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Am writing an article on the physical basis of consciousness, and invite FReeper input in regard to all questions of evidence and method.

This article from Prof. Raman is an extraordinarily elegant outline of where I think I want to go with this. Your feedback is invited and much appreciated!

1 posted on 08/02/2003 4:43:59 PM PDT by betty boop
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To: Alamo-Girl; unspun; Phaedrus; ALS; Doctor Stochastic; RightWhale; RadioAstronomer; js1138; ...
Your help with this is so appreciated!
2 posted on 08/02/2003 4:46:57 PM PDT by betty boop (We can have either human dignity or unfettered liberty, but not both. -- Dean Clancy)
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To: betty boop
Just remember the Mantra, and you'll be fine.

Don't have a Mantra?
No need to worry, we have all kinds. Come on down to
USED MANTRA WAREHOUSE. TM tm.personel continually
bring their old mantras in and get new ones,
Take advantage of this naturally occuring process.
Their loss is YOUR gain!
Just follow this thread back down to the primal depths
of your conscience, there somewhere between this life and the last you'll find,.....USED MANTRA WAREHOUSE !!

Actually this is a good thread, I'll follow it.
3 posted on 08/02/2003 4:51:12 PM PDT by tet68
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To: betty boop
But a PTF cannot be transmitted from one brain to another without a material medium, such as sound, writing, signs, etc.

An excellent treatise.

I have to disagree with the quote above.

I have had more than one experience of knowing what someone else was thinking...relatives, friends and strangers.

4 posted on 08/02/2003 4:57:13 PM PDT by JimVT
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To: betty boop
"(b) Every thought generated in the brain creates its own particular thought field (PTF)."

Which is why I never go anywhere without my tin-foil hat.
5 posted on 08/02/2003 4:57:36 PM PDT by The Radical Capitalist
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To: betty boop
My sister would like this, but then she liked the sixties better than I did. She named one of her cats "Arjuna" after the Baghavad Gita character.
6 posted on 08/02/2003 4:58:47 PM PDT by VadeRetro
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To: betty boop
Try this
7 posted on 08/02/2003 5:02:48 PM PDT by mfulstone
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To: betty boop
Impressive work and sure to change the face of science forever! Because of that, expect swift resistance to change from the industry.

After-thoughts: The Uncertainty Principle meets her long lost cousin? The fly in the I-Thought-I-ment? Propagation of the id?
10 posted on 08/02/2003 5:09:17 PM PDT by ALS ( Featuring original works by FR's finest . contact me to add yours!)
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To: betty boop
I keep wondering what possible difference there could be between something that can interact with the physical and something that is physical.
15 posted on 08/02/2003 5:57:44 PM PDT by js1138
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To: betty boop
Can you clarify the connection of "spirituality", in "ON A RESONANCE THEORY OF THOUGHT AND SPIRITUALITY." I'm not sure if you use the word to explain the "unseen" or what?
18 posted on 08/02/2003 6:09:19 PM PDT by wwcj
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To: betty boop
(a) Thought is the subtlest emergent entity from the human brain...How do you know that?
22 posted on 08/02/2003 6:44:20 PM PDT by RWG
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To: betty boop
So what determines the quality of the thought? In other words what makes stupid?
25 posted on 08/02/2003 6:50:58 PM PDT by mlmr (Am I having fun yet???)
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To: betty boop
Good luck with your article. Very interesting and thought-provoking stuff. :-)
29 posted on 08/02/2003 7:59:08 PM PDT by easonc52
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To: betty boop
To paraphrase Lewis Carroll:

I have often encountered a brain without a thought,
But I have never encountered a thought without a brain.

Needless to say, I think the guy's whole approach is junk. He makes no proposal to show the existence of his proposed field. At least there is a national park at the Pin River headwaters, although I'm not sure if the Seven Spanish Angels can dance there.
30 posted on 08/02/2003 8:39:04 PM PDT by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch is der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: betty boop
The following theory is proposed to explain the observed phenomena of thought and spiritual/mystical experience/creativity:

At this point, it's better described as a "hypothesis" rather than a "theory".

And if it was proposed to "explain" those phenomena, it fails. I don't see how it "explains" anything. Applying new names or acronyms (e.g. PTC, UTC) to things which already have names (e.g. "thoughts") doesn't add any explanatory power. On the contrary, it muddles them. Instead of "thoughts" in a "mind" we have "(unnamed activity)" in a "Universal Thought Field" -- does that really help anything? Does it add any understanding? Does it allow us to make new predictions and test them?

(a) Thought is the subtlest emergent entity from the human brain.

This may be a translation problem, but I'd object to the choice of the word "subtlest" here. First because it's too vague, second because thought is rather obvious, not subtle, and third, there could well be many "emergent entities from the human brain" which are below our level of notice entirely and thus much more "subtle" than thought itself. Perhaps "enigmatic" would be a better choice.

As of now, though it is taken to arise from complex biochemical (neuronal) processes in the brain, we have no means of detecting any physical aspect of thought.

Rather misleading. We have many means of "detecting physical aspects of thought", including PET scans which monitor characteristic brain activity as people think various types of thought. Now whether that's the actual thought in action, or the alleged material "link" to the UTC/PTC, it's still a "physical aspect" of the thought process, and it can indeed be detected.

(b) All sensory experiences (light, sound, smell, taste, sound) result from an interaction between an external agent (photon, phonon, etc.) and some aspect of the brain.

Er, not really. The described interaction takes place outside the brain itself, in organs (eyes, ears, etc.) which convert -- in perfectly understandable physical and chemical ways (i.e., materially) -- the effects of sound or light or touch or chemicals (taste/smell) into coded nerve impulses. *Those* (the nerve impulses) are the agents which actually trigger thought and sensations when they are transmitted into "some aspect of the brain".

HYPOTHESIS: (a) It is proposed that, like the electromagnetic field, there is an extremely subtle substratum pervading the universe which may be called the universal thought field (UTF).

And what "triggered" this proposal? Why postulate that a "field" is involved, as opposed to any number of other things? And why does the author postulate that it "pervades" the universe (as opposed to say, is present only in the vicinity of "field generators" like brains)? He tries to analogize to electromagnetic fields and so on, but those do not "pervade" the universe either.

This may even be trans-physical, i.e., something that cannot be detected by ordinary physical instruments. Or it may be physical and has not yet been detected as such.

What sort of "explanatory theory" is this which can't even nail down its hypothetical "field" that much?

Furthermore, he says that if it's "transphysical" that it "cannot be detected by ordinary physical instruments". As opposed to what, extraordinary ones? Is he saying that this "field" is truly beyond any physical detection, or not? If it is, then how does the physical brain interact with it? If not, what makes it "transphysical" after all?

The author seems to invoke a lot of buzzwords without a clear idea of what he means when he uses them. He needs to clarify his words and ideas (to himself first, I'd say) a *lot* more before he can claim to have a "theory", or even a "hypothesis" -- so far he's just in the realm of "imprecise idea".

(b) Every thought generated in the brain creates its own particular thought field (PTF).

If he's going to propose being quantitative like that, he needs to *be* quantitative, and he's not. So there's a one-to-one correspondence between "PTF" and a "thought", eh? I'd sure like to see him try to define "thought" to the point where this might be, you know, testable. How many "thoughts" in the Gettysburg Address, for example? Does that trigger one PTF or dozens? If one, is it a "bigger" PTF than the PTF generated by the thought, "Jack slept"? If dozens, how many exactly? And how do they remain "linked" into a speech with a coherent theme?

And if thoughts "create" a PTF which goes floating around in the UTF, why do we need a UTF or PTF to explain anything at all? He already admits the thought pre-exists before the PTF gets spawned by it. He's not explaining thoughts by postulating a PTF, since his model is that *first* the thought exists in the brain, and *then* a PTF results from it.

Does this "explanatory" idea really "explain" anything?

Theory based on the above hypotheses:

It's all hypothesis at this point. Someday, if it gets enough supporting evidence and research results, *then* it would be a theory.

(a) Just as EM waves require the complex structure of the brain to be transduced into the experience of light and color, the UTF requires the complex system of the human brain to create local thoughts. In other words, when the UTF interacts with certain regions of the brain, thoughts arise as by-products.

Wait a minute, in the last paragraph he said that thoughts in the brain make a PTF, which is some sort of (quite unspecified) entity in the UTF, now he's turning around and saying that the UTF (in a manner unspecified -- PTF again, or something else?) triggers thoughts in the brain as well. It appears the brain, capable of forming its own thoughts on its own (but spawning PTFs thereby into the UTF as a byproduct) can also have thoughts "suggested" by disturbances in the UTF -- but the thoughts are still *in* the brain.

(b) Interactions between PTFs and brains generate other PTFs.

And the effect of all this PTF jostling is purported to be what, exactly? And more to the point, *how*?

Indeed every thought is a different reaction-result to either the UTF or to a PTF.

How exactly did the thought, "ouch, I've cut my finger" happen to get into the UTF in the first place so that I could eventually "receive" that thought from the UTF, if "indeed every thought" is a "reaction-result" to the UTF/PTF?

According to Raman, a thought has to be in a mind in the first place before it can spawn a PTF into the UTF. But if "every thought" is sourced from the PTF/UTF "field", how do any of them get there to start with (*especially* those which deal with physical, local events like "I've cut my finger", or "I wonder why the dog's barking").

Raman's notion needs work. A *lot* of work.

(c) There is an important difference between UTF and PTF.


UTF does not require a material medium for acting upon a brain.

Because? How did Raman come to this "conclusion"?

But a PTF cannot be transmitted from one brain to another without a material medium, such as sound, writing, signs, etc.

Then there's a perfectly good pre-existing word for what Raman wants to relabel as "PTF". It's called "information".

(d) In some instances, as with molecular resonance,

Oh look, another unsupported physics analogy.

certain brains are able to resonate with the UTF in various universal modes.

Perhaps he would care to define the words "resonate" and "universal modes" (as well as enumerate the "various" ones to which he alludes) as he chooses to use them here.

"Resonate" has a very clear and unambiguous technical meaning. If that's what Raman means, he needs to describe what exactly is resonating with what, and how. If not, he needs to pick a better word, or define a new one instead of misleading the reader by using a word for another sort of pheonomenon entirely.

Such resonances constitute revelations,

How, exactly? There's that pesky "explanatory" requirement again. Just saying "you resonated and that's where your revelation originated" doesn't actually explain squat.

magnificent epic poetry, great musical compositions, discovery of a mathematical theorem in a dream, and the like, as also mystic experiences.

Yadda yadda.

What does Raman have against the notion of thinking the mundane way , without "resonating" with a "pervasive field"? How the brain processes its information isn't very well understood, of course, but at least there's the branch of science of information theory which shows that shuffling information (with no "fields" involved) can achieve some of the kinds of things the human brain does. It's not like we're at a complete loss to explain such things using current models. And nothing in the brain has looked like any kind of "field receptor", it's all made of neurons which, by gosh, seem to all be little information processors. We may not understand how they work in total aggregate, but any individual neuron takes nerve pulses in at the dendrites, and based on its current chemical threshold, does or does not trigger an outgoing pulse at the axon. Information processor, anyone?

(e) This perspective suggests that there can be no thought without a complex brain (well known fact);

So does the original perspective of the brain as an information processor, without any external "fields" involved.

and more importantly, that there exists a pure thought field (UTF) in the universe at large which may be responsible for the physical universe to be functioning in accordance with mathematically precise laws.

Then again, it "may" not be.

This appears to be empty speculation, without even an attempt to tie it to any "explanatory" analysis (much less procedural -- i.e. no process is offered by which these "fields" and "phenomena" supposedly operate).

And thus we get down to the meat of the issue: What testable predictions does this speculation make? What logical results would it have that would distinguish it from possible opposing ideas, which can be tested?

And just as importantly, how could it be falsified? What predictions does it make which can be put to trial, and if the results are found to be contrary to the predictions of the model, would disprove it?

ANALOGIES: The following parallels with other physical facts come to mind:

Danger, Will Robinson... Analogies are good for helping people understand something similar to the thing being explained, but are a poor substitute for actually defining your ideas explicitly in the first place. Raman hasn't even demonstrated that his "fields" even exist, much less that they do or do not work in any particular way. To drag in "analogies" now, when things may not even be at all like the things he compares them to, is very premature.

(a) Phosphorescence & luminescence: When radiation of shorter wavelengths falls on certain substances, the substances emit visible light immediately or after some time. Likewise when the UTF falls on a complex cerebral system, it emits thoughts of one kind or another.

"Emiting" light is a pretty simplistic process. Trying to obscure the complexities of "generating thought" by waving your hands and saying, "well, it's like emiting light", is irresponsible at best.

(b) One of the subtlest entities in the physical universe is the neutrino, which does not interact with ordinary matter through gravitation, strong, or electromagnetic interaction. Being involved only in the weak interaction, it is extremely difficult to detect it.

But it *can* still be detected.

The UTF is subtler by far than the neutrino,

And may be a lot more non-existent.

and may therefore (if it be purely physical) it may be far more difficult to detect.

Things that don't exist can be pretty hard to detect too. Is the author preparing his excuses in advance? "Well, if you haven't found it, you just haven't looked in the right way yet, no need to abandon my idea just yet..."

Final grade: Needs work.

31 posted on 08/02/2003 8:46:17 PM PDT by Ichneumon
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To: betty boop
I left much of this sort of exercise behind me in my youth. The only thing that comes to mind is the following.

If we go back a century to W. James the pragmatist, don't we have the theory that the "validatiy" or reality of any "spiritual" or religous experience must be measured, first, by its fruits? What fruits does this theory propose?

33 posted on 08/03/2003 5:43:01 AM PDT by KC Burke
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To: betty boop
My immediate inclination is to invoke Occam's Razor. There are numerous good (and sometimes even rational) explanatory theories for these things within the normal physical domain. Given this, I don't think hypotheses such as the above will fare well under critical analysis. Even if it is actually correct, it is not even remotely rational and therefore will be discarded almost immediately by those who are willing to give it an honest review.

So that's my analysis of the article: pick a hypothesis that won't get cut to ribbons by Occam.

42 posted on 08/03/2003 9:18:33 AM PDT by tortoise (All these moments lost in time, like tears in the rain.)
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To: betty boop
As much as the new-age and 60's-type explorations of this topic are derided, I applaud your effort to point to attempts to apply science to the topic. While many of these are psuedo-science, I'm a firm believer that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy.
44 posted on 08/03/2003 9:39:42 AM PDT by P.O.E.
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To: betty boop
Very interesting, I have considered things like this in the past.
Think about this: Look up at the sky at night at a star. Then, try to pinpoint which cell or collection of cells in your brain "knows" what a star is. The answer: NONE! Your liver cells have no idea what a liver is, or your name, or if the sun is shining.

This seems to show me a couple of things. First, that knowledge is not a binary type of thing, where you either have it or not. Certainly there are cells in your brain that respond to stars, but if they were to die, your brain would re-route that function to different cells. I have long ago discarded a simple stimulus-response model, but it is true in the early stages (I stub my toe, so I cuss and soak my foot).
Perception and knowledge seem to have a gestalt to them, a synergy, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
And what could that be? Perhaps the observer somehow takes on the qualities of the perceived thing. Maybe adds to the reality of it. Maybe if we curse some thing or person, we really do in some cosmic sense, effect how real or good they are, some sense we have no ability to measure, but if this measuring rod exists and is extra-cosmic (out of the sphere of our normal existence) that does not necessarily mean it is or is not any less real. I reject logical positivism as a primitive, solipstic(sp?) and hedonistic philosophy, we are active participants.

There was a show on Discovery a while back called "A Haunting in Georgia" about a young girl who started to have qhostly type encounters. The family cried, prayed, etc. They got a local guru from the college to come in with his equipment. Over and over during the show, the scientist would make statements like "Well, we know that sudden fluxes in the geomagnetic or electric fields can cause hallucinations..." etc.
It was quite a long show, 90 minutes or so. Finally, in the very last interview with the scientist type, he makes this statement: "We are forced to conclude that something residual remains after a persons death..."
All his hogwash instrumentation gets chucked out the window by those 13 words, an absolutely astounding statement.

In your living room, stand next to a wall. Then, move towards the center of the room. Now, look back at the wall.
This is where you used to be standing. It's not gone. It's still there. Just as real as you are. I think the time dimension is like that.
47 posted on 08/03/2003 10:24:55 AM PDT by djf
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To: betty boop
(b) Every thought generated in the brain creates its own particular thought field (PTF).

Sooner or later, science will come out and say that thought creates matter as others have been saying for ages. Then they can prove it or disprove it. If God created us in his image, then we, too, are creators...on a lesser scale.

59 posted on 08/03/2003 3:41:06 PM PDT by Consort
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To: betty boop
Our non-physical selves are probably much greater by far than are our physical selves and operate on a totally different set of laws.
62 posted on 08/03/2003 3:45:40 PM PDT by Consort
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