James Heaps-Nelson

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About James Heaps-Nelson

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    James Heaps-Nelson

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  1. Hi Michael, No problem with you prioritizing your time just glad you found this compelling enough to capture your attention. I view Reisman as a great middle-level communicator of economic ideas. I attended a couple of his public lectures while I was in college. He must have been a fantastic professor for the students at Pepperdine. I think that the introduction most people need to Austrian Economics is something like Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson or even better Hayek's groundbreaking paper The Use of Knowledge in Society. The methodology (praxeology for one) is just too foreign for most people. The other issue is that the communication style is more like old political economists. It's like reading Adam Smith or Karl Marx. I took Larry Sechrest's course on Hayek at the 1994 IOS(TAS) Seminar and that helped but I still have a ways to go in understanding Austrian Economics. Jim
  2. I was doing a cursory skim of George Reisman's Capitalism to see what kind of book it is before diving in. It's available in PDF for free download at Mises.org. One thing stood out and it's sort of a pet peeve of mine about Austrian economists is a dismissal of mathematical economics, but George said it so well that I didn't mind: "Another prominent school of economic thought is that of mathematical economics, which is characterized by the use of calculus and simultaneous differential equations to describe economic phenomena. The principal founder of mathematical economics was Léon Walras (1834–1910), a Swiss, who also independently discovered the law of diminishing marginal utility shortly after Menger and Jevons. Vilfredo Pareto (1848–1923), an Italian, succeeded Walras at the University of Lausanne and elaborated his approach. Mathematical economics is fundamentally a matter more of method and pedagogy than of particular theoretical content. And although neither the classical nor the Austrian schools is mathematical in the above sense, there are mathematical economists who are allied with their teachings and their support of capitalism. Walras, Jevons, and Gossen are important cases in point. Regrettably, the use of calculus and differential equations to describe economic phenomena represents a Procrustean bed, into which the discrete, discontinuous phenomena of actual economic life are mentally forced, in order to fit the mold of mathematically continuous functions to which the methods of calculus can be applied. This has consequences which represent a matter of theoretical content, as well as method." This point is important and it is also brought up by Nicholas Nassim Taleb in his Incerto series. How much can we trust the continuity of mathematical functions in modern economics?
  3. My great uncle Robert Jones wrote a book called The Challenge of Liberty in 1956. It's a sort of philosophy of methodology book written for the Heritage Foundation. It uses a lot of the same terms as Ayn Rand like individualism versus collectivism so I'm wondering if some of that was in the "intellectual air" at that time. It's available for free download at the Mises Institute website. I explored attaching a copy here but it's beyond my allowed size limit.
  4. Roger Penrose's quantum gravity is more elegant than the Dune universe! In supermassive black holes, you get quantum decoherence of gravity waves. Because in the Schwarzschild equation R=2GM/c^2 the density of a black hole decreases as the mass of a black hole increases to the point where the quantum gravity wavefunction comes out of superposition, so that the black hole becomes governed by Einstein's General Theory of Relativity and not a unified theory of quantum gravity. So quantum gravity applies in smaller black holes and the first few instants after the Big Bang (or great inflation). Roger Penrose claim your Nobel Prize!
  5. I don't often recommend a book before I'm all the way through it, but I'm happy to make an exception with Frank Wilczek's The Lightness of Being. Frank Wilczek is a Nobel Prize Winner in Physics and an engaging writer. His book is a tour de force of science writing for the layman and one of the few good treatments of the subjects of the strong nuclear force and asymptotic freedom (the incredible strength of the nuclear force and it's dramatic die off after short distances). I've learned a lot, including the expereimental methods by which quarks were discovered: ultrastroboscopic utilization of ultrahigh frequency gamma rays. As a kid, my uncle was a scientific computing director at Fermilab and subsequently at SLAC (Stanford Linear Accelerator Center). When I was 6 years old, he took me up in the control tower of Fermilab's synchrotron ring and I also got to see the Big Mac detector at SLAC that was used in investigations of the top quark in 1986. Frank Wilczek conveys that same excitement to his audience through his science writing. Jim
  6. Hi Michael, Unfortunately I do not have a video of my talk, but it followed the slides closely enough that I don't think there is anything significant left out. I'm glad that I did a careful review of the first Hawkins book because the second has a quite revised human intelligence theory involving a multitude of reference frames sort of voting on an answer as Hawkins puts it and he deemphasizes the role of hierarchy in cognition. I'm glad you took the time to suggest a multitude of avenues of new study in neuroscience. I need to go wider. My main influences are Damasio, Hawkins, Kandel, Joseph Ledoux, Nancy Andreason, Howard Gardner, Daniel Levitin, Gerald Edelman and Daniel Amen. I have a book by Gazzaniga whom you mentioned, so I'll probably read that one and I will follow up on the videos and most of the references you mention. I especially like Joseph LeDoux's book, The Synaptic Self because it sort of goes through the development of neuroscience in the '70's with a detailed history of the study and understanding of long term potentiation in the hippocampus and a detailed description of multiple neurotransmitter pathways. It's interesting to compare Nancy Andreason's book The Broken Brain with LeDoux's The Synaptic Self because Andreason's book was written in 1985 and Ledoux's book was written in 1996 and there was this huge explosion of growth in the understanding of neurotransmitter pathways in the intervening years and the number of neurotransmitter pathways indentified, characterized and understood grew dramatically. Anyway, thanks for your thoughtful response! Jim
  7. Given that Jeff Hawkins wrote his new book A Thousand Brains in 2021, I thought I'd give the book a mention here. I gave a talk on the first book, On Intelligence, to Arizona Objectivists in 2007. Hawkins gives this updated view on a theoretical framework of the human neocortex. On Intelligence talk.pdf
  8. LOL, Jonathan. Objectivism, even in the open form has lost its innovation. People keep huddling around the dying embers of things done in the 50's, 60's, 80's and 90's. Time to pour cold water on the campfire and start off in new directions. Jim
  9. From the great Atlantic Ocean to the wide Pacific shore... Jim
  10. jts, If it looks like a duck, it probably talks like a duck. It's a quack. Jim
  11. Thanks Bob, much better. Why is it that so many people want to avoid mathematical formalism? It makes things easier. Even if the subject is hard, there's no way to get around it. Jim
  12. Death Wish, Just use tensorial calculus and talk about what you are trying to do. It's not like it's only used in General Relativity. Tensor Matrices are extensively used in Materials Engineering and other technical disciplines. Trust me, plenty of people here can handle that kind of math more easily than a presentation of functional topology from first principles or maybe I'm not "highly advanced" enough, LOL. Jim
  13. He wrote a 140 PAGE document. Are you kidding me?? The video is just bizarre. There he is, in one of the nicest areas of the country, in a nice car. Instead of this, he could have done just about anything else. Some people are just wired wrong. Jim
  14. Brant, I don't think the problem for either Rand or Branden would be finding someone smarter, the problem would have been finding someone smarter in their work domains. Rand was contemporary with Einstein. Branden was contemporary with double Nobel Prize winner Frederick Sanger (developer of synthetic insulin and chain termination DNA sequencing). Almost everyone can find someone smarter. Einstein was a contemporary of J.W. Gibbs and John Von Neumann and was actually quite collaborative with the brilliant German mathematician David Hilbert. Jim