Monday, May 02, 2016

Inverse Research on Decisions Shows Instinct Makes Us Behave Like Cyborgs, not Robots: Really?


I learned about an interesting work, which relates to the relationship of experienced time and geometric time but ortodoxically assumes that these two and one and the same thing. The title of the popular article was Inverse Research on Decisions Shows Instinct Makes Us Behave Like Cyborgs, not Robots (see this). It tells about the work of Adam Bear and Paul Bloom. The article claims that our mind for some mysterious-to-me reason tricks us to believe that were are responsible for totally automatic or reflexive behaviours. In fact, these behaviors by definition are such that we do not feel of being responsible for them. Bear how allows us some subconscious free will so that we are not programmed robots but cyborgs whatever that might mean.

This work is an excellent example about how a dominating paradigm, which is wrong, leads to wrong interpretation of experimental findings, which as such are correct. The standard belief in neuroscience and standard physics is that causal effects propagate always in the same direction of the geometric time. This interpretation follows from the identification of geometric time (time of physicist) with subjective time. This despite the fact that these times have very different properties: consider only reversibility viz. irreversibility, existence of both future and past viz. only past exists.

The classical experiments of Libet challenge this dogma. Person decides to raise finger but neuro-activity begins fraction of second earlier. Mainstream neuroscientist of interprets this by saying that there is no free will. Second proposed interpretation is that the decision is made earlier at subconscious level and at our level the experience of free will is an illusion. One can of course wonder why this illusion.

The third manner to interpret the situation respects our immediate experience that we indeed have free will but in order to avoid mathematical contradictions must be accompanied by a new more general view about quantum physics accepting as a fact that there are two causalities: that of free will and that of deterministic laws of field equations. In TGD framework Zero Energy Ontology realizes this view. The outcome is prediction of signals which can propagate in both directions of geometric time. If the conscious decision generates a signal to geometric past it initiates a neural activity in geometric past. An excellent tool for survival in jungle or in modern market economy full or merciless predators.

In the experiment considered subject persons saw five dots and selected one. One of the dots became red with a varying time lag but subject person did not know when. Subject person had to tell whether her choice had been correct, wrong, or whether she had failed to make any choice at all before the change took place.

The surprising observation was that the shorter the time interval from the guess to change of color to red was, the better the reported ability to guess correctly was and in conflict with statistical model based on fixed arrow of time. If information can travel backwards in geometric time, the natural interpretation would be the same as in Libet's experiments and in the experiments of say Radin and Bierman claimed to demonstrate precognition. This is possible in zero energy ontology (ZEO). ZEO allows also a slightly different interpretation relies. In ZEO in which mental images correspond to causal diamonds (CDs). For sensory mental images their time scale would be of order .1 seconds so that below this scale one cannot anymore put events in precise time order and one indeed has precognition. What this means that one does not know whether the sensory input corresponds to the "upper" or "lower" boundary of CD so that these interpretations are equivalent.

Neuroscientist cannot of course publicly utter the word "precognition" associating immediately with really dirty word "paranormal". The orthodox conclusion is that subject persons are "cheating" themselves without knowing it. Very bizarre interpretation - if taken completely seriously it forces to question all our knowledge! One can also ask, why the subjects would tend to cheat themselves when the change occurred immediately after their choice: why not always? The interpretation is a heroic attempt to save the standard world view but can we accept irrational heroism in science?

A simple modification of the experiment would be an addition of a keystroke telling the choice when it was done and before the change in color. This would immediately tell whether something like precognition was involved.

For background see the chapter About the nature of time of "TGD Inspired Theory of Consciousness" or the article Questions related to the notions of self and time.

For a summary of earlier postings see Latest progress in TGD.

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