Steady on, old fellow. We know about Maudlin's argument (which
essentially the same as Bruno's MGA), which indicates the
incompatibility of materialism and COMP.

I know you had some argument against COMP, but I never really got
it. Maybe you could try summarising/simplifying it for the group. But
in all likelihood, all it would demonstrate (assuming the argument is
valid) is that COMP is incompatible with your particular ontological

What other arguments are there against COMP? Searle's Chinese room
argument, though well known, has been thoroughly debunked. The man in
the room should understand Chinese about as well as a neuron would (in
a Chinese speaker). Yet the room as a whole does understand Chinese.


On Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 08:00:07PM -0800, ColinHales wrote:
> Hi folk,
> Our belief system state in relation to the the truth/falsehood of COMP
> is a truly bizarre corner of science. The concept is simple, yet as an
> empirical proposition, it has eluded the kind of definitive testing
> that, for example, basic physics would accept as conclusive.
> If X is a potential scientific belief, then empirical examination of
> the consequences of X adds weight to a body of evidence suggesting
> that adopting the belief is of predictive utility. Fine Fine Fine. If
> it works, then X is restated in some usable form ... say 'law of
> nature X' or X_lon.
> In the formulation of a testable version of belief X, however, is a
> process of critical argument that helps us define what X means and
> what evidence might be critically dependent on the truth of X. During
> the critical argument, you find and weigh up the feasibility of X as a
> law of nature and what easily accessible consequences might facilitate
> an early decision on X. During this pre 'law of nature' phase, X might
> be discarded because it is easy to find sets of conditions which are
> inconsistent with X... so we then, sensibly, adopt the position that X
> is untenable as a truth of the natural world. And we move on ... all
> the while keeping X as a possibility ... albeit improbable.
> In the greater environment of the claim X = 'computationalism', when
> you look at the way science is behaving, one can empirically measure
> psychologically bizarre belief systems. That is, critical examination
> revealing low likelihood fails to become evidence consistent with
> COMP's falsehood. The truth of COMP has never been proven in any
> logical or empirical way. Yet legions of 'Artificial General
> Intelligence'  (AGI) workers spend tens and hundreds of $millions on
> projects whose outcomes are critically dependent on COMP being
> true. .... and the investors are _never_ told about the fundamental
> act of faith they are embarked upon. .... a level of faith that would
> never be acceptable elsewhere.
> We have multiple instances of people who have elevated the level of
> doubt surrounding COMP way beyond the levels normally accepted as
> making a proposition highly suspect.... yet here are the legions of
> AGI workers ... all plodding along on faith, continuing to believe for
> reasons that I cannot fathom.
> I can cite many arguments that, despite attempts to confirm it, find
> good reasons supporting COMP's falsehood. Anywhere else, where truths
> are entertained despite good reasoning, acting as if COMP was true
> makes it a religious proposition, not science.
> Now, I am not a psychologist. But I have read a lot on the history of
> science and have lived within it all my adult life. I am trying to
> understand what broken logic underpins blind faith in COMP that is
> also consistent with a more general belief_malfunction in science.
> After several years of analysis I think I have a proposition that is
> predictive of this strange state in science:
> There seems to be a profound, institutionalized failure within
> scientists that results, for whatever reason, in an inability to
> distinguish between the actual natural world and a (mathematical)
> model of its behaviour, as apparent to a scientist.
> For reasons I cannot fathom, the idea that these two things can be
> different is like a massive blind-spot. If you raise the possibility,
> very bizarre objections arise that are indistinguishable from the
> objections that a believer has in their religion.
> I will continue to battle this blind spot as best I can.
> Thanks for the Maudlin. I'll add it to the pile of COMP = FALSE
> evidence.
> By the way, I have a pile of zero height for COMP = TRUE. I do
> however, have evidence of believers that number in the millions.
> Weird, huh?
> Cheers
> Colin Hales
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Prof Russell Standish                  Phone 0425 253119 (mobile)
UNSW SYDNEY 2052               

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