Why is it, that SOMETHING exists in the universe, rather than NOTHING AT ALL?

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Peter reviews Jim Holt’s new book on this subject, “Why does the World Exist?” and concludes with a nested series of questions, Yes, why does anything exist, but even if it does, then why is it so vastly complicated and changing all the time, and then, even if it is that way, why should  CONSCIOUSNESS exist within this complexity which is capable of being aware of its existence  and experiencing the unfolding spectacle of the universe.  Join Peter as he takes a delightful amble through the various opinions of philosophers, scientists and mathematicians.  In the end he promises to give us some new ideas in a future blog.

From http://www.consciousentities.com/

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We discussed once before that old philosophical puzzler: why is there actually anything at all? Jim Holt’s new book Why does the World Exist?is an entertaining but basically serious assault on this fundamental issue.

Near the beginning he has a splendid chapter about nothing (as it were). He’s a little hard on the Greeks and Romans, suggesting that to them the very idea of zero was inconceivable. That’s surely reading too much into the fact that Roman numerals don’t include a symbol for zero (and you know, the Romans themselves didn’t even use those formal numerals when they needed to do everyday sums, but another system altogether). But his brief history of nothing from Heidegger (‘nothing noths’, apparently) through Bergson to Nozick, and his explanation of the problems that arise from confusing nothing and nothingness, is lively in the best kind of way and stimulating. Could nothing even exist? Holt regards true nothingness as tough to conceive of and spends some time on different ways of attempting the feat. I don’t think I find it that hard myself to think that the world might be null and empty or a Euclidean point (there’s a Greek conception that’s pretty close to zero for you).

That is the question that drives this enquiry, though: why all this stuff? Wouldn’t it be more natural if there was nothing? Much of the book is formed of conversations with selected luminaries, and the first of these, Adolf Grünbaum, simply denies that there’s anything puzzling about the world’s existence. All this stuff about creation of a world out of the void is just a hangover from Genesis as far as he’s concerned. That seems a little too easy. Holt’s second interlocutor, Richard Swinburne, thinks by total contrast that the simplest explanation for the cosmos is, in a word, God, though God himself is inexplicable. That, in a quite different way, seems too easy too.

Holt talks to David Deutsch about a quantum multiverse and Steven Weinberg about Theories of Everything, but both, with refreshing clarity and honesty, deny possessing any ultimate answer to his question. Roger Penrose believes in three separate worlds, but his basically Platonic conception doesn’t seem to offer us anything very new, or to me very satisfying.

With John Leslie things start to get interesting, if bizarre: he believes in axiarchism: the universe exists because of the moral requirement that goodness should exist. There seem to be great difficulties with getting ontology from ethics: attentive observers will have noticed that the moral requirement for goodness doesn’t seem to have much direct causative effect in the real world.

The person Holt is most impressed by is Derek Parfit, who appears (I haven’t read Parfit himself on the subject) to offer not so much a theory as a framework in which all possible universes are theoretically available, but one is actualised by a Selector, a principle which prioritises one. Holt likes this framework and he builds on it a theory of his own. For reasons which were never clear to me, he believes we only need to consider four possible Selectors: simplicity, goodness, fullness/non-arbitrariness, and no Selector at all. Surely there are many more possibilities than that, whatever a Selector is supposed to be (and that’s not quite clear either: for Parfit I suspect it is the kind of intermediate convenience that can be cancelled out of the final solution but Holt seems at times to take it as a metaphysical reality)?  Anyway, Holt decides to arbitrate between the Selectors by using them on themselves as meta-Selectors. He thinks only two emerge from this exercise: Simplicity and Fullness. He concludes that if all selectors or no selectors are going to be applied as a result, we end up with a universe of surpassing mediocrity. That seems to be his final view: the world exists like this because it was the most mediocre option the cosmos could come up with. Amusingly he goes on to ask: what could be the reason for my own existence in such a Universe?

Not a convincing conclusion, then, but an intelligent account of the kind that causes the reader to nod in sage agreement or exclaim in frustration by turns.

Turning aside from Holt’s conversations, let’s see if we can get straight the reasons for puzzlement about why there is anything. Well, isn’t it that Occam’s Razor tells us that entities are not to be multiplied, and so we expect a minimal number of entities in our world. Why does Occam work? I think it really operates on two levels. Strictly Occam is a metatheoretic principle of parsimony: it’s not about reality, it’s about which theory we should prefer. Given any set of facts, there is an unlimited number of different theories which will account for them: we need some way of choosing and Occam tells us to pick the simplest account, or more precisely, the one whose picture of the world contains the smallest and least complex set of things. Strict Occam doesn’t tell us that this simplest theory is absolutely going to be the true one, and sometimes it eventually turns out that it isn’t; but going for simplicity seems the most practical way of picking out one version from the range of possible theories: it may be the only fully comprehensive and consistent principle we can apply. (In practice what we often rely on is not a marginal difference of complexity but a kind of Occamic click: sometimes when a good theory comes along it provides an abrupt and substantial drop in the complexity of our world view: all of a sudden quite lot of different things make sense, and that’s really what makes us think the theory must be true.)

But in addition there is second pseudo-Occamic principle lurking below the surface: things don’t happen/exist for no reason.  Whereas the strict version of Occam is epistemic, this idea is ontological: it doesn’t just tell us what to think it tells us what probably exists, and prompts us to think that the simplest theories are not just the most convenient to adopt, but more likely to be true than any others. It is mainly this pseudo-Occamic idea that leads us to be, not happy as kings (as Robert Louis Stevenson suggested) but puzzled that the world is so full of a number of things. Leslie’s axiarchism seems almost to invert this principle, claiming that good stuff can indeed spring into existence for no other reason than its intrinsic ethical qualities.

We should notice that the pseudo-Occamic principle mainly tells us that things don’t change; so if there were nothing to begin with, nothing could be expected to come of it (a point Holt covers in his discourse on nothing, by the way); but even if there is something, we should expect the universe to be relatively uneventful. So even if it’s easy for Grünbaum to shrug off our Occamic propensity to prefer a theory which gives us a cosmic nothing, he also needs to explain why we seem to be in the midst of a world which has a long complex history and is constantly changing.

One possible answer here is some form of the Anthropic Principle: we’re in a world with that long complex history because otherwise it couldn’t contain us. As we know, the anthropic principle comes in a variety of forms: at one end there are unobjectionable versions which say: the fact that we find ourselves in a world that contains enough detail for human beings to be part of it is no more surprising than the supposed stroke of luck that we got ourselves born on a planet with an atmosphere: if it had been otherwise, we wouldn’t be here to talk about it. At the other extreme are scarily idealist versions of the principle which say that our existence actually reaches back in time and reconfigures the fundamental constants of the universe.

Another reason we might want the anthropic principle is to help us whittle down a multiverse. Multiverses of one kind or another seem to be a popular option for helping to explain the world, but again they come in reasonable and less reasonable forms. Parfit seems to have one variety in which slightly different laws or constants operate in different regions of space; but other conceptions have sets of universes which implement everything that isn’t logically contradictory. There are problems with this, not least with the issue of identity across worlds. Multiversians would have it that are universes where I never wrote this post – but there aren’t, because I did: those people who failed to write it are people exactly like me, not me: and it follows that all possibilities are not realised after all, and cannot be, no matter how much the worlds proliferate. Personally I suspect that since the alternative universes make no difference to our world, merely providing an explanatory convenience which they could do even if they didn’t in fact exist, they might as well not exist.

Anyway, what has all this got to do with consciousness? Puzzlement over the existence of the world is partly, I submit, puzzlement over why there are such specific and apparently arbitrary details to it. Why anything, yes, but even if something,why on earth all this? That is strongly related to the questions why me? and What on earth am I? There is a special intractability to questions of this kind: we don’t want the answer to be purely logical because then we would get eternal archetypes, and we’re not that; but we don’t want something random, arbitrary, or notional either because after all we are real. Theories are about generalities, but we’re asking for a theory of the particular. It is haecceity – thisness – that makes us and our qualia so special, but haecceity seems to require an unprecedented kind of explanation that doesn’t exist.

Next time I’ll attempt to give it…

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Will quantum biochemistry ever be able to explain consciousness?

Dr. Deepak Ranade, a Consultant Neurosurgeon from Pune, India, is interested in the possibility of being able to model consciousness using Quantum Mechanical phenomena.  The essay below is from his blog at http://neuroconsciousness.blogspot.com/2011/07/bose-einstein-samadhi.html

Bose Einstein Samadhi

Scientific Basis Of Meditation
Matter and energy are inter-convertible. This was a path –breaking contribution by Einstein and was unequivocally proven albeit in very morbid and destructive circumstances. Thus, matter is present in various energy states. These energy states were found to be temperature dependent. The higher the temperature, the greater the energy. A simple example of this would be water that boils upon heating to higher temperatures. This increases the disorder in the molecules as they are energized. This disorder is referred to as entropy. It represents the excitability and chaos of the molecules that constitute matter. Satyendra Bose, a reputed Indian scientist proposed to Einstein that if matter was cooled to very low temperatures (Absolute Kelvin- minus 273 degrees ) then the entropy of that matter should decrease and matter should come down to a zero energy state. This remained only in the realms of hypothetical speculation until it was proved much later on. This zero energy state is now known to physicists as the Bose –Einstein condensate. This state of matter is also called a superatom as the entire mass behaves as if it were a single atom. It loses all its characteristics of shape, charge, polarization etc. It probably reverts to a shapeless attributeless phenomenon. De-evolution of matter, reverting back to just the potential to manifest as anything and everything.
Our brain is as aggregate of close to a 100 billion neurons. The various thoughts that constantly crowd our minds are the sum- total of simultaneous activity of different neurons. No wonder that there is such chaos in our awake state. These thoughts then translate into various biological changes mediated by the hormonal apparatus at the pituitary interfacing system. The complex interconnections that abound the nervous system ensure that even a small impulse rapidly spreads seismically via this dense network. Certain individuals have innate higher entropy levels and therefore find it harder to concentrate. They are known as distractable in common parlance. They have fleeting thoughts and are very restless. The sensory organs serve as an important pathway to increase the entropy as they stimulate various neuronal circuits adding to the entropy. Therefore closing the eyes helps in the process of concentration. Continuous stimulation of the neural networks is what happens in awake states.Sleep is therefore necessary for minimizing these constant excitatory inputs. Sleep deprivation leads to fatigue of the neural networks
When one concentrates, there is a resultant decrease in the disorder of the neural system. As concentration increases, the tendency of the mind to waver and scatter decreases. The mind is more sharp focused. We all have experienced the need to concentrate when we are studying or performing some important activity. So when we concentrate, we are increasing the synchronicity of a specific group of neurons and silencing unrelated neuronal activity. In scientific parlance, concentration decreases the entropy of the neuronal apparatus. Reverting to the earlier example, as we approach the Absolute Kelvin, just as the entropy of matter drops to near zero levels, similarly, the neuronal disorder keeps waning as we concentrate. The neuronal firing decreases in amplitude as well as frequency. So would the propagation across various networks.
In awake states, when one consciously attempts to decrease the entropy of the nervous system, it is referred to as meditation. As the entropy of the neurons keeps decreasing, a state of calmness is perceived. As this progresses further, the neurons start becoming synchronous. That is, they neither modulate or amplify any incoming signal. They just resonate in harmony. As this orchestra starts becoming more in synch the subject experiences varying states of bliss and happiness. Till what is presumably the final state of zero entropy, where all 100 billion neurons function in total unified quantum coherence . This Bose Einstein condensate equivalent of the neuronal system is what may be termed as Samadhi.Dr Deepak Ranade
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Dr Deepak Ranade

Dr Deepak Ranade

(Click picture to go to his website)

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Dr. Alfred M. Prince, M.D., aged 82, has Died — 18 October 2011

Fred Prince 1929-2011

Fred, in his home office in Pound Ridge in 2009

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Brain Shows Transition Between Conscious and Unconscious State, Using functional Electrical Impedance Tomography

The BBC News website, reporting on results presented at the European Anaesthesiology Congress in Amsterdam on June 14th, show a  tomographic video of a  patient loosing consciousness following the administration of anesthesia.

Below are some still images from the video which give an idea of the changes that take place.  The images are indirect measures of  neural firing in the brain and hence have a very high resolution time.  The device resembles an EEG more than an MRI device both in terms of cost and size.


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This is the latest development of EIT technology from Manchester University, which hosted an international meeting in 2009 entitled International Conference on Biomedical Applications of Electrical Impedance Tomography (EIT).

The technology used is described in further detail in a published paper which is available as a downloadable PDF file, “fEITER – a new EIT instrument for functional brain imaging” by J L Davidson, P Wright, S T Ahsan, R L Robinson, C J D Pomfrett & H McCann.

Further links to this technology may be found <here> and below:

References

[1] Tidswell A T, Gibson R H, Bayford and D S Holder 2001 Three-dimensional electrical impedance tomography of human brain activity Neuroimage 13 283-294

[2] Gilad O and Holder D S 2009 Impedance changes recorded with scalp electrodes during visual evoked responses: implications for EIT of fast neural activity Neuroimage 47 514-522

[3] McCann H et al 2006 Sub-second functional imaging by Electrical Impedance Tomography in Proc. of 28th Annual Int. Conf. of the IEEE EMBS (New York City, NY, USA) 4269-4272

[4] Polydorides N, Lionheart W R B and McCann H 2002 Krylov subspace iterative techniques: on detection of brain activity with electrical impedance tomography IEEE Trans. Med. Imag., 21 596-603

[5] Rafiei-Naeini M and McCann H 2008 Low-noise current excitation sub-system for medical EIT Physiol. Meas. 29(6) S173-S184

[6] Davidson J L et al 2009 fEITER – a new instrument for OR and ICU applications in Proc. of 10th International Conference on Biomedical Applications of Electrical Impedance Tomography (Manchester,UK) Available: http://www.maths.manchester.ac.uk/eit2009

[7] Sirotin Y B et al 2009 Spatiotemporal precision and hemodynamic mechanism of optical point spreads in alert primates Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 106(43) 18390-18395

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Stenger and Dianelos Georgoudis – 6 june 11

Yesterday I saw a video of the retired physicist, Victor J. Stenger.  His host provided a detailed introduction that took almost 5 minutes to go through.  Why was it so long, I wondered.  It did not occur to me, at the time, that the inordinate length of the speaker’s accomplishments might have been given at the direction of  the speaker himself.  Then later, on another video, I heard an identical recitation of this long introduction of the speaker.  Only then did I realize that it was Stenger who had supplied this copious biographical information to be recited before an interview or discussion of his books.

I found an entry on him on Wp at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_J._Stenger and his webpage at http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/VWeb/Home.html.

The first YouTube video I watched was the one below.  He does not begin speaking until after 5 minutes into the clip.

After this I looked up his book, “Quantum Gods: Creation, Chaos, and the Search for Cosmic Consciousness” on Amazon and went to the “one star” reviews.

The first of these was titled “Another Failure from the Reliable Stenger“, by Bradley Metzner

  • “Victor Stenger has long thought that his training as a physicist (in which field his achievements have been slightly less than minor) somehow magically endows him with the ability to think philosophically, though he has no philosophical training and manifestly is unable to deal with even the most rudimentary logical issues. More to the point, he always gives the impression not only of not understanding the ideas he attacks, but of not actually having read the books in which those ideas appear. All he has going for him is his arrogance, his remarkable lack of critical self-awareness, and his stridently dogmatic metaphysical materialism. Oh, and of course, his curiously 19th century style of empirical verificationism.This is just the sort of book, though, for the audience he courts. It will fortify their prejudices and further dull their wits. And, in the end, not a single interesting advance will have been made on the central questions it deals with.”

The next review was a gem, called ” smoke and mirrors” by Dianelos Georgoudis

Quantum Gods: Creation, Chaos, and the Search for Cosmic Consciousness

  • Since the discovery of Quantum Mechanics in early 20th century, physicists (including several of the founders of QM) were surprised about the ontological implications of it. In short, QM, which is by now the very pillar of our technological society, appears to imply that there is no objective reality that science studies, in the sense that the only way to make sense of the theory is by assuming that reality is contingent on consciousness. So, for example, Albert Einstein complained about QM implying that the moon is not there when nobody is looking. A comment attributed to Niehls Bohr is as follows: “There is no quantum world. There is only an abstract quantum description. It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how nature is.”. Werner Heisenberg wrote: “One cannot go back to the idea of an objective real [material] world whose smallest parts exist objectively.” Pascual Jordan wrote: “Observations not only disturb what has to be measured, they produce it. […] We ourselves produce the results of measurement.” Eugene Wigner wrote: “It is not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness […] It will remain remarkable in whatever way our future concepts may develop, that the very study of the external world led to the conclusion that the content of consciousness is an ultimate reality.” John Wheeler wrote: “No elementary phenomenon is a real phenomenon until it is an observed phenomenon.” And “Useful as it is under everyday circumstances o say that the world exists ‘out there’ independent of us, that view can no longer be upheld. There is strange sense in which this is a ‘participatory universe'”. Arthur Eddington: “To put the conclusion crudely – the stuff of the world is ‘mind stuff'”. Bernard d’Espagnat: “The doctrine that the world is made up of objects whose existence is independent of human consciousness turns out to be in conflict with quantum mechanics and with facts established by experiment.” David Mermin commenting on Einstein’s question: “We now know that the moon is demonstrably not there when nobody looks.” Sir James Jeans: “The universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine.” Martin Rees: “The universe exists because we are aware of it.” Euan Squires: “Every interpretation of quantum mechanics involves consciousness.” Nick Herbert published an entire book about the ontological implications of QM, “Quantum Reality”. As recently as 2004 Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner published “Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness”. Other excellent books are “The Ghost in the Atom” edited by Paul Davies, and “Quantum Phyisics – Illusion or Reality” by Alastair Rae. These are all no-nonsense physicists, and many of them are eminent ones. So QM represents a real problem for any materialistic understanding of reality. As philosopher Bertrand Russell put it: “It has begun to seem that matter, like the Cheshire Cat, is becoming gradually diaphanous and nothing is left but the grin, caused, presumably, by amusement at those who still think it is there”. So it was with some interest I started reading Stenger’s book to see how he dealt with this problem.I couldn’t be more disappointed. First of all he doesn’t make any serious effort to deal with it. Rather he concentrates on the various New Age gurus who publish pseudo-science, on various paranormal claims (telepathy and the like), on the sensationalist documentary “What the Bleep do We Know?”, as well as on physicists Fritjof Capra’s “The Tao of Physics” and Amit Goswami’s “The Self-Aware Universe”. The latter two books interpret the quantum problem from the point of view of Eastern mysticism, which may or may not be appropriate, but which is irrelevant to the seriousness of the question at hand. The whole book strikes me as an intent to use a lot of smoke to convince the reader that there isn’t really any serious problem to deal with in the first place.The book contains many errors and misleading statements in its discussion of science. So for example on page 95 it says “The organs of the human body, including the brain, run on Newtonian mechanics” – which must be news to biochemists and neuroscientists. On page 103 it says “[Stephen Jay] Gould also insisted that there was no guarantee evolution would always act to produce increasingly complex forms of life with ever-broadening capabilities. However this remains controversial.” In fact this isn’t controversial but a rather obvious property of Darwinism. On page 184 it says “There is no wave-particle duality. Photons are just particles”. Actually, that photons sometimes display particle-like behavior and sometimes wave-like behavior is an observational fact and one of the fundamental insights of QM. On page 207 he writes “No one has ever seen a particle moving faster than light nor transmitted information from one point to another superluminally.” In fact in 1995 Horst Aichmann and Gunter Nimtz have transmitted Mozart’s 40th Symphony as frequency modulated microwaves (i.e. photons) through an 11.4 cm length of barrier at a velocity of 4.7 times higher than light speed, receiving audibly recognizable music. On page 196 he claims that the “observer” in the Copenhagen interpretation of QM need not be a conscious being but may be any “passive measuring instrument”. In fact what constitutes a “measurement” is much debated about and Stenger’s claim above is very far from the concensus. Take for example the famous “Schrodinger’s cat” thought experiment: The paradox of having a cat in a quantum superposition of being both alive and dead at the same time would not disappear were one to put a video camera inside the cat’s box; rather both the cat and the camera would exist in a quantum superposition. On page 197 he criticizes Bohm’s interpretation of QM by pointing out that it offers “nothing new in calculational ability and producing no unique empirical results”. But the same goes for all interpretations of QM, so this is hardly grounds for criticizing one of them. On page 206 he writes “The only deterministic quantum theory is that of Bohm”. Actually there is only one quantum theory. Bohm’s is one out of several naturalistic interpretations of quantum theory, and his is not the only deterministic one, for Everett’s so-called “many worlds” interpretation is deterministic too. On page 228 he approvingly quotes Jacques Monod who wrote: “Chance alone is the source of every innovation, of all creation, in the biosphere. Pure chance, absolutely free but blind is at the very root of the stupendous edifice of evolution.” This may be the personal belief of Monod, but it’s not a belief based on science. For even though the theory of evolution allows for “pure chance” it does not require it. Indeed the Darwinian mechanism works just as well using not chance but a deterministic pseudo-random generator. That’s why the theory of evolution has not falsified determinism. Stenger continues by praising those scientists who wrongly hold that the theory of evolution implies Monod’s view: “This remains the view of most scientists, but only a few such as Monod, Steven Weinberg, and Richard Dawkins have the courage to say so publicly. And they are castigated for it.” I don’t know whether Weinberg and Dawkins share Monod’s unscientific view that the theory of evolution implies randomness. Actually I doubt it. Dawkins has only claimed, correctly, that the universe we observe is just as it would be if evolution was based on blind chance – not that evolution was based on blind chance. Certainly philosopher Daniel Dennett does not share Monod’s belief, as he has explicitly spoken against it.Where things get bizarre is when Stenger tries to do philosophy. On page 64 Stenger handwaves away a major view about reality called idealism by noting that when one kicks a rock the rock kicks back; of course that would also be the case if idealism is true, so it’s not like kicking a rock “refutes” idealism. On page 66 Stenger informs us that time exists only in the human mind and that time is really a human invention. On page 73 we are informed that space too is only a human invention. Humanity has “what masquerades as free will”, so free will too is presumably a human invention. Even the laws of physics are “human inventions” (page 262). Amazing how when one assumes that God is just a human invention, a lot of other basic things must follow suit. – On page 211 he claims that materialism is consistent with “commonplace experience”. In fact it’s very difficult to see how materialism could possibly be consistent with the very fact of experience; it appears Stenger has never heard of the hard problem of consciousness, or perhaps he tries to shove it under the rug too. – A major part in the end of the book is dedicated to the question of whether the claim that God acts specially in creation is compatible with science. He mentions in some detail the ideas of several theologians in this respect but then comments on their ideas with just a few words, such as “Good try.” (page 216), as if he wants to give the impression that such ideas are not worth discussing – but if so why describe them in the book in the first place? In this context Stenger quickly becomes self-contradictory: On page 241 he states that if God played such a special role in the universe then God “should leave observable physical evidence”. But on page 221 he describes how God could violate the laws of physics in a way that this violation would simply not be “detectable to humans”. Not to mention that if this manner of divine action is fundamentally not detectable to humans then it is incoherent to claim that it represents a violation of the laws of physics; after all we know about the laws of physics from what we can detect. On page 243 he again describes how God could act in the universe: “To have full control over all events God would have to manage the motion of every fundamental particle in the universe in a nanosecond-by nanosecond basis. I suppose, being omnipotent, he could do that.” So God could massively interfere with the universe without science detecting it after all. So what’s the problem? That he “gets the impression in his reading that most theologians would not be happy with that solution”. So there. – When confronted with one of the few philosophical premises everybody agrees with, namely that from nothing nothing comes, he redefines “nothing” as what has no structure (page 250), but clearly that’s not what “nothing” means. Argumentation by the redefinition of common concepts appears to be a fashionable trend in atheism. On page 263 we learn that we can view the Earth and humanity as “forms of frozen nothing”. As I said, bizarre.

    Finally, the carelessness of the book is annoying. In the foreword written by the well-known Michael Shermer we read that physicist Amit Goswami had said “The material world around us is nothing but possible movements of consciousness. I am choosing moment by moment my experience.” Shermer then informs us that in his monthly column in Scientific American he publicly challenged Goswami to leap out of a twenty-story building and consciously choose the experience of surviving the experiment. Impressive, no? Only on page 38 of his book Stenger makes explicitly clear that when Goswami says “I” or “you”, as in “you make your own reality”, he means the “all-pervasive cosmic consciousness” and not some individual human. So what is one to make of Shermer’s huge equivocation in the foreword? Perhaps he did not read the book to which he wrote the foreword? But then again didn’t Stenger read Shermer’s foreword he put in his own book? Hardly likely. It’s far more likely that they just don’t care. It’s all about making an impression.

    The book does have some merits. Its explanation of some modern scientific concepts, especially in relation with special relativity, is lucid. It very convincingly criticizes all claims of top-down causality noting that in all such cases computer simulations using only bottom-up causality produce the relevant effects one ascribes to top-down causality. But on the whole this is very superficial and misleading book. Any of the books I mention above does a much better job explaining quantum weirdness.”

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I am currently reading and enjoying immensely one of the books DG mentions as being excellent in his opinion (Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner’s “Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness”.  And thanks to DG’s review here, I now have his 3 other recommended books.  Amazingly,  I was able to place a “Hold” on all 3 of them at the Los Angeles Public Library.

Looking at DG’s brief biography on Wp it is difficult to see where he was able to acquire his fluid and nuanced command of English.  We can understand the possibility of his being a native speaker of Portuguese, Spanish, Greek or German – – – – but English?

Were his parents academics?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Dianelos

  • “Dianelos Georgoudis was born from Greek parents in Brazil in 1956. He went to school in Athens, Greece, and studied electrical engineering at ETH in Zurich. From 1981 to 2002 he lived in Costa Rica where he at first taught computer science at the University of Costa Rica. In 1985 he founded a software company, TecApro, and later an Internet technology company, Hermes Software. Since 2002 he lives in Volos, Greece with his wife and daughter.

    His main interests (in no particular order) are information technology, painting, sculpture, philosophy, and religion. He has been contributing to wikipedia since 2005.

    He can be reached at dianelos@georgoudis.com”

I am now looking forward to reading more of DG’s reviews.

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