Blindsight and the Million Dollar Challenge

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by Ivan Seeking, Dec 27, 2023.

  1. Ivan Seeking Registered Senior Member

    My argument has long been that there is no such a thing as supernatural for that very reason. Anything that exists is natural whether we expect it or not. A great example is blindsight. The ability was supernatural hogwash one day, and reality the next. I told James Randi that he owes me a million dollars but he never paid up.
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  3. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Off-topic (sorry), but what do you mean by "blindsight".

    Do you believe you have it? Did you actually apply for Randi's challenge? Could you not agree on a fair testing protocol or something? What happened?
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  5. Ivan Seeking Registered Senior Member

    I used to talk with Randi from time to time. I just sent an email and didn't formally challenge him. But I would bet if I wanted to get nasty, i could have taken his money. He was playing word games and essentially claiming that supernatural means unknowable or beyond science, which is absurd. That is an assumed outcome based on the faith of a cynic.

    Blindsight in one form at least, is the ability of a blind person to detect emotions through visual stimuli that bypass cortical vision. People who experience this don't even know they are picking up visual information. So it is something once thought impossible - seeing without vision, or detecting emotions through magical means - that we learned indeed occurs. And of course since it is real, there is a mechanism that makes it possible even though we didn't expect it.

    Blindsight regroups the different manifestations of preserved discriminatory visual capacities following the damage to the primary visual cortex. Blindsight types differentially impact objective and subjective perception, patients can report having no visual awareness whilst their behaviour suggests visual processing still occurs at some cortical level. This phenomenon hence presents a unique opportunity to study consciousness and perceptual consciousness, and for this reason, it has had an historical importance for the development of this field of research. From these studies, two main opposing models of the underlying mechanisms have been established: (a) blindsight is perception without consciousness or (b) blindsight is in fact degraded vision, two views that mirror more general theoretical options about whether unconscious cognition truly exists or whether it is only a degraded form of conscious processing. In this article, we want to re-examine this debate in the light of recent advances in the characterization of blindsight and associated phenomena. We first provide an in-depth definition of blindsight and its subtypes, mainly blindsight type I, blindsight type II and the more recently described blindsense. We emphasize the necessity of sensitive and robust methodology to uncover the dissociations between perception and awareness that can be observed in brain-damaged patients with visual field defects at different cognitive levels. We discuss these different profiles of dissociation in the light of both contending models. We propose that the different types of dissociations reveal a pattern of relationship between perception, awareness and metacognition that is actually richer than what is proposed by either of the existing models. Finally, we consider this in the framework of current theories of consciousness and touch on the implications the findings of blindsight have on these.

    Here is the real kicker: We only accepted the reality when we learned how it could occur, not just because it was occurring.
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2023
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  7. Tailspin Registered Senior Member

    As I mentioned I used to think that science was a kind of force. It was atoms and atomic forces, gravity and chemistry. And it was devoid of anything else, anything (for want of a better word) spiritual. That science is a bunch of forces working together like lifeless cogs in a clock and things we see and feel in life are no more miraculous then that. When people said there was a scientific explanation for everything I took it to mean that there is no spiritual reason for anything and everything is just the great machine of science grinding mindlessly through it's processes. Love is just a tool for reproduction, that right and wrong are just superstitions, human beauty is just a way to identify members of our own species and basically just nihilism.

    To me at least, the supernatural is something beyond science, operates outside of it's rules and doesn't happen because of electro-magnetism or hormones or quantum mechanics.
    If science and the natural world are one and the same, then this is why it's called super-natural.
  8. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    According to Wiki it is not supernatural but controversial:

    It is not accepted science, at any rate.
  9. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    A lot of people claimed they could win the prize, over the years. Nobody ever managed to claim it.
    Is it your claim that blindsight is supernatural?
    Did you mean to write detect emotions, or did you mean detect motions?

    You claim this bypasses cortical vision. I'm not sure what "cortical vision" means. From the wikipedia page, it sounds to me like the people with blindsight have eyes that essentially work, but some brain damage that means they do not consciously perceive visual stimuli (from at least one eye). However, it is not implausible that they could still perceive some stimuli unconsciously. The required visual apparatus is intact, more or less.
    That is, they have no conscious perception of seeing the visual information. But that does not mean that their brains aren't receiving visual stimuli. It also does not mean that something mystical or supernatural or paranormal is occurring.
    It doesn't seem that mysterious to me, having read the wikipedia.
  10. Ivan Seeking Registered Senior Member

    Did you read what I said? It is already proven to exist.

    In at least one form it truly constitutes as sixth sense. I already said there is no such a thing as supernatural, That is just a catch phrase used by people who think we have nothing new to learn.

    Emotions. It even mentions that in the abstract I posted and linked.

    If you are going to ignore the paper I posted and what I said, then I can see why this place is a morgue.
  11. Ivan Seeking Registered Senior Member

    Of course not. And as YOU said, there is no such as thing. Anything real eventually will have an explanation even it its seems supernatural. But blindsight is a sixth sense that could have easily passed as ESP to someone who didn't know about it. In one type there are nerves that go from the eye directly to the brain and don't go through the vision system at all. You are seeing things without sight. The brain is detecting information by an entirely new pathway [compared to what we call vision]

    If ESP exists as it is commonly referenced, it has an explanation. It isn't supernatural. And I would bet blindsight has been assumed to be ESP at times before we learned how it can occur. Supernatural is just a word used to describe something we can't explain.

    It is an explanation for one form of ESP. Until we learned how it could occur, it would have been interpreted as supernatural. I have no doubt that with a good lawyer I could have taken Randi to the cleaners because we know it's real and it truly constitutes a sixth sense.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2023
  12. Ivan Seeking Registered Senior Member

    I posted a scientific paper and you all go to wiki.
  13. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    I do not believe I have ever said such a thing as that there is no accepted science. If you think I have, please point me to where I said whatever it is you are interpreting in this way.
  14. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    That's because one paper is not evidence of general scientific opinion on a subject.

    There are plenty of bad papers published, and also plenty of good ones putting forward ideas that fail to be corroborated. Corroboration, or reproducibility, is a vital feature of the scientific method. One paper does not establish a theory.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2023
  15. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    "Supernatural" literally means "beyond (the laws of) nature". Science is the study of nature, abiding by certain methods of inquiry ("scientific method" etc). If something is "beyond nature" then it is, by definition, outside the scope of science. This is not absurd, nor simply playing word games. What we deem supernatural at any given time is thus dependent upon our knowledge of those laws of nature. Sure, things that we once considered supernatural no longer are. But blindsight is not one of them. Seeing without any means of doing so would be - e.g. having zero cortical capability, being completely blindfold etc.

    As for Randi, if he saw a challenge that he thought could be explained within the laws of nature, even if he didn't know what that explanation might have been, he wouldn't have taken the challenge. I.e. if there was too much unknown about the situation, he probably wouldn't have considered it to be a test of the supernatural. For example, regarding blindsight, had the subject no eyes at all then he might have accepted the challenge. Just having cortical blindness, though, where it is unknown whether there is still some visual awareness - even if science doesn't know how it happens - leaves open there being some scientific explanation for the observed phenomenon. As such, I think it is highly unlikely Randi would have accepted it. Tests had to be in scientifically controlled environments where the only means of achieving it would be the defiance of some law of nature, or at least as understood at the time. If you don't know, or can't detail, how complete the sightloss actually is, then all you're testing is your understanding - which is within the remit of science. You're not actually testing that it is supernatural or not.

    Ultimately, he wasn't stupid. He knew only to accept/make challenges he was comfortable would go his way.
  16. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Blind sight has nothing to do with optics. It has to do with substituting sight with a different measuring method such as echo-location.

    C C likes this.
  17. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member


    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    Unfortunately you are wrong. Maybe if you read the paper linked to above, or even, heaven forbid, the Wiki article on it?

    Blindsight is about responding to visual stimuli while not seeming to have the capability to do so. E.g. someone who has damaged visual cortex may react to a sign saying STOP without consciously being aware that they have seen it. Or smile when they subconsciously see a baby smile.

    Echo-location is method of being able to navigate an environment using non-visual stimuli (in this case aural). Echo-location doesn't work, for example, for responding to written words, facial emotions etc, because the echo isn't sufficient to be able to distinguish.

    Note the difference?
  18. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Oh , I did read the article . I I noted the difference between eye-sight (optical) and blind-sight (memory). This is what I read;
    I vote for that argument.
    But that is not visual at all. We are talking memory recall here. When a blind person has not always been blind their brain may have stored visual imagery before they lost sight and what they "see" is not optical but imaginary recall from memory (controlled hallucination, Anil Seth)
    Nor is blindsight unless there was prior knowledge.

    Painters use blindsight a lot when they paint a landscape from memory in their studio.
    Don't we all use "deafhearing" when we relate a person's narrative to others?
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2023
  19. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Ivan Seeking:
    Yes, I read what you wrote. Nowhere have I denied that it exists.
    How so? It's a form of sight, isn't it? It uses the usual visual apparatus - namely, the eyes and the brain. Due to damage, the result is not a conscious perception of vision. But that hardly seems to require a supernatural explanation. And, indeed, you insist that this is entirely natural. So, I don't see the problem.
    Not really.

    "Supernatural" means "Not subject to explanation according to natural laws". It usually implies a cause that isn't physical or material.

    Since blindsight has, according to you, been explained by appealing to material causes, it doesn't qualify as supernatural. Do you agree?
    No it doesn't. The article itself uses the word "emotions" only once, in the body text of the article, nowhere in the abstract.

    I think maybe you have confused your own thoughts or writings with what the article says.
    What has been ignored, that you consider important or relevant to the discussion we are having?
    It would be better to say that the mistake of believing that it was supernatural in the first place becomes more obvious once a natural explanation is found. Do you agree?
    Sure. And that person would be mistaken about thinking it is supernatural.

    So we agree, I think. Right?
    The "vision system" that you talk about is only a conventional way to talk about how and where the brain typically processes visual stimuli. The brain is not literally segmented into neatly separate modules.

    However, I accept that brain plasticity is a thing, and the brain can, to some extent, "re-wire" itself to make the best of what it has, in terms of sensory inputs. This appears to be an example of that kind of thing.
    As it is commonly referenced, "ESP" is extrasensory perception. The clue is right there in the abbreviation: extra-sensory (i.e. perceiving beyond or outside the senses).

    If I understand it correctly, blindsight does not allow somebody to see anything that a person with a "normal" visual system cannot see. It does not involve perceiving things that are impossible to perceive through the usual senses.
    Then we agree. Right?
    Sounds like a safe bet. Some people are willing to believe all kinds of nonsense.
    No. See the definition above.
    Ah, the ennui for what might have been! You could have been rich! What a shame.

    I'm curious. Why didn't you lawyer up when you had the chance, if you don't mind me asking?
    Remember I had to ask you what blindsight was? You're the expert, aren't you? You shouldn't expect that everybody else will instantly share your expertise. We all have to start somewhere. Besides, you didn't seem very interested in giving us a primer.
  20. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Okay, but you didn't, as echo-location is nothing to do with visual stimuli.
    ??? While memory might explain how such a visually impaired person can seemingly react to some things without actually seeing that thing, it does not explain reaction to novel visual stimuli. But, hey, at least you've gone from non-visual stimuli to memory-of-visual-stimuli. Now try actually thinking about how one might react to visual stimuli. Not memory, not non-visual stimuli, but actual bona fide visual stimuli.
    Yet you can not have memory of novel visual stimuli, but blindsight is the reaction to it.
    Yes it does. Which is why people used to think it was supernatural.
    No, they use MEMORY!

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    You really haven't read the study that was linked, nor even the Wiki entry on the subject, have you? You're coming up with examples that are not blindsight. Memory is NOT blindsight, okay. Echo-location is NOT blindsight.
  21. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Do you mean processing optical waves with defective (blind) optical receivers (eyes)?
    What are you talking about?
    The brain has no direct connection to the exterior environment. ALL data is processed and transported via the sensory neural network to the brain, where it is compared to "memory" for cognition and visualization.
    Don't tell me what it is not. There is no blindsight. There is no deafhear. Chiding me for using scientifically correct language? You've got to be kidding.

    Explain to me what blindsight is. How does the brain receive data other than by sensory reception and neural transmission? Are you talking about a form of claivoyance?
    "Clairvoyance" and "Blindsight" are the same thing? The ball is in your court.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2023
  22. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Yes. Visual stimuli being somehow processed by people who are cortically blind.
    Wiki is your friend.
    So what. Memory is nothing to do with it. It is about the visual stimuli being processed.
    I told you what it is not because what it is is already detailed in the linked article, and the Wiki entry. It is reaction to visual stimuli by people who are cortically blind. Echo-location is not a reaction to visual stimuli. Relying on memory is not a reaction to visual stimuli.

    For example, imagine you have a cortically blind person in front of you. You tell them that you will show them either a red ball or a blue ball, and perform the exercise 100 times. Blindsight would be a case of that blind person being able to tell which colour ball is being shown to them, at least with a better than random outcome. This is because they are somehow still picking up the visual stimuli of the colour. There are theories as to how they are doing it, such as their optical nerves subconsciously picking up the colour (the visual stimuli) despite being consciously blind, or the person simply not being as blind as actually thought.
    The linked article and wiki should have done that. Hopefully the above will help clarify.
    It doesn't. Or at least noone is claiming that it is. Blindsight seems to be the difference between what the cortically blind person is consciously able to see (nothing) and what their subconscious perceives (something). Hence they can seemingly react, in some degree, to visual stimuli that they can't consciously explain.
    Not really, although I'm sure that blindsight may have been marketed as a form of clairvoyance or some such in the past. Blindsight is all about what a cortically blind person can pick up at a subconscious level. I.e. their eyes subconsciously picking up, to a degree at least, what a normally sighted person would consciously pick up.

    Clairvoyance, on the other hand, is all about someone "seeing" what is beyond even the scope of a normally-sighted person can see - e.g. the future, or through walls, or the pattern on a card that is faced away from them etc. Blindsight wouldn't be much of a clairvoyant ability, in that the person exhibiting blindsight would at best be reacting to visual stimuli in an impaired way compared to a sighted person, right. They would no more be able to see the future or patterns on a card facing away from them than any other person.
  23. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Processed how?
    In science, "somehow" is just not good enough, is it?

Share This Page