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Posts posted by Memammal

  1. I.m.o. nobody really wants to feel depressed...to the point of taking his/her own life. I am sure that affected people actually want to feel better about themselves and their lives. Seeing that it is something that can be managed by means of treatment, should that not be the starting point..? Future generations will probably have the luxury of undergoing genetic screening tests at an early age that will allow high-risk individuals (depressed/anxious, psychopathic, Alzheimer, etc.) to be treated in time.

  2. Just getting back to posts #3 & #9. It appears that they may in fact be addressing each other to some extent..? Suicide is being frowned upon because of cultural (incl. religious) norms and because unaffected humans find it extremely difficult to understand how any person can take his/her own life. The OP seems to want to delve into the question as to whether it should be seen as "abnormal" behavior and whether affected people should get treated in order to prevent suicide (severe depression is treatable and will become even more treatable in the future)?

  3. @ Phi for All & Delta1212: Seeing that you were/are dealing with the issue of moderate Democrats/Republicans, I have been struggling to understand the growing emergence of right wing extremists. I am not a USA citizen, so not entirely informed, but it seems to have started after Obama was first elected. At this point it appears that the majority of Republicans have moved away from the moderate middle ground to the right though, which would explain how the likes of a Trump end up being the Republican candidate. But how has this happened and more importantly, what are the prognosis i.t.o. balancing out these extreme sentiments? I know the American demographics have been changing quite quickly. Has this something to do with a right wing resurgence...and will it subsequently lead to a balancing act of some sorts? There seems to be a polarizing effect going on and the growing racism and bigotry appear to be symptoms thereof..? That being said, the same kind of thing is happening in European countries. Recent elections in Austria as well as the Brexit vote, among others, seem to indicate a similar move towards the right. In the case of Europe it has a lot to do with the massive inflow of Middle Eastern and North African nationals though.

  4. As far as I know it is a genetic predisposition; pretty much the same predisposition that yields depression. If you are born with it, you will be vulnerable. Environmental factors (i.e. when things do not go according to plan) trigger it. The same goes for alcoholism and a range of so-called "personality disorders", even homosexuality

  5. Yeah, I watched it too. Looking at it as an outsider, I am astounded every time I have to watch- or listen to Trump. I just can't believe that there are actually people who will vote for him to become the president of the USA. Not that he stands much of a chance by all indications, but still... Sorry for repeating myself but he is just such an inferior specimen compared to Hillary Clinton and that, in a sense, is pretty ironic if not downright sad...a male chauvinist parading his ignorance, narcissism and bigotry in front of the whole world while being outclassed and outwitted by his female opponent...without him even noticing it. She did a fantastic job in showing grit, determination and above all, being able to convey a great deal of sense in a well articulated manner in the short time allocated to her. Just consider the two closing arguments as an example. She also made very good use of opportunities to compare their respective track records (and those should be telling). He, on the other hand, was not saying much new. The same old rhetoric, the same old (unsubstantiated) blame game against Clinton, Clinton & Obama. He has no clear vision, just empty promises and dreams of some sort of American grandeur that gonna happen because he thinks it will..?

    And the audacity to acknowledge:

    That, considering his stance against outsourcing or importing cheap labour/material, he did it himself...Why? Because the Clintons and Obama allowed him to;

    That he used loopholes to avoid paying taxes. Why? Because the Clintons and Obama should have prevented said loopholes;

    And last, but definitely not least, hinting towards possibly not accepting the outcome of the elections...like in next time on the Trump presidential reality show, watch this space folks...

    Gosh, this coming from a presidential candidate..? Seriously!

  6. I will go through that thread again, but I followed it before and contributed to it (on page 3, for example). Both ajb (in the opening 4 pages, especially on page 4) and later VandD (on page 7), among others, raised some pertinent points w.r.t. block universe model(s). In the mean time, talking about practical features of the block universe and its implied non-compliance (for lack of a better word) with quantum behaviour, see this post.

  7. I agree with imatfaal. Some of the discussions (e.g. free will, determinism, religion and similar topics) could potentially unsettle the mind's comfort zone, so to say, and may change (for better or worse) the way one perceives the world around you. One may just find yourself on a slippery slope before you realise it. Sometimes it is better to distance yourself (emotionally, psychologically) from some of the unnerving ideas that are being thrown around in some of the threads.

  8. The pen was indeed stationary (sic), but a separate observation thereof would reveal a slightly different looking pen (different light on it, or slightly different angle, or something like that).

    Let me just clarify what I meant by this - the pen is a "stationary prop" in its spatial environment, i.e. it does not move in relation to its surroundings. It is merely being "copied" (I should be careful with using too many analogies here) from one event to the next, but as I explained there may be other factors of said event (or "image"), for example the ambience, that might have changed (who knows, perhaps a bird started chirping outside in the next observation of "stationary" pen).


    Our memory stores events (which are all past events!) as spatial pictures with time stamps, just like your animation cards or a motion picture. While you call that "eternalist", I would call that rather "presentist"!

    It is on this point that we keep on missing each other. The way our brains interpret reality is indeed akin to presentism (as you explained before and again above), but the actual reality may be different to the way our brains interpret it. Actual reality according to eternalism/determinism in a 4D block universe implies that all events are pre-existing and laid out at different coordinates of spacetime. They are all equally real, carved in stone, frozen. etc. We are merely experiencing/observing said "sequence"; hence my use of the way our brains perceive an animation...which it interprets as an ongoing event (a moving now) opposed to different events (many nows) being experienced/observed.


    A "now" means that for example a chemical process really happens, so that we can follow it while it happens. That is not a "flow". At this moment oxygen is being taken up by my lungs. Without a real distinction between "now" and other times, so that everything exists eternally, neither chemical processes nor anything else really happen - we just have movie pictures lying around, and no explanation why we have the impression that they are playing, and that we are playing in them.


    PS Memammal thanks for that link: we can probably use some of it for clarifying the block universe view in the other thread.

    A natural living and evolving environment should not deter us from the possibility of a many-now reality. Perceived causality, randomness, changes, us being reliant on oxygen could all be an entirely natural (but deterministic) sequence within symbiotic eco systems in said reality. (You may want to think of living and breathing actors playing their parts in the movie..?).


    Tim, there have been many instances where the block universe came up for discussion in a number of threads in this same General Philosophy category. As far as I have seen they all dealt with certain aspects thereof. I don't know if you want to start a new thread and merge all the relevant posts into it as this current discussion may indeed be moving a bit off topic..? Said thread should attempt to differentiate between the various models (presentism, eternalism, growing and evolving).

  9. You seem to be far more familiar with block arguments. Is my understanding between presentism and eternalism correct?

    Block isn't something I've spent a lot of time debating. If I made any errors in my analysis I would definetely welcome corrections.

    With your math skills you will "intuitively" end up ticking the right block.


    Yes i notice that the "now" moves. But what is moving? The pen? In this explanation, no, the pen does not move. What moves is a "now" of unknown properties. This "now" is made up of nothing. That is reason why I believe this way of thinking is wrong.

    The "now" is made up of an observation/experience of an event at a specific coordinate (a slide in the animation example). The "now" should not move as presentism suggests (IOW that way of thinking might indeed be wrong), rather it is the continuous observation of many "nows" that give the impression of movement (animation)...as per eternalism.


    PS. Michel, just note that I previously mixed up Tim's example of the pen with your glass of water (as I mentioned in my previous PS note). The pen was indeed stationary (sic), but a separate observation thereof would reveal a slightly different looking pen (different light on it, or slightly different angle, or something like that).

  10. And because nothing else is needed we have a lack of explanation of this embarrassing feeling of time passing by and the only solution is to throw the solution out of the block by calling it an "illusion".

    Lol...I enjoyed this ^


    My opinion is that the object is 3D (as Tim88 wrote) and that this 3D object "moves" through time i.e. the 3D object change coordinates. It slides from one set of 4D coordinates to another set of 4D coordinates. It does not extend from one set to another. It does not "exist" in the past and does not wait to "exist" in the future (like presentism says).

    The pencil is just a pencil. "Moving" in time.

    But of course I may be wrong on this.

    An observation of what is seemingly a 3-D object captured/embedded in a slice of spacetime at a specific coordinate. One coordinate "back" will give you the same pen at a slightly different distance (as per your original illustration) and thus per implication at a different (space)time. One coordinate "forward" implies that the same pen will be observed at a ever so slightly closer distance (at a different coordinate of spacetime). Think about an analogy, for example a set of animation flip cards...on each card (coordinate) a different image (event) already exists. We are observing our lifeline as an illusion of the fast moving set of animation cards. (I used the same analogy in the other thread referred to earlier where I discussed it with Strange). I.t.o. eternalism all these events are equally real...time is laid out, or there are many "nows"...even though we are unable to rewind or fast forward. I.t.o. presentism there is a distinction between an event in the past, present, and future (an event in the past was real, an event in the present is real, and an event in the future will become real). Notice that the “now” moves. This is where I want to insert this quote that describes it quite well: ...it raises the question which has puzzled philosophers: “How fast does time flow?”. If the “now” moves then it must move with respect to some time reference. So is it moving with respect to itself? Surely not. To say “Time moves at the rate of one second per second” is meaningless. Rather, the rate of time flow would have to be measured with respect to some secondary, external time reference. However, in our earlier discussion on this page it was stressed that there was no clock outside the universe, so there could not be any such external time reference. It is simply logically impossible for there to be a moving “now”. Time does not “flow”! (Time, Free Will and the Block Universe)


    PS. I might have confused Tim's pen with Michel's glass of water...but it is all the same.

  11. There are indeed a number of variations of the block universe model, presentism, eternalism, growing (which is not the same as eternalism) and evolving (I must admit that I am not too familiar with the last-mentioned and how it differs from growing). So perhaps we should all (including myself) be a bit more mindful of how we interpret these models. That being said, it first appeared to me like Tim has pinpointed how our brains adapt in order to make sense of reality, including the (illusionary) flow of time. It also seemed to me as if he concluded that presentism best explains our (intuitive?) interpretation of reality (which is understandable), even though it may in fact be an illusion of sorts, but at the same time he then stated that eternalism is "stemming from a natural confusion in our minds". It sounds somewhat like a contradiction, but maybe I am just not following the logic behind his explanation (Tim, don't bother to explain it again...I will go through it step-by-step).


    Einstein, who of course knew a thing or two about GR & SR, seemed to have been pro-eternalism and pro-determinism. Strange and myself have recently discussed the ins and outs of said model in the thread "How to convince somebody they don't have free will?" in this same General Philosophy category...from post #22 on page 2 of that thread inbetween other posts related more to the OP. (I am sorry that I cannot insert links, but I am currently working on a laptop with an old browser that would not allow me to copy and paste anything, or to insert quotes). Anyone who is keen to better understand the implications thereof is welcome to read that, or at least the short article (Time, Free Will and the Block Universe) that I linked in that post #22.

  12. I clarified why it can be explained as stemming from a natural confusion in our minds; and that solves the paradox. And there is only a "flow" of natural processes (including in our heads) which we can interpret as "flow of time".

    ...that illusion is created.

    Perhaps illusion and confusion are in the eye and mind of the beholder, no..?


    Moving. You said "moving".

    Not "extending". If you understand the difference.

    I do. Moving like in us moving along was a figure of speech. It is more like us observing (or "moving our observation") of different static events embedded at different coordinates. In said (4D block universe) model time and space are laid out, we are just observing/experiencing it slice by slice.

  13. Eternalist philosophy can thus be explained as a natural confusion that is caused by the data storage handling of our brains.

    I tried to follow your logic up to this point (and reserve my opinion)...but I need to ask if you meant that eternalist philosophy stems from a natural confusion in our mind, or whether eternalist philosophy creates a natural confusion in our minds?

    The problem is that it does not explain the flow of time, but if you continue the exercise you may find a solution.

    Possibly because there is no flow of time and our perception of moving-, or flowing time is us moving through "static" (space)time.

  14. This snippet that I already quoted elsewhere may be relevant here too:



    [snip]...there is another point. It's not just that you are composite, something you already knew, but you are in some senses not even human. You have perhaps a hundred trillion bacterial cells in your body, numbering ten times more than your human cells, and containing a hundred times as many genes as your human cells. These bacteria are not just passive occupants of the zoo that is you. They self-organize into communities within your mouth, guts and elsewhere; and these communities—microbiomes—are maintained by varied, dynamic patterns of competition and cooperation between the different bacteria, which allow us to live.

    In the last few years, genomics has given us a tool to explore the microbiome by identifying microbes by their DNA sequences. The story that is emerging from these studies is not yet complete but already has led to fascinating insights. Thanks to its microbes, a baby can better digest its mother's milk. And your ability to digest carbohydrates relies to a significant extent on enzymes that can only be made from genes not present in you, but in your microbiome. Your microbiome can be disrupted, for example due to treatment by antibiotics, and in extreme cases can be invaded by dangerous monocultures, such as Clostridium difficile, leading to your death. Perhaps the most remarkable finding is the gut-brain axis: your gastrointestinal microbiome can generate small molecules that may be able to pass through the blood-brain barrier and affect the state of your brain: although the precise mechanism is not yet clear, there is growing evidence that your microbiome may be a significant factor in mental states such as depression and autism spectrum conditions. In short, you may be a collective property arising from the close interactions of your constitutents.

    Now, maybe it is true then that you are not an individual in one sense of the word, but how about your microbes? Well, it turns out that your microbes are a strongly interacting system too: they form dense colonies within you, and exchange not only chemicals for metabolism, but communicate by emitting molecules. They can even transfer genes between themselves, and in some cases do that in response to signals emitted by a hopeful recipient: a bacterial cry for help! A single microbe in isolation does not do these things; thus these complex behaviors are a property of the collective, and not the individual microbes. Even microbes that would seem to be from the same nominal species can have genomes which differ in content by as much as 60% of their genes! So much for the intuitive notion of species! That’s another too-anthropomorphic scientific idea that does not apply to most of life.


    Individuality - Nigel Goldenfeld

  15. Tim, it seems as if you have made some great progress as articulated in your most recent posts. So are you starting to realise why our brains intuitively struggle to understand the possibility of a 4D block universe, but that we should never allow our perception of reality to obscure reality itself?

  16. Are we getting closer?

    Yes, indeed! As for our lifeline(s), I see it as similar to one of those animation flip cards that one flips through, page for page (event after event), an embedded development (like a moving picture) within the bigger universal 4D spacetime "hologram"...it becomes almost like a cross section across various coordinates/locations on said "hologram" (not virtual per se).

  17. But that block is, in your words, eternal and unchanging, even though it describes a universe of finite lifetime.


    Does that make sense?

    Personally I prefer to think of it as a block hologram of something akin to a massive map with (spacetime) coordinates placed in a dark environment...as you point a flashlight to it, it illuminates a specific location...an observation of a pre-existing place (an event) at/on a specific coordinate. To say the embedded "information" (all events) on said hologram map has an actual beginning or end, past or future, does not make sense.


    Thank you, iNow.

  18. That implies some sort of meta-time in which you are considering the existence of the block.

    Darn...it happened again...I intended to press quote below your post and I got the down vote instead. SORRY - it was not my intention. Referring to the above - no, definitely no meta-time. I think we may be misunderstanding each other somewhere along the line..?

  19. Free will implies conscious choice, but the neuroscience here is rather clear... Choices and decisions are made well before (on timescales of synaptic response and action potentials, anyway) the conscious mind even activates.


    The current version of wiki offers a really comprehensive overview of the issue: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroscience_of_free_will

    I agree with you (and stated as such) that the evidence continues to mount. But the following is an excerpt taken from the above article: "The field remains highly controversial. There is no consensus among researchers about the significance of findings, their meaning, or what conclusions may be drawn. The precise role of consciousness in decision making therefore remains unclear."

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