Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis


Silvery marmoset (Mico argentatus).

Why Do Researchers Wonder Whether Animals Have Personalities?

Every friend of dogs, cats, or birds knows what some researchers struggle to prove. Let’s take a look at what they found

Recently, a research team announced that marmosets — small highly social New World monkeys — display personality traits, whether they are wild or captive: Some individuals were fast to approach any novelty, while others were more careful; hereby showing a similar pattern to humans: for instance, some humans enjoy trying out new restaurants, whereas others prefer to eat in their favorite restaurant. What is more interesting, when comparing personality traits of monkeys in Austria across four years, the authors found that these monkeys are quite consistent in their personality traits (e.g., those that are explorative when they are younger, stay similarly explorative four years afterwards). University of Vienna, “Marmoset Monkeys Have Personalities Too” at Neuroscience News The paper is open Read More ›


How Walter Bradley Broke Down Campus Anti-Christian Prejudice

Bradley has been a very successful mechanical engineering researcher but he has never lost sight of larger goals, such as religious freedom at universities

In Thursday’s podcast, “The Life of Walter Bradley With William Dembski (Part II),” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks and design theorist William Dembski reflect on the biography they have written about a remarkable engineer, Walter Bradley, For a Greater Purpose: The Life and Legacy of Walter Bradley. In Part I, they discussed Bradley’s work in helping develop appropriate industries using sustainable technologies in the developing world. Here in Part II, they look at the way Bradley politely but effectively insisted on respect for the rights of religious students and faculty, as well as others. And got it. Robert J. Marks: When Walter Bradley was a professor, one of the things that he wanted to do was to talk Read More ›

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Theoretical Physicist Argues, the Sim Universe Is Pseudoscience

It’s a lot of fun in science fiction and some scitech celebs buy in. But Sabine Hossenfelder and others explain why it’s fiction

Theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder does not like the notion that we are living in a giant computer sim. Elon Musk likes it (“Elon Musk says there’s a ‘one in billions’ chance reality is not a simulation”) and so does Neil deGrasse Tyson (“Neil deGrasse Tyson says it’s ‘very likely’ the universe is a simulation”). Philosopher of science Nick Bostrom advanced that view in a seminal 2003 paper in Philosophical Quarterly. Former Astronomer Royal Martin Rees is sympathetic to it. Some call it the Planetarium hypothesis, when it is cited as a reason we do not see intelligent extraterrestrials. One source offers “15 irrefutable reasons” why, like Neo in The Matrix (1999), we might be living in a universe that is Read More ›

Distant planet system in space with exoplanets 3D rendering elements of this image furnished by NASA

We Are Warned: Don’t Try To Colonize Super-Earths

Theoretical astrophysicist Ethan Siegel tells us why he thinks it would end in disaster

According to NASA, super-Earth planets are “a class of planets unlike any in our solar system – are more massive than Earth yet lighter than ice giants like Neptune and Uranus, and can be made of gas, rock or a combination of both. They are between twice the size of Earth and up to 10 times its mass.” Such plants are common in our galaxy and so far we have discovered 1,342 of them. Some are hot enough to vaporize metal; some are dim and frozen. An infographic from NASA of the TOI 270 system provides examples of super-Earths in relation to Earth: From NASA: “This infographic illustrates key features of the TOI 270 system, located about 73 light-years away Read More ›

Flying cranes

Random Evolution Doesn’t Produce Algorithmic Functions in Animals

A bird does not fly just because it has wings; it needs a “flight” program in its brain. Explanations of the evolution of flight do not account for that.

In a recent article “Evolution and artificial intelligence face the same basic problem,” Eric Holloway addressed the conundrum faced by artificial intelligence theorists: How can “a random process with no insight into the environment… increase information about that environment within evolving DNA sequences and/or artificial intelligence programs. By what mechanism can randomness ‘know’ anything?” Dr. Holloway’s challenge goes to the heart of the problem with the materialist worldview regarding origins, evolution, and ultimately intelligence. Software vs. hardware in your body Imagine you knew absolutely nothing about roller skates. Then you awoke this morning to find your ankles and feet permanently installed into roller skates. Instantly, everything you understood about walking and running is worthless. Getting onto your feet at all Read More ›

All seeing eye

The Illuminati and How Science Now Fuels Anti-Science

Like Frankenstein's monster, technology aided by science has become a monster fueling anti-scientific theories

The advice column in the April 1969 issue of Playboy included the usual questions about broads, beers, and baldness, followed by an unusually long (300-word) letter that began: I recently heard an old man of right-wing views—a friend of my grandparents—assert that the current wave of assassinations in America is the work of a secret society called the Illuminati. He said that the Illuminati have existed throughout history, own the international banking cartels, have all been 32nd-degree Masons and were known to Ian Fleming, who portrayed them as SPECTRE in his James Bond books—for which the Illuminati did away with Mr. Fleming. The letter ended with two questions: Do they really own all the banks and TV stations? And who have they killed lately? Playboy gave Read More ›

hedef başarısı ve birlik beraberlik ruhu

Walter Bradley: Finding a Life of Greater Purpose

Bradley has been a pioneer in the development of appropriate technologies for developing regions of the world

In last week’s podcast, “The Life of Walter Bradley With William Dembski (Part I),” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks and design theorist William Dembski discuss the biography they have written about a remarkable engineer, Walter Bradley, For a Greater Purpose: The Life and Legacy of Walter Bradley. It also helps explain why we call ourselves the Walter Bradley Center, as we seek to extend Dr. Bradley’s work. https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-121-William-Dembski.mp3 A partial transcript follows. This transcript begins at 02:55. Show notes and links follow. Before getting down to the main business, design theorist William Dembski, possibly the best known theorist of design in nature, told Robert Marks that he plans a second edition of his Cambridge University Press book, The Read More ›

Concentrated scientist

Five Surprising Facts Re Famous Scientists We Bet You Never Knew

How about juggling, riding a unicycle, and playing bongo? Or catching criminals or cracking safes?

We know what famous scientists like Einstein are famous for but we don’t know much about who they are. Here are five personal life facts about scientists who made a big difference to our understanding of the world that you probably didn’t know. The most interesting one is saved for last. 1.Isaac Newton dressed as a bum to mingle with the unwashed and catch criminals. Isaac Newton (1642 – 1727) was the father of classical physics and an inventor of calculus. When students take their first college classes in calculus and physics today, they study the concepts Newton developed in the 17th century. But Newton also wrote over a million words on Biblical prophecy. He was also the Warden and Read More ›

open eye in space

A Physicist Asks, Was the Universe Made For Us? She Says No

But the question is more complicated than it appears at first

Sabine Hossenfelder thinks there is no way to determine an answer to the question of whether the universe was made for us because we have access to only one universe for data: There is no way to ever quantify this probability because we will never measure a constant of nature that has a value other than the one it does have. If you want to quantify a probability you have to collect a sample of data. You could do that, for example, if you were throwing dice.Throw them often enough, and you get an empirically supported probability distribution. But we do not have an empirically supported probability distribution for the constants of nature. And why is that. It’s because… they Read More ›

UFO, alien spaceship in orbit of planet Earth, extraterrestrials from outer space in flying saucer

Will China Find Alien Life First? A Chinese Astronomer Says Yes

Whether either American or Chinese astronomers find anything, it will certainly be an interesting race

One Chinese astronomer, Tong-Jie Zhang, is working on it: In China, Zhang was tirelessly lobbying Chinese authorities to access FAST for his own research. Only recently was he granted the ability to use the telescope through the National Astronomical Observatories’ association. Initially, Zhang and his students had to conduct their observations at FAST while the telescope observed other targets, not allowing him to choose the areas he wanted. But after collaborating with Werthimer and students from the SETI Research Center on a paper published in the Astrophysical Journal, Chinese officials eventually allowed Zhang a window of time with the telescope to shortlist specific solar systems that he and his collaborators believe can most likely harbor intelligent life. Over the next Read More ›

Global virus and disease spread, coronavirus

How China Has Tried To Suppress Coronavirus Science

So far as investigative journalists have been able to determine, the suppression came directly from the top

An investigation by the Associated Press reveals what everyone has suspected since the beginning of the SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) pandemic: The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been keeping a tight rein on the publication or distribution of any scientific research on the coronavirus conducted within the country. AP recently found out just how extensive the muzzling of scientific findings has been. Its report also confirms that the orders came from the top: The AP investigation was based on dozens of interviews with Chinese and foreign scientists and officials, along with public notices, leaked emails, internal data and the documents from China’s cabinet and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. It reveals a pattern of government secrecy and top-down control Read More ›

Time concept

Why the Idea That the Human Mind Is an Illusion Doesn’t Work

There is a simple way to test whether our thoughts are all illusions

Sitting in a room with me are some smart people listening to a podcast of neuroscientist Sam Harris. They nod solemnly as Harris tells them that their thoughts are all illusions. No one has free will either, Harris says, both on the podcast and in his 2012 book, Free Will. Sir Francis Crick (1916–2004) said much the same in his 1994 work, The Astonishing Hypothesis. Harris and Crick are science-trained and Crick is a Nobelist. But popular culture influencers think the same way. The widely-read manga graphic novel artist, Masashi Kishimoto, has a character say in his 2009 work, Naruto, Every single one of us goes through life depending on and bound by our individual knowledge and awareness. And we Read More ›

The universe within. Silhouette of a man inside the universe, physical and mathematical formulas.. The concept on scientific and philosophical topics.  Elements of this image furnished by NASA.

Why Intelligent Design of the Universe Is Not an Absurd Idea

It is only eight pages, well within the patience of the average viewer and very clearly written

Raymond Bergner, psychology prof at Illinois State University, wrote a most interesting paper in 2017 discussing the intelligent design controversy—the question of whether the universe shows evidence of design. Mercifully, it is only eight pages, well within the patience of the average viewer and very clearly written. He makes clear he is not arguing for the concept but only explaining why it is not at all absurd. He makes a number of key points. Here are two, some thoughts interspersed: Many extraordinarily intelligent and relevantly informed people believe and have believed in intelligent design. Famously, Isaac Newton, himself a heretic and hardly a slave to conventional religious belief, once stated that, “This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and Read More ›


Physicists Say They Have Found the “Magic Number”

They have refined measurements of a number that is key to the workings of physics

Okay, first, it’s not literally “magic.” But some numbers are very important in the structure of our universe. In this case they are refining a very important but very strange number that links the forces of our universe: This pure number, with no units and dimensions, is key to the workings of the standard model of physics. Scientists were able to improve its precision 2.5 times or 81 parts per trillion (p.p.t.), determining the value of the constant to be α = 1/137.03599920611 (with the last two digits still being uncertain). Paul Ratner, “Scientists find the “magic number” that links forces of the universe” at BigThink The numbers that matter are not necessarily the ones we might expect. How about Read More ›

open eye in space

Science-Based Reasons Why Materialism Is a Dead End

Bernardo Kastrup points out that there is an “impassable explanatory gap between material quantities and experiential qualities.”

Bernardo Kastrup, a Dutch computer scientist and philosopher who has published fundamental theoretical reflections on the mind matter problem, offers some useful reflections on why materialism can’t really be true. First—and we sometimes forget this—science only exists as it is perceived by the human mind. We could do it well or badly or someway in between. We could succeed or fail. But it is a world of ideas, not things. He writes, Materialism—the view that nature is fundamentally constituted by matter outside and independent of mind—is a metaphysics, in that it makes statements about what nature essentially is. As such, it is also a theoretical inference: we cannot empirically observe matter outside and independent of mind, for we are forever Read More ›

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Must Science Be Materialist in Principle?

Philosopher Peter Vickers says yes. Philosopher and computer scientist Bernardo Kastrup says no.
Recently, neurosurgeon Michael Egnor interviewed Dutch computer scientist, Bernardo Kastrup. Kastrup has been engaged in a debate with “science first” philosopher Peter Vickers. Read More ›
A miracle happened. Disabled handicapped man is healthy again. He is happy and jumping at sunset.

A Physicist Tries To Understand Miracles

Andersen helpfully dismisses foolish arguments against the possibility of miracles

In a longish and very interesting article, physicist Tim Andersen tries to understand miracles. From a religious perspective, miracles are direct actions by God. They need not involve violations of laws of nature. There is no “law of nature” that says your mom couldn’t get a remission from cancer—though friends who pray for it might say it’s a miracle if she does. Similarly, we are told in the Book of Daniel (6:22) that the mouths of the lions, to whom Daniel was thrown, were shut by an angel. But it’s not clear that any violation of the laws of nature was involved. All we know is that the lions did not attack Daniel. Andersen helpfully dismisses foolish arguments against the Read More ›


Jonathan Bartlett on Why We Do Not Live in a Simulated Universe

Bartlett: I can make a model of atoms moving around, but it actually requires entire computers, which are all made of trillions of atoms, to make that simulation.

In the third installment of our top 12 AI hypes of the year (the Dirty Dozen), Jonathan Bartlett offered some thoughts on why he thinks we are not living in an intelligent alien’s giant sim universe, as many believe (Elon Musk) or at least think the claim is reasonable ( Martin Rees, Nick Bostrom). Here’s what Jonathan, of the Blyth Institute says about it, in conversation with Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks: Robert J. Marks: I think there’s three reasons that we can have this complexity that we observe. One is an intelligent creator. The second one which is purported is panspermia, that all of this complexity was planted here on earth by some aliens. Elon Musk actually Read More ›

astronaut looking at the alien tentacles coming out of the portal, digital art style, illustration painting

Researchers: We Don’t See ETs Because They Are All Dead

According to some NASA researchers, they may have destroyed themselves

A recent NASA study suggests that most extraterrestrial civilizations have died out. : The statement comes from researchers with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the California Institute of Technology and Santiago High School who used an updated version of an equation to calculate the likely existence of intelligent life and determined aliens may have emerged some eight billion years after our galaxy formed. With these results, the team included the idea that progress of science and technology inevitably leads to the destruction of civilizations and because humans have yet to make contact outside our planet, scientists now think they know why… ‘If intelligent life is likely to destroy themselves, it is not surprising that there is little or no intelligent life Read More ›


Sci Fi Saturday: Can a Robot Find a Better Planet Than Earth

The trouble is, the robot is governed by Isaac Asimov’s three laws of robotics

In “Avarya” (19:30 min) by Gökalp Gönen (English subtitles) an elderly human fleeing Earth seeking a new habitable planet is trapped in his own ship after the robot overseer finds every single candidate planet unsuitable. The robot’s behavior is based strictly on Isaac Asimov’s’s Laws of Robotics: First Law: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. Second Law: A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. Third Law: A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law. And it’s a dark and witty Read More ›