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Howell - review of Robert Wilson 1990 "Quantum consciousness"

Table of Contents

Summary comments

04Apr2021 I have to stop working on this review, which is only 25% complete at best, and which is full of [inaccurate, incomplete] statements in limbo. I had also intended a separate review of Robert Anton Wilson's "Cosmic trigger" book, which I read scrupulously.

Wilson provides a [simple, readable, entertaining, often [funny, humble]] presentation, with constant repetition to ensure that the important (and sometimes strange) basic points are remembered. Wilson primarily uses [simili, metaphor, anecdote, "figurative poetry"] to get his points across, to good effect. My guess is that the book's multi-decadal success is based on how its readers [sympathize with, feel [supported, vindicated] by] the author, but also because his themes are .

Wilson was long interested in the "opening of the mind" (wrong expression - I will have to dig for it) by [drugs, meditative states, etc]. I am left behind by these subjects, which are beyond my own [experience, knowledge, interests]. Especially as I get older, I spend far too much [time, money] trying to get rid of bad habits [chewing tobacco, some smoking, beer (afraid of hard liquor and wine), lack of excercise, diffusion of focus] and I certainly don't want to pick up more.

However, what matters is whether his target audience find the book [informative, fun] to read. Given the book's apparent popularity across generations, Wilson has suceeded well.

Some of Wilson's key themes

Some of the key themes that Wilson emphasizes include : It seems to me that this book is written for non-expert sub-cultures that are mostly interested in : These specific non-expert sub-cultures are also SUPERFICIALLY interested in : By superficial, I mean that there is apparently very little effort to learn the [depth breadth] of the "multiple conflicting hypothesis" from [science, amateurs] unless bits here and there can be extracted to support the opinions of the sub-culture.

The style of [writing, analysis] primarily serves to :

What do I think of the book?

At least as far as my interests and needs are concerned, while I am interested in many of the topics covered in the book, Wilson is too [weak, shallow] conceptually to be of much help to me, and he has no hope of competing with a vast number of authors on the same topics. Given that my piority scien interest since 1988 has been artificial neural networks, and that has often touched on [mind, consciousness, psychology], I have come across numerous related papers over the decades. From that perspective, this book is not useful for my [interest, project]s : It is important to note that I am often NOT impressed by the [effectiveness, fashion-centric, utility, benefits] of mainstream [psychology, sociology] either, and Wilson's book may not be worse than much of that (I am being intentionally obscure here).

However, one should always be able to get something from a [book, paper, presentation], and for me the value was in reading about the perceptions of other groups that I do not normally follow, and whose thinking I don't understand well. It is from this last perspective that the book was most useful to me. I am not able to imagine how others think, it is only by reading their thoughts that I have a chance to see that. (Sure, [films, blogs, etc] also help, but it's hard to beat a well-written [book, webPage, paper], other than software code.)

Multiple conflicting hypothesis - I need a much better note here, as I cannot [abandon, ignore] Wilson. He is one of very fewauthors that I have read (other than review articles) who does foster "Multiple conflicting hypothesis". I can't remember if I [wrote, posted] a long-intended webPage on that subject, but I won't elaborate here for now.

Note that this "review" in no way resembles my usual [detail, verifications, approach, style] for scientific [journal, conference] peer reviews, as I think that would be entirely inappropriate for Robert Anton Wilson's "Quantum Psychology" book.

The core theme : Quantum Psychology"

As I commented in the Summary section above, Wilson seems to enjoy revelling in [spooky, ambiguous, poetic, too-complex-for-you-to-understand] themes. He was struck by the "isomorphism" of Quantum Mechanics as compared to his own field of expertise, Transactional Psychology. Examples include :
04Apr2021 ...I haven't yet compiled the list of quotes from the book...

Rethinking neural networks: Quantum fields and biological data

Contemporary with Wilson's "Quantum psychology" book was a HUGE amount of work by researchers on that theme. I think that the most relevant book that I have on this theme is a 1993 publication of a conference (date : - I'm not sure, possibly within a year or two of the conference). I think that it is very important to list the Table of Contents of the proceedings, as icontrasts with the very limited scope of Wilson's thinking. But I have to thank Wilson for "re-discovering" the proceedings, which I will have to read again as most of it I have long forgotten!

This section added 04Apr2021
Karl Pribram, editor 1993 "Rethinking neural networks: Quantum fields and biological data" Proceedings of the first Appalachian conference on Behavioural Neurodynamics, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, New Jersey & INNS Press, ISBN 0-8058-1466-3

Foreword : Karl H. Pribram
Keynote : John C. Eccles "Evolution of complexity of the brain with the emergence of conscousness"
ViewPoint: Michael Stadler, Peter Kruse "Neurodynamics and synergetics"

Section I. The dendritic microprocess

Section II. Quantum neurodynamics

Section III. Nanotechnology

Section IV. Perceptual processing

Afterword : Karl H. Pribram

04Apr2021 initial draft, from book that I bought sometime ~1998-2003

Other themes

"Delightful finds : ideas that were [new, different] to me"

Here is a [random, sparse] sub-sampling of ideas

"[Ideas, comments] that echo some of my own brain farts (not beliefs)"

Longevity - Howell's survey

x Fun, seemingly powerful idea - lock on then get so exited can't [focus, concentrate, think]. It has to blow over.

"Strangely absent ideas"

General Relativity (GR) - This is a pretty sexy topic for most people, so why isn't it also core to his "Quantum Psychology"? GR-like concepts are presented :

Rock&Roll - as part of [sex, drugs, rock&roll]

"Stripping away all intelligence"

Cosmic secrets of Illuminati

drugs - visual stripped to Gabor functions
perceptions - group intellectual masturbation
fs into the [myopic, obscure, off-well-known themes] - again, create a mystique that I-know-more-than-you-do, and you-could-never-understand, withoudoing any real [thinking, work]


Wilson is completely disrespectful of the [thinking, beliefs] of others, in spite of claims to being open-minded. This is characteristic of belief systems, and the strongest modern belief system since the French Revolution is socialism. It has LONG been the [conventional, conformist] thinking, in spite of near-universal claims oto the contrary, andit probably reflects other belief systems going back sands of years. Wave the magic wand, and all will be well - mostly a mantra of those who don't actually have to deal with society as a wholer who live in an age of fantastic affluence that DOE allow for greatly expanded goodies (often the case periodically throughout history). One can't blame socialism for all of its failures, as, being the dominant belief, and being politically-correct, it attracts much of the trash.

Concepts can be very [comforting, empowering, useful] even when completely wrong.

No talk of the damage - [crimme, rape, broken minds & lives, especially for young people going through huge life changes (second brain growth, sex, love, emotion, independence, dependence]. It is dishonest to blame consequences on wrong [techniques, intents, etc] as this is typically a consequence and should be considered. Wilson whitewashes all of it.

Screaming for societies [money, resources], but not being a contributor. (Farmer versus philosop] - both a dime a dozen? But one puts a basic need on the table, the other helps the dysfunctional.

Creative thinking is great, but not if it controls others

Howell : "Multiple conflicting hypothesis"

"Old dogs and new tricks"

11Feb2021 Up to page 123 (and so far ONLY pp123-125), there doesn't seem to be much that isn't : Wilson does appear to be building a self-image of [novelty, leadership] that is neither, even if he is much better than average at trying to give credit to those who created [ideas, social movements].

I almost stopped reading the book at just before page 123 because it was so [bland, empty, conventional], but I keep going.

"Weaker points"

We all love to wave our arms and yap (Issac Netwon, Leibntz, etc, etc), but very few do their homework othan passive [reading, presentations, gatherings]

Theories most often don't matter, especially in [psychology, sociology, religion, science] - what matters is the data, which itself is [uncertain, incompl, fraudulent, selectively considered]. Theories most often are just a convenient mnemonic, and rarely are a [consistent, coherent, near-complete (for simple systems), robust, useful] tool.

"I can't comment, as I have no knowledge"

I can't comment at all on the drug experimentation of Wilson oothers, as I am fairly ignorant of that area and have no experience apart from too many "magic cookies" that I ate unsuspecting. Have zero interin becoming a vegetable, even a half-hour to hour. Wilson completely neglects adverse effects other than brief mentions [paranoi, schizophrenia] (mostly in his Cosmic trigger "1 book). But several hundred years of human experimentation has far more to say about the downside, so Wilson's omission stands out markedly. (It's like discussing the benefits of alcohol without touching on the problems).

"Nowhere near as radical as I"

Lies, Damned Lies, and Scientists

800 pound gorilla stupidity of ALL - most notably "experets" : Nobel prize winners, science professors & grad students, etc

p20 02Feb2021
"... In short, when modern neuroscience describes how our brains actually operate it perforce invokes the same sort of paradoxes and/or the same statistical multi-valued logic that we find in the quantum realm. Thus I dare to write about a field not my own because, in many discussions with quantum physicists, I have found the subject entirely isomorphic to my own specialty, the study of how perceptions and ideas get into our brains. ..."
>> Nice comment, and useful is a very [fuzzy, simple] way. It is nice to see the comparison.
>> Hugely flawed both for [quantum physics, neuroscience], even for the 1970-80s when the book was written.

"Far beyond the limitations of Wilson's book"

Robert Anton Wilson is a very weak [thinker, author] compared to a vast amount of far more [solid, inspiring, coherent] work out there. I refer to only a few references below which I have read over the years.

Charles Murray, Richard Hernstein ~1982 "The Bell Curve"
The authors were crucified by the mainstream, and the book wburied. But t reactions twerll me a great deal of the stinging power of the book. Statistical criticisms I didn't delve into, as they just didn't seem to be [competent, balanced], other than a rigorous application of the wrong satistical concepts for the wrong reasons, usual in academia. Essentially all academics are much better at simply following standard statistical [standards, guidelines].

The anger expressed against this book is strikingly similar to the strongly repressive [attitude, actions] of essentially all [government, academic] scientists against [critics, alternatives] when it comes to their theme that "CO2 is the primary driver of climate since 1850". They since changed the start dmany times, but still screamingly [dishonest, dysfunctional, delinquent, hypocritical, backstabbing, cowardly, parasitic, lazy]. This is actually common across all areas of science that I pay attentiotoo, so I merely assume it is a universal charactereistic of [science, scientists].

Previous "catchup" on basic psychology with respect to neural networks scientists that I know :
Wishlaw & Slade 2000 "Neuroscience : Brain & Beaviour"
??? weird psychiatry book on the relative merits orapy versus drugs, before the latter really kicked in with ?Prozac?
??? "History of philosophy psychology" - key theme that all concepts of psychology use other areas of philosopy, science as metaphorss, and all fail badly, yet take decades to thousands of years to dissipate

Daniel Levine - neural network modelling of common failures of thinking
Wolfgang Singer - disrupted alpha waves and schizophrenia? temporal mismatch of signalling
Kenju Doja - a dimple conjecturen the roles of [dopamine, seratonin, noradrenaline (?epinephrine?), acetocholine]

"Human [psychology, sociology] - better concepts from technical market analyis?"

Looking at conventional [psychology, sociology], and the mis-interpretation of neuro-science that is now common, it seems to me that concepts arising from technical analysis of markets may have a great deal to add to the mix, albeit with much more limited thematic scope (at least for now).

Robert Prechter -
R.N. Elliot - Elliot Wave theory

Stephen Puetz "Universal wave series"

David Fischer 1996 "The Great Wave, Price revolutions and the rhythm of history" New York, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-505377-X

page 312
Appendix O Economics and History

"... The reason of a thing is not to be enquired after, till you are sure the thing itself itself b. We commonly are at 'what's the reason of it?' before we are sure of the thing. ..." John Selden, Table Talk, 1689

A primary purpose of this project is descriptive. One of its organizing assumptions is that a task of empirical description may be undertaken without an apparatus of theory. This idea breaks in a fundamental way with an epistemic orthodoxy that has dominated the disciplines of American social science since the late 1940s. So universal has this orthodoxy become in the United States that scholars who work within it are unaware that any other mode of thinking is even possible.

In American universities, a social Scientist is free to adopt almost any style of dress, demeanor, life-style, sexual preference, or political ideology, no matter how bizarre or preposterous the choice may be. But graduate students are required to embrace the conventional epistemology of their disciplines, on pain of expulsion from the guild. If they dare to think about the world in any other way, their work is judged "unsound," and they are sent upon their way.

"Astrology? You must be joking!!"

This section isn't about astrology, which I've never [liked, been warm to, trusted]. So why do I sometimes feel that I will be pulling my foot out of my mouth on this theme too? Compared to :
This feeling began for me while communicating with Paul Vaughan regarding his astronomical analysis of climate. Some of his work is posted elsewhere on www.BillHowell.ca, and I still feel that he did the world's best 2-150 year data analysis, and obtained results vastly superior to any professional scientists. He also was unusully creative in his mathematical concepts (to the best that I can tell).

Ben Davidson, Suspicious Observers - This isn't for the technical analysis of financial markets, but I will stick it in this section anyways as it is well worth mentioning.

Strangely, this may tie in very nicely with classical astrology, to some extent.

"Only details really matter, for the rest I yap"

Here I mechanically apply my personal "first step" to doing peer reviews of scientific papers. Itemisation of at least some of the points in the book is NECESSARY, at least for me. Otherwise often [incomplete meaningless, unconnected] rhetoric camouflauges failures in the reviewer's work, and cannot properly be a measure of the quality of review. Un-based comments leave too much in the air.

A huge problem is to ensure that [comments, reactions] are fair and competent. What did the author really say? What was its precise context?

Quantum Mechanics - This is one cock-eyed interpretation. Not knowing better, the author runs with it.
Oops - my mistaken critique, as he did't run with it.+
WRONG : Author only list Aristotlean logic, but many others existed long before 20th century, even including the 3-valued logic that he mentions! (eg statistics which he also mentions, 4-valued logic etc).
[Perceptions, beliefs, reality] very [clumsy,ring,shallow] repetition of ideas that have been out there forever. A major flaw is that the author is barely capable of understanding when great caution is needed, and when it is BS. I don't think other scientists that well either. This theme hides stupididity, which is the biggest problem.

02Feb2021 intitial draft, 04Apr2021 augmentation, clean-up
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