Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

Denyse O'Leary

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Extreme magnification - Jumping spider portrait, front view

Spiders Are Smart; Be Glad They Are Small

Recent research has shed light on the intriguing strategies that spiders use to deceive other spiders — and prey in general

This story was #7 in 2022 at Mind Matters News in terms of reader numbers. As we approach the New Year, we are rerunning the top ten Mind Matters News stories of 2022, based on reader interest. For those of us who wonder whether invertebrates really think — well, it’s complicated because some do more than we expect but then some don’t. At any rate: “Spiders are smart: Be glad they are small. (March 11, 2022) Spiders, like octopuses, have eight legs. But they share something else as well — like octopuses, once we got around to studying them, they turned out to be much smarter than expected. What makes spiders even more unusual is that they are smart with Read More ›

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Washington DC - FBI Building on Pennsylvania Street

Three More Key Takeaways From the Twitter Files and Their Fallout

The FBI responds to the Twitter files: “Conspiracy theorists” are feeding the public “misinformation.” This isn't helping its reputation

Key takeaways 1–3 are here. 4.Yes, the FBI finally responded to the Twitter files revelations about its cozy relationship with Twitter. And the response could be straight out of a bent cop novel: The Federal Bureau of Investigation is responding to Twitter Files revealing that the agency regularly contacted employees at the social media giant to notify them of accounts that “may” constitute violations of the company’s terms of service. FBI officials told Fox News that the agency didn’t ask Twitter employees to “take action” based on the information provided, and said the information was provided so that Twitter employees can make a determination on whether to take action. “We are providing it so that they can take whatever action Read More ›

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Evolution theory on old paper

When Scholars Simply Don’t Want To Believe Something Obvious…

… they are very good at developing clever arguments to avoid seeing it

This article was originally published in Salvo 62 (Fall 2022) under the title “The Whitewashing.” In Hitler’s Ethic: The Nazi Pursuit of Evolutionary Progress (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), University of California historian Richard Weikart demonstrated painstakingly that the Nazis had developed an ethic based largely on applying Darwinian evolution principles to government. Scholars have since tried hard to obscure the connection, most likely because they believe in Darwinism and see it as science. Any suggestion that the Nazis were avid Darwinists too is unseemly and must be refuted by any and all means. With racism very much in current news, Weikart has focusing in Darwinian Racism: How Darwinism Influenced Hitler, Nazism, and White Nationalism (Discovery Institute Press, 2022) on the way Read More ›

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An internet email symbol and a group of people are separated by a red prohibitory symbol No. restrictions on access to the global Internet. Censorship. Information control, society isolation policy

Three Key Takeaways From the Twitter Files and Their Fallout

Twitter Files 7 dropped yesterday and it features the close relationship between Twitter and the FBI

From the news: Do you think the pandemic response might have gone differently if voices such as yours were not suppressed? Yes… I do really believe censorship kills, and censorship killed during this pandemic. The policies could have been so much better… The policies that were adopted were incredibly damaging to the lives and livelihoods of so many people. 100million people thrown into poverty worldwide: that’s the estimate from the World Bank. Just the consequences of that itself are going to have tremendous effects on the lives and livelihoods of people going forward. And of course, all these children were robbed of an education for years. Those are absolutely monumental outcomes of the policies we adopted during the pandemic, and Read More ›

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Macro concept of a brain connecting to pure love and intent

Why Many Researchers Now See the Brain as a Quantum System

The hypothesis is that the brain relies on quantum physics, not classical physics, to power thinking processes

Astrophysicist and science writer Elizabeth Fernandez asks us to consider whether quantum processes might help us understand better how the brain works and shed light on consciousness: Some scientists suspect that quantum processes, including entanglement, might help us explain the brain’s enormous power, and its ability to generate consciousness. Recently, scientists at Trinity College Dublin, using a technique to test for quantum gravity, suggested that entanglement may be at work within our brains. If their results are confirmed, they could be a big step toward understanding how our brain, including consciousness, works. Elizabeth Fernandez, “Brain experiment suggests that consciousness relies on quantum entanglement” at Big Think (November 22, 2022) The paper is open access. Her thesis is that the brain Read More ›

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Newspapers and Laptop. Different Concepts for News -  Network or Traditional Tabloid Journals. Data Sources - Electronic Screen of Computer or Paper Pages of Magazines, Internet or Papers

Layoffs at Washington Post Show Direction of Mainstream Media

As their role has changed so much, they simply no longer have a mass popular base

The Washington Post has started layoffs and it isn’t pretty: The Washington Post’s all-hands meeting turned chaotic Wednesday after the newspaper’s publisher announced looming layoffs – and then left the room as concerned employees shouted questions. The Jeff Bezos-owned broadsheet will conduct a round of layoffs during the first quarter of 2023, publisher Fred Ryan announced during what was supposed to be an hour-long meeting. Thomas Barrabi, “Washington Post announces layoffs during tense town hall before publisher Fred Ryan storms out” at New York Post (December 14, 2022) This follows the CNN layoff of hundreds of staffers, announced at the end of November and described as a gut punch to the organization. The laid-off include such figures as Chris Cillizza, Read More ›

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Border Collie puppies

Can a Dog Be Bred To Be As Smart As a Human?

An enterprising electrical engineer thinks it can be done

Within one hundred generations or roughly 600 years? That’s the project Payton Pearson, an electrical engineer who gives his affiliation as the Air Force Institute of Technology in Dayton, Ohio, has set himself: Artificial selection is a well-known phenomenon of selecting for certain physiological characteristics of various species of plants and animals, and it is something that human beings have been doing for thousands of years. A perfect example of this is the union and development of dogs under human stewardship since the beginning of the agricultural era of society. In that time, approximately 6,000 years [1], dogs have been artificially selected in such a way as to produce thousands of different breeds. From the stout Dachshund, a dog breed Read More ›

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Venus flytrap is one of the carnivore plants

A Science Writer Makes the Case for Plants as Conscious Beings

Annaka Harris, neuroscience and physics writer, starts by casting doubt on human consciousness

Annaka Harris, a science writer focusing on neuroscience and physics and the author of Conscious: A Brief Guide to the Fundamental Mystery of the Mind (2019), challenges us to reflect on two points: 1) In a system that we know has conscious experiences — the human brain — what evidence of consciousness can we detect from the outside? 2) Is consciousness essential to our behavior? The editor notes, introducing an excerpt from the book, “But how sure can we be that plants aren’t conscious? And what if what we take to be behavior indicating consciousness can be replicated with no conscious agent involved? Annaka Harris invites us to consider the real possibility that our intuitions about consciousness might be mere Read More ›

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sign requesting no profanity.

Researchers: Profanity Has Some Elements of a Universal Language

They found that, in a number of languages, profanity omits certain sounds and stresses others

In a study, researchers found that, across different languages, swear words tended to lack soundssuch as l, r, and w: Shiri Lev-Ari and Ryan McKay from Royal Holloway, University of London conducted a pilot study with speakers of five unrelated languages (20 individuals per language) and asked them to list the most offensive words they knew in their language, excluding racial slurs. The initial study revealed that swear words were less likely to include approximants, which include sounds like l, r, w and y. The authors suggest that approximants may be less suitable than other sounds for giving offense and investigated this in two further studies. Springer, “The universal sound of swearing across languages” at Eurekalert (December 5, 2022) The Read More ›

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Tribe of Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherers Wearing Animal Skins Stand Around Bonfire Outside of Cave at Night. Portrait of Neanderthal / Homo Sapiens Family Doing Pagan Religion Ritual Near Fire

Our Ancestors Were Cooking Much Earlier Than Thought

The more we learn about early humans, the more sophisticated we find their culture to be

Recent findings suggest that some things we take for granted in human civilizations are much older than thought. Now, these findings are provisional but they are worth looking at: The owl stones from 5,500 and 4,750 years ago may be children’s art: But new research suggests the palm-sized plaques decorated in geometric patterns and with two engraved circles at the top might be the work of children. Numbering in the thousands and made from slate, the owl-like objects – previously dated the stone objects to be between 5,500 and 4,750 years old – may be “the archaeological trace of playful and learning activities carried out by youngsters,” according to the team of Spanish researchers behind the new study… They suggest Read More ›

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Near death experience ascend up towards the light in the dark tunnel

Study: 1 in 5 Cardiac Patients May Have Near-Death Experience

The researchers found spikes of brain activity, including so-called gamma, delta, theta, alpha, and beta waves up to an hour into CPR

Recent research shows that one in five people who survive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) after a heart attack ‘may describe lucid experiences of death that occurred while they were seemingly unconscious and on the brink of death”: Led by researchers at NYU Grossman School of Medicine and elsewhere, the study involved 567 men and women whose hearts stopped beating while hospitalized and who received CPR between May 2017 and March 2020 in the United States and United Kingdom. Despite immediate treatment, fewer than 10% recovered sufficiently to be discharged from hospital. Survivors reported having unique lucid experiences, including a perception of separation from the body, observing events without pain or distress, and a meaningful evaluation of life, including of their actions, Read More ›

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Icon group as speech bubble cloud

Update: Musk’s Second Salvo: Twitter Did Secretly Censor Users

Despite execs claiming that it didn’t. Elon Musk gave journalist Bari Weiss the story

Readers may recall that Elon Musk, having bought Twitter, started opening some windows. It came out that the Hunter Biden laptop story was suppressed for reasons that would never have passed muster with a story about any other political figure. There is good reason to believe that Twitter had a cozy relationship with the FBI in the matter. Now, it turns out that, contrary to denials by top execs, there were indeed secret blacklists at Twitter: Twitter kept a ‘secret blacklist’ of topics and accounts to prevent them from trending, according to data obtained by journalist Bari Weiss – with conservative commentators deliberately downplayed in what one called ‘Soviet-style bulls***’,’ while another said he was treated ‘with more censorship than Read More ›

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Octopus in water

Micro RNAs: A New Clue About Octopus Intelligence?

While octopus brains are very different from vertebrate brains, they share with vertebrates, a huge number of microRNAs

In general, the “intelligent” animals (apes, elephants, crows, whales, dogs, dolphins) are vertebrates, not invertebrates. There is one glaring exception: the cephalopods (octopuses, squid, cuttlefish). They, like vertebrates, developed large, complex brains and unexpectedly sophisticated cognitive abilities. When thinking about the puzzle, we sometimes fall victim to a sort of confusion: We reason that greater intelligence results from the fact that it “helps the octopus survive better.” Perhaps it does. But, while greater intelligence might help many life forms survive better, only a few develop it. In short, we need a “how” explanation here, not a “why” explanation. A recent study from the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine points to the possible role of microRNAs (miRNAs). MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are Read More ›

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Data center cloud connection network router and switch

Researchers: The Brain’s Claustrum Acts as a Router for Thoughts

Francis Crick thought the claustrum might be the “seat of consciousness,” an inherently materialist concept. The researchers think he was wrong.

Remember Francis Crick (1916–2004) and The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994)?: “You, your joys and sorrows, your memories and ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will are, in fact, no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased it: ‘You’re nothing but a pack of neurons’.” Crick focused on the brain region known as the claustrum as closely tied to consciousness. According to University of Maryland medical researchers, he thought of it as the “seat of consciousness.” Now, the very concept of a “seat of consciousness” assumes that consciousness is a material thing that needs a seat. In other words, consciousness must be found specifically in one place and not Read More ›

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Equestrian sport - dressage

Do Centaurs Really Exist? The Surprising Truth

Well, a half human/half horse cannot literally exist — but the way horses and humans work together has been called a “miracle”

Classical Greek mythology featured the “centaur,” a creature that was half human, half horse. Neuroscientist and horse trainer Janet Jones, author of Horse Brain, Human Brain: The Neuroscience of Horsemanship (Trafalgar Square, 2020), tells us that there is a truth behind the myth (as so often). In what amounts to a “neurobiological miracle,” the horse — a prey animal — and the human — a predator — can learn complete neurological co-operation to perform complex feats that neither can manage alone. How complex are these equestrian feats? Horse-and-human teams perform complex manoeuvres in competitions of all sorts. Together, we can gallop up to obstacles standing 8 feet (2.4 metres) high, leave the ground, and fly blind – neither party able Read More ›

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press and media camera ,video photographer on duty in public new

Veteran News Hound: Why Not To Trust Mainstream Media Anymore

Matt Taibbi and Douglas Murray’s resounding triumph in the Munk debates sheds light on why mainstream media are dying

On November 30, at the prestigious Munk Debates in Toronto, 20-year news veteran Matt Taibbi and author and columnist Douglas Murray faced off against New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell and New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg on the question: “Be it resolved, don’t trust mainstream media. The outcome was remarkable: As Taibbi tells it: A pre-event vote of attendees and listeners showed 48% support for our “side,” versus 52% for theirs. 82% of thousands of audience members claimed to be willing to change their minds. They were telling the truth, as it turned out. In a bitter slugfest that featured tense confrontations, impassioned oratory (especially from Douglas), and several almost unbelievably petty exchanges, Douglas and I swung the vote 39% Read More ›

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blue bird on brown tree branch

Elon Musk Throws a Bomb at Media No One Should Trust

Musk’s release of the “Twitter files” on the suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story has provoked media outrage and attempts to deflect the issues

By now, you’ve probably heard that Elon Musk, Twitter’s new owner, gave journalist Matt Taibbi inside information about Twitter’s suppression of an explosive story about Hunter Biden weeks before the 2020 election. But here’s some background that may shed some light — especially on how legacy media have changed and how social media really work. First, a summary of the basic story from legal scholar Jonathan Turley: Weeks before the 2020 presidential election, the New York Post ran an explosive story about a laptop abandoned by Hunter Biden that contained emails and records detailing a multimillion dollar influence peddling operation by the Biden family. Not only was Joe Biden’s son Hunter and brother James involved in deals with an array Read More ›

human head chakra powerful inspiration tree abstract thinking inside your mind watercolor painting illustration hand drawn
human head powerful inspiration tree abstract thinking inside your mind watercolor painting illustration hand drawn

Sabine Hossenfelder, Taking on Consciousness, Tackles Panpsychism

She wants to apologize to all carrots who are watching her video — but carrots are not watching and that’s the point

Recently, I’ve been looking ( here and here) at theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder’s argument that quantum mechanics does not show that consciousness is essential for understanding the universe. The topic has become very interesting because of the growth of panpsychism in science — which Hossenfelder references in the video. Panpsychism is the belief that all of nature participates in some way in consciousness but that it is most highly developed in humans. Many prefer it to materialism because the panpsychist does not need to show that human consciousness is some kind of illusion that we evolved to believe in (?). It is part of the normal functioning of the universe even if we don’t understand how it works. To see Read More ›

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3D illustration of Interconnected neurons with electrical pulses.

Science Isn’t Even Possible Apart From Non-Material Consciousness

Theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder tries hard to argue against that conclusion but things do not go well…

A couple of days ago, we were looking at the way theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder grapples with the way quantum mechanics has undermined materialism. Whether and how we choose to measure something has a big impact, which makers consciousness very difficult to just explain away. Here is her most helpful video on the topic (all the more helpful, one might say, because she is so clearly unhappy with the outcome!): “Does Consciousness Influence Quantum Effects?” (November 19, 2022) Nobelist Eugene Wigner (1902–1995) was one of the physicists who explored the problem. Hossenfelder points to his famous “Wigner’s friend experiment.” (3:01). Here is an illustration from a different source: Essentially, as Wigner pointed out in 1961, a basic building block of Read More ›

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Quantum Physics Axed Materialism. Many Hope the World Won’t Know

Theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder struggles to explain how quantum mechanics is consistent with materialism

Quantum mechanics, which developed in the early twentieth century, has been a serious blow to materialism. There is no way to make sense of it if immaterial entities like information, observation, or the mind are not real. Theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder struggles against the effects of this fact. In a recent video, she asks, “Does Consciousness Influence Quantum Effects?” (November 19, 2022) She asks, why did some physicists like von Neumann and Wigner think that consciousness is necessary to make sense of quantum mechanics, and can consciousness influence the outcome of a quantum experiment? (0:33) Well, they had good reason. Any effort to exclude consciousness from reality fails. Hossenfelder, a hostile witness, kindly offers an example from the work of Read More ›