The Logics

Consciousness is Quantum-Based

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In the News by Larry Neal Gowdy

Copyright©2014 - November 03, 2014

Consciousness is Quantum-Based

The news media claims that consciousness has been 'discovered' to be a quantum-based effect. Clever biologists and evolutionists like the idea because it gives the appearance of explaining how only 100-billion to 500-billion (+/-) brain neurons can hold and process googles of googles of googles of memories and thoughts (the popular beliefs of binary electro-chemical brain activity are simply implausible). New Agers have latched onto the quantum angle to further push the old belief that the universe itself is conscious. Religious individuals like the idea for it possibly explaining the presence of a soul, and philosophers like the idea because it appears to offer the much-wanted evidence for self-will.

The concept of quantum-based consciousness is attractive to many individuals because it allegedly gives a scientific excuse for whatever belief might be popular at the moment, but how many individuals have actually read the papers that allegedly explain the quantum concept? The quantum hypothesis is viewable online in articles such as "The Consciousness in the universe - A review of the ‘Orch OR’ theory"[sic] by Stuart Hameroff and Roger Penrose (Physics of Life Reviews 11 (2014) 39–78), but again, how many people who have an opinion of the quantum hypothesis have actually read the original sources?

"…something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read." ("Disappearance of Literature" speech by Mark Twain)

How many individuals have actually read the papers by Hameroff, Penrose, et al., and more importantly, how many of the individuals comprehend the papers' mathematics and resonate concepts? Would the papers' comments about gigahertz, megahertz, and kilohertz within Fibonacci sequences of 3, 5, 8, 13 with dipoles, fractals, and spin waves pique the reader's interest, or is the information lost by the readers not grasping the importance of the actions? I actually momentarily regained an enjoyment of mathematics while reading the paper, so for me the paper was a bit of fun. The Hameroff/Penrose article is one of the very few papers available to the public that includes references to the little details that describe to the reader that the authors may actually have some experience in the topic itself, and it is a very safe bet that no news reporter would have an expert knowledge of the topics nor so much as an interested layman's point of view.

"It would appear that the expectations of Orch OR have fared rather well so far, and it gives us a viable scientific proposal aimed at providing an understanding of the phenomenon of consciousness. We believe that the underlying scheme of Orch OR has a good chance of being basically correct in its fundamental conceptions."

Unlike schools that grade students by how well the students have memorized worded answers (memorizing words without knowing what the words mean is institutionalized Autism), researchers propose ideas that are to be pondered, investigated, critiqued, and further experimented with by other researchers so as to determine whether the hypotheses might be plausible. Researchers propose ideas with the aim to spark a discussion, to receive input from other researchers, and if enough researchers join in a conversation then a hypothesis might become a full-fledged theory after the bugs are worked out. (William Sidis' The Animate and the Inanimate was also speculative, but it apparently spawned no discussion, and the public accepted the book as a final theory: the news media and public continue today to claim that Sidis' muses were his final word on the topic.) The Hameroff/Penrose paper is speculative, the paper explains itself to be speculative, and never does the paper make a claim of it holding the final answer to consciousness.

Each field of specialization has its own unique vernacular, and it is recognizable when an individual is experienced with a topic because the individual proposes unique ideas within the framework of that unique field. Philosophers arrange their ideas in one frame, mathematicians' ideas are in a different frame, and so on. The Hameroff/Penrose paper is framed within mathematics and physics, and it is there that the paper should be interpreted, not as a philosophy paper, not as a psychology paper, not as a New Age paper, nor of any other field. The Hameroff/Penrose paper presents data from the mathematical/physics angle of view, and so of course the point of view cannot be the answer for a different point of view, but the data is always useful as data if the data is accepted as data and not twisted into a claim that the data is the final word or irrefutable proof of any topic.

In section "2.2. Conscious moments and computation" the paper references different beliefs of 'consciousness' by William James and different schools of Buddhist beliefs, which is not so dissimilar as to forming an opinion by referencing today's Christian rapture and apocrypha novels. Believe it or not, just because a book exists, it does not necessitate that the information in the book must be true. Too, regardless of what some biologists might claim - believe it or not - humans are not all identical, and no two individuals share the identical same thoughts and qualities of consciousness. The paper's field is mathematics/physics, the paper does not touch on the topic of firsthand consciousness itself, and so an interpretation of the paper should remain within the mathematical/physics envelope without permitting the ideas to expand beyond the inherent limitations of mathematics and physics. The paper's vernacular quite openly self-describes which frame of reference should be given for interpretations.

"Cognitive behaviors of single cell organisms Protozoans like Physarum can escape mazes and solve problems, and Paramecium can swim, find food and mates, learn, remember and have sex, all without synaptic connections. How do single cells manifest intelligent behavior?"

I very much enjoy seeing references like this one, partly because it mirrors my own hypotheses while flying in the face of the believers of brain-only consciousness. Yes some single-celled beings can perceive, learn, retain memory, make use of the memories, and self-choose, but the idea is anathema to most academicians - especially some biologists - and I personally find it humorous that the biologists and wannabe intellectuals must resort to the open hypocrisy of admitting that single-celled animals with microtubules can 'think' but yet independently-functioning human cells with microtubules cannot think. Tsk tsk. I have been talking about this topic most all of my life, it remains one of the most important foundations of all of my interpretations of life, and now finally the topic is receiving a degree of acceptance by some within the scientific community. The academic recognition of 'consciousness' within single-celled animals is a small but very important first baby-step towards recognizing the depths of what is possible within a living cell's cognition and consciousness of itself.

'When the two become one, and the one becomes two' is my phrase that points to a wealth of unspoken perceptions, and though a similar phrase has been publicly known for two-thousand years, still does western science refuse to listen. The Hameroff/Penrose hypothesis might be one of the seeds that enables western science to someday become coherent.

Nevertheless, the news media quoted information gleaned from Hameroff/Penrose papers, but the news media simply invented the false claim that consciousness has been proven to be quantum-based.

"Consciousness implies awareness: subjective, phenomenal experience of internal and external worlds. Consciousness also implies a sense of self, feelings, choice, control of voluntary behavior, memory, thought, language, and (e.g. when we close our eyes, or meditate) internally-generated images and geometric patterns. But what consciousness actually is remains unknown. Our views of reality, of the universe, of ourselves depend on consciousness. Consciousness defines our existence."

The Orch OR paper lumps all forms of mental activity into one bucket and then gives it the name of consciousness. A tire is a car, a fender is a car, a transmission is a car, a driver is a car… not. Neither are all the many different forms of mental actions the one and only form of consciousness. The paper does not delve into the differences between memories and reasoning, nor the differences between "I" awareness and subconscious activity, and the paper very clearly states that consciousness remains an unknown. The Hameroff/Penrose data is interesting, it has value to be used as a general guide for further research and musing, and the data is a very tiny yet huge step forward from the archaic belief of binary thought processing, but in no stretch of a researcher's imagination can it be believed that the Hameroff/Penrose data explains the mechanism for a thing that is still unknown. If logic, memories, and self-awareness were indeed the effect of quantum-level wavefunctions then the next question is to ask what the source is that creates quantum waves randomly. Don't know? The "randomly" word should be the first clue that nobody else knows either ('random' is a mathematical term that generally ought to be given the dictionary definition of 'no clue'). If a thing is an unknown then you can't explain how it works! Using an unknown to describe another unknown to be the origin of yet another unknown… geesh, that is so western philosophy-like.

The news media simply ignored the obvious while inventing the claim that the Hameroff/Penrose paper explains the origins and natures of consciousness.

"If I ask you what b-o-w spells you can't tell me unless you know which b-o-w I mean, and it is the same with r-o-w, b-o-r-e, and the whole family of words which were born out of lawful wedlock and don't know their own origin. …Now, if we had an alphabet that was adequate and competent, instead of inadequate and incompetent, things would be different. Spelling reform has only made it bald-headed and unsightly. There is the whole tribe of them, "row" and "read" and "lead" - a whole family who don't know who they are. I ask you to pronounce s-o-w, and you ask me what kind of a one." (The Alphabet and Simplified Spelling by Mark Twain, 1907)

What kind of consciousness is the news media speaking of? They don't know either. First clarify with tremendous details and verbs - sans nouns - what consciousness implies, and then and only then begin investigating the origins.