Posts Tagged ‘Neurology’

SMART IGNORANCE, DARK NAIVETY, Enlightened Hatred

May 16, 2016

Sorry for those who cling to the notion of “Politically Correct” like rats do, with a sinking ship. This title is probably rather discombobulating for them. I will justify it thereafter. Yes, it can be smart to ignore much. Yes, it can be cruel and vicious to be naïve. Yes, it can be enlightened, to hate.

Yet, what does the Dark Side thinks of the text “Vous n’aurez pas ma haine/You will not have my hatred”? Does it smirk? Or does it approve of the text, totally? Surely, the latter. The technique advised by Leiris, a selective shut down of one’s mental, not to say neurological, system, is a basic functionality the Dark Side needs to operate, selective attention. There are indeed, neurological reasons for it.

Leiris’ text explores, advocates and celebrates, a crucial, actually life saving, strategy. It is a neurophilosophical approach. That is a neurological approach endorsed by the most sophisticated philosophy, as I will explain presently.

One can go much beyond what La Rochefoucauld smartly observed, more than three centuries ago.

All & Any Human Behavior Can, & Should, Be Used In All The Many Ways Circumstances May Require, For The Greater Good, Of The Greatest Sentience.

All & Any Human Behavior Can, & Should, Be Used In All The Many Ways Circumstances May Require, For The Greater Good, Of The Greatest Sentience.

The key observation is that one can be of many minds, on many things. More exactly, the brain can, and has to, use different Modi Operandi, according to circumstances.

***

The American People Is Too Naïve For Adult Material:

Is the preceding too ethereal, theoretical, vaporous, nothing to do with day-to-day reality? President Bush, the invader of Iraq, removed 28 pages of the official report on the 9/11 attack. Why? CIA Director John Brennan appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press”, on May 1, 2016, arguing that the 28 pages should not be released because the American people are incapable of evaluating them. Americans are incapables.

Brennan explained: “I think some people may seize upon that uncorroborated, unvetted information that was in there that was basically just a collation of this information that came out of FBI files, and to point to Saudi involvement, which I think would be very, very inaccurate.” High caste Saudis, of course had nothing to do with 9/11, as demonstrated by the fact that Bush ran several flights to allow them to flee the USA when no plane was allowed to fly, inside, or out of the US.

Brennan in his stupidity, let it slip by denying it: it is known Saudi “civil servants” seem to have help the Islamists of 9/11. That would be no surprise: the SIA and CIA activated Bin Laden, and launched him as a terrorist.

Not only naivety has a Dark Side, but it can be imposed on We The People.

***

Forgetfulness Can Be A Lifesaver:

When one fights for survival, nothing should matter to the brain, but for activity conducive to said survival. Neurological concentration on the situation can become close to 100%.

What happens in ultra emergency? Time stretches, while the brain mobilizes well beyond 100% (namely neurons, including motor neurons obviously work beyond their normal maximum. Thus superhuman strength and reflexes). The brain is fully in survival mode, and has no thought considered, only strategy implemented. Even sensations not useful for survival are not felt, especially pain.

This is what Mr. Leiris advocates, on the mental level. He excludes from his mind all what is not conducive to provide his son with what the baby needs, a maximally loving environment, even in harrowing circumstances. .

Had I been exactly in Antoine Leiris’ circumstances, I would have actually embraced the same mental strategy. I know, because I have already been in similar circumstances, where my mind had to concentrate absolutely: I was caught in avalanches twice, and saved my life through action which was nothing short of incredible, and resulted from extreme mental concentration. Once, an improvised Explosive Device was thrown on me by some fascists and exploded on a gentleman just in front, who acted as an unwitting human shield. from terrorism.

Why? Because at this point the brain has become god, master of life and death. Its mission is only about survival, whether insuring that of the brain, or the termination of the survival of the adversary. How does the brain focus on survival? It decides what the universe is. And it operates with an extremely simplified version of the universe, and not just of the universe of consideration. The brain also admits only a simplified version of the universe of sensation. The universe of sensations which matters for survival. The rest plain does not exist, because it is outright not perceived.

***

Naivety Is Part Of The Dark Side:

Naivety can be very useful. But naivety can also kill, has killed, and nearly got me a few times. Naivety is what enables much nefariousness to produce evil industrially. Reconsider Mr. Brennan, the CIA chief, above: why is he allowed to think We The People are a bunch of unteachable idiots, hopelessly infantile, a danger to ourselves, while keeping his job?

In “You will not have my hatred“, Mr. Leiris says that, sometimes, hatred is better left out of it. Is that a new idea? No. The idea is actually central to Christiano-Islamism.

Ironically, the Qur’an reminds us every few lines that “Allah is merciful” (however, it’s not clear we should be merciful too). That obsession, that Allah forgives all day long, was directly inherited from Christianism… Where, indeed, the faithful has to be merciful.

As there is much I dislike in Islamism and Christianism, does this mean I dislike all their concepts? Far from it. I actually love a beautiful mosque or church.

And I love mercifulness. Not just because it’s pretty, but also because it’s necessary.

I think mercifulness is totally fundamental. Mercifulness is not just wise: it’s a fundamental part of the behavior of any social animal. It’s a code to correct errors. A small human group could not function without an error correcting code. The name of that code is mercifulness.

But does that mean that hatred unworthy always? No. Far from it.

***

And what does “hatred” consists of, anyway?

Let’s suppose something that has happened before, on more than one continent: Patrice is out there, trying to terminate a cockroach infestation. Cockroaches are smart, fast and flat: they can squeeze in the smallest crack in the blink of an eye. So here I am, trying to kill lots of cockroaches, in all sizes from one millimeter to several centimeters. Am I animated by hatred? No. I am just concentrated on all the possibilities, the thinnest cracks. So, to commit mass murder, hatred is not necessary.

So what does hatred consist of? When is it called for? Why is it so bad? Well, the answers are rather surprising.

Hatred is called for, when it is needed. Hatred does not happen by accident. Hatred is, often a supplement of passion needed for an otherwise unsavory task. Faced with something objectively really bad, hatred is not called for. No need for hatred to eliminate mosquitoes. Hatred is needed when other passions are in the way, and these passions prevent the accomplishment of what is viewed, deep down, as a necessary task. For example, when common sense and decency are in the way. But not only. It could be love which is preventing the accomplishment of a needed task.

For example, the Nazis needed hatred to launch the Second World War. They needed the hatred to overwhelm decency, basic common sense, and whatever humanity they still harbored. However, as the war went on, the attitude of the top Nazis, say towards the French, changed. The Nazis did not need hatred anymore: the war was long launched, and was not going well. However, hatred was now in the way of many behaviors the Nazis needed to see deployed such as decency, mercifulness, common sense, humanity… and the more so, the more the war was turning against them. Well before the end, the top Nazis started to disobey Hitler’s orders.

In the end, even Himmler negotiated with the Swedes to save… Jews (they saved thousands!). It’s not just that Himmler was trying to save his precious skin from the cyanide pill in his mouth. It’s also that hatred was not needed anymore.

Hatred against the Islamist Pseudo State is obviously not needed. There is no love, decency, or common sense in the way, which we need to overcome, to accomplish the task at hand. Eradication will be plenty enough.

Finally, the president should tell the CIA that it is naïve, haughty and cruel,  to consider the American People too naïve, ignorant and malevolent, for the truth, while hoping that they are going to  live with that contempt and the trampling of their right to know, much longer.

Patrice Ayme’

***

 

Hard Wired? Not So fast!

March 3, 2016

Swallowing is self-taught. Anything else a bit more sophisticated is taught by others. We are cultural animals. Discuss.

Massimo Pigliucci, a (Roman!) biology PhD cum philosophy PhD teaching from an elevated chair in New York, objected to my tweeting aphorism above: “That is contradicted by a number of well established studies in developmental psychology, as well as by research on other primates.”

OK, Massimo, relax, I was a bit quick, thus simplistic in my formulation. Any discourse is incomplete, I was pointing at a direction. Indeed, I am a great advocate of ethology. Ethology, the experimental study of behavior, is an experimental field. That means its fundamental architecture is made of experiments.

Nicotinoid Insecticides Don't Kill Bees Directly, But Make Them Neurologically Dysfunctional Enough To Die From It

Nicotinoid Insecticides Don’t Kill Bees Directly, But Make Them Neurologically Dysfunctional Enough To Die From It

[All scientific fields are like gravity, they are experimentally driven. We basically know, experimentally speaking, not much more than what Newton knew already, as far as gravity is concerned (with the further twist of gravity being a field at speed c, like electromagnetism, hence, waves, etc.). A true revolution will happen in gravity the day we find something completely unexpected (the fact that gravity at this point is also equivalent to a space curvature theory is a triviality consecutive to Bernhard Riemann’s deep differential manifold theory). Some say we already found something unexpected, the phenomenon known as “Dark Matter”]

Ethology is also experiment driven. And our experiments are not as sophisticated as they soon will be. Differently from gravity, the progress in ethology is going to be quick, and very deep.

Ethology discovered already what writers of fables for children, and “primitive” “savages” hunting for survival, have long known: advanced animals care, have a sense of justice, are observant, loving, etc. More generally, advanced animals,, and others, not even very advanced are endowed with many other sophisticated behaviors we used to attribute to humans exclusively, etc.

Ethology has now gone further: ethologists also discovered that sophisticated, virtuous human-like “instincts” are not universal, even in a species which exhibit them: exploiters and freaks are not just a human phenomenon. In prides of lionesses, the same particular individuals tend to do all the work. Worse: lionesses have been observed having no maternal “””instinct”””. Other, experienced and caring lionesses had to intervene.

So animals have been observed to have altruistic behaviors, or behaviors making group life possible. (It’s quite a bit a chicken and egg situation: without apparently “hard wired” behavior, group life is impossible; the “group” could be just mother and child, such as a leopard and her kitten, or a mother orangutan and her child…)

However, ethology has not yet determined systematically how much is learned from others, and from the environment.

Hence the role of other animals, and how much is self taught is not clear at this point (insects such as wasps and bees “think” at least seven times faster than humans, so they can learn fast, and it looks like “instinct” to us!). In either case, when there is learning, there is no “hard wiring”. Or more exactly much of the “hard wiring” comes from the neurological life of the individual, as it does in any… creator. The creature being created by itself as creator of itself. God inside.

Learning is essential for survival of bees. Honey bees make repeat visits only if said plant provides enough reward. A single forager will make visits to that type of flower for most of the day, unless the plants stop producing nectar or weather gets adverse. Honey bees practice associative learning, and standard classical conditioning, which is the same in honey bees as it is in the vertebrates.

In other words, if even insects learn much more than a few tricks, as I have long suspected, we don’t know what “instincts” are really made of. This will have to be determined by further, much more refined ethological studies (differently from gravity, where it’s not clear what new experiments to do, and how to get results, although LIGO and VIRGO may well bring breakthroughs… In ethology, new experiments are just matter of financing, considering the progress of micro-electronics).

A famous example of what I am talking about is Lorentz’s geese (he got the Nobel for that). Young geese were imprinted on Konrad being their mom, and thereafter followed him everywhere, at some point of their development.

Why can’t that happen for all behaviors, and all species with advanced brains? In other words, could not just all our behaviors come, to a great extent, from some sort of imprinting?

Hey, one can self-imprint. When I want to eat more correctly, I starve myself a bit, and then eat the correct foods (say apples, carrots, tofu). Then I repeat a few times. Then I long for apples, carrots, tofu…

So south American monkeys have a sense of justice. But that does not mean that sense of justice is “hard-wired”. It may just have been taught. By others. Other monkeys. Or it may even be a sort of natural monkey science. Indeed natural interactions with others can be a teaching experience (or a succession of experiences, until a theory arises)…

But that does not mean that sense of justice is “hard wired”. It may just have been taught. By others. Other monkeys. Or it may even be a sort of natural monkey science. Indeed natural interactions with others can be a teaching experience (or a succession of experiences, until a theory arises)…

Standing up, and being able to run, is crucial to the survival of herbivores. A casual look at how a new born herbivore stands up shows that it learns to do so in a few minutes. Some moves are learned in a few seconds. However, today’s most sophisticated programmers could not write such a program. Nor does the brain of a small antelope contain a large computer loaded with such a software. Thus the truth: the antelope learns to stand up. That means it hard wires itself through the learning process. The environment in the most general sense imprints it with the appropriate circuitry.

Ethology will enlighten neurology, and conversely. Both fields are just getting started.

Patrice Ayme’

MATH AS NEUROLOGY, NEUROLOGY AS PHYSICS

April 22, 2015

 

After demolishing erroneous ideas some 25 centuries old, some brand new, I explain why Mathematics Can Be Made To Correspond To A Subset Of Neurology. And Why Probably Neurology Is A Consequence Of Not-Yet Imagined Physics.

Distribution of Prime Numbers Reworked Through Fourier Analysis: It Nearly Looks Like Brain Tissue

Distribution of Prime Numbers Reworked Through Fourier Analysis: It Nearly Looks Like Brain Tissue

SOCRATISM, PLATONISM ARE WRONG:

Einstein famously declared that: “How can it be that mathematics, being after all a product of human thought which is independent of experience, is so admirably appropriate to the objects of reality?”

Well, either it is an unfathomable miracle, or something in the premises has to give. Einstein was not at all original here, he was behaving rather like a very old parrot.

That the brain is independent of experience is a very old idea. It is Socrates’ style “knowledge”, a “knowledge” given a priori. From there, naturally enough aroses what one should call the “Platonist Delusion”, the belief that mathematics can only be independent of experience.

Einstein had no proof whatsoever that”thought is independent of experience”. All what a brain does is to experience and deduct. It starts in the womb. It happens even in an isolated brain. Even a mini brain growing in a vat, experiences (some) aspects of the world (gravity, vibrations). Even a network of three neurons experiences a sort of inner world unpredictable to an observer: https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2015/03/15/three-neurons-free-will/

Latest Silliness: Smolin’s Triumph of the Will:

The physicist Lee Smolin has ideas about the nature of mathematics:

Smolin:

“the main effectiveness of mathematics in physics consists of these kinds of correspondences between records of past observations or, more precisely, patterns inherent in such records, and properties of mathematical objects that are constructed as representations of models of the evolution of such systems … Both the records and the mathematical objects are human constructions which are brought into existence by exercises of human will; neither has any transcendental existence. Both are static, not in the sense of existing outside of time, but in the weak sense that, once they come to exist, they don’t change”

Patrice Ayme: Smolin implies that “records and mathematical objects are human constructions which are brought into existence by exercises of HUMAN WILL; neither has any transcendental existence”. That’s trivially true: anything human has to do with human will.

However, the real question of “Platonism” is: why are mathematical theorems true?

Or am I underestimating Smolin, and Smolin is saying that right and wrong in mathematics is just a matter of WILL? (That’s reminiscent of Nietzsche, and Hitler’s subsequent obsession with the “will”.)

As I have known Smolin, let me not laugh out loud. (“Triumph of the Will” was a famous Nazi flick.)

I have a completely different perspective. “Human will” cannot possibly determine mathematical right and wrong, as many students who are poor at mathematics find out, to their dismay!

So what determines right and wrong in mathematics? How come enormously complex and subtle mathematical objects, which are very far from arbitrary, exist out there?

I sketched an answer in “Why Mathematics Is Natural”. It does not have to do with transcendence of the will.

***

AXONAL LOGIC IS MATHEMATICAL LOGIC, NEUROLOGY IS MORE:

Neurology, the logic of neurons, contains what one ought to call axonal logic, a sub-category.

Axonal logic is made of the simplest causal units: neuron (or another subset of the brain) A acts on neuron (or brain subset) B, through an axon. This axonal category, a sub-category, corresponds through a functor, from neurology to mathematical logic. To A, and B are associated a and b, which are propositions in mathematical logic, and to the axon, corresponds a logical implication.

Thus one sees that mathematics corresponds to a part of neurology (it’s a subcategory).

Yet, neurology is vastly more complicated than mathematical logic. We know this in many ways. The very latest research proposes experimental evidence that memories are stored in neurons (rather than synapses). Thus a neuron A is not a simple proposition.

Neurons also respond to at least 50 hormones, neurohormones, dendrites, glial cells. Thus neurons need to be described, they live, into a “phase space” (Quantum concept) a universe with a vast number of dimensions, the calculus of which we cannot even guess. As some of this logic is topological (the logic of place), it is well beyond the logic used in mathematics (because the latter is relatively simplistic, being digital, a logic written in numbers).

The conclusion, an informed guess, is that axons, thus the implications of mathematical logic, are not disposed haphazardly, but according to the laws of a physics which we cannot imagine, let alone describe.

And out of that axonal calculus springs human mathematics.

***

HOW TO PROVE THAT MATHEMATICS IS NEURONAL PHYSICS?

If my hypothesis is true, mathematics reduces to physics, albeit a neuronal physics we cannot even imagine. Could we test the hypothesis?

It is natural to search for guidance in the way the discovery, and invention, of Celestial Mechanics proceeded.

The Ancient Greeks had made a gigantic scientific mistake, by preferring Plato’s geocentric hypothesis, to the more natural hypothesis of heliocentrism proposed later by Aristarchus of Samos.

The discovery of impetus and the heliocentric system by Buridan and his followers provides guidance. Buridan admitted that, experimentally heliocentrism and “scripture” could not be distinguished.

However, Buridan pointed out that the heliocentric theory was simpler, and more natural (the “tiny” Earth rotated around the huge Sun).

So the reason to choose heliocentrism was theoretical: heliocentrism’s axiomatic was leaner, meaner, natural.

In the end, the enormous mathematical arsenal to embody the impetus theory provided Kepler with enough mathematics to compute the orbit of Mars, which three century later, definitively proved heliocentrism (and buried epicycles).

Here we have a similar situation: it is simpler to consider that mathematics arises from physics we cannot yet guess, rather than the Platonic alternative of supposing that mathematics belong to its own universe out there.

My axiomatic system is simpler: there is just physics out there. Much of it we call by another name, mathematics, because we are so ignorant about the ways our mind thinks.

Another proof? One can make a little experiment. It requires a willing dog, a beach, and a stick. First tell the dog to sit. Then grab the stick, and throw it in the water, at 40 degree angle relative to the beach. Then tell the dog to go fetch the stick. Dogs who have practiced this activity a bit will not throw themselves in the water immediately. Instead they will run on the beach a bit, and then go into the water at an angle that is less than 90 degrees.

A computer analysis reveals that dogs follow exactly the curve of least time given by calculus. Dogs know calculus, but they did not study it culturally! Dogs arrived at correct calculus solutions by something their neurology did. They did not consult with Plato, they did not create calculus with their will as Smolin does.

It’s neurology which invents, constructs the mathematics. It is not in a world out there life forms consult with.

Patrice Ayme’

Why Mathematics Is Natural

April 21, 2015

There is nothing obvious about the mathematics we know. It is basically neurology we learn, that is, that we learn to construct (with a lot of difficulty). Neurology is all about connecting facts, things, ideas, emotions together. We cannot possibly imagine another universe where mathematics is not as given to us, because our neurology is an integral part of the universe we belong to.

Let’s consider the physics and mathematics which evolved around the gravitational law. How did the law arise? It was a cultural, thus neurological, process. More striking, it was a historical process. It took many centuries. On the way, century after century a colossal amount of mathematics was invented, from graph theory, to forces (vectors), trajectories, equations, “Cartesian” geometry, long before Galileo, Descartes, and their successors, were born.

Buridan, around 1330 CE, to justify the diurnal rotation of Earth, said we stayed on the ground, because of gravity. Buridan also wrote that “gravity continually accelerates a heavy body to the end” [In his “Questions on Aristotle”]. Buridan asserted a number of propositions, including some which are equivalent to Newton’s first two laws.

Because, Albert, Your Brain Was Just A Concentrate Of Experiences & Connections Thereof, Real, Or Imagined. "Human Thought Independent of Experience" Does Not Exist.

Because, Albert, Your Brain Was Just A Concentrate Of Experiences & Connections Thereof, Real, Or Imagined. “Human Thought Independent of Experience” Does Not Exist.

At some point someone suggested that gravity kept the heliocentric system together.

Newton claimed it was himself, with his thought experiment of the apple. However it is certainly not so: Kepler believed gravity varied according to 1/d. The French astronomer Bullialdius ( Ismaël Boulliau) then explained why Kepler was wrong, and gravity should vary as, the inverse of the square of the distance, not just the inverse of the distance. So gravity went by 1/dd (Bullialdius was elected to the Royal Society of London before Newton’s birth; Hooke picked up the idea then Newton; then those two had a nasty fight, and Newton recognized Bullialdius was first; Bullialdius now has a crater on the Moon named after him, a reduced version of the Copernicus crater).

In spite of considerable mental confusion, Leonardo finally demonstrated correct laws of motion on an inclined plane. Those Da Vinci laws, more important than his paintings, are now attributed to Galileo (who rolled them out a century later).

It took 350 years of the efforts of the Paris-Oxford school of mathematics, and students of Buridan, luminaries such as Albert of Saxony and Oresme, and Leonardo Da Vinci, to arrive at an enormous arsenal of mathematics and physics entangled…

This effort is generally mostly attributed to Galileo and Newton (who neither “invented” nor “discovered” any of it!). Newton demonstrated that the laws discovered by Kepler implied that gravity varied as 1/dd (Newton’s reasoning, using still a new level of mathematics, Fermat’s calculus, geometrically interpreted, was different from Bulladius).

Major discoveries in mathematics and physics take centuries to be accepted, because they are, basically, neurological processes. Processes which are culturally transmitted, but, still, fundamentally neurological.

Atiyah, one of the greatest living mathematicians, hinted this recently about Spinors. Spinors, discovered, or invented, a century ago by Elie Cartan, are not yet fully understood, said Atiyah (Dirac used them for physics 20 years after Cartan discerned them). Atiyah gave an example I have long used: Imaginary Numbers. It took more than three centuries for imaginary numbers (which were used for the Third Degree equation resolution) to be accepted. Neurologically accepted.

So there is nothing obvious about mathematical and physics: they are basically neurology we learn through a cultural (or experimental) process. What is learning? Making a neurology that makes correspond to the input we know, the output we observe. It is a construction project.

Now where does neurology sit, so to speak? In the physical world. Hence mathematics is neurology, and neurology is physics. Physics in its original sense, nature, something not yet discovered.

We cannot possibly imagine another universe where mathematics is not as given to us, because the neurology it is forms an integral part of the universe we belong to.

Patrice Ayme’

CATEGORIZING the MIND

October 27, 2014

What is the mind made of? We have progressed enormously as far as the brain objects are concerned: neurons, axons, dendrites, glial cells, neurohormones, various organs and substructures in the brain, etc.

But is there a broad mathematical framework to envision how this is all organized? There is! Category Theory! It turns out it’s a good first order approximation of mind organization. At least, so I claim.

Category Theory is about diagrams. Category Theory has been increasingly replacing advantageously Set Theory. It’s not only because Category Theory does not have to ponder the nature of objects, elements, sets.

Category Theory was long derided as “abstract nonsense” and “diagram chasing”. But it gives very deep, powerful theorems.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category_(mathematics)

I claim the powerful theorems of Category Theory should translate directly into… neurology.

Amusingly, although I accused Aristotle to have demolished democracy and fostered plutocracy through his beloved pets, the mass murdering criminal plutocratic psychopaths, Alexander and Antipater, I recognize humbly that it’s the same Aristotle who invented categories (thus making him a great thinker, and justifying an Aristotle cult among those who need to have cults to feel good about themselves)…

Aristotle’s meta-idea about categories was just to talk about the most fundamental notions:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categories_(Aristotle)

The present essay was suggested, and is an extension of what the honorable Bill Skaggs seems to have wanted to say, in Scientia Salon, in his “Identity A Neurobiological Perspective”. (As far as I can comprehend.)

However, forget Theseus’ ship and Hollywood’s Star Trek “Transporter”. As I said in “Quantum Identity Is Strong”, Quantum Identity is not erasable, and makes those time honored examples impossibly disconnected with reality. The notion of identity has thus to be found elsewhere (as we intuitively know that there is such a notion).

According to modern Quantum Field Theory, we are made, at the most fundamental level, of fluctuating fields. They come and go, out of nowhere. So, that way, we are continually been deconstructed and rebuilt. The question naturally arises: what is preserved of me, as a set of Quantum Fields? Well, the most fundamental mathematical structure is preserved.

The same seems to hold, to a great extent, in neurobiology, as neuro circuitry, to some extent, seems to come, go, and come back.

Thus we are all like old wooden Greek ships, perpetually falling apart, and rebuilt.

To some extent, this is what happens to species, through reproduction: cells split, and reproduce themselves, thanks to DNA.

A species has identity. Yet that identity is made of DISCONTINUOUS elements: the individuals who incarnate the species, who are born, and then die. And others appear, just the same, sort of. How is that possible?

A species’ identity is its structure. Just as a neurology, or an elementary particle identity is its structure. Not just a geometric structure, not just a topological structure, but its structure, as the most fundamental notion, as a category.

So what is preserved? Shape. And how to morph said shapes… Naturally (there is a notion of natural transformation, in Category Theory).

Historically, analyzing shape was systematized by the Greeks: Euclidean geometry, cones, etc. Then, at the end of the Nineteenth Century, it was found that geometry studied shapes mostly by studying distance, and yet, even if distance was denied consideration, there was a more fundamental notion of shape, topology. That was the structure of shapes as defined by neighborhoods.

Two generations later, Category Theory arrived. Category Theory is about morphisms, and the structures which can be built with them. Please listen to the semantics: structures, morphing… This is all about shapes reduced to their most basic, simplest symbolic expression. It’s no wonder that it would come in handy to visualize neurological structures.

A morphism is a pair of “objects” (CT leaves unspecified what the “objects” are). To model that neurologically, we can just identify ‘objects’ to neurons (or other neurological structures), and morphisms to axons (although dendrites, and more, could be included, in a second stage, when the categoretical modelling become more precise).

The better model is category theory. When are two diagrams equivalent? When are they IDENTICAL? Cantor defined as of the same cardinal two sets in a bijection (a bijection is a 1 to 1, onto map).

Category Theory defines as identical the same diagram (a drawing reduced to its simplest essence). Say: A>B>C>D>A is the same as E>F>G>H>E.

Thus, when are two diagrams identical in category theory? When they are modelled by the same neuronal network. (Or, more exactly, axonal network: make each arrow “>” above, into an axon.) And reciprocally!

Discussing the mind will involve discussing the most fundamental structures constituting it. What better place to start, than the most basic of maths? Especially if it looks readily convertible in neural networks.

Category Theory is the most fundamental theoretical structure we know of. It is the essence of identity, and identification. In conclusion, two objects are identical, neurologically, and in fundamental physics, if they are so, in category theory.

Time to learn something categorically new!

Patrice Ayme’

***

Note: No True Isolated Rocks: In other news, and to address a point of Bill Skaggs, whether a rock can be truly isolated is an open problem, experimentally speaking.

According to the theory of gravitation of Einstein and company, a rock cannot be isolated. Why? Because the rock is immersed in spacetime. Spacetime is animated by gravitational waves: this is what the Einstein Field Equation implies. Now, according to an unproven, but hoped-for principle of fundamental physics, to each force field is associated a particle. In the case of gravity, that hoped-for particle is called the graviton. “Particle” means a “particular” effect. Thus, an isolated rock, according to established theory, and hoped-for theory, ought to be adorned occasionally with a new particle, a new graviton, thus ought not to be isolated.

In my own theory, Objective Quantum Physics, on top of the preceding standard effect, resolving Quantum Entanglements, ought to create even more particles in “isolated” rocks.

Free Will, Modernized

October 22, 2014

Converted Canadian Muslims crush, and shoot Canadians. Hey, they read it in a magazine! Do those killers have free will? Or are they just Qur’an programmed machines? This is the sort of quandary which advances in neurology show the ancient debate on Free Will ought to be about. Here is a tiny refresher about the Qur’an:

Quran (2:216)Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not.”

Quran (3:56)“As to those who reject faith, I will punish them with terrible agony in this world and in the Hereafter, nor will they have anyone to help.”

Quran (3:151)“Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority”.  This speaks directly of polytheists, thus including Christians, since they believe in the Trinity (Muhammad incorrectly believed that Christians had ‘joining companions to Allah’… as his mentor was a relative, a Coptic monk!).

Quran (4:74)“Let those fight in the way of Allah who sell the life of this world for the other. Whoso fighteth in the way of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward.”

Quran (8:12)“I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them”

Quran (8:39)“And fight with them until there is no more fitna (disorder, unbelief) and religion should be only for Allah”

OK, I stop here with Qur’an machine’s quotes, because this essay is not about Islam, but about Free Will. The preceding makes it clear that whoever really believes textually and literally in what’s written in the Qur’an ought to march into the Parliament in Ottawa, and destroy the disbelief there, to gather the vast reward.

And the question is: do these people have Free Will?

The modern debate about Free Will has not been about that. It has been, for centuries, about “gratuitous acts” [actes gratuits]. This has been an entirely stupid debate, the provinces of lost philosophers; any bear or lion hunter knows free will exists, not just in humans, but in the minds of ferocious beasts (thus making them hard to predict; once I found myself weaponless, 10 years old, and facing the largest lion I ever saw; I carefully paid my respects, and backed off slowly as I anybody in such circumstances ought to do, acknowledging the splendor of the king of beasts, making Him feel very good about Himself, and thus making my on-going existence something which, however minute and unworthy, represented an element of satisfaction for the Lord of Africa).

Modern brain scanning techniques have brought a twist on that: the launching of an act is preceded by unconscious brain preparations, several tenths of second prior.

That is totally unsurprising. The brain is like an immense, giant machine, with millions of programs and preparations running simultaneously. Consciousness looks, and can only look, at very few of them.

At least, we know this now.

For example the latest Nobel in Biology was attributed for the discovery of tiny hexagonal networks of neurons which act like microscopic Geostationary Positioning Systems. Such circuitry is active continuously, to provide a sense of place. It influences consciousness, and thus Free Will.

(Say: if the internal GPS indicates we are falling off, the Free Will debate will be shut-down. Instantaneously.)

The free will debate is thousands of years old. It became acute after Constantine’s terrorizing dictatorship imposed as state religion an omnipotent, omniscient god. How can be free, if god is everything?

That had the pleasant consequence that intellectuals, instead of worrying about the dictators, conducted 17 centuries of sterile debates about whether god allowed them to be free (in truth it’s Constantine and his tyrannical successors who did not allow them to be free).

When a bell rings, Pavlov discovered that the dog’s digestive system sprang to attention. The free will is the one who rings the bell. But what if it was not an individual ringing the bell, but history itself? Would we be conscious of it?

Of course the phenomenon of springing to attention is familiar to macho men seeing a beautiful woman in the distance. Conditioned reflexes are all over. But could it be that the exaggerated masculinity of those who spring to attention when seeing a woman, be itself a conditioned neural, glial, and neurohormonal system of sorts?

It is well known that people learn to fake emotions and behaviors: homosexuals living in the closet have long done this. But not just them. I claim it’s all over the place. Even in the fascination with wine. So some will reach happiness only when they can drink a bit of alcohol, etc. This conditioning is cultural: Bacchus has been celebrated, and associated to wine, for millennia. A fundamental sensation, happiness has been subjugated to a cultural notion.

Each nation has its crazes, its conditioned reflexes, its own notion of free will. Most of the minds are made from the outside, complete from ideas to emotions, to what to say in most situations encountered. And so it is, all over.

But then what happens to fee will? Is it all about conditioned reflexes from elaborated systems of mood and thoughts, many of them culturally given?

When called to exert free will, all what is happening is a cocktail of conditioned reflexes of long, and subconsciously established, systems of thoughts, emotions and moods. In other words, most people are just puppets from the genealogy of ideas, morals, moods, emotions, and conditioned reflexes.

What’s Free Will?

I started with Qur’an programmed robots. But then the Anglo-Saxon enslaving West is not a place exempt from the most absurd, obnoxious and criminal programmation.

I recently partook in an exchange on Free Will on an interesting and open minded philosophical site. The author had extolled the “philosopher” David Hume as the “first psychologist” Let’s roll a quote from that great Anglo-Saxon genius. Here is David Hume, enthusiastically buttressing the Anglo-Saxon slave masters’ system:

“I am apt to suspect the Negroes to be naturally inferior to the Whites. There scarcely ever was a civilized nation of that complexion, nor even any individual, eminent either in action or speculation. No ingenious manufactures amongst them, no arts, no sciences. On the other hand, the most rude and barbarous of the Whites, such as the ancient Germans, the present Tartars, have still something eminent about them, in their valour, form of government, or some other particular. Such a uniform and constant difference could not happen, in so many countries and ages, if nature had not made an original distinction between these breeds of men. Not to mention our colonies, there are Negro slaves dispersed all over Europe, of whom none ever discovered the symptoms of ingenuity; though low people, without education, will start up amongst us, and distinguish themselves in every profession. In Jamaica, indeed, they talk of one Negro as a man of parts and learning; but it is likely he is admired for slender accomplishments, like a parrot who speaks a few words plainly.”

This grossly racist quote is from whom some Anglo-Saxons searching for respect call the “first psychologist”, David Hume. It brings the same question about Free Will.

Notice that Hume does not just imprint with offensive notions about “negroes”, but also offensive emotions about them. And by “offensive” I mean just that, inducing an offensive, that is, an attack.

That anti-human Hume’ notion of sub-humanity sprang from the greed of gross exploitation: having armies of slaves overseas made many a plutocrat in Western Europe extremely wealthy.

In this, it does not differ from the Qur’an’s main axis of attack. We know from the Hadith (a book gathering all what was said about the life of Muhammad by direct witnesses) that the context of the very first (2; 216) quote is that Muhammad the Prophet, then Master of Medina, was trying to convince his followers to go attack and raid some caravans.

It’s an axis of attack, but also an axis of imprinting, of making people into assault machines, enslaving, killing, “striking off their heads and striking off every fingertip of them”. As seen on TV.

So what’s Free Will if we are just machines programmed, emotionally and logically, from the outside? Even for the most inhuman tasks?

If any, Free Will has to incorporate the impact, the struggle, one is having feeding one’s brain with seriously, strenuously examined data. It is exactly what parrots do not have.

One cannot decide when to decide. One can only decide to examine with an open mind, what one’s deciding structures will be constructed with. At best.

Patrice Ayme’

Bamboozling Power

February 18, 2014

Carl Sagan viewed the Confidence Trick, or Bamboozling, as an important concept. It is. And not just because it explains why people goose step behind dictators, superstition and other insane ideas. The basic mechanisms behind bamboozling also explain not just the problem of Free Will, but how the mind itself arises.

Paraphrasing Carl Sagan in The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark:

One of the most alarming meta-lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, or spectacularly enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth, we can’t even find the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. It’s best to ignore it, to reduce our pain. So we ignore it. Once you give in to a charlatan, or to madness, it’s very hard to get common sense back.

Bamboozling: An Enemy Of Rationality

Bamboozling: An Enemy Of Rationality

In practice, it’s even worse. Charlatans reign through institutions. If the institutions have been themselves bamboozled, the effect is much amplified. This is what happens in places such as North Korea. Hitler is a famous case. Again and again, in history, obvious charlatans bamboozled their subjects into extinction.

Other cases are closer at hand: the much celebrated North American educational system is still trusted. Yet, it is the Trojan Horse of plutocracy unleashed. Higher education is so expensive that only a small percentage of the population can afford it for their children, without crushing debt (tuition in the top universities is above pre-tax median family income: $54,000 at Harvard). It’s bamboozling on an Academic scale.

Recently the Wall Street Journal revealed that, after spending more than six figures paying for an education, learning to fly, “airline pilots face a new danger: minimum wage”. Great bamboozling at work here.

Don’t worry: the owners of the airlines are making a fortune, and a galaxy of profiteers make good money from the so called private universities, be it by just exploiting their sport franchises.

Why do we react to bamboozling with denial?

It’s in the nature of neurology. It’s a case of colossal mental inertia, intrinsic to the nature of minds.

Neurology, whatever its details, is something built from the outside. The environment determines its nature. However, once a neurology is built, it’s built. The environment, in the past (that’s where the connection with Free Will is) has built it. In the past.

A neurology is not build like a software program. An incarnated neurology is built like a dam: once it’s built, it’s built. If rain does not fall anymore, and the lake dries up, the dam is still there.

Neurology is not just very hard to change. It is made for this environment that built it. If the environment changes, the changed environment cannot rebuilt it from scratch, for the simple reason that it already exists.

A mind is as a sand castle. Once it has been built, and the builder, the environment, changes, or moves away, it stays behind, and decays. It’s the simplest observation, it has momentous consequences.

Intellectuals, paradoxically, tend to be bamboozled, because they are often too busy with the mental task at hand, to become more than a cog in the machine (some have revolted: the most famous example was Sakharov, a great Soviet physicist who helped built the H Bomb, but then turned against his masters with devastating efficiency.)

I have been bamboozled personally more than once, big time, typically by large, honorable scale institutions, and the small critters that serve them inside, like bacteria in termites’ guts.

Once we have been taken by some confidence trick, can we rebuild our minds enough to reject it?

True, one has demonstrated in experiments on mice, that neurogenesis is necessary for learning, and happens at all ages. So neurogenesis, the fabrication of neurons is always active. Maybe we could use that to rebuild our minds?

No. Most of the brain has been established long ago, during youth. One may be able to change the details, it’s much harder to rebuild a functioning machine, than to make it from scratch.

Is there a way to mitigate the ease with which one can get bamboozled? Yes. To learn to take one’s knowledge and certainty, with a grain of salt. To practice the “WHAT IFS”, systematically. To teach the mind the yoga of doubt. Any sure thing that can be bent, should be bent, with “What Ifs”.

It’s not easy to learn this meta-learning. Systematically not just what is true, but why it is true (why the alternatives have been ruled out) ought to be taught. (Some say there is no time for this, but then children are taught only half a day, and often in too boring a fashion. Exposing children to “What Ifs” makes it much less boring, because that’s what our neurologies are made for.)

Thinking Is Most Human, & Thus, The Hardest Thing

Thinking Is Most Human, & Thus, The Hardest Thing

The yoga of doubt can even be extended to the realms of emotions. Emotional geometrodynamics is actually one of the interests of sports. Many sports involve states when one is at war. Even somebody who dives in apnea has to fight. Against her, or his self, when they desperately want to breathe. Going to war in normal society is not just abnormal, but discouraged. In sports, it’s encouraged.

However, some of the most pervasive Confidence Tricks are not just made possible by denial, as Carl Sagan says. Denial is what they sell. Take Christianity (or Islam). What the Christian institutions sell is an unbelievable story, yet, if one believes in it, it’s most comfortable. All we have to do is be good, and believe (that the Confidence Men and their sacred texts tell the truth). Then we will be rewarded.

There is no more struggle: submission is the key to heaven, and if we die, alleluia!

Thus life can be experienced as a happy dream, or torpor (as Marx noticed). However the Con Men (= Confidence Men”), in particular the Plutocrats, can rarely find a balance of exploitation. So at some point, the dream turns into a nightmare. The dam breaks, the sand castle is wiped out by a tsunami, and the great passion of revolution sweeps the land.

We can’t just cultivate our garden (whatever Voltaire said). When the wave comes, all gardens get washed away; we have to run. Given enough time, the wave always comes, and washes civilization away. Right now it’s just washing the biosphere.

Although the destiny of humanity is not clear. However, passion, in practice, is all the destiny we need. Yet not all passions are good. Passion for violence has to be diverted (hence the obsession with watching team sports, war by proxies). But passion for truth ought to be indulged in ever more. Be it just to save the biosphere.

Patrice Aymé

Lies Tie Tribes Together Well

December 7, 2013

SHARED ERRORS BIND BETTER THAN TRUTH (Or how faith feeds intellectual fascism of the tribal type).

Aside from loving those who loved me, my life has been centered on a search for the ultimate nature of reality. That included history, to find out the errors one makes, and psychology, to find where those errors came from. I found out about Quantum theory. It entangled what is going on in the small with new, mysterious notions.

I expected thorough dedication to truth among serious thinkers. And who could be more detached than physicists? Yet, I became disturbed by the great gap between how certain some scientists were that their theories were right, and the evidence they had. Sometimes it felt as if they had no evidence, or even the opposite, and as if error united men better than truth. How could that be? How come the tribal arose from the illogical, or even, from error? Was error a mean to tribalism?

That puts the tribal in conflict with the Republic. The Republic is united by justice, and justice is truth, force:

Roman Fascism: People Bound By The Axe of Justice

Roman Fascism: People Bound By The Axe of Justice

[One of the two man-sized bronze fasces flanking the Speaker’s Rostrum, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington. Just as with the French Republic, fasces are all over the symbols of the Republic of the USA .]

Verily, fasces were the fundamental symbol of the Roman republic, and from there on, the Franks and the French and American republics.

(Call that fascism at its best; suggestion: add fasces to the United Nations Security Council! After all, United Nations without force is no union of justice… the UNSC just voted unanimously to unleash the French army to reestablish justice in the Central African Republic.)

Fascism is how weak social animals bind themselves together to make an irresistible mass. Fascism is how social animals drink and dine, without becoming dinner. It’s an old method, honed by hundreds of millions of years of evolution. Or why social animals exist.

( The earliest public latrines, 240 million years old, were just discovered.)

The power of fascism, like the axe surrounded by the fasces, can be used for good or for bad.

In this essay, we will explore a related phenomenon, the POWER OF ERROR, and how intellectual fascism binds a tribe around an error rather than a truth, by making special brains.

Instead of finding an example in politics or history, or the usual suspects (Jihadists!)I will exhibit an example from what ought to be the most intellectually rigorous subject.

In the fundamental treaty on Quantum Mechanics by the great physicist Paul Dirac, a claim was made about the nature of reality that was not just poorly supported theoretically, but experimentally contradicted.

Dirac had said that “photons interfere only with themselves”. Anybody with 2 lasers could check that was wrong. Yet, to this day, strong belief that this error does not matter persists. Why? I claim it stays a convenient cement that unites many mangy physicists.

It’s not just because the photons-interfere-only-with-themselves makes for cheap thinking. It’s also because it provides with tribal, even mystical, and certainly neurological identification, precisely because it’s obviously false.

Of course, for someone such as me, who puts the search for reality above tribal considerations, it’s most important to know if photons do, or do not, interfere with themselves. And as they do, it’s most important to find out how they do it.

(Photon to photon “non linear optics” happens in QED, through matter-antimatter virtual processes, a completely different effect.)

Quantum theory is subjacent to Elementary Particle Physics. The latter was uncovered by “high energy” experiments, in which particles collided into each other. Weirdly, though, all the obvious experiments to uncover Quantum theory had not been made! Somehow, particle theorists had persuaded themselves that Quantum theory was fully known and consistent.

Yet, evidence that Quantum theory was not as understood as possible were abundant (the list was long of fundamental experiments that had not even been tried: Bohm-Aharanov, 1958; one photon-at a time 2-slit, independent lasers 2-slits; numerous EPR style, interaction-at-a-distance experiments, Popper experiment… tried for the first time in 1999, 65 years after it was proposed; etc.).

Fundamental physicists were in denial of this lack of thoroughness on their part. It was a major epistemological, even ethical breach.

An obvious explanation was that governments were more interested to fund high energy physics than really fundamental search for reality. Clearly, high energy physics could lead to death rays, Star Wars, etc. And it did. U.S. Navy ships using combat lasers are being deployed on the battle field.

Present proposed high energy accelerators are of obvious military interest (as they would muster tremendously energetic particle beams over very short distances).

Physicists, after all, are primates, and they find interesting what gives them bananas.

Yet, there was strong evidence that these supposedly arcane minds behaved more like tribal monkeys than inquiring minds. Could it be possible that error united them?

As I would find later in life, nothing is more conducive to building an exploitative community of minds than an error, also known as a faith. A faith that those erroneous minds share. And the more outrageous the faith, the better.

Why?

Recent studies have shown that it takes longer to lie than to tell the truth. The brain has to work harder. Although, well trained liars learn to reduce that delay.

I believe that ideas correspond to brain structures. This idea about ideas has far ranging consequences, from the duplication of thinking by computers, to ethics, to imagination.

Mental structures determined by truth and reality are going to be common to everybody (that’s what is called “common sense”). For the tribally minded, that presents a major drawback: if one shares the same mental structures with everybody, one cannot distinguish the group one wants to belong to.

The only way to distinguish a group is by teaching brains all the same, but differently from all other brains. This way one creates a common architecture of the mind, not found in any other group. The best way to do this is by teaching an error.

The principle of deliberately committing errors, so that people can be tribally, religiously, hatefully, or oligarchically, bound together, with their special brains, rules… That’s why racism is so popular!

It rules, because it has not been recognized. If it comes on the radar of the Enlightenment, that will change.

Don’t ask the tribal minded what errors they made, because therein their identity. They will become aggressive, as you start to poke around their brains. Instead reject errors from all and any part. That will hinder the formation of hateful or exploitative groups.

***

Patrice Ayme