Thursday, December 31, 2020

Diary - Closing Out 2020 Defending Physical Reality

 As 2020 draws to an end the one-hand-clapping finds himself embroiled in a curious effort to defend established “scientific realism.”  Because?  Well, because apparently someone needs too.  

Curious, because the process has inspired me to think in terms of composing a Students Guide In Defense of Reality - Dissecting Hoffman’s Case Against Reality. I want to create a framework for a virtual class to examine the process of scientific deception, and science by rhetoric rather than facts, while pressing home the importance of learning about Evolution from the bottom up.  I’m at chapter 19 with many more in the pipeline before wrapping it up (still at the laying groundwork phase - chapters listed at the bottom).

This mission is about exposing how folks like Donald Hoffman, Templeton Foundation, and many intellectual celebrities are wasting our precious time looking through the wrong end of both telescope and microscope, for fun and profit.  

For instance, Hoffman’s “Conscious Agents” and FBT Theorem are simply the latest rationalization in human’s long tradition of denying responsibility for ourselves, lives and actions.  Now that God has lost its substance, it’s time for math and pseudo-science?  

What's wrong with appreciating ourselves for the incredible biological creatures that we are?   Why not explicitly recognize the divide between physical reality and our Mindscape with something more substantial than flailing at a supposed body-mind "problem.”

This project is forcing me to realize that the younger generations need to escape the shackles of generations old self-indulgent manmade philosophical constructs who’s stilted questions and inscrutable solutions have more to do with human insecurity, egos and turf battles, than in understanding our actual human condition and the biosphere that created and sustains us self-obsessed human beings.

Our answers are limited by the quality of our questions!  

Genuine understanding about our natural world is an emergent property driven by the inflow of honest quality facts and evidence.  All else is dancing within our minds.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  Just stop being blind to the supremacy of physical reality!

Finding answers?

Sunday, December 20, 2020

“Emergence” - A Handy Student Summary and Resources

 “Emergence” a students’ summary.      


My appreciation for “emergence” is a natural outgrowth of decades worth of proactive learning via the flow of fascinating new findings that Earth scientists, from geology to biology, to complex systems science, share with the world.

It seems self-evident to me that we can see emergence on a grand scale throughout the history of evolution, and also on the fine scale of my own mind and watching how accumulating understanding reaches certain breakthrough thresholds that have elevated my overall thinking to entirely new levels of (previously unimaginable) appreciation.

As a youth I accepted the Biblical reassurance: “Seek and ye shall find,” with time I discovered it’s a fundamental rule of nature.  Pay attention, remember, process your experiences and findings, then, once in a while, something goes pop, a veil drops and a whole new vista of understanding opens up.  To be folded into the rest of my understanding and echoed throughout my mindscape, where it blends in and retunes the previous state of affairs. 

Or to put it more simply, it feels to me like education and increasing knowledge of Earth’s evolution produces it’s own cascade of emergent awarenesses within our minds. For those paying attention, that is.

I bring it up because while surfing Google and YouTube for this C.A.R. project, I was surprised by some of the cynicism directed towards the notion of emergence and evolution.  Seems founded on misunderstanding, often willful, sometimes not.  All of it should be vulnerable to thoughtful, tactical, constructive, intellectual confrontation.  Unless we are changing minds, we are losing.  

Figure out how to take every cynical challenge and flip it around to a learning opportunity.  (The act of doing it, will teach you more, than you might be able to teach them.)

The confusion about "emergence" inspired me to collect this selection of YouTube videos that presents a variety of people, with varying expertise, explaining “emergence” within our physical reality, in a sober constructive manner.  I’ve also added some papers, though if you’re still interested in the topic by then, it’s time to visit GoogleScholar.  

Besides informing, hopefully this introduction to “Emergence” might inspire and help some with their own assignments. 


“Emergence” - A Handy Student Summary and Resources


Emergence (or: How Ants Find Your Picnic Basket): Jane Adams at TEDxGallatin

September 22, 2013 - TEDx Talks - 9:24 min

Jane Adams is a graduate of the NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study.  Her studies focused on the theory of emergence, the phenomenon by which simple systems governed by simple rules give rise to complex phenomena on a larger scale.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Sabine Hossenfelder in Defense of Scientific Realism and Physical Reality

I appreciate it’s one thing when I dismiss Hoffman’s rendering of physics as disingenuous pipe-dreaming - it’s quite another when someone of Sabine Hossenfelder education, career and stature underscores some of the same points that have caused my cynicism toward Donald Hoffman's "Case Against Reality" - and that's driven this project in defense of Physical Reality.

Hossenfelder has never focused on Donald Hoffman and his ideas, but she does point out the invalidity of various physics tropes that Hoffman presents as settled science and uses as building blocks for his conjectures.   

I've watched many of her videos and though we have different world outlooks 

(she comes across as seeing progress as an end-all blessing - whereas I've gotten to view our obsessive blind progress for progress sake - as a deadly Siren Song that's ensnarled us oh so short sighted, self serving, and frightfully superficial humans).  There's no disputing her knowledge and expertise and skill at explaining complex physics to lay people.  That's why I’ve virtually invited her to be an expert witness on behalf of Defending Reality.

This is for the curious, the students of deception and deeper understanding, the few who are trying to figure it out.   Have at it.   Cc


Sabine Hossenfelder (born 18 September 1976) is a German author and theoretical physicist who researches quantum gravity. She is a Research Fellow at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies where she leads the Superfluid Dark Matter group. She is the author of Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray, which explores the concept of elegance in fundamental physics and cosmology.

Hossenfelder completed her undergraduate degree in 1997 at Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität in Frankfurt am Main.[3] She remained there for a Master's degree, and she wrote a thesis under the supervision of Walter Greiner titled "Particle Production in Time Dependent Gravitational Fields", which she completed in 2000.[4] Hossenfelder received her doctorate from the same institution in 2003, for the thesis "Black Holes in Large Extra Dimensions" under the supervision of Horst Stöcker.[5][6]

Physics is still in crisis

Jun 5, 2020  -  Sabine Hossenfelder  -  6:53 min

There has been no progress in the foundations of physics for 40 years. In my book "Lost in Math" I have explained why that is and what can be done about this. In this video, I briefly summarize the content of the book.

Physicists need to learn from their mistakes

Dec 6, 2020  -    Sabine Hossenfelder  -  14:58 min

In this interview, Sabine Hossenfelder details why the foundations of physics has not made any progress, why physicists need to learn from their mistakes, why they're practicing poor science and investigates the inconsistencies in some of our preassumed theories of physics.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

The Case For Reality: Because Apparently Someone Needs to Make One

This essay’s content fulfills the promise made by the spot on title of, The Case For Reality: Because Apparently Someone Needs to Make One,” and I feel compelled to supplement my meager arguments with these more substantive ones.  This is a complete and unedited reproduction of a review of Hoffman’s conjectures by an academic that knows much more than I do.  

The original essay can be found at the UCLA psychology doctoral students' Psychology In Action blog.

The field of psychology publishes interesting, important, and potentially life-altering information at a rapid rate, but most research findings rarely reach public awareness.  Psychology in Action is an organization formed by UCLA Psychology doctoral students to help ameliorate this issue through scientific communication. Our aim is to elaborate, connect, and help explain psychological research to community members and other interested parties outside of our field. …”


The Case For Reality: Because Apparently Someone Needs to Make One

Omar, April 26, 2016

This morning, I read an article on consciousness and physics ("The Case Against Reality" in The Atlantic). The beginning of the article starts off with a broad statement: That our senses aren’t completely accurate; that the world isn’t perfectly represented by them.

It's a relative statement so it’s not worth disagreeing with. That is, given the scope of our space telescopes and quantum detectors -- yeah, we do a crappy job of perceiving. But, compared to the capabilities of a jellyfish or just total blindness, we do a great job at perceiving reality.

But then the article goes on to describe: (1) that external reality simply isn't there, (2) our science is flawed for assuming so and trying to measure it, (3) that the brain doesn’t exist, because it’s "a classical object" according to quantum mechanics, and, (4) that the whole universe is "conscious observers" all the way down.

(D.Hoffman)  "I’m emphasizing the larger lesson of quantum mechanics: Neurons, brains, space … these are just symbols we use, they’re not real. It’s not that there’s a classical brain that does some quantum magic. It’s that there’s no brain!"

I will dive into why quantum doesn't imply this, later in the article. 

If there is any "larger lessons" to be drawn from the sciences, it would be that relying on intuitive argumentation (the main tool of academic philosophy) has historically ended up being wrong. 

The larger lesson of psychological sciences actually shows that intuition is easily misled and completely biased by experience.

The professor's stance is based on the idea that perfect objectivity doesn't exist, and therefore, by extension, pure subjectivity is all that exists. 

He uses physics to back up this idea.

First, let's clarify the physics details.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Paul Mealing considers Hoffman's "Objects of Consciousness."

 A few weeks back I read an excellent essay pointing out some of the issues with Hoffman’s conjectures.  At the time it was reassuring that I was on a right track.  Paul's clarity made me want to post this as an appendix item and I’m happy to finally be at that point.  I thank Paul for making it available.

Journeyman Philosopher by Paul P Mealing is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

The following is complete, unedited, (except for adding paragraph breaks and highlights), as Paul Mealing wrote it.


From the Journeyman Philosopher blog

Philosophy, at its best, challenges our long held views, such that we examine them more deeply than we might otherwise consider.

Paul P. Mealing

November 13, 2016

When evolution is not evolution

No, I’m not talking about creationism (a subject I’ve discussed many times on this blog) but a rather esoteric argument produced by Donald D Hoffman and Chetan Prakash in an academic paper titled Objects of Consciousness. Their discussion on evolution is almost a side issue, and came up in their responses to the many objections they’ve fielded. I read the paper when I was sent a link by someone who knows I’m interested in this stuff.

Donald Hoffman is a cognitive scientist with a Ph.D. in Computational Psychology and is now a full professor at University of California, Irvine. Chetan Prakash is a Professor Emeritus at California State University, San Bernardino and has a Master of Science in Physics and a Master of Science in Applied Mathematics.

I should point out at the outset, that their thesis is so out there, that I seriously wondered if it was a hoax. But given their academic credentials and the many academic citations and references in their paper, I assume that the authors really believe in what they’re arguing. 

And what they’re arguing, in a nutshell, is that everyone’s (and I mean every person’s) perception of the world is false, because, aside from conscious agents, everything else, including spacetime, is impermanent.

Their paper is 20 pages long (including 5-6 pages of objections and replies) most of which are densely worded interspersed with some diagrams and equations. To distill someone’s treatise into a single paragraph is always a tad unfair, so I’ll rely heavily on direct quotations and references to impart their arguments. Besides, you can always read the entire paper for yourself. Basically, they argue that ‘interacting conscious agents’ are the only reality and that nothing else exists ‘unperceived’. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Prof Hoffman Appendix - The Right to Be Foolish - Case Against Reality Revisited

In Defense of Scientific Realism and Down to Earth Physical Reality.

Besides my own edification, I've spent these weeks and months of effort hoping to produce a document of value for individuals (especially students) who recognize what a deliberate misadventure Hoffman's Case Against Reality is, but may not have the time to get into the weeds in order to recognize and think about his rhetorical fancy dancing, sleight of hand, and other tactics utilized by the professor.  

I didn't tackle this project because I was under any illusion of being able to help convert professor Hoffman, or any of the others who seem to drink up on this sort of fantasizing.  Erich von Daniken and his spacemen has come to mind, even more often was Elizabeth Holmes with her Theranos blackbox that was too good to be true, but in a world with little appreciation for biology, they lapped up the dream, to heck with reality, we're going to make money.  (Why be surprised so many deny the COVID virus.)

These past chapters are your road map highlighting the landmarks of rhetorical deception.  Since these contrarian sales pitches all follow basically the same script, you'll find these lessons valuable across the board - scroll to the bottom to find an index. 

Hoffman’s Case Against Reality assures us:

DH:  “Spacetime is your virtual reality.

The objects you see are your invention.  

You create them with a glance and destroy them with a blink.”  (10,¶91)

Hoffman bases this claim on his Fitness Beats Truth theorem which tells us that winning genes don’t code for “truth” they code for “fitness.”   

(click on the image for better viewing)

The professor never comes close to adequately defining his factors, “truth” and “fitness.”  "Fitness” makes intuitive sense, but “truth” is problematic. 

“Truth” has no place within the processes of our natural world; nor in the dance between geology and biology; nor within cumulative harmonic change over time that created this cornucopia Earth we inherited.  It's no wonder that "truth" loses in Hoffman's world.  

Fitness, accuracy, ‘close enough’ and luck, those are what matters out here.  “Truth” is a human construct, a product of our own conceptions and confined to our amazing, yet limited, mindscapes.  

A review of Donald Hoffman’s, Case Against Reality, 

Appendix, The Right to Be Wrong

(aka, Appeal to normalizing delusional thinking)

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Prof Hoffman #10c - Community - Playing Basketball In Zero-Gravity - Hoffmanian Conscious Agents (3/3)

In Defense of Scientific Realism and Down to Earth Physical Reality.

Consciousness is a Spectrum, Not a Thing.

Donald Hoffman in Case Against Reality:  “The rot of entropy is an implacable enemy of life, a purveyor of decay and death.”   (Chapter 10 ¶65)

Citizenschallenge:  What a profoundly sad way to perceive our reality and indeed the process of life itself?  As silly as having an absolute abhorrence of death.  Life and Evolution couldn’t exist without death.

Why doesn't Hoffman appreciate that without entropy the engine of life could never have been created to begin with?  No wonder Hoffman’s capable of dismissing physicalism, he’s never learned to appreciate real life processes!  It’s ALL philosophy and math to him.

What infuriates me, and which in turn has fueled me completing this tedious project, is his glib dismissal of physicalism which is the cornerstone of sober science for very good reasons.  

Why do so many stand by and enable such slander against serious science?

DH:  “Conscious Realism must pay another promissory note.  It must from first principles, describe precisely the dynamics of conscious agents, and show how this dynamics, when projected into the interface of Homo sapiens, appears as modern physics and Darwinian evolution.

This is a strong empirical constraint on the theory of agent dynamics:  Its projected into our spacetime interface must account for all the data that supports modern physics and evolution.”   (¶64)

For all his fanciful words, Hoffman never lives up to them.  

Also, in real science, an author is expected to be capable of fielding questions in good faith with substantive constructive answers related to said questions.  

But, from our correspondence and what I’ve read on the internet, Hoffman acts more like a politician.  Consistently forces the dialogue right back onto his train track, or one’s questions are ignored altogether.  

It’s supposed to be a learning process, but too often Hoffman is busy selling.

A review of Donald Hoffman’s, Case Against Reality, 

chapter 10c, Community: The Network of Conscious Agents

DH:  “A conscious agent enjoys a repertoire of experiences.  It networks with may other agents, which enjoy a stupefying variety of disparate repertoires.  So it cannot experience the vast majority of these exotic experiences.  This holds in particular for the hierarchy of agents that constitute it own instantiation.  

An agent simply lacks the resources to experience all the experiences of all the agents in its instantiation, even though those agents contribute to its very self.  An agent can at best wield its repertoire of experience to paint, with broad brush, a crude leptons of its instantiation

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Prof Hoffman #10b - Community - Playing Basketball In Zero-Gravity - Hoffmanian Conscious Agents (2/3)

Case Against Reality:  “I have touted the virtue of precision in a theory of consciousness. …”    (Chapter ten, ¶39)

Citizenschallenge:  Precisely modeling one’s idea is one thing, accurately reflecting Earth, evolution, human nature, is another.  

Hoffman’s Case Against Reality is a philosophical/religious thesis, removed from actual nature and physical reality.  Hoffmanian Conscious Agents offer nothing to observe, and nothing that can ever be tested, beyond computer games.  

The book was a disappointment with little to enhance current neurological, physical, or psychological understanding.  It is marketable intellectual entertainment for the sci-fi, woo loving crowd.  

To me, it’s a splendid example of the sort of fame and fortune seeking hubristic follies that helped create today’s willfully ignorant populous, which in turn enabled the current political degeneration, along with all its horrendous cascading consequences of late.

I’m trying hard to enunciate my thoughts in as coherent and concise a manner as I can.  This is because I want to be one of the many many ‘Children Of The Intellectual Enlightenment' who are needed to stand up for rational sober science; people willing to advocate for respect of the reality of our three dimensions and time; for the fact that matter is substantial and can be measured with astounding accuracy and repeatedly, etc., etc.  That serious good-faith science deserves to be respected and trusted.  

I’m just an attentive life long spectator, self-schooled and nearing my end, knowing a fraction of what serious students know.  Where are you??   This is my workbook and you are welcome to use any of it, respecting original sources.  I'm hoping some might find a little inspiration.  

Engage to do something to confront the creeping disconnect from Physical Reality and contempt for science that’s infecting so many people out there.  

Show ‘em you have Soul, the kind that emerges out of grasping deep time and Earth’s Evolution through the lens of science.  


Donald Hoffman tells us

Conscious realism is a non-physicalist monism.” 

 Lets unpack that:

In ontology and the philosophy of mind, a non-physical entity is a spirit or being that exists outside physical reality. Their existence divides the philosophical school of physicalism from the schools of idealism and dualism; with the latter schools holding that they can exist and the former holding that they cannot. If one posits that non-physical entities can exist, there exist further debates as to their inherent natures and their position relative to physical entities. [WIKI]   It get's over complicated, see here.

In other words, by his own definitions Hoffman’s “Case Against Reality” is a non-physical “reality”.  Namely, an abstract meta-physical idea and beyond the reach of empirical science.

Hoffman claims his mathematical rigor makes it science.  But, he forgets that serious science (as opposed to science fiction) also requires observation, measurement, evidence and facts.  

Rigorous mathematics without such physical touchstones, amounts to a self-indulgent head-game, one that has more in common with religious desires, than natural sciences.

A review of Donald Hoffman’s, Case Against Reality, 

chapter 10b, Community: The Network of Conscious Agents

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Prof Hoffman #10a - Community - Playing Basketball In Zero-Gravity - The Network of Conscious Agents

Cc:   Consciousness is an emergent property of biological complexity.

DH:  “The notion of a conscious agent is based on intuitions that are widely shared.  It must, however, be made precise and then endure the rough and tumble of science.”     (¶9)

Hoffman hasn’t produced anything tangible.  A fine tuned ‘theorem’ proven by mathematics within an idealized computer model universe, isn’t tangible.

Hoffman’s notions are the stuff of rough and tumble philosophical debates, not serious scientific inquiry.   That is, observing, measuring and learning about tangible stuff.

DH:  “…Evolution shaped our perception to hide the truth and to guide adaptive behavior.   (¶3) 

DH  : ”A new theory is required, in which spacetime, objects, their properties, and their fiction of cause and effect,…”   (¶4)

Besides a tendency to imbue Evolution with agency, Hoffman wants us to believe Conscious Agents act from outside.  

Where do Hoffmanian Conscious Agents originate?  How would they have been created?  Have they ever been observed?  Are they God’s twinkle dust holding everything together?  

Evolution isn’t a thing, or a program, it’s a label we put on accumulating change over time.  

A review of Donald Hoffman’s, Case Against Reality, 

chapter 10a, Community: The Network of Conscious Agents

I invite you to consider a different kind of “Conscious Agents.”

If organisms were to survive upon this four dimensional Earth they needed to perceive and act.  Sense organs needed to be invented or nothing would have happened on Earth.  

Furthermore, those organs needed to communicate with something; and that something needed to decode the incoming data; that data needed to be communicated to higher authorities for processing; decision making; and inducing action.

“Conscious agents” are the information the brain sends forth to blossom into the thoughts within our mind. 

A neuroscientist would correct me, by telling me about “neural correlates of consciousness,” then perhaps they’d point out the recent discovery of three super neurons that cradle a mouse’s mammalian brain, along with the implications and how that’s impacting the direction of current research.

Consciousness is an emergent property of biological complexity.

Are These Giant Neurons the Seat Of Consciousness in the Brain?

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Prof Hoffman #9 - Scrutiny - Playing Basketball In Zero-Gravity - Get what you need, life and business

Hoffman starts chapter nine by repeating his drill:

DH:  “Our sense forage for fitness, not truth.  They dispatch news about fitness payoffs: how to find them, get them, and keep them.

Keep in mind, this according to a theorem that plays out in an idealized mathematical universe of Hoffman’s design.  Not in our real universe ! ! !

DH:  “Despite their focus on fitness our senses confront a tsunami of information.  …”  (¶1-2)

All that Hoffman reduces to simplistic four-square games with ill defined terms such as “fitness” - “truth” - “hawk” - “dove” - terms that are fundamentally meaningless when it comes to actual evolution on Earth with it’s constant tsunami of information coming at us.


A review of Donald Hoffman’s, Case Against Reality, chapter 9, Scrutiny,

You Get What You Need, in Both LIfe and Business 

As I’ve worked on this project searching out respectable information and following leads.  I’ve been amazed by how much presence Hoffman’s Case Against Reality has attainted on the internet.  He truly is a marketing genius.

Seems that many people think this Case Against Reality is fascinating.  Time is doomed.  Man, how cool is that?!    

Me, I’m left wondering, what drives such a desire for this sort of vacuous escapism?  

DH:  “For those readers interested in marketing and business, this idea applies to visual advertising.  The goal of successful advertising is not merely, and sometimes not even, to present important facts.  It is to craft visual message that rivets the foraging eye of the typical shopper. …”   (¶12)

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Prof Hoffman #8 - Polychromy - Playing Basketball In Zero-Gravity - Mutations of an Interface

DH:  “Color can speak volumes. … Color is a window into fitness - also a jailhouse. … Try to imagine a color you’ve never seen.  Can’t do it. … Color… like perception, is both window and prison.”   (¶1)

Polychromy = “the art of painting in several colors, especially as applied to ancient pottery, …”

We could also say that our bodies are the prison of our mind.  If you really wanted to look at it that way.  But, what’s it get you?  Beyond a reflection into your own psyche?

A review of Donald Hoffman’s, Case Against Reality, 

Chapter 8, Polychromy - Mutations of an Interface

DH:  “As a window on fitness color is not flawless, just adequate to guide our actions that keep us alive long enough to reproduce.  Color, like each of our perception, compresses the complexities of fitness payoffs to bare essentials.”   (¶2)

What gives Hoffman the right to expect some subjective idealized flawlessness from nature?  Seems a bit hubristic to me.

Sure color perception is an important element, among many important sense “elements,” none of them perfect in the best of times, all vulnerable to a galaxy of pathologies and quirks.  Such is life.  That’s why luck often matters as much as fitness.

The fundamental problem with Hoffman’s narrative is that he keeps blaming the perceived object for the quirks and short comings of the perceiving instrument.  It’s silly.

DH:  “(The human eye has 7 million cones and 120 million rods, each carrying compressed information.  The circuitry of the eye then squashes this down to 1 million signal and forwards it to the brain, which must correct errors and decode actionable messages about fitness.”   (¶8)

Thus optical illusions happens. I’m going to skip paragraphs worth of Hoffman’s tour through optics trivia.  I’ll share trustworthy authoritative sources and let them explain the details without Hoffman’s tactical omissions.

A Journey Through the Human Eye: How We See

Bausch and Lomb