Thursday, October 8, 2015

Sufficiently advanced magical thinking is indistinguishable from technology

At Riddled we rate for half-baked ideas. Like half-baked bread, they keep in the fridge, ready to be popped in the oven for 15 minutes and served up to the family smelling all brown and sentimental and bakery-fresh yeast-estery.

Mathematicians are notorious for looking at a constant and seeing a parameter, so here is I. J. Good to point out that ideas fall along an entire continuum of bakedness:

A partly-baked idea or PBI is either a speculation, a question of some novelty, a suggestion for a novel experiment, a stimulating analogy, or (rarely) a classification. It has a bakedness of p that is less than unity, or even negative. The bakedness of an idea should be judged by its potential value, the chance that it can be completely baked, its originality, interest, stimulation, conciseness, lucidity, and liveliness. It is often better to be stimulating and wrong than boring and right.

A very rough guide to the maximum length that a PBI should have is given by the formula

10(9px/2) words
where x, the importance of the topic, is between 0 and 1. For example, the maximum length for a negatively-baked idea is less than one word. An idea can compensate in importance what it lacks in bakedness, and conversely. The formula is applicable to each sentence and to each paragraph, as well as to the whole of a contribution. For the non-specialist, the formula makes sense even when px = 1, but in this anthology px rarely exceeds 7/9.

It follows that one picture is worth a fully-important PBI with bakedness p = 0.67. Of course Good's guidelines for verbal values are now considered as quaint as the Geneva Conventions, for they predate the explosion of open-access journals soliciting material to fill their virtual pages.

Opinions differ on how many words are warranted for István Bókkon's contention that "biophotons" -- ultraweak bioluminescence -- are not an incidental side-effect of cellular metabolism, but are in fact an integral channel of inter-cellular communication.
In particular, Bókkon sees a central role for biophotons in human visual processing. When nerve impulses from the eyes reach the V1 visual cortex, they trigger the cortical cells to emit photons and form a literal projected image of what is being seen.

This is good news for the little homunculi inside our heads; finally they have a job to do, which is to stare at those "intrinsic biophysical pictures" illuminating the inside of our skulls, and detect those photons with other V1 cortical cells.

This also happens in dreams, visual imagery, phosphenes, after-images, and near-death experience. Because if there is a visual experience, there must be light to produce it somewhere, it stands to reason.

I remain unconvinced that cortical neurons are optimised to work as a secondary intra-cranial retina (on account of lacking photopigments). But there is the exciting corollary that other sensory modalities might be processed in the brain in an analogous way, and that neurons in the auditory cortex might communicate by transmitting and receiving phonons -- allowing for the possibility that a sufficiently sensitive microphone inserted inside the skull would allow us to track someone's unspoken thoughts.
Can gustatory cortex
detect flavours directly?
Also, some of the biophotons will not be intercepted by their intended target cells, and by detecting them we can monitor the progress of the subject's visual imagery -- without all that farfing around with biofluorescent markers to create brainbows.

Unfortunately the Riddled Research Institute and Mad Scientist Anti-Defamation League human-transparency project is not currently in good odour with the Ethics Review Panel (due so some trifling "glass goblin" side effects from the Evolvamat, and the escape of the transparent mice from laboratory confinement), so we are left with the old-school techniques.
Nor should we neglect the other corollaries of Bokkon's theory. It took Michael Persinger -- a person of interest to the MSADL -- to provide the illuminating insight that our brains emit more biophotons when we think about lightness.
...and that these biophotons can explain telekinesis (by interacting with the earth's Schumann Resonance).

Also these are coherent biophotons (quantum coherence within neural-axon microtubules comes into this somehow), and their release can be stimulated. This means one thing:

Space does not allow us to cover Bókkon's other theory that memories are stored in cortical nanoparticles of magnetite, in the manner of magnetic tape. I grieve to report that the pioneering work of L. Shepard (1984) is not cited.


JP said...

and the escape of the transparent mice from laboratory confinement

I have in fact seen real-life transparent mice, but they were not alive. The summer before I started grad school, I was in Ann Arbor for this nifty side benefit of a fellowship I have where I got paid like six grand to hang out and go to workshops every week and could take a class for free. (I took intensive German.)

Anyway, I subletted from one of my colleagues who owned a pet snake at the time, as well as two cats. (Lord Hissworth has since passed on to the great terrarium in the sky.) I had to feed him dead baby mice every 10 day or so - these were kept in a paper bag in the freezer. (I called them micicles.) You were supposed to soak them in hot water to thaw them out and warm them up, and they would turn transparent. Their skin, at least.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Brain lasers or jazz hands?

M. Bouffant said...

I was w/ Bokky right to the end, but he's just being silly there; no one uses magnetic media anymore, the modern human brain obviously stores memory on chips. Probably salty ones.