Phew boy, Paul… there is so much interdisciplinary stuff here… where do I
begin? Let’s tackle our basic assumptions first:

1)      Systems theory, complexity theory, Prigogine, Pribram, emergence,
etc, I’ve had solid exposure to most of it. I’ve been involved in online
forums with Eshel Ben Jakob, Howard Bloom, etc. So I’m unfazed by the
systems theory narrative, feedback loops, etc. Group selection theory was an
interesting distraction, but it too failed to consolidate into anything
solid. And as much as I was taken by emergence theory a couple of decades
ago, I no longer accept the generally sterile, evo-psych, epigenetic
interpretation of emergence, on its own. There is a key piece missing from
the puzzle;

2)      What is that key piece that is missing from the puzzle? In order to
establish what it might be, we need to get back to basics. Review
assumptions. Establish an axiomatic framework. My role-model for said
axiomatic framework is Isaac Newton. My axiomatic framework, inspired by
Newton’s emphasis on “inevitability”, eventually brought me to the semiotics
of Charles Sanders Peirce and the biosemiotics of Jakob von Uexküll. It was
in the course of trying to prove my axiomatic framework, for my Semiotica
article, that brought me to Peirce, with the disappointment/elation that
it’s all been done before. Disappointed that hey, my ideas are not as
original as I had thought, but elation that I’ve got good theoretical
support from a pioneer;

3)      To cut a long story short… complexity theory needs to factor in
mind-stuff more directly… not as a by-product, but as a cause. Enter
semiotic theory, stage right. That too, is not new. Howard Bloom was trying
to incorporate this approach, with limited success… he even tried to
incorporate semiotics at one point, but it never really took off. Where you
write “Sounds nice, but ungrounded” it actually is grounded… the morphic
resonance theory of Rupert Sheldrake makes reference to the DNA molecule as
somehow analogous to a television antenna receiving signals, to provide the
basis for an organism’s biology. Sheldrake didn’t make the entanglement
connection, though… or at least, not directly. In my most recent paper,
Quantum Semiotics
, I provide solid evidence for why entanglement between DNA molecules needs
to be taken seriously. It’s up to the reader whether they accept my premise,
but the simple fact of the matter is that the properties of quantum
mechanics are every bit as applicable to the largest molecules, as they are
to subatomic particles. The reader can do with that what they will. All I’m
doing is sniffing out the evidence. It’s perfectly logical, especially when
you factor in how DNA replicates. If I’m right, then the implications are

4)      Not many people realize this, but the systems theory  (autopoiesis)
of Humberto Maturana received its original inspiration from one of the
principle founders of biosemiotics. From Wikipedia
<> :

“Maturana's research interest concerns concepts like cognition, autopoiesis,
languaging, zero time cybernetics and structural determined systems.
Maturana's work extends to  <>
philosophy and  <> cognitive
science and even to  <> family
therapy. He was early inspired by the work of the biologist
<> Jakob von Uexküll.”

Ok, now that we’ve established some kind of reference point for where I’m
coming from, let’s tackle some of your remaining specifics that are not
included in the aforementioned:

>” I do not see how this sentence could be derived in any way from the
former. Connectivity (perhaps like small world connectivity) is crucial both
for human brains and human societies... and even souls themselves.” 

The preceding outline should address most of this, but to be more specific,
consciousness as source is essential to overcome entropy. The connectivity
does not create the consciousness… it is the consciousness that creates the
connectivity and breaks the spell of entropy.

>” but no, it does not require anything beyond classical physics.”

Dangerous assumption. One very dangerous assumption, especially where its
derivation makes no reference to any kind of axiomatic framework. It is one
thing for complex stuff to happen by accident. But it is quite another that
this complex stuff persists across time, grows and multiplies across time.

>” The law of entropy???????”

The topic of entropy enters the life-science debate in many contexts. Often,
people make much more of it than it deserves, while others ignore it
entirely. It is no stranger to the systems theory/emergence narrative. For
example in complex adaptive systems
<> ,
entropy/thermodynamic equilibrium is relevant to dissipative systems
<> , and fairly widely
accepted more generally <>  as
an important consideration in biology. Ultimately, though, the specifics
surrounding entropy and the second law of thermodynamics are more
complicated than they need to be. Both Blind Freddy and Housewife Betsy have
an intuitive grasp that the ability of complexity to both appear and persist
across time is somewhat a little odd, if not downright magical. Religions
have, after all, been invented to account for it. And no, the Neo-Darwinian
interpretation of natural selection is not enough (refer to Byles, R. H.
(1972). Limiting conditions for the operation of the probable mutation
effect <> .
Social Biology , 19 (1), 29-34).

My approach to entropy is as basic as any thinking person’s gut instinct. If
it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…. The notion of a dumb luck
universe, with complexity emerging and persisting across time, is a
non-starter. Life is integral to overcoming entropy. And ironically, it is
Richard Dawkins’ memetic theory, with its emphasis on imitation, that first
planted the seed for that line of thinking. Hence my untested hunch on
entanglement, as a variation of that imitation hypothesis.

>” Quantum effects WITHIN neurons are an area we tried to encourage at NSF
(Search on "COPN" at, or Michael Conrad on the NSF awards page),
but we didn't see much serious interest in the research community, at least
not in folks willing to try to meet the standards of empirical work and
coherent theory combined (again, see "COPN" for those standards). Part of
the problem was a need to do work on neurons in culture, which we did fund,
and we learned just how early humans are in the process of being able to do
that kind of work.”

I would so like to see further work on this. It shouldn’t be too difficult,
eg, Pizzi, R., Fantasia, A., Gelain, F., Rossetti, D., & Vescovi, A. (2004).
Non-local correlations between separated neural networks
<> . In E.
Donkor, A. R. Pirich, & H. E. Brandt (Ed.), Quantum Information and
Computation II, 107 (August 24, 2004). 5436, pp. 107-117. Bellingham: SPIE
Proceedings. Maybe researchers are finding it difficult to fit this sort of
research into an acceptable narrative that is consistent with natural
selection, say. Maybe they don’t have a paradigm to fit it to, and so don’t
see a use for it. Any suggestions?

Regards, sj


[] On Behalf Of Paul Werbos
Sent: Wednesday, August 9, 2017 2:22 PM
Subject: Re: [Sadhu Sanga] Which came first, consciousness or the brain?




On Wed, Aug 9, 2017 at 6:05 AM, Stephen Jarosek <>

 It is also curious, to me, that the discourse around split-brain
experiments doesn’t seem to venture beyond the two separated hemispheres.

At the risk of overstating the obvious… Is it not self-evident that you can
probably keep on dividing the brain even into functional specializations, to
observe that each subdivision itself behaves as a unity? Indeed, you can
keep on dividing the brain into quarters, into eighths, and keep going right
down to the cellular level, to arrive at the autonomous behavior of each
neuron.  It is exactly what would happen if you divided a human city, as a
culture, right down to the level of each human.


In the preface to one of his famous books, Toynbee compares the profession
of history today to that kind of division.

It is a never-ending problem in academia. For many years, people from afar
would ask why Directors of NSF put so much emphasis on crossdisciplinary
research? "Didn't we already do that?" But it was actually like the
legendary Dutch boy putting his fingers into the holes in the dike.. but
overwhelmed by the force of entropy those little fingers were not enough to



The important implication here is that the brain is nothing like a computer,
and everything like a colony, like a city of people. 


I do not see how this sentence could be derived in any way from the former.
Connectivity (perhaps like small world connectivity) is crucial both for
human brains and human societies... and even souls themselves.

e.html )



And just as a city has its own functional specializations (business
districts, industrial zones, residential suburbs, defense, government, etc),
so too, does a brain. You can knock out any one of the brain’s functional
specializations, and the brain will still continue to function, more or
less, with other neurons being recruited from their usual roles, to
compensate for the absence of the missing functional specialization. Just
like what would happen in a city, were any one of its specializations


The analogy here is between what happens to a brain after a lesion, versus
to a city after a big bombing.


Years ago, in analyzing the rapid growth of the German economy after world
war II, mainstream economists concluded that the bombing actually helped the
German economy in the end. There were major dislocations for a few years,
but wiping out old plants, barnacles and stagnant organizations made room
for new, more efficient and more modern ones, a bit like clearing a forest. 


After lesions... they tell me that Walter Freeman's book on mass action is
the best source saying what you just said. I collaborated with Walter (and
Robert Kozma) for many years, until his recent death. It was quite odd last
year when all three of us were in the hospital at the same time. Yes, there
is mass action in the cerebral cortex, but it depends quite critically on
whether the connections are still present to allow one part of the cortex to
take over from the other. Loss of the whole cortex, or of some other crucial
parts of the brain, is generally a lot more serious and permanent. 


It is an important nontrivial issue what brains (and souls) need to recover
lost or new functions, very much related to the core real goals of yoga. The
old study of cats reared in darkness is one important clue. 




The thing is, though, what is it that enables each and every neuron in the
brain to have immediate access to the collective, so that it can act in a
timely and productive manner? Is there something analogous to a city’s
information technology (media, telephones, computer network), in the brain,
to accomplish this unity? 


Small world connectivity is one important aspect, which Freeman and Kozma
talked about a lot. Robert has even got deep into graph theory.


But analogous to city-wide signals is a system of signals from nonspecific
thalamus to the entire cerebral cortex. That is a major theme of my paper
last year in Frontiers of Systems Neuroscience, an open access paper easily
located via




In a city, our information technology is crucial to informing each of us of
our options, in a timely manner, and this provides our city with a cultural
identity and unity of purpose. In the brain, I don’t think that synapse
connections, completing something analogous to wiring circuits, are enough.
Hence my interest in DNA entanglement… each neuron acts in its own
interests, but also in the interests of the collective, and it is the
collective that informs each neuron of its options.


Quantum entanglement of DNA in one cell with that in another?


Quantum effects WITHIN neurons are an area we tried to encourage at NSF
(Search on "COPN" at, or Michael Conrad on the NSF awards page),
but we didn't see much serious interest in the research community, at least
not in folks willing to try to meet the standards of empirical work and
coherent theory combined (again, see "COPN" for those standards). Part of
the problem was a need to do work on neurons in culture, which we did fund,
and we learned just how early humans are in the process of being able to do
that kind of work.


The views of the neuroscience mainstream about ORCH are not so supportive. I
remember a workshop where Penrose basically said:"Don't take the model
literally. It is just a placeholder for the idea that there may be something
going on here, and not just QED." I agree that forces beyond QED are
important to the "soul" which is important to larger human potential, but
normal human brain function and the normal human brain level of
consciousness does not seem plausibly related to DNA/QED entanglement across


And the key to providing each neuron with timely access to the collective is
entanglement, because old-fashioned electrical circuits, on their own, are
not enough (and how might the Hameroff/Penrose Orch-OR hypothesis relate to


Sounds nice, but ungrounded. 


Each neuron is a bug, like any other bug, and it has its own interests to
pursue, while at the same time contributing to the interests of the
collective… each neuron has to receive its motivations from elsewhere beyond
a top-down Designer’s “genetic blueprint” that defines an electrical


There is lots of feedback in the circuits of the brain. Yes, it is crucial,
it is another major theme of my Frontiers paper, but no, it does not require
anything beyond classical physics.


Or to state all this yet another way… there is no way that a computer can
happen in nature… the law of entropy forbids it. 


The law of entropy???????


Clearly this is not an application of the laws of entropy from Von Neumann's
papers on (diverse) ergodic processes,

or of the modern quantum grand canonical ensembles. 


Whose law of entropy prohibits the possibility of organisms evolving through
natural selection? 


Actually, Pribram (source of a lot of the holographic principle discussion,
but also of other things) has an edited book from Erlbaum on
Self-Organization, based on one of his workshops. But as I recall, Prigogine
had the first paper there.


Best of luck,  Paul


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