Dr. Kevin Nelson on Skeptico

Kevin Nelson

I personally find Alex Tsakiris profoundly annoying. I think he has a naive believer’s mentality, is condescending and gets in over his head. Why doesn’t Alex Tsakaris have a show about how Pam Reynolds NDE started 2 hours before stand still?

I am partial in this debate to Roger Nelson even though I frankly don’t agree with either of them. DOCter Nelson is fond of saying that we have an enormous amount of understanding about consciousness. But what he means is we have a bunch of data about the neural correlates of consciousness and no understanding at all of the actual generation and origin of experience (assuming you are not like Dan Dennett and think there actually is a problem to be solved). One must explain what the correlation is between electromagnetism generated by ion gradients across membranes, and the experience of being aware of your existence and typing such emails to your friends all the time as “why do we even bother to wake up in the morning”. Descartes should have said something like “I am healthy and pain free, yet I often wonder why I bother to exist….. therefore I am.” That would have been far more profound. Unconscious entities don’t ponder why they continue to bother operating. In reality, everyone who thinks for a moment about this puzzle of consciousness must find it absolutely striking. The total failure of AI to form anything resembling a consciousness or a fluid intelligence seems to drive home the point that the complexity and number of interconnections is not what *causes* consciousness to occur. At least, it has mostly convinced me. Wrapping quadrillions of Christmas lights around the planet and turning on the power would do nothing to make the planet conscious, or even on iota closer to becoming conscious. There is a totally missing element. One we have no idea about. It may be generated by the brain, it may not. But the typical non-religious lay person who thinks ¬†they have consciousness all figured out just because there are neural correlates just hasn’t ¬†thought deeply about the problem at all.

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