This is really just a riff on some coincidental connections about what needs to happen around the fallout from #EURef (the result of which will finally be announced tomorrow morning.)

Not a high profile celebrity these days I guess, so I’d no reason to know if George Steiner was dead or alive, it hadn’t occurred to me he was a living person until I saw this long read The Idea of Europe posted today at (A link tweeted by @PaulMasonNews).

Several coincidental connections that spooked me when I saw it. Not least because I was reading F S C Northrop last night. Why is that a coincidence?

I’m currently reading Northrop’s Logic of Science and Humanities (1947), which makes several references to his Meeting of East and West (1946) and noted the publisher’s 1959 reference to his later European Union and US Foreign Policy (1954).

Back in 1973 Steiner’s “stellar reputation” was influential in his review of Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974) bringing it to wide and credible public attention.

Steiner obviously has a long-standing interest in Melville’s Moby Dick. Later in 2001 he quipped “Moby Dick” in response to the question of whether he had ever read anything trivial in his youth, and when reviewing Pirsig’s Zen and the Art back in 1973 he noted “the analogies with Moby Dick are patent”.

The connection? Reading Northrop’s East & West on a troopship back from Korea was the main influence on Pirsig’s own writing project.

So doubly coincidental to find both Steiner and Northrop writing their US intellectual views of the European Union last night and today, the day of #EURef.

Paul Mason, incidentally also posted this open letter to the president of the EU today, pointing out that like me, whilst voting #Remain, we still have many serious issues to resolve with the EU.

Now when Northrop and Steiner were first talking European “Unification” the post-war ideas pre-dated the specific beast that has evolved to be “The EU” but it brings up some serious US views of what the collaborative European project should look like. Personally I’m all for (proper) federal arrangements, and whilst I don’t support all of Paul Mason’s shopping list of specific items, I share the values they represent.

Values. “And what is good Phaedrus?” The future can be brighter if we work to make it so, and that work can be easier if we approach it collaboratively. There is no shortage of valuable resources to apply to the task.

At Hay on Wye HTLGI festival again for the final weekend:

My late arrival and changes to programme meant Friday pm didn’t quite go according to my pre-planning, but got to see and hear;

Denis Noble, Anne Bowcock and Rupert Sheldrake chaired by David Malone, talking on the promissory hype of the Human Genome project – The Emperor’s New Genes. Obviously successful as a project and undoubtedly delivering benefits to bio-medical sciences for rarer conditions with clearer genetic dependencies, but the point of Noble and Sheldrake is that the biological systems have much greater complexities and dependencies on many different layers of abstraction, with two-way processes of causation, than the focus on (ill-defined) genes and some kind of one-way predictable determined causation.

Chiara Marletto, Massimo Pigliucci & Bernard Carr, chaired by Tara Shears discussing A Goldilocks World. The seemingly unlikeliness of (our) being in any given universe. Calling this an Anthropic effect gives egotistical “special” focus on us humans, but question applies to complex outcomes like intelligent life (and created artifacts) generally. Type 2 multiverse interpretation seems to rule. How laws and constants – inc the cosmological and gravitational constants – come to be is part of “creation” of current universe. But views of probabalistic models always flawed by absence of any starting case on the population distribution of possibilities before staring conditions. Denial of free will and problem for physics actually modelling choice at all (See also Chiara in “Playing Dice” later.) (Brandon Carter and Martin Rees much referenced – see video recording now published.)

[Missed Frank Wilczek and Laura Mersini-Houghton on Gravity and Massimo Pigliucci on After Evidence and Missing Evidence with Rupert Sheldrake. See recordings.]

Peter Cameron, Michael Duff and Chiara Marletto chaired by Tara Shears Playing Dice with the Universe. Problem with probabalistic theories of physical behaviour is having any base case for the potential event population distribution in the design space. Chiara focussing on quantum theories (Chiara working with David Deutsch on Constructor Theory). Michael; thought experiments of supposed repeatable cases with particular sets of possible outcomes – Copenhagen / Schroedinger et al. Pragmatically it works – it it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Everett’s bifurcation into many worlds makes people uneasy (I’ll say). Peter; random events previously seen as the works of the gods – Dante “for luck your science finds no measuring rods”. Probability tools work. QM & Chaos (& global economics & insurance business, etc.) But can these functional tools for populations really apply at any fundamental level – without “populations” of possibilities? Chiara agrees, must be able to decompose probable outcomes into individually deterministic effects. Michael; Why … regresses back to some first cause(s) – big bang creating physics – laws of nature – itself. Only point of determination – things happen to be that way from some point such as that. Change, time and causation problematic even at fundamental mechanistic levels of dynamical laws. Physicists don’t like dualism – good. How consciousness interacts with (quantum) physics remains “mystical”. Bernard Carr asks – probabilitistic partial predictability not actually “random” – think directed creativity, in art or otherwise? So some “top down” causation (Bernard) – preparation in higher levels (Peter) even when creative moment is a bolt from the blue (Gauss, et al).

[To be continued …]

John Searle (via link), Opheila Deroy and Rupert Sheldrake (standing in for Markus Gabriel) hosted by David Malone (standing in for Oliver Burkeman) on Matter, Mind and Mystery. Can our material view of the world explain consciousness? Ophelia – wrong question, really suggests our view of natural materialism is itself flawed and our view of consciousness is hides many different elements. Agreed. Not even see distinction between material objects and “thoughts” other than levels of interaction. Rupert – same, but fields (obviously) for these interactions – extensible systems of fields, extensible in both space and time (two way) are testable physics, despite tabo nature of these ideas. Searle – categories in the question not worth a damn (all agreed). Consciousness is a biological (physical) process – inside a brain. No evidence of fields beyond the brain. Entirely biological, but agrees problem is multiple levels of description, even though he priviledges the biological. Theme – ontological problem of “matter” at root? Clearly it’s the stuff of physics, even when it’s biological, but it’s actual ontological description cannot be limited by physicists current model at any given time. What is too dogmatic is that consciousness is just a process of the physically material. Systems are more complex, multi-level and multi-directional. The meaningful concepts are fields in this (whole) medium. One-way reductionist causation is the dogma behind the taboo. Panpsychism is not new to the taboo. But even Searle accepts as wrong, matter as component pieces of matter down to indivisible “atoms”; the components are “points of energy” (but not fields, fields which support and are influenced by attractors?). Searles problem (with Sheldrake) is that bringing in multi-dimensional and directional causation is the incoherent element. I say that’s the reductionist dogma. Searle of course is not anti any research, just certain how we need to base coherence on “what we know” – but isn’t this the dogma that leads to the taboos. Sheldrake is strictly testable empirical science, as we’ve noted before, even though much parapsychological (ESP) research has proven bogus. Proving consciousness exists in something we might accept as an otherwise “inanimate object” is hard, but it’s not actually possible to prove it in another conscious being without their conscious cooperation. (Searle – behaviour and mechanisms, not just behaviour. But isn’t this just circular on a particular predetermined view of what is conscious.) (Ophelia Deroy’s own IAI video here.)

Chiara Marletto on The Limits to Certainty in lunch conversation over new computable predictability of the universe from her work on constructor theory, with David Deutsch. In looking at questions about why certain constants and laws happen to be the way they happen to be, the idea of principles or meta-laws constraining  current actual states from within all conceivable possibilities is attractive. Interesting addition to debate on alternatives to greedy reductionism is the concept that impossible states in discrete component systems can be possible in another level of compound system, It’s not just the complexity or any suggestions of reverse causality, simply a principle that such states can be computed. [Also – error correction in computability seems to be complement to mutation in evolution?] Consequences for basic ontology and for causation as the world unfolds seems inescapable, even if the world as a universal quantum computer seems far fetched. Says a lot about fabric of universe as information and about consciousness – and will – as part of that.

[Terry Eagleton on The Swindle of the New. Traditional conservatism and acceptance of history and inevitable aspects of a future based on history mediated by the now are far from bad … innovation is not good in and of itself.]

I criticised the Human Brain Project about this time last year, and recently responded to this Aeon piece by Robert Epstein;

“The Empty Brain.
Your brain does not process information,
retrieve knowledge or store memories.
In short: your brain is not a computer.”

Well actually, of course, I say it does and it is;

Your brain does process information,
does store memories
and does retrieve knowledge.
It does do computation.

What’s wrong is the component model of a computer as some kind of CPU plus RAM/Storage. As I said when I commented earlier in the week, it’s actually a good article (recommended again today by Massimo Pigliucci) it just suffers from headline-writer’s click-bait.


[Post Note : Jeffrey Shallit at Recursed blog, rejecting the same Epstein piece & headline above and who agrees with me for the same component modelling reasons:]

Yes, Your Brain Certainly Is a Computer

Did you hear the news, Victoria? Over in the States those clever Yanks have invented a flying machine!
– A flying machine! Good heavens! What kind of feathers does it have?
– Feathers? It has no feathers.
– Well, then, it cannot fly. Everyone knows that things that fly have feathers. It is preposterous to claim that something can fly without them.

And interestingly, here Epstein reviewing George Zarkadakis book on AI et al (now on order). Pigliucci was also at #HTLGI (next post). And, I responded to a few tweeted comments from Zarkadakis talking on transhumanism and related topics at BHA2016. And more from Zarkadakis. I’ll say more when I’ve read his book. I may be some time – I’ve read most of it but so far it feels like the usual breathless hype round AI.

And – Zarkadakis again – I support his disagreement with Musk over the sci-fi idea of an AI “Singularity” as a threat to humanity – but do NOT agree with his reasoning that machines cannot be conscious or have conscious intelligence as opposed to machine automation. Of course machines can become properly intelligent and conscious – they will have “real intelligence” when they do. Most so-called AI is simply unconscious automation.]

Vaguely (subconscious irony) aware of David Gray’s upcoming Liminal Thinking publication, and reminded today by a Facebook post from Johnnie Moore (which itself has a hat tip to Jon Husband) that set me thinking – a riff linking some thinking, rather than any deep reading of the references (yet).

Johnnie’s trigger was “Tyranny of the explicit” which obviously resonated with my whole agenda. The memetic problem that we over-value the explicit, demand the implicit is made explicit, because it’s much easier to count, express, communicate, manipulate, select and validate explicit forms than simply accept the implicit. Our culture – the objective memeplex – rejects acceptance of the implicit. Ease-of-argument wins over value-of-content. (Obviously very consistent with my current Wittgensteinian Logical methods vs Language games vein of work, but that’s not the riff here.)

No, what fired off the links was the Liminal Thinking graphic on David’s web pages, presumably in his book:

Culture OS 016

The thing is the 3-layer model is my “everything comes in 3 layers, even the layers” mantra. Any “layer” of anything has three aspects, itself and interfaces to two others. This is useful anytime we express conceptual models in 2D or 3D views representing lines and surfaces, as we do mentally all the time whether we capture them explicitly or not (whiteboard, powerpoint, any information model in any publishable form – see “ease” memetic point above). But that’s a generic point. (XPLANE is the branding of David’s consulting business, which obviously uses his liminal thinking thinking – an obvious allusion.)

The specific important point is that this particular

Conscious <> Liminal <> Unconscious

3-layer model of thinking maps in an interesting way to a particular physical model of the brain

Left Hemisphere <> Corpus Callosum <> Right Hemisphere

Now, left-right brain myths won’t go away, even though many now find it easier to simply dismiss such ideas. The point is explicit myths about left-right brain differences are wrong. What is important is their three-layer architecture, not their differences. The interface mediates how processing in the two halves communicate with each other and keeps different forms of thought processing separate at any given time. Apart from some major, broad specialisations of dedicated connections, most of the cortex is generic and plastic enough to be involved in any kind of processing of any topics of consideration at any time – but the architecture is always there to enable joined-up thinking. (See Iain McGilchrist) Pretty sure the real (best) conceptual model of thinking has to be:

Particular & Explicit <> Liminal (Interfacing) <> Abstract & Implicit

The problem looks like explicit dominating the implicit, but in fact they interact not directly, through a zero-substance interface, but through a significant and substantial interface in which important processing happens. How literally the conceptual maps to the physical is not important – ie our physical models are ultimately conceptual (informational) anyway. Liminal thinking processes are worth understanding, valuing and learning to use.

Looking forward to Liminal Thinking by David Gray.

I’ve cited (for example) C J Werleman and Anne-Marie Waters as activist-commentators who undoubtedly “get it” and are undoubdtedly committed to making change for the better for all of us. Helping to escape the mess we’re sliding into. And I say that even though both engage in the kind of rhetoric I often find counter-productive – too negatively focussed on specific partisan and personal targets. When I feel the need to criticise them, they know it, but that’s messy risk-taking politics for you. Somebody has to do it. (The court-jesters have to do it too – the Frankie Boyles, the David Baddiels and the Rod Liddles – but they are less directly concerned with leading and creating solutions.)

Whichever current aspect of “the mess we’re in” takes the current headlines – terrorist-extremism, human-rights, religious-secularism, migration, islamaphobia, ant-semitism, there can be no doubt that Israel’s relationships with its Arab neighbours and the West’s relationships with both are the major factor at the core of the mess. The mess we’re in is the Middle-East problem. Apart from more general international political and strategic issues like access to oil & gas, land and natural resources, Israel would be the specific tangible element we could point to. If we had to focus on one “thing” – Israel would be that thing – as in “Israel is the problem, so let’s solve it.”

This much I’ve said before, and the tangled and flawed history of events and responsibilities that got us to where we are now, are constant topics here. If we wanted to get there we wouldn’t start from here, but here we are and wishful thinking is no solution.

Saying Israel is the problem is a million miles from concluding Israel is a mistake so let’s somehow just get rid of it; undo the mistake. Several post-WWI/WWII generations of jews, including those that call Israel home, have human rights (and responsibilities) like the rest of us. It’s “antisemitic” to suggest the current mess is prejudiced on the “fault” of their being Jewish and/or Israeli. It’s not antisemitic to agree that Israel is a problem in need of a solution.

My own main agenda happens to be the intellectual honesty of how we understand and make decisions around such complex problems in the real world – nuance is the friend of truth – but political action requires much more. C J has been publicising his own recent first-hand Israel-Palestine experence. Today Anne-Marie has just announced her “Project for Israel” – getting to the core of first-hand understanding of what really are the current problems.

Give her your support.


[Post Note: As if to prove my point, people who get the real underlying problems engage in rhetoric targetted negatively at each other. Whatever happened to good fences make good neighbours?

I’ve latched onto the idea of a Gestalt view of the world several times in the recent past, and spent most words describing the idea in a post earlier this year with reference to von Bertalanffy’s Problems of Life.

As noted in several other recent posts, I’m reading Ray Monk’s Wittgenstein, the Duty of Genius (DoG) and finding it excellent. After one post picking up points from the first (Tractatus) half of that biography, I have been finding so much more good material in DoG that my notes would, as ever, produce as much blog post as the original text I’m reading. Too much. However, the gestalt idea recurs many times with Wittgenstein, firing off connections with my other existing thoughts.

Monk is emphasising that Wittgenstein’s views on confusions in describing what it means to “get” a joke and or “appreciate” a piece of music or art, are really the same confusions he is pointing out in philosophical problems with science:

Understanding humour, like understanding music, provides an analogy for Wittgenstein’s conception of philosophical understanding. What is required for understanding here is not the discovery of facts, nor the drawing of logically valid inferences from accepted premises – nor still less, the construction of theories – but rather … the right point of view.

We are too easily “Aspect Blind”. We are so used to seeing our model of the physical world as the dominant worldview that we tend to see other aspects – gestalts – as secondary, less tangible objects. We discount or fail to recognise these gestalts as real objects, even fail to see them entirely. We fail to see that the dominant physical model (of science) is itself a gestalt, albeit a very important and useful one.

So many Wittgenstein references to aspect blindness put me in mind of Hofstadter and his Tabletop thought experiment for illustrating Creative Analogies by imagining objects and relationships orthogonal – on a different plane – to those explicitly available in the model in the explicit design space or theatre of operations front of you. The physical objects on the tabletop are – in some sense – no less real than those you can imagine, even though they may be unreal in the physical sense. It’s not a problem that they are not physically real. In fact they’re so useful, they are necessary to human reality.

Indeed Wittgenstein already made the same connection:

“What would a person who is blind towards these aspects be lacking?
It’s absurd not to answer: the power of imagination.”

Three corollaries come to mind, without further elaboration here: One, that physics is fundamentally at root Information & Computation (previously on Psybertron and recently in New Scientist). Two, that the gestalt idea is pretty fundamental to physical problems with Anthropic Principles. Discounting trivial AP interpretations, all our models of the world – even our most objective physical sciences – are modelled from our actual human perspective in the cosmos. Our models are all anthropic; they are our gestalts (previously on Psybertron). Three, that creative analogies with approximate relations and definitions are valid because they are approximate (analogous but not identical). If they were one-to-one mappings in every respect – tautologous identities – they wouldn’t tell us any new knowledge. What matters is how good they are. Reminded me of Dennett (a) putting off definitions until you find something worth defining and (b) working with the kinda / sorta operator in developing arguments, ideas and theories.


[Post Note : Drafted and published simultaneously with the above is Rev Sam’s (Elizaphanian) most recent post, also on the imaginative aspect of physical reality (targetted at Dawkins). As I may have mentioned, Sam of course was person who first introduced me to Wittgenstein.]

[Post Note : Having now read to the end, so much more I could say, but strangely the one item for now is the phrase immediately following the last one quoted above:

…. the power of imagination.

But the imagination of individuals, though necessary, is not sufficient. What is further required for people to be “alive” to aspects (gestalts) [and therefore humour, music, poetry, arts generally] is a culture.

That “Tabletop” from which leaps of imagination are made is the smorgasbord of existing things accepted as being “a thing” in the surrounding culture. I’m guessing in the arts and humanities, no-one would find that cultural take remotely controversial. Of course what we’re saying, Wittgenstein and I, is that’s just as true for philosophy, politics, economics and science. Established memeplexes provide the background, the platform, from which new memes can spring. The previously accepted things are no more real that the new imagined things. It’s their ongoing acceptance, standing the empirical tests of time in terms of validity and utility, that differ. The imagined can become accepted and culturally established, or not.]

As part of my recap / catch-up on Wittgenstein I’m at last reading Ray Monk’s “Duty of Genius“, much referenced in other readings of course, but reading the original for the first time. This is my mid-point review (his 1929 return to Cambridge) to capture my own agenda points with notes under 3 headings:

The Job Done – Did Wittgenstein believe he’d put philosophy to bed in the Tractatus?
The Incompleteness – Is Gödel consisent with the Tractatus on incompleteness?
The Kunmanngasse House – A metaphor for the Tractatus

[DoG – the Duty of Genius]
[TLP – the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus]

The Job Done

I’m finding very little to disagree with in DoG and indeed it is truly excellent in joining the man to his work, a recurring interest of mine to understand where P was coming from when they wrote X. Lots of clarification and deepening of detail as well as confirmation and reinforcement of the broader themes. Scholarly and human. Recommended. Excellent as I say.

As I’ve said many times, the one Wittgenstein meme that continually nags me is the suggestion he believed he’d solved philosophy in writing TLP and that this was why he ostensibly removed himself from philosophical activity for the decade 1919 to 1928.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Discounting for a moment that his knowledge of academic philosophy as a whole was limited and selective beyond Russell (eg Kant, Schopenauer, Nietzsche) due to his age and experience, he knew philosophy was a lot more than the immediate target audience of TLP. For the logicians it was all that could be said, but what couldn’t be said with formal logical language – metaphysically, ontologically, epistemologically – was as he had also said, a lot more and a lot more important. He had solved the problem of logicians, if they could understand what he had done. Nothing more, nothing less.

Frustrated that they didn’t get it, again as he knew they couldn’t do immediately without the will to do so, he left them (hopefully) to study and absorb what he had done, whilst he went off to walk his talk. To walk his non-talk in fact – to live, experience the aesthetic of real life – to do the more important part of philosophy. Watch me. He was taking his own medicine, again probably frustratedly hoping they would notice his message.

Of course lived experience through and after WWI had a massive psychological effect on intelligent humans as well as the enormous physical effects on people and states in general. But, even in normal times there would be no best laid plans for developing the greater unspoken half of any human enterprise. Plans apply only to the formally describable elements. Very much puts me in mind of T E Lawrence.

Whilst he indeed had no interest in elaborating or extending TLP (its scope was complete, to him) he was of course keen to hear of it’s progress.

To Ogden in 1923, who had suggested his own “Meaning of Meaning” solved a problem with meaning in TLP, Wittgenstein said:

“I believe you have not caught the problems which I was at in [TLP] (whether or not I have given the correct solution).”

He was realistic enough to know his work wasn’t perfect (complete and consistent) but he was simply not interested in debating any detail criticisms of TLP until he saw evidence that his main objectives were accepted or even recognised.

Later the same year working on detail TLP clarifications with Ramsey whom he did find sufficiently open and sympathetic (and able), Ramsey is “illuminated” to confirm that:

He [Wittgenstein] is very interested in it [clarifying TLP] …

Although, what he is not interested in and why, he continues:

… he says his mind is no longer flexible and he can never write another book.

Corresponding with Keynes Wittgenstein makes it clear why he is resisting a return to formal philosophical activity. He would dearly love to in fact, he knows there is useful work to be done, but he can’t:

… because I myself no longer have any strong inner drive towards that sort of activity …. the spring has run dry.

He is fixated on the specific importance of TLP not being recognised, that he is effectively unable to move on until it is. Especially frustrating that the need to move on is all the greater since what is not said in TLP is the more important part of the necessary work. There is no doubt of his obsessive personality regarding whatever his current project. Not listening is normal for him. Accusations of madness are not in short supply either, and he understands the psychology that actively pushing and promoting (the written contents of) TLP to anyone not already sympathetic to his agenda, can only backfire on his credibility. Harranguing those previously sympathetic has already consumed all their available attention and patience. He’s obsessive to the point of madness, and he knows it.

Relationship-wise Wittgenstein undoubtedly needed mutual intimacy for any human interaction to work. The formal content of any argument is the smaller part of what it takes to add any value. The humanity is all. The contradiction is all too clear to him as his frustrations lead to his own inhuman treatment of others when the inability to communicate what is necessary. That’s his point, the Catch-22 of TLP. He himself is consistent about this, whatever the topic or context. As he says to Eccles

It is no use writing to you about [it]
as I couldn’t explain the exact nature of [it].
You will [have to] see it for yourself.

The job of philosophy is far from being complete in TLP. Living life beyond the page, you have to see it for yourself before the job can progressed to completion.

The Incompleteness

This inability to properly define what is needed axiomatically in philosophical logic has obvious parallels with Gödel in mathematical logic. So having seen the view from Gödel’s side, I was interested to see the connection from the Wittgenstein perspective. Monk makes only two Gödel references in DoG.

Firstly, Wittgenstein’s work was planned as 1/4 of the whole agenda at the 1930 Konigsberg conference, whereas the conference was in fact overshadowed by von Neumann’s unplanned announcement of Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem(s). Since his proof was based on numbers, it has been debated whether it really only applies to arithmetic rather than the whole of (mathematical and philosophical) logic. I happen to believe that IF you want to express your philosophy in that kind mathematical logic you are indeed bound by incompleteness – consistent with both Gödel and Wittgenstein. As Monk says, Wittgenstein’s only comments on Gödel were primitive and dismissive, so:

Whether Wittgenstein accepted this [common] interpretation of Gödel’s result is a moot point.

[Follow-up – S. G. Shanker reference.]

Secondly, in the 1940’s, Wittgenstein had some significant and regular interaction with student Georg Kreisel who later went on to become an important Gödel scholar. Although Wittgenstein considered Kreisel to be …

“… the most able philosopher he had ever met who was also a mathematician.”

… it seems ultimately they were really talking past each other and that Wittgensien was, as ever, the droll commedian. Kreisel’s work was to be part of mathematical logic whereas Wittgenstein’s was seen as an attack on the same field, and Kreisel was dismissive (and perhaps embittered):

“Wittgenstein’s views on mathematical logic are not worth much.”

“The [Blue and Brown] books are deplorable.”

As Monk says, Wittgenstein’s precise relation to Gödel is moot, which looks like a lost opportunity.

The Kunmanngasse House

And, finally for now, at this mid-way point, the Kunmanngasse House architected in typically obsessive and austere detail by Wittgenstein is a wonderful metaphor for his work so far.

Hermine [Wittgenstein, sister] said … even though I admired the house very much […] it seemed to be much more a dwelling for the gods than for a small mortal like me. [I felt] opposition to [its] perfection and monumentality; to this “house embodied logic”.

Monk adds … the qualities of clarity, rigour and precision that characterise it are indeed those one looks for in a system of logic rather than in a dwelling place. Wittgenstein made extraordinarily few concessions to [humans].

Given the ongoing hit rate on my two posts on Chris Packham’s autism [last week] and [back in 2013], I must say he came across very personable in his appearance today on the BBC 90th birthday special for Sir David Attenborough.

[And – Post Note – seeing him in Springwatch recently – he’s obviously great when doing what he loves best, loving the natural world. Clarifies that my objection is public scientists being stood up as spokespeople for life beyond science or when such scientists, of their own free-will, dismiss the concept of anything of value beyond science. The probem is scientism, not science or scientists per se. Scientism within and beyond science. Scientists have human failings like the rest of us, and science has its own problems, some of which are due to the scientistic memeplex, if only science and its scientists could see it. Chris Packham is simply an archetypal example amongst the usual suspects.]