Re: Me against the meme

From: Jon Gilbert (
Date: Wed 16 Nov 2005 - 02:49:39 GMT

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    On Nov 11, 2005, at 11:05 AM, Dace wrote:

    > If the other side of the arch
    > vanishes behind a solid steel wall, abandon the arch! Yet that's
    > not what
    > termites do. Therefore they don't rely on self-perception in the
    > first
    > place. Their behavior is modulated by a field of influence much like
    > particles in a magnetic field, the difference being that this type
    > of field
    > is based on form in place of charge. Unless you can explain why
    > such a
    > field cannot exist, you must accept this is as the default
    > explanation.

    The thing that sticks out to me is that you say the field is "based on form." This sounds very neo-Platonic to me; the idea that The Forms themselves have a separate existence outside of physical reality, and in fact, pre-existed what Is now. Except Sheldrake's idea of a morphogenetic field seems to imply that as new forms come into being, the field grows to encompass them, which makes the first instance of a new form come into being slower than subsequent repetitions of it. This is counter to the idea that all forms pre-exist.

    Now I don't know whether or not this is true. I have often wondered about Possibility: even if everything is as the reductionists have it, with the mechanical aspect being sufficient to explain Cause, then wouldn't it be true that before the Big Bang, when it was just a singularity with no constituent parts -- wouldn't it be true that at that moment, everything that now Is was Possible? Certainly we must agree that even before I was born, everything that has happened in my life was Possible. Where did this Possibility exist? Was it a Side of the great Die that is always being Cast?

    I find it hard to accept that everthing that has happened in my life was inherent in all its complexity within the Laws of Physics, for if that were the case then it stands to reason that Free Will does not exist if unbreakable Laws determine everything. Of course, perhaps Free Will truly does not exist, and it is merely a Meme that serves some Purpose to the end of some greater Memeset. However, if indeed there is Free Will, then those Laws of Physics would have to, at the very least, allow for some small part of the human physiology to, from one moment to the next, be able to change in such a way that is not entirely explicable by rote physical causal mechanisms. This small part is what Lucretius referred to as The Swerve. If we take all Possibility as having pre-existed, then perhaps The Swerve is how we, through Free Will, bring a particular Possibility into existence as opposed to another, which becomes an Impossibility to us, but remains a Possibility to any observer that did not witness a counter- Possibility being manifest (and remember/record that observation accurately).

    Now in the case of termites, I tend to feel that we do not understand them well enough to be able to make any conclusions about what actually Is the explanation for how they are able to do this arch- building. We can certainly agree that such arches are possible to exist, and it is possible for termites to build them as a group in coordinated fashion seemingly without any way to communicate with the ones on the other side of the arch. We can, via scientific experiment, determine what Is Not the explanation: that they do so via visual contact with the other side. This does not seem to preclude that magnetic fields could not link the two sides. Also, there is no reason to necessarily believe any link between the two sides must exist at all, especially considering that complex rule- sets could account for the arch's construction (as Chris Taylor has pointed out).

    Generally in science, many researchers, because of the assumption that X, Y, and Z are the only possible explanations, feel that if X and Y are disproved, then Z must be the only possible explanation, even if Z has not necessarily been shown to definitely be the correct explanation in and of itself. Good scientists, however, do not do this; they still treat Z as merely the only known possible explanation, and do not treat it as accepted fact. Especially if Z is based on a theory that has no evidence to support it, or the way evidence is used to support Z is seen as highly dubious or logically problematic, then a good scientist would tend to hardly even consider Z.

    You seem to be making the mistake of a bad scientist regarding the Z possibility, in the above quote. You say we must accept your "field" that is "based on form" (whatever that means) because the other possible explanations have been eliminated. However, to my knowledge, no such field has been shown to exist, nor can I even think of why it would be called a 'field' at all, as opposed to say, a 'cloud ethereal spaghetti sauce.' BTW -- I am aware of Sheldrake's logic he used to justify the existence of a morphogenetic field, inspired by Goethe's ideas of the formative impulse and the holism of individual organisms -- that they are their own reason to be.

    > there's nothing known to physics that rules out
    > morphogenetic fields.

    Nor is there anything that suggests these so-called 'fields' exist. Now, to be fair, I realized some things that would suggest the existence of something like a morphogenetic field, during an acid trip I had one time. But that acid trip also suggested a lot of other things, as well, such as the existence of Hell; that it is possible to experience time backwards and forwards; that souls always choose to experience Hell by traveling backwards through evolution, slowly reincarnating as less and less complex creatures, until they reach total nothingness, rather than going straight to nothingness; that individual existence is an illusion and in reality each experience is not unique but merely composed of elements of similar experience that are shared in various combinations by all experiencers, and actually link those experiencers to each other, but our minds normally block this link from us to perpetuate the illusion of individuality (this is the thing that's suggestive of a morphogenetic field); the existence of Heaven, in which all Possibility can be experienced penalty-free; and that each person is in reality all of their ancestors simultaneously.

    Yet, despite having realized these things, I recognize that it could have all been a hallucination for all I know, and just because these things seem perfectly acceptable as possibilities to me, people who have not had such an experience can not be expected to understand what the heck I'm talking about. And so, I do not try to attack scientific reasoning (which has provided me with this wonderful computer) or to suggest that my tripped-out spiritual realizations should be accepted by anyone else without them somehow having the ability to reproduce these realizations for themselves according to a describable method, or even better, to understand why said method leads to said realizations necessarily.

    I do not think that any good scientist will try to deny any particular explanation for why things are the way they are. Now, vis- a-vis competing (yet all unproven) explanations for why, lets say, a cell doesn't just die but actually is able to live, and how it is exactly that everything that occurs in a cell supports the cell's continued existence unless it is cancerous or in the middle of programmed cell death, a good scientist is likely to lean towards those theories based on the same types of logic that have resulted in other successful theories that actually have been proven or for which large amounts of evidence exist, and would tend to lean away, perhaps even very far away, from theories that rely on types of logic that have not led to any successful other theories and for which the evidence given to support it does not actually support it at all, but is rather a feeble attempt by someone who is convinced of the theory's truth to find some phenomena for which no decent explanation exists, and explain it with the theory.

    I mean, can you, for example, propose an experiment that would measure the morphogenetic field of an organism, or that would block part of an organism or colony of termites from being able to receive it? Can it explain things that currently accepted science has a hard time accounting for, like cancer and programmed cell death, without just resorting to saying something like, "Cancer cells are those whose mechanism for receiving the morphogenetic field gotten messed up, and so they get the wrong signal?" Because that would be a feeble, feeble explanation.

    - Jon Gilbert PGP fingerprint: 7FA9 B168 73CA A698 DD9E 2DF2 EE1A 3E73 3119 741F

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