Talk:B. Alan Wallace

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Recent changes[edit]

Regarding [1],

  • There's no source saying that "substrate consciousness" is from "Buddhist texts". We simply use the term Wallace is using.
  • The phrase "vacuum state of consciousness" is what's being criticized as pseudoscientific quantum woo by the source. We should avoid presenting pseudoscience as science. I've added the context needed for WP:PSCI.
  • The source says that Wallace uses paranormal phenomenon and quantum mechanics to bolster his views. If there is another -- preferably better -- source contradicting that, then please present the source. Citing a personal opinion has no value.

Manul ~ talk 16:12, 15 July 2016 (UTC)

  • Ad "there's no source" - you're wrong, it's explicitly stated in the interview with Paulson that this theory of consciousness comes from Buddhism (eg. "Advanced contemplatives in the Buddhist tradition have talked about tapping into something called the substrate consciousness.") and I think it should be made clear.
  • Ad "vacuum state of consciousness": I'd be grateful if you explained how using this phrase counts as "citing quantum mechanics along with paranormal phenomena such as clairvoyance and extrasensory perception" in support of the substrate consciousness theory. I also don't know why you've changed it back to the "kind of looks like a soul" thing - it starts to look like you're doing it in bad faith.
  • Ad "the source says..." - again, I don't know of any instance of Wallace using quantum mechanics and paranormal phenomena to support the substrate consciousness theory - I think Novella confuses it with primordial consciousness, or his general arguments against reductive materialism. The text by Wallace that he quotes (starting with "While the full ontological and epistemological implications of modern physics...") doesn't even mention substrate consciousness!
  • Ad "If there is another -- preferably better -- source contradicting that" - it's weird to demand proof for nonexistence of certain claims. There are all the texts and speeches by Wallace in which, as far as I know, no such claim shows up. It's certainly not in the texts that Novella references. Chilton (talk) 16:43, 15 July 2016 (UTC)
Btw, you confuse the substrate consciousness theory with Wallace's general views on consciousness (which are more complex) - just as Novella does. Eg. you write "the source says that Wallace uses paranormal phenomenon and quantum mechanics to bolster his views", while what the Wikipedia article claims (and what our current discussion is about) is that he uses them to support the substrate consciousness view (it doesn't even mention other aspects of the theory). Chilton (talk) 17:00, 15 July 2016 (UTC)
Also where did the "primordial form of consciousness" thing come from? You keep inserting it in the article and it's confusing, because he also uses the term "primordial consciousness" to refer to something else. Chilton (talk) 17:06, 15 July 2016 (UTC)
  • The first page of hits in Google Books for "substrate consciousness" are all referencing Wallace. Without a proper source we can't say that "substrate consciousness" is from "Buddhist texts" as if it were a fact, as you wish to do. Unless there is a source for "substrate consciousness" being part of a common lexicon then we simply attribute it to Wallace.
  • I explained "vacuum state of consciousness" in my comment above. Please respond to that.
  • Re "I don't know of any instance of Wallace..." Again, you're giving your opinion. You would need sources to back them up. See WP:V. On Wikipedia we just go by what sources say. I'm merely reporting what the source says.
  • Replacing "primordial" with something else is fine, of course.
Manul ~ talk 17:41, 15 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Ad "Buddhist texts" - I guess it could be rephrased (to clearly say that the concept comes from Buddhism, not the precise English term).
  • Ad "I explained" - no, you certainly didn't explain how using the phrase "vacuum state of consciousness" comprises "citing quantum mechanics along with paranormal phenomena such as clairvoyance and extrasensory perception" in support of the substrate consciousness view.
  • Ad "You would need sources to back them up." - the burden of proof is on the person who proposes a positive existential claim. I already explained why Novella is confused in writing that according to Wallace, quantum mechanics supports the substrate consciousness view; that claim only shows up once in his article and he doesn't back it up in any way. I don't think one should blindly report what sources say without checking for logical errors, for example (especially when they're secondary sources and primary sources are easily available). Chilton (talk) 18:13, 15 July 2016 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Please see the first point at the top of the thread re "vacuum state". I haven't seen a response to that. You're still giving your opinion of why you think Novella is wrong. That's not usable on Wikipedia, sorry. Just find a source. The material regarding quantum mechanics and paranormal phenomena is taken directly from the source (have you read all of it?). I think I've struck a good compromise on some other points; tell me what you think. Manul ~ talk 18:39, 15 July 2016 (UTC)
Why did you remove the reference to Buddhism? This is getting completely absurd.
  • Ad "Please see the first point at the top of the thread" - it's not even on that topic, it concerns the term "substrate consciousness". If you mean the second point, then what kind of response are you expecting from me? The first sentence is obviously true. I hope you see that it doesn't have anything to do with "citing quantum mechanics along with paranormal phenomena such as clairvoyance and extrasensory perception".
  • "You're still giving your opinion of why you think Novella is wrong." - if he concluded from Wallace's texts that he believes in unicorns and I claimed that this doesn't follow in any way and shouldn't be on Wikipedia, would you still insist that I'm just "giving my opinion"? If you think that what Novella wrote is well-justified, then please provide the relevant quotes by Wallace - it should be very easy. Btw, I think it's very bad practice to rely on secondary sources in this way ("Novella says that Wallace says...") instead of just going to primary sources.
  • Ad "Just find a source." - no, as I just wrote, the burden of proof is on the person who proposes a positive existential claim (do you seriously expect me to find a source saying that "in no text of B. Alan Wallace is there an instance of such and such argumentation"?). Could you provide just one quotation of Wallace "citing quantum mechanics along with paranormal phenomena such as clairvoyance and extrasensory perception" as evidence for the substrate consciousness view? Chilton (talk) 18:58, 15 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Ad "You're still giving your opinion of why you think Novella is wrong. That's not usable on Wikipedia, sorry. Just find a source." - I always thought that the rule was that you can't put your own opinions in Wikipedia articles without further justification, not that you can't exercise good judgment in deciding if what a source says is reliable or argue about that. Commanding someone to find a source about a source is kinda funny. Chilton (talk) 19:34, 15 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Also the paragraph you keep reintroducing doesn't even explain the connection between quantum mechanics/paranormal phenomena and substrate consciousness as allegedly proposed by Wallace. If you stumble upon relevant quotes, please fill in this void, because it looks like the author was first and foremost interested in discrediting what Wallace says instead of representing it accurately. Chilton (talk) 20:07, 15 July 2016 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────

  • When I wrote Please see the first point at the top of the thread re "vacuum state", I wasn't referring to a point that wasn't regarding "vacuum state". I was talking about a point that was re "vacuum state". I said "first" to distinguish it from other points re "vacuum state". I've still seen no response to that point, specifically re WP:PSCI.
  • The source directly supports the text In support of this belief Wallace cites quantum mechanics along with paranormal phenomena such as clairvoyance and extrasensory perception. You are claiming that it doesn't?
  • Re your view that it's very bad practice to rely on secondary sources in this way, basing articles upon secondary sources is the central idea behind Wikipedia's no original research policy. Also see the verifiability policy about the importance of secondary sources. For fringe subjects it's even more important (WP:FRIND).
  • I never asked for "a source about a source". If you have a better (necessarily secondary) source than the Novella source, then please introduce it. If it is indeed a better source, and if it conflicts with Novella, then we can throw out Novella per WP:BESTSOURCES. To be clear, the better source needn't reference Novella, obviously.

Manul ~ talk 20:19, 15 July 2016 (UTC)

  • The sentence you wrote could be understood in two ways (I understood it as "regarding vacuum state, see the first point at the top of the thread"). I don't understand what kind of response you expect and I already wrote it above - didn't you read it?
  • It does, wrongly. Sources aren't always right, sometimes they contain glaring gaps in reasoning or logical errors, and you don't need a second source to discard them. If you think Novella is justified in claiming what he claims, it should be easy for you to provide relevant quotes from B. Alan Wallace. I find it symptomatic that you lose your time on arguing instead of doing just that, as it would provide an end to our discussion and make the article better.
  • I think you don't understand something about primary and secondary sources - if you claim that X wrote Y, than it is obviously better to reference writings by X (a primary source), not Z writing that X wrote Y.
  • "If it is indeed a better source, and if it conflicts with Novella" - again, do you really expect me to have a source saying that "in no text by Wallace is there an instance of such and such argumentation"? Please think about it and answer before you write something like that again. Chilton (talk) 20:34, 15 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Ad your edit summary: you're wrong, primary sources are obviously admissible and are sometimes preferred (see: Identifying and using primary and secondary sources). It's entirely reasonable to demand a primary source for something the person in question allegedly wrote. Chilton (talk) 20:42, 15 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Also why do you keep removing the reference to Buddhism and lowering the accuracy of the article? I asked about it earlier, and you didn't even bother to answer. Chilton (talk) 20:50, 15 July 2016 (UTC)
  • A thought experiment for you: if Novella wrote that in one of his books, Wallace writes that unicorns exist (without providing any quote or reference to justify that), and I've seen no such claim in any of his books, should I find a better secondary source to disprove Novella, or just remove the claim for now and ask for a primary source (the name of the book and the page)? Please answer. Chilton (talk) 20:59, 15 July 2016 (UTC)
  • One other thing: Wallace DOES sometimes cite quantum mechanics and paranormal phenomena, but not as a justification for substrate consciousness (AFAIK - I would be glad to update this view if you could provide some relevant quotes). Novella simply mixes up the two things. So if you really insist on having this information in the article (eg. to be able to discredit him), then at least find out what the proper context is. Although I think it would be a really low thing to do. Chilton (talk) 21:27, 15 July 2016 (UTC)
  • I submitted a version of the article that doesn't contain completely unjustified claims, but still bashes Wallace two times for quantum mysticism (not just once, like my previous version). I know it's the most important thing for you, in contrast to trivial matters like factual accuracy, so I hope it makes you happy. Please don't revert it blindly, as you did with many of my edits before. Chilton (talk) 22:18, 15 July 2016 (UTC)

At root I think your dispute is with the verifiability and no original research policies, not me in particular. You believe that one of the sources in the article is "wrong". The solution is not to keep edit-warring while asserting and re-asserting your opinion. As I have said, the solution is to find a better source and cite that in the article. Please also read WP:FRIND carefully. Manul ~ talk 23:24, 15 July 2016 (UTC)

Why don't you reply to what I wrote, especially the parts where I explicitly asked you to? It's like talking to a wall. Chilton (talk) 23:28, 15 July 2016 (UTC)
You also completely ignored (again) my question on why you keep reverting my other edits. Chilton (talk) 23:32, 15 July 2016 (UTC)
Again, please read the no original research policy. You disagree with Novella's view and wish to synthesize your own interpretation for inclusion in the article. You wish me to participate with you in the synthesizing. No, Wikipedia requires citing a secondary source for any interpretive statement.
You continue to avoid addressing the second bullet point at the top of the thread, the one about WP:PSCI, despite repeated requests to do so. It is absurd to characterize "vacuum state of consciousness" as "a concept originating in Buddhism". That's the phrase being identified as pseduoscience / quantum woo by the source. I expect it's insulting to Buddhists who don't want Buddhism being painted as pseudoscience. "Vacuum state of consciousness" belongs to Wallace. It's not "a concept originating in Buddhism". Don't add unsourced nonsense to Wikipedia, please.
Lastly, you're still misunderstanding what is meant by finding a better source that conflicts with Novella. It does not mean finding a source that specifically mentions Novella. Nor does it mean finding a source that specifically says the opposite of what Novella says. Two things may conflict without one being the negation of the other. Source A can say that widgets are green while source B can say that widgets are purple. We needn't find a source that says "widgets are not green". Manul ~ talk 20:04, 16 July 2016 (UTC)
Please try to respond to my questions this time. I want to notify you that I put this on the dispute resolution noticeboard here.
The current version of the paragraph is fully supported by the Novella blog post IMO, even though it doesn't use the exact same phrasing.
"You continue to avoid addressing the second bullet point at the top of the thread, the one about WP:PSCI, despite repeated requests to do so." - I have no idea what kind of answer you expect and I said it at least two times already. I will gladly provide it if you explain.
"It is absurd to characterize "vacuum state of consciousness" as "a concept originating in Buddhism"" - substrate consciousness certainly is such a concept (it also goes by other names, such as bhavanga and store-consciousness). If you still have doubts, this information appears in the interview Paulson conducted with Wallace (who is a renowned expert on Tibetan Buddhism, a student of the Dalai Lama and was a monk for 10 years IIRC). It's also in his books on the topic of Buddhism. If you have doubts even then, here's a video of Wallace presenting this theory of consciousness in front of the Dalai Lama, who confirms that it accords with Tibetan Buddhism (around the 20:30 mark): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hL9QBCwti1s If you want, you can move this fragment to before "vacuum state of consciousness" (a particular description of substrate consciousness due to Wallace), so there's no more room for confusion of any kind.
"It does not mean finding a source that specifically mentions Novella." - I'm not sure if deleting a claim needs to always be supported by a source which contradicts this claim (and not any other type of justification) - can you point out what Wikipedia rule states that? If not, then why do you insist on that? In practice it would be next to impossible to find a source that conflicted with Novella on this and didn't mention him, as he makes an extremely specific claim that probably didn't occur to anyone else. "Source A can say that widgets are green while source B can say that widgets are purple. We needn't find a source that says "widgets are not green"." - source B still must at least imply that widgets are not green to conflict with A. To contradict Novella, one would need to find a source which implied that Wallace never used this specific form of argumentation for this specific hypothesis, which will almost certainly never happen (unless someone writes a polemic with Novella, which is unlikely) - just as no one ever wrote that "Wallace never said unicorns exist". Chilton (talk) 07:09, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
The level of misunderstanding here is incredible, perhaps unprecedented. You are the one who thought that a better source meant a source that specifically mentions Novella. I said that this is not necessary. You are the one who thought that a better source meant a source that specifically contradicts what Novella says. I said that this is not necessary. Did you miss the "not" when I said, "It does not mean finding a source that specifically mentions Novella"? Did you miss the "nor" when I said, "Nor does it mean finding a source that specifically says the opposite of what Novella says"?
I keep answering your questions but you're not accepting the answers. I'm not going to participate in original research with you. We have a suitable source; we reflect the source. If you have a better source -- necessarily a secondary and independent source -- then we can use that instead. I don't want to repeat this again. The Salon interview is in line with the Novella source, so I don't see any problem with Novella, but I'm open to using another source.
Please read WP:PSCI. When a pseudoscientific terminology is in use, we don't present it uncritically. Rather, we provide the context. That's the WP:NPOV policy. We can't introduce "vacuum state of consciousness" uncritically as if it is actual thing corresponding to modern physics. That's why I moved it to later in the section, adjacent to the proper context that Novella provides. What is wrong with just saying "substrate consciousness" at the beginning, without jumping headlong into the pseudoscience? Would you please assent to removing "vacuum state of consciousness" at the top of the section? It adds nothing but confusion, and I don't see how it could possibly be necessary. Manul ~ talk 14:57, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
You didn't answer this: I'm not sure if deleting a claim needs to always be supported by a source which contradicts this claim (and not any other type of justification) - can you point out what Wikipedia rule states that? If not, then why do you insist on that? Despite that, you again require a source for my deletion.
  • "The level of misunderstanding here is incredible, perhaps unprecedented. You are the one..." etc. - statements of this sort don't make your position look more valid, I think it's to the contrary.
  • "You are the one who thought that a better source meant a source that specifically mentions Novella." - where did I write that? I think you just read too much in my use of the phrase "source about a source".
  • "You are the one who thought that a better source meant a source that specifically contradicts what Novella says." - then what kind of source were you expecting, if it didn't have to contradict Novella's specific claim in any way (explicitly or implicitly)? You wrote: "The source says that Wallace uses paranormal phenomenon and quantum mechanics to bolster his views. If there is another -- preferably better -- source contradicting that, then please present the source.". Another quote: "If it is indeed a better source, and if it conflicts with Novella, then we can throw out Novella".
  • "The Salon interview is in line with the Novella source, so I don't see any problem with Novella" - I already pointed out a few times what the problem is with Novella's claim. You didn't try to argue with this in any way, only saying it's just my opinion and that I have to provide a source to contradict him.
  • "I keep answering your questions but you're not accepting the answers." - you left some of my questions without answer a few times and I had to ask them repeatedly (for example the question on why you kept deleting the reference to Buddhism).
  • "It adds nothing but confusion" - it fleshes out the idea of substrate consciousness, conveying the properties that it is ongoing and empty of percepts. This is how Wallace describes it and I see nothing wrong with representing his ideas accurately, even if you think it's pseudoscience. I left Novella's critique of the term intact. If you want, you can replace it with another description by Wallace which carries the same meaning. Chilton (talk) 16:10, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
  • WP:BLPREMOVE says "Remove immediately any contentious material about a living person that relies on self-published sources, unless written by the subject of the BLP", which seems to justify my deletion. Chilton (talk) 21:57, 17 July 2016 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── You avoided the key WP:PSCI point yet again. Discussion cannot continue until you understand and address that. The NPOV policy non-negotiable. Manul ~ talk 23:00, 17 July 2016 (UTC)

You avoided explaining what kind of answer you're expecting from me on that point, despite the fact that I asked for it a few times already. Chilton (talk) 23:12, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
I have given several concise explanations of the WP:PSCI violation, which I am now moving forward to correct due to a WP:CIR problem I see here. Manul ~ talk 15:18, 18 July 2016 (UTC)
Can you now point them out and finally say what kind of answer you are expecting from me? I ask you to not do this until you give me a chance to answer. Chilton (talk) 15:30, 18 July 2016 (UTC)

an "ongoing vacuum state of consciousness" (a concept originating in Buddhism)[edit]

This statement implies that the concept "ongoing vacuum state of consciousness" is a notable topic within the religion of Buddhism rather than merely an opinion of B. Alan Wallace. Is there a source text which might indicate which of the many varieties of Buddhism conceived this idea? If not, is there some material which indicates how Alan Wallace came to link it to his understanding of Buddhism? --Salimfadhley (talk) 00:22, 17 July 2016 (UTC)

See my response to User:Manul above. The phrase "ongoing vacuum state of consciousness" obviously is a particular description or metaphor of substrate consciousness that comes from Wallace, not directly from Buddhism. I thought it is clear that the word "concept" refers to substrate consciousness, not this particular description, but I see no problem with moving the fragment in parentheses in the way I already suggested. Chilton (talk) 07:15, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
Or one could perhaps change "concept" to "view" (Wallace states: "in the Buddhist view, it is more like an ongoing vacuum state of consciousness"). Chilton (talk) 09:33, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
Whether this is a "concept" or "view" which originates from Buddhism we need to source such claims. In this case the presentation of the article seems to suggest that mainstream Buddhism accepts this notion, whereas we might be more accurate to say that it is just the opinion of one man. Can you link me to a reliable secondary source where this phrase is actually used? I found it in a number of blogs related to Alan Wallace but there did not seem to be a single scholarly article (the kind of thing we can use as a reference). --Salimfadhley (talk) 16:15, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
Why do you think Wallace is not a good enough source for claims about Buddhism? He is cited in other articles on Wikipedia. He's a translator of Buddhist texts and this is the translation he likes to use for the corresponding Sanksrit term ālaya-vijñāna. He uses it in his translation of Dudjom Lingpa's Vajra Essence (a Tibetan Buddhist text), for example. I don't know if anyone else uses the exact same term. Chilton (talk) 16:27, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
Here's a quote from his commentary to Vajra Essence:
The Sanskrit term for this second layer, this ground of the ordinary mind, is ālaya-vijñāna, which is translated as the "substrate consciousness." (This corresponds closely to the Theravada Buddhist term bhavanga, or "ground of becoming.") Chilton (talk) 17:10, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
My proposition is to move the fragment in parentheses and replace "an" with "which he characterizes as an". Chilton (talk) 18:31, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
This a rules for all biographies of living persons. We're only thing we're allowed to use their own statements if it's attributed as their opinion. PermStrump(talk) 20:35, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
Can you quote the relevant part of this page? The word "opinion" doesn't even occur on it. Chilton (talk) 20:40, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
Another possibility is to change "a concept originating in Buddhism" to "his translation of the Buddhist term ālaya-vijñāna". Chilton (talk) 20:51, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
My emphasis underlined...
WP:BLPSPS: Never use self-published sources...as sources of material about a living person, unless written or published by the subject (see [WP:BLPSELFPUB]). 'Self-published blogs' in this context refers to personal and group blogs.
WP:BLPSELFPUB: Living persons may publish material about themselves...Such material may be used as a source only if:
  1. it is not unduly self-serving;
  2. it does not involve claims about third parties;
  3. it does not involve claims about events not directly related to the subject;
  4. there is no reasonable doubt as to its authenticity;
  5. the article is not based primarily on such sources.
It looks like we're talking about blogs from the edit history, so I think this is actually a selfpub issue not, primary, but WP:BLPPRIMARY is probably good to read to. Basically it says we're supposed to avoid primary sources in BLPs except if the same material is already sourced to a secondary source and the primary source is just supplementing the secondary source. PermStrump(talk) 21:16, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
"Never use self-published sources...as sources of material about a living person" - does this mean that the Novella blog post is not a valid source for this article? Chilton (talk) 21:22, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
I just figured out we're talking about the book of interviews, which I guess is primary. There are some exceptions for blogs by experts, so Novella might be ok. I have to research it more. Can you link or paste the material from each source that is contested? I'm having trouble following the edit history because there's been so much back and forth. PermStrump(talk) 21:32, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
The interview is referenced by Novella, so I don't think there's any room for arguing that it constitutes a misuse of primary sources.
  • What I am contesting:
"Wallace has three primary points I want to address. The first is that consciousness does not derive from the brain but rather from “substrate consciousness.” The second is that if science is to understand the nature of substrate consciousness it must expand its methods to include a Buddhist style of introspection. And third, that quantum mechanics supports these views." from here (only the third claim). It was used in a previous version of the article.
  • Other contested material:
"Advanced contemplatives in the Buddhist tradition have talked about tapping into something called the “substrate consciousness."
"All I’m presenting here is the Buddhist hypothesis. There’s another dimension of consciousness, which is called the substrate consciousness." Both from here.
I also pasted below my summary of the dispute. Chilton (talk) 21:44, 17 July 2016 (UTC)

One editor's summary of the dispute[edit]

The article claimed that B. Alan Wallace "cites quantum mechanics along with paranormal phenomena such as clairvoyance and extrasensory perception" as evidence for a certain aspect of his proposed theory of consciousness, namely what he calls substrate consciousness. I haven't found any such statement in any of his writings or speeches, although he does sometimes reference quantum mechanics and paranormal phenomena, eg. when criticizing reductive materialism* or discussing other aspects of this theory. Unfortunately, the source given in the article (a blog post by Steven Novella) also mixes these things up and makes this claim, without providing anything to back it up. I pointed it out to the other editor involved and asked for a primary source (eg. an interview or book by Wallace), but he insists that it is my obligation to supply a source to contradict Novella. This is pretty much impossible, as it would have to imply that Wallace never stated what Novella says he did, which is a very specific claim. I also don't think Wikipedia requires providing contradicting sources as the only possible justification for deletions.

I replaced the controversial ciaim with another, which is also supported by sources in my opinion, but the other editor disagrees with that.

He also has a problem with the phrase "a concept originating in Buddhism", even though it is sourced (see discussion for details).

  • Note: criticizing reductive materialism doesn't count as supporting this particular theory of consciousness IMHO, as there are many nonreductive accounts of consciousness. It would be extremely imprecise for the article to claim that. Chilton (talk) 21:44, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
I'm just going to take one thing at a time, because there's a lot going on here. I'm looking at the section "View of consciousness", where it says, "Wallace hypothesizes that individual consciousness emerges from what he calls "substrate consciousness", an "ongoing vacuum state of consciousness" (a concept originating in Buddhism)." We need sources other than Wallace's own statements connecting "substrate consciousness" or "ongoing vacuum state of consciousness" to Buddhism. Do we have one? PermStrump(talk) 22:22, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
There are books by Buddhist contemplatives he translated, in which he uses "substrate consciousness" as a translation for the Buddhist term ālaya-vijñāna. Other translators may use different terms, but it refers to the same thing. Chilton (talk) 22:26, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
If it's a concept that comes from Buddhism, how is it his hypothesis? Which part of it is his and which part comes from Buddhism? What sources makes that explicit connection? Without a source saying that, it's synthesis, which is a violation of original research. PermStrump(talk) 22:40, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
This doesn't sound like what we said in the article.[2] PermStrump(talk) 22:41, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
His hypothesis is that the Buddhist claim is true. My understanding is that he doesn't add anything to the Buddhist theory, although he describes it in his own words."What sources makes that explicit connection?" - for example the XIX century text Vajra Essence by Tibetan contemplative Dudjom Lingpa, which states, among other things (in Wallace's translation):
Consequently, compulsive thinking subsides. and roving thoughts vanish into the space of awareness. You then slip into the vacuity of the substrate. in which self, others. and objects disappear. By clinging to the experiences of vacuity and clarity while looking inward, the appearances of self. others, and objects vanish. This is the substrate consciousness.
"This doesn't sound like what we said in the article." - I think the Oxford article doesn't contradict what Wallace says, but presents another aspect of the same thing. Also keep in mind that this is a term with nearly 2000 years of history and subtly different definitions in different schools of Buddhism. Above, I pasted a link to a YouTube video, in which the Dalai Lama confirms that Wallace's understanding is correct. Chilton (talk) 22:59, 17 July 2016 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── So then isn't it a Buddhist belief that Wallace adheres to as opposed to his personal hypothesis? PermStrump(talk) 23:33, 17 July 2016 (UTC)

No, he very explicitly presents this as a hypothesis to be tested (he proposes ways to go about that), not something he believes. See the interview with Paulson. Chilton (talk) 23:38, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
This could be studied, together with skeptics. Train very advanced contemplatives to tap into this substrate consciousness — this storehouse of memories from past lives, if it in fact exists — and do this in conjunction with neuroscientists and psychologists. If I had unlimited funds, I’d say this is one of the most important questions we can ask. Chilton (talk) 23:41, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
Is the book source just a copy of the Salon article or is there more to it than that? PermStrump(talk) 23:43, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
Honestly I don't remember - it might be that I introduced it by accident. Chilton (talk) 23:46, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
This secondary source, which is published in a peer-reviewed journal, disagrees that that this is a testable hypothesis:

Referencing terms from diverse disciplines that have associations, whether linguistic or conceptual, does little to bring them into productive, mutually informing dialogue. To further illustrate, Wallace solves the mind/matter problem by simply asserting that the ground state of consciousness attained through samatha is the source of all mind-based events. So, by sheer assertion, Wallace claims he has solved the mind/brain problem. It is doubtful that scientists will be amenable to Wallace’s esoteric, unverifiable Buddhist statements, because contemplative science is not a falsifiable or testable theory. Without invoking Wallace’s idea of a contemplative science, researchers can still shove monks into machines and allow magnets to skate across their fluctuating cognitive states. It seems doubtful that neuroscientists will be enlightened by Wallace’s claim to call profound meditative states primordial substrates of consciousness that transcend space and time. In this respect, as I mentioned previously, the subtitle is highly misleading: Neuroscience is hardly dealt with in the text. Wallace prefers to deal with metaphysical solutions rather than data sets.[1]

References

  1. ^ Butler, Paul (2008) CONTEMPLATIVE SCIENCE: WHERE BUDDHISM AND NEUROSCIENCE CONVERGE (Book review). Journal of Law & Religion. Volume 24, Issue 1, p. 221
We can say that Wallace shares this particular view with Buddhism and cite his personal statements, but we can't present it as science just because he claims it's a testable hypothesis unless that's supposed by a secondary source. PermStrump(talk) 23:52, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
The article doesn't say anything about his hypothesis being testable or it being science (to the contrary). Chilton (talk) 23:56, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
It would also be contradictory to state that this is just a view he adopted, since he explicitly expresses doubt about it being true (see the bolded fragment in the quote above). Chilton (talk) 23:59, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
It explicitly states that it's not testable: "...contemplative science is not a falsifiable or testable theory...It seems doubtful that neuroscientists will be enlightened by Wallace’s claim to call profound meditative states primordial substrates of consciousness that transcend space and time." PermStrump(talk) 00:13, 18 July 2016 (UTC)
Oh. I meant the Wikipedia article. Sorry for introducing confusion. Chilton (talk) 00:18, 18 July 2016 (UTC)

Validity of using Novella's blog post as a source[edit]

I think WP:BLPSPS makes it clear that Novella's blog post is not a valid source for this article. The exemption for professionals only holds when the blog is run by a news organization and is subject to the newspaper's full editorial control, which is clearly not the case here. Please correct me if I am mistaken. Chilton (talk) 22:02, 17 July 2016 (UTC)

No, we don't suspend the WP:NPOV policy on BLPs or on any other kind of article. In particular we don't suspend the WP:PSCI section of NPOV. In reporting a fringe view we are required to include its reception; this is directly from WP:PSCI. Also see WP:FRINGE, in particular WP:FRIND and WP:PARITY. Wikipedia is not a platform the promotion of fringe views. Novella is an expert in the field of neuroscience and is absolutely suitable as a source per WP:PARITY. I have been wishing to find a better source, but until we have one, we have PARITY. Novella discusses Wallace's scientific-sounding hypothesis, and we include it per the WP:PSCI requirement. It would of course be completely out of bounds to use Novella as a source for facts about Wallace's biography -- that's what WP:BLPSPS is about. For instance if Novella said that Wallace committed some crime or received some award, neither claim could appear in the article using Novella as a source. Manul ~ talk 22:49, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
WP:BLPSPS says "never" with only one exception. What you expressed is your opinion on when it is necessary to go against it - are there any Wikipedia rules to support that? It doesn't necessarily mean going against other rules - for example the account of Wallace's theory of consciousness could be removed altogether. Chilton (talk) 23:08, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
I'm not sure about this one. I'll post about it on WP:BLPN. PermStrump(talk) 23:14, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
@Permstrump: Oh goodness please don't, at least not yet. This is already on two noticeboards. Adding a third will is bound to contribute to the confusion. Besides we may be close to a clean resolution if people agree to just not include Wallace's views on consciousness (see below). Manul ~ talk 23:23, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
I only know of it being on one noticeboard, where the discussion is closed (as I canceled my request). Did you put it on another noticeboard without notifying me? I think that goes against good taste at least. Chilton (talk) 23:30, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
  • No, it doesn't go against WP:BLPSPS. Actually I think it is a superb idea to purge the article of all references to Wallace's views on consciousness. I am not being sarcastic. The reader would be less informed, but we wouldn't have spend any more time on this. The point about WP:PSCI is that if fringe views are mentioned, then we must include their reception. But if they aren't mentioned, then we don't. What do you say? Manul ~ talk 23:19, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
  • To be precise, it says that we should include their reception, not that we must, which is less binding than WP:BLPSPS. Let's wait and see. Chilton (talk) 23:23, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
  • "No, it doesn't go against WP:BLPSPS" - how do you justify that statement? WP:BLPSPS clearly says "never" with only one exception, which isn't applicable in this situation. You can't just invent your own rules. Chilton (talk) 23:26, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
I didn't know it was already on 2 noticeboards. Is this relevant to either of those discussions? Where is it already posted? PermStrump(talk) 23:28, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
I posted it on the dispute resolution noticeboard, but cancelled my request, so the discussion is closed. I don't know anything about another noticeboard - User:Manul didn't notify me. Chilton (talk) 23:31, 17 July 2016 (UTC)

Proposal[edit]

Could we please agree to remove Wallace's views on consciousness from the article? This should make everyone happy. It happens that I wrote that section, and I more than willing to abandon it. All these discussions can end right now! Paradise is at hand, if only we would reach for it! Manul ~ talk 23:42, 17 July 2016 (UTC)

You just said that "it doesn't go against WP:BLPSPS", so I don't know how you would want to justify these deletions. Chilton (talk) 23:52, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
What? There's no policy that requires us to include Wallace's view on consciousness. That's what justifies the deletion. Yes or no? We can be done right now if you say yes. Manul ~ talk 23:57, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
Please answer my questions (eg. the ones right above) before you expect me to be willing to answer yours. Otherwise it's extremely impolite. Chilton (talk) 00:07, 18 July 2016 (UTC)
The way his views are currently presented as testable hypotheses require contextualization from outside sources, so if we're going to include it, it needs to be framed by mainstream views. There is no requirement that we have to include his views on consciousness. PermStrump(talk) 00:18, 18 July 2016 (UTC)
What he proposes is presented as a hypothesis, not as a testable hypothesis (unless saying he believes that evidence of "substrate consciousness" may be obtained through meditative states counts). Chilton (talk) 00:20, 18 July 2016 (UTC)
What? You had the answer to your question before you asked it. I said: Novella discusses Wallace's scientific-sounding hypothesis, and we include it per the WP:PSCI requirement. It would of course be completely out of bounds to use Novella as a source for facts about Wallace's biography -- that's what WP:BLPSPS is about. For instance if Novella said that Wallace committed some crime or received some award, neither claim could appear in the article using Novella as a source. Of course none of this matters if we can agree to the deletion, which will put an end to all discussion. Are you ready? Manul ~ talk 12:27, 18 July 2016 (UTC)
"You had the answer to your question before you asked it." - no, otherwise I wouldn't ask it. How do you justify that WP:BLPSPS is only about facts from a person's biography, and not his or her specific claims, for example? I think the claims in the current version of the article can be traced back to primary sources, but the statement that Wallace "cites quantum mechanics along with paranormal phenomena such as clairvoyance and extrasensory perception" as evidence for substrate consciousness couldn't. You still didn't provide any answer to my other questions, eg. the one about the other noticeboard and my repeated question on what kind of answer you expected on WP:PSCI (which makes it ridiculous to accuse me of failing to provide it, but it didn't stop you). Also the thought experiment above and a few others. Chilton (talk) 14:25, 18 July 2016 (UTC)

Wallace's view of consciousness is in opposition to that of neuroscientists[edit]

There is no such thing as THE view of consciousness of neuroscientists. Neuroscientists have differing opinions on the topic, ranging from eliminative materialism as expressed by Daniel Dennett, to integrated information theory of Christof Koch and Giulio Tononi, to various forms of panpsychism. Chilton (talk) 16:19, 18 July 2016 (UTC)

Interviewer: So your hypothesis is just the reverse from what all the neuroscientists think.
Wallace: Precisely.[3]

Manul ~ talk 22:41, 18 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Yes, I read it. These are Paulson's and Wallace's words (in an interview, where people usually don't have the time or space to assure that everything they say is perfectly right). Do you imply that they are an unquestionable source of truth for statements on Wikipedia? Chilton (talk) 23:03, 18 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Also before that, you demanded secondary sources - I understand that this doesn't pertain to this particular statement for some reason? Chilton (talk) 23:28, 18 July 2016 (UTC)

Request for comment[edit]

The article uses a blog post as the sole secondary source for Wallace's views and statements (which is at least discouraged by WP:BLPSPS as I understand it). I asked for a primary source for the statement "in support of this view Wallace cites quantum mechanics along with paranormal phenomena such as clairvoyance and extrasensory perception", as it seems dubious (I give my justification for that here). The other editor involved didn't provide it and reintroduced the claim, despite no one else expressing assent to it after a long discussion on the talk page. The issue is also being discussed here. Chilton (talk) 10:05, 19 July 2016 (UTC)

  • This is a malformed RfC: it does not ask a clear question.
  • Because the editor who created this RfC had also created the BLPN thread, which is still open, this looks a lot like forum shopping.
  • As explained several times, a primary source is not required to back up a secondary source. The editor expresses the opinion that Novella is "wrong", but we have no evidence of this, and Wallace's Salon interview and books are in line with what Novella is saying.
  • I would welcome a better source than Novella, but none has been offered.
  • See here for an overview regarding the Novella source and the state of the article, with the underlying reasons being WP:PSCI, WP:FRIND, and WP:PARITY.
Manul ~ talk 22:58, 21 July 2016 (UTC)
"Wallace's Salon interview and books are in line with what Novella is saying." - please provide relevant quotes. I asked for it several times already (even before the RFC or the BLPN discussion). Chilton (talk) 20:05, 24 July 2016 (UTC)

July 21 changes[edit]

Regarding these changes,

  • It's not dubious to report what Wallace says.
  • The neutral point of view policy, specifically the section on fringe theories and pseudoscience, requires that mainstream context must be included whenever a fringe theory is discussed in an article.
  • An independent source is needed to describe and give context to a fringe theory (WP:FRIND). This is to prevent Wikipedia from becoming a tool for the promotion of fringe theories (WP:FRINGE).
  • Because Novella is an expert, the Novella source is suitable per WP:PARITY as long as it is used to critique the hypothesis only.

These points are supported in the recent BLPN thread. To the objection that Novella is "wrong", we have no evidence of this, and no better source has been offered. The Salon interview and his recent books are in line with what Novella describes. Manul ~ talk 22:39, 21 July 2016 (UTC)

If they are in line, then please provide quotes to back up the claim that Wallace "cites quantum mechanics along with paranormal phenomena such as clairvoyance and extrasensory perception" as support for the substrate consciousness view. I asked for this several times already and you couldn't do it. If you still can't do it then, well, you are using untruths to support your position. Also the BLPN thread definitely didn't support the claim that the Novella blog post is a suitable source, nor is it used only to critique Wallace's hypothesis (it is the source given for the paragraph starting with "The evidence cited for this hypothesis includes...", which is a claim ascribed to Wallace). I already pointed out the latter in the BLPN thread and you even admitted it (the bullet point starting with "correct") - what made you change your mind? Chilton (talk) 19:28, 24 July 2016 (UTC)