By - Clean_Membership6939
Well, joke's on him. I can bend a spoon with my mind... _with a few extra steps involving "sending electrical signals to my hands"_
"Don't use your hands, just stare at it hard" really seems like a silly condition for spoonbending when you think about it.
So much text, both in OP and in comments, and nobody has mentioned crossing symmetry?
Well, let me back up. It's important to get the claim correct:
>SC: Bruno Tushar says, “After the podcast with Nicole Yunger Halpern, do you still stand by the statement that We have already discovered all of the laws of physics that affect our every day lives?” Well, technically, no, I do not stand by that statement, but I’ve never made that statement. It is not a statement that I would ever make. The statement I actually make is that we know… **We completely understand the laws of physics underlying the everyday world, and all of the words in that statement matter.** You can’t just kinda leave some words out and get a statement that is equally true in particular, the word underlying is very, very true. Nobody in their right mind thinks that we understand all of the laws of physics at all of the levels of analysis you might want to think about. We don’t understand, I don’t know, why bumble bees fly. How they fly. I’m not even sure that’s true or if that’s the Durban myth. We don’t understand high temperature superconductivity, we don’t understand what the dark matter is, plenty of things we don’t understand, and the specific statement that I’ve tried to make is that we understand the laws of physics in one domain at one level, and that level is the standard model of particle physics plus general relativity, the core theory. Nothing that Nicole and I talked about is in any sense incompatible with the standard model plus general relativity. So there’s no reason why I would change my stance on that particular statement.
[Source, go to timestamp 1:10:39.3](https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2022/05/12/ama-may-2020-2/) or read the transcript.
Second, crossing symmetry. Again, no reason for me to rehash it when he has said it himself in several places. For example, [here](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yj_ckNi_DCA) near the end (start around 1:15:10, watch for 7 minutes). [ETA: roughly speaking, if some new particle would interact with an electron (or any other known particle), then that particle is created (with some probability, along with its antiparticle) when an electron and positron collide. This is baked into how QFT works, and we have collided all "everyday life" particles many times. So in order for unknown particles to be relevant to everyday life, QFT would have to be wrong. And not just in the way that Newtonian mechanics is wrong. Newtonian mechanics *isn't* wrong in everyday life, it's just incomplete. If QFT is incomplete (hint: it is, for sure) that is not enough to allow for new particles. It has to be *wrong* at the most basic level. That's possible! Lots of people are trying to find alternative theories that aren't easily dismissed by experiment. So far, no luck.]
OP, I think you have left out important parts of the text in your quotes, that make it over-general. Notably, your title says "understand completely the physics involved in everyday life" while your first quote only discusses "laws underlying the physics of everyday life" and the distinction is important.
/u/Ozryela then follows OP's lead and talks about the soul mattering after death. It's possible! But it doesn't affect everyday life. (They also claim the laws of physics can't prove that there is nothing more. Well, there's an if/then statement in the video, and if QFT is basically correct, then actually it *can* prove that we know all the ingredients of everyday life. Godel's incompleteness theorem doesn't stop us from proving that we know all the integers [ingredients] between -10 and 10 [of everyday life].) Their final section is about a post OP quoted, but which is NOT by Sean Carroll.
/u/SirCaesar29 is spot on.
/u/crashfrog is almost exactly backwards (which is very close to being exactly right). There is no wiggle room in the "micro" level of everyday life, the ingredients. But at the macro level, how those ingredients combine, that is the *only* part of everyday life where there is any wiggle room. The key concept, though, is that the wiggle room does not involve any additional particles or forces (under QFT).
/u/dunnolol123 is also completely missing the "everyday life" part of the claim. Do you need to merge QM and GR in your everyday life? In your everyday life, had you noticed that your only interact with 5% of stuff? But one statement they make is one I implicitly agreed with until I learned about crossing symmetry:
>but the most ridiculous notion of all is that every single one of them, and especially Carroll on his mindscape podcast, talks about how silly it was how people in the past like Galileo were super confident about something and how they said we've solved it all, just to then say the exact same thing!
Crossing symmetry, combined with the experiments that humanity has *already* done, is what makes this statement justified. If QFT is basically correct, those experiments would have found the particles and forces involved in everyday life. Galileo and Newton had no justification for making similar statements about their theories.
Hence, my frustration that OP brought up the topic in a way that doesn't address concerns like /u/dunnolol123. It's a perfectly legitimate reaction even to the nuanced version of the claim, there is an explanation for why it's not ridiculous this time, but OP didn't even mention the terms one might search to find the explanation.
I upvoted for the relevant quote from Carroll. But fwiw, I can't tell what "crossing symmetry" refers to here. Maybe it's in one of the videos you linked, but I'm not going to watch a video, and if this comment is unprofitable to read without that background then I wish it were clearer at the start.
It's explained in his second citation. I wasn't familiar with the term but if you're aware of Feyman diagrams then the explanation in the video is easy to understand. Basically, it means that if there are unknown hidden interactions involving the normal everyday particles we know about, those interactions should be discoverable using experiments we've already done.
Thanks for clarifying.
I totally agree with /u/Ophis_UK. I've edited my comment to give a little bit of background. (But in general, it's wiser to watch a video by an actual theoretical physicist than to get your physics info from randos online, like myself.)
Thanks, this comment was super helpful for understanding what Carroll is actually claiming and why.
Indeed, Carroll's claim is very specific, and he makes clear that the only real way out is to completely break the QFT framework. These are what people need to address to refute his claim. And ideally, if one goes down the "completely break QFT" path, address why QFT still works so well in the domains it's been tested.
>If QFT is basically correct
This statement seems to be doing an awful lot of work here, and I think this is what other posters have been getting at with objections about many of the various unknowns in modern physics like dark matter etc. - how likely is it that this is the end-all-be-all theory, and thus that no subsequent major revisions or replacements will occur? Even if the whole chain of reasoning is flawless, it's only as a strong as this initial assumption.
Sure, that's doing a lot of work. But importantly, I mean if QFT is only as correct as Newtonian mechanics was (ie, correct within a limited domain of applicability even though more generally Newtonian mechanics is wildly incomplete and/or *wrong*) that's enough to make Carroll's claim that the ingredients of everyday life are known. No new particles, no new forces, that interact with humans in any meaningful way.
So, yes, it's doing a lot of work, but it's not hiding some uncertain thing.
I guess I'm confused as to how something can make the claim that everything possible has been observed in a given domain? Bear in mind, I'm coming from a field where "new findings" can include 20 foot sharks, 60 foot squid, and fish that have been missing since the dinosaurs died, so the idea of "we've found everything" seems very odd to me.
I watched the segment of video you suggested, and the idea of small effects didn't seem that bad - plenty of systems are sensitive to extremely small perturbations, after all, and picking those up in the noisy mess that is biological data is very hard even if they're real.
SC is only taking about the very basic ingredients of physics, where things are closer to math than to biology. It's something like saying "we've found all the prime numbers less than 100." Even if you make the problem "harder" by wanting to find all the primes less than a googol, it's still obvious when you have found them all, even if you know there are many bigger primes that you haven't found.
That's still not a great analogy, because in physics it's statistical--not every collision cause the same particles every time, no matter how carefully you control the conditions. But, critically, if you collide things a lot, the only things you haven't seen are either a) higher energy than your collider, or b) very rare. If your collider covers the energy of everyday life, that rules out a. If you collide it many times and never see something, than that something must be very rare, and hence not have an effect on everyday life.
It's considered extremely likely that dark matter will fit into a QFT framework and that dark energy is either a cosmological constant (which is starting to see some tensions) or is explainable by a QFT with scalar fields. But these are also very far removed from the realm of daily life.
I love Sean Carroll and have great respect for him because he's one of the few great physicists who cares about the philosophical and foundational aspects of his field, but... It's astounding that these people make such confident claims when their theories only work for 5% of the stuff that's actually there in the universe and they have no idea what the other 95% is. They can't even merge QM and GR or even tell you what QM is actually saying about reality. Their "we solved all the equations of every day life" statement breaks down after only a few time steps in any real life non linear system like the weather.
I could go on, but the most ridiculous notion of all is that every single one of them, and especially Carroll on his mindscape podcast, talks about how silly it was how people in the past like Galileo were super confident about something and how they said we've solved it all, just to then say the exact same thing!
All these everyday equations don't tell you jack shit about what the information processing of an agent has done, is doing, or will be doing. I can divide reality into ever smaller pieces and give them mathematical structure and categorize them and say this category is a human brain, blah blah blah; still can't tell me about what that brain is going to do and how the actions of that brain will affect what other brains will do. The everyday equations don't tell us anything about the underlying flow of information.
Yes, they’re aware of the hubris of the past but don’t apply that knowledge to their present findings
That's insane to me.
In theory, a person could possess *abstract knowledge* of something, but that knowledge may not be available *during object level cognition*. I'm pretty sure this is true because even if you help remind someone out by reminding them that they may have forgot, rather than being thankful a more typical response is anger, which itself is contrary to other things they know.
> Their "we solved all the equations of every day life" statement breaks down after only a few time steps in any real life non linear system like the weather.
So you don't understand the claim he's making. OK.
If you want to argue that's great but snide remarks like this without anything to back them up are a net negative to the quality of the subreddit.
> If you want to argue that's great but snide remarks like this without anything to back them up are a net negative to the quality of the subreddit.
Well, it's obvious that Carroll never said that understanding all of the interactions between fundamental forces and particles gave us universal smooth solutions to the Navier-Stokes equations, let alone an ability to accurately model chaotic systems in a way which would give us precise and correct predictions of how they'd behave in the future. I'd get just as short with someone who complained that a fully-functional aircraft wasn't a washing machine, too.
A chaotic system has the disadvantage of being sensitive to initial conditions though. If the theory is wrong even down to a ludicrous accuracy that could still pretty quickly bubble up into everyday behavior in a chaotic system like the brain. I suppose if you modeled it out you may find we’ve shown that there’s no way we an outstanding force that changes things in less than a day or something like that. I didn’t read what OP linked so maybe I missed that part of an argument somewhere.
His claim is that we don't in theory require new physics to be able to model these things eventually, and I am saying even that claim is false.
You and Sean do the same thing here where you try to act all superior by making claims that seem to dismiss the people you perceive to be idiots, but then your own claim is false and lacks any real substance.
His argument in a nutshell
We know everything from our physics to rule out the afterlife and telekinesis (statement meant to get approval from his peers and a statement meant to deride the "idiots").
Here's some math that only physicists know to show how smart I am.
But uhhh please don't be that person who tells me I am obviously wrong or missing things, because those people are annoying. I know that out of the fancy math I just described, and lack of a more fundamental theorem, I can't actually claim any of what I initially claimed; I just FEEL that it's a correct claim.
If Boeing claimed that they're 747 is a superior machine to everything else and why would you bother to invent or use any other technology unless you're an idiot, then yeah I'd be mad too if I can't wash my clothes in it.
> His claim is that we don't in theory require new physics to be able to model these things eventually, and I am saying even that claim is false.
So we do need new physics? That's not the parsimonious position, and you have nothing to back it up that I've seen.
It seems a bit unfair that Carroll can get away with "don't in theory" but those who challenge him must mind their parsimoniousness and evidence.
I have seen debates and speeches featuring Sean Carroll and in fact he has explicitly said that one thing the Core Theory doesn't let us understand is politics and human behavior in general. The Core Theory tells us some things, telekinesis is impossible, there is no life after death and so on, but there are a lot of things it doesn't tell us. The opening speech by Carroll [in this debate](https://youtu.be/pLbSlC0Pucw) goes into more detail on what we can know based on current knowledge of physics and what we can't know.
How can one make a claim such as "telekinesis is impossible", when we don't know anything about the other 95% of the universe? Precisely what is possible with quantum entanglement? Everyone has made statements in the past about things that are utterly impossible and they gave very good reasons for the knowledge they had at the time. It's utter lunacy to think we are not in the same position now.
Also how does it prove that there is no life after death? Maybe not in the biblical sense, but if information is conserved in the universe, as are matter and energy, then there is certainly a possibility. Hell, 90% of this community thinks we can upload minds. That's an afterlife.
We can't even rule out things like retrocausality, higher dimensional spaces or figure out if consciousness has causal power. We can't really do much to be honest. We can barely get off this planet, only escape death by comet in theory when we know it's about two years out and we can badly (in terms of energy input), copy what natural selection has done on this planet. And again, our every day equations can't even tell us about the weather. That's a hell of a less complex dynamical system than the whole universe, but yet we say things like "heat death is certain".
> and they gave very good reasons for the knowledge they had at the time
I think that's the part where I disagree. QFT and crossing symmetry and the already-performed particle collider experiments are a good reason to believe that either QFT is incorrect, or there are no new particles that interact with our bodies at energies or time scales that matter. Newton wasn't *wrong* about his laws of motion, but they had a limited domain of applicability, *and he had no way of knowing the size of that domain.* QFT provides us a way of knowing the domain of applicability, so we can know when we have thoroughly explored "everyday life" in terms of basic particles and forces.
To phrase it differently, we can be confident that whatever the other 95% is, it doesn't interact with us in everyday life (or else QFT is fundamentally wrong). Newton had no way of justifying that sort of confidence based on his laws of motion.
> How can one make a claim such as "telekinesis is impossible", when we don't know anything about the other 95% of the universe?
Because we know what humans are made of and how that stuff works.
If you have other ideas about humans being made of dark matter with telekinesis properties, demonstrate them and collect at least one Nobel prize.
We know what dead humans are made of - mostly - but live humans we tend not to dig into their brains and deeply detect all the goings-on.
> We know what dead humans are made of - mostly - but live humans we tend not to dig into their brains and deeply detect all the goings-on.
Is it God of the Gaps week on /r/SlateStarCodex or something?
That said, yes, we do surgery on living brains. Wouldn't be neurosurgeons otherwise. We also image them, including with radioactive particles. Again, if you can demonstrate the existence of dark matter in living humans, or even propose a testable hypothesis which would distinguish between there being dark matter in humans and there not being dark matter in humans, plenty of people are interested to hear it.
> Is it God of the Gaps week on /r/SlateStarCodex or something?
What does this refer to?
We already posit dark matter is all around us, and not detectable. And cutting open brains or imaging doesn't come close to to providing all the information available in a living brain.
>even propose a testable hypothesis
Why do I have to do that? What if the assumption that the universe is testable is wrong? How would you know?
I don't have to provide any hypothesis, testable or otherwise, because I'm not making any claims.
Especially not a negative claim I certainly couldn't possible prove even in principle.
The claim was that we can't say telekinesis is impossible because of dark matter. That implies humans can control dark matter to perform telekinesis. Which immediately opens up a vista of testable hypotheses, the most basic of which (the ones about whether telekinesis is real) have returned negative results multiple times over.
> Why do I have to do that? What if the assumption that the universe is testable is wrong? How would you know?
The one claiming "Dark matter, therefore maybe telekinesis" has to provide some new hypotheses because they're making an interesting claim. Which is how basic baloney detection works: Someone makes an interesting claim, someone else doubts it, the onus is on the person making the interesting claim to back it up. "The Universe is not testable" is a very interesting claim, by the way, or would be if every conscious living being weren't successfully performing tests on it every waking moment.
No, the original claim was “telekinesis is impossible under this system.” There’s where the onus of proof is.
> No, the original claim was “telekinesis is impossible under this system.” There’s where the onus of proof is.
Except the evidence to date supports that, not to mention the theory we have. It isn't the interesting claim, it's the parsimonious one. It's the null hypothesis.
> The claim was that we can't say telekinesis is impossible because of dark matter.
Was that not *your claim*:
>> If you have other ideas about humans being made of dark matter with telekinesis properties, demonstrate them and collect at least one Nobel prize.
> The one claiming "Dark matter, therefore maybe telekinesis" has to provide some new hypotheses because they're making an interesting claim.
Only if it occurred though.
No, the claim is consciousness requires no new fundamental physics to explain it.
>How can one make a claim such as "telekinesis is impossible", when we don't know anything about the other 95% of the universe?
A psychological phenomenon known as faith is one explanation. Not popular maybe but literally true, in very large quantities - without it, Reddit would have substantially less content (or, content of a very different kind).
"No life after death" is a pretty broad statement when we're babies in diapers with the hard problem of consciouseness.
Im not a monistic idealist but neural correlates does not equal "all the cause and effect is done with" , for heavens sake we just now this month finally mapped all the 5Ht receptors.
Seems a little premature to say weve solved the soul when we haven't even figures out the chemical and electrical intricacies of like , a hiccup.
So apologies to Mr Caroll but I don't think he actually knows the questions he purports physics has the answers too.
I'm not advocating "god in the gaps" but a gap clearly exists in terms of qualia and phenomenal experience and to pretend that its solved when its a giant blackbox is just sniffing your own farts.
This whole God of the Gaps attack is ridiculous. Whatever happened to good old fashioned humility and agnosticism? No, you cant use the God concept to explain everything unknown. No, you cant declare a phenomenon to be impossible in a system we don’t sufficiently understand. It’s just (right now) an unknown. But whatever, that’s boring and not clickbaity.
Yeah, that post literally makes no sense to me.
> Most blindingly obvious of all, the fact that we know the underlying microphysics doesn’t say anything at all about our knowledge of all the complex collective phenomena of macroscopic reality, so please don’t be the tiresome person who complains that I’m suggesting otherwise.
Ugh-agh? Didn’t he just refute himself right there?
Not really. He's not suggesting the bottom-level laws of physics are fully enough to comprehend consciousness. He's saying no new or changed bottom-level laws of physics will be required to develop such an understanding. There's work to be done, but it's not at the level of fundamental physics, and current understandings of fundamental physics will not be violated by any of that further work.
But he's even wrong there! We don't know the fundamental physical laws, and likely never will. To make the statement "don't give me shit for not being able to explain anything interesting in the macro world like weather, consciousness, black holes or 95% of the matter/energy that's out there" but then confidently say we don't need any new/changed physics, is absolutely ridiculous. If beyond the Planck Scale we are dealing with more fundamental laws, which some mathematicians and physicists are suggesting, then we are missing fundamental laws required to describe the weather, politics and consciousness.
Yeah, I don't agree with him, I'm just trying to represent his argument accurately.
Does Mr. Carroll explain how it is he can see the future?
I agree that there's a huge amount we don't know so ruling something out entirely seems pretty shortsighted. Another problem we have is that anything remotely "weird" by the materialist view of the world gets ignored or swept under the rug, and people who pursue those weird things get targeted by other academics
For example with the life after death question - we know that people have near death experiences where they very commonly talk about being outside of their body, seeing dead relatives, seeing a tunnel of light, etc. I think these ideas are somewhat commonly known of but dismissed. What I think fewer people are aware of are past lives - children aged 2-5\* being able to give a lot of detail of their last life on Earth, to the point where researchers are able to verify it and even locate former relatives. In thousands of cases the information is so specific and personal that it rules out being a coincidence or something they saw on TV etc. Often their past life was just some random person in a village 100 miles away. What's interesting is that some kids describe the state that existed between lives (not so much an afterlife as another existence), and some even describe choosing their next parents and being aware of abortions/miscarriages before they were born.
Some people as adults do "past life regressions" but I'm more sceptical of those, as they're actively aware of the concept and almost looking for validation of it. Whereas the kids generally bring it up on their own in a manner that assumes it's normal and something everyone knows.
\* around age 5 kids go through a sort of memory wipe where they lose most memories of a young age, so kids who did remember a past life tend to forget it at that point
> In thousands of cases the information is so specific and personal that it rules out being a coincidence or something they saw on TV etc.
I'm not sure if there is a database of them online. The researchers at the [University of Virginia](https://med.virginia.edu/perceptual-studies/our-research/children-who-report-memories-of-previous-lives/) have been collecting them for decades and have published books detailing the best cases, and they had a few articles published in [journals](https://journals.lww.com/jonmd/Citation/1977/09000/Research_in_Reincarnation_and_Editorial.1.aspx) in the 1970s
There's an [article](https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/bering-in-mind/ian-stevensone28099s-case-for-the-afterlife-are-we-e28098skepticse28099-really-just-cynics/) from a skeptic's POV that gives a good introduction imo. I'd recommend anyone get one of Jim Tucker's books though as he details cases which dispell any kind of criticism you can think of (helpful for me as I was extremely sceptical when I first came across it)
>Much of this is due to Stevenson’s own exhaustive efforts to disconfirm the paranormal account.
I'll skim the book. If it includes accounts where, upon investigation of stories like the Sri Lankan toddler he found that the mother made it up or something, that would go a LONG way to establishing some credibility in cases that pan out. But if he's telling me that 3000 times he investigated the reports and all 3000 times he found only sincere and credible accounts, I guess that just doesn't jive with literally everything else I've read about stuff like this.
“Why do we wonder where our mind goes when the body is dead? Shouldn’t it be obvious that the mind is dead too?” Perhaps it’s not so obvious at all. I’m not quite ready to say that I’ve changed my mind about the afterlife. But I can say that a fair assessment and a careful reading of Stevenson’s work has, rather miraculously, managed to pry it open. Well, a tad, anyway.”
Stevenson was the original researcher iirc but his work was continued by Tucker and his team. So that 3,000 was just Stevenson's I think. I read somewhere the total cases are 10,000+
Tucker actually addressed the fraud thing in his book (Life Before Life, the one I have) iirc. They were careful to only look at cases that fit certain conditions though I'm forgetting what they were. Something like the child had to bring it up spontaneously, and the parents had written down the statements but not investigated them etc. I should probably try to find the book. I do remember his point that there wasn't really much incentive for people to fake it, as the cases weren't being made famous and in some cases in India the person went from a high caste to a low caste (or vice versa) and they wouldn't want to broadcast it to the world. For the most part they were just normal people with a kid saying weird things, in places where reincarnation is treated as fact anyway
I'm not sure if those 3000 accounts are all cases where they had sufficient data to identify the past life, or whether the 3000 is just the total reports and the identified ones were a subset. I was going to say it's annoying that they aren't all online but then I guess there are privacy issues
>at I think fewer people are aware of are past lives - children aged 2-5\* being able to give a lot of detail of their last life on Earth, to the point where researchers are able to verify it and even locate former relatives. In thousands of cases the information is so specific and personal that it rules out being a coincidence or something they saw on TV etc.
None of this is true in the slightest.
“Why do we wonder where our mind goes when the body is dead? Shouldn’t it be obvious that the mind is dead too?” Perhaps it’s not so obvious at all. I’m not quite ready to say that I’ve changed my mind about the afterlife. But I can say that a fair assessment and a careful reading of Stevenson’s work has, rather miraculously, managed to pry it open. Well, a tad, anyway.”
And I only bring this quote up to sidestep a long argument on "none of this is true in the slightest," which is just an incorrect statement.
The claim that small children can remember true details of a past life and have never been verified, is not substantiated at all. Its completely fabricated. It has never happened.
I'm not sure what you think you're achieving by posting something demonstrably false. The people researching it have collected thousands of cases of just that very thing
If you want to claim they're all frauds and they've been lying for decades then make your point clearer. There's no basis to your claim, so it's clearly just kneejerk denial
Link to just one that has been verified. Demonstrate I am false.
Verified by whom?
The [Titu Singh](https://psi-encyclopedia.spr.ac.uk/articles/toran-titu-singh-reincarnation-case) case has virtually every element of their research in one
First paragraph says contact between family and family of the deceased had already happened prior to investigation. Not super interesting.
In that case the family figured it out independently. I'd say it's still pretty interesting. The key point is the families didn't know each other previously - they were only lead to each other by the child's statements which were accurate enough to make that possible. If they were random guesses it wouldn't have happened
In many cases an investigation was done before the Virginia team got there. I don't think that counts against them though. They have to be made aware of the case to know to investigate it. [Here](https://psi-encyclopedia.spr.ac.uk/articles/sunita-khandelwal-reincarnation-case) is an example where the family had someone do the leg work, and was then followed up on by Ian Stevenson who did his own independent investigation
> I'm not sure what you think you're achieving by posting something demonstrably false.
The first rule of Rationalist Club: we are all only *aspiring* Rationalists (we only *aspire* to have intellectual humility, epistemically & logically sound beliefs/conversations, etc).
> None of this is true in the slightest.
Is this an evidence based belief or more heuristic in nature?
Both? There is no evidence for it. Never has anyone recounted true events from a past life. There have been plenty of hoaxes and frauds. And there is nothing in our understanding of nature to lead us to believe it is even possible.
> There is no evidence for it.
Bu what means have you acquired flawless knowledge of all evidence that exists? In doing so, did you keep in mind that what constitutes evidence is a matter of opinion, and also that the existence and accessibility of evidence is subject to human beings actually recording it and making it accessible? *And these are just a few flaws off the top of my head*.
> Never has anyone recounted true events from a past life.
...the human consciousness speculated, about greater reality, based on an examination of their sub-perceptual model of reality.
> There have been plenty of hoaxes and frauds. And there is nothing in our understanding of nature to lead us to believe it is even possible.
Is there something that proves that it is impossible?
To your last statement. Yes, conservation of energy. Your memories are stored in your brain. If they were to be transferred to another body then your body would have a decrease in energy. Something other process would have to expand energy to make the transfer. Where is all of this energy coming from?
To believe in this stuff requires you to believe anything. Maybe Harry Potter is real and magic is just hiding from all of our detectors!
> To your last statement. Yes, conservation of energy. Your memories are stored in your brain. If they were to be transferred to another body then your body would have a decrease in energy. Something other process would have to expand energy to make the transfer. Where is all of this energy coming from?
If you have a theory, you are welcome to prove it.
> To believe in this stuff requires you to believe anything.
Not all minds are as limited as yours in this regard, or others.
> Maybe Harry Potter is real and magic is just hiding from all of our detectors!
Maybe! Or maybe your subconscious mind pushed up a highly absurd "proof" into your conscious mind and you find it convincing - I do not.
I don't need to come up with a theory for something that is impossible by our current understanding of physics and nature AND has no evidence for being possible.
Do you have a theory on how I am able to summon lightning bolts from my fingers? Or how I can fly by flapping my arms?
> I don't need to come up with a theory for something that is impossible **by our current understanding of physics**
Perhaps we don't disagree so much after all!
> ...and nature AND has no evidence for being possible.
...the omniscient exclaimed passionately.
> Do you have a theory on how I am able to summon lightning bolts from my fingers? Or how I can fly by flapping my arms?
I suspect you can't actually do these things....I'm curious the relevance you see to this conversation though?
One of the problems is that this topic rarely gets taken seriously, it's impossible to provide objective evidence, and it usually gets immediately dismissed by others. So much for being "open-minded". If an interlocutor immediately starts by asserting that you're lying, why would anyone bother engaging?
I'd guess that the ability for the "soul" to remember experiences across multiple lifespans exists within a spectrum. This can range from vague gut feeling and vibes to full blown memories. Being able to remember multiple lifespans is evolutionarily advantageous since it allows you to play the long game more effectively.
If you think of this reality as a single game instance, the optimal strategy is probably to be a bit selfish. But if you think of it as an iterated game, it makes more sense to play generously. You want to maximize value across multiple lifetimes.
We're all stuck in Samsara.
It really seems to rub some people up the wrong way - even in this comment section. I don't really understand why. When you have so many examples of the same thing that just screams "investigate it!" to me, but to others it screams "shut it down". The researchers behind it had vicious attacks aimed at them, and were nearly booted out of their jobs. I can understand some zealous Christians opposing it but some secular academics seem to have the same zeal
Really I don't think it's that incompatible with simulation theory. That we exist outside the simulation in some form, and we live lives on Earth for whatever reason. There doesn't seem to be a karma element to it, and it seems like we're not supposed to remember our past lives beyond early childhood (if at all). I think some interpret it as more of a "prison" but we know so little that it's impossible to construe a motive behind it. The ones who do remember them are much more likely to have met a nasty end in the previous life though, and show fears of what killed them (which might have an advantage as you say)
I find it odd that people will be far more likely to accept the concept of a simulation than reincarnation though. Maybe because it sounds more "sciency"?
Seems clear - we're in the Bad Place.
I want to get off Mr Bone's wild ride
To me it is absolutely clear as day that getting too deep into metaphysics caused the mind to malfunction and go into convulsions of sorts. *Exactly why* it does this I have no idea, but the phenomenon can be observed in large quantities, and I think it is particularly interesting when it happens to intelligent people who typically have above average control of their minds.
“Please don’t be that tiresome person…”. And yet here you are first commenter! Ding ding ding we have a winner.
I know it sucks when someone says something you FEEL is wrong, but you just can't use an everyday equation to disprove them (:
Happy Cake Day!
"Please don't criticize my theories presented as facts."
While I'm a naturalist, and so sympathetic towards this conclusion, I don't think this reasoning is as airtight as OP seems to think it is.
> 1. Any non-metaphoric version of a soul requires a force that has to be able to effect the atoms that make up your body (lest our bodies and behavior be fundamentally explained purely physically)
Not necessarily. Maybe the soul doesn't affect our life here on earth, but is used to store and transport your consciousness to the afterlife after death. In general, if you posit the existence of other planes of being, then "not having an effect in our universe" and "not having an effect" are not synonyms. Needless to say that such an assertion is neither provable nor disprovable.
> 2. Core Theory rules out any possibility of particles or forces not already accounted for within it that can have any effect on things made of atoms (like people).
No. Our laws of physics don't forbid global hidden variable theories. The laws of physics don't proof that there is nothing more. In fact they can't. They mathematically can't. See Gödel's incompleteness theorem.
As a practical example, you can't rule out the simulation hypothesis based on the laws of physics.
> 3. Core Theory is true.
It is universally known that it is not. See quantum gravity. Earlier Sean actually wrote this himself, and made the lesser claim that "This theory is correct in its domain of applicability". That statement is true, but also throws away the baby with the bathwater. Of course it's true within its domain of applicability. But what about outside of it?
Again, let's use the simulation hypothesis as an example. Suppose whoever was running the simulation decided to live edit the world state to make a unicorn appear out of thin air in Times Square. Such an event would violate our theories of physics, but not invalidate them. Obviously "God making edits to the world just to fuck with us" is outside the domain of applicability of our physical theories.
Personally I've never taken the simulation hypothesis very seriously. But it is a wonderful tool for winning philosophy debates :-)
>Maybe the soul doesn't affect our life here on earth, but is used to store and transport your consciousness to the afterlife after death.
"Soul as a logfile" feels like it lacks some of the oomph people like to attribute to souls. Particularly in this form someone without a soul would be indistinguishable from someone with. Even to themselves.
Or you might only have a soul on the second Tuesday of every month due to system resource constraints. Any sinning or good deeds on other days have no effect on your Immortal soul.
Yep, this is the right way to go about thinking on the issue. You can always create a "God of the gaps"... or a soul of the gaps, or an ESP system of the gaps. Those gaps get smaller with time, but they fundamentally *can't* be eliminated. This is why philosophy of mind is such a mess right now, why people like David Chalmers can simultaneously be highly respected and literally advocate for *magic* as the underpinning of conscious experience. The gaps are sufficiently large to allow this. Eventually, the gaps will shrink and squeeze that sort of nonsense out, but it'll just be replaced with other nonsense. So it goes.
Is anyone arguing for the God of the gaps in good faith? Or is it basically always cover for evangelical goals?
I don't think anyone argues for a GotG *as such*. The term is meant to refer to the natural progression in which claims of divine action are quietly pared down over time to account for increasing secular understanding. It's a constant (and likely largely unconscious) process that I don't think excludes good faith conduct. (It *is* mostly a result of poor epistemic hygiene, but that's a different question).
The most common form of GOTG I see is constant claims that [insert keyword for something poorly understood, either in general or by the speaker] is "obviously" the basis for [insert religious or spiritual belief the speaker desperately wants to believe] and you can't prove otherwise so nah nah nah.
Isn't it remarkable how "dark matter" suddenly became a go to for souls and magic and suddenly anything that couldn't be supported was suddenly being attributed to "quantum"
> The most common form of GOTG I see is constant claims that [insert keyword for something poorly understood, either in general or by the speaker] is "obviously" the basis for [insert religious or spiritual belief the speaker desperately wants to believe] and you can't prove otherwise so nah nah nah.
Something I see far more commonly is people accusing others of making a GOTG argument, when they haven't even remotely even mentioned it. Whataboutism, gish-galloping, false equivalency, etc are other examples of this psychological phenomenon.
>haven't even remotely even mentioned it
People don't say "I am making a god of the gaps argument".
They just do it while insisting that it's totally unfair to call it GOTG when they're 100% making a GOTG argument.
> People don't say "I am making a god of the gaps argument".
Agreed, and I did not say otherwise - I was addressing your articulation.
> They just do it while insisting that it's totally unfair to call it GOTG when they're 100% making a GOTG argument.
This seems like a tautological truth, and doesn't explicitly acknowledge the problem of the distinction between your perception of what is going on (your *interpretation of* the words of other people), and what is actually going on.
It's funny if you think about it: humans seem to well enjoy criticizing the thinking of other humans, but in doing so rarely do they do so without making flaws of their own....but they seem to have less enthusiasm for critiquing those errors.
But then, we're all only *aspiring* rationalists here, so "it's all good".
The entire position of Christianity since the middle ages has been that God can be know by his works and that as such one should study nature to know the divine.
But there's also always been an understanding that He can't fully be known.
The gaps were baked in from the start.
I guess they were always baked in, and there's no need to feel anything insipid about that. It just tells us the classes of things being discussed.
"The person who knows the most about God is the person who knows the most ineffable things." A Rabbi I once heard explaining *Ain Soph*.
Also, the Dao De Jing essentially says "Whatever Dao I can tell you is not the real Dao."
So, there seems to be some sense, at least across some cultures, where part of the definition of whatever we are talking about is its ineffability.
I guess this is the realm of Ayahuasca ceremonies, non-duality through meditation, and similar experiences.
Yeah the divine always goes along with the notion of mystery and that is actually meaningful. I believe this is what is missed by a lot of (though not all) radical materialists.
Even though I'm not myself a theist or believe in anything supernatural, I do believe in some manner of philosophical mysticism in the sense that you're describing, that reality's ultimate true features are beyond total description and whatever is happening to us (most conspicuously consciousness) is ineffable.
In that sense I've always viewed science as just another heuristic to try and describe what is ultimately beyond description. Terribly useful, but terribly limited if one has a sound sense of humility.
> I guess this is the realm of Ayahuasca ceremonies, non-duality through meditation, and similar experiences.
Also decomposition, ontology, phenomenology, philosophy in general, etc combined with "pedantry". I mean, observe what's going on in here....*and this is a Rationality forum*.
Donald Knuth comes to mind, but he's also a church-going Christian.
To steelman it, it looks something like
\- There is *some* evidence that X is the case.
\- Evidence ABC makes it look like X is not the case.
\- Therefore, X is the case in some way independent of ABC.
> Needless to say that such an assertion is neither provable nor disprovable.
Then it isn't interesting. It's Russel's Teapot all over again.
> See Gödel's incompleteness theorem.
That's not relevant to physics.
> As a practical example, you can't rule out the simulation hypothesis based on the laws of physics.
Again, Russel's Teapot.
> That statement is true, but also throws away the baby with the bathwater. Of course it's true within its domain of applicability. But what about outside of it?
Having a theory that's true within the domain of "Everything a human is likely to experience directly" is a huge advance in human knowledge.
> Needless to say that such an assertion is neither provable nor disprovable.
> Then it isn't interesting. It's Russel's Teapot all over again.
It might be interesting if, as the Buddhists say, it can either directly or indirectly be individually experienced for yourself. Even if that experience remains non-falsifiable outside of you, then the methods can reproduce the same non-falsifiable experience for the next person, etc.... Let's say Vajrayogini ends up in a personal dialogue with you, resembling the others very strongly, reproducible, but not measurable in a materialist sense.
It doesn't make it true. No need to assert this. We've already said it's not provable or disprovable.
But it is interesting, and could be both observable (to an individual) and in fact objectively true.
There is a fierce empiricism within Buddhist traditions. It's an empiricism of direct observation (objectivity), not a materialist empiricism.
> There is a fierce empiricism within Buddhist traditions. It's an empiricism of direct observation (objectivity), not a materialist empiricism.
What do you think materialist empiricism is?
Does it in fact include something that is individually observable but definitely not measurable or reproducible outside individual experience? I don't think so. If it includes that, then you'll pardon that I went off track.
There are a few measurable ways, though, for example, if your consciousness is one that produces correct responses to all koans or new koans, then you are (likely) experiencing enlightenment. But I still don't think that would be acceptable materialist empiricism. Again, correct me if I'm wrong.
> Does it in fact include something that is individually observable but definitely not measurable or reproducible outside individual experience?
I think it does, yes, because it includes psychology, which includes the study of people who have delusions and hallucinations. We can measure some kinds of altered brain states, but we can't independently verify that someone believes a specific delusion. More broadly, someone's internal state is largely hidden from us because the brain is a complex machine we don't know how to inspect very well yet. It still exists, though, and it isn't supernatural, which is what "non-material" comes down to: Something being a complex epiphenomenon doesn't turn it into magic. If it did, programmers like me would command a lot more reverent awe.
Good post, but you're abusing Gödel's incompleteness theorem (it applies only to isolated first order logical systems).
Please don't do that.
Thanks for clarifying that, I was pretty sure this was a misapplication.
First off, I want to say it’s great that Sean Carroll is bringing attention to this. I disagree with him, but he does an excellent job of articulating the modern-physics-based understanding of the world. Some musings:
I disagree with 1 because it assumes that the soul does not act through the known forces. Why? We know consciousness exists (because we experience it). It certainly seems like it acts (though it’s possible it doesn’t). If it does act, why can’t it act through what we already know?
Or maybe the experiments cited don’t generalize correctly to a region of space where consciousness is? I don’t think we can do supercollider experiments inside someone’s head while they’re awake. Maybe consciousness does exert unexpected forces and we have no idea?
I get why we can rule that idea out (am a neuroscientist) but I don’t think he’s doing his philosophy correctly. Saying consciousness can’t exist is the biggest of philosophical red flags. It may not work like you think it does. And free will (a separate but related thing) may not exist, but consciousness is indisputably real.
On to the meat of what I’m trying to say:
If I were to critique the philosophical approach here it would be that Carroll is only admitting third-party observable facts about the universe into his picture of what exists, so he’s left with only forces and particles. But of course I’m actually having experiences, which the everyday physics equation can’t possibly predict. It can (according to its own best case understanding of the brain) predict how I’ll react to stimuli, but it won’t actually predict that anything is having experiences.
So clearly the theory is missing something. Maybe it just needs something like Integrated Information Theory to say “regions with xyz property additionally have experiences”. Or maybe it needs something more like a Cartesian soul. I don’t see how you can say it’s complete though.
If something beyond current physics was going on in a living human brain, how would we know it?
Sounds to me like someone who needs to read Kant. Ol’ Kant is actually pretty convincing when he argues that we cannot answer questions about things “in themselves” and can only speak with any certainty about things “for experience”, e.g. we don’t know that causality is a true physical principle but it is true that in the realm of human experience causality is true, because we can only perceive causal phenomena. In this framework (and again, read Kant’s Prolegomena, it’s surprisingly well-written and convincing) the sorts of claims you present in the title are simply untenable. They can’t be known.
Even on a grammatical level, it seems like Carroll argues that physical knowledge can answer metaphysical questions, which seems like quite a claim. It seems to me that the fundamental principle of good, healthy philosophy is “we don’t know and probably can’t even know.”
>They can't be known.
They can't be known *in themselves*, and he think he makes a pretty unimpeachable argument on that front, but that doesn't mean that Carroll can't make valid claims so long as they don't escape the bounds of experience, and I don't think he does.
We are generally aware of the corollaries to experience (call it 'neural activation' or something) and we know they cease after death. Therefore we can make a claim on firm ground that experience, which Carrol through ignorance or hubris calls life, cannot continue as is past death.
We cannot claim that causality is some noumenal fact, but we can recognize that it underpins experience and thus make claims about the terminus of such without piercing the veil.
That said, I have not examined Carrol's argument in detail, and it has been a while since I brushed up on the first critique. Maybe I'm missing something.
Edit: I was wasted when I wrote this, and am just now remembering the crux of this, which is that with the introduction of relativity, Einstein poked a lot of holes in Kant's conception of time as one of two "pure intuitions". It wasn't a debunk per-say, but Kant's universalization of his claims downstream from an *absolute* *necessity* of these pure intuitions suddenly isn't nearly as strong as it was before. Einstein actually wrote one or two papers on the implications of his theories on Transcendental Idealism that I'd highly recommend to anybody trying to understand why we might make valid claims about experience, even if we cannot go beyond it.
Good response. Thanks!
It reads like mental gymnastics to me.
Theology might be wrong, but this certainly doesn't disprove anything
1. There definitely are things you can do just with your mind. All of what you do, you do "just with your mind". And this isn't trivial. As you probably know, this process is poorly understood.
2. "We already know everything, there's nothing to see here" is a boring and unproductive stance.
3. Having said all that, I still agree that people who claim to bend forks with the power of thought or communicate with the dead, of course, are crooks.
Yes. This is an accurate summary of our current state of knowledge about the universe.
Life after death and spoon bending are of course not disproven the way one can disprove a mathematical statement, since they are empirical claims about the world. Such claims always come with a probability <1 attached, though the probability here seems *very* close to 1.
I think he should just try to steelman parapsychology and such scientific fields. There is plenty of studies of reputable universities about psychic phenomena, magick, etc.
For example, check out Dean Radin, Princeton PEAR,...
There is too much reasoning fuckery and not enough application of basic epistemological principles. Steelman the opposite argument first before debunking it
No he's wrong:
1. Possibly simulation theory is true
2. If simulation theory is true, an afterlife is possible
3. Therefore an afterlife is possible
Modern physicists are totally incapable of looking at a physical object that seems like a brain and determining whether it's conscious or not. Let alone designing an object to be conscious. So we do *not* have anything close to a physics of consciousness.
This isn't how knowing things works.
A hypothetical entity with full perfect knowledge of quantum physics, zero experience of everyday life, and \*finite computational power\* is completely incapable of knowing a single goddamn useful thing about macroscopic life. The process of going from physics to macroscopic day-to-day life is not "solved," it's woefully underdeveloped.
Yes, he's certainly right about this. Lots of people want there to be some wiggle room in how well physics describes reality but at the macro level there just isn't any. Good news for [generations of high school physics teachers, though.](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2GdY1OlDpA)
> at the macro level there just isn't any
I disagree. Physicists first discover something in a rare and exotic situation, but frequently the next step is utilizing it or its consequences in our everyday "macro level" reality. Nuclear fission, lasers, semiconductors, relativity adjustments didn't describe anything in humanity's late XIX century reality.
(to use this reasoning as an argument in favor of parapsychology is, of course, mental gymnastics and I don't mean to do it)
It always amazes me how some of the smartest people in the world can be sure that there’s nothing outside of our senses. Some would argue that space-time is a mental construct so that we can manipulate fictitious objects allowing us to find food and to reproduce. Some would argue that there is no space and time and that there are no objects. Our sensory perceptions are so incredibly limited that I think that there most certainly must be much more outside of our perceptions.
There is no physiological or evolutionary necessity for a soul to exist. We experience the world the way we do because it was advantageous for our fore-bearers to do so. We have come to recognize this experience as 'consciousness'. There is a direct lineage from us back towards LUCA, back towards the primordial soup. Neither our present bodies, nor any of the stages in between, require a soul.
>There is no physiological or evolutionary necessity for a soul to exist.
>We experience the world the way we do because it was advantageous for our fore-bearers to do so.
I think this one is false. I see no reason why it would be advantageous for consciousness to exist. A P-Zombie can be just as evolutionarily successful as a conscious being. In fact, if we posit the existence of a near-P-Zombie, the ONLY difference between us and a planet of them might be that they just reproduce and survive and we waste 1% of our time wondering "why do I have consciousness? Why does it feel like something to be me? What are qualia?"
Another planet could have extremely effective beings -- either literally or metaphorically "intelligent robots" -- who just don't waste time debating qualia because they have none. And yet they could have a stock market and computers and an Internet where they do everything else we do.
>We have come to recognize this experience as 'consciousness'.
You need consciousness to have any "experience" at all. That's what it is: the capacity to experience qualiia.
Before you "recognize" an "experience" as consciousness, you must have already had consciousness.
I think we can't directly perceive the world that the soul inhabits if it exists; it's not a physical reality but interfaces with physical reality in sort of the way an author does the characters in a novel.
He's trying to slam-dunk it by assuming all these things are physical realities but generally the people argue that they are transcendent from physicality. He's arguing the gods don't exist because physics say it's impossible for them to live on Mount Olympus. I think religious people would point out that there is another reality, in the same sense information exists but is in a weird relationship to the media it exists on; like if i call you, the physicality of talking is subject to material processes, but physics has zero to say on what we talk about.
Generally the issue is more that we simply don't have strong evidence or perception of these other realities, or that we don't have repeatable phenomena on parapsychology. I think though he is kind of not getting that using materialistic reductionism as a slam doesn't work against people who don't believe in it.
Edit: the old Edwin Abbott book Flatland i think illustrated it. In a world where everything only exists as 2 dimensions, a 3 dimensional object will appear as a 2 dimensional crosssection where it intersects that reality. But the physics of that world don't say anything about 3-D objects being impossible to exist; you have to be pulled out of it to perceive the 3-D world and can only understand it in the 2 dimensional world by analogy. You do perceive the 3-D object in the 2-D world doing things that contradict that physics, like able to change size at will, or other miraculous features. But that is because the 3-D entity intersects the plane at different points to show you, and if I remember even then they didn't believe it because right away because you'd need to understand what that even means.
But it kind of is a good analogy to religious thought. The end is that even the third dimensional object doesn't think there might be fourth dimensional objects that interact with his space as he did the 2-D plane.