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March 13, 2012

Comments

"They don’t understand the issue, therefore understanding could change their minds"

For the mushy middle perhaps. For abortion advocates such as Elisberg, the lack of understanding is probably intentional.

Not mention the absurdity of this in the HuffPo piece: "that person (embryo) would immediately be legally protected with all the rights of a person that that person would expect, presuming the person had the ability to expect." By that standard not even a new born would have legal rights since the newborn has no "ability to expect" that its rights will be granted or valued.

Hmm so if one cannot determine with precision the gender of a biological entity that has human DNA and that justifies their termination, what do we do of those who are gender confused? Who have male/female anatomy but "behave" as though they were supposed to be of the opposite gender?

Argument: We don't know if the embryo is going to be male/female. Therefore it is not a person.
Counter-argument:
a) Lets agree with the (baseless) categorical assertion that only male/female are persons.
b) It is an objective fact that they embryo is either a male or a female. Not anything else.
c) From (a) and (b), the embryo is most definitely a person.

Elisberg wants to arbitrarily separate the term “person” from “human being” and then attach rights to “persons” rather than to human beings. But doesn’t that make a mockery of universal human rights and open wide the door for whomever is in power to define whole groups of “inconvenient” human beings out of their rights?

I don't think the distinction is necessarily arbitrary. People usually define "person" by pointing to certain properties, like sentience. This argument is not arbitrary:

1. A person is an entity that experiences first person subjectivity.
2. Embryos do not experience first person subjectivity from the moment of conception.
3. Therefore, embryos are not persons from the moment of conception.

With a precise definition of "person," the distinction people make between "humans" and "persons" does not necessarily open the door to arbitrarily excluding some members of the human family from having rights.

We’re all persons because a human being is the kind of being that has personal properties, whether those properties are currently being expressed or not.

Why should this definition of "person" be preferred over the usual definition of "person"? Is there some non-arbitrary way to adjudicate between them?

I am playing devil's advocate, by the way. I recently had a mock debate on abortion in which I played the pro-choice advocate. I came up with several arguments that I wanted to get some responses to, so I'm curious how you would respond to these. There are some others I'd like to get a response to (other than the ones I got in the debate), but I don't want to overwhelm you.

Sam,

First, part of your objection is that yours is the "usual" definition. Where is your evidence for that? I haven't experienced that to be the "usual" definition.

Second, your argument and "sentience" requirement is unclear. Strictly, as you've stated it, we would conclude that humans often lose their personhood during their lifetime. Humans (adult ones such as yourself, I assume) often don't "experience first person subjectivity". For example, every night when you sleep. You would have to rework your argument to be the capacity for sentience. But of course embryos do have that capacity in some sense. So you would then have to argue for a certain kind of capacity and this is where your argument would be reflecting a lot of arbitrariness.

My evidence for the usual definition is that whenever people try to distinguish personal beings from impersonal beings, they always do it by pointing to properties such as having a mind, a will, desires, etc. Christians do this, too. Jehovah's Witnesses deny that the Holy Spirit is a person. They think he (or it) is an impersonal force instead. And the way Christians answer is to point to passages showing that he has a mind (Romans 8:26-27) and a will (1 Corinthians 12:11), that he can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30), and that and he can speak (Acts 13:2). These are all attributes of personhood.

When I sleep, my mind doesn't cease to operate. I still experience first person subjectivity. I have feelings, sensations, perceptions, etc. So I don't cease to be a person when I sleep.

Now, you might use a different counter-example. You might say that the comatose or people who are vegetables have no mental activity. That came up in the debate I was in. I responded by pointing out that there had been studies showing that the comatose were not, as previously thought, brain dead. They still had a rudimentary mental life, which meant they were still persons.

After the debate, I pointed out that the study was irrelevant because even if the comatose were completely without a mental life, we still would not say they case to be persons while in a coma. If a person enters a coma in which they have no mental life, then wake up from the coma later on, nobody would say the person had ceased to exist and come back into existence (unless they were just pretending in order to avoid having to concede your point, which people do quite often). The fact that we wouldn't say the comatose had ceased to exist even if they were completely without a mental life shows that the "usual" definition of personhood is inadequate.

I may be only one of a few by the way that gives our friend ToNy's argument that our defining humanness as valuable/worthy of protection is arbitrary from nature only. I think this link from human to personhood is also arbitrary without God's declaration that informs men of who/what they are. Without that, it's only mans opinion of himself from his own perspective.

Sam,


Actually I don't think people usually try to define impersonal beings from personal ones. They usually don't think much about it. It's just obvious in most cases. In that regard, I would respond to you by saying that there simply is no precise "usual" sense of the term outside of, say, "human being" (which is what the embryo is, of course). Now if people are pressed to give some analysis of the term "person" and they usually go to attributes like "can speak" then so what? Should we favor that as the definition of personhood just because the average person would say it if you pressed them? No. But people might go to such attributes simply because they will quickly go to what they are most familiar with. And your point regarding Christians in regard to the Holy Spirit won't carry the weight for your claim because the reason Christians go to such attributes as "he can speak" can be explained in terms of this line of reasoning: If you can speak you are a person. This doesn't require the person to think something like "If you can't speak you are not a person." Likewise for your other assertions.

You claim: "When I sleep, my mind doesn't cease to operate. I still experience first person subjectivity. I have feelings, sensations, perceptions, etc. So I don't cease to be a person when I sleep."

I claim this is false. During *some* stages of sleep you may have feelings etc., but clearly not during all stages of sleep. In fact, as far as I know, only during one stage of sleep (REM) do we have feelings etc.

The mind, as a self-conscious thing, does cease to operate when you sleep. The brain doesn't cease to be active during any stage of sleep, but now if you want to make that the criterion you would be switching to a new argument and so it starts to look like you're arbitrarily grasping for anything that will work as a defeater. Mice have brains that operate.

So given your original definition of having first person subjective experience, you do cease to be a person when you sleep (or during certain stages of sleep).

You say, "I responded by pointing out that there had been studies showing that the comatose were not, as previously thought, brain dead. They still had a rudimentary mental life, which meant they were still persons."

You are either being inconsistent with your argument or else you are assuming that non-brain dead = first person subjective experience. Where is your evidence for this? Mice a non-brain dead.

If you can speak you are a person. This doesn't require the person to think something like "If you can't speak you are not a person."

That is a good point.

We may have a difference in opinion about what it means to have first person subjectivity. I don't know about you, but when I sleep, I have dreams. Dreams involve first person subjectivity. And even when I'm not dreaming, I don't cease to have a mental life.

And, BTW, "person," the way I'm defining it, would include mice. Mice are sentient beings. They have minds. They see, they feel, they act, etc. They have a mental life. That makes them personal beings.

Sam,

You say, "We may have a difference in opinion about what it means to have first person subjectivity. I don't know about you, but when I sleep, I have dreams. Dreams involve first person subjectivity. And even when I'm not dreaming, I don't cease to have a mental life."

Dreaming only occurs during REM stage and lasts for just a few minutes (dreams often seem longer than they are). I can grant that dreaming invollves first person subjectivity, but that won't get you off the hook of my counter example since it doesn't account for all sleeping states.

If your definition of person includes mice, then you are certainly not using a "usual" definition. It's also clear at this point that you are trying to work with two different definitions of person, whether you realize it or not. Mice may have mental activities, but given what we do know about first person awareness and the brain, mice do not have *that*.

Jonathan, I can't help but think we are having some kind of miscommunication. My definition of person (the one I'm calling "usual") includes any mental capacity whatsoever. If mice have sensory perceptions, emotions, thoughts, or anything that can be considered a faculty of a mind, then mice are persons under my definition. I"m not using more than one definition.

I guess you are right that my definition isn't usual. Usually, when we say "person," we're talking about people--humans. By the usual definition, the Holy Spirit actually isn't a person. Neither is any animal. Only humans are persons by the usual use of the word.

Sam,

You say, "Only humans are persons by the usual sense of the word."

Well humans are the most usual referent of human speech about "persons." Nothing interesting or significant follows from that observation.

You say, "I can only think we are having some kind of miscommunication."

There is no miscommunication on my part that I can see. You've simply given one definition and then morphed that into a different, broader one. You said in your original argument that "A person is an entity that experiences first person subjectivity." This definition of a person doesn't include mice or virtually any other animal. Now you want to go with a broader definition of "any mental capacity whatsoever." If there was a miscommunication, I can only assume it's because formulated the first premise your original argument in a way you did not intend.

By the way, it looks like a third shift has occurred from executing some attribute (self awareness or feeling) to merely having the capacity or potential to. But I won't bother pressing that point.

Anyway, I'm sure Kreeft would just point out at this point that embryos have the natual capacity to perform mental acts. So we are back to where I initially said we would be, you needing to argue for a certain sense of "capacity"

A fertilized egg is the...

kind of thing that grows into the ability to perform personal acts

True, but a fertilized egg is also 'the kind of thing' that has no brain. Not even a neuron. That makes it different from us.

And this difference is usually significant: plants get no moral consideration and non-human animals do - especially the 'higher' non-human animals.

Perhaps his sentence was just badly worded for rhetorical effect...

!

RonH

There is no miscommunication on my part that I can see. You've simply given one definition and then morphed that into a different, broader one.

No, I've been using the same definition throughout, so the misunderstanding must be on your part. You and I apparently have a difference in understanding about what it means to have first person subjectivity. Maybe I've got the misunderstanding about what the phrase means, but according to what I actually mean by the phrase, mice qualify as persons by that definition. So does just about every other animal that has a brain.

By the way, it looks like a third shift has occurred from executing some attribute (self awareness or feeling) to merely having the capacity or potential to.

No, you're misunderstanding me. By "capacity," I didn't mean the same thing as "potential." I meant actually having the mental state associated with the capacity. For example, if I have the capacity for thought, then I am actually able to think right now. I don't just have the potential to develop the ability to think.

I don't want to quibble about vocabulary anymore. It's more important to me that you understand what I'm saying than it is that you agree with my terminology. If I'm being unclear, then I apologize. But having explained myself, please don't insist that my terminology must mean what you would mean if you were using the same terminology and then, based on that, go on to say that I'm using two or three different meanings of "person."


Sam,

I'm not aware of any sense of "first person" that doesn't pick out "I-ness" or self-awareness. In fact, that seems like such an obvious sense of the term that I'm more inclined to think this is just a sophomoric debate trick: "oh, I meant that all along."

Now you say you didn't mean capacity in the normal (check the dictionary) sense of the term either. Again, this all looks suspiciously like a cover up for shifting your argument. But now that you want to move to actually exercising the ability, you are just back to my sleeping objection.

Surely you can't complain about my misunderstanding how you are using terms that you are using in an odd way. Ironically, this started out with you objecting that "person" was being understood in an unusual way. Now we find out that your own use of "person" is unusual, in addition to your use of "first person" and "capacity." .... and your perturbed by quibbling over vocabulary? Perhaps you're just playing the devil's advocate still with what appear to me as sophomorisms, but I really don't have time for it at this level where the only place it would be taken seriously is, perhaps, in the comment section of a YouTube video.

Ron,

"True, but a fertilized egg is also 'the kind of thing' that has no brain. Not even a neuron. That makes it different from us."

True, but a 2 year old is also the 'kind of thing' that is under 5 feet tall. Not even 4 tall. That makes it different from us.

You say, "And this difference is usually significant: plants get no moral consideration and non-human animals do - especially the 'higher' non-human animals."

But you would need to show that it's the fact of not having a brain rather than being the kind of thing that does not have a braid that is the significant difference. Otherwise your observation is just question begging.

Jonathan,

Why do animals get moral consideration while plants do not?

RonH

Ron,

Are you asking for a psychological explanation as to why people usually give moral consideration to animals but not to plants?

I don't see how the answer would be significant. Some people do give plants and trees moral consideration.

Are you asking for my opinion on why animals *should* get moral consideration but not plants?

Again, I don't see how my answer would be significant to you.

I wonder what would happen if a group of pregnant women went to court during their pregnancy insisting legal status be granted their unborn and legal certificates issued by the court that would grant the unborn full legal protection under the law?

For whatever reason it was brought up, the idea that dreams last only a few minutes is folk science and untrue.
Dreams run from a few minutes to up to an hour as sleep progresses.

Also, we do not dream only during REM cycles.

Daron,

Regarding dreams and REM: When I was majoring in Psychology in college I recall the textbook (Myers) stating that we only dream during REM.

Doing some quick research I found the following: "Early observations (4,5) temporally linked vivid dreaming with REM sleep, an association which many took to be an exclusive one (e.g., 6-8). However, when the definition of dreaming was expanded to include more general forms of cognition (9), more serious consideration was given to the notion that dreaming is also a feature of NREM sleep." (Nielsen TA. Kuiken D. Hoffmann R. Moffitt A. 2001)

As for dream length according to psych web: "REM sleep periods, and therefore dreams, last typically in the range of 5 to 45 minutes (cf. section 6). Often, the subjective time spent in a dream is much longer." So I don't see that my statement was inaccurate.

Either way, neither fact overturns my example. I can just grant that dreams also can occur in NREM but maintain the point on the basis that sleep isn't a continuous dream state. At many points during sleep there is no first person subjective awareness. I don't need for this non-self awareness to be constant during sleep or confined to REM for it the objection to work.

Just straightening out facts, Jonathan.
Your point may stand, but to call 45-60 minutes "just a few minutes" seems like a stretch. You'll know better next time you give this data.

How do you get 45-60 from 5-45?

After a further quick google search, the average dream is 15 minutes (themedicalquestions.com).

I'm wondering how you think the average dream lasting a few minutes disproves my statement that dreams last only a few minutes?

Jonathan,

Are there are psychological (maybe we need a wider term here) reasons why people give moral consideration to people and non-human animals but not plants?

I think it is clear people do this.

It is not clear to me that the 'should' do it.

Indeed, it looks like that they do is actually prior to the idea that they 'should'.

RonH

Hi Jonathan,
I get 60 from my own research. You probably thought you were the only authority? I put 45 in because that was what you admitted yourself.

I'm wondering how you think the average dream lasting a few minutes disproves my statement that dreams last only a few minutes?
Because it plainly does. You said nothing about average; you made an absolute statement. And Neither 60, nor 45, nor 15 is "just a few minutes".

Please, Jonathan, you have a good mind are likely a good Christian, don't embarrass yourself trying to be right about things you plainly aren't.
You said:

Dreaming only occurs during REM stage(false) and lasts for just a few minutes (false) (dreams often seem longer than they are).

A simple 'thank you' would suffice.

Daron,

While I appreciate being more informed about NREM dreams, your claims about dreams lasting a few minutes being "folk science and untrue" when the average dream lasts 15 minutes looks incorrect to me. Taking my statement as an 'absolute statement' just looks pedantic. But thanks anyway.

Ron,

I can't make any sense of your last post.

You are welcome.
We can all stand to try to cultivate teachable hearts and search our mirrors for such things as pedantry, don't you think?

BTW, this may or may not be pertinent to your thoughts:

These dream reports after NREM awakenings led Foulkes and others to conclude that the stream of consciousness never ceases during sleep and that the brain engages in cognitive activity of some sort during all sleep stages (Antrobus 1990).

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC534695/

Even when fully asleep, there are elements of consciousness that are preserved. For example, sleepers normally keep track of their body's position in space as evidenced by the observation that only confused or brain-injured adults fall out of bed. If it were otherwise, no one would sleep in the top bunk. ... During sleep, there is often a sense of time passed, even if one does not specifically awaken or look at the clock. Some people are so good at judging the passage of time while asleep that they never set an alarm, even if they have an airplane to catch.
http://www.open-spaces.com/article-v7n4-sack.php

Daron,

Neither is pertinent unless one understands "consciousness" to be self-awareness. The second article clearly doesn't seem to have that sense of the word in mind and the first article is making a passing remark that is too brief to be of any use.

The first article reads, "By simply changing the question asked of awakened subjects from 'Did you dream?' to 'Did you experience any mental content?,' Foulkes was able to show a far higher percentage of dream reports from NREM stages than original studies had suggested. These dream reports after NREM awakenings led Foulkes and others to conclude that the stream of consciousness never ceases during sleep..."

I suppose if we wanted to continue with pedantry we could point out that the REM = dream idea hasn't been disproven; rather the "dream" concept has been redefined.

The other article I cited made the same point and suggested qualitative difference between mentation in REM and NREM. Anyway, not important.

Further,

"I suppose if we wanted to continue with pedantry we could point out that the REM = dream idea hasn't been disproven; rather the "dream" concept has been redefined."

We could also point out that, as an "absolute statement," the conclusion seems unjustified. One would need to wake every person up constantly to check to make sure they are having a conscious state. Of course that's impossible.

There is certainly an element of changing what we are describing with regards to the claim that dreams only occur during REM. This is not so much a redefinition but a new recognition. With regard to waking a person, about 80% of REM wakings result in reported dreams and 50% of nREM do as well.
But this isn't the whole story, because when people are asked after nREM wakings if they had dreams (like the so-called bizarre dreams of REM) they often report that they do.

A light sleeper like myself never bought into the REM claim for a second. I dream as I am still getting set to drift off. Very often it is the commencement of dreaming that assures me I am about to sleep. Often times I also wake in the morning, attempting more sleep, look at the cock, etc., and never quit dreaming.

Like the early claims of vestigial organs and "junk DNA", scientists often make the mistake of finding one thing in one case and then pretend that they can make claims of its absence in other cases where they are simply ignorant.

Daron,

Just a thought here. Would there be an important distinction between unaware and aware thinking? Like, say, I go running after a ball that someone else threw. I'm not making some self-conscious effort to calculate the trajectory, move left foot, right foot, bend knees, flex hamstrings, pump arms, pump lungs, angle body, read terrain, etc. I'd go mad and explode just trying to wipe my nose, at that rate of "consciousness". But I'm certainly doing all that stuff, and of my own volition, even. I don't think that saying something is 'sub' or 'un' conscious actually means I've ceased to do mental work; I'm just not metathinking, as it were.

Does that make any sense, or add anything to the point at hand, y'think?

Daron,

Speaking for myself, I have no dreams or any form of self-awareness immediately after falling asleep or just prior to waking up.

You say, "Like the early claims of vestigial organs and "junk DNA", scientists often make the mistake of finding one thing in one case and then pretend that they can make claims of its absence in other cases where they are simply ignorant."

It's not clear that this is the case in the REM belief. As described in the articles, it seems that what changed the conclusion were the reports of the subjects in conjunction with a new, broader question.

Jonathan,

Speaking for myself, I have no dreams or any form of self-awareness immediately after falling asleep or just prior to waking up.

So we have different personal histories. I know of scientific evidence that accommodates mine with denying yours.

As described in the articles, it seems that what changed the conclusion were the reports of the subjects in conjunction with a new, broader question.
No, that's not all that changes. Since you really do seem to care why don't you do one better than our local Darwinists and spend just a little bit of time looking for the information (it's out there) that conflicts with your already-held theory rather than trying to retreat into semantic corners where you can claim that you are still right? The world is bigger and better than any scientific theories and knowledge moves along a lot faster than our college textbooks.

------

Bennett,
I don't actually have an argument here, just wanted to add some corrective facts. And as I'm rushing out the door I'll have to look your comment over later to see if I even have any thoughts about it.

Thanks.

Daron,

You say, "So we have different personal histories. I know of scientific evidence that accommodates mine with denying yours."

The "scientific evidence" is simply the reports of the subjects.

You claimed: "scientists often make the mistake of finding one thing in one case and then pretend that they can make claims of its absence in other cases where they are simply ignorant."

I responded that it doesn't look like that applies to this case, given what the articles state (including the article yourself cite). In other words, the scientists who thought dreams were restricted to REM weren't generalizing from merely waking up patients in REM, as though they didn't bother to wake people up in NREM states and ask them the question they were asking in REM states. The article indicates that they got evidence for NREM "dreams" when the scientists changed the question and, subsequently, got a different response. How does that fit your assertion of "mak[ing] claims of its absence in other cases where they are simply ignorant"?

Now it looks like you want to defend your assertion, but want me to find the evidence for it. Sorry, but I don't usually do the leg work of supporting other people's conclusions by finding their premises for them.

If you don't want to defend the assertion outside of saying that the evidence is out there, that's fine. But the evidence *you have cited* (Jessica D. Payne and Lynn Nadel) don't appear to fit your claim, as I explained above, and I'm under no obligation to pick up your slack as I see it.

I'm not sure what "already-held theory" you're referring to or what the semantic corner is you think I'm retreating to either.

Daron,

In fact we could say this statement: "scientists often make the mistake of finding one thing in one case and then pretend that they can make claims of its absence in other cases where they are simply ignorant."

appears more in line with this claim of the article you cite: "the stream of consciousness never ceases during sleep"

than it does with the old claim that dreaming is an REM phenomena.


So, here's something I'm not understanding about the debate on abortion: let's assume for argument's sake that there is some "thing", whether event, time, status, biological constraint, etc., where a foetus/embryo is now deemed an official human being.

Now, I don't think any sane person would argue a baby that is no kidding fresh out of the womb was not a human being five minutes ago while they were travelling through the birth canal. That's not the "dividing line" I'm talking about. I'm talking earlier on in the pregnancy when I would assume medical experts would try to determine at what point this collection of fertilized cells all of a sudden is considered a baby human being.

I don't know of any biological reasoning that would lead me to believe that we know how to make that determination with a high degree of confidence.

So, since we can't accurately make that determination, why would we not "err on the side of caution", and say that in case we've gotten it wrong, no more abortions so as to prevent the inadvertent killing of an otherwise viable baby.

This is tragically ironic in light of, say, some folks' feelings on the death penalty. We're so careful, and rightfully so, to build checks and balances in the system so as not to wrongfully execute a convicted criminal who might be in fact innocent, and I bet we still get it wrong sometimes. I bet this is one of the reasons some people lobby so fiercely against the death penalty.

Likewise, what if you get it wrong with the abortion issue and determining when a foetus "qualifies" for being a human being? This is clearly not a settled scientific issue, and I think it's tragic that there's very little, if any, consideration for the consequences of being wrong. The implication is "if we're wrong, millions of lives are at stake"...

Maybe this is not a good line of reasoning against abortion, but the article above got me thinking...I probably didn't articulate my thoughts well enough, but then again I'm not the best at the whole "point/counter-point" thing...

Hi Jonathan,
So you didn't bother to look for anything that might conflict with your predetermined theories? That's too bad.

The article indicates that they got evidence for NREM "dreams" when the scientists changed the question and, subsequently, got a different response. How does that fit your assertion of "mak[ing] claims of its absence in other cases where they are simply ignorant"?
Not so. They gained more information by asking different questions in the one sentence you've read, but that only increased the NREM reporting from the already-observed 50%:
Until recently, virtually all dream research focused on REM sleep, and indeed, dreams are prevalent during REM. In a recent review of 29 REM and 33 NREM recall studies, Nielsen (2000) reported an average REM dream recall rate of 81.8%. Importantly, however, he also reported an average NREM recall rate of ~50%. Some NREM dreams are similar in content to REM dreams; the majority of these come from those few NREM periods occurring early in the morning, during the peak phase of the diurnal rhythm, when cortisol levels are at their zenith (Kondo et al. 1989). Foulkes (1985) has argued for the existence of NREM dreaming and against a simple “REM sleep = dreaming” view. By simply changing the question asked of awakened subjects from “Did you dream?” to “Did you experience any mental content?,” Foulkes was able to show a far higher percentage of dream reports from NREM stages than original studies had suggested. These dream reports after NREM awakenings led Foulkes and others to conclude that the stream of consciousness never ceases during sleep and that the brain engages in cognitive activity of some sort during all sleep stages (Antrobus 1990).

Oh, and:
Moreover, late night NREM dreams are more “dream-like” and are thus often indistinguishable from REM dreams (Kondo et al. 1989), so perhaps something about late night sleep accounts for differences in dream content and memory consolidation.

When that paper said discussed the NREM review it cited Nielsen who found:

Dreaming pertains to both REM and NREM sleep.
...
Highlights
► Dreaming occurs in continuum [italics in original] during both REM and NREM sleep.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301051111000767

And:

Second, the study of the brain mechanisms involved in dreaming has usually been restricted to rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, on the basis of the implicit assumption that dreaming is strictly dependent on its specific physiology. However, dream recall is also obtained after awakening from all non-rapid eye movement (NREM) stages, with some difference in the frequency and content characteristics (Nielsen, 2000; Fagioli, 2002).
...
Here, we report that a higher frontal theta activity during REM sleep and a lower alpha activity of the right temporal region during NREM sleep actually predict successful dream recall after awakening.
...
Of 35 subjects awakened from stage 2 sleep, 20 were successful in dream recall [recallers (REC); mean number of recalled dreams, 1.65; SE, 0.17] and 15 were not successful [nonrecallers (NREC)]. Of 30 subjects awakened from REM sleep, 20 were dream REC (mean number of recalled dreams, 1.32; SE, 0.13) and 10 were NREC.

http://www.jneurosci.org/content/31/18/6674.full

But, as I said, they never had to change the question to find out that nREM also=dreams:

When researchers first studied this phenomenon, they noticed that when woken, subjects reported dreaming during REM sleep. This led to the theory that REM is responsible for dreaming. However, it had also been observed that dreams could occur during NREM sleep as well. Further research has shown that dreams occurring in REM sleep are quantitatively and qualitatively different from dreams occurring in NREM sleep.
...
Smith, et al. performed their study by waking subjects several times during REM and NREM periods and asked them to report on their dreams, if any.
...
McNamara, et al. performed a similar study, ... by waking subjects at various REM and NREM periods during the night and asking them to report on their dreams.

http://www.carlos-m.net/2005/03/24/dreaming-in-rem-and-nrem-sleep/

Nobody had to redefine dreams to find NREM dreaming, nor do they have to put dreams in scare quotes.

Sorry, but I don't usually do the leg work of supporting other people's conclusions by finding their premises for them.
Yeah, since that's a common internet-player's strategy I thought you'd say something like it. As a Christian (right?) you are supposed to be interested in the truth, finding it, knowing it, and speaking it, though.
I'm not sure what "already-held theory" you're referring to or what the semantic corner is you think I'm retreating to either.
No? Oh well. Maybe I'm not clear enough.

Hi Bennett,
That is a great point. In fact, I think I was presented the same example once of the incredible real-time mathematics a person has to do in order to run and catch a ball. Obviously, it is at a level of consciousness beyond our direct reasoning.
Whether or not it adds to the point that Jonathan and Sam were debating, I don't know.

But the evidence *you have cited* (Jessica D. Payne and Lynn Nadel) don't appear to fit your claim, as I explained above, and I'm under no obligation to pick up your slack as I see it.
As you can see, it actually does. Not sure what you think "explained" means. Then again, I never figured out your beef with "cause" or "random" either, so I'm not really hip to your language.

Daron,

Based on your post I figure "predetermined theories" pertains to NREM = no dreams, but now I'm just confused as to why you think that I'm still contending that point. Sorry to waste your time doing all that leg-work, but I wasn't.

Way back in my first response to you I found my own source that said dreaming can occur in NREM and I said "I can just grant that dreams also can occur in NREM..." Then, again, later on I said: "I appreciate being more informed about NREM dreams"

Perhaps you thought I was still holding to the "predetermined theory" ("predetermined" in light of what I recalled from my psychology training as an undergrad?)when I said "we could point out that the REM = dream idea hasn't been disproven; rather the "dream" concept has been redefined" but I thought that introducing that remark with "if we wanted to continue with pedantry" would cue you into the fact that it was more a jab at your own pedantry in regard to my comments than a serious suggestion.

In regards to whether anything you said your latest posts supports your claim that "scientists often make the mistake of finding one thing in one case and then pretend that they can make claims of its absence in other cases where they are simply ignorant" in regards to dreams and sleep, I still don't see that anything you've quoted demonstrates that this is true in this case.

You gave a bunch of quotes saying that in some instances NREM dreams were reported, but mostly in REM states until they changed the question. So how is that supposed to prove your assertion? You end by asserting "it actually does," but you're going to have to do more than provide a string of quotations to make your case, since the quotes themselves don't suggest what you're asserting.

You say, "Not sure what you think "explained" means."

I think it means what people ordinarily mean by it: I made it clear that the article you cited doesn't say anything that suggests what you're asserting.

You say, "Then again, I never figured out your beef with "cause" or "random" either, so I'm not really hip to your language."

Guess your not hip to ordinary language :)

Looks like you may still be sour about our last exchange. That's fine, but you're probably just spinning your tires in the mud.

Daron,

Forgot to remark on this:

"Yeah, since that's a common internet-player's strategy I thought you'd say something like it."

Seems like a common sense strategy to me. Why should I waste time making your side of the argument?

"As a Christian (right?) you are supposed to be interested in the truth, finding it, knowing it, and speaking it, though."

I don't think me leaving you to your responsibility in the discussion means I'm not interested in truth. When two people are having an argument (not in the pejorative sense), both sides should make their own case. If one side doesn't want to, the other person isn't obliged to step in and play the part of the opponent.

You gave a bunch of quotes saying that in some instances NREM dreams were reported, but mostly in REM states until they changed the question.
No I didn't. Read again. With the question and procedure identical NREM dreams have always been reported and verified to be dreams.
So how is that supposed to prove your assertion? You end by asserting "it actually does," but you're going to have to do more than provide a string of quotations to make your case, since the quotes themselves don't suggest what you're asserting.
Yes they do. They tell you exactly what I've been asserting: dreams occur in NREM; they have always been reported in NREM, though with less frequency; nobody had to redefine "dream" to find this out.
I think it means what people ordinarily mean by it: I made it clear that the article you cited doesn't say anything that suggests what you're asserting.
You can't make clear that which is not true. We see through a glass darkly, you don't have to write through it.
Seems like a common sense strategy to me. Why should I waste time making your side of the argument?
You should care about the truth and not merely about playing games.
When two people are having an argument (not in the pejorative sense), both sides should make their own case. If one side doesn't want to, the other person isn't obliged to step in and play the part of the opponent.
This is perfectly reasonable if your goal is to have an argument, as all of your posts indicate, and you are playing one part or another. If you are interested in knowing and communicating truth not so much.

Looking things over I apologize to any potential readers for some really ugly typos.

Daron,

You say, "No I didn't. Read again. With the question and procedure identical NREM dreams have always been reported and verified to be dreams."

But your response isn't to the point of my remark, that you quote. My remark doesn't deny that NREM dreams occur and were considered such. So you're boxing with a straw-man at this point. Perhaps you should read my own words again that you're quoting.

You say, "Yes they do. They tell you exactly what I've been asserting: dreams occur in NREM; they have always been reported in NREM, though with less frequency; nobody had to redefine "dream" to find this out."

I'm baffled as to how you could miss what I was referring to here. I wasn't referring to NREM dreams.

I made it clear by saying "In regards to whether anything you said your latest posts supports your claim that..."

I then quoted you and what I said pertained to *that* point you were making in the portion I quoted.

I also made it clear the first time I quoted your words and then responded to them.

I think that should be obvious. You quote someone and then respond to the portion quoted. After all, this is how you are interacting with me. You quote me and then respond to that quote.

You say, "You should care about the truth and not merely about playing games."

So what means are you currently employing to figure out how many hairs my dog has? After all, there is a truth to the matter and as a Christian (right?) you're supposed to be interested in truth.

You say, "This is perfectly reasonable if your goal is to have an argument, as all of your posts indicate, and you are playing one part or another. If you are interested in knowing and communicating truth not so much."

No, it's perfectly reasonable when you are having an argument with someone over a truth claim, and you are interested in that truth claim, to let the person fulfill their part of the discussion. It's not perfectly reasonable for a person to make an assertion and then tell the other person they need to find out how the assertion is true. In that case, it's *you* who doesn't seem to be concerned with presenting the truth.

Daron,

It is interesting, isn't it, how much our brains do (and how impressively) without us realizing it, just in the field of locomotion. They were able to teach computers to play chess a long time ago, but they had to use a human to move the pieces. The software to get a robotic arm to pick up a chess piece and move it on a grid was actually way harder to design and implement than the game itself--and yet we think that winning a game of chess is a greater mental feat than moving the pieces around without thinking about it.

Perhaps 'conscious awareness' isn't all it's cracked up to be, as a qualifier for humanity.

With all the making clear you do, Jonathan, you'd think you would have seen to drop this long ago.

So let's be clear.
You claimed:

Dreaming only occurs during REM stage and lasts for just a few minutes (dreams often seem longer than they are). I can grant that dreaming invollves first person subjectivity, but that won't get you off the hook of my counter example since it doesn't account for all sleeping states.

False throughout.
Dreaming does not occur only during REM.
Dreams last much longer than a few minutes.
Dreams occur in every sleeping state.
So whatever this defence was mean to advance against Sam has failed.

Not wanting to admit your error, you pretended that each of those assertions meant something else, but being clear and using words in their normal meanings (yes, I know how pedantic that can be (?) ) it is plain that you did mean them as you said them and you were wrong.

Then, in order to extend this for some reason, you said that NREM are reported if we broaden the question, change the definition, and allow NREM "dreams" to be called dreams.

Plainly false.
NREM dreams have been reported since the beginning of the studies, in many cases are indistinguishable from RM dreams, can share all of the so-called "bizarre" characteristics, and occur anywhere, but especially late, in the sleep cycles.

You continued to misread the articles to repeat the claim that these were somehow "dreams" and not dreams.

But now we see you were just being cheeky and didn't really mean to contend this issue.

So, with all clarity and obviousness, what is it you think you are arguing for or against now?

So what means are you currently employing to figure out how many hairs my dog has? After all, there is a truth to the matter and as a Christian (right?) you're supposed to be interested in truth.
The obvious and plain difference here, let me be clear, is that I made no false claim about how many hairs your dog has and then did not proceed to try to obfuscate my error.
In that case, it's *you* who doesn't seem to be concerned with presenting the truth.
Since I've done nothing but share the truth on this subject that seems a silly thing to say. Since I had already given you the material but you failed to read it properly the silliness is compounded. Since I returned from work and laid the case out with copious references it's, well, you know ....

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