WillPayton's forum posts

#1 Posted by WillPayton (10327 posts) - - Show Bio

Any more opinions?

#2 Posted by WillPayton (10327 posts) - - Show Bio

1) I don't even believe in theory that science could read minds because if our mental states were reducible to just biochemistry in the brain then we wouldn't find subjectivity in our experiences which makes the claim that mental states are brain states false. How exactly is this biochemistry suppose to bridge the gap between molecules to mental states like "I think Jane is pretty because she has long hair"? The areas in my brain after being scanned may convey the fact that someone may be attracted to Jane but that doesn't really translate well to the statement that "I think Jane is pretty because she has long hair" because pretty has a subjective connotation.

Again, you are not answering the question. If mental states can influence brain states and brain states can influence mental states how did you come to the conclusion that the brain states came first when it could have easily been that mental states came first in the chronology. If everything is just reducible to a brain state then how exactly do you determine conscious thought from unconscious thought without the positing of mental states?

That didn't answer my question either, and I don't see how you thought it did?

I already answered the question but you keep insisting on using terms that are basically meaningless like "mind" and "subjectivity". That's the problem here. For examples, you ask how biochemistry can bridge the gap between molecules (a well defined physical term of something that we know exits and we can test, observe, and locate) and "mental states" which is an ill-defined term and just an abstract idea. There is no "mind" anywhere in the brain, or anywhere else in the universe. There are brains with physical processes and we call some of those processes and states things like "mind", "soul", "ego", "essence", "emotion", or "thought", but those terms are not separate things that exist in the universe, they are just human ideas for a concept that refers to other things that do exist. Trying to ask that actual physical things need to conform with abstract ideas is a fallacious argument.

Things like "subjectivity" only mean "things that are a result of complex states of the brain, and as such vary from person to person". You keep using the word as meaning "something that cant be explained". Again, your whole argument here amounts to you not understanding how the brain works or how brain states account for experience and thoughts, and you wanting to use works that dont actually describe any actual physical things... and then claiming that your confusion means that the answer is not rational. It is a rational answer and the proof is the evidence I have given plus mountains more. Maybe I'm doing a poor job of explaining it, which is very possible.

But, if you actually insist that because of things like "mind" and "subjectivity" then the brain isnt responsible for "mental" states, then feel free to prove it by properly defining what these words mean, where they can be found, how they work, and how they account for known facts. Lets see some evidence that these things actually exist and are not just abstract idea. I can already tell you that you cant do it because there is no actual think like a "mind" in the universe, just like there's no such things as a "soul" or "spirit" or any of that. If you base your whole argument on that and you cant show that those things exist, then you might as well just skip the whole argument part and just claim that whatever you want to believe is real... which is just a religion.

2) But you believe that science is the only source of reliable knowledge so it shouldn't matter much if the argument isn't scientific because if it isn't scientific then it is worthless.....right?

Science is the only reliable source of knowledge about things that actually exist in the universe. The problem is that these non-scientific arguments are not about actual knowledge, they are about abstract ideas that cant be tested against reality... they are basically fantasy. Science doesnt deal in fantasies because fantasies dont exist. But, science can indeed explain how ideas form and change in a brain, even if we cant fully do it today because of technical limitations.

So, for example, science cant tell you how Santa Claus could fly around the world in one night or how he makes his toys or where he lives or any of that. You're basically trying to claim that because science cant answer these question then there's a realm of knowledge that science cant explain. Wrong. Science can tell you about why children believe in things like Santa Claus, or how brain develop such myths and stories in the first place, or why people like to tell stories, and all that. But, since Santa Claus is just an idea like a "mind" or a "soul", then I cant just start my argument by assuming that Santa Claus exists and then mandating science to explain it.

3) No.....those were philosophical arguments making use of scientific evidence.

If they make use of evidence and science then they are at least partly scientific arguments. I dont see the issue here. Even if the videos I posted were FULLY philosophical, how is that invalid? I was addressing philosophical claims, so a reply in philosophical terms is justified. And like I already said, I dont have an issue with you posting a video. I already explained it so there's no point in going over this again.

#3 Posted by WillPayton (10327 posts) - - Show Bio
#4 Posted by WillPayton (10327 posts) - - Show Bio

@willpayton said:

@black_wreath said:

If the continued destruction of the beauty of the pagan deities has taught me anything it's that if Yahweh/Jehovah/Allah/God exists then he condones genocide and enjoys reminding me of why I won't worship him. Repugnant.

Condones?? How about performs genocide!

Lets not forget the God of the Bible murdered every living creature, whether animal or human, on the surface of the Earth by means of flood. This alone would make the combined efforts of Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, and Mao Ze-Dong pale in comparison. Then lets not forget other greatest hits like all the first-born of Egypt, everyone in Sodom and gomorrah, and many many others.

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Examples_of_God_personally_killing_people

It would be truly repugnant and heinous if any of it were actually true of course. Luckily it's nothing but myths and assorted stories from other previous religions. There are dozens/hundreds of flood stories in world mythology alone. But, geological and biological evidence shows that this Biblical flood never happened.

Well I was trying to be slightly diplomatic but yes you're right, God is not a good role model.

LOL... I've never been accused of being diplomatic. =)

#5 Posted by WillPayton (10327 posts) - - Show Bio

You aren't reading their minds though! The looking of the eyes is a physiological response that is triggered by brain states that are influenced by mental states, so the only thing you are doing is tracing the physiological trait back to the brain state without going all the back to mental state that triggered the brain. You never actually gave an answer to my question because if brain states and mental states can influence each other then which came first in the chronology: the brain states or the mental states? This is important because if the mental states came first when can then say that all brain states are derived from mental states. Even, if we were to show that brain states came first that doesn't mean mental states couldn't exist because we can easily make the claim that mental states are emergent features akin to laws of nature that govern matter and energy. If you reduce mental states to mere mechanistic components how does that deal with the fact that we are able to have subjective experiences of things in the case of determining the blueness or redness of an object. What about forming beliefs? If mental states don't actually exist then beliefs don't exist, so I don't understand how the belief that "My dog is hungry" can be translated into biochemistry. This isn't something I'm very knowledgeable about which is why I defer to people who know what they are talking about on the mind and body problem. I can only offer so much in this conversation.

The scientists may not be "reading their minds" in the sense of knowing what a person is thinking, but that's understandable since we're at an early stage of this science/technology. Again, just because we cant do it now doesnt mean it's impossible. We also cant travel to another star system now, but that doesnt mean it cant be done or that other star systems are not in our physical universe.

i'm not sure why you want me to say whether "mind states" or "brain states" come first, since mental states are just brain states. It's exactly the same thing. The "mind" is just a fuzzily defined word we use to talk about our consciousness, which is a function of the brain. If i could somehow know the exact state of every particle in the brain, then I'd have a picture of all the feelings and thoughts currently being experienced by that brain. This is supported by the evidence, lots of evidence, and so far I've seen not a single argument that puts that into question.

And, I did answer the question when I said that a neural network works by each part being in some way connected to other parts, which is how the brain works. Like I said already, it all feeds back on itself. There's no contradiction here, no physical impossibility, or even any logical or philosophical problems. If you dont understand it then study neurosciences, or even just do more research on Google on the subject. There's plenty of resources if you're just willing to find it. And, BTW, I mean actual scientific resources. But, just because you dont know how a physical system works is no justification for claiming that it cant possibly work. This is a classic argument from ignorance.

I find it ironic how you characterize philosophical arguments, but when the philosophical arguments agree with the beliefs that you already hold to such as theism being logically unsophisticated you post plenty of video of people using philosophy to counter religious claims.

When dealing with philosophical arguments I'm forced to often post other arguments of such type because:

  1. I'm trying to show how the arguments are logically invalid
  2. The people making the arguments dont care about evidence, only other philosophy
  3. These arguments are often not scientific in nature, so science cant adequately address them

Why aren't you posting videos of scientist debunking these arguments instead?

Actually I do, often. Even the videos that you just pointed out each have scientific responses to the philosophical argument they're addressing.

I also find it ironic that you are scolding me for using a video to provide an objection to a claim when you used videos to provide objections to apologists in the other religious thread.

I didnt scold you for posting a video, I simply pointed out that it's a long video and I dont have the time to watch all these overly long videos. Also, I pointed out that you didnt actually make any arguments, you just posted the video. It would be an extremely intellectually dishonest way to argue to just keep posting long videos and then expect me to spend all my time a) watching them and b) posting equally long replies refuting every single thing in the video. Is that your intent? Because, I dont have either the time or inclination to waste time like that. If you have an argument, then make it concisely and in return I will reply concisely. This... is what I have been doing, but in return you posted multiple videos each at least 45 minutes long, not as evidence to support your argument, but in lieu of an argument.

So all I cant say is what I already said. I already showed how the argument in this thread about the Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism is invalid. Then you tried to claim that perception isnt reliable because there are "many non-physical factors that can influence how people experience certain things" to which I asked for any examples. The examples you gave are all physical examples based on the operation and structure of the brain. You claimed not to believe this and I gave you evidence... and after that the only thing you have as rebuttal is your claim to not understand how the brain could work... but that's not an issue because your lack of understanding is not an argument. I dont mean that as an insult or anything, but rather an observation. I also dont understand many things, like for example I dont understand the physics inside Black Holes or even how cheese is made. But, I dont claim that because I dont understand these things that there must be some non-physical factors going on. That's nonsense.

#6 Posted by WillPayton (10327 posts) - - Show Bio

If the continued destruction of the beauty of the pagan deities has taught me anything it's that if Yahweh/Jehovah/Allah/God exists then he condones genocide and enjoys reminding me of why I won't worship him. Repugnant.

Condones?? How about performs genocide!

Lets not forget the God of the Bible murdered every living creature, whether animal or human, on the surface of the Earth by means of flood. This alone would make the combined efforts of Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, and Mao Ze-Dong pale in comparison. Then lets not forget other greatest hits like all the first-born of Egypt, everyone in Sodom and gomorrah, and many many others.

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Examples_of_God_personally_killing_people

It would be truly repugnant and heinous if any of it were actually true of course. Luckily it's nothing but myths and assorted stories from other previous religions. There are dozens/hundreds of flood stories in world mythology alone. But, geological and biological evidence shows that this Biblical flood never happened.

#7 Posted by WillPayton (10327 posts) - - Show Bio

You posted more videos then me though, so if anyone is video spamming it is you; and this video is going to give a more in-depth explanation then what I'm capable of why reducing mental states to brain states is bad philosophy and science.

Dude, I posted 2 videos that dont even amount to 4 minutes. You dont even have to watch them because I even told you what they were about. I only put them there to support what I said. You posted an 11, 78, and now a 47 minute video. Want to tell me again how I'm the one spamming videos?

If you have a case to make then make it. I'm sure if you try you can be brief. The problem here is that you dont have a case, so you have to resort to these long videos where these people make the same crappy philosophical arguments over and over. They fail because of the same reason these philosophical arguments always fail, the excessive use of ill-defined terms, dubious logic, poor understanding of science and the natural world, and finally... a total and absolute lack of any evidence to support them.

I already gave solid evidence that:

  1. We can measure and interpret brain activity that defines intent to perform actions
  2. We can measure thoughts, and even experiences in the form of images
  3. We know where certain emotions originate in the brain, and even how to alter or erase those emotions through physical changes to the brain

On top of that, there's a vast body of scientific work on this subject, and the scientific consensus is that brain activity and states account for emotions and thoughts. This is not, at all, controversial in science.

In reply, all you've given is your claim to lack of belief and some philosophical argument that I already demonstrate is invalid. You've failed to give any logical reasons or evidence to support your claim. And, you've failed to address the facts and evidence I've presented.

I don't agree with this because if this was true then we should be able scan someone's brain and essentially read their mind since thoughts and ideas are reproducible to certain biochemical arrangements.

Hell I even showed that we can in effect scan someone's brain and read their minds, even with the primitive tech we now have, which by your own words we should be able to do if what I say is true. And even now you still cant concede that you're wrong.

What we have here is that you dont appear to want to either a) use reason or b) listen to the evidence or c) listen to the experts in the field.

If you have actual valid arguments or evidence then lets see them. And, lets see you refute the evidence that I gave you.

#8 Posted by WillPayton (10327 posts) - - Show Bio

@willpayton said:

@nick_hero22 said:
@willpayton said:

Thoughts and ideas are indeed physical things because they are simply states of the brain. There is no such thing as a thought or idea outside the context of a physical brain. So, still, I havent seen an example of a non-physical factor that influences how people experience things.

If the question is whether our senses are consistent with the truth then the only way we have to know is by testing what those senses tell us. So, not irrelevant at all.

Yes, I agree that because a set of ideas are consistent with each other doesnt make them true. But, the point is that this is the only way we have to judge truth. If your only way to know something is true is to exclude all experience and observation and only rely on your thoughts, then sadly that's not going to help you much. There's quite a lot of crazy people to prove that thoughts alone are not a reliable way to know anything.

I don't agree with this because if this was true then we should be able scan someone's brain and essentially read their mind since thoughts and ideas are reproducible to certain biochemical arrangements.

Just because we cant currently do something doesnt mean it's not possible. Also, just because something might not be possible doesnt mean that something else is impossible. These are basically your arguments for not believing that thoughts are states of the brain, but these arguments are wrong. The current understanding in neuroscience is that thoughts, emotions, and beliefs are all just states of the brain. This is supported by tons of evidence and peer-reviewed papers. Where is your expertise or evidence to claim otherwise?

It might well be that as technology and our understanding of the brain works, that we will be able to know what people are thinking. In fact, we can already do this to some degree. There are computer programs that can analyze brain scans to tell where you are looking to control a computer. There are scientists right now that have implanted a device in a monkey's brain to allow it to control a robotic arm:

There are scientists at Berkeley that are able to roughly tell what a subject is looking at from analyzing their brain states:

On NPR just this last week there was a story about a woman known as "SM" who doesnt feel fear because a part of the brain that relates to fear, the amygdalae, was destroyed by a disease. She not only doesnt feel fear, she has no idea what that might even feel like.

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2010/12/16/meet-the-woman-without-fear/#.VPFcfvnF9FM

All these things are just the starting point. The amounts of evidence that show us that all thoughts, ideas, and feeling are just states of the brain is overwhelming.

@nick_hero22 said:

Then there is the fact that thinking about something can affect my brain states such as thinking about the time I spent with my grandmother when I was a child which makes me happy, but then this give rises to the chicken and the egg problem because which one came first? My thoughts influencing my brain states, or my brain states influencing my thoughts?

There is no problem here. Brain states feed back on everything else in the brain because it's all connected. The brain is a neural network, and that's how neural networks work. The only problem here is that you're making judgements on something that you dont understand.

You might as well go into an operating room and tell the doctors that they're doing it all wrong and that you know better because you watched some YouTube video on the philosophy of medicine.

@nick_hero22 said:

What you are advocating for is called Eliminative materialism.

.

No, what I'm advocating is science, evidence, and reason. We already have a good understanding of the basic functions of the brain, although we still have a long, long way before we fully understand the intricacies. But, what's clear and incontrovertible is that the brain and its structure are responsible for all we experience, feel, think, imagine, and dream. There is ZERO evidence that anything non-physical is going on.

And... I'm still waiting for just one example of a non-physical factor that affects how people experience things. You said there are many, but so far everything you've given are purely physical examples.

I dont have time to watch this. Maybe later, but I'm not sure. Please make your own arguments. If you're going to rely on hour-long videos to make your points, then there's no point in discussing this because that's not a discussion, it's just video spamming.

I already gave you evidence that thoughts are simply states of the brain. Without a brain there is no thought, there are no ideas.

If you have any evidence that thoughts are not simply mental states and tied to the physical brain... lets see it.

#9 Posted by WillPayton (10327 posts) - - Show Bio

White/light blue with gold/brownish stripes

#10 Posted by WillPayton (10327 posts) - - Show Bio


Evolution doesnt have purpose, or a reason, or anything like that. So saying that there is one is flat out wrong... which is the core of his premise. Yes, survivability is a "concern" in evolution because that's a mechanism in how it works, but it's not the only concern or the only mechanism. In other words, there's no reason to think that everything that evolves is there just to improve survivability. I'm not sure how this is not clear. Evolution works through random processes with a selection criteria. Random means that many different things can appear through evolution. Some are passed on because they aid survival, some die out because they hinder survival, and some have no or little impact so they might stay or go. And, some might stay or die out for different reasons. For example, a mutation might help produce more offspring but reduce survival. That mutation might overall help the species grow, but it's actually counter-productive to individual survival. We even have parts of our bodies that are actively bad for us and for survival, but they stick around. Why? Because evolution is a complex process and not as simple as this guy would think.

This is all basic evolutionary theory. These apologists need to stop coming up with arguments that deal with evolution when they have no idea of even the basics of the theory. They only embarrass themselves and only convince those who already agree with them and are ignorant of science.

Yes, evolution has no teleology but I don't think teleology is necessarily synonymous to something having purpose. The traits we have are there because they conferred some type of evolutionary advantage. The selection criteria is there to weed out traits that decrease survivability so I don't understand why you are claiming that evolution isn't only concerned with survivability when that is the only thing natural selection takes into account during the process of weeding out traits? You have a misunderstanding evolution because you are not taking into account the ecological context of a trait. In some ecological contexts trait X may confer some type of evolutionary advantage, but in a different ecological context trait X may diminish that organisms capacity to adequately adapt; so most traits are in fact neutral when looked at in isolation from their ecological contexts. Traits at one period of time can be advantageous in a certain ecological context, but when that ecological context changes then the applicability of that trait to the new environment can either help or hinder.

I didnt ignore ecological context.

And... I'm not sure how many times I have to explain how Evolution works. I already explained that mutations are random and that whether mutations stick around or not is not solely dependent on whether it confers a survival advantage. If you cant understand this or simply dont want to listen... them I'm afraid there's nothing I can do to help you understand. I'm certainly not interested in trying to explain it for the hundredth time.