X-Message-Number: 8228
From:  (Thomas Donaldson)
Subject: Re: CryoNet #8221 - #8223
Date: Tue, 20 May 1997 23:32:47 -0700 (PDT)

Hi again!

Easy first:

Yes, Kitty, you should be able to be suspended an indefinite number of times.
It's that which makes cryonics so powerful: every time someone develops a 
problem we don't know how to solve AT THAT TIME, suspend them to wait for
a solution rather than simply throwing them away.

And now for Perry:

I will not retract my comment about word games. Yes, I've read Popper myself,
too. I think it a bit dogmatic to divide the ideas on consciousness so 
easily into "religion" and "science". Not only that, but it's not always 
obvious just what constitutes a "disproof" of a hypothesis; moreover the
simple statement of a hypothesis has value, even if its not at first clear
how to disprove it.

As an example, consider cosmology. There seem to be several problems:
apparently lots of missing mass, no sign that protons decay so far, and 
others. Does that mean that cosmology is not a science because we cannot
decide NOW between several alternatives? (That would make DOING science
rather hard: if every time I formulated a hypothesis I had to provide 
a practical way to disprove it. After all, even if only for 5 minutes, I
might not think of a way).

Furthermore, although I may have misunderstood you, I understood that you
were proposing that Ettinger lived in a simulated world, and Ettinger
was arguing that he did not. If it's YOUR hypothesis that he lives in 
a simulated world, can you provide means to disprove it?

Here is an idea of how we might prove or disprove some ideas about 
consciousness. We assume, not as a matter of religion but because we
know that we are conscious, that normal people are conscious. So how does
this work? Well, we take person X, and see what parts of his brain are
active when he is appears conscious to us, and what parts are not. If
some parts are always active whenever he is conscious, and fail to be
active when he is not, then that suggests these brain areas play a
role in his consciousness. Since we can now image brains, even if only
dimly, we can even show X these active areas when he is conscious. And
if the same areas show up as active in Y, Z, S, T, etc, then we have
good evidence that these areas are among those producing consciousness.

Clearly if X is UNconscious we cannot show him that these areas are NOT
active. However we could, for instance, make a movie of these areas,
and show it to him later. If X agrees that there is a very close       
match between activity in these brain areas and HIS OWN FEELING of 
consciousness, then we've shown TO X that these areas relate. Show 
the same to Y,Z,S,T etc and see if they too agree. We know that our
brain anatomies at that high level coincide closely, from which we
can conclude that we ALL are conscious when these areas are active.
Or, for Popper, if this does NOT happen then these areas either don't
always underlie consciousness, or never underlie consciousness.

In any case, ideas about how we or the world work do not divide so
easily into religion and science as you seem to think. Popper's notions
should be taken not as a definition of what science must be but as 
one test among several we can apply to find out if a discussion is or
is not scientific. Cosmologists are trying to do science, even if
they cannot always tell us right now how to falsify their ideas. So
too are neuroscientists when they study consciousness; and that
study is important for us because it may tell us just what parts of
our brain are crucial to our survival and what parts are not.

			Long long life,

				Thomas Donaldson

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