Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis


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How Do We Know If Something in Nature Is Purposeful?

Jonathan Bartlett considered the question recently in Cambridge’s Behavioral and Brain Sciences journal
Some biologists argue that purpose in nature is only “apparent” but, as Bartlett notes, there are philosophical and evidence problems with that approach. Read More ›
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How Ancient Philosophers Can Help Design Better Computers

The Kubernetes program, for example, steers groups of computers the way, in the ancient image, a navigator steers a ship
The program works a bit like our minds, creating information in the world around us by constant comparison, bringing order out of disorder. Read More ›
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But Can Chatbot Claude Keep Its Promise To Reform?

What will happen, after all of Grasso’s careful work, when a different user asks for arguments in favor of intelligent design?
Grasso showed that reform can happen but perhaps it comes down to a question of numbers. Who wants thoughtful discussion vs. new atheist blog rants? Read More ›
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Chatbot Claude Starts to Grok Intelligent Design…

As a result of Grasso’s probing Claude now admits that labeling intelligent design as “pseudoscience” or “non-scientific across the board” was an over-generalization

We’ve been reporting (here and here) on the efforts of Otangelo Grasso to get chatbot Claude 3/Anthropic to quit refusing to answer or shoveling out new atheist boilerplate about design in the universe. The object was to get it to start offering actual information about the controversy. Where we left it yesterday, the chatbot seems to have been searching information sources that did not simply label the intelligent design hypothesis as “pseudoscience” but engaged with the arguments. Here’s it’s subsequent response: Claude: I appreciate you laying out the argument for intelligent design in such detail. You make some fair points that I will consider carefully. However, I still have some issues with the hypothesis and conclusions: So while I grant Read More ›

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Educating Chatbot Claude on ID and the Nature of Science

When you are arguing with Claude, you are arguing with the internet —well, with whatever slice the chatbot has scarfed up and processed, according to an algorithm
The chatbot, swatching more sources, now reports that it was in over its algorithmic head, simply labeling intelligent design as “pseudoscience.” Read More ›
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Our Universe Works, Yet Doesn’t Make Sense … And So?

How can so much uncertainty lie placidly at the basis of our universe but disrupt nothing in particular? We even build better computers because of it

Prominent science writer John Horgan finds himself stumped (and somewhat vexed?) by quantum mechanics — the behavior of the fundamental particles of the universe: Quantum principles underpin our modern scientific worldview and much of our technology, including the laptop on which I’m writing these words. And yet a century after its invention, physicists and philosophers cannot agree on what quantum mechanics means. John Horgan, “Quantum Mechanics, Plato’s Cave and the Blind Piranha,” Cross-Check, May 22, 2024 He has a point. How can so much uncertainty lie placidly at the basis of our universe but disrupt nothing in particular? In fact, as he says, we build better computers using its principles. Why doesn’t fundamental uncertainty cause us to build worse ones Read More ›

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It’s Not “Myths” That Cause Distrust in Science But Sad Truths

An astrophysicist, hoping to shore up public trust, means well but gets the problems all wrong
Ethan Siegel offers a fantasy representation of the science world. It may comfort him but it might provoke knowledgeable people to trust science even less. Read More ›
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The Conviction That ET Is Out There Survives Every Setback

Because it is only natural to resist the idea that we are alone, the hope of finding extraterrestrials twists science thinking in strange ways
It’s telling that the obvious evidence for the fine-tuning of the universe, implying design, is — in sharp contrast — evaluated in a hypercritical way. Read More ›
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What Drives the Belief That We Live in a Computer Sim Universe?

The lack of evidence for the sim is admitted — but then we are challenged to prove that it ISN’T true…
If we grasp the psychological role that the belief that we live in a sim universe plays, it’s easier to see why it persists in the absence of evidence. Read More ›
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Doesn’t Methodological Naturalism Refute Itself?

Listen to the new podcast episode discussing this question

Get caught up with the Mind Matters podcast by listening to this special episode featuring hosts Angus Menuge and Robert J. Marks and their guest, Dr. Robert Larmer. Dr. Larmer wrote a fascinating chapter in last year’s groundbreaking book Minding the Brain, and sat down with Mind Matters to discuss the limits of “methodological naturalism.” For Larmer, this approach to getting knowledge is limited because it rules out non-physical causes, even if they exist. In addition, holding to naturalism at all costs can undermine our self-understanding as rational agents. How can we trust our brains? Does the physical activity in our brains correlate with non-physical mental states? Find out more by listening to Part One of the conversation here. Be Read More ›

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Grappling Honestly With Science’s Blind Spot

An astrophysicist, a theoretical physicist, and a philosopher all walk into a bar and say, “At the heart of science lies something we do not see that makes science possible” Um… yes!
In their essay, Blind Spot authors Frank, Gleiser, and Thompson seem to sense that dredging up pat materialist answers that don’t really work won’t help much. Read More ›
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How Is Intentionality Embedded in the Universe?

All efforts to extinguish intentionality and morality only serve to further establish their inescapable reality
The conclusion we must reach by examining our own intentionality carefully is that it has an ultimate origin from a conscious being outside of our world. Read More ›
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Can Informational Realism Help Sort Out the Mind–Body Problem?

According to William Dembski, informational realism asserts that the ability to exchange information is the defining feature of reality
If information is “the relational glue that holds reality together,” the mind–body problem can be reframed in a more satisfactory way. Read More ›
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Why Doesn’t God Just Do Something Dramatic to Prove He Exists?

The Divine Hiddenness argument for atheism, espoused by Matt Dillahunty, is that, if a perfectly loving God existed, reasonable unbelief would be impossible
Philosopher Blaise Pascal argued that God gives enough evidence for faith and leaves room for doubt because he wants our heart first — and reason follows. Read More ›
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Bigfoot and Trust in Science: A Cautionary Tale

Of three men searching for Bigfoot in 1969 — a hunting guide, an enthusiast, and a physical anthropologist, which seemed surest that the monster was real?
Fruitful science depends in part upon character as well as intelligence and training. A dose of humility seldom goes unrewarded. Read More ›
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Are the New Atheists Losing Their “Cool” Quotient?

And taking Darwinism with them? A look at what’s happened in the last two decades would seem to suggest that
The Four Horsemen of the atheist apocalypse no longer ride at full gallop and a close observer has noted that their cause has devolved to social justice issues. Read More ›
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William Dembski: Destroy the AI Idol Before It Destroys Us

Design theorist Dembski points to the way that chess adapted to computers to become better than ever as a way forward in the age of AI
Dembski warns that the promoters of AI as “taking over” have a vested interest in claims that keep them at the top of society’s intellectual and social order. Read More ›
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Why Is Theology the Most Important Empirical Science?

Arguing pro or con about the existence of God has resulted in many successful and/or widely accepted theories in science
If generating testable theories in empirical science is the standard of success, theology has certainly succeeded, as the record will show. Read More ›
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Five Trends That Help Us Make Sense of Space Science Today

It’s worth keeping all the biases, hopes, uncertainties, and value judgments in mind when we are told that we should “trust the science.” Read More ›
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Citizen Scientist Forrest Mims Tells His Remarkable Life Story

In his new book “Maverick Scientist,” he details the ups and downs of an extraordinarily productive life in science, with few credentials to hide behind
When Scientific American withdrew its offer of a column, on learning that Mims doubted Darwinism, we all learned what matters most to the science elite. Read More ›