Your Brain Is Not a Computer. It Is a Transducer

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Your Brain Is Not a Computer. It Is a Transducer

Robert Epstein


Quote:She also hears music continuously, and it’s not the kind of music that drives us nuts when we can’t get a tune out of our head. She mainly hears original music, and she will sometimes try to hum or sing what she’s hearing. She says it’s coming from "the neighbors downstairs," and it doesn’t bother her, she says, because some of it isn’t bad and because it helps her fall asleep. The fact that other people can’t hear it doesn’t bother her either. She simply smiles slyly and says, "Maybe you should get your hearing checked."

Am I concerned? Well, just a bit — not about the music but about its source...Where is all this original music coming from?

Quote:What if spirits, dreams, and my mom’s music could all be accounted for by a relatively simple idea about how the brain works — an idea that might even be testable?

The idea, which is quite simple on its face, is that the brain is a bidirectional transducer.



Quote:James asserted that a universe-wide consciousness beamed human consciousness into our brains "as so many finite rays," just as the sun beams rays of light onto our planet. Our brains, being limited in their capabilities, he said, generally filter and suppress real consciousness, while sometimes allowing ‘glows of feeling, glimpses of insight, and streams of knowledge’ to shine through. He called this idea ‘transmission-theory.’
'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


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Interesting this is in Discover? And they had an article on NDEs that wasn't as heavily skeptical as I expected.

Quote:"Science that Matters"

Discover magazine reports captivating developments in science, medicine, technology, and the world around us. Spectacular photography and refreshingly understandable stories on complex subjects connect everyday people with the greatest ideas and minds in science.
'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: 2021-09-01, 05:17 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel.)
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The "transducer" model certainly seems like an improvement on vanilla physicalism. I see a couple of issues that might be worth considering though:
  1. I'm not sure how much sense can be made of the idea of a universal consciousness being transduced via the brain and as such splitting into individual consciousnesses. Why not? Because, as I've suggested elsewhere, the self (logically) precedes consciousness: consciousness is in a sense a property of the self. Thus, the universal consciousness must have a self to start with, and it doesn't seem to make much sense that it can then be transduced so as to become associated with (or even to give rise to) a new self. In that case, here would be two selves associated with the same consciousness. Hmm.
  2. It doesn't seem to deal so well with the scenarios in which there's barely a brain there at all, such as in the most extreme cases of hydrocephalus. If the brain is an effective part of the bidirectional process of transduction, then it's not clear how transduction takes place when there's effectively no brain present. This might also be framed as a problem for interactive dualism, however, it's not so much of a problem when there's an actual structured individual consciousness (self) on the other side to start with, rather than some amorphous universal consciousness, since that structured consciousness might have other means of affecting the body than by the brain alone (which, indeed seems to be supported by empirical evidence, in that other beings who lack brains, such as plants and microbes, nevertheless seem to be conscious).
Criticism aside, I greatly appreciated the anecdotes about the 95 year old mother who hears music that others don't hear. A similar thing happened to one of my grandmothers (Nan) when she grew old, except that it wasn't constant, and it wasn't new music - it was tunes she knew and loved from her childhood. She, too, was appreciative of rather than troubled by this, even though she knew that others didn't hear it too.

Another curious paranormal incident in Nan's old age that I've always been intrigued by is that she would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night to find a man standing at the foot of her bed. If I recall correctly, he was dressed in a suit and wore a hat. There might even have been more than one man at a time. She was not at all afraid of this man, and kind of just took it in her stride.
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(2021-09-02, 11:06 AM)Laird Wrote: The "transducer" model certainly seems like an improvement on vanilla physicalism. I see a couple of issues that might be worth considering though:
  1. I'm not sure how much sense can be made of the idea of a universal consciousness being transduced via the brain and as such splitting into individual consciousnesses. Why not? Because, as I've suggested elsewhere, the self (logically) precedes consciousness: consciousness is in a sense a property of the self. Thus, the universal consciousness must have a self to start with, and it doesn't seem to make much sense that it can then be transduced so as to become associated with (or even to give rise to) a new self. In that case, here would be two selves associated with the same consciousness. Hmm.
  2. It doesn't seem to deal so well with the scenarios in which there's barely a brain there at all, such as in the most extreme cases of hydrocephalus. If the brain is an effective part of the bidirectional process of transduction, then it's not clear how transduction takes place when there's effectively no brain present. This might also be framed as a problem for interactive dualism, however, it's not so much of a problem when there's an actual structured individual consciousness (self) on the other side to start with, rather than some amorphous universal consciousness, since that structured consciousness might have other means of affecting the body than by the brain alone (which, indeed seems to be supported by empirical evidence, in that other beings who lack brains, such as plants and microbes, nevertheless seem to be conscious).
Criticism aside, I greatly appreciated the anecdotes about the 95 year old mother who hears music that others don't hear. A similar thing happened to one of my grandmothers (Nan) when she grew old, except that it wasn't constant, and it wasn't new music - it was tunes she knew and loved from her childhood. She, too, was appreciative of rather than troubled by this, even though she knew that others didn't hear it too.

Another curious paranormal incident in Nan's old age that I've always been intrigued by is that she would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night to find a man standing at the foot of her bed. If I recall correctly, he was dressed in a suit and wore a hat. There might even have been more than one man at a time. She was not at all afraid of this man, and kind of just took it in her stride.

Why do you think Robert Epstein is proposing a universal consciousness? He mentions James' theory which I quote but not sure he is advocating that as his position?

Genuinely asking - It's admittedly an article that seems like a stream-of-consciousness so it's hard to see what his exact position is, though Discover publishing an essay in support of filter-transmission theory seems like another good hint that science is (slowly) moving past skeptics.
'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


(2021-09-02, 07:12 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: Why do you think Robert Epstein is proposing a universal consciousness? He mentions James' theory which I quote but not sure he is advocating that as his position?

Genuinely asking - It's admittedly an article that seems like a stream-of-consciousness so it's hard to see what his exact position is, though Discover publishing an essay in support of filter-transmission theory seems like another good hint that science is (slowly) moving past skeptics.

I simply assumed it based on the mention of James's theory and my trying to make sense of his transduction model. It seems that it was probably a wrong assumption though. So, on this model, it's not a universal consciousness that is being transduced: the consciousness of the brain is simply assumed, and rather it is entities in the physical world and potentially in the worlds beyond the physical that are transduced by the brain to appear in its (assumed) consciousness. Is that your understanding too?

Agreed with your description of the article as a stream-of-consciousness in which his exact position is difficult to see.
(This post was last modified: 2021-09-02, 10:50 PM by Laird.)
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(2021-09-02, 08:43 PM)Laird Wrote: I simply assumed it based on the mention of James's theory and my trying to make sense of his transduction model. It seems that it was probably a wrong assumption though. So, on this model, it's not a universal consciousness that is being transduced: the consciousness of the brain is simply assumed, and rather it is entities in the physical world and potentially in the worlds beyond the physical that are transduced by the brain to appear in its (assumed) consciousness. Is that your understanding too?

Agreed with your description of the article as a stream-of-consciousness in which his exact position is difficult to see.

Honestly it is hard to tell - does he think his grandmother is hearing music from a parallel reality? From some Ur-Mind?

As glad as I am to see filter-transmission advocacy in a mainstream scientific publication Robert Epstein's personal view seems unclear. Maybe he realizes he is moving toward the idea of a soul but is worried about being branded like Sheldrake?
'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


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Mind Matters has some commentary on the article

M.Egnor

Quote:Robert Epstein’s “transducer” theory is an instance of getting something right

Quote:Many of my posts here at Mind Matters News entail debunking nonsensical materialist theories of the mind–brain relationship. It is altogether fitting and proper that I do so. But, at times, thoughtful and very promising ideas are proposed by modern neuroscientists. One of those ideas is discussed in an essay in Discover Magazine by neuroscientist Robert Epstein.

Quote:Epstein points out that a host of perplexing neurological problems, such as blindsight (the ability of some blind people to be aware of objects in their environment that they cannot consciously see), mindsight (the phenomenon during some near-death experiences of congenitally blind people in which they are able to see normally), terminal lucidity (the brief period of clear consciousness that sometimes precedes death in dementia patients), hallucinations and such diseases as schizophrenia, among many others, could be explained by the inference that the human brain focuses and transduces consciousness rather than generates it.
'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


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(2021-09-07, 09:02 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: Mind Matters has some commentary on the article

M.Egnor

Egnor (and Epstein) seem not to have really thought through some of their comments. 


Quote:Epstein points out that a host of perplexing neurological problems, such as blindsight (the ability of some blind people to be aware of objects in their environment that they cannot consciously see), mindsight (the phenomenon during some near-death experiences of congenitally blind people in which they are able to see normally), terminal lucidity (the brief period of clear consciousness that sometimes precedes death in dementia patients), hallucinations and such diseases as schizophrenia, among many others, could be explained by the inference that the human brain focuses and transduces consciousness rather than generates it.

Terminal lucidity would not seem to be easily explained by the transceiver theory of consciousness, since in this theory, to fully manifest spirit consciousness via the brain would presumably require a fully functioning brain. In terminal lucidity the brain has been deteriorating into a disorganized state of deep Alzheimer's or other dementia and would look not to be capable of acting as a good transducer. Actually, the absence of terminal lucidity (deep dementia) would be more in accordance with the transducer theory. What would be a more plausible theory for terminal lucidity would be some sort of psychical phenomenon of biological psychokinesis, where the spirit has intervened and healed some of the brain damage in time for the person to be aware and communicate just before physical death.

In mindsight the NDEer is usually in the out-of-body state, and the brain is presumably not acting as the transducer of consciousness.
(This post was last modified: 2021-09-07, 11:09 PM by nbtruthman.)
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(2021-09-07, 11:01 PM)nbtruthman Wrote: Egnor (and Epstein) seem not to have really thought through some of their comments.

Terminal lucidity would not seem to be easily explained by the transceiver theory of consciousness, since in this theory, to fully manifest spirit consciousness via the brain would presumably require a fully functioning brain. In terminal lucidity the brain has been deteriorating into a disorganized state of deep Alzheimer's or other dementia and would look not to be capable of acting as a good transducer. Actually, the absence of terminal lucidity (deep dementia) would be more in accordance with the transducer theory. What would be a more plausible theory for terminal lucidity would be some sort of psychical phenomenon of biological psychokinesis, where the spirit has intervened and healed some of the brain damage in time for the person to be aware and communicate just before physical death.

In mindsight the NDEer is usually in the out-of-body state, and the brain is presumably not acting as the transducer of consciousness.

How is your theory not inline with the tranducer theory? If the spirit has to heal the brain to communicate then it seem to me something akin to fixing a walkie-talkie?
'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


(2021-09-08, 12:57 AM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: How is your theory not inline with the tranducer theory? If the spirit has to heal the brain to communicate then it seem to me something akin to fixing a walkie-talkie?

I just meant that without further elaboration (which Epstein and Egnor apparently don't do), on the face of it terminal lucidity doesn't look like a confirmation of transducer theory, more like a disconfirmation. Certainly I go along with transducer theory.
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