Sunday, November 16, 2008

Under the Microscope: What the Bleep? Part 2

Was going to back up my review of What the Bleep?. Read some comments and rated them accordingly, including someone who commented on the pineal gland. Those unfamiliar with my UtM series should know this is generally done in a stream of consciousness manner. One thing that's handy about how I'm watching it is that I can embed videos thanks to the perfectly naturalistic magic of YouTube.

So, part 4 of 10:

...Unfortunately (or fortunately) skipped for now. At the time of writing, this part was unavailable.

Onto part 5 of 10, then:

Going on about the different levels from QM up to macroscopic. The math's different between levels because difference forces dominate at different levels. Gravity's so weak it's beaten out by all the other forces on the small scale. At larger scales, those other forces often cancel out each other with different charges and such. Gravity only attracts, and with the large masses, that weak force adds up to the things we can see.

Guy waxes poetic about everything being one, which I just see as saying the laws of physics are the same everywhere, and everything affects everything else. There's no magical separation. Which I think would cause some problems for dualists.

Guy talking about "creating his day": Mentions all the little things that are "unexplainable" so he KNOWS (apparently through absolute hubris) that they're caused by his day-creating efforts. How can you know if it's unexplainable? He says it happens more often. More likely, I think he's just getting better at spotting the little positive things and better at ignoring their causes.

Woman now going on about sex fantasies causing men to get hard-ons. What does this have anything to do with this? Our imaginations and memories are just built on the same framework as our present perceptions. Evolution found that easier to do than invent a whole 'nother lump of specialized gray matter.

Back onto the main story with the woman who's going to end up dumping her anxiety medication in favor of this crap: She's complaining about getting a photo job involving a wedding, apparently because she goes emo about anything that reminds her of bad times, "living in the past." Boss tries to convince her it's a good job if you look at it the right way. I don't think a person can simply choose to look at something positively. She has to cope with whatever bad things happened in her past, not rely on magic. Either that, or get some better medication so that she can deal with it with a clearer head. Not my field, so I won't say which is the better option.

Next interviewee is apparently a theologist, saying he had lots of ideas about god when he was a kid, before he realized he wasn't "conscious enough" to understand. Uh, god is a concept that's pretty much designed not to be understood because the gaps in our knowledge weren't understood. If you genuinely don't understand a lot of things, you can't reasonably slap a label on them or relate those unknown things. Another guy going on about the creator no one's found any evidence for. Talks about the failing of religion being separating gods from everything else. I'd agree, but in what's probably a very different way: Don't separate things into "supernatural." Everything can be investigated by the scientific method. He goes on to say that the judging god isn't what god is. I wonder how he knows that. I doubt science was involved.

Another guy goes on a laundry list of bad things organized religion has done. Probably one of those "spiritual, not religious" people.

Woman who went on about sex brings up Jesus's mustard seed faith thing and tries to link that to quantum mechanics. No dice. Faith doesn't change wave function collapse. She goes on about technology including an "anti-gravity" magnet, which isn't anti-gravity: It's just a repulsive force counter to gravity, much like the valence electrons in my chair repel me against gravity and keeping me from falling through it and my floor, down into the center of the Earth. Of course, we have all that technology because of skepticism and the scientific method. The superstitions that persist despite technology are because of the rejection of science in favor of epistemological hedonism.

More people rambling on about god and how big of a Marty Stu he is, despite there being no evidence of his existence, and thus nothing a person could use to make the assertions they are.

Onto Part 6 of 10:

Did they really have to spend the time getting into describing the storm of neurological activity in sinister-sounding terms? Of course, it kind of contradicts the earlier point trying to contrast mostly-empty atoms to something as "solid" as a thought, which is made of giant collections of atoms and electron currents described here. I guess they're hoping everyone gets distracted by the Code Geass eye candy.

The woman (the one who did all the sex talk, and I think is JZ Knight, that woman who "channels" that Atlantean warrior Ramtha) talks about how we can't catch specific thoughts just yet, which is probably just a matter of resolution (and hopefully we'll one day be able raise our accuracy without going too far into nasty ethical issues). She seem fond of saying "holographic". I don't see how that word fits. Thankfully, they move to a more reasonable sounding guy talking about the common ground between memory and current perception. He also talks about the associative nature of memory and thought which is just fine.

Another guy mentioning how we refine our "narrative" about how the world works as new data comes in, but our perceptions are often filtered through that narrative. Biases like that are why we have the scientific method.

Next guy talks about repetition reinforcing certain habits and associations. Daily stress accumulates, so yeah, people can get in vicious cycles. Somewhere he gets into connections breaking and people getting into knee-jerk responses rather than conscious processing. Nasty when that happens.

That woman comes up with another bit o' gibberish: "All emotion is is holographically imprinted chemicals." I'll essentially agree with the chemicals part, but I'm not seeing the holographic part.

Long, legitimate-sounding bit on the chemicals the hypothalamus makes, essentially labeling them as the essence of emotion. Don't see any reason to contest that bit... until they get to talking about the chemicals moving outside the brain and though the bloodstream. Sounds like they're talking about different chemicals than the actual emotional ones, just the ones that follow through with physiological responses. Sounds like they're trying to detach the brain from the process of generating emotions, to make it into some dualist conception of being a passive receiver of emotion from the soul or whatever. It ends with a cell jumping up and declaring it's party time.

Some psychobabble about detached people living as if the present were the past. Again, outside my field. I only do psychobabble as a guilty pleasure when I see woos projecting and such.

Moves onto showing cells reacting to the chemicals as another woman talks about it causing changes in the nucleus. I'm skeptical. Quick flip to the story where the photographer lady ends up talking to a little girl with photographic aspirations. This woman in the colorful shirt continues on to say that cells are all alive (true), and that each has a consciousness (false). Well, I've heard about some philosophy of the mind that posits single cells might have some very, very simple sort of mind. Functionalism? Anyway, I doubt even that would support what they're saying. She goes onto talking about cells being observers, continuing the confusion about how the term is used.

CGI cells bounce around as she says they're the smallest unit of consciousness (How do you measure consciousness? I thought it was an emergent property, not a discrete entity) and apparently some hungry cells get a fat guy to start raiding the wedding's buffet table.

Ends with a bit on addiction. See you next week or so. Maybe. If I'm in the mood.

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