Re: Redheads descended from Neanderthals?

Date: Fri Feb 01 2002 - 12:42:11 EST

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    David Seimens wrote.

    With my e-mail program, I can't simply enter something identifiable as mine
    when I get a bar rather than >s. So I hope the italics comes through.

    My (WD) reply:
    AOL gives me all sorts of fancy gimmicks I can add,
    but I still cannot find any option that allows me to
    sent plain text. Perhaps I am also hampered here because
    it is all written in Japanese and the required configuration
    for it uses some expression and key words I'm not familiar

    I (WD) wrote:
        I agree that science is unlikely to have the capacity to
        decide what a sprit is, although, I do consider
        anthropology a respectable science, and evidence of
        altars and burials with "gifts" or "tools for the afterlife"
        certainly count as forms of spiritualness even if science
        itself cannot say what a spirit is. So anthropology can at
        least produce arguments suggesting that Neanderthals were

    Note what is going on here: recognizing cultic activity in a group, not
    recognizing any reality behind the activity. If anyone wants to deal with the
    supernatural, it cannot take this route,

    I do not claim that science can deal with the supernatural.
    I said "I agree that science is unlikely to have the capacity
    to decide what a sprit is..." I did add, "Although ..."
    but I then said what one science can clearly do. I think
    that science is informative about what is human and that it
    is useful in of itself, but _no_ it cannot say whether
    being human or doing human activities is meaningful or
    purposeful let alone whether any human activities of
    any kind has any connection whatsoever with anything
    that could be defined "supernatural".

    I (WD) wrote:
        Reductionism is used in science because it works _for
        the experiments that it applies to_. It would not
        apply to entangled spin systems, such systems are
        irreducible: or should I say, once you have "reduced"
        them, you've lost their information. That, at least,
        appears to be our current place on the map of
        understanding quantum mechanics. Critical phenomena is
        also a bit strange in that way, although perhaps not
        quite as bizarre as QM.

    In discussions with a physicist, I got the clear impression that reductionism
    runs the other direction. All macro phenomena are reduced to quantum physics,
    with chemistry and physics in turn explaining the phenomena of life, which in
    turn produce psychology and sociology. This is not the traditional
    "naturalistic" reductionism. Note that this approach requires emergence,
    though in principle the emergent properties are extensions of the deeper
    phenomena. Also, this is sophisticated enough to recognize that we are not
    reducing matters to generalizations of observations, but are dealing with the
    results of theory construction.

    Maybe this is some issue of semantics, but,
    I would not define your description as "reductionism".
    Reductionism seems better reserved for appeals to
    such things as hidden forces (that are entirely
    local in character) that some physicists have tried
    to use to explain quantum mechanics (QM). Such
    approaches (if true) would permit the physical problems
    associated with QM to be "reduced" mathematically to
    tractable deterministic problems (at least given you
    also have direct access to an account on the
    UltraGargantubrain of Triathius 5).

    On the other hand, quantum mechanics (at the level
    we presently understand it) suggests a world
    that is connected. Even the Ising model in
    is rather strange when you think about it. It is
    a model in which (theoretically speaking) spins light
    years distant from each other have instantaneous influence
    on each other and the weight of their influence is the same
    as that of their nearest neighbors. Taken collectively
    however, it the large numbers of interactions that allow
    parts of the system to become independent and yields a
    resulting correlation length and properties essentially independent of the
    spins that compose the model.

    Note that there is no mechanism proposed here to explain
    QM itself. It is fundamental. We simply build our model
    based upon its presumed existence and its proposed
    properties. Even if QM somehow could be shown to explain
    all of sociology and psychology, it still wouldn't explain
    what QM itself. If QM (a time and spatially independent
    phenomena!) produces this much fruit, then surely I don't
    see how that can be called "reductionist".

    I (WD) wrote:
        Look at it this way. If you only look at atoms, you cannot
        see that you have a crystal. If you only look at crystals
        you cannot see that you have a tile and if all you look at
        are tiles, you still cannot see that they are part of a
        breathtaking mosaic.

    This assumes that what one observes is the ultimate entity that needs to be
    considered, that there is no emergence. Further, what science deals with
    "breathtaking mosaic"? This argument does not touch sophisticated

    You might start with boundary conditions. I would say that
    the study of consciousness is pretty close to a "breathtaking
    mosaic" and that _does_ depend on the boundary conditions. If
    that fits your definition of "sophisticated reductionism", then
    so be it: I have misunderstood your word usage in that case.

    You may have the last word on this.

    By Grace we do proceed,

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