X-Message-Number: 25316
Date: Mon, 13 Dec 2004 19:47:09 -0800 (PST)
From: Scott Badger <>
Subject: Re: Responses to Mike Perry

Mike: Let's suppose we separate a cryopreserved brain into just two 
pieces, each of which could function as a QE.

Richard: It is not possible for there to be two of me. Therefore, there
are two possible outcomes from the result of this division: (1) I am in
one piece and not the other; or (2) I am in no piece, because I did not
survive the division.

Scott: Richard, your assertion here flies in the face of empirical
findings from split-brain research which sort of calls into question
your entire thesis. You referred to Gazzaniga's theory as a 'gross
error' basically calling him just another philosopher with another
theory of mind, but this is a clinical researcher and one of the most
eminent neurologists in the world, and he has plenty of research to
support his theory, not just abstract philosophical writings.

For those unfamiliar with this line of research, surgical
commissurotimies (severing of the corpus callosum) have been peformed
to ameliorate severe seizure disorders. The brain's hemispheres of
those patients were unable to communicate about anything except for low
level informtion through the brain stem. Researchers like Gazzaniga
were interested in how the hemispheres differed. The most surprising
consequence was that, on casual inspection, the patients didn't seem to
act very differently at all. But upon closer inspection, very
significant difference were identified.

The great majority of patients exhibited a left hemisphere with
language capabilites that would speak for the entire brain even though
it didn't really know what the right brain was thinking'. Some have
suggested that consciousness cannot exist without language, but split
brain studies challenge that notion.

Most of the right hemispheres of split brain patients can respond to
queries and directives, but only by using nonverbal communication. And
even more dramatically, there have been rare individuals with right
brains that have developed language capabilities such that they can
actually talk and respond verbally as well as the right hemisphere
does. The amazing thing about this research is that you can ask the
left brain and then the right brain of a person the same question and
they'll give different answers. Take the case of Paul whose right brain
had language capabilities:

"Instead of wondering whether or not Paul's right hemisphere was
sufficiently powerful to be dubbed conscious, we were now in a position
to ask Paul's right side about its views on matters of friendship,
love, hate, and aspirations. 'Who are you?' He writes: 'Paul.' 'Where
are you?' He writes: 'Vermont.' 'What do you want to be?' He writes:
'Automobile racer.' When the left hemisphere was asked this same
question, he wrote (with his right hand), 'Draftsman.'"


In addition, it's been discovered that the left brain (the one that
produces all the narrative in your mind and that you identify as being
you) is less veridical than the right brain which has no voice but
apparently serves to temper the predisposition of the left brain's
impulse to construct falsities. Here's an excerpt:

"We then asked the left hemisphere - the only one that can talk - why
the left hand was pointing to the object [recall that the left hand is
controlled by the right brain]. It really did not know, because the
decision to point to the card was made in the right hemisphere. Yet,
quick as a flash, it made up an explanation. We dubbed this creative,
narrative talent the interpreter mechanism." 

[several experiments show that the left brain comes up with whatever
story makes the most sense to it to explain what's happening in the
rest of the brain. This is why Gazzaniga called it the 'Interpreter'.
I'll add that Gazzaniga discusses the evolutionary advantage of the

"This fascinating ability has been studied recently to determine how
the left hemisphere interpreter affects memory. Elizabeth A. Phelps of
Yale University, Janet Metcalfe of Columbia University and Margaret
Funnell, a postdoctoral fellow at Dartmouth College, have found that
the two hemispheres differ in their ability to process new data. When
presented with new information, people usually remember much of what
they experience. When questioned, they also usually claim to remember
things that were not truly part of the experience. If split-brain
patients are given such tests, the left hemisphere generates many false
reports. But the right brain does not; it provides a much more
veridical account."


Regardless, the preponderance of evidence indicates that the brain's
hemisphere's can be functionally separated and the result is two
separate minds, each with its own perception and analysis of the world
and each with its own internal subjective experiences ... i.e. each
with its own QE. One might claim that the right brain is not 'as
conscious' as the left, or one might say that the right brain is
'differently conscious' but one could not say with any support that
there are not two separate conscious entities residing in the same
skull after such an operation.

So is Richard's construct, the QE, merely damaged after a split-brain
operation or is it destroyed entirely and two new QEs created inside
the same brain?

If we maintain that a QE cannot exist without the physical structure
necessary to manifest it, then clearly that physical structure exists
in both the right and the left hemispheres, although those hemispheres
provide the QEs with differing cognitive skills.

Best regards,


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