Quantum Gaseous Domains

I intended to post further on the reasons that I dismissed the Penrose-Hameroff everything-is-quantum model, Orch OR.

Heresiarch commented on the topic, and I have moved the comment here:

"As much as the academic establishment might try to resist the obvious, the indeterminacy of the quantum and the indeterminacy of organismic behavior fit hand-in-glove. Linking those two puzzle pieces together goes a long way toward resolving philosophy's difficulties in trying to reconcile mind and matter. And it's been a longstanding difficulty.

The Penrose-Hameroff model is a big step in the right direction."

I am simply posting an upgraded version of my response:

Admittedly, the academic establishment sometimes resists what later proves to be true, but it is fallacious to imply that Orch OR must, or even could, be correct because different correct hypotheses initially met resistance. Most neuroscientists and physicists think that such is not the case here, as the comments after Hameroff's talk suggest.

The Orch OR model illustrates the difficulty that arises when an expert in one field attempts to shift over to a completely different field that operates on an utterly different paradigm. When it comes to explaining consciousness, Penrose should stick to physics and Hameroff to "passing gas." (I'm not implying that he's flatulent, it's an old medical joke about anesthetists – now called anesthesiologists.)

Further, there is nothing obvious about linking quantum indeterminacy to organized "organismic behavior." To do so is to equivocate on the meaning of "indeterminate" – another fallacy of logic.

The element of neural behavior that could be misleadingly labelled "indeterminate" results from neural complexity and technical, experimental difficulties. This is utterly different than quantum indeterminacy, which reflects physicists' probabilistic characterization of quantum states.

Quantum states operate beneath the level of chemical interactions, which is why quantum chemistry is a legitimate area within the field of chemistry. This is helpful, for example in understanding neutrophilic substitution reactions or intermolecular interactions, even intramolecular interactions in large molecules such as proteins, but it is many orders of magnitude too fine-grained to explain consciousness. Biology operates on a substrate of chemical behavior, as does neurophysiology. Consciousness operates on a substrate of neurophysiology. The scale at which consciousness operates is many magnitudes greater than quantum physical behavior.

In a sense, attributing any biological phenomenon above the scale of quantum chemistry to quantum interactions is about as useful an explanation as goddidit. This may explain why heresiarch's brief comments included fallacies of logic.

Linking unrelated "puzzle pieces" together is never a step in the right direction.

Heresiarch provided a link in an attempt to promote his website. A quick blogsearch revealed that he appears to troll for this topic. I am dubious about anyone who hides their IP address, so I conclude that he may be directly connected with Hameroff, who is a prof at University of Arizona. I say this particularly because soon after the comment, someone in Mesa used google-reader to view this site. (I have not promoted this site and it gets very little traffic, largely I'm sure because there are happily much better neuroscience blogs out there – where do they find the time?) Do I sniff a sockpuppet?

Obviously, Hameroff has published extensively on-line to promote his pet theory. If a scientist has a valid theory that is likely to ultimately yield experimental verification, then that scientist has no need to self-promote across non-peer-reviewed websites and blogsites. This misuse of the Internet is employed by IDiocy-promoters such as Dembski.

Another parallel with ID creationism lies in the fact that the Orch OR theory has been out there for more than a decade without experimental verification.

Cognitive Science and its critics (ppt) (html), Orch OR fights back!, Common Misconceptions Regarding Quantum Mechanics

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