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The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness

The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness (2012):

The field of Consciousness research is rapidly evolving. Abundant new techniques and strategies for human and non-human animal research have been developed. Consequently, more data is becoming readily available, and this calls for a periodic reevaluation of previously held preconceptions in this field.


Studies of non-human animals have shown that homologous brain circuits correlated with conscious experience and perception can be selectively facilitated and disrupted to assess whether they are in fact necessary for those experiences. Moreover, in humans, new non-invasive techniques are readily available to survey the correlates of consciousness.

No. Wrong just in this summary, unsourced, and focusing on correlation instead of causation.

You can’t tell what is “necessary” by turning some things on and off. You turn off X and then Y doesn’t happen. Does that mean X is necessary to Y? No, some Z you didn’t consider could cause or allow Y. So they’re making a basic logic error.

And how can you do a correlation study involving “conscious experience” in non-human animals? How do you know if or when they have any conscious experience at all?

The neural substrates of emotions do not appear to be confined to cortical structures.

These people don’t seem to understand the hardware independence of computation. Or they think emotions are non-computational or something. But they don’t explain what they think and address the computer science issues.

In fact, subcortical neural networks aroused during affective states in humans are also critically important for generating emotional behaviors in animals.

Wait lol, after they brought up emotions the next sentence (this one) switches from emotions to “emotional behaviors”. Emotional behaviors are behaviors which look emotional according to some cultural intuitions of some researchers. This ain’t science.

The rest is more of the same crap that doesn’t address the issues or give sources, so I’m stopping now.

Elliot Temple on November 21, 2019

Messages (3)

This was signed by just 12 scientists? They couldn't get more than that? Seems to indicate that most disagree? Elsewhere, Christof Koch, one of the signatories, contradicts the declaration:


> One important lesson from the spinal cord and the cerebellum is that the genie of consciousness does not just appear when any neural tissue is excited. More is needed. This additional factor is found in the gray matter making up the celebrated cerebral cortex, the outer surface of the brain. It is a laminated sheet of intricately interconnected nervous tissue, the size and width of a 14-inch pizza. Two of these sheets, highly folded, along with their hundreds of millions of wires—the white matter—are crammed into the skull. All available evidence implicates neocortical tissue in generating feelings.

Anonymous at 10:12 PM on November 21, 2019 | #14518 | reply | quote

Dennis Hackethal is such a plagiarist. He just keeps writing about my stuff with no acknowledgment. After heavily plagiarizing my stuff about animals in his book, he recently did a blog post on the same declaration that I did in the post above.


See also https://curi.us/2313-dennis-hackethal-plagiarist

curi at 1:13 PM on May 22, 2021 | #20572 | reply | quote

Why is Dennis commenting on this specific thing that only 12 scientists signed, over a decade later? Because I commented on it and he doesn't have ideas of his own.

curi at 1:29 PM on May 22, 2021 | #20576 | reply | quote

Want to discuss this? Join my forum.

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