Patricia Churchland demeans Dualism and David Chalmers

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In this interview with militant atheist YouTuber Aron Ra, he interviews Churchland, and some of her claims here were rather ironic given context of how she has behaved in previous interviews many of us are aware of:

At 32:00, she talks about her views on 'brain=mind'. At 38:42, she starts making ignorant generalisations about dualists and their beliefs, such as:

Quote:"Dualists have never been able to give an account of how the two substances (brain and mind I assume) interact"
"If there is some spooky stuff involved, we should be able to detect it"*
"When you die there's nothing that could survive brain death...you won't have any memories"
And if you're wondering, no, she doesn't bring up that interview with Skeptiko.

The most revealing part of the interview however was when Churchland responded to what sounded like a misinterpretation of Chalmers' Hard Problem of Consciousness at 51:20. The host claims Chalmers thinks 'science will never explain consciousness'. AFAIK he has never said 'science can never explain consciousness' but I'd be happy to see an example of when he has ever said that. Chalmers has simply said materialism/physicalism is presented with a challenge to explain consciousness. Even Sam Harris apparently acknowledges this, and he is also a neuroscientist. That's not even mentioning folks like Marjorie Woollacott and Mario Beauregard.


Churchland then boldly asserts that David Chalmers 'knows absolutely no neuroscience whatsoever' and she has apparently even said this to him. She gives an example of emergence from complexity, comparing it to how 'organising dead molecules in the right way can create mitochondria'. They then pretty much mock him, saying that:

Quote:"Chalmers is erroneous to think that consciousness just suddenly appears once you have a certain number of neurons. There are degrees of consciousness like a volume knob. He doesn't understand that."

I found it incredibly insulting that she then implies she thinks his view of 'vitalism' is a 'crazy idea' that he's 'based his whole career on this' and she 'feels sorry for him'. Churchland goes on to say Chalmers 'doesn't respond to criticism' and that those who insist on citing him 'have not taken the time to understand neuroscience'. Again, why does Churchland assume all neuroscientists are in agreement with her? We now know this isn't the case. 

At 58:30, she brings up split brain patients and how they would 'end dualism'...ignoring how the results were heavily debated and we now have at least two studies indicating that splitting the brain does not split consciousness. 

*It is amazingly ironic to me that Churchland and the host imply Chalmers is linked to the 'soul of the gaps' fallacy when she made that second statement in bold. And her accusations of ignorance are ironic given the ignorance she had, frankly, displayed towards NDEs, including cherry-picking Pim van Lommel's work and falsely representing it in her book. 

This video will probably be quite enraging to many of you as it was for me. The hypocrisy is astounding. Nevertheless, am I right in thinking Churchland has got Chalmers' position wrong? She does claim to have spoken with him at times, and she does make claims that are ignorant of recent research and of the arguments made by critics of materialism/physicalism. Did she ever respond to the interview from Skeptiko and retract that stuff from her book? 

I did see there was a discussion from Dr David Lane, both with an essay he wrote responding to the original interview, and a subsequent interview with Skeptiko:
http://www.integralworld.net/lane67.html
http://skeptiko-forum.com/threads/240-dr...art-2.565/

(And for the record, no, I don't follow this Aron Ra guy and I am not 'promoting' him. This was likely promoted by YouTube's algorithm due to my watch history having been associated with consciousness-related topics)
(This post was last modified: 2021-01-17, 02:13 PM by OmniVersalNexus.)
Quote:"Chalmers is erroneous to think that consciousness just suddenly appears once you have a certain number of neurons. There are degrees of consciousness like a volume knob. He doesn't understand that."

The interesting thing of course is that accounts from NDEs tell us that as the neuron activity diminishes (or ceases) consciousness becomes richer and more real.
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I did email Chalmers for his thoughts on this. He didn't seem too bothered, sharing a photo of them as 'old friends'. I do find Churchland's remarks however to be nevertheless very ignorant and generalising at times. Even hypocritical.

Additionally, I'm under the impression both she and the host are misunderstanding Chalmers' arguments, especially the Hard Problem (which they only vaguely address), distorted through a religious 'soul of the gaps' lens.
(This post was last modified: 2021-01-17, 07:13 PM by OmniVersalNexus.)
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Sam Harris has a Neuroscience PhD and Raymond Tallis was a clinical neuroscientist (MD, possibly also PhD) before retirement where upon he devoted himself to philosophy.

People can search their names on this forum for their views, which are not in agreement with the Churchlands.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2021-01-17, 09:13 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel.)
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It's not something I would ever watch, personally. I actually think she's foolish, notwithstanding her qualifications. Sorry, that's unkind but it's what I'm thinking so I may as well say it.
(This post was last modified: 2021-01-18, 03:40 PM by tim.)
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Shouldnt have ever watched the vid in the first place but anyway. Also just side piece but Aron Ra's a tool that doesn't understand religion let alone anything else.

But yeah, Chalmers response is about what I expected. Remember, she's been going against him for years, this type of thing isn't anything new for him. They've also been misinterpreting the hard problem for years, which Chalmers has responded to if you read his papers. Unfortunately you cant get rid of them since their main point is "I'll be right eventually", so all we can do is wait and see. Though, very few neuroscientists or philosophers believe in eliminative materialism nowdays and mostly go with normal reductive or some non reductive emergence. Or they simple put their head down and take a shut up and calculate approach and hope the hard problem will fade away.
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(2021-01-18, 09:39 PM)Smaw Wrote: Shouldnt have ever watched the vid in the first place but anyway. Also just side piece but Aron Ra's a tool that doesn't understand religion let alone anything else.

But yeah, Chalmers response is about what I expected. Remember, she's been going against him for years, this type of thing isn't anything new for him. They've also been misinterpreting the hard problem for years, which Chalmers has responded to if you read his papers. Unfortunately you cant get rid of them since their main point is "I'll be right eventually", so all we can do is wait and see. Though, very few neuroscientists or philosophers believe in eliminative materialism nowdays and mostly go with normal reductive or some non reductive emergence. Or they simple put their head down and take a shut up and calculate approach and hope the hard problem will fade away.
You've heard of Aron before?
(2021-01-18, 11:40 PM)OmniVersalNexus Wrote: You've heard of Aron before?

https://historyforatheists.com/2019/08/a...ing-wrong/

Read about him on one of my FAVOURITE blogs, History for Atheists, which is great if you want to see terrible takes on the history of religion torn apart by an actually intelligent atheist historian

As you can see from that, he's not great. And just going off his other stuff he just seems like an angry cherry picker. Not to mention he's popular for debating young earth creationists and disproving things like noah's flood and I mean, c'mon, how much easier could you get it.
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(2021-01-18, 09:39 PM)Smaw Wrote: Shouldnt have ever watched the vid in the first place but anyway. Also just side piece but Aron Ra's a tool that doesn't understand religion let alone anything else.

I had a discussion with Aron Ra yesterday which I'll be putting on my channel at some point.
Made some points I generally agree with in terms of religion and atheism... then we got onto anomalous experience.
He generally just insisted that we KNOW the brain creates consciousness, and that we KNOW it's impossible for things such as veridical perception to take place.
When I asked how he would explain such cases with 3rd party verification, AND verification that the brain was not functioning at the time, his response was: Lucky guesses.
"Researchers have confirmation bias and only look at the hits, they always ignore the millions of misses between them".
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I mean it doesn't take the most enlightened minds of our time to go maybe some bits of religion are.....bad? And some parts of atheism are.....good?

His response to the History for Atheists post is a perfect example of the type of guy you're dealing with. I got a bunch of history facts wrong, should I admit defeat and say I was wrong? No, double down, admit that I got something wrong EXCEPT for all these reasons why I didn't and say the person who called me out is just an atheist making bank of going after other atheists.
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