the same time contradicts quantum mechanics on some scale.


    Anyway, if we're going to mix relativity with QM (which has been successfully done), I may as well throw in some relativistic jargon and metaphysics. Everything has to be described from an observer's point of view, an observer within the universe who obeys the laws of physics. We'll call this observer Mufasa, because I'm sick of Anne and Bob.

    Let's say you have the typical two particles in an entangled state. Two electrons, say. Each is spin up or spin down, but each has the opposite spin of the other. So the state looks like this:

    |e1=up>|e2=down> - |e1=down>|e2=up>

    You have two observers, Simba and Scar, who measure the states of e1 and e2, repsectively. The observation events are outside of each other's light cones.

    According to Mufasa, the state of the system is now:

    |e1=up>|e2=down>|Simba measured up>|Scar measured down> - |e1=down>|e2=up>|Simba measured down>|Scar measured up>

    Simba and Scar both relay the result of their measurements to Mufasa. The brain is complex and made up of many particles, and the exact mechanism by which thought occurs is unknown, but for the sake of simplicity let's assume (extrapolating the fact that electrons can interact with only one photon at a time into the assumption that Mufasa can only process one of the results at a time) Mufasa must take the results one at a time. Simba tells him what he measured. The wavefunction collapses, and it's now determined what Scar will tell Mufasa. No information had to be transmitted between Simba and Scar for this to happen.

    To try to say it in a different way, hoping to make myself clearer (it's pretty clear right now that I'm not particularly articulate), the only event causally influenced by Simba relaying his result to Mufasa is the event at which Scar relays his result to Mufasa, not the event at which Scar actually measures his result. And the events of Mufasa getting both results are, of course, within each other's light cones, so the causal influence is allowed.

    Trying to talk about the actual events of both measurements as though from an omniscient observer whose observing powers violate relativity is meaningless, by contrast, since relativity and QM both teach us (albeit in different ways) that observers are bound to the laws of physics.

  6. Thank you, ttn, for your criticisms of that silly elementary wave theory.

    I'd like to throw a few things out there regarding quantum physics, though.

    First, quantum mechanics isn't incompatible with relativity. No matter or information is transmitted faster than the speed of light when a wave function collapses, even if two entangled particles are measured at events outside each others' light cones. No particle is transmitted between the events. The system as a whole happens to be in one state or another, and as a whole is irreducible to the two separate particles. Since the outcome of a measurement is random, there's no way to influence the outcome and use it as a sort of code to send information to the other measurer.

    Anyway, to use better jargon, local causation is still possible in theories. Local hidden variable theories aren't. Non-local hidden variable theories would violate relativity, and are extremely speculative anyway because they assert the existence of unknown properties of a particle for which we have no way to test. Quantum physics, with its random, non-deterministic results, and its relativistic (with local causation) version, quantum field theory, work just fine.

    Another thing is that classical mechanics, on the observable scale, emerges from quantum mechanics, not the other way around. It's extremely naive to try to interpret physical entities on a very small scale as being entities on the big scale but shrunk. I think this is where people have the most trouble with quantum physics. It doesn't look like what they see, so they reject it. And the difficulty with which one pictures QM probably messes up some concepts in their heads.

    A wave is something that propagates as a wave, can be built from sine/cosine functions, and experiences constructive/destructive interference. The fundamental particles satisfy this. They do, in fact, propagate as waves. And they come in discrete packets of energy--that is, if you have a wave of electromagnetic radiation with frequency f, you can only have E, 2E, 3E, etc. as the energy of that wave. Each packet of E in the wave is called a photon. And the packets we observe in real life tend to be localized in space--something localized in space with a set energy. It's convenient to think of it as a particle. (Though I should also say that since it's localized in space, it's really made up of waves of multiple frequencies. But is still only a single packet/particle. So rather than have a set energy, it's A% a wave with one such energy, B% with another energy, etc., and has those probabilities of interacting with a charged particle as though it definitely had that energy.) And this is what they're typically called: "particles".

    On the large scale, we observe waves that are due to the dynamics of particles. This is because the conditions needed to result in wave motion are extremely simple and general, and appear in many places throughout nature. That doesn't mean the wave motion in quantum physics is due to smaller component particles, or ropes, or disturbances in an aether, or anything of the like. For others here who are still attracted to fringe theories...

  7. Velocity -- the rate at which the position of an object changes as time progresses.

    To say that an object has a velocity is to say that the position of that object is changing at a certain rate. Instantaneous velocity means that, at the instant in question, the position will change at a certain rate were time to progress from that instant. (And time progresses. I'd cite a source, but I think you can find one on your own.) It makes sense because the particle is at a different position (unless the velocity is 0) at any time before or after the instant in question, regardless of how little before or after.

    Don't like derivatives? Don't like calculus? Feel free to go back to the 16th century.

  8. For those still struggling with the idea of space not being a physical 'thing', but rather a mathematical 'thing' (in the same manner that a set, group, etc. is):

    Quarks have a property called 'color charge'. A quark can be either red, green, or blue. (And an anti-quark is anti-red, anti-green, or anti-blue.) There are several mathematically ontologies one can assume when dealing with the three different colors of quarks. The first is that the 'color charge' labels entirely different particles. There are red up quarks, blue up quarks, and green up quarks, and each is an entirely different kind of particle. Another ontology has that there is one particle called an 'up quark', and the up quark can have a color of either red, green, or blue. And, of course, since this is quantum mechanics, any superposition of the three works, too. The quark is described as being in a "color space", with positions along a 'red' axis, 'blue' axis, and 'green' axis. All that's required of the position is that its distance from the origin is 1 (normalization), a mathematical way of saying the quark has exactly one color, even if that color is a mix of colors. And, of course, the space can be rotated about so that red becomes blue, or green. You get the same physics, just what you call what color changes. This "color space" is not a physical entity, though. It's just a geometric, intuitive way of picturing this stuff in our heads. There is no fluid or aether or whatever permeating it, whatever that means. Because you have, say, a red quark, a blue quark, and a green quark (together forming a proton), doesn't mean you have to have something at every point in the color space between each of the quarks. And the fact that it doesn't mean this doesn't imply that there's some weird, spooky non-entity called a "nothing" between them either. If you're arguing about entities/non-entities called "nothings", you're just playing with words rather than discussing anything meaningful.

    Four-dimensional spacetime is more complicated because of its direct link to what we consciously perceive. There isn't a set origin, positions in it don't have to be normalized, etc. (And, in quantum field theory, space is a parameter rather than an observable anyway.) But similarly to the quarks, you can use multiple ontologies. Say you have the electromagnetic field (of which photons are excitations). You can say that there isn't one electromagnetic field defined everywhere, but instead infinitely many different kinds of particles, each one defined only at one point in spacetime. And a given observed photon could then be a superposition of different kinds of particles. But that's not the way we do things. Instead, we say that a photon is a photon regardless of where it is, so the photons we observe (which are wave packets, and have extension over space) are in a superposition of different positions. We consider position a property of the particle, just like color a property of the quark, and can build a 'space' from it. Just because one 'photon' (say a hypothetical photon with a definite location, rather than a real photon with extension over space) and another 'photon' are at positions with a finite distance ('distance' being a mathematical notion, not a physical object) between them doesn't mean there's some sort of object, fluid, aether, "nothing", whatever between them. There's no logical way to derive that there is. There are no laws of physics saying there is.

  9. I'm not saying QM is wrong per se, but that modern art of that time developed around the more "wrongheaded" interpretations of QM. This is laid out pretty well in ART AND PHYSICS: Parallel Visions in Space, Time, and Light by Leonard Sheldon (the book itself is about how artists mirror the physics of their respective times.)

    As to my own understanding of QM: well, I'm a good musician...:thumbsup:

    Wrongheaded interpretations ... you mean hidden variable theories, or those fucking idiotic "consciousness controls the universe" ones? From my experiences, actual physicists reject both. I haven't heard of musicians having an opinion on QM though.

    As for heroic sounding stuff (to keep the topic from having cardiac arrest), there's:

    Haydn (London symphonies)

    Mozart (especially 41st symphony)

    Beethoven (especially the fifth and ninth symphonies)

    Wagner (Siegfried ... other operas are more tragic/downfallish types)

    Mahler (second ... other symphonies tend to be more downfallish type things)

    To name a few.

  10. Rand made the case that "modern" art and music was in a state of deconstruction, by the artist's own admission. (This is pretty much the case, and it's no surprise that this started around the same time that physicists were embracing quantum theories.)

    So are you saying that quantum theories are all wrong? (Just a quick question, I don't want to side track from classical music too much. I liked how thorough a discussion was occurring here.)

  11. Grant, that recording did help. It still doesn't do much for me, but it is an improvement, and I can appreciate the work a little better.

    So, thanks everyone for the input on Rachmaninov and Schoenberg.

    Now I'm wondering: are any of you familiar with Nikolai Medtner and his piano concertos? And what do you think--especially in comparison with Rachmaninov.

    And I'm wondering if there's familiarity and opinions on Bela Bartók, perhaps in comparison with Schoenberg.

  12. I can't say much about The Rach; one can scarcely find a harsh word. It's all technically very sound, and inventive at times (I'm not a huge Rach fan).

    I will give you a word or two about the so called "modernists" (I dislike this term, as I am an avid Prokofiev & Stravinsky fan) such as Schoenberg, Hindemith, etc: the prevelance of atonality in music today is as embarrassing as praising Pollock as a gifted man. Years from now, musicians will look upon the absurd mush of the Atonalists and wonder what in the hell people were thinking to have actually endorsed that stuff.

    I would go further in depth with the theory of atonality, and why it is inherently a worthless system, but I'll drop that and make a simile, as most here aren't well versed in theory. An atonal work is like a novel written in a recognizable language (such as English), but with no sentence structure, punctuation, ideas, concepts, or emotions. The only emotion atonality can convey is madness. And that makes me mad.


    I'm fairly versed in music theory, and I am looking for depth, so feel free to go further in depth.

  13. As a physics student, my understanding is that space and time are relations between matter, rather than any sort of substance. There is a 'hole argument' (or was it 'hole problem'?), if you look at the philosophy of space and time, which is basically: you can change the way you label coordinates and get different spacetime metrics (since general relativity is invariant with respect to general coordinate transformations), and therefore different-looking manifolds (if you were to try to represent the 'shape' of spacetime graphically), but once you use the metric to describe particle trajectories, you get the same physical trajectory. The argument that Einstein and various philosophers take is that space/time are only relations between particles of matter, and are only meaningful in as much as they explain the way matter behaves. So as you said in before, space is basically just distance.

    There is no such thing as aether. That's been disproved long ago.

  14. I'm curious, have you listened to Rach's 2nd and 3rd concertos yourself? If so, did they appeal to YOU? If yes/no, why/why not?

    I have listened to them, and they haven't appealed to me too much, though they are nice. I can't really put my finger on why. (I usually find that to be the case for music I like or dislike, which is part of why I wanted to ask people who probably have a philosophy-based understanding of their musical taste, and are probably more articulate than me anyway.) I like his solo piano music more, however.

    What are your opinions on the concertos?

  15. You might like my blog, orpheusremembered.blogspot.com, as well as adambuker.com. The former is dedicated to Rand's questions in "Art and Cognition" regarding music (and the debate that has ensued), and the latter is the site of a composer/musician who just started a series of youtube podcasts exploring the question of art and philosophy.

    That's a very detailed blog, and more-or-less has the kind of detail I was looking for in making a query. Thanks very much. I'll check out the podcasts when I have the time.

  16. I've read some posts here, and the opinions of various Objectivists, and have noticed some patterns regarding taste in classical music. I'm asking about types of classical music in particular because that's what I'm familiar with, and I'd like to know better--I'd like to hear described in more detail--why Objectivists have the particular tastes they do in classical music, where they do like the genre.

    One observation is that Rachmaninov is almost invariably exalted as the primal example of musical genius, and his piano concertos (2 and 3) are given as iconic examples. A description about what appeals about Rachmaninov, and these concertos, would be appreciated.

    Another is that 'modernist' classical music, by composers such as Schoenberg, is almost invariably despised by Objectivists. Reasons for this--and examples of other composers and works--would also be appreciated.

    Any other information regarding tastes in classical music, (e.g. performers, how taste fits into aesthetic philosophy) would also be appreciated.

    (By the way, I've already read The Romantic Manifesto, for those who would just point me to that. I'm looking for your opinions, judgments, and understanding of the philosophy.)

  17. I would guess that most are 'misinterpreting' an objective experience, but the experience itself is almost certainly real (sleep paralysis has been suggested as a possible explanation for many UFO tales for instance).

    Sleep paralysis can explain a lot of weird experiences quite easily. In a class of mine last year, some girl was telling a story about how she encountered ghosts one night, and everything she described was obviously the result of sleep paralysis. (In fact, she never said that she actually saw a ghost, just that she was paralysed when she woke up and could barely breathe, and interperted it as a visit from beyond the grave. Can't say she suffers from delusions, but only that she deliberately misinterperted a natural event to indicate the supernatural. I'm willing to bet that most the people who talk to God or are abducted by UFO's do the same thing. In fact, those who I know in person who claim to get "signals" from God seem to do the same thing--intentionally misinterpert natural events to indicate the supernatural.)

    I submit that, since the Dark Ages, Christians have claimed that various illnesses, physical and psychological, were the direct result of Demonic influences.

    While some advances were made in science after the Dark Ages, this was still widely believed, and rituals were practiced based on these beliefs for quite a while after the Dark Ages. The one particular instance I can remember is that the insanity of King George III of the UK was blamed on demonic influences, and one of the proposed cures was to suck out evil spirits by putting a cup to his back with a candle stick in it... the fire would react with the air inside the cup and eventually there would be little enough air in the cup for it to be stuck to his back, when it would be pulled off. Unfortunately, I can't remember my source.

  18. I didn't include neutronium because I didn't think it had been created in a laboratory; I was listing states which I knew had been created in a lab, but the list of all states created and predicted by theory would include neutronium and supersymmetric matter.

    "Also there are many substances which have multiple crystalline phases"

    Like carbon (ie, graphite and diamond) and sulfer (ie, monclinic and rhombic)... but the different crystalline phases are still all crystalline solids. Of course, they are different phases...

    By the way, I've heard something about water having an alternative crystalline phase to ice when enough pressure is applied; could you tell me anything about that?

  19. I was wondering about this.

    "all states are the inevitable result of initial conditions,"

    It seems like this statement is simply saying that all things are caused. I think that this is correct but it doesn't describe "Will" or "decision making" at all.

    For instance to say that all knowledge is hierarchal is not to say it is inevitable.

    In the determinist view I think "Initial conditions" mean "First Prerequisites." As in a prime thing necessary to a specific end.

    To say that we are determined would be to say that at some point there is a First Prerequisite that was written into our mind at birth that is controlling all our "states" or decision in this case.

    Am I making sense here?

    The statement is saying that all things are caused, yes, but it's saying that all the things that resulted from the cause are the only things that could result from that cause. You can still have causality--cause and effect relationships--without having determinism. You can have some set of initial conditions which can result in multiple sets of final conditions, any of which would be caused by the initial conditions.

    The initial conditions could, say, be the state of the world at the moment of a person's birth. If any set of initial conditions could only result in one, inevitable set of final conditions at any time, then anything going on at any time during the person's life (what they do, what they think, etc) would have been determined by those initial conditions. Your last statement is a simpler way of stating the same thing, I believe.

    In order for the person's life to be determined in such a way, of course, nature as a whole would have to be. The environment influences your choices, your relationships, your thoughts, and various other things, so if the conditions of the environment at any point in time are not the inevitable result of the environment's initial conditions, neither are a person's thoughts or actions.

  20. Determinism does NOT state that all states are the inevitable result of initial conditions.

    Determinism explicitly states that there is only one path that an individual human can take

    Make up your mind.

    to the sophisticated yet still ludicrous: "your 'thoughts', as you call them, are entirely the result of random electrochemical changes in your brain

    So you're saying that thoughts aren't the result of electrochemical processes occuring in the brain?

    If you take phenomenon as meaning "an observable fact or event"

    Consciousness could better be termed in relation to physical phenomenon.

    For instance a signal is a physical phenomenon but the data, all the ones and zeros, is an abstract signal communicating information between two or more receivers.

    In other words Consciousness is a pattern of energy and that energy is the physical phenomenon and the data being relayed between synapses is a free standing wave type of signal.

    A pattern or a process is something that happens to Physical things but it is not a physical thing itself.

    The data is encoded in some physical form, whether it be in terms of electric charge, polarity, varying frequency or varying amplitude in radio waves, or grooves, and all the processes that read it follow the laws of physics. The things that read it are physical things and upon reading the commands do processes which are also dictated by physical law.

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