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review 2016-06-13 02:15

When I'm not writing fiction I'm often out walking and pondering the nature of consciousness. This video makes the point that Quantum Physics proves that consciousness brings material reality into being. It then hodge-podges its way into a discussion of how the brain creates consciousness. So how can material reality and consciousness mutually create each other? 

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review 2016-04-10 01:11
Not yet convinced
The Self-Aware Universe: How Consciousness Creates the Material World - Amit Goswami, With Maggie Goswami, Foreword by Fred Alan Wolf

Here's a dilemma: Most psychologists are materialists and consider thoughts and consciousness to be epiphenomena. An epiphenomena is one that occurs parallel to the phenomena under study. It's there, but psychologists can't measure it like behavior, or treat it like a physical object. It's ephemeral, and undescribed. Materialists deal with matter, and thoughts aren't that. Whatever thoughts may be, they are not something that materialists are comfortable with examining.

 

Quantum physics presents a picture of reality that is very different than the one   presented by classical, Newtonian physics. Although quantum physics was born over a century ago, some scientists cling to the materialism that grew out of pre-quantum, Newtonian physics. This works well for describing reality most of the time, but occasionally it biases what we consider possible, or restricts our methods of inquiry.

 

Quantum physics has called traditional materialism into question, and Amit Goswami questions materialist explanations of consciousness as well. Quantum physics proves that observers can't be separated from observations. Before an observation is made, little can be said about atomic particles--they only exist as probability waves. Only when observation collapses a probability wave, creating a measurement, can anything certain be said about particles. This finding has baffled many and continues to do so. Goswami believes it implies that consciousness is a force in nature. As such, consciousness is unitary in nature, however people experience themselves as individuals and only occasionally become aware of the One that they are expressions of. For hundreds of years religious mystics have sought direct experience of the One through prayer, meditation, fasting, sitting vigils, etc. For mystics, direct experience constitutes proof. For scientists, experimental results are required.

 

Goswami provides no experimental proof. He doesn't even suggest an experimental path to test his theory. Physicists critical of String Theory acknowledge its elegance, but complain that it lacks testability. Goswami's theory is likewise elegant but lacking testability. He suggests that proof may come through paranormal research, but much of that research is highly controversial. Too many paranormal-leaning scientists have accepted results that stage magicians have easily refuted. In the end, Goswami's ideas are more suggestive than explanatory. I'd recommend another book with a more convincing explanation of consciousness, but I haven't found it yet.

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review 2015-04-30 20:49
Interpreting fairy tales and myths
The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales - Bruno Bettelheim

The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales

Bruno Bettelheim

Non-fiction 328 pages

Vintage Books, 1989, 1976

 

If you’ve taken courses on fiction writing or literature, it’s likely that you’ve heard about the hero’s journey. Joseph Campbell introduced this concept in his 1949 work, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Campbell, a popularizer of mythology, drew upon themes from Jungian psychology in his structural analysis of hero myths.

 

Child Psychologist, Bruno Bettelheim, while acknowledging Jung’s contributions, used a more Freudian approach in his analysis of fairy tales. Although there’s some degree of similarity between Bettelheim’s later and Campbell’s earlier work, Bettelheim makes no mention of Campbell.

 

Bettelheim is careful to point out, however, that fairy tales are not like myths. They serve different audiences and functions. Myths end in tragedy while fairy tales end happily. Fairy tales allow children to integrate id impulses with their developing egos. Myths, instead, are the voices of the superego. They moralize, while fairy tales allow their hearers to form their own conclusions.

 

Referring to Hercules having to choose between two women, one representing virtue and the other pleasure, Bettelheim says, “The fairy tale never confronts us so directly, or tells us outright how we must choose. Instead, the fairy tale helps children to develop the desire for a higher consciousness through what is implied in the story. The fairy tale convinces through the appeal it makes to our imagination and the attractive outcome of events, which entice us.”

 

He later elaborates, “Myths project an ideal personality acting on the basis of superego demands, while fairy tales depict an ego integration which allows for appropriate satisfaction of id desires. This difference accounts for the contrast between the pervasive pessimism of myths and the essential optimism of fairy tales.” I don’t agree entirely. Star Wars is often cited as an example of the hero’s journey. That movie ended happily rather than in tragedy. While Oedipus is certainly a tragedy, I’m not convinced that all myths must be pessimistic.

 

Bettelheim’s approach is primarily Freudian. As such, his interpretations deal with orality, sexuality, sibling rivalry, and the child’s sense of impotence. Campbell’s myth interpretation draws from the Jungian perspective. As such, it minimizes the importance of id, ego, and superego and emphasizes Jungian personality structures such as self, shadow and anima. Since the passing of Freud and Jung, neuroscience has identified many structures in the brain, however none are identical to those structures named by Jung and Freud. Nonetheless, those elusive structures remain useful for understanding both human personality and literature.

 

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review 2014-12-07 23:28
Gravity - Bet you fall for it too

Books like this don’t have happy endings. In fact, they don’t have proper endings at all. They begin with questions and end with even more questions. I like to read them anyway.

 

Clegg begins with history: What were the earliest notions of gravity and how did they evolve? When people think of gravity they often think of Isaac Newton, but the idea of gravity had precedents in ancient Greek thought. Later, Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo and others elaborated on the ideas that later influenced Newton. Then in the twentieth century, Albert Einstein introduced an entirely new framework for understanding gravity.

 

About the time Einstein was tackling gravity, other scientists were developing quantum physics. Now a new problem arose. Einstein’s gravity is very good at explaining the behavior of large objects like stars and planets, while quantum physics can account for the behavior of small objects like atoms and particles. However, the two theories don’t play well with each other.

 

In the latter half of the twentieth century string theory was developed as a means of unifying the two theories. String theory, however, introduces a number of unanswerable questions.  Clegg discusses several newer theories that may help resolve the problems of string theory. One of these was inspired by graphene, a one atom thick layer of graphite. When graphene is cooled to an extreme temperature, it appears to violate the rules of special relativity. Peter Horava wondered about the implications of this finding. Einstein gave us the concept of space-time. Horava’s theory break space and time apart again. By doing so, he is able to make general relativity and quantum physics work together.

 

All of the recently emerging theories will require further research. Gravity, being the weakest of the four forces has remained elusive. Gravitons have been hypothesized, yet never found.

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text 2014-12-05 20:31
Interstellar Problems

 

I won't be seeing Interstellar. I have my reasons. Although, physicist, Kip Thorne, was consulted regarding the science presented in this movie, Hollywood still managed to fudge the science. Fiction involves suspension of disbelief and Hollywood suspends disbelief all too well. Much current science fiction, both written and staged, sadly lacks substantially accurate science.

 

Using a black hole as a short cut through space is not a new idea, but that doesn’t make it any less unlikely. Should you enter a black hole feet first, you’d find that the mass within is so great that your feet would begin to stretch. By the time your head entered as well, you’d be stretched like a strand of spaghetti. Not to mention, crushed.

 

But Interstellar’s black hole is no ordinary one; it’s a gateway into a wormhole. Although no one has found evidence of wormholes, they are thought to be quite narrow—too narrow for spaceships, or even feet, to pass through. Even if you found one large enough to allow your passage, they are also thought to be unstable. The wormhole might disappear long before your ship arrives at its door.

 

Another physicist, Michio Kaku, has classified possible alien societies by their degree of technical savvy. Our society falls well short of having sufficient technical ability to control wormholes. More conventional space travel falls closer to our current abilities. But, Interstellar requires a wormhole in order to reach another galaxy. The only problem there is that wormholes don’t necessarily lead to other galaxies. Instead, they could lead elsewhere, perhaps to other universes.

 

More: http://truthtalltales.blogspot.com/2014/11/galaxy-jest.html#links

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