Chemicals in the Brain and Truth.
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19-09-2015, 09:05 AM
RE: Chemicals in the Brain and Truth.
(19-09-2015 07:42 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  Here’s a simple question.

Is there likely to be a neurochemical distinction between the beliefs you hold as true, but are actually false, and beliefs you hold as true, and are actually true?

Is it likely that one day we may be able to just look at the scans of a person’s brain, and tell by these scans which beliefs are actually true, and which are actually false?


Your question is a bit nebulous. It can be read 2 ways. If you are going to try to postulate whether the claim a person is making is true, then absolutely not as the truth of a claim is independent of what a person believes about it.

However, if you want to see whether the person themselves believes that their beliefs are true, then that is another matter. If you ask a baseline set of questions that you know to be true you may be able to ascertain how a particular person's brain reacts to something that they know is true, to something they may be doubtful about, to something they think is outright false. However, I bet it is possible to scan someone and ask them faith based questions (post baseline questions) and then see whether their answers were lies (i.e. they knew it wasn't true), doubting (i.e. they think it is true but not completely convinced deep down), or whether they genuinely thought their answer is true.

"If we are honest—and scientists have to be—we must admit that religion is a jumble of false assertions, with no basis in reality.
The very idea of God is a product of the human imagination."
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19-09-2015, 09:15 AM
RE: Chemicals in the Brain and Truth.
Belief is just something that is perceived as correct information. There should not be any sign whether it is actually true or not unless there is doubt, too.

[Image: dobie.png]Science is the process we've designed to be responsible for generating our best guess as to what the fuck is going on. Girly Man
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19-09-2015, 09:58 AM (This post was last modified: 19-09-2015 10:22 AM by Tomasia.)
RE: Chemicals in the Brain and Truth.
(19-09-2015 08:24 AM)Unbeliever Wrote:  
(19-09-2015 07:42 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  Is there likely to be a neurochemical distinction between the beliefs you hold as true, but are actually false, and beliefs you hold as true, and are actually true?

Very likely not.

(19-09-2015 08:31 AM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  There are electrical / neuro chemical paths for EVERY thought, true or not. Can you tell by one person's pathways what is externally true ? Of course not. Can/will they be able to tell if someone holds the "belief" to be true or not ? Quite probably.

But would that mean in terms of rational evidentiary based thinking?

If you refer to a thought, something held to be true, as product of this, you would be speaking of an electrical/neuro chemical pathway in you brain, that corresponds to this thought. At the same time, if your concession here is true, I wouldn't be able to tell if things that travel through this electrical/neuro chemical pathway in your brain are in fact true, by this observation.

The other end of the stick here, is that if I'm trying to convince you to believe something is true, while you may say evidence and objective observations are required, this is just smoke and mirrors. What I really have to do is figure out some way to travel through some electrical/neuro chemical pathway in your brain, that makes you feel some series of propositions that i'm conveying are true.

They may not be true of course. But if I can find someway to travel through that pathway, you would believe it was regardless.

"Tell me, muse, of the storyteller who has been thrust to the edge of the world, both an infant and an ancient, and through him reveal everyman." ---Homer the aged poet.

"In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
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19-09-2015, 10:18 AM (This post was last modified: 19-09-2015 10:23 AM by Tomasia.)
RE: Chemicals in the Brain and Truth.
(19-09-2015 09:05 AM)The Organic Chemist Wrote:  
(19-09-2015 07:42 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  Here’s a simple question.

Is there likely to be a neurochemical distinction between the beliefs you hold as true, but are actually false, and beliefs you hold as true, and are actually true?

Is it likely that one day we may be able to just look at the scans of a person’s brain, and tell by these scans which beliefs are actually true, and which are actually false?


Your question is a bit nebulous. It can be read 2 ways. If you are going to try to postulate whether the claim a person is making is true, then absolutely not as the truth of a claim is independent of what a person believes about it.

However, if you want to see whether the person themselves believes that their beliefs are true, then that is another matter. If you ask a baseline set of questions that you know to be true you may be able to ascertain how a particular person's brain reacts to something that they know is true, to something they may be doubtful about, to something they think is outright false. However, I bet it is possible to scan someone and ask them faith based questions (post baseline questions) and then see whether their answers were lies (i.e. they knew it wasn't true), doubting (i.e. they think it is true but not completely convinced deep down), or whether they genuinely thought their answer is true.

I think that would require changing the question. I'm not asking whether we could likely tell based on an observation of our neurochemistry, if i'm telling a bluff, or gauge my confidence in something that I hold as true. All of which we likely can. Because none of this say anything about what in fact is true or not.

The thing that I'm trying to work through here and reconcile, which i don't have a complete argument for one way or the other, but just sort of building one, is that there's an external reality outside of my head, referred to here as the actual truth. While it's external to our minds here, external to the neurochemistry of our brains, it can only be observed and acknowledged through our minds, filtered through the neurochemistry of our brains. My questions, and the OP are interested in the reconciliation of this dynamic.

"Tell me, muse, of the storyteller who has been thrust to the edge of the world, both an infant and an ancient, and through him reveal everyman." ---Homer the aged poet.

"In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
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19-09-2015, 10:27 AM
RE: Chemicals in the Brain and Truth.
Um..... I don't think your terminology is quite right there, Tom.

Our experiance of the reality around us is filtered throuth our senses. I.E. touch, taste, scent, hearing, touch. (Don't think I've missed any?)

The nerve endings 'At our edges' interact with/get received/are registered within the various parts of our brain and thence the brain/mind works out what is going on.

Interesting article in New Scientist about a fellow who'd taken some damage to thier head hence thier hearing and visual went out of sync. Seems the brain is faster at encoding(decoding?interpreting?) sound quicker than sight/visuals. Such that there is actually 'wiring' within the brain to 'automatically' sync up what we hear with what we see. Is something like half a second difference? Like watching those 'classically dubbed' Asian movies when it goes awry.
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19-09-2015, 10:36 AM
RE: Chemicals in the Brain and Truth.
(19-09-2015 08:44 AM)epronovost Wrote:  We could analyse your brain say that you love your wife by detecting the good neurochemical components and the activation of specific portion of the brain, but couldn’t tell how much, how and why. Mind reading isn't a reality, but mind probing is.

While this is perhaps a slightly separate question but wouldn't the how much be just a technological handicap? That we just don't currently have the tools to do so? Would the how much part also corresponds to some neurochemical region of the brain, but the tools we currently have to scan for it, are not yet precise enough to detect this?

As far as the how and why, that is tricky. Because that would correspond to the history the person, all the events and interactions in his life that shaped his neurochemistry, both conscious and unconscious events, etc....

"Tell me, muse, of the storyteller who has been thrust to the edge of the world, both an infant and an ancient, and through him reveal everyman." ---Homer the aged poet.

"In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
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19-09-2015, 10:39 AM
RE: Chemicals in the Brain and Truth.
(19-09-2015 09:58 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  But would that mean in terms of rational evidentiary based thinking?

This question is incoherent.

(19-09-2015 09:58 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  If you refer to a thought, something held to be true, as product of this, you would be speaking of an electrical/neuro chemical pathway in you brain, that corresponds to this thought. At the same time, if your concession here is true, I wouldn't be able to tell if things that travel through this electrical/neuro chemical pathway in your brain are in fact true, by this observation.

Yes, in the same way that you can't tell if the phrase "the sky is blue" is true or not without looking at the sky.

What is your point?

(19-09-2015 09:58 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  The other end of the stick here, is that if I'm trying to convince you to believe something is true, while you may say evidence and objective observations are required, this is just smoke and mirrors. What I really have to do is figure out some way to travel through some electrical/neuro chemical pathway in your brain, that makes you feel some series of propositions that i'm conveying are true.

They may not be true of course. But if I can find someway to travel through that pathway, you would believe it was regardless.

Yes, people can believe things whether or not those things are rational.

I ask again: what is your point?

"Owl," said Rabbit shortly, "you and I have brains. The others have fluff. If there is any thinking to be done in this Forest - and when I say thinking I mean thinking - you and I must do it."
- A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner
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19-09-2015, 10:54 AM
RE: Chemicals in the Brain and Truth.
(19-09-2015 07:42 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  Here’s a simple question.

Is there likely to be a neurochemical distinction between the beliefs you hold as true, but are actually false, and beliefs you hold as true, and are actually true?

Is it likely that one day we may be able to just look at the scans of a person’s brain, and tell by these scans which beliefs are actually true, and which are actually false?

By and large, no on both counts. While the beliefs to be found in our brains may be recorded neurochemically, similar to words on a page (though neurons in the brain aren't exactly analogous, it's a close enough metaphor for these purposes), that wouldn't automatically make all held beliefs true. For most beliefs, one would have to check them against reality. You can write "the Earth is flat" in a book -- or believe it in your brain -- all you want, and reading the book or using the hypothetical scanning device on the brain won't inform us one way or the other whether the belief is true or false. Just that it's believed. To know whether it is true, you have to go out and CHECK. I don't think the brain stores true beliefs or false beliefs any differently unless it has some experiential, evidenciary basis (say, in a case of denial or repressed memory) has a cause to realize that they are false.

The exception would be some belief ABOUT the brain or its contents, which can be checked as part of the scan. For example, someone who believes themselves not to be a racist could have that belief shown true or false through examination of their own brain. You still have to check whether the belief is true, but the check is the same scan you've already done. (EDIT: Another possible class of exception would be something that is a logical truism. You don't need to go anywhere to check the logic.)

As to whether such technology will ever be developed... it's always hard to tell, but I'd guess no. At least, not a non-destructive perfect-detail sort of scanning. I'm guessing that the brain is too finicky, too detailed, too individualized, with too much happening simultaneously in real time, for such a technology to be practical. Not to mention the difficulties of calibration, the initial process of figuring out what neural-whatevers correspond to this type of thought or that type of memory based on... what? Self-reporting? Something more reliable? But hey, technology surprises us all the time, and I certainly wouldn't rule the possibility out.

"If I ignore the alternatives, the only option is God; I ignore them; therefore God." -- The Syllogism of Fail
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19-09-2015, 11:11 AM
RE: Chemicals in the Brain and Truth.
(19-09-2015 10:39 AM)Unbeliever Wrote:  Yes, in the same way that you can't tell if the phrase "the sky is blue" is true or not without looking at the sky.

That because when I hear the proposition the sky is blue in my head, it travel through some electrical/neuro pathway in my brain that fires a sensation in me for things I label as true. It may just as well be true that when I hear the proposition God exists, Jesus rose from the Dead, the earth is flat, that it travels through the same pathway leading to the same sensation, that it's true.

Quote:Yes, people can believe things whether or not those things are rational.

I ask again: what is your point?

The question here is in regards to rational thinking. Isn’t rational thinking reducible to electrical/neuro pathways in the brain? If so, are all thoughts that travel through these same exact pathways rational?

Let’s say you're arguing that a belief I hold is not rational. I sit in a chair to get my brain scanned, it shows that this belief that I hold as true, traveled through those exact pathways in my brain. Would you then have to concede that my beliefs are rational?

And just to be clear, you don’t believe all rational beliefs, are necessarily true? I’m just making sure we’re on the same page here, and to acknowledge that we haven’t gone to the extent of the question of the OP, which is more about what’s true or not, as opposed to what is rational or not.

"Tell me, muse, of the storyteller who has been thrust to the edge of the world, both an infant and an ancient, and through him reveal everyman." ---Homer the aged poet.

"In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
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19-09-2015, 11:16 AM
RE: Chemicals in the Brain and Truth.
(19-09-2015 10:27 AM)Peebothuhul Wrote:  Um..... I don't think your terminology is quite right there, Tom.

Our experiance of the reality around us is filtered throuth our senses. I.E. touch, taste, scent, hearing, touch. (Don't think I've missed any?)


I guess that would depend. My OP presupposess that our experiences of reality, touch, taste, our thoughts, beliefs, feeling, etc... are reducible to the neurochemistry of our brains.

If you don't agree with that, trying to decipher my points would be all the more difficult.

"Tell me, muse, of the storyteller who has been thrust to the edge of the world, both an infant and an ancient, and through him reveal everyman." ---Homer the aged poet.

"In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
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