Re[2]: Tell me if you've heard this one.

Crosby_M (
Tue, 29 Apr 1997 10:46:13 -0400

Mike Rose wrote:
<Proof of LSD causing chromozome damage has been both 'proved' and
disproved' by teams of researchers for and against the theraputic use
of LSD.>

Anders Sandberg responded:
<The problem is that in many fields it is extremely easy to influence
an experiment with one's preconceptions, and even easier to interpret
the results in the way that fits them (psychology is a wonderful
example). Especially if you have a firm emotional belief about the
subject (imagine that you are a scientist looking at the dangers of a
illegal drug or a scientist looking at the possible side-effects of a
vitamin - guess which scientist is most likely to find chromosome

I recall a short Science News story from the late 80s where some
researcher discovered that use of cannabinoids (in rats or humans?)
created a supplementary network of neural connections in the brain.
The biased researcher, of course, immediately called this "brain

Mike Rose:
<We are PART of nature, we grew out of it, we weren't placed here as
objective observers by God. We grew out of that which we observe and
we cannot separate the observer from the observed (except in thought
and language).>

But what a difference that exception makes!

You might find the following quote on this issue of interest:
<An epistemology is a theory or practice that establishes the
conditions that make knowledge possible. There are many
epistemologies. Religious mystics, and even some physicists [55],
believe that higher knowledge is achieved by a state of ineffable
oneness with a transcendent reality. Mystics do not make epistemic
cuts. While this may work for the individual, it does not work for
populations that require heritable information or common knowledge
that must be communicable [5]. Knowledge is potentially useful
information about something. Information is commonly represented by
symbols. Symbols stand for or are about what is represented. Knowledge
may be about what we call reality, or it may be about other knowledge.
It is the implementation of "standing for" and "about" - the process
of executing the epistemic cut - that artificial life needs to

Heritable, communicable, or objective knowledge requires an epistemic
cut to distinguish the knowledge from what the knowledge is about. By
useful information or knowledge I mean information in the evolutionary
sense of information for construction and control, measured or
selected information, or information ultimately necessary for
survival. This is contrasted with ungrounded, unmeasured, unselected,
hence, purely formal or syntactic information. My usage does not
necessarily imply higher-level cognitive concepts like understanding
and explanation, neither does it exclude them.>

The above is from Howard Pattee's essay "Artificial life needs a real
epistemology" at

Mark Crosby