Friday, July 15, 2005
ID, Dembski, Quantum Mechanics and Neuroscience
Over the years, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, and other phenomena associated with quantum mechanics such as nonlocal behaviour, along with the general and special theories of relativity have revolutionized the field of physics.
At the same time, these ideas have been distorted by a strange assortment of hucksters, conmen, and quacks to add a certain scientific luster to parnormal phenomena such as ESP, New Age medicine, quantum healing, out of body experiences, and distant viewing.
Not surprisingly, intelligent design "theorists" have now come to a new appreciation -- if not understanding -- of quantum mechanics, as well.
On his Uncommon Descent blog, ID theorist William Dembski is plugging a paper published by "[m]y good friend and colleague Jeffrey Schwartz (along with Mario Beauregard and Henry Stapp) ... in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society that challenges the materialism endemic to so much of contemporary neuroscience. By contrast, it argues for the irreducibility of mind (and therefore intelligence) to material mechanisms.
The title of the paper is, "Quantum Physics in Neuroscience and Psychology: A Neurophysical Model of Mind–Brain Interaction."
Here's the abstract:
You can read the paper here.
Neuropsychological research on the neural basis of behaviour generally posits that brain mechanisms will ultimately suffice to explain all psychologically described phenomena. This assumption stems from the idea that the brain is made up entirely of material particles and fields, and that all causal mechanisms relevant to neuroscience can therefore be formulated solely in terms of properties of these elements. Thus, terms having intrinsic mentalistic and/or experiential content (e.g. ‘feeling’, ‘knowing’ and ‘effort’) are not included as primary causal factors. This theoretical restriction is motivated primarily by ideas about the natural world that have been known to be fundamentally incorrect for more than three-quarters of a century. Contemporary basic physical theory differs profoundly from classic physics on the important matter of how the consciousness of human agents enters into the structure of empirical phenomena. The new principles contradict the older idea that local mechanical processes alone can account for the structure of all observed empirical data. Contemporary physical theory brings directly and irreducibly into the overall causal structure certain psychologically described choices made by human agents about how they will act. This key development in basic physical theory is applicable to neuroscience, and it provides neuroscientists and sychologists with an alternative conceptual framework for describing neural processes. Indeed, owing to certain structural features of ion channels critical to synaptic function, contemporary physical theory must in principle be used when analysing human brain dynamics. The new framework, unlike its classic-physics-based predecessor, is erected directly upon, and is compatible with, the prevailing principles of physics. It is able to represent more adequately than classic concepts the neuroplastic mechanisms relevant to the growing number of empirical studies of the capacity of directed attention and mental effort to systematically alter brain function.
According to his bio on the International Society for Complexity, Information and Design, Dr. Schwartz is a seminal thinker. "He received an honors degree in philosophy from the University of Rochester, and in the 1970s began to immerse himself in Buddhist philosophy--in particular, the philosophy of mindfulness, or conscious awareness. This is the idea that the mind is an active participant in the world, and that when the actions of the mind have an effect on the workings of the brain. It became his goal to find a scientific underpinning for the belief that mindfulness affects how the brain works."
Oddly, there is no mention of any degree (or study of) physics.
Deepak Chopra move over. Can ID's embrace of crystals be far behind?