Re: serious toast

Jack Adams-Webber (
Mon, 6 Nov 1995 08:43:53 -0500


>While not claiming to fully understand the Golden
>Section and all its ramifications, I did wonder about applying it to the
>buttered toast problem. If indeed we are "hardwired" or whatever, to expect
>positive outcomes or confirmations more like 2/3 of the time, could it be that
>when faced with phenomema which conform to simple probabilty, we magnify he
>negative instances? Jack, if you're reading this, would you care to comment or
>set me straight if I'm off base here?

As much as I do like applying the "golden section hypothesis" to new
problems, I am fairly convinced that the behaviour of falling toast is
fully specified by the differential equations which define the current
physical phase state, and indirectly conditioned by certain evolutionary
constraints on the heights of humans (e.g., if we were very much taller, we
would be more prone to smashing our heads when we lost our balance) and the
corresponding relative heigths of our breakfast tables.

One might argue that, according to the anthropic principle (see Hawking,
1988), we can exclude from further consideration all mathematical models of
the evolution of the universe that do not allow for the appearance of a
human observer at a certain point in its development. As Penrose (1989, p.
434) notes, this "could provide a reason that consciousness is here
without its having to be favoured by natural selection". One could
speculate further that there are computational reflexive processes
"hardwired" (adopting your term) into consciousness which lead us to expect
positive outcomes about 62% (hardly 2/3) of the time. This is essentially
the position put forward by Lefebvre, V.A. (1995) in The Anthropic
Principle in Psychology and Human Choice. PSYCOLOQUY 6(29)
human-choice.1.lefebvre [see also Hunt, H. (1995). ON THE NATURE OF
CONSCIOUSNESS. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press].

Thanks for thinking of me.



Jack Adams-Webber Tel: 905 (688) 5544 [x 3714]
Department of Psychology Fax: 905 (688) 6922
Brock University E-mail:
St. Catharines, Ontario