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Evidence for Connection Theory

Evidence for Connection Theory

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Published by Alyssa Vance
Version 2.1 - September 21, 2011

by Leverage Research
Version 2.1 - September 21, 2011

by Leverage Research

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Published by: Alyssa Vance on Apr 23, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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Connection Theory:
The Current Evidence
v2.1 draft written – 2/13/11 minor revisions – 9/21/11
Author: Geoff Anders
Table of Contents
Introduction 2.
Methodology 2.1.
The Elegance Principle 2.2.
Applying the Principle 2.3.
Truth and Usefulness 2.4.
Types of Data 2.5.
Distinguishing Options 3.
Current Evidence 3.1.
Evidence For CT 3.1.1.
Recommendation Plan Tests 3.1.2.
Mind Mapping Tests 3.1.3.
Other Sources 3.2.
Evidence Against CT 3.2.1.
Counterexamples 3.2.2.
Conflicts with Established Science 3.2.3.
Other Sources 4.
Assessment of the Evidence 4.1.
The Evidential Situation 4.2.
Candidate Theories 4.3.
Proposed Conclusions 5.
0. Preliminary Remarks
Even though this is version 2.0 of this document, it is still an early version. It is better than version 1.0 in a number of regards. Nevertheless, it is still unpolished, incomplete and simplified
in a number of regards. Please continue to forgive this. I will release another version of this document soon.
1. Introduction
 Connection Theory (CT) is a scientific theory. As such, it should be accepted or rejected on the basis of the evidence. This document presents my current evidence both for and against CT, as well as the conclusion I propose to draw on the basis of this evidence.
 To anticipate, I will draw the tentative conclusion that the evidence favors either (a) the acceptance of CT as approximately true in at least a narrow range of cases, or (b) the acceptance of CT as true and universally applicable. Which a person should believe depends, I will argue, on the person’s philosophical views about the physicality or non-physicality of the mind.
2. Methodology
To assess a scientific theory, one must employ some method. Over the next few sections, I will discuss the method I use to assess scientific claims and theories. As the purpose of this document is to assess the evidence for and against CT, and not to give a full exposition of my views on scientific methodology, I will keep this discussion relatively brief. I will discuss scientific methodology fully in another document.
 In the following sections, I will state the principle I use to determine which claims to accept and reject (2.1), describe how to apply this principle in practice (2.2), discuss how the principle relates to my goals of truth and usefulness (2.3), and discuss the types of data I use (2.4). I will then distinguish several philosophical theories about the mind and explain why it is important to distinguish such theories prior to assessing evidence (2.4).
2.1. The Elegance Principle
I use a single principle to determine which scientific claims to accept or reject. I call this principle the “Elegance Principle”. The Elegance Principle is as follows:
The Elegance Principle:
 All propositions included in the most elegant theory that explains all of the data are true.
 Keeping in mind the caveat in section 0.
Let’s clarify some of the terms here. A “theory” is just a collection of one or more propositions. I will discuss what we count as “data” in section 2.3. For now, an intuitive understanding will suffice. “Elegance” is a measure of explanatory completeness, i.e., how much of what is posited by a theory is explained
 within that theory. Go through the things a theory says are the case. Ask why each of those things is the case. Why does this exist? Why did this happen? The more a theory can answer, the more elegant it is. The more times a theory fails to answer, the less elegant it is. Elegance can be thought of as opposite of arbitrariness. The more that a theory posits arbitrarily, the more there will be unexplained things within the theory, the less elegant the theory will be. The fewer arbitrary things a theory posits, the more the theory will provide explanations for what it posits and hence the more elegant the theory will be. The Elegance Principle is not meant to be special or controversial. It is similar to principles that many people use, including the many variations of Occam’s Razor. Why do I use the Elegance Principle instead of another principle? I leave this question to my full discussion of my views on scientific methodology.
2.2. Applying the Principle
It is straightforward to see how to apply the Elegance Principle in general. If a proposition is included in the most elegant theory that explains all of the data, then it should be accepted as true and its negation rejected as false. It is also fairly simple to see what sorts of theories the Elegance Principle will favor. It is easier to ask more questions about complex theories, so in general, the Elegance Principle will favor simpler theories. These simpler theories will still need to explain all of the data, of course, and this will only be possible if the theories are sufficiently universal. As a result, in general, the Elegance Principle will favor theories that are more universal. Sometimes when simple, universal theories are used to explain data, the theories cleanly explain the data. Other times, the theories can only be made to explain the data by adding various additional posits (dust in the lens, unseen forces, etc.). Since these additional posits typically decrease the elegance of a theory, all else equal, the Elegance Principle will typically favor theories that require one to make fewer additional posits of this sort. Unfortunately, while it is possible to see how to apply the Elegance Principle in general and while it is possible to see broadly what sorts of theories the Elegance Principle will favor, I do not have a procedure for applying the Elegance Principle precisely in practice. I have no way to precisely rate theories in terms of elegance. I cannot provide them with a precise elegance “score”. I also do not know how to measure the amount of elegance a theory gains or loses as a result of particular modifications. A new posit is added and not explained – how much elegance is lost? Two semi-universal laws are replaced with a single universal law – how much elegance is gained? I do not currently know how to answer these questions. In practice, what I do is this. If I am assessing a theory, I consider the theory and get a general sense of how elegant its major components are. I then look at how well the theory explains the data. First, I look for data that directly contradict the theory. If there are any such data, the theory is refuted. Second, I look for data that the theory explains by means of arbitrary
 Here and elsewhere in this document, I use the word “explain” so that “X explains Y” does not
imply “X correctly explains Y”. According to my use, it is consistent to have an explanation of something that is not a correct explanation of it.

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