Notes on Information theory

Information theory seems to permeate multiple podcasts I've been listening to. It is also referred to in some media studies text I read; planning to understand this further, more intimately.

Pooling together insights/learnings from the following podcast episodes:

  • Mindscape: Sean Carroll with Robin Carhert-Harris
  • Mindscape: Sean Carroll with Sara Imari Walker
  • Making Sense: Sam Harris, Anaka Harris with Donald Hoffman

The emergence of culture is consistent with the fact that we feed off of the thermodynamic gradient

Entropic brain principle

  • Taking psychedelics will put your consciousness into a more 'relaxed state'
  • Carhert-Harris calls it going into "very plastic brain states", implying its artificiality relating to the norm-brain state
  • The boundedness of imagination expands (more possibilities)
  • We project things onto the metaphysical space
  • In an information-theoretic view, this means higher entropy, more uncertainty and unpredictability
  • Stream of consciousness
  • Typically when one suffers from neuroses (e.g. depression, psychosis, anxiety, existential dread), it reflects perhaps something akin to cognitive rigidity

— What does this entropic state tells us about reflexivity, the 'ego' self?

Access to archetypes when access to collective unconscious is "unlocked"

  • Consistent psychedelic experiences across humans implies an archetypal reserve
  • Archetypes reinforce the notion of metaphors and stories in perhaps uncovering the collective unconscious / tracing its origin / inception of our Universe

What can the description of such archetypes tell us about its physics? Is a non-anthropocentric description possible? Or do archetypes necessarily peg onto (the observer's) culture when activated - reminiscent of the anthropic principle from physics?

Hierarchical organisation in the higher cortex, in living things and nature

  • The cortex has an hierarchical organisation
  • The association cortex is at the top of this hierarchy
    • Mysterious and no modular, clear function
    • Unlike the visual system

Does something being fiction means it is less real than something? Who decides the ontological hierarchy? Layering ontologies being symptomatic of the hierarchical nature of the ordered universe?

Counterfactual thinking seems to be unique to our species

  • Ref. to the Bayesian brain theory
  • Perhaps links nicely to the point that probabilities are, also, a useful fiction
  • Includes imagination
  • High-level functions


  • Causality can be an (epiphenomenon?) illusion, a useful fiction for the deeper theory of reality

Information-theoretic approach for consciousness

  • High level processes like reasoning about things, having intentions, representation, seems irreducible to its (physical) neural substrates

  • Relates to topics in the philosophy of mind; challenging the above view would be physicalism or any kinds of materialism