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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]
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Vercules,
For the 1st question i chose the option as D. Here Two contradictory statements are being discusssed and that is the reason why i chose that option.Can you please explain the correct answer
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulati [#permalink]
skamal7 wrote:
Vercules,
For the 1st question i chose the option as D. Here Two contradictory statements are being discusssed and that is the reason why i chose that option.Can you please explain the correct answer

Hi,

The first paragraph introduces an argument by Searl and the second & Third paragraph refutes this argument.

If you go through last line of third paragraph, you can confirm this.

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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulati [#permalink]
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mohnish104 wrote:
vercules ur GMAT score is pretty impressive bro. i wanted to know whether the GMAT test prep score can be considered close to the actual GMAT score?

Thanks mohnish,

Yes, the GMAT Prep tests are the most accurate indicators of you preparedness for GMAT. The score on GMAT prep can be considered close to the actual GMAT. However, you should consider +- 20 points error to the score. Say you score 700 on the GMAT prep test, then with the same conditions you will score 680 - 720 on the actual GMAT. I will also say that it is the best way to determine your weaknesses on the GMAT. You should take 3-4 attempts on each GMAT Prep test to see all the questions, mostly the harder ones.

Hope this helps,
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulati [#permalink]
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Vercules wrote:
The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulating blips of energy according to fathomable rules—has come to dominate neuroscience. 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. 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.

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. But even if a computer could simulate the workings of the mind, Searle would claim that the machine would not really be thinking; it would just be acting as if it were. 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. It would just be blindly manipulating the symbols that generate the visual display.

Suppose, though, that a stomach were simulated using plastic tubes, a motor to do the churning, a supply of digestive juices, and a timing mechanism. If food went in one end of the device, what came out the other end would surely be digested food. 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. The representations of the world that humans carry around in their heads are already simulations. To accept Searle's argument, one would have to deny the most fundamental notion in psychology and neuroscience: that brains work by processing information.

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?
A) The metaphor is not experimentally verifiable.
B) The metaphor does not take into account the unique powers of the brain.
C) The metaphor suggests that a brain's functions can be simulated as easily as those of a stomach.
D) The metaphor suggests that a computer can simulate the workings of the mind by using the codes of neural transmission.
E) The metaphor is unhelpful because both the brain and the computer process information.

B

Can someone help explain this one? I was stuck between A and E
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulati [#permalink]
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Hi,

The crucial sentence is this

since computers Simply follow algorithms, they cannot deal with important aspects of human thought such as meaning and content

Which suggests that the brain has something that the computer doesn't - that suggests that B.

The other 2, whilst they might be plausible, are not referenced in the passage, which is required for this question.

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LucyDang wrote:
I have the same question as he has. Can anyone please explain why in the first question, D is not the correct choice. For me, OA explanation is not persuasive. Thank you so much!

D says: "explain a contradiction". I feel "contradiction" in the context of GMAT is something different and I am just trying to draw information from "which of the following explains the contradiction" questions in critical reason. So, I feel that in GMAT terms, "contradiction" would be something like:

When there are lot of natural resources available in a country, that country is rich. However, in Sanzania, despite the presence of phenomenal natural resources, most of the people are below the poverty line.

I think the above is a contradiction.

In this passage, there is nothing of the sort. The second line of the passage itself has a statement from John R. Searle, who argues against brain functioning as an information processor.

Thereafter, the "entire" passage is giving reasons to refute this argument. Hence, I think C is the right answer.
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulati [#permalink]
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PiyushK wrote:
13min got 4th Q wrong.
I selected E.

Basically the thrust of the argument is on proving Searle incorrect:)

Searle says that computers simply follow algorithms, and cannot deal with important aspects of human thought such as meaning and content.

But the argument argues that at some level, brains of people must be doing the same thing (as the computer): reducing what it (brain) learns about the world to information.

According to the argument, it is just a matter of that code being "cracked".
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulati [#permalink]
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Time taken 11 mins.
2) Which of the following is most consistent with Searle's reasoning as presented in the passage?
A) Meaning and content cannot be reduced to algorithms.
>>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.
B) The process of digestion can be simulated mechanically, but not on a computer.
C) Simulated thoughts and real thoughts are essentially similar because they are composed primarily of information.
D) A computer can use "causal powers" similar to those of the human brain when processing information.
E) Computer simulations of the world can achieve the complexity of the brain's representations of the world.

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
>>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.
..............
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?
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
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulati [#permalink]
Fifth question is something I am still not very clear . How Answer Option A is correct ?
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulati [#permalink]
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gmat4varun wrote:
Fifth question is something I am still not very clear . How Answer Option A is correct ?

A is correct because of following lines :

"since computers Simply follow algorithms, they cannot deal with important aspects of human thought such as meaning and content. "

Here Searl has used the reasoning behind his claim. This reasoning is something that the author also believes, then only Searl was able to make his claim.
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulati [#permalink]
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.
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulati [#permalink]

Regards,
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulati [#permalink]
For the 1st question i chose the option as D. Here Two contradictory statements are being discusssed and that is the reason why i chose that option.Can you please explain the correct answer
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dawnemily6 wrote:
For the 1st question i chose the option as D. Here Two contradictory statements are being discusssed and that is the reason why i chose that option.Can you please explain the correct answer

Quote:
1) The main purpose of the passage is to
A) propose an experiment
B) analyze a function
C) refute an argument
E) simulate a process

Yes, you could say that two seemingly contradictory ideas are discussed. But is the main PURPOSE of the passage to explain that contradiction? Is the author's intention to simply explain how Searle's idea differs from the dominate view? After reading this passage, would it make sense to say, "In conclusion, Searle's view contradicts the dominate view."?

Not quite. The author does indeed explain Searle's view, which does seem to contradict the dominate view in some ways. But the author is primarily concerned with CRITICIZING Searle's view. The author's main intention is to deny (refute) Searle's argument, so (C) is a better answer.

The following explanation of the passage should provide further clarification: https://gmatclub.com/forum/the-idea-of- ... l#p1867890.

I hope that helps!
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulati [#permalink]
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The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulating blips of energy according to fathomable rules—has come to dominate neuroscience. 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. 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.

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. But even if a computer could simulate the workings of the mind, Searle would claim that the machine would not really be thinking; it would just be acting as if it were. 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. It would just be blindly manipulating the symbols that generate the visual display.

Suppose, though, that a stomach were simulated using plastic tubes, a motor to do the churning, a supply of digestive juices, and a timing mechanism. If food went in one end of the device, what came out the other end would surely be digested food. 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. The representations of the world that humans carry around in their heads are already simulations. To accept Searle's argument, one would have to deny the most fundamental notion in psychology and neuroscience: that brains work by processing information.
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?

(A) The metaphor is not experimentally verifiable.

(B) The metaphor does not take into account the unique powers of the brain.

(C) The metaphor suggests that a brain's functions can be simulated as easily as those of a stomach.

(D) The metaphor suggests that a computer can simulate the workings of the mind by using the codes of neural transmission.

(E) The metaphor is unhelpful because both the brain and the computer process information.

Passage: Searle

Question: Inference–Metaphor

The Simple Story

Most neuroscientists think of the brain as an information processor. The philosopher John Searle disagrees with this view, arguing that people can understand meaning and content, while computers cannot. The author, however, disagrees with Searle. She presents one of Searle’s arguments, related to simulated digestion, and refutes it. She then concludes that Searle’s argument is incompatible with a fundamental notion in psychology and neuroscience: that brains work by processing information.

Sample Passage Map

Here is one way to map this passage. (Note: abbreviate as desired!)

P1:

brain = info processor

Searle: computers can’t really think

Searle: human brain has ‘causal powers’

P2:

Author: brain = info processor

Searle: computer stomach not really digesting

→ computer brain not really thinking

P3:

Author: simulated stomach COULD really digest

Computer is the same, but with info

So: simulated thought = thought

Step 1: Identify the Question

The question asks for a statement that accurately represents Searle’s criticism. The right answer will not be written explicitly in the passage, but will accurately reflect what is written there. Therefore, this is an Inference question.

Step 2: Find the Support

Searle’s criticism of the brain-as-computer metaphor is described in the first paragraph.

“…since computers simply follow algorithms, they cannot deal with important aspects of human thought such as meaning and content. 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.”

Searle’s criticism is that a computer that follows algorithms can’t understand meaning and content, while the human mind can understand these things. This makes a computer an inaccurate metaphor for the human mind.

Step 4: Eliminate and Find a Match

(A) Searle’s views on experimentation are not described in the passage.

(B) CORRECT. Searle’s criticism is that the human mind has a property that a computer lacks: the causal powers of the brain.

(C) Searle uses this example in order to argue that the stomach, like the brain, cannot be accurately simulated by a computer.

(D) Searle’s criticism does not involve the specifics of how information is transmitted in the brain, or whether a computer can simulate this transmission. Rather, Searle criticizes the implications of such a simulation: a computer simulation, he argues, wouldn’t actually be thinking.

(E) The fact that brains and computers both process information makes the metaphor between them more accurate, not less.
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulati [#permalink]
Vercules wrote:
The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulating blips of energy according to fathomable rules—has come to dominate neuroscience. 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. 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.

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. But even if a computer could simulate the workings of the mind, Searle would claim that the machine would not really be thinking; it would just be acting as if it were. 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. It would just be blindly manipulating the symbols that generate the visual display.

Suppose, though, that a stomach were simulated using plastic tubes, a motor to do the churning, a supply of digestive juices, and a timing mechanism. If food went in one end of the device, what came out the other end would surely be digested food. 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. The representations of the world that humans carry around in their heads are already simulations. To accept Searle's argument, one would have to deny the most fundamental notion in psychology and neuroscience: that brains work by processing information.
1) The main purpose of the passage is to

A) propose an experiment
B) analyze a function
C) refute an argument
E) simulate a process

C

Passage: Searle

Question: Main Idea

The Simple Story

Most neuroscientists think of the brain as an information processor. The philosopher John Searle disagrees with this view, arguing that people can understand meaning and content, while computers cannot. The author, however, disagrees with Searle. She presents one of Searle’s arguments, related to simulated digestion, and refutes it. She then concludes that Searle’s argument is incompatible with a fundamental notion in psychology and neuroscience: that brains work by processing information.

Sample Passage Map

Here is one way to map this passage. (Note: abbreviate as desired!)

P1:

brain = info processor

Searle: computers can’t really think

Searle: human brain has ‘causal powers’

P2:

Author: brain = info processor

Searle: computer stomach not really digesting

→ computer brain not really thinking

P3:

Author: simulated stomach COULD really digest

Computer is the same, but with info

So: simulated thought = thought

Step 1: Identify the Question

The words main purpose in the question stem indicate that this is a Primary Purpose question.

Step 2: Find the Support

The support for a Primary Purpose question is found in the main point(s) of the passage as a whole, not in any specific detail. Briefly review your passage map to find the support for this question.

The majority of the passage is spent refuting Searle’s argument. The author finally concludes that accepting Searle’s argument would mean denying the most fundamental notion in psychology and neuroscience. The primary purpose of this passage is to argue against Searle’s views.

Step 4: Eliminate and Find a Match

(A) The passage does propose an experiment (the simulated stomach), but it only does so in order to counter one of Searle’s arguments. The broader purpose, therefore, is to refute Searle’s views about human thought.

(B) The function mentioned here is presumably the information-processing function of the human brain. The passage doesn’t solely present its own analysis, however. Instead, it analyzes this function in order to refute Searle’s analysis.

(C) CORRECT. The passage first introduces, then refutes, Searle’s argument.

(D) The passage does not describe any of its ideas as a contradiction.

(E) The topic of the passage is, in part, the simulation of physical processes (digestion and thinking). However, the passage itself does not simulate these processes. Instead, it discusses some hypothetical simulations (without performing them), and disagrees with Searle’s view on what these simulations would imply.
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gmat4varun wrote:
Fifth question is something I am still not very clear . How Answer Option A is correct ?

5. From the passage, it can be inferred that the author would agree with Searle on which of the following points?
Computers operate by following algorithms.

In the first paragraph
Searle: computers fallows algorithms and cannot deal with important aspects of human thought such as meaning and content.
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. Computers are syntactic, rather than semantic, creatures.

In the second paragraph
The author refutes what Searle says, by pointing out that even the brains need to work like algorithms--interpret and transfer the information
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. But even if a computer could simulate the workings of the mind, Searle would claim that the machine would not really be thinking
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