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# The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulati

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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulati [#permalink]
1) The main purpose of the passage is to
5) From the passage, it can be inferred that the author would agree with Searle on which of the following points?
A) Computers operate by following algorithms.
B) The human brain can never fully understand its own functions.
C) The comparison of the brain to a machine is overly simplistic.
D) The most accurate models of physical processes are computer simulations.
E) Human thought and computer-simulated thought involve similar processes of representation.

The correct answer option for this question is A - as provided by various forums.
I was not able to find the clear reason to reject the answer choice E - in this passage, so need your help - how to reject E and select A?
In the passage, I can see the line "John R. Searle, a philosopher who argues that since computers Simply follow algorithms," but where does the author agrees with this point?

Regards,
Akash

Hi,

I hope I can shed a light on the issue you have/had.

"John R. Searle, a philosopher who argues that since computers simply follow algorithms, <...>. <...> Brains, unlike stomachs, are information processors, and if one information processor were made to simulate another information processor, it is hard to see how one and not the other could be said to think."

From the above quoted sentences, I think it's reasonable to say that the second sentence is the one where the author 'nods' to Searl's idea. Computers and brains process information, simple as that. If the author thought that computers do not work the same way Searl thinks, he or she couldn't have countered the idea that computers and brain can equally perform the same thing. Thus the two can be deemed equivalent.

Perhaps this will help.
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulati [#permalink]
GMATNinja
This is indeed a tricky passage, so rather than trying to understanding every detail, make sure you first understand the purpose of each paragraph and then the purpose of the passage as a whole.

hi GMATNinja hope you are having great weekend should we apply the above mentioned strategy to all RC passages ?
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulati [#permalink]
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Any pointers for Inference question as well?
The most common mistake I see on inference questions -- besides basic reading errors -- is overthinking what the word "inference" means. Technically speaking, an inference is something that isn't stated directly in the text, but in reality, the inference might be a really simple, obvious restatement of part of the passage. And sometimes, I see test-takers discard answers because they're "too obvious." In those cases, the answer choice that's "too obvious" is almost certainly correct.

So when you see an inference question, think of it this way: try to discard the four answer choices that are NOT correct based on the passage. The fifth answer choice will obviously be the right answer.

This video covers a bunch of issues in CR and RC, but inference questions are a pretty big part of it.

dave13
GMATNinja
This is indeed a tricky passage, so rather than trying to understanding every detail, make sure you first understand the purpose of each paragraph and then the purpose of the passage as a whole.

hi GMATNinja hope you are having great weekend should we apply the above mentioned strategy to all RC passages ?

I hope this helps!
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulati [#permalink]
Quote:
4) It can be inferred that the author of the passage believes that Searle's argument is flawed by its failure to

(A) distinguish between syntactic and semantic operations
(B) explain adequately how people, unlike computers, are able to understand meaning
(C) provide concrete examples illustrating its claims about thinking
(D) understand how computers use algorithms to process information
(E) decipher the code that is transmitted from neuron to neuron in the brain

dear experts, your approach to Q4 is great healful.
i picked up E, because i the author says : it is hard to see how one and not the other could be said to think.

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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulati [#permalink]
Can someone please explain Question No. 4 ??
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulati [#permalink]
Hello,

Can anyone describe how the answer to question 4 is B and not C ?
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulati [#permalink]
Rumsus
Hello,

Can anyone describe how the answer to question 4 is B and not C ?

Mapping specific statements in the passage:
"Yet how would a brain work if not by reducing what it learns about the world to information—some kind of code that can be transmitted from neuron to neuron? What else could meaning and content be? If the code can be cracked, a computer should be able to simulate it, at least in principle" - Author says that the brain works by breaking down the information, meaning and content, using specific steps = code. So, if we can decipher these steps, then we will be able to simulate the working of a brain using a computer. Then if this is the case, then why isn't the brain a machine. - Author is asking John Searle for explanation

"Brains, unlike stomachs, are information processors, and if one information processor were made to simulate another information processor, it is hard to see how one and not the other could be said to think. Simulated thoughts and real thoughts are made of the same element: information"
- Similarly in this case, the author is strengthening the case of brain being a machine.

In short author provides numerous cases in which we can call a brain a machine. And every time he seeks explanation from Searle's argument to understand why he is not consider the brain a machine.

Thus, in short, the author seeks explanation and not examples.

Hope the explanation helps!
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulati [#permalink]
1) The main purpose of the passage is to
Paragraph 2 refers to the author's point that he is clearly opposing Searle's point
A) propose an experiment
<detail - incorrect>
B) analyze a function
<detail - it doesn't cover the entire paragraph - incorrect >
C) refute an argument
<the 2nd paragraph clearly refutes Searle's point - correct>
< passage does more than explaining the contradiction - understatement - incorrect >
E) simulate a process
<detail - incorrect >

2) Which of the following is most consistent with Searle's reasoning as presented in the passage?
Searle's reasoning is presented throughout the passage, so we need to verify details of each of the answer options.
A) Meaning and content cannot be reduced to algorithms.
<line "Searle would claim that the machine would not really be thinking" proves this answer choice - correct >
B) The process of digestion can be simulated mechanically, but not on a computer.
<out of scope, as second half of the answer choice has not been mentioned - incorrect >
C) Simulated thoughts and real thoughts are essentially similar because they are composed primarily of information.
<reverse of what Searle claims - incorrect >
D) A computer can use "causal powers" similar to those of the human brain when processing information.
<reverse of choice A - incorrect >
E) Computer simulations of the world can achieve the complexity of the brain's representations of the world.
<reverse of choice A - incorrect >

3) The author of the passage would be most likely to agree with which of the following statements about the simulation of organ functions?
Inference question type - we need to refer the para-2 and 3; we need to focus on the author's point not the S's point.
A) An artificial device that achieves the functions of the stomach could be considered a valid model of the stomach.
<line - "His argument proceeds thus: if a computer were used to simulate a stomach, with the stomach's churnings faithfully reproduced on a video screen, the machine would not be digesting real food." mentions the opposite view point of the author - hence inference is what this choice says - correct >
B) Computer simulations of the brain are best used to crack the brain's codes of meaning and content
<"best" is red flag; also there is no such correlation mentioned - incorrect >
C) Computer simulations of the brain challenge ideas that are fundamental to psychology and neuroscience.
<reverse of what the author says - incorrect>
D) Because the brain and the stomach both act as processors, they can best be simulated by mechanical devices.
<"best" is red flag; also there is no such correlation mentioned - incorrect >
E) The computer's limitations in simulating digestion suggest equal limitations in computer-simulated thinking.
<opposite of what the passage says - incorrect >

4) It can be inferred that the author of the passage believes that Searle's argument is flawed by its failure to
This inference question redirects us to go back to the area where author negates the Searle's point - "But even if a computer could simulate the workings of the mind, Searle would claim that the machine would not really be thinking;.................it is hard to see how one and not the other could be said to think."
A) distinguish between syntactic and semantic operations
<no such flaw is referred; wrong connection between the points - incorrect>
B) explain adequately how people, unlike computers, are able to understand meaning
<"able to understand meaning -> is same as -> thinking" ; rewording of the idea mentioned into the passage - correct >
C) provide concrete examples illustrating its claims about thinking
<might be a true reason of the failure of the argument but it is not highlighted or referred as a flaw by the author in the passage - incorrect >
D) understand how computers use algorithms to process information
<same reasons as for option C - incorrect >
E) decipher the code that is transmitted from neuron to neuron in the brain
<out of context - incorrect >

5) From the passage, it can be inferred that the author would agree with Searle on which of the following points?
A) Computers operate by following algorithms.
B) The human brain can never fully understand its own functions.
C) The comparison of the brain to a machine is overly simplistic.
D) The most accurate models of physical processes are computer simulations.
E) Human thought and computer-simulated thought involve similar processes of representation.

The correct answer option for this question is A - as provided by various forums.
I was not able to find the clear reason to reject the answer choice E - in this passage, so need your help - how to reject E and select A?
In the passage, I can see the line "John R. Searle, a philosopher who argues that since computers Simply follow algorithms," but where does the author agrees with this point?

-> I had same question and found it. Answer E is not correct since Searle did not think that human and compuarter simulated thought involve similar process. It is Author's point not Searle's. Thus couldn't be agreeded point.
6) Which of the following most accurately represents Searle's criticism of the brain-as-computer metaphor, as that criticism is described in the passage?
Question type seems - "why does Searle think that brain is not a computer?" Answer seems directly quoted in the line "However, one enemy of the brain-as-computer metaphor is John R. Searle, a philosopher who argues that since computers Simply follow algorithms, they cannot deal with important aspects of human thought such as meaning and content."
A) The metaphor is not experimentally verifiable.
<out of scope - incorrect >
B) The metaphor does not take into account the unique powers of the brain.
<paraphrase of the line mentioned above - correct >
C) The metaphor suggests that a brain's functions can be simulated as easily as those of a stomach.
<two far distant points are being correlated un-necessarily - incorrect >
D) The metaphor suggests that a computer can simulate the workings of the mind by using the codes of neural transmission.
<too much misaligned ; far-fetched inference - incorrect >
E) The metaphor is unhelpful because both the brain and the computer process information.
<not even related to what question asks - incorrect >

What do you say about the reasons that I have mentioned to reject answer options? And do you see a pattern of wrong answer options anywhere - please let me know.

Regards,
Akash
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulati [#permalink]
Why can't (C) be the correct answer for the below question?
4) It can be inferred that the author of the passage believes that Searle's argument is flawed by its failure to
(C) - provide concrete examples illustrating its claims about thinking
In paragraph 3, the author raises the point that 'it is hard to see how can one and not the other said to think'. This comment by the author refers to the earlier claim made by Searle in the second paragraph 'the machine would not really be thinking; it would just be acting as if it were'. Thus it can be inferred that the author believes that had Searle provided more concrete examples around the claims about thinking, then the author wouldn't have said that 'it is hard to see one can and not the other said to think'.

Kindly help with my fault in reasoning.
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulati [#permalink]
MentorTutoring

Thanks for the revert on all my queries. Your explanations are really helpful.

I am stuck in between B and C in question#4 .

Searle's rejection is always based on one point. He says that computers cannot THINK like humans.

So why is C incorrect??

Option B on the other hand says that Searle is unable to explain adequately how people understand meaning.
But if you read the paragraph , we don't have any question raised on how people comprehend.

The question is always that computer cannot think like human.

So why B is correct??
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulati [#permalink]
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MentorTutoring

Thanks for the revert on all my queries. Your explanations are really helpful.

I am stuck in between B and C in question#4 .

Searle's rejection is always based on one point. He says that computers cannot THINK like humans.

So why is C incorrect??

Option B on the other hand says that Searle is unable to explain adequately how people understand meaning.
But if you read the paragraph , we don't have any question raised on how people comprehend.

The question is always that computer cannot think like human.

So why B is correct??
Hello, warrior1991. I am glad to hear that my explanations prove helpful to you. That is why I write them, to assist the community. As for the matter at hand, by the time you are four questions deep into a long passage, the map of the paragraphs should be clear. My mental map for the passage (since I do not actually write anything down) is something akin to the following:

1—brain v. computer; JRS: computers follow rules, people grasp meaning
2—JRS: computers simulate
3—passage against JRS; thoughts require information, people already simulate

Specific examples about simulating a stomach from paragraphs two and three can be referred back to if necessary. Since the question asks us to identify a shortcoming in Seale's argument, the answer should be rooted in paragraph three, what I will call the primary anti-JRS portion. In fact, we know that the passage concludes by asserting that the argument of JRS violates the most fundamental notion in psychology and neuroscience: that brains work by processing information. The correct answer will presumably express the same idea in as many words.

Quote:
(A) distinguish between syntactic and semantic operations
If anything, JRS is the one doing the distinguishing. The end of the first paragraph reveals the very distinction mentioned, syntactic versus semantic operations. This answer is nothing if not a reversal.

Quote:
(B) explain adequately how people, unlike computers, are able to understand meaning
This answer checks out when measured against the final lines of the passage, quoted above. Notice the toned-down modifier in “adequately.” It is not that JRS fails to offer an explanation as to how people think, but that that explanation does not make it clear how, at a fundamental level, the human brain grasps meaning in a way that differs from that of a computer. In fact, this notion is fully backed by the text as early as the end of paragraph one, when the author mentions that humans possess something Searle obscurely calls the causal powers of the brain. Of course, “something” is vague, as is “obscurely” by definition. Two vaguenesses do not make a clarity. This answer is hard to argue against, making it a strong contender. If you were not ready to commit, that is fine. Just look for problems in the other answer choices to narrow the pool of potentials.

Quote:
(C) provide concrete examples illustrating its claims about thinking
The “fundamental” problem at the end of the passage does not touch on a lack of evidence, which makes this answer look off-topic. You might want to read into the last line of the opening paragraph as a call for JRS to back up this claim that People, [unlike computers], understand meaning because they have something Searle obscurely calls the causal powers of the brain; however, such a reading assumes that it is concrete examples that are necessary, rather than a better, perhaps fuller, explanation, with or without such examples, as the previous answer choice touched on. In short, such a reading is one step removed from what the author of the passage states. Simply put, we are told what JRS attributes to humans, regarding the comprehension of meaning, that computers lack. Neither is this notion of providing examples to qualify the term causal powers brought up in paragraphs two or three. This is a tricky answer, one that requires a close reading and a less interpretive mindset, but CR questions should have you thinking in a linear-logic manner already, and if the passage does not state something, you should not be quick to conjure it up.

Quote:
(D) understand how computers use algorithms to process information
JRS acknowledges that computers “simply follow algorithms." Sure, the first two paragraphs do not delve into the technical aspects of computing language, but again, such a lack of detail is not indicative of the “fundamental” flaw mentioned at the end of the passage. This answer is a distraction, nothing more.

Quote:
(E) decipher the code that is transmitted from neuron to neuron in the brain
Codebreaking is mentioned in passing at the beginning of paragraph two, but it is hardly the “fundamental” flaw that the end of the passage makes reference to. A red herring cannot be correct. Go to the heart of the matter, the closing lines, and you will see that it is practically spelled out that JRS fails to properly explain why “processing information” in the brain is any different from “processing information” in a computer.

I hope that helps. If you have further questions, feel free to ask. Thank you for tagging me.

- Andrew

Originally posted by AndrewN on 03 Jul 2020, 05:56.
Last edited by AndrewN on 04 Jul 2020, 06:53, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulati [#permalink]
Not able to understand Question 5. How do we reject option "E" ?
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulati [#permalink]
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Not able to understand Question 5. How do we reject option "E" ?

https://gmatclub.com/forum/the-idea-of- ... l#p2002662

https://gmatclub.com/forum/the-idea-of- ... l#p2069267

Thanks
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulati [#permalink]
GMATNinja
rajatbanik
Hi I found this RC a bit difficult and I couldn't comprehend the second and the third paragraph. I would be grateful if anyone of you could explain the crux of this passage. I am lost among the details within the second and third paragraph. What did the author want to prove by using the stomach example?
Thank you.
This is indeed a tricky passage, so rather than trying to understanding every detail, make sure you first understand the purpose of each paragraph and then the purpose of the passage as a whole.

The main purpose of the first paragraph is to tell us that John R. Searle is an enemy (or critic) of the commonly accepted idea of the brain as an information processor.

In paragraph two, the author questions John R. Searle's position. The author then anticipates that Searle would respond to such questioning by citing the stomach example. So the purpose of the second paragraph is to explain why the author doubts Searle's position and then to describe an example that, hypothetically, Searle would use to defend himself when faced with the doubts posed by the author.

The purpose of the third paragraph is to explain why Searle's hypothetical stomach example is flawed. In other words, the author explains why Searle, when faced with the doubts posed by the author, would not be able to use the stomach example to adequately defend himself.

The final portion of the third paragraph summarizes the author's view, which is that "simulated thoughts and real thoughts are made of the same element: information" and that Searle's argument can only be accepted if one "denies the most fundamental notion in psychology and neuroscience: that brains work by processing information."

So the main purpose of the passage is to explain Searle's position and then to deny (or refute) that position.

I hope this helps!

GMATNinja

COuld you please explain why option A and not D is correct for question #3?

I realise that the use of best in option D is problematic - "Because the brain and the stomach both act as processors, they can best be simulated by mechanical devices." But is there any other issue with this option?

Further, it is not clear to me how are we arriving at option A.

Thanks,
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulati [#permalink]
GMATNinja
rajatbanik
Hi I found this RC a bit difficult and I couldn't comprehend the second and the third paragraph. I would be grateful if anyone of you could explain the crux of this passage. I am lost among the details within the second and third paragraph. What did the author want to prove by using the stomach example?
Thank you.
This is indeed a tricky passage, so rather than trying to understanding every detail, make sure you first understand the purpose of each paragraph and then the purpose of the passage as a whole.

The main purpose of the first paragraph is to tell us that John R. Searle is an enemy (or critic) of the commonly accepted idea of the brain as an information processor.

In paragraph two, the author questions John R. Searle's position. The author then anticipates that Searle would respond to such questioning by citing the stomach example. So the purpose of the second paragraph is to explain why the author doubts Searle's position and then to describe an example that, hypothetically, Searle would use to defend himself when faced with the doubts posed by the author.

The purpose of the third paragraph is to explain why Searle's hypothetical stomach example is flawed. In other words, the author explains why Searle, when faced with the doubts posed by the author, would not be able to use the stomach example to adequately defend himself.

The final portion of the third paragraph summarizes the author's view, which is that "simulated thoughts and real thoughts are made of the same element: information" and that Searle's argument can only be accepted if one "denies the most fundamental notion in psychology and neuroscience: that brains work by processing information."

So the main purpose of the passage is to explain Searle's position and then to deny (or refute) that position.

I hope this helps!
GMATNinja
Thank you sir for writing the sum up whole the passage.
can you check the highlighted part, please?
It's very hard to classify the author view and the other guys' view. How do someone convinced that which part posses by author and which part posses by other experts (e.g., scientist, economist, physicist, and so on)?
Quote:
Computers are syntactic, rather than semantic, creatures. People, on the other hand, understand meaning because they have something Searle obscurely calls the causal powers of the brain.
It seems that only this (quote) part is directly said by other guy, and the rest of the parts in the whole passage are pronounced by author. Am I missing anything?
Thanks__
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulati [#permalink]
GMATNinja
rajatbanik
Hi I found this RC a bit difficult and I couldn't comprehend the second and the third paragraph. I would be grateful if anyone of you could explain the crux of this passage. I am lost among the details within the second and third paragraph. What did the author want to prove by using the stomach example?
Thank you.
This is indeed a tricky passage, so rather than trying to understanding every detail, make sure you first understand the purpose of each paragraph and then the purpose of the passage as a whole.

The main purpose of the first paragraph is to tell us that John R. Searle is an enemy (or critic) of the commonly accepted idea of the brain as an information processor.

In paragraph two, the author questions John R. Searle's position. The author then anticipates that Searle would respond to such questioning by citing the stomach example. So the purpose of the second paragraph is to explain why the author doubts Searle's position and then to describe an example that, hypothetically, Searle would use to defend himself when faced with the doubts posed by the author.

The purpose of the third paragraph is to explain why Searle's hypothetical stomach example is flawed. In other words, the author explains why Searle, when faced with the doubts posed by the author, would not be able to use the stomach example to adequately defend himself.

The final portion of the third paragraph summarizes the author's view, which is that "simulated thoughts and real thoughts are made of the same element: information" and that Searle's argument can only be accepted if one "denies the most fundamental notion in psychology and neuroscience: that brains work by processing information."

So the main purpose of the passage is to explain Searle's position and then to deny (or refute) that position.

I hope this helps!

Hello,

could you explain the meaning f the last few sentences of the paragraph please? I didn't understand its role and meaning.
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulati [#permalink]
Jaya6
GMATNinja
rajatbanik
Hi I found this RC a bit difficult and I couldn't comprehend the second and the third paragraph. I would be grateful if anyone of you could explain the crux of this passage. I am lost among the details within the second and third paragraph. What did the author want to prove by using the stomach example?
Thank you.
This is indeed a tricky passage, so rather than trying to understanding every detail, make sure you first understand the purpose of each paragraph and then the purpose of the passage as a whole.

The main purpose of the first paragraph is to tell us that John R. Searle is an enemy (or critic) of the commonly accepted idea of the brain as an information processor.

In paragraph two, the author questions John R. Searle's position. The author then anticipates that Searle would respond to such questioning by citing the stomach example. So the purpose of the second paragraph is to explain why the author doubts Searle's position and then to describe an example that, hypothetically, Searle would use to defend himself when faced with the doubts posed by the author.

The purpose of the third paragraph is to explain why Searle's hypothetical stomach example is flawed. In other words, the author explains why Searle, when faced with the doubts posed by the author, would not be able to use the stomach example to adequately defend himself.

The final portion of the third paragraph summarizes the author's view, which is that "simulated thoughts and real thoughts are made of the same element: information" and that Searle's argument can only be accepted if one "denies the most fundamental notion in psychology and neuroscience: that brains work by processing information."

So the main purpose of the passage is to explain Searle's position and then to deny (or refute) that position.

I hope this helps!

Hello,

could you explain the meaning f the last few sentences of the paragraph please? I didn't understand its role and meaning.

Hey Jaya6, the last paragraph as a whole is playing the same role. The author first refutes Searl's argument by explaining an alternative simulation of the stomach. And then argues that Searl's reasoning is faulty as the brain's fundamental notion is information processing. The whole RC passage is based around the author explaning searl's view and the countering it.

I'm happy to discuss this more if you have a particular doubt!
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