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Name: Paul
Gender: Male
Hometown: Florida
Home country: USA
Member since: Wed Mar 31, 2010, 03:20 PM
Number of posts: 1,971

Journal Archives

Not all improbable coincidences are created equal

Some improbable coincidences are clues to some deeper understanding.

Back when the Earth and some lights in the sky were all we knew, the improbable coincidence that the Earth also had intelligent life was difficult to explain. Some people may have claimed that shit happens and the Earth had to take some path, so this is the path it took. Of course many people also believed our complex Earth was evidence that it was all created by a super natural being.

Well all evidence is that they were both wrong. A much simpler and down to earth explanation works. There is a huge Universe out there and probably much outside our Universe. So what was extremely unlikely became probably almost guaranteed.

That is a similar logic proposed as evidence for the Multiverse. Our seemingly designed Universe, which has planets suitable for life, is one of many or infinite universes out there – with each universe having different conditions. With so many universes, inevitably there are universes suitable for life. Almost impossible shit didn't just happen: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1218129813#post40

The coincidences that created our Universe and our Earth as they are weren't anything like the coincidences that happen every day on this Earth: people win lotteries, people get jobs through an improbable sequence of events, evolution takes paths through improbable sequence of events. All of these things have happened enumerable times on this earth.

The most important fact for every conscious being is their consciousness itself. For anyone thinking about their own existence, they could rightfully ask themselves what is the most likely explanation for their own existence? Is there only one planet? (which makes my existence mathematically improbable). Is there only one Universe? (which makes my existence mathematically improbable). Do I only get one life in the infinite time of all existence? (which makes my existence at this moment mathematically impossible). I know that I am very possible so reasonable explanations are likely required to explain my existence.

Do you believe that of all of the conscious critters that have ever existed that none of their conscious-selves have ever returned in another conscious creature? Because, in additional to making each individual conscious-self mathematically impossible to only exist at a particular time in all of infinite existence, that would make each individual consciousness impossible to exist ever at all. Because if something is impossible to exist in the infinite past and the infinite future (before and after its current existence) then that same something is impossible to exist ever at all.

Since consciousness is extremely difficult for science to study

that leaves a lot of room for laymen to speculate. It's all in good fun.

If I understand what you mean by "construct", then I guessing you are using a different definition of consciousness than me. Since it is consciousness itself that assists our brains in their activities, then any brain activities that create consciousness can't be created with the assistance of consciousness itself. That's almost like saying consciousness creates itself. So consciousness has to be made totally by the unconscious brain.

If you mean that consciousness is made in the brain, regardless of whether consciousness assists, then that has to be correct.

Yes, it is a big mystery how our consciousness can operate with the modular nature of our brains, even though consciousness doesn't seem to be modular. Probably consciousness is created in multiple locations throughout the brain, but they somehow communicate, such that your brain has one goal at a time.

In addition to making it possible for us to think, do, and learn, I think consciousness forces the complex brain to act as one. This is important, of course, since we only have one body so the brain needs to have only one self.

I think you understood much of what I wrote. I think that the unavoidable force from the feelings experienced in our consciousness is what drives the whole operation of our brains. That is why we are conscious, in my opinion.

When you touch something hot with your finger, the pain you experience has an obvious purpose. That is an extreme example, but when you come right down to it, every moment of your waking life your are experiencing positive and negative feelings (usually very subtle feelings from emotions and related feelings, and these feelings are created from your brain's pattern recognition of your thoughts and senses) while you are reacting to your environment and your thoughts. These feelings are an unavoidable force that cannot be avoided by your brain. The strength of the feelings forces you to choose (the stronger feeling at the moment gets the attention, automatically), and the same feelings drive your thoughts and actions. And the strength of the feelings determines what you learn and remember. The whole process forces the brain to act as one.

It's probably impossible to know exactly how the brain makes consciousness and how all of this works, but in my opinion, consciousness and its feelings kills multiple birds with one stone. So evolution found consciousness very useful in order to create complex animated life.

So consciousness seems to be a trick evolution found to create complex animated life. Consciousness is a way the brain can force itself to act. But almost everything that happens in the brain happens outside of consciousness. The brain is a black box and we as individuals have almost no idea how our brains work and really how our decisions are reached. When we talk, words flow out and we have no idea where they come from in the brain.

But we do have this profound experience of consciousness; and consciousness is a witness to some thoughts, our environment through our senses, and our positive and negative feelings. But we are really not the author of any of it:
We may be the conscious witness of these thoughts, but we are not their authors. Thoughts just arrive....

There has been a long controversy as to whether subjectively ‘free’ decisions are determined by brain activity ahead of time. We found that the outcome of a decision can be encoded in brain activity of prefrontal and parietal cortex up to 10 s before it enters awareness. This delay presumably reflects the operation of a network of high-level control areas that begin to prepare an upcoming decision long before it enters awareness.


So we really have no conscious free will. Our conscious-selve are along for the ride. We just have to hope that our brains, with the critical feedback from our consciousness, make the right decisions.

Where I write about a brain process that creates consciousness

I am referring to the total brain process. In some places I did write brain processes to make my meaning more clear.

I agree with some of what you write. It's impossible for us to know what brain processes creates consciousness. Consciousness is almost certainly not located at one location in the brain.

The conscious-self that your brain experienced when you were young is not necessarily the same conscious-self you are experiencing now. Our brains change over time so our conscious-selves might change also.

As I see it, evolution found consciousness useful. Starting hundreds of million years ago, consciousness allowed complex animated life to evolve. Consciousness is dominated by our feelings, which make it possible for us to think, do, and learn. Learning allows our brains to contain far more information than is contained in our DNA.

As I define it, consciousness is that which experiences your senses, good and bad feelings, and your thoughts. Consciousness isn't your memories, feelings, or any other experience, but it is what experiences those things.

The processes that create the thoughts in our brain happen before our consciousness experience them. Emotional reactions from these thoughts and other feelings in consciousness drive the thought processes in our brains and potentially drive our actions. Our brains are automatically driven by the feelings (motivational force) experienced in our consciousness. Our consciousness takes our thoughts and all other inputs from our brains to cause our consciousness to experience more feelings, which automatically drives our brains even further. It's circular. It's usually a very subtle process, but I believe this is the basic process that is required to animate our thoughts and actions.

This process gives our consciousness the illusion of free will, even though we are slaves to the feelings in our brains. There does require a conscious-self for our thought processes to work and our conscious-selves are created by particular brain processes.

Consciousness: often even scientifically minded people make unscientific assumptions

when the subject of consciousness comes up, including Richard Dawkins in this thread posted here a few days ago: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1218128811

Richard Dawkins' own words: http://old.richarddawkins.net/articles/91-to-live-at-all-is-miracle-enough

We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.

Moralists and theologians place great weight upon the moment of conception, seeing it as the instant at which the soul comes into existence. If, like me, you are unmoved by such talk, you still must regard a particular instant, nine months before your birth, as the most decisive event in your personal fortunes. It is the moment at which your consciousness suddenly became trillions of times more foreseeable than it was a split second before....

The lottery starts before we are conceived. Your parents had to meet, and the conception of each was as improbable as your own. And so on back, through your four grandparents and eight great grandparents, back to where it doesn't bear thinking about....

...The odds of your century being the one in the spotlight are the same as the odds that a penny, tossed down at random, will land on a particular ant crawling somewhere along the road from New York to San Francisco. In other words, it is overwhelmingly probable that you are dead.

In spite of these odds, you will notice that you are, as a matter of fact, alive. People whom the spotlight has already passed over, and people whom the spotlight has not reached, are in no position to read a book....

...But we as individuals are still hugely blessed. Privileged, and not just privileged to enjoy our planet. More, we are granted the opportunity to understand why our eyes are open, and why they see what they do, in the short time before they close for ever.

Most genes likely don't influence what conscious-self is created, so you can't really use all of the potential genetic combinations as a guide to determine the chances that your conscious-self could have come into existence. But Richard Dawkins does start down the path making the odds of each of our conscious-selves coming into existence close to an impossibility. When your views on reality make reality next to impossible, you should change your views.

So in the infinite time that has ever existed or will ever exist Richard Dawkins implies that each of us only get one chance at life at most, though he claims that most potential conscious-selves will never come into existence. This make each of our conscious-selves existing right now an impossibility, since one finite life time (at most) divided by infinite time equals zero – which are the chances that I could exist at any particular time, assuming there has and/or there will be infinite time in the multiverse.

But I exist right now. So something has to give. I cannot accept an impossible coincidence as truth. Richard Dawkins and numerous other people are not correct in their views on reality.

Many people seem to think something magical happens after you die. Some place in the great beyond there is a record of each of our conscious-selves exiting in this Universe. Once we've had one life we are checked off the list. So something that was possible just before you were conscious suddenly becomes impossible forever after.

There should be no change in the odds of a particular consciousness existing in the future regardless of whether it has existed in the past. It's magical thinking if you think nature keeps records of past lives.

The same physics that created our Universe likely created many other universes. This process likely has been going on forever and will continue forever. Through infinite time, everything that is possible will happen an infinite number of times. And the larger the multiverse the more often the possible will happen.

By my very own existence my consciousness is proven to be possible. It's impossible for us to know what natural brain process creates our conscious-selves, but all evidence is that each of our conscious-selves is created by a natural brain process. It is easy to explain my conscious existence right now with an infinite multiverse. There's no way that I don't exist. All potential conscious-selves have to always exist in an infinite multiverse. No impossible math is required.

Reincarnation and the Multiverse – with no gods, souls, woo, or any of that crap

Consciousness is only a biological process. Consciousness isn't a separate thing that is attached to neurons. When the body dies, consciousness dies. When someone suffers brain damage their consciousness diminishes or dies. There is no evidence for a separate soul.

Partly based on these facts, I’m inclined to believe that a form of reincarnation must exist. Many people, including most atheists, think it’s impossible. I’m an atheist and I think we all have been reincarnated probably an infinite number of times in the past, and will in the future. I suppose with the influence of religion and the difficulties of understanding consciousness people make false assumptions about the nature of consciousness.

If it were possible to instantly replace every atom in your body with another identical atom, would you be the same person with the same conscious-self? I think yes. If you then instantly evaporate every atom in your body and then with a one second delay replace every atom, would you then be the same person? I think yes. How about doing the same thing except with an hour delay and then reconfigure the atoms in the house next door, would you then be the same person with the same conscious-self? I don’t see why not. Consciousness isn’t attached to any particular atoms and no separate soul disappears when consciousness shuts off.

When you die your consciousness shuts off. You return to the same state you were in before you were alive. The future potential for your consciousness to exist again after you die is the same as your future potential to exist had been before you were alive, since there is no metaphysical force or invisible sky ledger that keeps track of your past lives to prevent future lives. All that needs to happen for your consciousness to return after you die is a duplication of the same biological processes that had created your consciousness in your previous life. In other words, a form of reincarnation must be possible since consciousness is only a biological process and there’s nothing to prevent it. There will be no memories of past lives since memories are destroyed when the old brain dies.

Similarly, in gambling, when you roll dice each roll is independent from the last roll. When you haven’t rolled a particular number combination for awhile you have a no greater chance of rolling that number combination in future rolls. Nothing in nature tracks your rolls to change the odds on future rolls. Nothing in nature tracks your past conscious-selves to prevent future conscious-selves. That would be magical thinking.

In this form of reincarnation, the new consciousness will be the same as the old one (it will have the same self); but it will be in a different brain with different memories, probably have a different personality, and probably will be in a different species on some planet other than earth. Since the conscious-self is the same in the new brain it is obvious why I use the word reincarnation. The particular process that produces the particular consciousness is sufficiently the same, so the consciousness will also be the same. It would require a dying soul or metaphysical force to prevent reincarnation. There is no soul that dies.

Some may claim that there are very long odds to have a new brain after you die with the same consciousness as before. Well, you are here now and the odds are the same for your current existence as your future existence in your next life.

Some claim that your consciousness is your memories. But consciousness is what experiences your memories, consciousness isn’t memories. If you get amnesia and you lose your memories, the same conscious-self probably still exists. The memories are gone after death, but they are only what you are conscious of. Memories are not consciousness.

When I was young I thought it interesting that I was alive at that moment. With only one life the odds were greatly against my existence at that or any particular time, considering how old our Universe is. During most of the life of our Universe I hadn’t existed (as far as I knew). I hadn’t yet thought about reincarnation.

Let’s say that our Universe is the only universe and time will soon end. With only our Universe and one life, someone’s chances of existing at a particular time (with a 75 year life span & our 13.8 billion year old Universe) are 1 in 13,800,000,000/75 = 1 in 184,000,000. Lotteries have much better odds than that.

But the odds get much worse. Our Universe will likely be around extremely far into the future, many times its current age – if not forever. Imagine an infinite time-line to the future representing all of time that will probably ever exist. Let's say that there is no reincarnation and we only get one life. What are the chances that I would be alive at a particular moment if I had only one life on the infinite time-line? It is zero, since (one life time)/(total time Universe will exist) = finite#/infinity = infinitely small number = zero, which would be the odds of me living right now with only one life and our Universe exiting forever into the future.

So it would be impossible for me to be conscious right now if I only got one life and time is infinite. Since my consciousness existing right now is very important for my consciousness, my existence right now is the equivalent of me winning the lottery with zero odds of winning. So it seems with infinite time I must be reincarnated an infinite number of times for it to be possible for me to exist right now.

Non-existence of everything (total nothingness), including before our Universe, is impossible since everything arrived through an existing physics. The existing physics is something (not nothing); and since some always existing physics was able to produce our Universe, it’s likely that it has produced infinite universes through infinite time. At least the always existing physics is able to create infinite universes that have time, so there has always been time in these created universes. This means there is infinite time from the past to the future, and possibly an infinite or huge number of universes at any given time.

With only one universe the odds of having a seemingly designed universe with conditions suitable for life are extremely small. This apparent design of our Universe can easily be explained by the Multiverse (more than one universe) theory. Astronomer Martin Reese covers this in his book “Just Six Numbers”. If any number were minutely changed, our Universe would have been completely different.

For example: if the amount of matter in our Universe would have been a tiny fraction different, our Universe would have quickly collapsed or quickly flown apart and no life could have arisen. Some have proposed a many universes theory to explain this (each universe with its own conditions). This greatly increases the odds of there being a universe suitable for life.

Here’s astronomer Martin Reese’s reasoning for the existence of the Multiverse at 11:10 to 26:40 in video – ignore the rest:

The Multiverse brings up the possibility of there being a huge (or infinite) number of universes, and also the possibility of there being a huge number (or infinite number) of universes with life. With so many universes there will inevitably be universes with properties that can evolve life. The Multiverse eliminates the need for some miraculous explanation for our existence – including gods.

The reason that our Universe appears fine tuned is the same reason that our Earth appears fine tuned: there are many planets and most can’t evolve life, but only on those planets that can evolve life will there be a consciousness to contemplate its own existence. This fools the consciousness into thinking the planet is fine-tuned just for it. The same logic holds for our Universe: there are a huge number of universes with many different properties, but only on a very small percentage will life ever evolve. Inevitably we are in such a universe.

The Multiverse allows for the possibility of there being many universes with life and for there being infinite time from the past to the future with life evolving universes. This gives a huge number of opportunities for a consciousness to be reincarnated to planets and universes beyond Earth, and it greatly increases the odds that our conscious-selves can and must be reincarnated.

The possible, given infinite opportunities (or a huge number), is guaranteed to happen an infinite number (or possibly a huge number) of times. By our very own existence our conscious-selves are shown to be possible. Since there is no separate soul that dies or invisible sky ledger that keeps track of whether a particular consciousness has yet existed, reincarnation can happen. And with an infinite Multiverse reincarnation must happen.

Israel evacuates hundreds of Palestinians to conduct army training

Source: Ma'an News Agency

Hundreds of Palestinians are being evacuated from the northern Jordan Valley to make way for an Israeli military training exercise, local officials told Ma'an.

Villagers received orders this week from the Israeli army to leave their homes for the duration of the exercise, which begins on Sunday.

Daraghmeh said some families would be permitted to return after a two-day exercise, while others were told to leave their homes permanently.

He said several Israeli departments were working together to pressure Palestinians to leave the Jordan Valley in order to build Jewish settlements and military bases.

Read more: http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=535050

This is ethnic cleansing at work, on land that Israel has no right to be in. This is news, but unfortunately it happens below the US radar, and by the country that receives far more support from the US than any other.

Osama Confession Video

There's a thread in General Discussion where someone questions the authenticity of the "Osama Confession Video."


Some point to this picture taken from the video of Osama's conversation about his foreknowledge of 9-11:

That looks fat for Osama. I haven't seen any frame in the "Confession Video" where Osama looks like that. I think there are other versions of the video where Osama may look fat. Here's some evidence that the video is genuine.

They may have used a cheap subtitle editing program on the video that seems to have created a variable appearing Osama in the "Confession Video." That may be what altered the aspect ratio. But there seems to be different copies with some videos showing Osama particularly fat in parts. There are also scenes in the better videos where Osama looks perfectly like himself.

It seems to have been, at the minimum, a deliberate attempt to mislead by choosing the worst moment in the video where Osama looks the least like himself.

From same video, compared with known Osama pictures:

That sure looks like Osama to me, and he talks about his foreknowledge of 9-11 in the video.

More info here: http://www.911myths.com/index.php/Confession_video

Arizona Birding

Late last month I drove from my home in Florida to southeastern Arizona and Southern California for a few weeks of birding and visiting my family in San Diego.

In San Diego I met up with a friend and we headed out for a quick three days in southeastern Arizona. We started at Madera Canyon, which is a few dozen miles south of Tucson, for the first of two hikes up a couple of trails (Super Trail - which starts from the top of the road in Madera Canyon, and then Kent Springs Trail - which starts from Bog Spring Campground).

The following montage is a sample of some of the birds and other critters we had on the two hikes. Going clockwise starting from the upper left: Scarlet Tanager (a rare bird for Arizona that is summered there), Yarrow Spiny Lizard, Graces Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Plumbeous Vireo, Hepatic Tanager, Brown Creeper, and Red-faced Warbler:

After our hike we headed southwest almost to the Mexican border hoping to reach California Gulch for the localized Five-stripe Sparrow. Unfortunately this is when I discover my friend’s vehicle had very old tires. He had a flat. We had to quickly get to a tire shop before they closed. We’ll try again tomorrow for the Five-stripe Sparrow. About an hour after getting a replacement tire my friend had a second flat!

The next morning we visited lower elevation areas in and around Madera Canyon, including nearby Montosa Canyon. Going clockwise starting from the upper left: Black-chinned Hummingbird, tarantula, Gray Fox, American Black Bear, Rufous-winged Sparrow, Botteri’s Sparrow, Varied Bunting, and Lesser Nighthawk in the center:

After he replaced the rest of his tires we tried again for the Five-striped Sparrow. The monsoon summer rains have been good this year in southeastern Arizona, and we saw ominous clouds where we were going. This was our last chance for the Five-striped Sparrow so we went anyways – bad idea.

It started raining hard when we were on a dirt road (Ruby Road) and the water started rushing across the road at spots. At this time we turned back east – too late. We were trapped by a flash flood and we soon found out (from another trapped motorist) that Ruby Road was washed out on the west side. Fortunately, after a couple of hours of listening to my very unhappy friend, the waters receded and we headed east out of the area.


The next day, after doing our second hike above Madera Canyon, we headed to Miller Canyon in the Huachuca Mountains. We visited Beatty’s Guest Ranch http://www.beattysguestranch.com/ where we saw nine species of hummingbirds and a Spotted Owl that is regularly found nearby.

Going clockwise starting from the upper left: Broad-billed Hummingbird, Spotted Owl, Blue-throated Hummingbird, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, and White-eared Hummingbird:

After this we drove back to San Diego.

I recently got back home from San Diego.

Maine Atlantic Puffin and more

Recently I took a trip to Maine. I took several boat trips out to some Atlantic Puffin colonies.

The first two photos are an Atlantic Puffin and a Razorbill. These were taken on Machias Seal Island, Maine. This island near Canada is the only place in the US where you can land on an island and photograph Atlantic Puffins through a blind. The trip departs from Cutler, Maine:

The next photos were taken near Eastern Egg Rock, which is a small island near New Harbor, Maine. This has the most southerly breeding colony of Atlantic Puffins in the US. This trip is much shorter and cheaper than the one to Machias Seal Island. Unlike Machias Seal Island, Razorbills are scarce here; but the birding is still good.

The first photo is a Common Murre. The second photo is a Magnolia Warbler, which followed the boat for a while. The montage includes endangered Roseate Terns, with a Common Tern (top middle) and an Arctic Tern (lower right) (both perched in the same photo near a Roseate Tern) for comparison. It takes some effort to spot the few Roseate Terns among the numerous terns. Their black bills and paler coloration helps. The trip departs from New Harbor, Maine:

I look forward to making a return trip to Maine sometime soon.
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