Monday, December 21, 2015

Daniel Little — Quantum cognition?

Alexander Wendt proposes a radical idea in his Quantum Mind and Social Science: Unifying Physical and Social Ontology: that we should reconsider fundamentals of the social sciences to reflect emerging research on "quantum consciousness" and cognition…
Homo economicus is not even a cartoon character but merely a stick figure.

Understanding Society
Quantum cognition?
Daniel Little | Chancellor of the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Professor of Philosophy at UM-Dearborn and Professor of Sociology at UM-Ann Arbor


John said...

Unless this is a Sokal-type hoax, this is unadulterated silliness. So let's take this in order.

1. The quantum world. This is something we're still coming to terms with and have yet to develop a theory that takes in all the phenomena in a way that doesn't create all types of internal and conceptual problems.

2. Consciousness. We have zero idea of what the hell is going on.

So a theory of quantum consciousness is not remotely in the offing, notwithstanding the interesting ideas put forward by people like Roger Penrose, which although exceptionally brilliant are irrelevant because they are wrong.

3. Society. First, there is no "theory" of society, and can never be. Second, the best we can probably do is use experience and intuition, not directly useful for a scientific theory.

But guess what? Let's fantasise about a quantum cognitive social theory! Is this what passes for philosophy these days? I expect this gibberish in what now passes for sociology and cultural studies but not philosophy.

John said...

It gets worse! Cambridge University Press published this rubbish!

A many worlds interpretation of, what, society? Apparently most physicists subscribe to this unbelievable interpretation of quantum mechanics, but how would you use it as a theory of society? And wave function collapse models of society? We can barely figure out collapse models on the atomic scale, but now there'll be collapse models of society?

And as for the mind-body problem, what is the problem exactly? First of all, what is the mind? And second, what is meant by body exactly? So we have a mind-body problem in which we don't know what the mind is or the body yet we have a quantum conscious solution to a so-called problem using a combined theory of quantum consciousness in which the quantum is not understood and the consciousness is barely intelligible! This is excruciatingly painful.

Where do I sign up to be a university professor?

It almost makes you nostalgic for Pol Pot's treatment of "intellectuals".

Tom Hickey said...

Is this what passes for philosophy these days?

No philosophers. All scientists. I guess this is what passes for science these days.

Alexander Wendt

Jerome R. Busemeyer

Peter D. Bruza

John said...

According to wikipedia Alexander Wendt, the author of this preposterous book, is a political scientist.

Jerome Busemer is a psychologist and Peter Bruza works in artificial intelligence. How scientific these fields are is up for debate. Psychology is a science, but many psychologists are time wasting poseurs. Artificial intelligence is also a science, but nearly everybody involved are reactionary anti-scientific poseur. You can't have a sensible conversation with them.

Ignacio said...

John brilliant posts agreed a 100% and I'm involved in AI and trained in neuroscience and psychology.

It's not as bad as economics, but there is a profound reactionary anti-science postmodern trend in the academe going from physics (lol string theory) all the way up to psychology, including biology/ecology etc.

Is worrisome...

John said...

Ignacio, it's downright terrifying! But it's good to be in the minority, as we are. We'll be proven to be right!

There is a postmodernist aspect to it, but worse is the arrogant scientism that grand theories of everything, whether in physics or the brain sciences, are possible (unlikely), and even if possible are then available for discovery to us mere talking apes (very unlikely). Hume, Descartes, Kant, Galileo and Newton didn't think it possible for very good, and unanswerable, reasons. Yet this arrogance about the reach of modern science has made a lot of the theoretical sciences rotten to the core. The case against these rabid ideas in physics can be found in Lee Smolin's excellent book The Trouble with Physics. As for evolutionary biology, the pushers of natural selection have a lot to answer for. Darwin himself argued against evolution solely by means of natural selection. But in modern biology natural selection has far too important a role. And the least said about AI the better! What a morass of pseudoscientific ramblings it has become. Turing and Von Neumann must be turning in their graves.