physics and psychology

Jack Adams-Webber (
Tue, 7 Nov 1995 09:33:32 -0500

>Suzanne writes as follows:

>>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
>>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
(classical) physical phase state (we do not require quantum theory to
predict the behaviour of falling bodies), 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

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
conscious 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 Suzanne's 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].

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