Thursday, December 31, 2020

Diary - Closing Out 2020 Defending Physical Reality

 As 2020 draws to an end the one-hand-clapping finds himself embroiled in a curious effort to defend established “scientific realism.”  Because?  Well, because apparently someone needs too.  

Curious, because the process has inspired me to think in terms of composing a Students Guide In Defense of Reality - Dissecting Hoffman’s Case Against Reality. I want to create a framework for a virtual class to examine the process of scientific deception, and science by rhetoric rather than facts, while pressing home the importance of learning about Evolution from the bottom up.  I’m at chapter 19 with many more in the pipeline before wrapping it up (still at the laying groundwork phase - chapters listed at the bottom)

This mission is about exposing how folks like Donald Hoffman, Templeton Foundation, and many intellectual celebrities are wasting our precious time looking through the wrong end of both telescope and microscope, for fun and profit.  

For instance, Hoffman’s “Conscious Agents” and FBT Theorem are simply the latest rationalization in human’s long tradition of denying responsibility for ourselves, lives and actions.  Now that God has lost its substance, it’s time for math and pseudo-science?  

What's wrong with appreciating ourselves for the incredible biological creatures that we are?   Why not explicitly recognize the divide between physical reality and our Mindscape with something more substantial than flailing at a supposed body-mind "problem".

This project is forcing me to realize that the younger generations need to escape the shackles of generations old self-indulgent manmade philosophical constructs who’s stilted questions and inscrutable solutions have more to do with human insecurity, egos and turf battles, than in understanding our actual human condition and the biosphere that created and sustains us self-obsessed human beings.

Our answers are limited by the quality of our questions!  

Genuine understanding about our natural world is an emergent property driven by the inflow of honest quality facts and evidence.  All else is dancing within our minds.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  Just stop being blind to the supremacy of physical reality!

Finding answers?

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Student Resource - Frontiers in Psychology - profits über alles? A closer look.

After skimming through Hoffman’s Frontiers in Psychology paper again, it occurred to me the 2014 paper laid the foundation for his claim to 'legitimacy' and ultimately helped thrust his 2019 book “The Case Against Reality - Why evolution hide the truth from our eyes” upon the public.  It also seems to me a revealing case study in scientific malpractice on various levels.

title-Objects of consciousness, Frontiers in Psychology

That got me to thinking about the scientific process and these philosophical musings that Hoffman sculpted into this paper that makes no scientific case against reality and “Physicalism” - instead, the authors simply dismiss realism out right, using rhetorical fancy dancing and mathematical sleight of hand to conjure all pervading “conscious agents” that apparently do all our perceiving and thinking for us.  

It begged the question, who would publish such self-absorbed philosophizing, dressed up in a cloak of math, as a scientific journal worthy paper?  

Then I remembered this was “Frontiers of Psychology.”  Okay, the study of the landscape of our minds, far removed from physics.  Psychology is fine and good for what it is.  But that’s not the point.  

The point is that it has little to do with the natural sciences and the physical reality we are embedded within, the one Hoffman dismisses with such alacrity.

Then I got to wondering about Frontiers in Psychology which is part of the Frontiers’ group of Open Access Publisher and Open Science Platform journals.  

Objects of Consciousness avoiding the mountain lion.

Doing some research it didn’t take long to realize they are another example of the devil being in the details of a superficially noble effort, when it’s run by folks who’s dedication to earning profits and bonuses blinds them to their organization’s stated mission.

Of course, there are two sides, the folks earning their paychecks and the bonuses from Frontier defend it vigorously, perhaps too vigorously, thus adding another layer of justification to the label “Predatory Journals.”  It also seemed like a natural post to squeeze into this project.

Students’ Homework Resources: Introduction to Predatory Scientific Journals

Predatory publications in evidence syntheses

J Med Libr Assoc. 2019 Jan; 107(1): 57–61.

How do journals in the Frontiers series have such a (relatively) high impact factor?   


My collapse of confidence in Frontiers journals

Posted by deevybee , June 7, 2015

Why I do not trust Frontiers journals, especially not @FrontDigitalHum

July 21, 2015 ~ Melissa Terras

Is Frontiers a potential predatory publisher?

By Leonid Schneider  - October 28, 2015

Is Frontiers in Trouble?

January 15, 2016 MICAH

What I learned from predatory publishers

Jeffrey Beall - June 2017 - BiochemiaMedica

Frontiers: vanquishers of Beall, publishers of bunk

By Leonid Schneider, September 18, 2017

Why Beall’s blacklist of predatory journals died

Paul Basken, The Chronicle of Higher Education,  September 22, 2017

Is Frontiers Media a Predatory Publisher?

December 20, 2017 - DH Kaye - Flaky Academic Journals

Why Frontiers Should Retract Baumeister’s Critique of Carter’s Meta-Analysis

January 2, 2020 -

Stop Predatory Journals


Friday, December 18, 2020

Sabine Hossenfelder in Defense of Scientific Realism and Physical Reality

I appreciate it’s one thing when I dismiss Hoffman’s rendering of physics as disingenuous pipe-dreaming - it’s quite another when someone of Sabine Hossenfelder education, career and stature underscores some of the same points that have caused my cynicism toward Donald Hoffman's "Case Against Reality" - and that's driven this project in defense of Physical Reality.

Hossenfelder has never focused on Donald Hoffman and his ideas, but she does point out the invalidity of various physics tropes that Hoffman presents as settled science and uses as building blocks for his conjectures.   

I've watched many of her videos and though we have different world outlooks 

(she comes across as seeing progress as an end-all blessing - whereas I've gotten to view our obsessive blind progress for progress sake - as a deadly Siren Song that's ensnarled us oh so short sighted, self serving, and frightfully superficial humans).  There's no disputing her knowledge and expertise and skill at explaining complex physics to lay people.  That's why I’ve virtually invited her to be an expert witness on behalf of Defending Reality.

This is for the curious, the students of deception and deeper understanding, the few who are trying to figure it out.   Have at it.   Cc


Sabine Hossenfelder (born 18 September 1976) is a German author and theoretical physicist who researches quantum gravity. She is a Research Fellow at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies where she leads the Superfluid Dark Matter group. She is the author of Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray, which explores the concept of elegance in fundamental physics and cosmology.

Hossenfelder completed her undergraduate degree in 1997 at Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität in Frankfurt am Main.[3] She remained there for a Master's degree, and she wrote a thesis under the supervision of Walter Greiner titled "Particle Production in Time Dependent Gravitational Fields", which she completed in 2000.[4] Hossenfelder received her doctorate from the same institution in 2003, for the thesis "Black Holes in Large Extra Dimensions" under the supervision of Horst Stöcker.[5][6]

Physics is still in crisis

Jun 5, 2020  -  Sabine Hossenfelder  -  6:53 min

There has been no progress in the foundations of physics for 40 years. In my book "Lost in Math" I have explained why that is and what can be done about this. In this video, I briefly summarize the content of the book.

Physicists need to learn from their mistakes

Dec 6, 2020  -    Sabine Hossenfelder  -  14:58 min

In this interview, Sabine Hossenfelder details why the foundations of physics has not made any progress, why physicists need to learn from their mistakes, why they're practicing poor science and investigates the inconsistencies in some of our preassumed theories of physics.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

The Case For Reality: Because Apparently Someone Needs to Make One

This essay’s content fulfills the promise made by the spot on title of, The Case For Reality: Because Apparently Someone Needs to Make One,” and I feel compelled to supplement my meager arguments with these more substantive ones.  This is a complete and unedited reproduction of a review of Hoffman’s conjectures by an academic that knows much more than I do.  

The original essay can be found at the UCLA psychology doctoral students' Psychology In Action blog.

The field of psychology publishes interesting, important, and potentially life-altering information at a rapid rate, but most research findings rarely reach public awareness.  Psychology in Action is an organization formed by UCLA Psychology doctoral students to help ameliorate this issue through scientific communication. Our aim is to elaborate, connect, and help explain psychological research to community members and other interested parties outside of our field. …”


The Case For Reality: Because Apparently Someone Needs to Make One

Omar, April 26, 2016

This morning, I read an article on consciousness and physics ("The Case Against Reality" in The Atlantic). The beginning of the article starts off with a broad statement: That our senses aren’t completely accurate; that the world isn’t perfectly represented by them.

It's a relative statement so it’s not worth disagreeing with. That is, given the scope of our space telescopes and quantum detectors -- yeah, we do a crappy job of perceiving. But, compared to the capabilities of a jellyfish or just total blindness, we do a great job at perceiving reality.

But then the article goes on to describe: (1) that external reality simply isn't there, (2) our science is flawed for assuming so and trying to measure it, (3) that the brain doesn’t exist, because it’s "a classical object" according to quantum mechanics, and, (4) that the whole universe is "conscious observers" all the way down.

(D.Hoffman)  "I’m emphasizing the larger lesson of quantum mechanics: Neurons, brains, space … these are just symbols we use, they’re not real. It’s not that there’s a classical brain that does some quantum magic. It’s that there’s no brain!"

I will dive into why quantum doesn't imply this, later in the article. 

If there is any "larger lessons" to be drawn from the sciences, it would be that relying on intuitive argumentation (the main tool of academic philosophy) has historically ended up being wrong. 

The larger lesson of psychological sciences actually shows that intuition is easily misled and completely biased by experience.

The professor's stance is based on the idea that perfect objectivity doesn't exist, and therefore, by extension, pure subjectivity is all that exists. 

He uses physics to back up this idea.

First, let's clarify the physics details.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Paul Mealing considers Hoffman's "Objects of Consciousness."

 A few weeks back I read an excellent essay pointing out some of the issues with Hoffman’s conjectures.  At the time it was reassuring that I was on a right track.  Paul's clarity made me want to post this as an appendix item and I’m happy to finally be at that point.  I thank Paul for making it available.

Journeyman Philosopher by Paul P Mealing is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

The following is complete, unedited, (except for adding paragraph breaks and highlights), as Paul Mealing wrote it.


From the Journeyman Philosopher blog

Philosophy, at its best, challenges our long held views, such that we examine them more deeply than we might otherwise consider.

Paul P. Mealing

November 13, 2016

When evolution is not evolution

No, I’m not talking about creationism (a subject I’ve discussed many times on this blog) but a rather esoteric argument produced by Donald D Hoffman and Chetan Prakash in an academic paper titled Objects of Consciousness. Their discussion on evolution is almost a side issue, and came up in their responses to the many objections they’ve fielded. I read the paper when I was sent a link by someone who knows I’m interested in this stuff.

Donald Hoffman is a cognitive scientist with a Ph.D. in Computational Psychology and is now a full professor at University of California, Irvine. Chetan Prakash is a Professor Emeritus at California State University, San Bernardino and has a Master of Science in Physics and a Master of Science in Applied Mathematics.

I should point out at the outset, that their thesis is so out there, that I seriously wondered if it was a hoax. But given their academic credentials and the many academic citations and references in their paper, I assume that the authors really believe in what they’re arguing. 

And what they’re arguing, in a nutshell, is that everyone’s (and I mean every person’s) perception of the world is false, because, aside from conscious agents, everything else, including spacetime, is impermanent.

Their paper is 20 pages long (including 5-6 pages of objections and replies) most of which are densely worded interspersed with some diagrams and equations. To distill someone’s treatise into a single paragraph is always a tad unfair, so I’ll rely heavily on direct quotations and references to impart their arguments. Besides, you can always read the entire paper for yourself. Basically, they argue that ‘interacting conscious agents’ are the only reality and that nothing else exists ‘unperceived’. 

Friday, December 11, 2020

Prof Hoffman, Appendix - The Right to Be (Foolish) - Case Against Reality Revisited

In Defense of Scientific Realism and Down to Earth Physical Reality.

Besides my own edification, I've spent these weeks and months of effort hoping to produce a document of value for individuals (especially students) who recognize what a deliberate misadventure Hoffman's Case Against Reality is, but may not have the time to get into the weeds in order to recognize and think about his rhetorical fancy dancing, sleight of hand, and other tactics utilized by the professor.  



I didn't tackle this project because I was under any illusion of being able to help convert professor Hoffman, or any of the others who seem to drink up on this sort of fantasizing.  Erich von Daniken and his spacemen has come to mind, even more often was Elizabeth Holmes with her Theranos blackbox that was too good to be true, but in a world with little appreciation for biology, they lapped up the dream, to heck with reality, we're going to make money.  (Why be surprised so many deny the COVID virus.)

These past chapters are your road map highlighting the landmarks of rhetorical deception.  Since these contrarian sales pitches all follow basically the same script, you'll find these lessons valuable across the board - scroll to the bottom to find an index. 

Hoffman’s Case Against Reality assures us:

DH:  “Spacetime is your virtual reality.

The objects you see are your invention.  

You create them with a glance and destroy them with a blink.”  (10,¶91)

Hoffman bases this claim on his Fitness Beats Truth theorem which tells us that winning genes don’t code for “truth” they code for “fitness.”   

(click on the image for better viewing)

The professor never comes close to adequately defining his factors, “truth” and “fitness.”  "Fitness” makes intuitive sense, but “truth” is problematic. 

“Truth” has no place within the processes of our natural world; nor in the dance between geology and biology; nor within cumulative harmonic change over time that created this cornucopia Earth we inherited.  It's no wonder that "truth" loses in Hoffman's world.  

Fitness, accuracy, ‘close enough’ and luck, those are what matters out here.  “Truth” is a human construct, a product of our own conceptions and confined to our amazing, yet limited, mindscapes.  

A review of Donald Hoffman’s, Case Against Reality, 

Appendix, The Right to Be Wrong

(aka, Appeal to normalizing delusional thinking)

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Prof Hoffman #10c - Community - Playing Basketball In Zero-Gravity - Hoffmanian Conscious Agents (3/3)

In Defense of Scientific Realism and Down to Earth Physical Reality.

Consciousness is a Spectrum, Not a Thing.

Donald Hoffman in Case Against Reality:  “The rot of entropy is an implacable enemy of life, a purveyor of decay and death.”   (Chapter 10 ¶65)

Citizenschallenge:  What a profoundly sad way to perceive our reality and indeed the process of life itself?  As silly as having an absolute abhorrence of death.  Life and Evolution couldn’t exist without death.

Why doesn't Hoffman appreciate that without entropy the engine of life could never have been created to begin with?  No wonder Hoffman’s capable of dismissing physicalism, he’s never learned to appreciate real life processes!  It’s ALL philosophy and math to him.

What infuriates me, and which in turn has fueled me completing this tedious project, is his glib dismissal of physicalism which is the cornerstone of sober science for very good reasons.  

Why do so many stand by and enable such slander against serious science?

DH:  “Conscious Realism must pay another promissory note.  It must from first principles, describe precisely the dynamics of conscious agents, and show how this dynamics, when projected into the interface of Homo sapiens, appears as modern physics and Darwinian evolution.

This is a strong empirical constraint on the theory of agent dynamics:  Its projected into our spacetime interface must account for all the data that supports modern physics and evolution.”   (¶64)

For all his fanciful words, Hoffman never lives up to them.  

Also, in real science, an author is expected to be capable of fielding questions in good faith with substantive constructive answers related to said questions.  

But, from our correspondence and what I’ve read on the internet, Hoffman acts more like a politician.  Consistently forces the dialogue right back onto his train track, or one’s questions are ignored altogether.  

It’s supposed to be a learning process, but too often Hoffman is busy selling.

A review of Donald Hoffman’s, Case Against Reality, 

chapter 10c, Community: The Network of Conscious Agents

DH:  “A conscious agent enjoys a repertoire of experiences.  It networks with may other agents, which enjoy a stupefying variety of disparate repertoires.  So it cannot experience the vast majority of these exotic experiences.  This holds in particular for the hierarchy of agents that constitute it own instantiation.  

An agent simply lacks the resources to experience all the experiences of all the agents in its instantiation, even though those agents contribute to its very self.  An agent can at best wield its repertoire of experience to paint, with broad brush, a crude leptons of its instantiation