Re: Redheads descended from Neanderthals?

From: David F Siemens (
Date: Fri Feb 01 2002 - 18:48:47 EST

  • Next message: 中国股市在线: "不求最好,但愿更好。中国股市在线欢迎您!个人理财顾问,证券投资专家。"

    Thanks for trying. I suspect that we shall have to agree to disagree. I
    don't know if I'll be able to connect during the next week. I'm onthe
    road, and some places have a connection I can use, but some don't.

    On Fri, 1 Feb 2002 12:42:11 EST writes:
    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

    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,

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Fri Feb 01 2002 - 19:44:38 EST