16 May 2010
Ok, this is what a lot of you have been waiting for, and with very good reason! Get your thinking hats on, turn off your phones, get a nice cup of tea, clear your schedule, and bring forth your scientific aspect. In this podcast episode, B. Alan Wallace, Ph.D., will be delving into topics such as the nature of information, mind and matter as a derivative of information, the placebo effect, its connection to the flow of experience/information in relation to human existence, and oh, why not: quantum cosmology (just to name a few).
This is the main episode, and I will add a second episode with two semi-short followups from the next day.
I will not do any paraphrasing of information here, but I will try to list a few of the topics that come up in each part. Keep in mind that I will only list the main topics (not the topics in between topics), and perhaps not even all of them. This superanswer stems out of a question from Noah, who asked Alan to clarify a point from a previous day in which he mentioned that the information stored in his computer was “above and beyond” just a complex configuration of chemicals and electricity. The question asks for an explanation of the term “information” and how it can be causally efficacious.
This part starts with a synopsis on the elegant Buddhist hypothesis of human existence as a flow of experience and information, before the division of mind and body. Then, we go into a discussion of the nature of information, followed by a well-supported rejection of assuming the categorical error “subjective experience arises from the brain” which predominates in modern science, leading to the so called “hard problem of consciousness,” which Alan then briefly discusses. This is followed by a very sharp analysis of the placebo effect in relation to human existence as a flow of experience and information, and why 50 years of modern science have failed to explain how it works. As we approach the end of the podcast, Alan shows how much of the modern scientific research on the mind has been hindered because of the fact that if you ask physical questions, you are going to get physical answers. Observing with physical instruments will lead to physical phenomena.
To end majestically, Alan uses an example from Stephen Hawkins in order to relate this to the whole cosmos. Stephen Hawkins said (about the big bang and the current cosmological theory), something along the lines of “That story is based on the type of questions you were posing, and all of the questions you were posing were physical questions based on physical measurements.” A macrocosmic projection of the last 400 years in the development of science.
I will stop my attempt at paraphrasing here, in order to let you listen to the end of this last part without my measly commentary. I will just say (you know me by now) that it was the most mind-blowing of all of the information we have received thus far.
The image used on the web and on the podcast file is the HUBBLE ULTRA DEEP FIELD. , the deepest portrait of the visible universe ever achieved by humankind.
Credit: NASA, ESA, S. Beckwith (STScI) and the HUDF Team.
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