Dogmatism, ego, and elite of mental images
I have had many very useful discussions in Facebook with people who represent scientific establishment. This establishment defines itself by a collection of shared basic beliefs. In natural sciences the most important pillars of dogmatism shared by various schools are following.
- Physicalism and naive length scale reductionism are key dogmas. Particle physicist would say that the only interesting things to learn about physics are below LHC length scale. Biology and neuroscience and even less condensed matter physics, chemistry, or nuclear physics involve nothing, which could not be understood in terms of recent physics. Saying "just complex" or "dirty" is the convenient manner to get rid of the unpleasant feeling that maybe there might be still something to be discovered.
- Consciousness is some totally uninteresting tiny effect possibly interesting for a cognitive scientist but not for a person with wider interests. Consciousness has no causal powers and there is no free will. Some dogmatists even deny the existence of consciousness. I must say that this leaves me speechless.
- Quantum mechanics is complete. In particular, there are absolutely no problems involved with quantum measurement theory. Furthermore, the world is in some miraculous manner completely classical above some scale and quantum theory has nothing to say about living matter and brain.
- Locality is one of the basic beliefs. Despite the fact that these scientists themselves are concrete examples about coherent biochemistry in macroscopic scales, the belief is that non-locality is impossible.
- Modern science is just applications of algorithms ("shut-up and calculate"): all important discoveries have been made.
My intuitive view is that this cognitive rigidity of people identifying themselves as members of establishment relates to the notion of ego, and I have become keenly interested on why ego preservation is so central for consciousness and can create so extreme rigidity that no new idea can get through. Tragically, often just those persons, who would have the tools to develop new ideas further, are the most rigid ones. These intellectually rigid persons rarely have or bother to explain any ideas of their own. They just defend their basic dogmas by attacking anyone with something new using arguments, which are mixtures of personal insults and shallow text book statements.
Fortunately, this is not a completely general phenomenon: certain people often regarded as "weird" by so called "normal" individuals, creative person - artists and sometimes even academic scientists - are able to learn new things and get enthusiastic about new ideas. Unfortunately, most academic people however freeze after they have learned the basic algorithms defining their research profile and allowing to produce personal curriculum vitae.
The frozen ones isolate themselves from "revolutionaries" like me so that it is difficult to find "research material" to test this view, so to say. Web and in particular FB, has however changed the situation. I have had many discussions with patients suffering this cognitive paralysis. For instance, I have learned to know theoretical physicists who quite literally continue live the era of of some fad dead long time ago: GUTs, superstrings, or M-theory. Interestingly, there exists even a brain disorder in which time literally stops: the patient can have exactly the same contents of consciousness for decades. The worst - and really tragic - example about intellectual paralysis was a person just repeating "You are a crackpot" as a reaction to any comment of mine.
I naturally want to understand this mental freezing phenomenon using the notions of TGD inspired theory of consciousness. This freezing has been of course observed also by others during millenia and ego is the popular notion used to explain it. Ego wants to stay as it is and defends itself vigorously against anything new. But what is this ego and why this defensive attitude?
TGD inspired proposal is that ego is a collection of highly stabilized mental images defining the personal belief system - kind of elite of mental images, the upper class. Mental images are sub-selves, living creatures, and need metabolic energy. The problem is that also the new mental images want it! The elite fights desperately to preserve the status quo and simply kills the newcomers. The person attacking me using personal insults is actually defending his mental images against incomers, which quite literally threaten the life of the internal cognitive elite. In the case of religious fanaticism, even the person representing different beliefs might be killed.
At quantum criticality the situation changes. The system is in the middle of revolution and stable but often old and tired mental images (also mental images get old!) can suddenly lose their metabolic resources for the vital newcomers. Only people, who can tolerate continual quantum criticality meaning continual cognitive revolution, can avoid the mental paralysis.
Selves form a hierarchy and this applies both at all levels. Proteins define an excellent example: they are frozen to a folded state most of the time and only in presence of external energy feed unfold and re-self-organize (I have called this brief revolutionary period cellular summer). Same repeats itself at the level of entire society.
For a summary of earlier postings see Latest progress in TGD.