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Bad science

As I have been wont to say, man-made global warming has been the new cholesterol. The Wall Street Journal reports:

The new study’s conclusion shouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with modern nutritional science, however. The fact is, there has never been solid evidence for the idea that these fats cause disease. We only believe this to be the case because nutrition policy has been derailed over the past half-century by a mixture of personal ambition, bad science, politics and bias.

Sound familiar? After cataloguing the bad or defective methodologies of the early studies (sample bias, inadequate samples, etc.) the Wall Street Journal article states:

But there was no turning back: Too much institutional energy and research money had already been spent trying to prove Dr. Keys’s hypothesis. A bias in its favor had grown so strong that the idea just started to seem like common sense. As Harvard nutrition professor Mark Hegsted said in 1977, after successfully persuading the U.S. Senate to recommend Dr. Keys’s diet for the entire nation, the question wasn’t whether Americans should change their diets, but why not? Important benefits could be expected, he argued. And the risks? “None can be identified,” he said.

In short, every attempt to get away from animal fats has led to the use of vegetable oils and other carbohydrates which, in turn, have had their own deleterious effects on human health, including obesity, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide (of all things!).

Seeing the U.S. population grow sicker and fatter while adhering to official dietary guidelines has put nutrition authorities in an awkward position. Recently, the response of many researchers has been to blame “Big Food” for bombarding Americans with sugar-laden products. No doubt these are bad for us, but it is also fair to say that the food industry has simply been responding to the dietary guidelines issued by the AHA and USDA, which have encouraged high-carbohydrate diets and until quite recently said next to nothing about the need to limit sugar.

“Seeing the economy grow weaker and people poorer under the influence of green energy policies has put warmists in an awkward position”.

Well not yet, anyway. They still are fanatically determined to save us from fossil fuels. Oh, an woodsmoke from stoves.

 

The most offensive idea yet

I came across this on Edge.org. Jonathan Haidt describes himself as a secular atheist Jewish leftie. That he may be, but he is also the most interesting social scientist writing today, exceeding Pinker, in my view. Haidt is one of the few lefties who understands what conservatives believe and why they believe it, and rather than being repelled, is genuinely sympathetic.

Haidt was among many scientists asked “what will change everything?”  Haidt’s answer attacks  the contention that “race is skin deep and does not really exist” a belief that dominates social discourse.

The answers by scientists to that question, found at the hyperlink above, ought to satisfy your appetite for important thoughts for many months to come.

Here is Haidt:

FASTER EVOLUTION MEANS MORE ETHNIC DIFFERENCES

The most offensive idea in all of science for the last 40 years is the possibility that behavioral differences between racial and ethnic groups have some genetic basis. Knowing nothing but the long-term offensiveness of this idea, a betting person would have to predict that as we decode the genomes of people around the world, we’re going to find deeper differences than most scientists now expect. Expectations, after all, are not based purely on current evidence; they are biased, even if only slightly, by the gut feelings of the researchers, and those gut feelings include disgust toward racism..

A wall has long protected respectable evolutionary inquiry from accusations of aiding and abetting racism. That wall is the belief that genetic change happens at such a glacial pace that there simply was not time, in the 50,000 years since humans spread out from Africa, for selection pressures to have altered the genome in anything but the most trivial way (e.g., changes in skin color and nose shape were adaptive responses to cold climates). Evolutionary psychology has therefore focused on the Pleistocene era – the period from about 1.8 million years ago to the dawn of agriculture — during which our common humanity was forged for the hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

But the writing is on the wall. Russian scientists showed in the 1990s that a strong selection pressure (picking out and breeding only the tamest fox pups in each generation) created what was — in behavior as well as body — essentially a new species in just 30 generations. That would correspond to about 750 years for humans. Humans may never have experienced such a strong selection pressure for such a long period, but they surely experienced many weaker selection pressures that lasted far longer, and for which some heritable personality traits were more adaptive than others. It stands to reason that local populations (not continent-wide “races”) adapted to local circumstances by a process known as “co-evolution” in which genes and cultural elements change over time and mutually influence each other. The best documented example of this process is the co-evolution of genetic mutations that maintain the ability to fully digest lactose in adulthood with the cultural innovation of keeping cattle and drinking their milk. This process has happened several times in the last 10,000 years, not to whole “races” but to tribes or larger groups that domesticated cattle.

Recent “sweeps” of the genome across human populations show that hundreds of genes have been changing during the last 5-10 millennia in response to local selection pressures. (See papers by Benjamin Voight, Scott Williamson, and Bruce Lahn). No new mental modules can be created from scratch in a few millennia, but slight tweaks to existing mechanisms can happen quickly, and small genetic changes can have big behavioral effects, as with those Russian foxes. We must therefore begin looking beyond the Pleistocene and turn our attention to the Holocene era as well – the last 10,000 years. This was the period after the spread of agriculture during which the pace of genetic change sped up in response to the enormous increase in the variety of ways that humans earned their living, formed larger coalitions, fought wars, and competed for resources and mates.

The protective “wall” is about to come crashing down, and all sorts of uncomfortable claims are going to pour in. Skin color has no moral significance, but traits that led to Darwinian success in one of the many new niches and occupations of Holocene life — traits such as collectivism, clannishness, aggressiveness, docility, or the ability to delay gratification — are often seen as virtues or vices. Virtues are acquired slowly, by practice within a cultural context, but the discovery that there might be ethnically-linked genetic variations in the ease with which people can acquire specific virtues is — and this is my prediction — going to be a “game changing” scientific event. (By “ethnic” I mean any group of people who believe they share common descent, actually do share common descent, and that descent involved at least 500 years of a sustained selection pressure, such as sheep herding, rice farming, exposure to malaria, or a caste-based social order, which favored some heritable behavioral predispositions and not others.)

I believe that the “Bell Curve” wars of the 1990s, over race differences in intelligence, will seem genteel and short-lived compared to the coming arguments over ethnic differences in moralized traits. I predict that this “war” will break out between 2012 and 2017.

There are reasons to hope that we’ll ultimately reach a consensus that does not aid and abet racism. I expect that dozens or hundreds of ethnic differences will be found, so that any group — like any person — can be said to have many strengths and a few weaknesses, all of which are context-dependent. Furthermore, these cross-group differences are likely to be small when compared to the enormous variation within ethnic groups and the enormous and obvious effects of cultural learning. But whatever consensus we ultimately reach, the ways in which we now think about genes, groups, evolution and ethnicity will be radically changed by the unstoppable progress of the human genome project.

Intelligent Life on earth: a flash in the pan

In its 4.6 billion years circling the sun, the Earth has harbored an increasing diversity of life forms:

From my ignorant perspective. modern humans cannot be much older than the cave paintings at Lascaux, which makes the age of humans to be roughly  30,000 years.

Arbitrarily taking the start of life on earth at 3.6 billion years ago as our starting point, and dividing (I just made this up for the sake of convenience) 36,000 years of intelligent human life (3.6 x 10 to the 4th) by 3.6 x 10 to the 9th years, we get: 1 x 10 to the5th. That is to say, intelligent human life as we understand it is 1/100,000 the length of life on earth.

Which means that intelligent alien life might flourish for longer than any known human civilization and have perished thousands of years before we even got started. Space is big and time is long.

* “flash in the pan” – Old fashioned muskets had a priming pan outside the barrel. The flint striking mechanism would send a spark into the pan, which would ignite the powder in the pan, and then burn into barrel, most of the time. A “flash in the pan” signified the powder in the pan exploding, without igniting the gunshot.

IQ matters

The 20th century saw some of the worst of ideas celebrated and obvious truths derided. One of the Large Stupid Ideas© that has prevailed has been the complete rejection of any component of heredity in the outcomes of human life. It suited social engineers of the Left to deny the reality of biological influences. Any relatively stable social outcome, such as social class, or racial disparities, could not be rapidly amended by more legislation, thought control, or exclusion from universities, if they were influenced by inherited factors.

I may be battling a folly which the younger generation has long since left behind them. It seems, to the contrary, that political corrrectness, or cultural Marxism, goes from strength to strength. The more the evidence adds up that the biological has some influence, the more it is denounced as sexist racist, differentist: in short, heretical

Thus it was with pleasure that I saw the admission in the normally liberal Slate Magazine a serious rebuttal to the notion that IQ does not matter.

But this argument is wrong. The SAT does predict success in college—not perfectly, but relatively well, especially given that it takes just a few hours to administer. And, unlike a “complex portrait” of a student’s life, it can be scored in an objective way. (In a recent New York Times op-ed, the University of New Hampshire psychologist John D. Mayer aptly described the SAT’s validity as an “astonishing achievement.”) In a study published in Psychological Science, University of Minnesota researchers Paul Sackett, Nathan Kuncel, and their colleagues investigated the relationship between SAT scores and college grades in a very large sample: nearly 150,000 students from 110 colleges and universities. SAT scores predicted first-year college GPA about as well as high school grades did, and the best prediction was achieved by considering both factors. Botstein, Boylan, and Kolbert [critics of SAT] are either unaware of this directly relevant, easily accessible, and widely disseminated empirical evidence, or they have decided to ignore it and base their claims on intuition and anecdote—or perhaps on their beliefs about the way the world should be rather than the way it is.

And SAT scores  are not merely reflectors of social economic status; they measure intelligence quite directly.

What this all means is that the SAT measures something—some stable characteristic of high school students other than their parents’ income—that translates into success in college. And what could that characteristic be? General intelligence. The content of the SAT is practically indistinguishable from that of standardized intelligence tests that social scientists use to study individual differences, and that psychologists and psychiatrists use to determine whether a person is intellectually disabled—and even whether a person should be spared execution in states that have the death penalty. Scores on the SAT correlate very highly with scores on IQ tests—so highly that the Harvard education scholar Howard Gardner, known for his theory of multiple intelligences, once called the SAT and other scholastic measures “thinly disguised” intelligence tests.

The Son Also Rises – There is such a thing as social class and it matters

From Gregory Clark’s book The Son also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility,

Only when confronted with evidence of the persistence of status over five hundred years that was too glaring to ignore was I forced to abandon my cheery assurance that one of the joys of the capitalist economy was its pervasive and rapid social mobility. Having for years poured scorn on my colleagues in sociology for their obsessions with such illusory categories as class, I now had evidence that individuals’ life chances were predictable not just from the status of their parents but from that of their great-great-great grandparents. There seemed to be an inescapable inherited substrate, looking suspiciously like social class, that underlies the outcomes for all individuals.Only when confronted with evidence of the persistence of status over five hundred years that was too glaring to ignore was I forced to abandon my cheery assurance that one of the joys of the capitalist economy was its pervasive and rapid social mobility. Having for years poured scorn on my colleagues in sociology for their obsessions with such illusory categories as class, I now had evidence that individuals’ life chances were predictable not just from the status of their parents but from that of their great-great-great grandparents. There seemed to be an inescapable inherited substrate, looking suspiciously like social class, that underlies the outcomes for all individuals.

Contrary to what he had believed, social mobility in modern times is relatively rare, and the explanation for this is that social skill is largely inherited. Choose your wife or husband carefully, and most of the fates of your children will have been decided.

As one who has watched members of the same families dominate the tennis tournaments at the summer club for three or four generations, and as one of three students who won the same scholastic prizes every year for ten years of schooling, I can assure you that Professor Clark’s findings come as no surprize.

In the immortal words of Professor George Homans, responding to some fellow questioning the existence of an American upper class: “There is so an American upper class and I am a paht of it”!

Inbreeding

When you marry people who are near relatives for too long, you get inbreeding. I had not known there is a section of the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York dedicated to the treatment of Jewish genetic diseases produced from too much inbreeding among the highly orthodox. I was wondering when there will be a broader public discussion of inbreeding among Muslims. Generations of marrying first cousins continue to produce a much higher incidence of genetic diseases among Muslims than the general population. Cue Islamic outrage. People who work in hospitals are well aware of this fact, though they do not talk about it.

An interesting article on the subject appears in Wikislam.(I cannot tell whether this site is sincere or a front, but the information seems genuine).

 

In Pakistan, where there has been cousin marriage for generations, and according to professor Anne-Marie Nybo Andersen from South Danish University, the current rate is 70%,[5] one study estimated infant mortality at 12.7 percent for married double first cousins, 7.9 percent for first cousins, 9.2 percent for first cousins once removed/double second cousins, 6.9 percent for second cousins, and 5.1 percent among non-consanguineous progeny. Among double first cousin progeny, 41.2 percent of pre-reproductive deaths were associated with the expression of detrimental recessive genes, with equivalent values of 26.0, 14.9, and 8.1 percent for first cousins, first cousins once removed/double second cousins, and second cousins respectively.

A BBC report discussed Pakistanis in the United Kingdom, 55% of whom marry a first cousin. Given the high rate of such marriages, many children come from repeat generations of first-cousin marriages. The report states that these children are 13 times more likely than the general population to produce children with genetic disorders, and one in ten children of first-cousin marriages in Birmingham either dies in infancy or develops a serious disability.[6]

From Gavin McInnes, in Takimag, this fact:

Muslim immigrants in Britain obviously don’t “keep it in the family” as much as their relatives back home, but they’re still suffering the consequences. Though Pakistanis comprise a mere 3.4% of Britain’s overall births, they “produce an alarming 30% of the UK’s genetically diseased children.” British politicians are calling for intermarriage to be outlawed, arguing the result is a form of child abuse.

Here is a chart from the reproductive health journal of degrees of first cousin marriage in Islamic societies. >1C indicates double first cousin marriage, 1C indicates first cousin marriage.

Table 1

Consanguinity rates in Arab populations. Minimum and maximum reported rates are indicated when available
Country >1C, 1C Overall consanguinity References

Algeria 11.3 22.6-34 [14,100]

Bahrain 24.5 39.4-45.5 [10,101]

Egypt 14.3-23.2 20.9-32.8 [15,70,102104]

Egypt (Nubia) 39-47.2 60.5-80.4 [105,106]

Iraq 29-33 47-60 [86,107109]

Jordan 19.5-39 28.5-63.7 [6,9,43,110113]

Kuwait 16.9-31.7 22.5-64.3 [114117]

Lebanon 6.7-31.6 12.8-42 [4,5,118120]

Libya 48.4 [121]

Mauritania 47.2 [93]

Morocco 8.6-10 19.9-28 [21,122124]

Oman 24.1 56.3 [125]

Palestine 13.6-34.2 17.5-66.3 [7,1113,71,126129]

Qatar 34.8 54 [19]

Saudi Arabia 24.6-42.3 42.1-66.7 [67,84,99,130,131]

Sudan 44.2-49.5 44.2-63.3 [66,132,133]

Syria 28.7 30-3-39.8 [16,134]

Tunisia 17.4-23 20.1-39.3 [18,9,135,136]

United Arab Emirates 20.7-28.2 40-54.2 [20,36,137]

Yemen 32-34 40-44.7 [17,138]

For comprehensive details and additional data, see Additional File 1.

Abbreviations: [>1C] = Double first-cousin marriage; [1C] = First-cousin marriage.

Tadmouri et al. Reproductive Health 2009 6:17   doi:10.1186/1742-4755-6-17

Open Data

Out of curiosity I looked up the table of Kindred and Affinity in the Anglican Prayer Book at p.562 and was unable to find a ban on marrying first cousins.

A Man may not marry his A Woman may not marry her
1   MOTHER 1   FATHER
2   Step-mother 2   Step-father
3   Mother-in-law 3   Father-in-law
4   Daughter 4   Son
5   Step-daughter 5   Step-son
6   Daughter-in- law 6   Son-in-law
7   Sister 7   Brother
8   Grandmother 8   Grandfather
9   Grandfather’s Wife 9   Grandmother’s Husband
10  Wife’s Grandmother 10  Husband’s Grandfather
11  Grand-daughter 11  Grandson
12  Wife’s Grand-daughter 12  Husband’s Grandson
13  Grandson’s Wife 13  Grand-daughter’s Husband
14  Aunt 14  Uncle
15  Niece 15  Nephew

So, I wonder, why are certain tribes (Anglo-Saxons, Iroquois, for instance) outward marrying (exogamous) and other tribes inward marrying (endogamous)? They say endogamous marriage is for protecting property, but could it also indicate much lower trust levels in the society as a whole?

And now for something important

Graham Hancock discussing ayahuasca, consciousness, and the current crisis of materialist civilization.

It is important to realize that consciousness is not something that materialism (meat-machine) can explain. There are non-material realities, starting with numbers and moving on through symbols and meaning towards mind. What is this thing called mind? And who is it that is asking the question?

Does the brain generate consciousness?  Or does the brain receive consciousness, like a radio receiving a signal? In that case the signal would not be affected by the breakdown of the machine. Choose your metaphor carefully, people.

Hancock argues that the current civilization has gone insane by denying that we are spiritual creatures (viz. that buffoon Dawkins, and his allies Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and others) and that a spiritual domain  is real. He concludes by insisting upon the right of the sovereign individual to affect their consciousness through the responsible use of mind-altering plants.

You do not have to agree with all of Hancock’s elegant rant, to consider that our world civilization is in one of those eras that most stridently and intolerantly denies the spiritual as being real or in any way important. In that sense it is not sustainable, because it denies the existence of the most important part of who we are. We are not meat-machines.

Girls are not turned off science and engineering because of toys

The British Minister of Education says sex-specific toys may turn girls off an education in science and technology. The Telegraph informs us that:

Manufacturers risk turning girls off careers in science and maths by producing gender-specific toys, the Education Minister has warned.

Elizabeth Truss said that companies marketing chemistry sets exclusively at boys was the “antithesis of what we want to promote” in the state school system.

She called for parents to buy more Lego for their daughters to get them interested in engineering.

Mrs Truss also backed a campaign established to call for the abolition of gender segregation in toy departments, insisting girls should not be pushed into fashion over farming.

The comments were made following a decision by Marks & Spencer to pledge that its range of toys would be “gender neutral” by this spring after being flooded with complaints from the Let Toys Be Toys campaign.

No, Minister, girls are not dissuaded from an engineering career because of toys.You have the causal relationship backward. The kind of thinking that engineering represents does not interest most girls, by their natures. Modern ideas about sex-roles being a social construct will not change this fact. The freer women are to pursue what career they want, the less they want to be engineers. In places like the former Soviet Union, yes, there were plenty of women engineers, but where women are free to pursue what careers they want, female participation in engineering goes down, not up.

If there were not a generally greater predilection by males for science and technology professions, there would not be the enormous effort made to attract women to science and engineering. Proportionately more males than females  seek these professions without the artificial encouragement of policy. This is not a problem that needs fixing, except to the political Left.

The refutation of this bad social science is found in an especially entertaining television series of a few years ago called “Hjernevask” – “Brainwash”, by Harald Eia for Norwegian television. The first episode is called “The Geneder Equality Paradox”, and deals with today’s topic. See Steve Sailer’s commentary on Eia’s brilliant take-down of bad social science in 2010. That will lead you to the television shows put on by Eia that demolished this nonsense. The English-language version of his shows are found here. I blogged about these shows two years ago here. I wish someone would go through Canadian social science departments and do the same as Harald Eia did in Norway.

Dark Enlightenment

For those who are curious about the places where you really should not go on the Internet, to taste the dubious fruits of seriously reactionary thought – I do not mean conservative, I mean reactionary – you can start with this rather dispassionate survey here from Vocativ, which is an interesting site in its own right.

What is the Dark Enlightenment? As the term suggests, the Dark Enlightenment is an ideological analysis of modern democracy that harshly rejects the vision of the 18th century European Enlightenment—a period punctuated by the development of empirical science, the rise of humanist values and the first outburst of revolutionary democratic reform. In contrast, the Dark Enlightenment advocates an autocratic and neo-monarchical society. Its belief system is unapologetically reactionary, almost feudal.

Having braced yourself for your encounter with stuff so far from electoral politics that it has disappeared through the event horizon, the  definition of which is surprisingly apt:

a boundary in spacetime beyond which events cannot affect an outside observer…

you may now safely observe the blogs I am about to direct you to. Start with Occam’s Razor, which is frankly anti-democratic and reactionary, and in particular to “The Dark Enlightenment/NeoReaction gets Mainstream Notice”.

There are enough links for and against for you to follow that you can waste your time productively in the murkier recesses of reaction, and hysteria about reaction.

The essential contention of the reactionaries is that there exists an established church of opinion, which is called the Cathedral, whose laws are to be obeyed.  The laws of the Cathedral are the summary of the generally anti-white, anti-Christian, and antinomian beliefs that animate contemporary political discourse. Whether you agree with the reactionaries or not, you will probably recognize that the Cathedral represents  the core beliefs of the far political Left.

I exclude from the category “far Left” people who might want more government spending, or higher taxes, or less social inequality. Many people to the left of me are in the zone of reasonable political disagreement. I am talking about the people whom I believe to be morally deranged by anti-white racism, anti-male sexism, and anti-Christianism, among other symptoms.

The Left is hysterical about the existence of political differences. It drives them bonkers that there can be difference of opinion on, say, anthropogenic global warming, and people writing in the obscure corners of the opinion environment who believe that liberal democracy is heading us all straight to hell, or keeping us locked up there, as the case may be.

I remain much more confident about the capacities of public discourse to hold back and eventually reverse the Leftist tide, than either the reactionaries doubt or the far Left fears. In this I may utterly mistaken. I am creature of the Enlightenment in many senses:  I have no use for atheism,  I remain confident that reason will prevail, and these two beliefs are not contradictory. I am also confident that representative democracy is the only one suitable for sustaining self-government. I am a conservative, rather than a leftist,  because I believe we must govern ourselves well or else we shall be governed by others, and that requires serious education of the soul. I am a liberal, rather than a reactionary, because I believe that, more often than not, we are able to govern ourselves.

 

Happy delving into the depths of genuine political debate. Do not forget to come up for air.

Links:

http://www.counter-currents.com/2013/12/the-dark-enlightenment-is-new-right-lite/

http://dailycaller.com/2013/11/08/its-not-racist-to-seek-an-exit/

http://davidbrin.blogspot.ca/2013/11/neo-reactionaries-drop-all-pretense-end.html

http://anarchopapist.wordpress.com/2013/12/10/the-rightist-singularity/

The relevant problem: what is it that we are experiencing?

Duggan’s Dew, Oban, Rebel Yell and I were talking past each other yesterday as we watched the Canada-USA hockey game. The problem was Duggan’s ardent refusal to contemplate the hard problem of consciousness lest he be tempted, somehow, to believe in God. How he manages this refusal to address the issue of the quality of mental experience is by setting up a series of blocks in his own mind, as if Rebel Yell and I were older teenagers trying to trick a naive six-year old  into relinquishing a treasure. The defence starts to look like a Young-Earth Creationist trying not to understand the 5 billion years of earth’s geology.

This morning I came across a statement of the problem which we were vainly trying to lay before our august friend yesterday in the tavern. The book in question is Biocentrism, and the author, Robert Lanza, is quoting the Australian philosopher David Chalmers. Here is Lanza in his own voice (at p.171):

What makes a consciousness problem easy or hard is that the former concern themselves solely with functionality, or the performance aspects, so that scientists need only discover which parts of the brain controls which, and they can go away rightfully saying they have solved an area of cognitive function. In other words, the issue is the relatively simple one of finding mechanisms. Conversely, the deeper and infinitely more frustrating aspect of consciousness or experience is hard, as Chalmers points out, “precisely because it is not a problem about the performance of functions. The problem persists even when the performance of all the relevant functions are explained.” How neural information is discriminated, integrated, and reported still doesn’t explain how it is experienced.”

So the question is: is the human mind ultimately a material phenomenon? That is to say, not merely produced by matter and its motions, acting through natural and sexual  selection, but fully explainable in terms of those agencies? In short mind=brain. No functioning brain means no functioning mind, in any circumstances.

I take the view that awareness is primary, and that awareness attaches itself to brains and is amplified by them the way radio signals are found and amplified by radios into speech and music. Only in the human case, every person interprets the awareness through their own mind, so each appears to be listening to their own music. The materialist view (Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens and that gang of philosophical illiterates) proposes that thought is produced by the mind as the liver produces bile. Terminate the brain and you terminate the mind, necessarily. The mind, for them,  is a purely physical entity.

An obvious inference from my views on the primacy of awareness is that artificial intelligence (of the kind manifested by chess playing programs) will not lead to self-awareness of the kind that even an ape has. There will be no Lieutenant Commander Data’s in our future.

This issue was touched upon in a fascinating interview with the physicist Stephen Barr, author of Modern Physics, Ancient Faith.

 

Q: You’ve written about the issue of artificial intelligence. Many scientists and technicians seem to think it only a matter of time before a genuinely artificial intelligence, capable of engaging in all the kinds of intellectual activities of human beings is created. What is your view?

Dr. Barr: I think they are wrong. I do not believe that the human intellect and will are reducible to the operations of a machine. There are philosophical arguments going back to Plato and Aristotle for the immateriality of the human intellect. And I think that there are very suggestive indications from both modern physics and mathematics that seem to dovetail with these philosophical arguments. I am thinking in particular of quantum theory in its traditional formulation and Goedel’s Theorem in mathematics. There are some great scientists (like Sir Rudolf Peierls and Eugene Wigner) who argued on the basis of quantum theory that the human mind could not be explained by mere physics. And there are several eminent philosophers and mathematicians who believe that Goedel’s Theorem shows that the human mind cannot be explained as a mere computer. I explain these arguments in the latter part of my book.

So, Duggan, the issue is not God. He more or less takes care of Himself. The issue is: are there minds? and what are they? My view is that they are not ultimately material, and if that is so, the universe is a whole lot more interesting than materialists will allow.

A video related to the subject of modern physics versus materialism is available: