I wonder what it means to say my consciousness is separate from yours. After all, I can pick up a phone, or author a blog post, and tell you what is on my mind. And if I observe your situation, my empathy tells me roughly how you are feeling. I can't experience your situation exactly as you feel it, but as long as we can communicate I say we are part of a shared consciousness.

By analogy, I'm sure the various parts of one person's brain don't experience reality the same way as his other parts, yet we consider a brain the agent of one consciousness not several.

I was thinking about this recently as I contemplated the enormous coincidences in my life, and how they suggest that I'm living in some sort of a programmed reality that is far from random. It seems odd that at the age of six I would pick a career as a famous cartoonist and then thanks to a spectacular series of coincidences it actually transpires. And what are the odds that Dilbert and Dogbert would have no mouths then their creator loses the ability to speak to an exotic and reportedly incurable condition? And then, against all odds, he is alive at exactly the time in history that one surgeon in the world, who lives nearby, perfects a surgery to cure it. And it works.

Sure, I know life is full of coincidences. But mine seem off the chart. And this makes me feel I am living in some sort of programmed reality, or perhaps a Boltzmann Brain http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boltzmann_brain

The good news is that no matter what model of reality you pick, we're all part of a shared consciousness as long as we can communicate and empathize.

Have a great holiday if that applies to your country. I probably won't post again until Monday.

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Dec 2, 2008
a person who cannot communicate is not conscious? Pull all the plugs everywhere!!1
Dec 2, 2008

What this implies is that you are not one of the central characters in the world-narrative. You're one of the shallow back-plot ones.


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Dec 1, 2008
Agreed Scott! This life is more Intelligent than it appears. I learnt that from following astrology (www.astrologyzone.com)
Nov 30, 2008
Coincidences are tricky things. For example:

What are the odds that Dlibert and Dogbert would have no discernable mouth, and their creator loses the ability to speak?

What are the odds that Dlibert and Dogbert would wear glasses, and their creator would wear glasses?

What are the odds that Dilbert and Dogbert have no discernable hair (unlike all the other characters besides the CEO) , and their creator would be totally bald?

Oh wait, Scott does have hair.

Finding conincidences seem to be our human's need to create order in life. Some cultures have created a god or gods to give meaning to the meaningless ("Why did this happen?" - "Because the gods were angry.":).

Scott, in seeing power in coincindences, you are attempting to create a god. ("If God didn't exist, it would be necessary to invent him" - Voltaire). Which is a fun thing to do.

I'm sticking with the one that I created. It's based on the same postulate that Scott used, "We are all connected.". From there, it's not a stretch to realize that it isn't God who doesn't exist, but us, at least as the separate beings we think we are, with the delusion that we will retain that separation throughout eternity, even in some sort of afterlife.

We are god; god is us. Each pixel of a hologram contains all the information of the entire picture, and yet is not the entire picture.

Those "coincidences" are the signs of this Truth, but not the Truth itself.
Nov 29, 2008
i believe that much of your own destiny is in your own hands. That destiny, however, can be molded, improved, worsened, or just plain destroyed, depending on your environment. That not only includes where you grew up, but the people that grew up with you. Take president elect Obama for example. He was raised by a loving and caring grandmother, who also happened to be a white woman. If this woman had been schizophrenic, the results could have been much different. Perhaps, instead of attending Harvard, he would have joined a local gang. Became in trouble with the law, and ended up in jail. Just looked at what happened when an oilman's son became president!
Nov 29, 2008
and on the whole free will thing:
its simple cause and effect - everything happens in sequence for a predictable reason. But the reasons are infinitely unpredictable when you get into complex systems. Try predicting the lotto numbers if you want to see how hard it is. Theres nothing tricky about balls shaking around inside a globe, basic physics. Friction, inertia, conservation of momentum - and yet they come out differently every week. It's not that physics can't explain it, it's just that the combination of equations gets too complex to predict as small effects such as remote gravitational pulls (among others) play a part that eventually becomes significant - like how a bullet flies straight but over a big enough distance wind moves it a little bit.
There is no randomness in phenomena, just in our ability to measure them. e.g. if you videotape a man walking along and freeze frame it, theres a 50% chance his left leg is in front of his right, or vice versa if you can't tell when the freeze button is going to be pushed. Flipping a coin is no different really.
Nov 29, 2008
Your mind is very powerful, and you live inside your perceptions.
If you fully believed you would become a cartoonist, your subconscious could likely have steered you towards it. I found I learned things faster at school if I believed they were useful or what I wanted to know. There are plenty of people out there touting faith/belief as a path to success.
If you feared you would lose your voice and you believed it you can create that too. Its the old story about a witch doctor pointing at someone who later dies. If you believed your voice would be cured there are theories (and proof) that that works for some.
All I can say is that you already know all this really if you've studied hypnosis. You have to be careful what you believe, and what you let people suggest for you. If its positive then good, if not its dangerous. But in then end it's up to you.
Nov 29, 2008
How did you get my phone number?
Nov 28, 2008
only diffs between you and most folks:
you seek the new. most folks fear the new.
you look with new eyes. most folks see only what they know.
you acted. most folks ignore or hide.

-Ludwig (in hiding)
Nov 28, 2008
"Question: what did Buddha give Mahakashyapa?"

The lotus plant that he had pulled up to show to his disciples. He hoped that by showing them the lotus, they would understand his message without his having to express it in words, a most imperfect mode of expressing reality: the real thing is so much better and more convincing because it is concrete and the product of teleology, not abstract and arbitrary.
Nov 28, 2008
Webgrunt: I like your posts today, especially this paragraph:
"Every thought you've ever had came from what you've learned from other people. In fact, you learned how to think from other people. When you read these words, they alter the chemistry and impulses in your brain and can potentially even change the cellular structure. A human consciousness is inextricably intertwined with myriad other human consciousnesses going back through time to the first conscious thought. Consciousness not only is a shared experience, it's been shown to not exist as a solitary experience."

I said almost exactly the same thing to some of the students in my English conversation class about two hours ago. Amazing coincidence! When two people inn different parts of the world (I'm in Taiwan) improbably say the same things, are they the same person? (to paraphrase another poster's question? Now, there's glory for you.
Nov 27, 2008
Having read Decartes, Jung, Dennett, the Churchlands, Schacter, Hofstadter, and many others who wrote on the subject of consciousness, I am still struggling to understand what consciousness is. Today, unbidden, a thought came to me and I Google-searched on "Buddha and the lotus flower" and came up with the following parable (I am sorry. I do not know who wrote it. No author was cited.):
"Toward the end of his life, the Buddha took his disciples to a quiet pond for instruction. As they had done so many times before, the Buddha’s followers sat in a small circle around him, and waited for the teaching.
"But this time the Buddha said nothing. Instead, he reached into the muck and pulled up a lotus flower and held it silently before them, its roots dripping mud and water.
"The disciples were greatly confused. Buddha quietly displayed the lotus to each of them. Each in his turn, the disciples did their best to expound upon the meaning of the flower: what it symbolized, and how it fit into the body of Buddha’s teaching.
"When at last the Buddha came to his follower Mahakasyapa, Mahakasyapa smiled and began to laugh. Buddha handed the lotus to Mahakasyapa and said: 'What can be said I have said to you and what cannot be said, I have given to Mahakashyapa,' who, from that day forward, became Buddha’s successor."
Question: what did Buddha give Mahakashyapa?
Nov 27, 2008
Maybe is time to draw a mouth in a Dilbert's face, just in one panel, as a wink to the boltzmann brain, to show him that you got the message?
Nov 27, 2008
Perhaps these posts are indeed a business investment by Scott that ups his advertising revenue. But so what? Almost all who frequent this blog enjoy these topics at least as much as Scott's humourous posts. I still read the Globe And Mail (insert major newspaper here) in spite of the ads. I enjoy the news and opinions, just as I enjoy the banter on this blog. So what if I'm asked to "Find my yearbook picture" (or what have you)?

On the matter at hand, consciousness is a tricky topic. Dualists or moist robots? Free will or determinist? Is it a soul? A gaggle of neurons firing off? Some hybrid thereof? Something else? I often find it to be like asking "What happens when you die?" Since no one knows for sure, any one theory is equally valid/invalid as the next.

That said, the human brain IS more tangible (erm, testable) than experiencing what happens when you die, which leads me to believe that there will one day be an answer to what consciousness is. But it's one of those things that will always have a sect of followers saying it's something else, contrary evidence be damned. Kind of like the Copenhagen vs Many-Worlds Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics. We may find the answer to what's true, but ingrained beliefs will keep the die-hards certain their view is the right one.


(PS: Incidentally, a Consciousness-linked-to-Many-Worlds would be neat. Hell, it might really get us to heaven or hell upon death. And then every coincidence would really play out ;)
Nov 27, 2008
webgrunt:"FYI, Scott has stated before that he's not stupid enough to post his real opinion on anything that matters." Scott has also conceded that when you write down an opinion whether yours or not, you will, in most cases, eventually accept it as your own. Besides, why write a blog if you don't test your own ideas every once in while?
Nov 27, 2008
Scott sez: "I can't experience your situation exactly as you feel it," (...) but (...) ""my empathy tells me roughly how you are feeling."

Actually, i inverted the order of his statements. But anyway. What i mean is:

As you never experience his situation as he feels it, it is conceivable that your "empathy" is never really close. That when you convince yourself "you know how that feels" you are deluded.

Notice that i am not sure consciousness is unshareable. But i do not know how you can be sure it IS shareable...
Nov 27, 2008
Hi Scott,

Aren't you in danger of applying the weak anthropic principle in this instance?


Nov 27, 2008
Our shared consciousness has a message for you: please stop posting in all bold text.
Nov 26, 2008
It amazes me that people that are obviously regulars get so bent out of shape...If you don't like it, why keep coming back? I don't care for chiggers so you'll rarely find me in shorts walking around in high grass.

The more you believe something is happening to you i.e. coincendences, the more they happen to you. Period. If you think.... man, I ALWAYS get screwed at this traffic light, then you will. Ever find yourself getting seated at the same table at a particular cafe over and over? It's the power attraction. Believe it or not, it's happening to you right now.

The whole skeptic thing baffles me. I'm a remote viewer and it amazes that so many intelligent people are completely oblivious to workings of the subconscious mind. Especially ones familiar with hypnosis. I think some people just don't WANT to know. Might just rattle their cages a bit.
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Nov 26, 2008
Scott, this can mean only one thing: You are the second coming of Jesus. Deal with it. Happy Thanksgiving.
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