display | more...
Here's the problem with predicting reality on anything other than a stochastic basis:

1) When people talk about reality, they're usually talking about what they experience in their day-to-day life: their thoughts, other people, the influence of their society or culture, etc. Or so I think. Debate this if you want, but I think any reasonable definition of reality will lead to the conclusion below.

2) Society, culture, social norms, etc., all depend on the behavior of particular individuals. (Yes, they influence behavior as well, but never mind that now.)

3) The behavior of particular individuals depends on the pattern of neural firing within their brains, assuming you don't believe in some sort of soul. If you do, then...wait, I can do that too, although it's not as good as this. If you believe in a soul, see 4a below. (leighton's Choose Your Own Adventure JOURNEY THROUGH REALITY...).

4) For a particular neuron to fire in the brain, some critical amount of neurotransmitter must bind to its receptors after leaving the presynaptic neuron.

5) The movement of neurotransmitter from the presynaptic neuron to the postsynaptic receptors depends on a lot of factors, and while I don't know all that much about all of them, they include things like concentration, temperature, hydrogen-bonding, etc.

6) Neurotransmitters bind to receptors by hydrogen-bonding, and hydrogen-bonding depends on the positions and velocities of atoms within a molecule, BUT:

7) From what I remember of the implications of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, and God knows I'm going out on a limb here by saying this in a forum full of engineers and math/chem/physics majors, because I left my field of expertise halfway through point 6, although I do remember the uncertainty principle because it was one of the only really neat applications of math I've ever seen, and involved dividing by zero, which didn't make the world blow up as my math teacher always claimed it would, the lying bastard, but anyway you can't simultaneously determine the exact position and velocity of an atom.

So you can't ever predict with certainty whether a given neurotransmitter will bind to a given receptor, so you can't ever predict with certainty whether a particular neuron will fire, so you can't ever predict with certainty how a person will behave, so you can't ever predict with certainty what the underpinnings of reality--society, trends, whatever--will be.

You can only come up with probability estimates, not an equation or graph.

Neeners.

Thus I imbue mathematics with philosophy, or philosophy with mathematics, and all of it with a lot of Scheisse. That's what I learned as an undergrad; that's the one practical skill with which I graduated: the ability to spout massive amounts of BS that will stand up to the half-hearted examination of the course TA.

Oh:

4a) If you believe that neurobiology can't completely explain behavior because of the involvement of your soul, then you presumably believe that the soul is the source of some of your thoughts and behavior.

5a) You can never know or understand your soul entirely, no matter how hard you try (or at least that's what YHWH, Jesus, Allah, and so on tend to claim), either because it's a gift from the incomprehensible God, or because humans are imperfect and stupid, or because you haven't sent in your life savings to Jim Bakker, or whatever.

6a) If you can't fully understand anyone's soul, including your own--if you don't know all it contains--you can't predict with perfect accuracy what anyone's thoughts and actions will be.

Not as strong as the first, but then it involves religion and faith, so it won't be.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.