Sunday, January 24, 2021

Rainer Mausfeld, ‘Truth’ has no role in explanatory accounts of perception. Student Guide.

Prof. Dr. Rainer Mausfeld writes:  ¶24.  “Needless to say, in certain contexts of ordinary discourse, the general question that seems to motivate Hoffman, Singh, and Prakash’s (HSP) endeavour, namely whether perception mirrors the ‘true structure of the objective world,’ can be a meaningful and sensible one. 

Such a question, however, will hardly survive the transition into a natural science context. It rather seems that no question remains that can be posed in a coherent and intelligible way. 

Hence, the appropriate response to such a question is not to evaluate specific proposals but rather to dispel the delusion that an intelligible question has been raised. …”

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While researching the book “Case Against Reality” I came to recognize the name “Rainer Mausfeld” because he was referenced in various articles.  However, it wasn’t until working on the paper “Objects of Consciousness,” that I sat down to read his critique of Hoffman, Singh, and Prakash’s Psychonomic Review and Bulletin 2015 paper and it felt like a cosmic giggle.


“Notions such as ‘truth’ or ‘correspondence to the objective world’ play no role in explanatory accounts of perception”  Rainer Mausfeld - 

Psychonomic Bulletin & Review (v22, p1535–1540. Sep 18, 2015) 


I’m glad my discovery waited for the end of this journey.  Had I read it a half year ago, I might not have engaged in this effort to begin with and that would have been a shame.  Not that it’s been fun, but because it has been well worth the effort.  My payoff has been a deeper appreciation for the scientific and philosophical mind/body debate, along with helping me better define my own curious perspective.  At least that’s my impression.  My next essays will put the conceit to the test.  You’ll get to decide for yourselves.


In any event, for a lifelong student of such things, it’s gratifying to see my homegrown naïve understanding echoing a genuine expert’s learned appraisal.  


I received an okay from Springer to reproduce 800 words worth of highlights from the 4,700 word long paper, all it was going to cost me was $360.  If I were earning money with any of this, I’d have a budget for such expenses, but alas, no can do.


After much consideration, including reading through H.G. Zaharoff’s ‘Guide to Fair Use’ (You can find more on that at the end of this post.), I’m declaring Fair Use and am going ahead and sharing interesting quotes from Mausfeld’s work as a teaser, an invitation to serious students.  


For all who are searching for a deeper realistic appreciation of the mind, physical reality divide, you don’t want to miss reading Mausfeld's complete 7400 words.  Don’t be intimidated, Mausfeld writes about these arcane details with refreshing clarity.  Meaning his writing is accessible to intelligent curious non-academics.  Check it out for yourself:

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Notions such as “truth” or “correspondence to the objective world” play no role in explanatory accounts of perception” 

Prof. Dr. Rainer Mausfeld, University of Kiel 

Publications available online at Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

Psychonomic Bulletin & Review - Springer, DOI: 10.3758/s13423-014-0763-6

volume 22, pages1535–1540(2015) - September 18, 2015


¶01.  Hoffman, Singh, and Prakash (Psychonomic Review and Bulletin, 2015, in press) intend to show that perceptions are evolutionarily tuned to fitness rather than to truth. 

I argue, partly in accordance with their objective, that issues of ‘truth’ or ‘veridicality’ have no place in explanatory accounts of perception theory, and rather belong to either ordinary discourse or to philosophy. 

I regard, however, their general presumption that the evolutionary development of core achievements of the human perceptual system would be primarily determined by aspects of fitness and adaption as unwarranted in light of the evidence available.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Are Frontiers in Psychology research papers trustworthy?

"... Such thoughts got me to wondering about Frontiers in Psychology which is part of the Frontiers’ group of Open Access Publisher and Open Science Platform journals.  

Doing some research it didn’t take long to realize they are another example of the devil being in the details of a noble effort when dedication to earning profits and bonuses gets prioritized above meeting their organization’s stated mission.  Something that seems to be more common than not. ..."


Trust, but verify, and keep that salt shaker handy.  

Or, put another way, caveat emptor and hone your critical thinking skills.

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Students’ Resource

Introduction to Predatory Scientific Journals

(selections from the following articles are under the fold)

Predatory publications in evidence syntheses

J Med Libr Assoc. 2019 Jan; 107(1): 57–61.

How do journals in the Frontiers series have such a (relatively) high impact factor?   

@Reddit_U.Lamaksha

My collapse of confidence in Frontiers journals

Posted by deevybee , June 7, 2015

Why I do not trust Frontiers journals, especially not @FrontDigitalHum

Melissa Terras - July 21, 2015

Backlash after Frontiers journals added to list of questionable publishers

Mollie Bloudoff-IndelicatoOctober 23, 2015

Is Frontiers a potential predatory publisher?

Leonid Schneider  - October 28, 2015

Is Frontiers in Trouble?

MICAHJanuary 15, 2016

What I learned from predatory publishers, by Jeffrey Beall

Jeffrey Beall - June 2017 - BiochemiaMedica

Frontiers: vanquishers of Beall, publishers of bunk

Leonid SchneiderSeptember 18, 2017

Why Beall’s blacklist of predatory journals died

Paul BaskenThe Chronicle of Higher Education,  September 22, 2017

Is Frontiers Media a Predatory Publisher?

DH Kaye - December 20, 2017- Flaky Academic Journals

Frontiers 2020: 1/3 of journals increase prices 45x inflation rate

Heather Morrison, June 2020, SustainingKnowledgeCommons.org

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Editorial: Where is scientific publishing heading?

Jens NielsenNovember 2017, https://doi.org/10.1093/femsyr/fox075

Staggeringly profitable scientific publishing bad for science?

Stephen Buranyi - June 27, 2017 - TheGuardian.com

There are new frontiers for academic publishing but scholarly associations and faculty must seize the opportunities

August 24, 2017 - London School of Economics and Political Science

Vanity and predatory academic publishers are corrupting the pursuit of knowledge

Michael J. I. Brown, August 2, 2015, TheConversation.com

How the open access model hurts academics in poorer countries

Brenda Wingfield, Bob Millar,  April 10, 2019, TheConversation.com

Increasing open access publications serves publishers’ commercial interests

Shaun Khoo, June 16, 2019, TheConversation.com

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Reading through Hoffman’s Frontiers in Psychology 2014 paper it occurred to me the published journal article helped lay the foundation for his claim to scientific legitimacy and ultimately his book “The Case Against Reality - Why evolution hid the truth from our eyes.”  

That had me thinking about the scientific process and these philosophical musings that Hoffman sculpted into this paper that makes no scientific case against reality and “Physicalism,” despite his bold, yet hollow, claim. 

Instead, the authors rely on rhetorical fancy dancing to simply dismiss realism outright, along with enlisting mathematical sleight of hand to conjure all pervading “conscious agents” that he suggests does all of our perceiving and thinking for us.  

It begs the question, who would publish such dressed up pipe dreaming as a scientific journal worthy science paper?  

Then I remembered, this was “Frontiers of Psychology” - A pay to publish journal dedicated to psychology.  In other words, we're back to priorities and the pursuit of profits.

Don’t get me wrong, psychology and philosophy are fine and good for what they are, but objects of our mind is not the point here.  Hoffman dismisses spacetime and physical reality as we understand it - that's going over the edge and deserves being called out. 

Hoffman's paper dismisses scientific realism and physicalism, the stuff of natural sciences, Earth sciences, but he does so in a journal dedicated to the study of our mind and thoughts.  

That is, our Human Mindscape, a soft science full of competing lines are arguments based on ideas and conviction, driven by ego, and resulting in endlessly dog-chasing-tail debates over inventive word games.  Seldom getting anywhere.  About as soft a science as there is.  (Yes, rather melodramatic, but so is the situation, when observed from the outside looking in.)

Hoffman's stunt is worth calling out as scientifically sleazy behavior - rather than being heralded as 'provocative, worth reading, even if far fetched.'  What makes it worth reading?  What sort of clarity does it offer?

I myself am baffled at why anyone would want to tell people to imagine that spacetime is doomed and that the structure of our day to day world isn't at all what it seems.  

There's something nasty, disrespectful, predatory even, cynically taking advantage of the under-informed and gullible - filling their heads with utter nonsense, when there's so much about our real world that people ought to be learning about and opening up their eyes and minds to.  

Willful ignorance, along with belligerent ignorance, is a national menace that has received a free pass for way too long.  This "Case Against Reality," and such, is where the disconnect begins, destroying our own government and life support system is where it leads.   

A stand for honesty and facing down to Earth physical facts and the 'laws of nature' needs to be made.  

My point is that Hoffman's thesis has little, if anything, to do with serious natural sciences and the physical reality we are embedded within.  Instead, he dismisses it and by extension realistically appreciating evolution with entertaining alacrity.

Such thoughts got me to wondering about Frontiers in Psychology which is part of the Frontiers’ group of Open Access Publisher and Open Science Platform journals.  

Doing some research it didn’t take long to realize they are another example of the devil being in the details of a noble effort when dedication to earning profits and bonuses gets prioritized above meeting their organization’s stated missionSomething that seems to be more common than not.  

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Diary - Biden's inaugural address and Amanda Gorman's poem

Sure, I’ve grown a bit cynical, but we all still need our aspirations, me too.  Besides, like a wise old lady told me long ago, hope is a survival strategy in hopeless times.  Guess that’s why I’m feeling good about having today’s inauguration ceremony exceed my expectations by a long shot, because it was realistically hopeful, while outlining the challenges, as explained by a competent compassionate adult.

I think back on four years ago and that vulgar braggadocios embrace of ‘Me First’ thinking, fueled by an utter disregard for honesty, coupled with xenophobic thinking and hatred for our government, along with emotional fear driven anger.  From day one, it was a no brainer that trump was going to turn out more disastrous for America than we could ever imagine.  So it has come to pass.

In contrast, today President Biden’s inaugural address turned into an valuable civics lesson that set out to remind us American’s of our better values and that it’s always been a struggle, as Biden said,

I know speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy these days.

I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real.

But I also know they are not new.

Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we are all created equal and the harsh, ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, and demonization have long torn us apart.

The battle is perennial.

Victory is never assured.

And

We can see each other not as adversaries but as neighbors.

We can treat each other with dignity and respect.

We can join forces, stop the shouting, and lower the temperature.

For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury.


He made no grand promises, admitting there were tough days ahead, but that’s life.  Then he pointed out the obvious, only by pulling together can we hope to steer this boat to safer waters.  He gave the impression that a sane compassionate, competent person was finally in charge again.

Since young Amanda Gorman’s poem was likewise spot on in tone and text I’ve added the text to her Inauguration Poem below Biden's.  I think it’ll be something worth referring to every once in a while.  

Lady Gaga sang the National Anthem, Jennifer Lopez sang This Land is Your Land & America The Beautiful, and Garth Brooks sang Amazing Grace.  All did outstanding jobs, hitting the notes that brought some tears.


President Biden's Inaugural Address

CSPAN - JANUARY 20, 2021


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Inaugural Address by President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

Courtesy of the White House

Saturday, January 16, 2021

4/4_Hoffman, Objects of Consciousness, (Conclusion)

 Defending Physical Reality.  Because, apparently somebody needs to.  

Feel free to copy and share.

Sonoran Desert, ©PeterMiesler
Objects of Consciousness 2014, frontiers of psychology
(Aka, Hoffman’s crusade against appreciating reality.)

Objections and Replies (authors conclusion)

Here we summarize helpful feedback from readers of earlier drafts, in the form of objections and replies.

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(Hoffman and Prakash) Conclusion 


Hoffman starts out with an example of how the framing of questions (and  scenarios) limits the quantity of potential understanding.


Hoffman:  Belief in object permanence commences at 3 months of age and continues for a lifetime. 

Object permanence beginning at 3 months?  It’s a dreadfully impoverished description of what’s happening within an infant.  

An infant is born with senses in place, if under developed.  With a mind like a sponge, soaking in everything it can, processing on-the-fly and waking from every nap refreshed and with senses and brain a bit better connected than before and ready to soak in yet more.

A sense of object permanence starts developing right after birth, beginning with an awareness of, and bonding with, its parents and other intimate caregivers and builds out from there.

Thumb & baby's grasp and gaze, ©citizenschallenge

Learning to use its eyes, focus, turn towards sounds, touch and smell, and tiny muscles always fidgeting, tiny fingers, hands, arms, the legs, feet, toes - the wonderful progression from nonstop flailing to coordination, then lifting itself, then the nose dives while figuring out the muscular choreography needed to make crawling happen.  Then, it’s on to walking and potty training.  

All that is part of understanding object permanence which Hoffman treats like a bad thing.  

In the infant's life, physical reality makes sure that the lessons of object permanence are build into the awareness of that little body, as well as mind.

Grasping the physical reality of object permanence and then learning how to manipulate it, is a prerequisite for becoming a balanced healthy person. 

Those who can’t achieve such innate understanding become helpless and useless, confined to a life dependent on others taking care of them, or left to die.

Pretending away object permanence may be a fun intellectual mind-game for the bored, but it’s no space any person wants to exist within.

It inclines us to assume that objects exist without subjects to perceive them, 

It  inclines  us  to  assume  Let's unpack that ...   

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

3/4_Hoffman, Objects of Consciousness, questions + replies (18-21)

Defending Physical Reality.  Because, apparently somebody needs to.  
Feel free to copy and share.
US Hwy 160 near Four Corners, USA - ©PeterMiesler


This is the third installation of my review of Hoffman/Prakash’s responses which are attached to their 2014 Objects of Consciousness paper, specifically #18 to #21.  The open source Q and A was copied and pasted, complete, no edits.  I simply added my two cents worth.

I don’t pretend to be any sort of scholar or self made expert, not even, this is a student’s exploration and discovery.  Since I like homework more than most, I want to make my trail of discovery and adventures in critical thinking available for busy students who relate to these themes and want to better understand the dark art of scientific deception for fun, power and profit.

https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00577

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Objections and Replies (#18 - #21 of 21)

Cc: The objections are printed in blue, author’s responses in mauve, my comments in dark green.  Supplementary information is clearly marked.  Most titles are linked to original sources.

Hoffman:  Here we summarize helpful feedback from readers of earlier drafts, in the form of objections and replies.


(18) Their treatment of the combination problem is worth reading. There is however a very large problem with their model: It relies on the Cartesian product of X1 and X2 (this is right after Conjecture 3). The Cartesian product is not conducive to real combination (this problem is all over mathematics, by the way—mathematicians don't care about it because they only care about high level abstractions). In section Objections and Replies, where they discuss objections to their model, they discuss this very objection (objection 10). 

Unfortunately, their resolution to this objection is mere handwaving: But as the conscious agents in the combination continue to interact, the decisions become less and less independent. This is mere wishful thinking. The authors have no reason to believe this less and less business and they've given the reader no reason to think this either. In fact, if this less and less business were true, their model wouldn't require the Cartesian product in the first place. Frankly, this objection and their failure to handle it guts their model. 

In this same paragraph, in the next couple of sentences, the authors just assert (using proof by blatant assertion) that in some undefined limit, a true new conscious entity emerges. This makes the complex presentation of their model otiose. Why not just write a haiku asserting that the combination problem is not a problem?

The limit we speak of (for the emergence of a new combined conscious agent) is the asymptotic limit. Asymptotic behavior is a precise technical concept in the theory of Markov chains (see, e.g., Revuz, 1984, chapter 6). 

The defining characteristic of a Markov chain is that no matter how the process arrived at its present state, the possible future states are fixed.


“Precise technical concept” - but is it proof when there’s no accompanying physical evidence?

Monday, January 11, 2021

2/4_Hoffman, Objects of Consciousness, questions + replies (13-17)

https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00577


This is the second installation of Hoffman/Prakash’s responses which are attached to their 2014 Objects of Consciousness paper, specifically #13 to #17.  I haven't changed any of their words, simply added my two cents worth.

I don’t pretend to be any sort of scholar or self made expert, not even, this is a student’s exploration and discovery.  Something to share with other interested students.  Since I like homework more than most, I don’t mind sharing the fruits of my hours' worth of effort. 

I want to make my trail of discovery and adventures in critical thinking available to others with whom these themes resonate - especially those who also possess a desire to defend serious science against the current onslaught of strategic deception for fun, power and profit. 


Objections and Replies (13-17 of 21)


Hoffman:  Here we summarize helpful feedback from readers of earlier drafts, in the form of objections and replies.

Cc:  The objections are printed in blue, author’s responses in mauve, my comments in dark green.  Supplementary information is clearly marked.  Most titles are linked to original sources.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Some Elements of an Evolutionary Theory of Perception


Perceptual Systems, Historical Background, Innate And Learned Classical perceptual phenomena, Broad theoretical approaches, Current research/future developments.

Sources, science.jrank.org

Ecological approaches to perceptual learning: learning to perceive and perceiving as learning

Agnes Szokolszky, Catherine Read, Zsolt Palatinus, et al., 2019

The Essential Elements of an Evolutionary Theory of Perception

Eric P. Charles, 2017,

The evolution of early symbolic behavior in Homo sapiens

Kristian Tylén, Riccardo Fusaroli, Sergio Rojo, et al. PNAS 2020

The Evolution and Fossil History of Sensory Perception in Amniote Vertebrates

doi.org/10.1146/annurev-earth-082517-010120, March 21, 2018 

Evolutionary Specialization of Tactile Perception in Vertebrates

Eve R. Schneider, Elena O. Gracheva, and Slav N. Bagriantsev, 2016

Evolutionary Psychology and the Emotions

Leda Cosmides & John Tooby, Handbook of Emotions, 2000

The evolution of modern human brain shape

Simon Neubauer, Jean-Jacques Hublin and Philipp Gunz, 2018:

Intrinsic Multiperspectivity: Conceptual Forms and the Functional Architecture of the Perceptual System

Rainer Mausfeld, PhD.

Perceptual Worlds and Sensory Ecology

By: Stephen Burnett, PhD, Nature Education Knowledge 3(10):75

Ch.17. A Hierarchical Model of the Evolution of Human Brain Specializations

H. CLARK BARRETT.

Surroundings and Evolution Shape Human Sight, Smell and Taste

by: Andrea Korte, February 19, 2017

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


(13) In section Evolution and Perception, the authors' argument seems to be: Argument 1: (1) Natural selection favors fitness in perceptual systems. (2) Fitness is incompatible with truth. (3) Therefore, natural selection favors perceptions that do not see truth in whole or in part.

Friday, January 8, 2021

1/4_Hoffman, Objects of Consciousness, questions + replies (1-12)

Defending Physical Reality.  Because, apparently somebody needs to.  Feel free to copy and share.

This overall project is intended as a student resource for an in-depth critical examination of Donald Hoffman's: The Case Against Reality; Why Evolution Hid the Truth from Our Eyes.  In a previous section we did a detailed chapter by chapter review (index at the bottom of this page), including many links to authoritative resources that support my claims.  

In this section I’ve copied and reproduced the complete 21 questions and responses section from Hoffman/Prakash's Frontiers of Psychology paper 2014 Objects of Consciousness paper, which helped lay the foundation for his book.  This review will be spread out over four installments, I haven't changed any text, simply added my two cents worth.

I don’t pretend to be any sort of scholar or self-made expert, no indeed, this is closer to a student’s exploration.  Since I like homework more than most, I don’t mind sharing my process and the fruits of my hours' worth of effort, in the hope it can help others save time. 

I want to make my trail of discovery and adventures in critical thinking available to others with whom these themes resonate - especially those who also possess a desire to defend serious science against the current onslaught of strategic deception for fun, power and profit. 


title-Objects of consciousness, Frontiers in Psychology

https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00577

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Objections and Replies (1-12 of 21)

Donald Hoffman:  Here we summarize helpful feedback from readers of earlier drafts, in the form of objections and replies.   

Cc: The objections are printed in blue, author’s responses in mauve, my comments in dark green.  Supplementary information is clearly marked.  Most titles are linked to original sources.


(1) Your definition of conscious agents could equally well-apply to unconscious agents. Thus, your theory says nothing about consciousness.

DH:  Even if the definition could apply to unconscious agents, that would not preclude it from applying to consciousness, any more than using the integers to count apples would preclude using them to count oranges.

Cc:  Nor does it preclude applying to the totally imaginary.  The response also hints at an unwillingness to acknowledge the difference between, “Saying something” of substance about human consciousness, and simply “doing math.” 


(2) How can consciousness be cast in a mathematical formalism without losing something essential?

DH:  The mathematics does lose something essential, viz., consciousness itself. 

Similarly, mathematical models of weather also lose something essential, viz., weather itself. A mathematical model of hurricanes won't create rain, and a mathematical model of consciousness won't create consciousness. 

The math is not the territory. But, properly constructed, mathematics reveals the structure of the territory.

Cc:  But consciousness is not a geographic space that can be described using coordinates and vectors.

Consciousness is a complex interaction with the outside world and the inside of our bodies.  It’s not limited to the brain.  Where does all that get represented within Hoffman’s formulas?