This week I witnessed an intense debate for and against the idea of afterlife. I proposed a view quite different from the usual extremes:
Actually, as I near 70th birthday, a year after cancer surgery, I experience a more practical reason to be more concrete about how I view death in my personal planning.
Most people fall into the usual trap of a bias towards black or white thinking on the issue.
I really like Connie Willis's inspired novel Passages on the issue of life after death, from a more sensitive and less formal black and white viewpoint. She does not endorse the Mickey mouse mundane view that "nothing at all survives death ever" but deeply and sensitively disputes the naive idea that we are the same after death, that we appear as our normal selves in some Bardo or other, to be judged where to walk with our normal two legs.
If in reality we as individuals are a symbiosis or "alchemical marriage" of mundane body and "soul" (which is easier for me to fit with science and with experience both), then of course after death we are missing something quite serious. How serious? It varies from person to person. As Bennett says, in his book popularizing Gurdjieff, which I translate as: "If you have important data to save, put it on hard disk."
For this blog, I should go further on a few obvious questions.
First, I never joined any of the various Gurdjieff schools or groups. At Harvard graduate school, I had two very close friends who did – one a fellow graduate student in the El primo scholarship based in France, set up by ouspensky, and another an undergraduate in the number two group based on Bennett in England. I did read all three of Gurdjieff’s books, and one by Bennett and ouspensky each.
Second, what can I say about the specific methods they propose for “putting your data (and other key information) on hard disk, more permanent storage”? Those schools had their own incredible personality issues and distractions and red herrings; I do not endorse all of that. Above all, in discussing ethics or the meaning of life, gurdjieff suggested (as a very rough generalization) that people go through three levels of spiritual motivation as they mature: “to know, to do, to be.”
Yes, a lot of folks get frozen out as they pursue dry academic “knowledge” about life beyond the mundane. After a period of intense exploration by experiment (“to do”), they settle down to what matters objectively here (to be?). But in fact, it is usually not natural for a creature evolved from natural selection (on earth or in a larger ecology) to care only about prolongation of its own personal existence.
(E.O.Wilson’s book Sociobiology has some important gaps but deserves a lot more respect than the ideologues would allow it.) Thus is why I hesitate to say much more about the two core serious subgoals gurdjieff presents, the most reliable part of his approach: (1) “crystallization,” simply raising intelligence and knowledge in “the soul” based on mental challenges overlapping with the challenges we use to improve our brains; and (2) connection, in which we, like neurons within a brain, develop strong and energetic connections with other souls of the earth, ideally the earth as a whole.
Maybe these two are not so risky, if one remembers that they both require a high degree of honesty and altruism, higher emotional intelligence, without which many types of catastrophic breakdown can occur.
To that list I posted a few more details in another context:
I am depressed that anyone on this list would reassure us with absolute total conviction that paranormal connections exist only in a tiny fraction of humanity, somewhere less than .01%. Work in Dean's community, and in western mystical disciplines, suggests that this is false. Priest kings following the tradition of ancient Sumeria have used that lie, and claims of their divinity, to control and repress both brains and souls, for millennia -- most recently support by a follower of Ayn Rand, Mercer, of Ted Cruz, as a cynical way to subvert democracy. (Just search Google news!) As with mathematics ability, another discipline of the mind, DNA does matter, but training (intensity and quality) matters more, and the abilities aren't so strictly personal as the priest kings seem to imagine.
Once again, I highly recommend the article "Are we a nation of mystics?" by Greeley and McCready (sp?), reprinted in Goleman anthology Consciousness, which everyone on this list should own. (I bought it for $1 used on amazon.)
From what I have seen, paranormal abilities have some analogy to mathematical abilities. Dean rightly notes that only a small fraction of the people who come to him for testing show dramatic and reliable results, though 30% show something memorable. The classic book Mind Race by Puthoff and Targ sounds similar, and highlights two very special subjects, Swann and Price.
But what if Dean were testing for understanding of the mathematics of general relativity? The percentage of reasonable understanding would be even less -- but would be very much a function of education. Many people who COULD understand the basics of general relativity never do, because their education and motivation does not lead them there. Education in basic mathematics and general relativity is far more available than education in how to use inner powers of mind. Yoga, AND people like Dean and Julia, have the potential to help close the gap. In truth, I wish for a world where both types of education are more prevalent and effective-- and I believe they support each other because discipline of the mind works best in am integrated way.
I have also been recently near the places of Carl Jung, and people who spoke about the synergy of music, Mathematics and mysticism.
Friday, July 21, 2017
This week I witnessed an intense debate for and against the idea of afterlife. I proposed a view quite different from the usual extremes:
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Part one, reply to a guy from the Vedanta list:
On Wed, Jun 7, 2017 at 6:10 AM, '... wrote (to someone else on the list):
[S.P.] I repeat for the second time: electric impulses (or the physical sensory signals) have nothing to do with my writing the replies. My reply is a product of my consciousness. Second. Electric impulses do not carry information.
Thus, when you say about incompleteness of machines, it perhaps can be construed that it is part of the Evolutionary transition, as everything else.Maybe. I see it as a step toward the contemplation era. Today we are in the "production era".
A Hardware Update for the Human Brain
From Silicon Valley startups to the U.S. Department of Defense, scientists and engineers are hard at work on a brain-computer interface that could turn us into programmable, debuggable machines
Before Borghard received a brain implant, she was having as many as 400 “spikes” of seizure-like activity a day, along with multiple seizures. This unrelenting storm of abnormal neural activity turned her teenage years into a semiconscious nightmare.
See: Regular Cycles of Forward and Backward Signal Propagation in Prefrontal Cortex and in Consciousness, by Paul Werbos and Yeshua (J.J.) Davis, Front. Syst. Neurosci., 28 November 2016. (Note the clickable link to the open access paper.) It is "can do" manipulative intervention no more justified than the frontal lobotomies which once were popular.
Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Sunday, June 4, 2017
Trump has stated that he is not (currently) taking a stand against constructive action on climate change, but that the Paris agreement was a bad deal. He said something like: “I now invite climate change people, including even Democrats, to come work with me on something more effective.” After the experience with health care, it is understandable that many people have reason not to take him at his word, but if we do not try to take the moral highground here we will share in the blame for what happens, which in my view could kill us all.
It is understandable that many people believe that climate change is not important enough to distract us from other more serious issues, such as the dangers of new wars, especially serious when some folks would push us into a war between US and Israel versus Russia and Iran, in much the same way as they calmly pushed us into a war with Iraq under Cheney. In 2009, working for Senator Specter (one of the few people who gave priority to the search for truth over PR advocacy for selected external groups), I was impressed by the conclusions of the International IPPC effort, which estimated that “business as usual” energy policy would result in a 5% loss to world GNP in 2100 due to climate change — not exactly a matter of life or death to the world as a whole.
However, there were serious loose ends in everyone’s understanding back then, and I did wonder about John Kerry’s forceful argument that we should pay serious attention to the “25% probability that Hansen might be right, that the Antarctic might start to melt, resulting in sea level damage much worse than the base case.” Kerry argued “even a 25% probability of something that bad requires.. precautionary principle.” In the second half of my recent paper, , I review the new information which has forced me to be MUCH more worried now. A big crack is starting to fissure right now, this month, in the Antarctic, following Hansen’s worst case scenario (as did the retirement process applied to Hansen himself) — and, even worse, the crucial currents which bring oxygen to the Pacific ocean have shut down. THE PROBLEM IS NOT GLOBAL WARMING; THE PROBLEM IS ANTARCTIC WARMING. So far as I know, global warming elsewhere is a problem no more serious than what IPCC IV depicted, on the whole, but Antarctic warming has the potential to literally kill all humans on earth, if one looks with hard eyes at the system of system effects in operation now.
And so: if President Trump wants to do something more useful than the Paris accords, focused directly on keeping us all alive at minimum possible cost, he does have an opportunity to work with Democrats to take positive action, to propose a new international partnership on something much smaller on cost but much bigger on value. More precisely, he could offer to lead a new international coalition apply the Teller/Caldeira/Wood geoengineering scheme NOT to cool the earth, but specifically to cool the Antarctic, under a strategic effort focused on restoring the oxygen-bringing ocean currents at the soonest possible time.
Of course, Ed Teller was far from a fuzzy-headed left winger. If anyone here does not know his name, I sure hope you will do a web search; even dead, he is still a person whom everyone in energy should know about. Lowell Wood, his former science advisor, is still alive, and I have often hoped that Trump would consider him for OSTP — someone compatible with Trump’s general attitudes but deeply competent. At , an important site for energy and environment research, it is reported that total global cooling by geoengineering would cost only $700 million per year. That may be low (as most cost estimates at this stage are, for aerospace projects or for nuclear power plants, etc.), but compare that with the $500 billion per year in substantive “allowances” which the Obama climate bills would have given out.
People who wanted that $500 billion per year were understandably violently worried about the risk that right-wingers would do something so cheap instead (even if geoengineering the Antarctic ended up costing, say, $2 billion per year to be split across all the nations now working together in Antarctica). Would this hurt the politics of the effort to get other larger actions, such as laws which force greater use of renewable energy? But maybe we have wasted too much energy on political double-think and triple-think. Yes, if Trump offers this to Democrats, some of them may object because of such calculations, but by taking the moral highground and making the offer sincere and visible to everyone, the worst risk would be that he would strengthen his position politically. Those of us who truly recognize the nature and urgency of the problem would not hesitate to save our lives, regardless of other considerations. (Waxman type bills are not the most realistic way to move renewables faster in any case.)
Does anyone see any hope of making this kind of middle way opportunity more visible in serious political circles? Or will we just waste our time in useless ego wars and mutual posturing? I wish Specter were still part of this game, but if anyone knows Murkowski or Collins or Cantwell…
Saturday, June 3, 2017
One question. Do you think the experiences Rishis had in meditation are similar to those under psychedelic drugs even though most of them could not have taken these drugs? Your description of Mukti is much more general than Vedic concepts of liberation of soul etc. Well, quantum mechanics may not be a path to mukti! But it sounds like a bridge to non-sensory world. Though, of course, the story is unfinished yet. Many people challenge even the existence of non-sensory world.
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Monday, May 29, 2017
If I understand you correctly, you are reviewing and applying a three-fold classification of knowledge into: (1) knowledge based on direct personal experience (essentially, the flow of direct sensory inputs) to a person; (20 knowledge based on what we impute the experience of others to be, and (3) knowledge based on logical reasoning. As I recall, some parts of the Upanishads suggest that mystical enlightenment, the seeing of the world through many eyes at once ( i.e. the brahman/Atman viewpoint), appears as a manifestation it extension of the third principle, the reasoning.
In 1964, that was my interpretation of what I saw in the Upanishads and in reality. It seemed more elevated and pleasing and logical than the "yoga alternative," present in other parts of the Upanishads, in which enlightenment could be seen "merely" as an extension or manifestation if the first type of knowledge, the direct and substantive personal experience. Sometimes an abstract concept or representation is of real value only to the extent that it "opens our eyes," by enlarging what we consciously see, expanding the power of the direct personal experience. That is how I see this now, after many years of reassessing based on all three types of knowledge.
On netlix there was one great season of a show called "sense8," which ultimately failed commercially (perhaps due to unnecessary confusion and baggage related to sex) but which did contain beautiful images of what it means to see through many eyes at once.
This is not just an academic issue. At the present stage of development of the economy and technology of humanity, the species itself us under very clear threat to its very existence, and traditional concepts of balance of power may not be enough to offer us hope of a sustainable resolution of deep conflicts of ideas. The yogic approach in general (which has manifestations in all the great cultures of the world) is more and more essential, and of course in need of more advanced development.
Just as parts of the ocean nay be mapped according to depth and longitude, not just latitude, the ocean of knowledge can also be mapped according to other dimensions in addition to .., .. and .. For example, there is great value in being mindful of the distinction between knowledge which takes the form of strings of words, versus knowledge which takes a form like images in fields of neurons exactly as we see in the brains and minds of other mammals who do not use words. A key part of the yogic approach, and of some enlightened aspects of Confucianism (like Meng Tzu's concepts of zhengqi), is to respect always the nonverbal "half" of our minds. Professor James Anderson of Brown has compared the formal "half" to a "new but still buggy alpha version of software." It gives a great extension to the power of the mind, but we do need to get the bugs out, and put it into proper relation with the bigger, older part.
I apologize that the title may remind you of fuzzy new age stuff which I disagree with as vehemently as anyone does ( in part because I am a perfectionist by nature). Please don't try to guess what I have learned just this past week.
Still, I do start from a kind of bedrock belief in the core of Quaker Universalism. Quaker universalists believe that the same greater living spirit (or spirits, depending on how you count) have been active all over the earth, and has had valid expression and manifestation beyond the mundane aspects of culture all over the earth. And thus, "our spiritual heritage" is the combined heritage of all of humanity, not just the Christian roots which Quakerism started with (and retains). We are called to learn as deeply as we can from all major parts of that heritage -- and certainly we try to learn to see through the eyes of "people of the book," from core mystics like yogins and sufis and Buddhists and Western mystical traditions, as well as Daoism and Confucianism. And also from shamans and the most interesting traditions of native Americans in general.
But let me get straight to Tlingits and quantum physics, and say more later about the context.
In Alaska this month we had many contacts with Tlingit people, from a mix of native and hybrid culture. For example, we heard from a Tlingit who later became an official ranger, and spoke for an hour on the Holland America cruise ship we took from Seward to Vancouver in the final third of our Alaska trip from May 14 to May 29, today.
Alaska today has a population something like half a million people, half of who live in Anchorage. The Tlingits of Alaska, ranging from yakutak to ketchikan along the Pacific coast, had a serious Civilization based in long-distance trade, with a population greater gan modern Anchorage, just a few centuries ago -- but a series of tragedies cut it back an order of magnitude.
The Tlingits were deeply upset by the ruthless behavior of the Russian fur merchants who first oppressed them (not unlike Spanish fortune hunters we heard about in Peru last year), but they much preferred the open ecumenixal and respectful attitudes of Russian Orthodox priests over those of Presbyterian missionaries, who, while Christian in their way, were dedicated to smashing and breaking the core tlingit culture, stories, language and traditions. Many people told us of how tlingit chiefs banded together to request Russian Orthodox churches and clergy to come to Alaska, and expand their presence, because they did not want their heritage to be erased from the earth. (For example, 2 conversations in St Nicholas church in Juneau, where they preserved primary sources.)
The ranger on the cruise ship told us especially of a tlingit story told to him by his grandparents when he was growing up in yakutak, a story of two brothers lost at sea who in despair, many times, prayed both to their ancestors and to the creatures of the sea. "The history teacher and others in our church school told us to throw away such stories, and told us that praying to ancestors or animals is evil, work of the devil, in need of eradication and total forgetting." (I wonder whether Korean Christian churches ever went all the way that far?) "But they did not understand. We fully understood and revere the greatest spirit of earth and sky, but as small creatures we also can communicate with other lesser creatures who can help in other ways, all part of God's community we are part of."
In the original Christian Church, it was ok to pray to saints, and even to try to tube into them, and become part of the communion of saints. So why would it not be ok to build community with other humans and mammals and even ancestors, so long as it is understood we are all part if something larger?
When I heard the ranger, I thought at first "his earth and sky are a lot like the pachamama and pachatata we discussed in Peru." (These are good search terms for this blog, giving more context.) "But what about those apus? Did they make it here?" But as we traveled hundreds of miles from Denali to the Pacific border of Canada, we saw nothing BUT landscape with mountains, and Apus were not lost.
So now let me jump to connections with my own culture, including recent discussions with Yeshua ben David by email, and the book by David Deutsch which I read in the cruise ship (thanks to Holland America).
My whole life I have been a kind of hard core "materialist". More precisely, since age 14 (when a kind person in a suit at the weekly tea service of the mathematics department of Princeton explained Einstein's core vision to me),
I have mostly believed in "Einsteinian materialism," the doctrine that everything which exists at all in the entire cosmos is governed by mathematical laws, by partial differential equations (PDE) operating over the curved minkowski space described by Einstein's general relativity (GR). Mostly -- but I believe even more deeply in the scientific method which calls on us to be open-minded, to look actively for alternative possibilities and so on. Yet at present I see more reason than ever before to believe that everything we can see in the cosmos can be explained as phenomena which emerge from the operation of those underlying mathematical laws.
Most well-educated physicists do not believe that the laws if the cosmos could be so simple, but I have worked hard to study this "alternate view" of physics; at Google scholar, you can easily find my open access papers justifying this heresy. In summary, I am ultra materialist relative to today's mainstream physics.
But.. science requires that we face up to the weirdness if our cosmos, no matter how much we prefer simpler explanations for things. Long ago I was compelled to accept the reality of what most folks call spiritual or psychic phenomena, but, now that we know about the vast ocean of dark matter connecting our galaxy with many other galaxies, that reality does not force us to abandon the Einstein viewpoint. And so, until 2014, I still thought of us humans as patterns of life and mind in the objective 4-dimensional universe. I respected the achievements of David Deutsch (search this blog for context!) in quantum computing, but I simply lost interest back in the 1970s in the many worlds, parallel universe theory of quantum field theory he used in inventing digital quantum computing.
2014 was a great zinger for me. As I was developing a mathematical, forward time model of what a photon does, picosecond by picosecond, as it travels through polarizing sunglasses (look for cmrfp in my papers), I noted how a photon can "crinkle up its face like that guy in the old British comedy about a guy who makes a deal with the devil, and retroactively erase the whole time stream it is part of." Given what lamar Smith had done to nsf, I wondered briefly:"why can't I do what that photon can?" And suddenly it struck me that I can, in principle.. because like that photon I am a pattern which is a function of one possible scenario, not of all of objective reality. In practice, scenarios interact even in my mathematics (and in the feynmann path version), not just in Deutsch's cosmos. So Einstein's picture may be correct at the deepest level, but Deutsch's image works and is unavoidable at our level of existence.
(In my view, our level is governed by mqed, which is basically a variation of many worlds dynamics combined with a new, time-series way to model macroscopic objects used to make measurements.)
But this year.. I have paid attention to what Deutsch and yeshya been David yace said about a more radical concept, a kind of metaphysical idealism. I am not convinced that this is the most promising theory if the underlying!physics, but is it possible once again that Deutsch is right in a practical sense even if not in a theoretical sense?
In the past, I spoke about intelligent systems at the level of earth (noosphere) and galaxy, but should I pay more attention to the idea that the underling model of the cosmos could be understood as something like an intelligent system, even if it simply implements Einstein's vision?
Because science tends to be highly political these days, only about half the writing out there gives proper credit to Deutsch. Many writers like to give credit to the most famous or friendly person they can imagine. Thus many people quite how feynmann once said "there is plenty of room at the bottom." But those words did not actually produce the new technology! In Google scholar, it is easy to locate Deutsch's seminal papers, where he proved that his concept of (digital) quantum computing, based on superposition and on the many worlds
version of quantum field theory (qft), provides a new universal platform for computing, just like the old Turing machine concept but more universal. This kind of failure of credit seriously hurts science, because it causes people to pay less attention to important new work by the same person, like the book I just read this past week.
In essence, the book describes how explanations (narratives) are crucial to solving the problems now facing us, not only in science but in society (where the threstsbtomour very survival are serious indeed, but Deutsch builds a message of hope).
But first, what IS science? It is scary how many people c!aim to know how to manage science and science agencies without even an adequate understanding of what science actually is! Understanding what if us becomes more and more important as it grows more complex and as larger vested interests try to filter the discussion!
Many of us have already learned a lot of the basics, by paying real attention to the history parts of our science courses, and by understanding basic facts about Francis bacon and the Renaissance. Still, many people who study science itself say it is important to go past the simple basics, by seriously studying the work of two key thinkers, Thomas Kuhn and karl popper, who shaped the deepest reassessment of science in the twentieth century. For myself, I read only kuhn's work. More and more, I have learned how Kuhn's vision, passionately implemented by Dr. Joe bordogna (a former director of the National Science Foundation NSF) , was crucial to the greatest golden age of NSF, and his loss of that vision due to congressman lamar Smith was a huge tragedy beyond what I had imagined likely even so late as 2013.
But what of popper? Deutsch quotes extensively from Popper, and gives a new more modern version of Popper's ideas and their implications. Here are my comments on those thoughts, addressed to a listserv of professors who teach Popperism:
Yesterday I read moderately far into David Deutsch's book, the Beginning of Infinity, which argues very strongly and clearly for a vision of what Popperism really is and where it might lead us. Given the scope of the book, and the solid achievements of the author, it might be more useful for your discussion group than what I have seen so far.
It is true indeed, as the book says, that the mainstream of quantum computing and quantum communications today all flows from the fundamental analytic ("critical analysis" ) work of Deutsch, giving a kind of sequel to the analytical work of Turing which until recently totally dominated the mainstream of computer science. You could even choose to cite it as an example of how self-conscious applied Popperism can actually work.
Before I observed your group and read into Deutsch's book, I never used the word Popperism. Popper was just a person to me, not a person I argued with, a person who made a couple of important points we agreed on. Deutsch's book is serious, modern and substantive, in a way I find it easier to come to grips with in a constructive way than other written expressions of Popperism I have seen (other than the Popper experiment in quantum optics).
At the end of the day, however, I view his position (his version of Popperism) as very useful but incomplete and overextended in an important way, exactly as I view his position on multiverse.
These are tricky issues, requiring a kind of careful splitting of hairs in mathematics and in concepts, but not in words, where splitting of hairs on semantics is most often a waste if time and a distraction from reality. In fact, it is worth everyone's time to remember that "semantic fascism", behavior which puts too much importance in demanding the absolute truth and supremacy of one community's definition of a word over another's, is a clear common warning sign of a gross failure of logical, rational critical analysis. I have seen that over and over again across ever so many areas of science and life. Semantic fascism is a back door manifestation of authoritarianism as a form of "reasoning." Deutsch was clear in rejecting authoritarianism, and I never saw popper support it, but it is clear that some folks claim to be popperists who vigorously implement semantic fascism.
Deutsch's book addresses many important topics, but I will focus mainly on epistemology, which ties it all together, and multiverse, which I knew about long before this book. Crudely, the epistemology part is an interpretation or extension of popper, quitting popper extensively. The multiverse part is an extension of famous work by Everett and Wheeler, which Deutsch understood well enough to build a whole new technology based on that strong and clear understanding.
On epistemology, Deutsch uses the word "induction" with the same kind of definition your discussion group assumes, but he explains in much more detail precisely what he attaches to the definition and, most important, what his alternative is.
Unlike some of the postmodernist hermeneuticists in the group, Deutsch is firmly committed to the concept of objective reality and to the quest to understand and explain it. Popper and I have/had the same commitment. Some in the group might question that, but for God's sake, why do they imagine Popper pushed the experiment he proposed to try to refute quantum philosophies of unreality? (I previously gave a URL to physorg, describing that experiment and how it seems to support Popper, but remains controversial.)
Deutsch talks about other types of epistemology which stifled progress in past centuries and in other cultures, but mainly focused on "empiricism" versus Popperism, and he does let us know he is seeing these things through the eyes of a physicist. He defines the word "induction" as an aspect of "empiricism", in which response to the incoming flow of data is "the whole game" in determining what we do or should believe (or predict or conclude) in response to that flow of sensory input.
Deutsch's alternative epistemology based on Popper is to focus mainly on explanation, in the kind of critical analysis needed to make sense of what has been observed and of the reality which lies behind what has been observed.
In my view, his concept of empiricism and his concept of Popperism are like thesis and antithesis, both pure (and useful) extremes, but both incomplete. Both are capable of being extended (or redefined by folks who say "we knew it already and we only talked about it half the time") in a way which unifies the two extremes into the kind of synthesis we really need.
One should really not underestimate the relevance of the most well-grounded neural network theory to this issue. There is a very close connection between the questions "how can it should humans best learn from experience and reason?" versus "how DO human brains learn from experience and reason?" versus "how do mice and rats learn from experience and from whatever happens in their brains?" Neural network theory has gotten very deep into all three questions and into their interconnections. In truth, as brilliant and broad as Deutsch is, I do know more than he does about neural network theory. (As I type this, I am returning home from giving a plenary at this year's international conference on neural networks -- but yes Deutsch should be offered the same if he were interested, because it is a crossdisciplinary conference.)
What Deutsch calls empiricism or induction is essentially what neural network folks would call naive forgetful real-time or online learning.
Deutsch stresses that we do not just learn to predict, but also to learn the dynamics which explain what we see and to reconstruct the underlying reality. In fact, all three aspects are essential to what we learn and to each other, not only in neural network models of intelligent states like brains but also in their more primitive linear ancestors like Kalman filtering. Attention to prediction error really is essential as a kind of reality testing. Without it, computer programs can totally diverge from reality. When humans try to reason with words, without paying enough attention to the preverbal information common to both human and rodent brains, they too are capable of diverging from reality and from progress in a very florid way. That is ever so common today! How could any evolved biological organism ever lose touch with reality so much as humans often do? The key explanation (discussed in www.werbos.com/Mind_in_Time.
In the neural network field and in kindred parts of AI , we generally embrace both "empiricism" and "induction" and Occam's Razor, as essential foundations, but we assume different definitions from what Deutsch assumes.
In past decades, many of us believed in a narrow synthesis of Deutsch's "empiricism" and Popperism (without reference to Deutsch or to Popper). Let us call it the Solomonoff epistemology (though I independently developed it myself in undergraduate days, and discussed with Minsky).
In the Solomonoff epistemology, we all have a substantial need to do exactly what Deutsch proposes, the real core of his practical approach to science: to work hard to develop a promising and coherent list (explicit or generative) of possible, competing theories of how reality works. (I will assume my variant of this, where the operations include a random number generator.) That needs to be done over and over again, as experience is accumulated and remembered. Yet we also need to be able to evaluate the choice between theories, which is also important when we upgrade the list. We do this by applying Bayes' Law, an extremely important theorem, and we hope that folks who claim to be devotees of rational analysis would properly respect such a fundamental theorem. We MUST evaluate, in numbers, the relative probabilities of competing theories to be true ...
We view the application of Bayes' Law, explicit or implicit, as part of the core of induction, and of any ability of humans or other mammals to learn from experience.
Bayes' Law has a very tricky property which cannot be avoided, and has caused endless confusion. The problem is that the probability of a theory being true, after a long stream if experience which we may call "memory", always depends on pr(theory), the probability which the theory had PRIOR to any experience. More precisely, we may write:
Pr(theory | memory) = pr(memory | theory)*pr(theory)/Z
where pr(theory | memory) is the probability that the theory is true AFTER the experiences recorded in memory, where pr(memory | theory) is the probability that"memory" would have happened according to the theory being evaluated, and Z is a general scaling factor slightly beyond the scope of this email.