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PlaidX comments on How to think like a quantum monadologist - Less Wrong

-15 Post author: Mitchell_Porter 15 October 2009 09:37AM

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Comment author: PlaidX 15 October 2009 01:06:43PM 5 points [-]

Again I ask, does this theory make any testable predictions and if so what?

Comment author: SilasBarta 15 October 2009 02:53:18PM 2 points [-]

Now, now, I'd like to tear into the methodological flaws in monadology as much as anyone here, but Mitchell_Porter clearly said:

This is obviously more of a research program than a theory. ..., the point of this article is not to carry out the research program, but just to suggest what I'm actually on about.

It would be unreasonable not to think about any idea until it's at the theory stage, else you'd never get there.

Comment author: billswift 15 October 2009 04:15:33PM 3 points [-]

You need to be thinking about tests at all levels of development. The actual creation of the hypotheses should have in mind tests which could test them. A scientific theory has already been tested. Or are you using "theory" like the creationist whack-jobs who are always saying "Evolution is only a theory".

Comment author: SilasBarta 15 October 2009 04:33:52PM *  2 points [-]

Or are you using "theory" like the creationist whack-jobs who are always saying "Evolution is only a theory".

Heh, no I'm not one of those people -- except when trolling forums, of course ;-)

And I already explained why, even if Mitchell_Porter answered the hard problems, it still wouldn't vindicate his ontology. That counts as giving it a pre-theory "test".

But at the very least, PlaidX shouldn't be calling Mitchell_Porter's ideas a "theory" or expecting an experiment yet. Though I agree it's fair to ask, e.g. "what would cause you to give up this whole monadology project?" And there it is indeed troubling, since Mitchell_Porter seems to decree, right from the beginning, that conscious experience is different in a fundamental way from the "mere" operation of quarks that prohibits any new discovery from showing that the two are not different.

Comment author: billswift 15 October 2009 07:23:20PM 1 point [-]

I misinterpreted your comment, entirely my misreading, though your last sentence is rather confusingly structured. In fact, my first three sentences basically just repeat what you wrote in different words. But I disagree about when you should be thinking about experiments - you should be thinking about how to test your ideas from the very beginning, from the time they first come together well enough that you can put it into words.

Hal Clement's next to last novel, "Half Life", has some interesting points to make about social interactions around science, especially about hypothesis testing. One rule the characters live by is to never present a hypothesis without also presenting either an alternative explanation or a means to test you idea.

Comment author: SilasBarta 16 October 2009 03:36:46AM 3 points [-]

Well, then I think we do have a disagreement. I think that sometimes it is necessary to grope in the epistemic dark without such constraints before you can put together a coherent understanding that can answer such questions.

However, it looks like Mitchell_Porter has been at this for eight years and this post is all he has to show for it. I would definitely agree that counts as Doing It Wrong.

Comment author: PlaidX 16 October 2009 12:31:10PM 3 points [-]

I don't think it's essential that everything be testable, it's just that it would help me understand what he's trying to say. I can't even tell if he's actually saying something about the way the universe works, or just relabeling things.

Comment author: Mitchell_Porter 27 October 2009 05:02:29AM 1 point [-]

The major prediction is that mesoscopic quantum effects are functionally relevant in conscious cognition. Beyond that, there's also the prediction that the neural correlate of consciousness is one large quantum-entangled subsystem of the brain. But the crucial threshold, yet to be crossed, is simply for there to be such a thing as "quantum-computational neuroscience". If no-one ever sees an empirical need for that, then theories like this will go nowhere.