Biooracles: Brains as Predictors

Biooracles: Brains as Predictors

INTRO

Spookywood is creating secular occult magick perspectives for rational enchantment. This article pertains to faith-based divination, divine destiny and their secular alternatives.

It is possible that deities exist as closed functions apart from human consciousness and are able to directly influence reality, possibly telepathically communicate with humans. This special exchange of information possible and sought after in science, but it has yet to be supported that such entities exist and are, indeed, God(s).

Secular magickians can maintain religious and spiritual interests for epistemology (the study of knowledge and how it is obtained) without needing to accept certain beliefs as truth. We'll be going over a few religious perspectives of prediction-making and comparing them with secular frameworks.

 

Image Description: Traditional Tarot de Marseilles Tarot Cards

 

Divination is an attempt to reveal upcoming (or unknown) events and details about existence. Everything can be made a form of divination — radio ads, car headlights, algorithms — it all has a special meaning for those who believe in divine placement. Check out Wikipedia's List of Over 100 methods of Divination to learn how anything can be turned into a method of foretelling. 

Is it beneficial to trust our intuitions completely in addition to practical prediction methods such as tossing bones? Do these methods reveal significant secrets about reality? Do they help us prepare for tomorrow's disaster?

Religious methods of divination, even those that are practical, are designed by faith in a transcendental, higher power driven by the purpose of deitiesMost faith-based methods of divination are unsuccessful in locating the world's missing children, discerning effective cancer treatments and preventing the world from major catastrophe. 

What are the benefits of reading tarot and astrology, then? Secularists may appreciate astrology as entertainment but look to astronomers for in-depth understanding of the cosmos and physics to make sense of time. Tarot may be appreciated as a cognitive mirror, an archetypal and psychological schema, that narrates the hero's journey. Thus, choosing any card at random is likely to reveal some relevant detail at least about the human experience. Humans tend to have as much in common as we do differences.

Psychic insight is a way of mimicking states of consciousness. Intuition is based on sensory input of behavioral and linguistic cues. The mantic practices of magickians (and all people) have a degree of psychic validity when considering brains as prediction tools. Spookywood criticizes claims of divine destiny and instead applies biological determinism and computational chemistry to make sense of interconnecting events. Correlations in nature help us calibrate our current placement and predict the future. 

Axel Cleeremans is a cognitive psychologist and research director with the Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique studying consciousness, cognition and computation. Cleeremans is finding that consciousness might be an outcome of anticipation. Anticipation and consciousness are results of learning. As we interact with sensory input and redescribe our own activities to ourselves, we learn how to be conscious (2014). 

 

 

Carrie Deans at the University of Minnesota describes anticipation as a biological mechanism we use to organize our place in time (2021). Consciousness is the brain's theory of itself, a narration that emerges by processing sensory input and simulating predictions about it to predict our place in society, among our peers and part of the universe.

Our simulations/mental stories require meta-representations that are essentially predictive models. In a research paper written for the International Journal of Computing Anticipatory Systems, Professor Cleeremans references brains as a continual, chemical process requiring time and dense networking to simulate predictive models. 

 

 

 

 

THE ORACLE / META-REPRESENTATIONS

Biologically, we are genetic oracles processing space and time. The term oracle comes from a Latin word ōrāre meaning "to speak." Traditionally, this meant a wise person, preferably a priest or Shaman, who can speak a prediction or prophesy on behalf of a higher power or transcendental source. 

If you lack faith in god(s), a great topic to study is representational modeling. A poetic take on meta-representations could be Edgar Allan Poe's "A Dream Within a Dream." Consider meta-representations as processes rather than products (William S. Norton and Susan E. Brennan, 2016).

A meta-representation is a representation of a representation. Language is an example of this. Language is initially structured to represent an object or concept. Representations of the object/concept are made and coded as models which can be communicated. The language is then decoded by an outside source to interpret the state of the original speaker. Meta-representations help us reason about the mental states of others (Norton & Brennan, 2016).

Predicting what a friend or peer is thinking is a meta-representation based on linguistic and behavioral cues (Hugo Mercier, 2012). Being an empath is not a direct experience of what others encounter but rather an imitation or simulation of what it might be like to be your friend or peer.

Important notice on models: all are flawed, even the best of the best. Words are insufficient, religions incomplete — there is always some missing information.

Meta-representations nevertheless help us understand the brain's predictive powers and imaginative features such as dreaming and fantasizing. The classic psychic vision (if valid) is a meta-representation, a simulation in the seer of an outside source's reported or imagined state.

Animals that lack meta-representational qualities can detect outsiders but may have less sophisticated models about them. Their predictions are only attainable in the context of their biological and sensory function. Meta-representations have evolved as a domain-specific mechanism from the monitoring of mental states in others. "Mind-reading" is essentially cognitive imitation and mind-modeling (Peter Carruthers & J. Brendan Ritchie, 2012). 

Derek C. Penn and Daniel J. Povinelli argue that, "the trick [to mind-reading] is to be able to infer the state of the unobservable cognitive variables ... influence the behavior of another agent using information observed from the perspective of the system itself."

★ Shoutout to Zstrange on YouTube for commenting insight regarding brains as oracles on one of Spookywood's videos! Thank you, Zstrange!

 

 

 

 

 

 

DIVINATION / FORETELLING

Image Description: GIF of a Blue Sparkling Crystal Ball

 

There is nothing unnatural about being interested in the future and secrets since we exist by predicting and learning. It is one of our most natural and innate functions of our human biology. Neat fact: predictions aren't only possible in humans! Animals and plants make predictions, too.

 

 

The word "divination" is significantly correlated with beliefs in God(s) and divine prophecies channeled from deities to nature and people. Divination doesn't always directly involve deities but is often based on ideas of divine destiny. Divination can be intuitive and more practical when it is based on natural phenomena.

 

Image Description: Etymologygeek diagram with the English derivative "Divination" sourcing to the Latin word "divus" meaning "of God; prophecy"

 

If you lack faith in God(s), there are reliable, secular alternatives to describing future prediction. You can replace the word "divination" with something less divine-inspired by using: prediction, foretelling, forecast, anticipation, foreshadow, calculation, prefigure, envision or indication.

You can also choose to divorce from theistic ideas of determinism and divine destiny. Biological determinism can be religious when it is applied to religion, but determinism that is secular is sufficient for agnostic magickians looking to make sense of time but are unpersuaded by theism.

 

 

 

 

DESTINY // DETERMINISM

 

Image Description: Diagram from EtymologyGeek for the etymology of destiny stating that it is an English derivative from a Proto-Indian-European word meaning "to place, to stand, to stay"

 

Destiny can be described as a predetermined state (often involving deities). It is the natural way in which events occur and their associated sets and placement. The state of each set has been fixed, or determined, by a previous state. Before you were born, your parents had to be born. In theism, gods came before people and are responsible for our outcomes. This is why you may hears claims that, "God has a plan," or "God works in mysterious ways." People believe in an afterlife, seek communion with God(s) and may completely structure their existence to align with a religion or spirituality.

Determinism is an ontological thesis that the state of a system at one time fixes the state of the system at all future times (M. Griffith, T. Neil K. Timpe, 2014). This is why religions and spiritualities usually teach god(s) as being primordial and influential over people. Determinism is a philosophy that all things have reason and relatability. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy warns against confusing determinism with fate and predictability.

  • Fate and fatalism focus on the idea that all things are destined to occur in a specific fashion regardless of any attempt to control or change the  outcomes.
  • Predictability is an epistemological thesis that future states of a system can be predicted (M. Griffith, T. Neil & K. Timpe, 2014).

 

 

 

  

Stefan Rummens and Stefaan E. Cuypers (2010) wrote about the paradox of predictability demonstrating how, even in a deterministic universe, there are limits to what each subset can predict about another subset. Limitations of meta-representations (predictive models) cause error and failure. Unpredictability is associated with the abstract of our chemical interaction, or chaos. In the paradox of predictability, order and chaos are simultaneously observed.

Interconnections between subsets and correlations (of time) are cauldron-like, non-linear and conjoined by reagents that trigger(ed) irreversible change in a solution. It is difficult to study the precise correlations between events without scientific rigor. Secular magickians do not depend on faith in God(s) nor the divine to predict or fix the future. We use computers, logic, physics and biochemistry to make sense of our probable and/or potential outcomes. Error is expected, and because we critically asses evidence, our failures and our uncertainties, we are able to more rapidly innovate and discover new possibilities.

Our lives are brought about from conditions we have limited to no control over, but with our bio-oracle magick, we can gain from evidence about the clues of chemical events occurring around and within us. As the English astronomer who formulated the theory of stellar nucleosynthesis, Sir Fred Hoyle, explains: "Science is prediction, not explanation."

 

 

 

 

References

Carruthers, P., & Ritchie, J. B. (2012). The emergence of metacognition: affect and uncertainty in animals. In M. J. Beran, J. L. Brandl, J. Perner, & J. Proust (Eds.), Foundations of metacognition (pp. 191-234). Oxford University Press. http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199646739.do

Cleeremans, Axel. (2014). Prediction as a computational correlate of consciousness. F.R.S.-FNRS & Université Libre de Bruxelles Center for Research in Cognition & Neurosciences. https://axc.ulb.be/uploads/2016/01/14-casys11.pdf

Deans C (2021) Biological Prescience: The Role of Anticipation in Organismal Processes. Front. Physiol. 12:672457. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2021.672457

Gijsbers, V. The Paradox of Predictability. Erkenn (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10670-020-00369-3

Hoefer, Carl, "Causal Determinism", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2016 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2016/entries/determinism-causal

Horton WS and Brennan SE (2016) The Role of Metarepresentation in the Production and Resolution of Referring Expressions. Front. Psychol. 7:1111. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01111

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