[ExI] Consciousness as 'brute fact' and meta-skepticism

John Clark johnkclark at gmail.com
Sun Feb 9 14:33:14 UTC 2020

On Sat, Feb 8, 2020 at 8:34 PM William Flynn Wallace via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> Are you familiar with the stages of sleep?  And the eeg patterns of
> waking life?


> A person in any of the four sleep stages is not conscious by any
> definition.

And how do you know that? You know that because when the person's brain
exhibits one type of EEG pattern the brain also produces intelligent
behavior, and when it exhibits another type of EEG pattern the brain
produces no intelligent behavior. It ALWAYS comes back to intelligent

> > And their unconsciousness varies:  the measure is how much stimulation
> it takes to wake them up.

 Wake them up? You mean how much stimuli it takes before they start
displaying intelligent behavior again.

> So in other words, you can tell how awake or asleep a person is from just
> looking at their eeg patterns.

Or you could do it by just observing how smart they seem. I don't know
about you but when I'm sleeping I'm as dumb as a sack full of rocks.

> I think the little squiggly lines tell us a lot about consciousness,
> unconsciousness and indeed other things about the brain, just as the little
> squiggly lines on an ekg chart tell us about what the heart is doing.

The squiggly lines of a EKG tells us what the heart is doing not what the
heart is feeling, and the squiggly lines of a seismograph tells us what the
Earth is doing not what the Earth is feeling. Consciousness is about
subjectivity and no instrument can directly measure that, we can only
measure activity and behavior. I'm certainly not saying consciousness
doesn't exist, even the most radical followers of B.F. Skinner don't say
that, I'm saying that consciousness research (but NOT intelligence
research!) is nothing but a time sink leading nowhere.

John K Clark
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