Ok, this is not really about Harry Potter. But it is about magic.
It is about the idea, perpetuated by many religiously-inclined people I talked to, that a scientific, atheist world view is a cold, heartless territory. Deprived of belief in a higher power, in something that is beyond the physical world like one or several Gods or at least an immortal soul, in an Universe that doesn’t care, humans allegedly can’t find any meaning in life because “we are nothing but atoms”. …
Yes, GoT = Game of Thrones. Have you ever wondered what exactly you vote for when you (hopefully) exercise your democratic right and duty ?
In our modern world, an obvious pragmatic answer is “a political party”. But that is very vague. What is it, exactly, about that party that makes you vote for it ?
Perhaps the ideas / ideologies that stand behind that party ? That would be a nice theory, however it has been known since decades that most people not only don’t vote ideologies, but a vast majority of them can’t even reliably assign the core political ideas to the different parties involved in elections . …
Alright, I am grateful that several people have pointed out to the weakest link of the argumentation in my previous post addressing Sabine Hossenfelder’s “How to live without free will”. Unsurprisingly, it’s the (admittedly quite strong) claim that computation theory is not weakly emergent from physics.
So here I will try to consolidate this claim. Don’t expect a full formal proof, I’m not math-savvy enough for that and it’s a vast topic for a blog post.
Let’s start with defining the problem more precisely. We are given a system of physical “small stuff” (particles) of which we know:
1. the complete physical description of the system’s “small stuff” down to arbitrary precision. This is a woefully unrealistic assumption for even relatively simple systems, but we’re investigating the situation “in principle”.
2. that it can perform some sort of “physical computation”, more precisely: given the initial state, part of which we can interpret as encoding some abstract “input”, the sytems evolves in time according to the laws of physics and some time later we can again measure a partial state of the system which we can interpret as output. …
In a recent blogpost called “How to live without free will”  Sabine Hossenfelder, a well-known theoretical physicist, is making a categorical argument: acording to physics, humans have no free will. It’s a millenia-old debate that keeps hunting humas: are we really deciding anything, in the sense of “selecting one of possible futures”, or is the future, in principle, already decided event though we cannot practically predict it?
As the author makes the case, modern science seems to sugest the second option due to a feature of our universe called determinism. In our deterministic universe, be it classical or quantum, the “party pooper” for having something like free will is causal closure: everything that happens happens either for a physical cause or is completely random (has no cause at all). Hence, if you agree with the view that our minds are essentially physical computing devices (this is called the Chuch-Turing thesis), then all we do is exclusively caused by some movement of the matter at a physical level. Due to the enormous complexity of both our brains and the universe, that does not mean that one can practically compute what you or another person will do, but just that all you do is ultimately derivable from what happens at particle physics level. …
“The Universe is made of stories, not atoms”
Muriel Rukeyser, The Speed of Darkness (1968)
In the first part of this series of articles I have argued that stories — or, in their most condensed form, memes — control a large part of our perceived reality. Similar to genetics, it’s their selfishness that make stories so powerful and ultimately accounts for their viral spreading, only loosely — if at all — grounded in a verifiable truth. In this part, I’ll take a closer look at two story-related items: worldviews and “epimemetics”.
Most likely every living person has such a thing as a worldview, a more or less conscious story we tell ourselves about the world. A person’s worldview is integral part of what psychologists call “personal narrative”, the fundamental story we believe — but not necessarily tell — about ourselves AND the world. It might seem odd to subordinate the worldview to the personal narrative and not the other way around — after all, we are part of the world — but in fact all stories we tell to ourselves start are told first-person and thus our subjective reality precedes any story about the world, or worldview. …
What will most likely determine whether you’ll read or like this post ? Not its content factualness, but rather how good is the story it tells. I can only hope for the best :)
“Fiction, which like all great stories, is rooted in truth.” — Dr. Robert Ford (played by Anthony Hopkins) in “Westworld”
“Hitler was one of the greatest storytellers of the 20th century.” — S. Zizek vs J. Peterson
“The hungry mouth that tells no story gets no food” — Filantropica, 2002
In 1976, R. Dawkins coined the term “meme” as a “self-replicating units of culture that have a life of their own”  — the most concise and essential forms of stories, which include the familiar visual memes we see today on the Internet. In analogy to the evolutionary theory and genetics, memes are “selfish” in much the same way DNA genes are: once released into human cultures, they seek to maximize their own spreading. Just as DNA genes, which do not spread according to their usefulness for the organism, memes and stories do not spread according to their truth, accuracy or information content, but solely to their “virality”. …