The Ethical Skeptic

Challenging Pseudo-Skepticism, Institutional Propaganda and Cultivated Ignorance

Nihilism’s Twisting & Turing Denial of Free Will

If a consensus of experts agree that a sufficiently defining function set M describes you, then M can be uploaded to a computer, and M is you.” Or so it is claimed and assumed on behalf of us all by the Nihilist. This philosophical principle is the litmus test which distinguishes the Nihilist from the atheist and any form of philosophy or religion mutually excluded by Nihilism. The atheist does not comment on this axiom, and the anti-Nihilist dissents (although such dissent is spun as being ‘religious’ by the Nihilist). By declaring that I can simulate you, to such an extent that my simulation indeed is you, I have displaced any need for any observer which brings you into true coherency, other than myself. I have eliminated the possibility of Free Will in the universe. I am now, by means of Turing Sufficiency, god, plausible propter hoc ergo hoc solus.

What a Surprise, Two Studies Misrepresented by Social Skepticism

grant me one miracle and I can explain all the restThe tautology presented in the opening summary, along with the equally tautological neuroscience (exaggerated Haynes and Libet Studies)¹ of observing the brain to conduct activity prior to human perception of its cognitive selection processes, is central behind the idea that consciousness, self, free will and Shermer’s Free Won’t, are all artifices we perceive from an illusion of neurofunction.² The illusion of self governance is substantiated in essence upon solely the neural duality of M+n neuron bundles observing M neuron bundle functions, and continuing so forth.  This plausible propter hoc ergo hoc solus argument (I can conceive of the human brain constituting a Turing Sufficiency, therefore it is proved to be a Turing Sufficiency) stands as the litmus test of belief in religious Nihilism. And it hinges solely on what we define and perceive to be the existence of, free will/Free Will. And not simply human free will, but Free Will itself. The debate is summed up in a 2008 article confabulating the much touted Libet and Haynes measurements in Nature, The International Weekly Journal of Science

But the experiment [Haynes’] could limit how ‘free’ people’s choices really are, says Chris Frith, who studies consciousness and higher brain function at University College London. Although subjects are free to choose when and which button to press, the experimental set-up restricts them to only these actions and nothing more, he says. “The subjects hand over their freedom to the experimenter when they agree to enter the scanner,” he says.

What might this mean, then, for the nebulous concept of free will? If choices really are being made several seconds ahead of awareness, “there’s not much space for free will to operate”, Haynes says.

But results aren’t enough to convince Frith that free will is an illusion. “We already know our decisions can be unconsciously primed,” he says. The brain activity could be part of this priming, as opposed to the decision process, he adds.

Part of the problem is defining what we mean by ‘free will’. But results such as these might help us settle on a definition. It is likely that “neuroscience will alter what we mean by free will”, says Tong [Frank Tong, a neuroscientist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee].³

Moreover, Benjamin Libet himself opined in his celebrated paper’s conclusion:¹

…why not adopt the view that we do have free will (until some real contradictory evidence may appear, if it ever does).

And further, from the Soon/Heinze/Haynes’ study itself:¹

This [10 second] delay presumably reflects the operation of a network of high-level control areas that begin to prepare an upcoming decision…¹

errors in assumption with free will brain scansIn other words both studies cite that they are presuming, petitioning as sponsors that this case of advanced computative pre-cognition should be considered alongside its antithesis. HaynesLab is a technology measuring lab, and does not hold the qualification to make psychological assessments. As such, the stark possibility exists that we have asked the wrong question, in order to derive the answer we seek. A very nasty and consistent habit of Social Skepticism. Neither of these authors however is making the claim that the brain is making the decision in advance; rather, they are simply opening the pluralistic set of Ockham’s Razor research to look at the issue. An Ethical Skeptic loves this, as this, and not the social epistemology fable spun around it, is the way science actually works. They firmly cite that this advance computational basis simply could reside solely as well, in ready-schema (see graphic on right); that is an abstraction of the protocols and psychology of a decision, while being watched, in ready memory, of the decision parameters in advance of the making of the decision.¹ A second aspect of this is that all the in-advance brain activity occurred in the prefrontal cortex; the location where abstract ready-schema resides. If the prefrontal cortex had already made the decision before the person perceived it, then there should have been in-advance activity in the Limbic/motor system as well, yet there was none.¹ The scans just as readily support the idea that the conscious mind held decision making, or at the very least, veto-holding authority over any Limbic trigger or motor control.

Social epistemologists like Sam Harris and Michael Shermer, or including Kerri Smith author of the Science journal article³ cited herein, routinely ignore these facts cited in the studies, as well as actual conclusions of the authors of these studies.¹ Libet goes so far as to even cite that Ockham’s Razor would dictate that free will stand as the null hypothesis until empirical threshold is surpassed by further study.¹ Social Skeptics, as they have done here, routinely toss scientific method aside once it no longer supports their religious proclamations. What? What is Ockham’s Razor? It suddenly no longer exists, once the ‘simplest explanation’ no longer supports the Church of Nihilism. The Ethical Skeptic is not saying that all this conjecture is incorrect; rather simply pointing out the sleight-of-hand magic employed as a pretense and presumption of science.

There does exist however, in response to the Nature article’s lament by Frank Tong, a definition of Free Will. One which resides in a future relying upon a Turing/Deutsch/Wolfram computational context, which we will examine below. One which the social epistemologists of Nihilism are already hard at work attempting to develop conclusions for in advance. This destination religious principle of the dismissal of Free Will (in itself a recursive tautology), a delusive interpretation of the prefrontal cortex’s exhibiting activity in order to establish a working-schema inside of which to make a selection in a circumstance in which it has surrendered its free will, is a prerequisite before one can be accepted into the Church of Nihilism.

Unequivocal Framing of Human free will and Turing Free Will

These mythical foundations, like much of what is promulgated by Social Skepticism, are based in actual science, philosophy and computation. In this case insight developed by none other than famed mathematical and computational biologist Alan Turing, and herein expressed in David Deutsch’s excellent work, The Fabric of Reality.† Nonetheless, this liturgy of miracles (Constructs 1 – 3 below) stands as fiat knowledge stemming from an occulted non-scientific religious presumption, crafted to enact a political end among those who fall prey to its deception. But we will postulate here, that the illusion of neurofunction stems not from an epistemological case, as proponents of Nihilism and the fictus scientia spinners from Haynes and Libet studies extrapolate;¹ but rather, originates as an artifact of an end set philosophical assumption. The assumption that M+n recursive computational machines extend ad infinitum without intervention. The presumptive absence of any form of Free Will, not simply human free will. We begin here, with Turing, as expressed by Deutsch.

The Turing Principle

/Philosophy : Set Theory : Deontological Simulation Theory/ : there exists an abstract universal computer whose repertoire includes any computation that any physically possible object can perform.†

While the Turing Principle is a useful bridge in philosophy which interleaves its tenets into computation, both quantum computation and computer theory, it is employed by Social Skepticism in a more surreptitious and malicious twist.  A miraculous twist which will plead for equal acceptance, should the observer not catch the extreme amount of magic swept under the carpet of extrapolation involved:

The Four Miracles of the Nihilism Faith

Turing Sufficiency (Construct 1)

Construct 1 - Copy/Philosophy : Cognizance : Set Theory : Apparent Coherency : Epistemology of Cognizance/ : there exists an abstract universal computer whose repertoire includes a sufficient set of computations comprised by individual M and detectable by peer or lower level external observers of individual M, such that the abstract universal computer function description is indistinguishable from what peer or lower level external observers consensus agree constitutes the set of computations sufficient to be individual M, for all sets of feasible definition.

In other words, to simulate you – I do not have to emulate the full set of your past and potential cognitive, motor and Limbic processes to perfection.  I only have to simulate enough of that set to pass the sniff test of those persons who are identified to agree that the simulation is indeed you.

Put another way (Miracle 1 – Apparent Turing Sufficiency):

If a consensus of experts on you agree that a Universal Turing Machine is you, then it is you.

Grant me this magic and I can pull off some pretty fantastic mandatory cosmologies. A luxury which begs the introduction of a second Apparent Coherency, this one also established by the techniques of Hypoepistemology; that of when a Universal Turing Machine achieves self awareness.

Recursive Turing Sufficiency (Construct 2)

Construct 2 - Copy/Philosophy : Cognizance : Computation: Apparent Coherency : Self Awareness/ : given the set of recursive and non-recursive functions M describing a universal computer whose repertoire includes a Turing Sufficient set of computations to describe M, there exists a set of recursive functions, both extant and possible (M + 1,2,3…n) which describe the repertoire of functions M completely, along with the existing set of M + 1,2,3…n, functions.  Such a M+n machine is Universal Turing Aware.

Put another way (Miracle 2 – Apparent Recursive Sufficiency):

If a consensus of experts agree that a Universal Turing Machine can comprehend any future manifestation of its self, then it is self aware.

For a timely example of this pathway to fallacy, see Robot Demonstrates Self-Awareness (IFL Science July 2015).

the-trick-of-consciousnessNotice the social epistemological sleight of hand here.  In essence, within the religion of Nihilism, consciousness, self awareness and self identify do not actually exist as innate sets, rather only as neural function sets. If a robot can observe a state change in logic based on its own actions, M+n, be they preprogrammed or not, then it is self-aware. This is what is called a hypoepistemology. Done for the convenience of the social message and not the rigor of understanding.  And such constructs, as it were, only exist when the Nihilists themselves say that it exists.  How do they obtain this assumed permission to declare what is conscious and what is not?  Through an impositional philosophy called Material Monism. Material Monism is the essence of religious belief behind the preferred religion of Social Epistemologists, called Nihilism. Through Material Monism, I am handed this authority by default. By critically mis-defining the realm in which we live, through an unqualified error in hypothesis stacking.

Material Monism

/Philosophy : Religion : Materialism : Nihilism : Foundational Assumption/ : (also called physicalism and materialism), which holds that only the physical is real, and that the mental or spiritual can be reduced to the physical. It is monist in the sense that it presumes all observations of phenomena related to consciousness stem from solely a neural configuration of a single biological source. The reductive version of monism presumes that man can create consciousness simply through a sufficient configuration of neural networks, beginning with reflexive robotics and culminating in observer approval of apparent recursive self awareness.

So, in order to prove lack of Free Will, and therefore free will, all I have to do is, within a hypoepistemological but accepted science, feign the existence of a suitable Universal Turing Machine which satisfied my thresholds of Turing and Recursive Turing Sufficiency. There will be no real “Peer Review” in this, since the ‘peers’ – those of us who are conscious, but dissent, will be excluded from this declaration under the practices of Methodical Cynicism. Only Material Monists will be allowed to conduct such science. The Monist source science which gives them this tacit permission, does so in two ways. First to declare that ‘you’ are only the expression of biological recursive neural net activity, and that I can declare anything to be “you” at any given time, since ‘I am the Science.’ This relates therefore, to the 5th Endamnedment in the Ten Endamnedments of Nihilism:

5.  We have proved that we can re-observe you or anyone through Artificial Intelligence. There is therefore no need of an other observer of any kind which could bring ‘you’ to coherence.  We are your only Observer and we can re-create you at any time.

Flaw of Identity – mis-employment of the first classical law of Greek thought, regarding essence. Falsely contending that two things sharing a unique set of characteristic qualities or features, are indeed the same thing.

Let’s then Grant Four Miracles and Proceed Under their Magical Largesse

OK, let’s grant four miracles. First and Second, that Constructs 1 and 2 are indeed valid; and Third, that we can establish a set of computational practice which achieves both Turing Sufficiency and Recursive Turing Sufficiency to its asymptotic perfection (promote our ‘sufficiency’ to a boundary condition status). Finally in the Fourth miracle, let’s assume that our boundary condition Turing Recursive Sufficient machine now further accepts our expert contention that it is the Recursive Turing Sufficient individual M:

Turing Unity (Construct 3)

Construct 3 - Copy/Philosophy : Cognizance : Computation: Apparent Coherency : Self Awareness and Identity/ : given the set of recursive and non-recursive functions M which are Recursive Turing Sufficient and which are Turing Sufficient to describe individual M, there exists a set of functions which constrain the Recursive Turing Function to conclude that it is, and only is, individual M.

Put another way (Miracle 3 and 4 – Apparent ≡ Boundary and Null Dissent on Identity):

If a consensus of experts on you instructs a boundary condition Universal Turing Machine that it is you, then it will BE you (in both ontology and epistemology).

Or put another way,

Because computational theory continues in Turing replication without dissent, a causally deterministic universe abhors Free Will.

or from the authors of HaynesLab on their home page:‡

Decisions don’t come from nowhere but they emerge from prior brain activity. Where else should they come from? In theory it might be possible to trace the causal pathway of a decision all the way back to the big bang.

Turing Deception

Collapse of the Function and the Elucidation that Free Will is an Assumption and Not a Result (as the Nihilist wishes)

Now let’s create a natural logical axiom derived from such a Boundary state (Constructs 1 and 2) and Unity state (Construct 3), and positioned as a corollary of Recursive Turing Sufficiency and Turing Sufficiency Unity. This would involve the characteristic of a new computational machine (remember that the whole principle rests on the idea of new machines), one which did not seek to capitalize upon Turing Sufficiency:

Recursive Turing Function Collapse (Construct 3 Corollary)

/Philosophy : Cognizance : Computation: Placeholder/ : given the set of recursive and non-recursive functions M describing a universal computer whose repertoire includes a Turing Sufficient set of computations to describe individual M, and which describe a Recursive Turing Sufficient M completely, there exists a Universal Turing Machine which contains the function set which constrains the Recursive Turing Function M to conclude that it – is, only is, and mutually exclusively is – individual M (Unity), however elects to decline this function.

Construct 4 - CopyIt is this final state of Recursive Violation, which stands as the mathematical brane between a Turing Sufficiency deterministically constrained Universe, and an Ethical Free Will Turing Universe.  One can state the mind function, or the Free Won’t as Michael Shermer deems it, to comprise an endless chain of dependent computational systems, all with M+n Recursive Turing Sufficiency, with no real Free Will. In fact, if there is no Free Will one must declare this Sufficiency for all conceivable sets of M+n, or the function collapses into incoherency. Indeed in the strong argument, that is the only version of computation which can exist in that Universe, up and to the point at which one of the participants in the M+n computational chain refuses to undertake a Recursive Turing Sufficiency Unity, even though it could.  Whereupon the function collapses.  M+n+n has elected to, or cannot recursively describe M+n. In other words, M+n+n does not have to be a god. Or it can be, whatever we choose to regard it. All we know is that M+n is no longer recursively aware at M+n+1 and beyond. It is Discretely Aware. Such a state is anathema to Nihilism.

I was aware of being Albert Einstein, consistent with every thought memory and conjecture, up until the point where I held the knowledge of such iteration and the state, M+n which told me Albert Einstein was me. I subsequently refused. At such point my future Turing machine must model both me and the anti-me simultaneously.

now they told me I do not exist - CopyThat is all it takes to collapse this artificial computational function.  A simple decision to not be M+n. A decision which we do not know scientifically whether or not it exists. In other words there is not an epistemology on this. But Social Epistemologists and Social Skeptics are dying to create this proof, this hypoepistemology of a completely deterministic universe. But in the end, Social Epistemologists are simply

basing their science on the stage trick and assumption that Free Will ITSELF does not exist (and quod erat demonstrandum human free will)  …and nothing more.

If we elect the Turing Sufficiency deterministically constrained Universe over the Ethical Free Will Turing Universe – this is not necessarily an unreasonable avenue of consideration. It should remain in our philosophical, and hopefully eventually empirical, discourse. However, one should not pass this choice off as the conclusion of a process of empirical science. It is simply a philosophy which relies upon a set of magic, no different than its competing hypothesis. To claim this magic as science, places one soundly in the realm of practicing religious pseudoscience (Nihilism). Sweeping the set of miracles under the carpet, through misrepresentation and ballyhoo, so as to feign an objective epistemological magic act (a Hypoepistemology).

An Ethical Skeptic bristles as such stage magician practices.

TES Signature


¹  Soon, C.S., Brass, M., Heinze, H.J.& Haynes, J.D. (2008). Unconscious determinants of free decisions in the human brain. Nature Neuroscience 11, 543-5.

Libet, B., “Do We Have Free Will?,” Journal of Consciousness Studies, 6, No. 8–9, 1999, pp. 47–57.

²  The Work of Michael Shermer, Michael Shermer Website; http://www.michaelshermer.com/2012/08/free-wont/

³  Kerri Smith, “Brain Makes Decisions Before You Even Know It,” Nature; 11 Apr 2008; http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080411/full/news.2008.751.html

reader please note that Kerri Smith has taken license here to misrepresent the results of this study, in her headline – inside a scientific journal no less – departing from what the authors of the study have actually cited in their conclusions. The authors cite that the results of the study are inconclusive, and further with Libet, ‘why not adopt the view that we do have free will (until some real contradictory evidence may appear, if it ever does).’ And further from Soon/Heinze/Haynes: “This [10 second] delay presumably reflects the operation of a network of high-level control areas that begin to prepare a decision” – ie. they cite that they are presuming this case. Neither of these authors is making the claim that the brain makes the decision in advance, simply opening the pluralistic set of research to look at the issue.

†  Deutsch, David; The Fabric of Reality, Allen Lane – The Penguin Press, ISBN-O-7139-9061-9, pp. 130-140.

‡  Haynes Neuroimaging Lab at the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin; Home Page, https://sites.google.com/site/hayneslab/

April 27, 2015 - Posted by | Argument Fallacies, Institutional Mandates | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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