The Physiological Basis for Consciousness: A Reply to Jeff’s Letter


Dear Jeff,

I like this theory of quantum consciousness but I get worried when it kind of seems too perfect, to fit too well. I did manage to get the library – not an easy trip from where I am staying. Anyway, once I see Deepak Chopra’s name even tangentially associated with something (he interviewed Hameroff), my bullshit meter goes right off the scale and I run in the other direction.

But, though I like the theory I still have questions. First, do we really know how quantum events translate to macro level events? Have we bridged that gap yet? I’m not sure. Second, Hameroff talks about microtubules within the neuron that, voila, are just the thing needed to have quantum states exist in an unreduced state. This gets a 2.7 on the Chopra B.S. scale. But let’s go with it. What does it really mean? To my mind (no pun intended) it means nothing. Well, no. Not really. It just points in an interesting direction for research. It’s when they – researchers – reach too far with the metaphors that I have a problem, when science slips into salesmanship. I think Hameroff should drop the word consciousness and instead use the term self-awareness or self-referential. That will get away from the religious Chopra bullshit.


P.S. Carmen says “Hi” and sends her love.

Note to the Reader

Here are the links to the previous two letters in this series.

  1. What Is The Physiological Basis Of Consciousness?
  2. The Physiological Basis for Consciousness: A Reply to Dom’s Letter
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  • Scott Hutson

    “When science slips into salesmanship” stands out in this letter (for me anyway). But someone has to “think” first in order to……..? I’ll have to think about this and see if it all comes down to the simple….”Cogito ergo sum” or Physiological mechanics.

  • Chris

    Indeed. Hameroff is good in what seems to be an argumentation trick: start with the obvious and slightly drift off until he has you floating in an 11-dimensional bovine quantum turd.

    • Jeff

      The only “however” is that he is pointing out an interesting direction for further research. Further, I think having Roger Penrose in his corner adds a bit more credence to his claims. But…we are far from proving any of these claims at this time.

      -sent via blackberry

      • Chris

        Oh sorry Jeff. I seem to have misunderstood your position. The way I see it, Penrose as well as Hameroff bedazzle people with quantum mysticism.

        Like Pim “I dont talk to you, evidence-based meanies” van Lommel does. Or with a different approach Kenneth Ring, who hopes we do not understand holograms, and Gordon Greene who uses hyperspace to explain conscience and near death experiences.

        I won’t bother you.

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