[ExI] Psi in a major science journal, J. Personality and Social Psychology.

The Avantguardian avantguardian2020 at yahoo.com
Thu Oct 21 23:36:06 UTC 2010

>From: John Clark <jonkc at bellsouth.net>
>To: ExI chat list <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org>
>Sent: Thu, October 21, 2010 9:58:08 AM
>Subject: Re: [ExI] Psi in a major science journal, J. Personality and Social 

John Clark wrote:

I don't think that's a very good analogy. Some say Werner Heisenberg himself 
preferred to call his great idea the Principle of Tolerance rather than the 
Uncertainty Principle, at any rate it says that you can measure things and the 
results you get rise above the noise level and are meaningful, but there is a 
limit to the precision you can obtain and we can specify exactly what that 
tolerance is. Psi results never rise above the noise level.  
Perhaps that is the whole point of psi. To pick out signals imbedded in noise. 
Given enough noise, all the notes and timing of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" are 
there, but it took a deaf composer to hear them and commit them to paper. 

>Most cosmologists think that at the time of the Big Bang the entropy of the 
>universe was much lower than it is now, but it also contained much much less 
>information. This may seem counter intuitive but remember that information 
>should not be confused with meaning; a nonsense sentence contains more 
>information than one written by Einstein because it would be harder to predict 
>what the next part of it would be. Also, entropy is not a always a bad thing if 

>used in moderation. Too much entropy and you have white noise and that's pretty 

>dull, but too little entropy and you have an infinite perfect lattice and that's 
>pretty dull too, our universe with all its richness and interesting complexity 
>is somewhere between those two extremes. If not for quantum mechanics the 
>universe would be as dull and information poor as that infinite perfect 

I have often felt this sentiment with regard to life processes. All the enzymes, 
lipids, nucleic acids, water, and other constituents so delicately poised 
between the chaos of equilibrium and the stasis of a crystal. Too little order 
and you get death; too much order and you get death. Somewhere in between, the 
magic of life happens.

>So you can't draw a direct connection between meaning and entropy as defined by 

>Shannon's Information Theory, it can tell you how much information there is in 
>an article for example but not how much meaning there is in it, for that you'd 
>need what Hemingway called a “built-in bullshit detector”; and so in my 
>roundabout fashion I have returned to the topic of psi.

Psi could indeed be related to the brains ability to derive semantics from the 
flow of Shannon information. You ever wondered how somebody like Helen Keller 
could have made any sense of the world at all, let alone become an author of her 
caliber? How mind arises from brain is so mysterious that there is plenty of 
room for psi in them thar hills. Maybe psi is what happens when nature evolves 
prediction machines meant to survive a universe that is, at the most fundamental 
levels, inherently and intractably unpredictable.

Stuart LaForge 

“To be normal is the ideal aim of the unsuccessful.” -Carl Jung 


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