Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Dipole Neurology at Ratskep. Pseudoscience or Kangaroo review ?

NOTE:  This thread is partly regarding my political disagreement with Rational Skepticism (who are a popular atheist forum). Basically their thing is promoting an anti-progressive fundamentalist approach to science. When I pointed out the flaws in their political approach they closed ranks and allowed the construction of a revenge thread attempting to ridicule my work, so obviously I will have to defend my thesis where it was misrepresented. First  a quick note about the political problem mentioned. We do have conservative science at a high level because certain scientific invariants particularly in physics have now been established well enough for certain hard lines to be justified, but only in very limited areas. The high level of science is exactly where such invariance should stay. When we have the concept that scientific fundamentalism is to be promoted at a populist level outwith scientific operations, then the danger is we will have fundamentalist cliques that tend towards activity which promotes ideas based on political rather than scientific considerations. 

And so indeed we do find something really very interesting about Ratskep. They rarely have threads on current science geared towards new growth areas. i.e. AGi, Brain simulation, Gerontology, nano-tech and countless new fields. These are fields that many hardcore atheists are barely aware exist, never mind are a key to our future. I was amazed that this atheist culture is so behind, yet well steeped in the details of Einstein, Darwin, Newton etc ? Basically it appears is if they got stuck in the 19th- mid 20th century. Almost all the activity follows or discuss science projects only from that time. Does science vision close down when one takes up fundamental atheism or is it because they have so few active scientists  ? Its almost as if groups composed of non-scientists feeling emotionally positive about science as a political endevour, have turned science into a political caricature in which the members envelope themselves into a cultural narcissism groupthink where science was perfect in the past, and any new science automatically feels like a threat. Hence the complete lack of coverage and interest in 21st century science projects outwith institutions which develop older disciplines. i.e. NASA, particle accelerators or discussions on genetics.

However I have dealt with that issue elsewhere. This post here just covers Ratskeps almost complete misrepresentation of my neuroscience work. Also how they turned out to be completely wrong (i.e. my predictions are now verified)  as well as their misuse of scientific terms and misunderstanding of review procedures. We can also perhaps learn something here. Even movements based on scientific ideals can tend towards ignorance, when a fundamentalist mindset is promoted. This of course is quite the reverse of the idea behind science in the first place. I guess the ease with which we fall into this type of hardcore groupthink is just something about human nature that we still have to wrestle with for some time to come.

OK..Following the review by Juan Carlos Pinto (log into facebook) , founder of the Strong Ai group, another artificial intelligence researcher Paul Almond ( ) has completely misrepresented this theory on RationalSkepticism forums and posted it in the pseudoscience section. This was an interesting event for me considering his works were posted as pseudoscience in the very same section over a year ago.  This is actually a pretext to punish me for taking up a preexisting political dispute I had with this group, (while anonymous) questioning their political ethos.  Their thread against me was posted just 6 hours after i revealed my identity to Paul Almond, and was clearly a 30 minute botch job, designed to irritate their strongest critic. Many of their members were involved and they broke their own rules in putting it up there.

I looked into this and the stated reason is that the central concept for my research is based on nothing more than brain imaging.

Or to quote "I think it is an extremely dubious theory, and it looks cranky, so I am posting this in Pseudoscience. In fact, as an assertion that some kind of asssociation with a university is involved, if this is the case I have to wonder what the university thinks it is doing. Does anyone disagree?"

And since then yet more associations with universites, two have since validated my predication, and my papers and articles accepted to the current top journals and websites on whole brain emulation, something which Paul Almonds made no traction on after writing almost a book on the subject. Maybe validates what i say about hardcore atheist groupthink reducing vision. But thats his problem. Back to their misrepesentation of my work.

"The brain looks like a diagram of the magnetic field through a coil, therefore, the brain works on the same principle."

The Brain imaging I use is one of many cross discipline results and played no part in generation of the projects primary concept. This research was commissioned from psychology. The question was "what causes functional lateralization". It was years into the project before images were found and those were used are a means to pick out morphogenetic features and explore function (as do other neurodevelopment theories). The images were put together primarily for conference posters. However If i had taken that approach mentioned it would still have been a valid means to proceed anyway. Basing theories of neuro function on visual structure has lead to one of the biggest computational neuroscience breakthroughs of recent time.  This is basic science.."“If you want to understand function, study structure.” — Francis Crick" 

All of this has been clearly stated in my papers starting sections. Clearly Mr Almond had not even started to read the work he is critiquing as he would find all brain structures were looked at. i.e. every feature. Further misrepresentations I have to correct Paul Almond and friends on  are:

1. The VZ Cortex dipole is not a quantum mind theory. It is a neurodevelopment theory with physical mechanisms based on growing support for glial magnetic models i.e. (Ingber & Nunez, 2010 , Bokkon & Banaclocha, 2010 , Pereira & Furlan, 2010, Størmera & Laanec, 2009)

2. The concept has not been based primarily on how the brain looks, but on how the brain develops its structure and functionally processes information. i.e. This is a neurodevelopment theory primarily. Many such neurodevelopment theories start with structure, but I didnt, I started with function, not that it should matter.

SO The VZ calcium wave to dipole concept IS fully science interactive. It HAS undergone peer review, multiple independent review by dozens of experts, scrutiny at high level neuroscience conferences and is an on going project with further plans for publication, PHD summarization, falsification and experimental design.

OK so whats the big problem then, if i am not bothered about their review ?

My disupte with Ratskep regards general principles in other areas not related to neuroscience. They take on an almost tyrannical mob mentality. A primary reason that Richard Dawkins under pressure, closed down his forum RDF, and RationalSkepticism  then had to be formed as an umbrella organization for these more active members. The whole thing ended up in the major press. So it was a big forum, massive membership numbers and a large fundraising pot was organized by Dawkins around it.

As there are  very few published scientists on ratskep, they have a very low awareness in regards to what editorial standards and requirements really are. If published works appear which back up a theory they decided not to like, the journal or institution is then criticized, to ensure group cohesion between forum members. Very rarely are these papers they criticize read (I tested that by presenting peer reviewed works and watching if the view counter increased). Over one year 60 members ridiculed a theorist yet only two actually accessed the primary work to read it. This is the worst kind of climate for people to be introduced to ideas.

 There are no hallmarks of the refined functions of science or journal procedure when they review and classify works. i.e. Standards, protocol or procedure in review. Contacting of the author for rebuttal, in depth (often none !) reading of the reviewed material, no criteria for “pseudoscience”. no appeal or libel, no regulation, assessment of reviewer expertise etc.

The policy which has been stated by their moderators, is that any works which are not encoded in the mainstream are pseudoscience. This policy is at odds with the expert classifications by Thomas Kuhn, Imre Lakatos and A. Musgrave. Ratskep wilfully classifies together Protoscience and fringe science with Pseudoscience. A complete misrepresentation. Pseudoscience is clearly demarcated as not being treated with the scientific method and a form of dishonesty by the proponent of the idea, either to themselves (mostly) or to others.

ADDITIONAL NOTE 2013: There are now three lab verification for the primary facets, predicted from the multipole brain development theory, so it is now a theory, and the conflict is actually over the mechanism. So much for Ratskeps ability to classify pseudoscience.  Several physics papers i objected to them classifying as pseudoscience are now being taken seriously at a high level and one was actually republished in nature ! There is no change on a geology issue I raised there, but Expansion tectonics is controversial for known reasons regarding no known mechanism.  Almost half a dozen qualified geologists defended the thread i started for almost two years after I was barred, running it to nearly 500 pages. Looking at their comments, these geologists don't appear to share the light in which ratskep portray me. They have now left the forum in disgust after many (like me) were barred over trivialities. Ratskep still has no fringe or protoscience categories or for that matter, surprise, surprise there is still no known member (that supports their policies) who carries out science of any significance. Most telling there are more PhD and working Scientists in the threads I started, defending my positions, than there is the entire active membership of Ratkep in that time period !

In summary, do some science guys, just do something, getting together into groupthink cliques is counter-productive. Being skeptical as a complete worldview was never what science was about anyway.