What is a decision in phoodoo world?

This is a thread to allow discussions about how those lucky enough to have free will make decisions.

As materialism doesn’t explain squat, this thread is a place for explanations from those that presumably have them.

And if they can’t provide them, well, this will be a short thread.

So do phoodoo, mung, WJM et al care to provide your explanations of how decisions are actually made?

2,199 thoughts on “What is a decision in phoodoo world?

  1. Patrick: All physically instantiated on your screen.

    So I’ll ask again.Please provide whatever you think constitutes evidence supporting the existence of anything “immaterial”.

    And just what is it that’s physically instantiated on his screen or in his brain, patrick? Hmmm? Is it the same thing that’s physically instantiated on your screen and in your brain?

  2. Mung,

    If you repeat it 10,000 times it does.

    I encourage readers to click through to see what Mung is talking about and judge for yourself his intent.

  3. walto: And just what is it that’s physically instantiated on his screen or in his brain, patrick? Hmmm? Is it the same thing that’s physically instantiated on your screen and in your brain?

    What’s your point? Every single point in the chain is instantiated on a physical substrate.

    That they might be concepts is neither here nor there. When there are no more humans the ‘abstract concept’ of +1’ing something will no longer exist either as there are no longer any brains to hold that concept. It’s not that abstract…

    Concepts require brains to conceptualise them. Unless you think the concept of “+1” has existed since before the universe and was just hanging around waiting for us to appear. In that case all possible concepts are sitting around waiting for us to stumble on them. Does that sound feasible?

    Sure, the dictionary says: existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete existence

    Yet ideas and thoughts have physical or concrete existences. Unless you don’t believe in brains that is and have jumped over to fmm’s side where minds do the heavy lifting.

    I’m really not sure what’s so difficult about this. Just because you can’t (yet) point to a group of specific neurons and say “this concept lives there” does not mean that they don’t.

    Or do they? If only we knew how decisions were made in phoodoo world we might gain some insight into the whole ‘where do concepts live’ thing.

    phoodoo, where does +1 live?

  4. Mung,

    What is the mechanism that brings about the instantiation of an idea as a pattern in the physical brain? What does that interface look like?

    Wrong thread. There’s another thread where you can talk about that if you like. If on the other hand you want to talk about your claimed immaterial interface then this is indeed the thread for that.

    Unless of course you are giving up on all that and accepting the idea that brains are actually involved in decisions making, chemicals and all. It’s an easy conclusion to draw as you seem so desperate to change the subject.

  5. Patrick: All physically instantiated on your screen.

    It’s amazing phoodoo, how the same thing can be physically instantiated in two different places at the same time.

    Not only that, but just think about when you not only think about +1 but you also view it on the screen, then it’s physically instantiated twice in your brain!

  6. fmm,

    You need to forget this strawman and try to understand the actual position of your opponents

    Well, what is your position? How does the mind made decisions, if mind is not brain?

    So, why do we sleep if the mind is immaterial? Do immaterial minds need sleep?

    What you don’t seem to understand is this entire thread is about trying to understand the actual position of my opponents. But all they seem to want to talk about is my position, a position I would note they reject.

    So what’s going on? You don’t want to talk about your own position, but want to talk endlessly about a position you reject as flatly wrong.

    So, what is it that brains don’t do that we need a mind for fmm?

  7. fmm,

    For the non-materialist the answer is simple immaterial consciousness.

    That’s not an answer. It’s a cop-out.

  8. walto: And just what is it that’s physically instantiated on his screen or in his brain, patrick? Hmmm? Is it the same thing that’s physically instantiated on your screen and in your brain?

    Well, the question would be better asked of phoodoo given the topic of the thread. Phoodoo, what’s your answer to that? Does everybody ‘share’ a single version of a concept or does each ‘mind’ have a copy that’s separate? Or how does it work?

  9. OMagain,

    I am still trying to work out if the universe exists if there are no brains. Without knowing this, I can’t know if you are real, or just part of the matrix. So I don’t know if a question is really being asked.

    Does the world exist without me?

  10. phoodoo:

    So I’ll ask again. Please provide whatever you think constitutes evidence supporting the existence of anything “immaterial”.

    Please provide evidence that you are asking a question.All I see are symbols instantiated on a light emitting screen.

    Impressive. Not a lot of dogs can run away with their tail between their legs while still barking so loudly.

  11. Patrick,

    Impressive. Not a lot of people can make up analogies that are inaccurate on so many levels, including even the details of the analogy.

    What’s impressive about a dog running and barking at the same time?

  12. phoodoo:
    Patrick,

    Impressive.Not a lot of people can make up analogies that are inaccurate on so many levels, including even the details of the analogy.

    What’s impressive about a dog running and barking at the same time?

    Don’t make me take you to Noyau again. It didn’t end well for you last time.

    Now, where’s your evidence for the immaterial?

  13. Patrick,

    Let me get this straight, you are threatening to send my reply to your nonsense post to noyau, because it questioned what the heck you are trying to say, and I am supposed to be intimidated by that?

    And then I am supposed to remember about some other incident in which you have recklessly imposed your foolishly granted access to the administrators code box? Some incident in your head, that hasn’t affected me in even the slightest?

    Just, just…I don’t know… Remember the niche Patrick.

  14. phoodoo:

    Let me get this straight, you are threatening to send my reply to your nonsense post to noyau, because it questioned what the heck you are trying to say, and I am supposed to be intimidated by that?

    No, I’m offering to give you another lesson in online flaming, like the one that had you whining in Moderation Issues and leaving TSZ for a few months.

    Or you could just provide whatever evidence you have for the immaterial.

  15. OMagain,

    Go get him, Napolean! He can learn that two legs are better than anything barking dogs have in your two-bit gulag. X>{

    Threaten him harder, bigshot!

  16. OMagain: What’s your point? Every single point in the chain is instantiated on a physical substrate.

    My point is that +1 is, based on evidence that has convinced roughly half those who have thought about it since Plato, an abstract object. Are they right? Who the hell knows. But badgering, as if it were obvious not only is not proof of anything, it doesn’t really further the argument.

    If you’re you’re just trying trying to get them to say ‘Who knows; this shit is really difficult,” I sympathize. But people hate to say stuff like that here, for some reason. The question may have baffled the wisest among us for centuries, but the answers are perfectly obvious to pretty much everybody here.

    ‘Hard problem’? Hah! Piece of cake. Everything is instantiated! Well, you know what sorts of things can be instantiated? Look it up.

  17. Alan Fox: Thought is a physical activity. And it is one that can be observed indirectly. Some parameters can be measured, energy consumption for example.

    To insist that they just must seems to be to beg the question.

    It’s Occam’s razor. Because we don’t understand a process fully (or at all) is not a reason to make something up. I can’t deny the possibility of uncountable realms of immaterial immaterialness. I’d like to see some impinging on reality before giving it further consideration.

    and

    Alan Fox: Perhaps my idea of “thinking” is broad and a bit circular. Thinking is what the brain does.

    My view:

    In order to understand reality, if we want to exclude any presuppositions, we must begin with thinking.

    We perceive entities through our senses (not just the five senses) and by the means of thinking concepts are added to that perceived. By this process we apprehend reality. The fact that percept and concept are first experienced as separate is true for everything except one thing. That thing is thinking. Thinking is a directly experienced, unified reality. For everything else the percept appears and we subsequently add the concept, for thinking percept and concept are never apart, thinking is always a unity.

    In order to understand the reality of brains, matter and energy we have to combine the correct concepts and percepts in a meaningful way. We do this through the process of thinking. For those who argue that thinking is a process of the brain, I would ask what do you take the brain to be in reality? Is it an arrangement of solid, liquid and gaseous matter that we know from sense experience? Or is it the electron clouds, fields and vacuums of particle physics? And this brings up further questions. Such as: Is the vacuum within the atom material or immaterial?

    If thinking is what the brain does should I be saying that it is not I who is deciding how to compose this reply, it is the brain beside the keyboard that is making the decisions? Is it meaningless to say that I am speaking to my wife? Maybe it is the vocal chords and mouthparts in this vicinity that are speaking to whatever it is that is sitting next to these communicatory devices.

    IMO the brain is the organ that allows me to think; mouth and vocal chords are the organs that allow me to speak; and legs are the appendages that allow me to walk. The entity that is constant in all of this is the “I”. And for those who are of the opinion that the “I” is just an illusion, what is it that instigates the illusion and what is being tricked by this illusion.

  18. walto: But people hate to say stuff like that here, for some reason.

    But it’s easy to be an expert on the inconsequential, the non-disprovable and the unentailed!

    The question may have baffled the wisest among us for centuries, but the answers are perfectly obvious to pretty much everybody here.

    I’m not sure that’s true. Some are convinced that the material world is insufficient and requires additional immaterial entities and at least one person isn’t so convinced. But that person also thinks we could be to the universe as an ant on the sidewalk is to the Empire state building – oblivious to the whole picture.

    Regarding the abstract, seems to me that thoughts abstract concepts exist in reality as brain activity. The brain is real and free to imagine. What we choose to imagine may be an abstract concept but the thought is real. And there is at least as much evidence to support my worthless opinion as there is for dualism.

  19. Patrick:

    Mung:
    What is the mechanism that brings about the instantiation of an idea as a pattern in the physical brain? What does that interface look like?

    Physics, chemistry, and neurobiology. Google them.

    Can you point to the creative principle discovered through neurobiology that was responsible for composing the Brandenburg Concertos?

  20. walto: The question may have baffled the wisest among us for centuries, but the answers are perfectly obvious to pretty much everybody here.

    I know what you mean, but I’m not sure that the people the OP was addressed to agree. And they are the ones I’m interested in hearing the opinions of regarding the question as they make some quite clear claims.

    walto: But badgering, as if it were obvious not only is not proof of anything, it doesn’t really further the argument.

    I’m not trying to have an argument, as such. I’m still just asking the initial question. I look forwards to having an argument! And I’m not badgering anybody. They have an ignore button.

    walto: The question may have baffled the wisest among us for centuries, but the answers are perfectly obvious to pretty much everybody here.

    Well, that’s kinda the point of the OP. I can struggle to give you answers, if pressed. I don’t know the answers. everything, including consciousness, is instantiated somehow, obviously but I don’t see any need for any immaterial entities (unaffected by causality etc) for that. But I’m open to being convinced. Which is what this thread is about.

    When I first heard about ID I was genuinely interested in what they had ‘discovered’. It sounds amazing, on the face of it. It soon turned sour.

    WJM@UD

    How pitiful is it to rant and rave and argue against physics and chemistry? If atheistic materialism is true, then atheists here are like Don Quixote, acting like windmills are great beasts, or like biological automatons are sentient creatures capable of doing something other than whatever chemistry dictates. They might as well argue with a tree to get it to change the shape and color of its leaves, or with a stream to get it to change direction. They are tilting at windmills trying to convince the windmill to do something other than what windmills do. They are madmen arguing with swirling dirt, animated by natural law and chance.

    What a ruinous, ludicrous, miserable position to insist for yourself – arguing and debating against the onward, relentless march of happenstance interactions of matter ruled by chemistry and physics as if such arguments mattered, as if you and everyone else is something other than programmed biological automatons doing whatever chemistry dictates. But then, pitifully, they really can’t do anything else except foolishly act out this absurd facade because they, too, are just the puppets of chemistry.

    William has a fascinating OP there. What I’m interested in is this:

    If chemistry dictates that 1+1=banana, that is what a “person” will conclude. If chemistry dictates they defend that view to the death and see themselves as a martyr for the computational banana cause, that is exactly what they will do.

    How does WJM, specifically, have it better then mere chemistry? What process happens when decisions are made. Why can’t that process introspect itself in any meaningful way to differentiate it from merely chemicals?

    Is a computer capable of making a free will choice? No, it is only capable of doing what it is programmed to do. Period. Regardless of how complex it is, regardless even if its programming includes random outputs and evolutionary algorithms that can write new code; the only thing a computer can do is whatever it is programmed to do at any particular moment, and it cannot do anything else.

    In order for an entity to be able to do something other than that which it’s physical makeup dictates, it would have to have a non-physical commodity that is outside of the physical system of cause-and-effect.

    You complain that the bag-of-chems description is too simple; the term represents the point that if atheistic materialism is true, then all any of can do is whatever our particular physical state at the time causes, even if the output is random or unpredictable, whether or not that output happens to have truthful correspondence to facts or logic or not. Waving your hands and chanting “but it’s more complex than that” doesn’t change that essential point one iota.

    So we have that essential point. And we have a lot of detail around that point. I.E brains are made of stuff we can poke.

    WJM has a lot of things to say on how things are for the other side, but seemingly very little about the mechanics (if such is the right word) about how things actually do work in his conception of reality. I’m happy to continue to highlight that imbalance.
    WJM@UD

    We experience this self-will as transcending mere physical causation from a higher order of existence, being able to direct the matter and energy of our bodies at will. We have power over our physical and mental nature exactly like a supernatural ghost in a machine, capable of the most wondrous and amazing feats of physical complexity, creativity and computation without any understanding of how any of it is physically initiated, maintained or controlled.

    For all WJM knows it’s physically initiated, maintained or controlled by purely material means, because as he says he knows nothing about how it is physically initiated, maintained or controlled.
    William ‘admits’ it of course, but hopes for a supernatural solution.

    walto: Look it up.

    I’m alright for now, thanks.

  21. CharlieM: Can you point to the creative principle discovered through neurobiology that was responsible for composing the Brandenburg Concertos?

    Traumatic brain injury can unlock extreme artistic abilities.
    https://braindecoder.com/post/when-brain-damage-gives-rise-to-artistic-creativity-1054472410

    As Padgett tells it in his book “Struck by Genius: How a Brain Injury Made Me a Mathematical Marvel,” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2014), his injury made him a synesthete. Synesthesia is a condition in which the senses are scrambled. Numbers or letters or even musical notes might make people see particular colors, for example. In Padgett’s case, he “sees” mathematical formulas as geometric shapes.

    So there does seem to be a connection between the brain and being creative. Brandenburg Concertos were created by a very skilled brain. Brains damaged in specific ways can create things that need high skill levels. Some people are born with brains wired up in similar ways, without damage. So, your question is perhaps a little premature. How long have we known about neurons? How long have the supernaturalists had? Since the beginning of recorded history.

    Anyway, can you point to a single thing with the level of specificity in your question that supports even slightly the question asked in the OP? If not chemicals, what? How are Brandenburg Concertos composed in CharlieM world?

  22. OMagain: I know what you mean, but I’m not sure that the people the OP was addressed to agree. And they are the ones I’m interested in hearing the opinions of regarding the question as they make some quite clear claims.

    I’m not trying to have an argument, as such. I’m still just asking the initial question. I look forwards to having an argument! And I’m not badgering anybody. They have an ignore button.

    Well, that’s kinda the point of the OP. I can struggle to give you answers, if pressed. I don’t know the answers. everything, including consciousness, is instantiated somehow, obviously but I don’t see any need for any immaterial entities (unaffected by causality etc) for that. But I’m open to being convinced. Which is what this thread is about.

    When I first heard about ID I was genuinely interested in what they had ‘discovered’. It sounds amazing, on the face of it. It soon turned sour.

    WJM@UD

    William has a fascinating OP there. What I’m interested in is this:

    How does WJM, specifically, have it better then mere chemistry? What process happens when decisions are made. Why can’t that process introspect itself in any meaningful way to differentiate it from merely chemicals?

    So we have that essential point. And we have a lot of detail around that point. I.E brains are made of stuff we can poke.

    WJM has a lot of things to say on how things are for the other side, but seemingly very little about the mechanics (if such is the right word) about how things actually do work in his conception of reality. I’m happy to continue to highlight that imbalance.
    WJM@UD

    For all WJM knows it’s physically initiated, maintained or controlled by purely material means, because as he says he knows nothing about how it is physically initiated, maintained or controlled.
    William ‘admits’ it of course, but hopes for a supernatural solution.

    I’m alright for now, thanks.

    I may get guanoed for saying this, but WJM is completely full of shit, IMO. I have him on ignore, not because his stuff is offensive, or bothers me or anything like that, but because whatever he writes is a complete waste of time and, for icing, is usually written in a wildly pompous style. It’s always chock full of fallacies, and is generally self-contradictory to boot.

    Let me just put it this way, If you read that stuff, you’ll grow hair on your palms.

  23. OMagain to phoodoo: Does everybody ‘share’ a single version of a concept or does each ‘mind’ have a copy that’s separate? Or how does it work?

    To repeat my view on this. There is only one concept triangle. There are not different versions of it in each mind. The concept triangle is not the same thing as a mental picture of a triangle held in the mind as a memory of a physically observed triangle. We recognise physical triangles because we are aware of the concept triangle.

    Our senses do not give us reality because through them there is no connection between what is perceived. Thinking adds the concepts which unifies reality into one connected whole.

  24. OMagain: Traumatic brain injury can unlock extreme artistic abilities.
    https://braindecoder.com/post/when-brain-damage-gives-rise-to-artistic-creativity-1054472410

    So there does seem to be a connection between the brain and being creative. Brandenburg Concertos were created by a very skilled brain. Brains damaged in specific ways can create things that need high skill levels. Some people are born with brains wired up in similar ways, without damage. So, your question is perhaps a little premature. How long have we known about neurons? How long have the supernaturalists had? Since the beginning of recorded history.

    Anyway, can you point to a single thing with the level of specificity in your question that supports even slightly the question asked in the OP? If not chemicals, what? How are Brandenburg Concertos composed in CharlieM world?

    So you are saying that creativity lies in the brain, but if the brain is damaged more creativity is possible. Let’s look at the logic here. Is there any human made machine performing some function, that if damaged, might perform some function in a better way?

    The Brandenburg Concertos were composed, not by a brain, but by a human individual, namely Johann Sebastian Bach. This individual remained a recognisable individual throughout his life notwithstanding all the bodily changes that occurred during that time. The changing body is not the individual.

  25. walto: My point is that +1 is, based on evidence that has convinced roughly half those who have thought about it since Plato, an abstract object. Are they right? Who the hell knows. But badgering, as if it were obvious not only is not proof of anything, it doesn’t really further the argument.

    If you’re you’re just trying trying to get them to say ‘Who knows; this shit is really difficult,” I sympathize. But people hate to say stuff like that here, for some reason. The question may have baffled the wisest among us for centuries, but the answers are perfectly obvious to pretty much everybody here.

    ‘Hard problem’? Hah! Piece of cake. Everything is instantiated! Well, you know what sorts of things can be instantiated? Look it up.

    I have pretty strongly nominalistic tendencies when it comes to abstract objects, though I prefer to think of concepts as socio-linguistic norms rather than as brain-states in an overly reductionist account. Though I do think that concepts are causally implemented by the corresponding functional roles in a complex neurocomputational hierarchy. Predictive processing isn’t the answer to everything, because what is? But it’s a nicely compelling model for the time being.

    Still, I’ll happily concede that predictive processing is just a really detailed version of functionalism that overcomes the split between functionalism and the more ‘radical’ embodied/embedded stuff. It doesn’t solve the hard problem of consciousness. These days I’m inclined to think that qualia are epiphenomenal, and all the causal powers cash out in neurocomputational terms, but who knows?

    I certainly don’t have a solution to the hard problem of consciousness, and I’m a naturalist!

  26. Also, for whatever it’s worth, I’m writing a paper now on how to understand rationality in naturalistic terms. The key move is to think about inferences in terms of problem-solving, where that gets cashed out further in terms of reducing ambiguities in affordances. Strategic rationality is good individual problem-solving for individual organisms, Deliberative rationality is collective decision-making governed by intersubjectively recognized norms of correctness and incorrectness.

    This is not to reduce rationality to non-rational forms of animal intelligence, but only to sketch a plausible evolutionary route from the latter to the former — which is also the evolution of language and culture.

    And I don’t think that animal cognitive psychology reduces to neuroscience, let alone to chemistry or physics. It certainly doesn’t reduce to fundamental physics!

    Quite frankly, I think that reductionism is deeply mistaken in philosophy of science, which means that reductive monism –whether materialism or idealism — is also deeply mistaken, if (as I do think) metaphysics ought to take its cue from science and philosophy of science.

  27. KN,

    And I don’t think that animal cognitive psychology reduces to neuroscience, let alone to chemistry or physics. It certainly doesn’t reduce to fundamental physics!

    Evidence?

  28. For the record I think that materialism non-materialism is a false dichotomy. I think it results in lots on heat and not much light.

    What we really are talking about in my opinion is the divide between materiel stuff and personal stuff.

    peace

  29. fifth:

    What we really are talking about in my opinion is the divide between materiel stuff and personal stuff.

    If “material stuff” is on one side of the divide and “personal stuff” is on the other, that means that “material stuff” is impersonal and that “personal stuff” is immaterial.

  30. keiths: If “material stuff” is on one side of the divide and “personal stuff” is on the other, that means that “material stuff” is impersonal and that “personal stuff” is immaterial.

    No, it simply means that personal stuff entails something more than just matter.

    To make the divide material verses immaterial is to miss the point entirely.

    peace

  31. keiths: Evidence?

    It’s not so much a matter of “evidence” but rather a careful conceptual analysis of what successful intertheoretic reduction requires.

  32. fifthmonarchyman: What we really are talking about in my opinion is the divide between materiel stuff and personal stuff.

    I see that as a distinction between useful ways of talking, not a divide between kinds of stuff.

  33. fifth,

    If you place the category “material stuff” on one side of the divide, then the stuff that falls into that category — material stuff — is on that side of the divide, and not on the other.

    It isn’t complicated.

    With all the things that God is supposedly revealing to you, how come he never gets around to revealing basic logic?

  34. KN,

    It’s not so much a matter of “evidence” but rather a careful conceptual analysis of what successful intertheoretic reduction requires.

    Until someone points to a genuine instance of downward causation, I see no reason to doubt that psychology reduces to fundamental physics. (Not as a practical matter, of course, but in principle.)

  35. CharlieM: So you are saying that creativity lies in the brain, but if the brain is damaged more creativity is possible.

    No, that’s not at all what I’m saying. But, what’s the point, I can’t say it any clearer then I did.

  36. keiths: If you place the category “material stuff” on one side of the divide, then the stuff that falls into that category — material stuff — is on that side of the divide, and not on the other.

    It isn’t complicated.

    Apparently for you it is, we are talking about the difference

    between a house and a home
    between an animal and a beloved pet
    between flowers and a wedding bouquet
    between a cancer statistic and a sick friend
    between a warm spaghetti and an evening meal

    etc etc

    Focusing on the materiel verses the immaterial misses a good deal of the point IMO

    peace

  37. Kantian Naturalist: I see that as a distinction between useful ways of talking, not a divide between kinds of stuff.

    I think thinking is what is at issue here. Thinking presupposes the personal and therefore is impossible for material stuff

    peace

  38. keiths: Until someone points to a genuine instance of downward causation, I see no reason to doubt that psychology reduces to fundamental physics. (Not as a practical matter, of course, but in principle.)

    That’s where we really disagree, because I think that metaphysics is answerable to epistemology and that epistemology should be modeled off of scientific inquiry in some significant respects. Given those commitments, I think that that one’s entitlement to assert that it is possible in principle depends on having a good grasp of how it would work in practice. So I would strongly resist your proposal to drive a wedge here.

    We can take that up in an OP if you’d like. It would give me a chance to work through some arguments for the disunity of science.

  39. fifthmonarchyman: between a house and a home
    between an animal and a beloved pet
    between flowers and a wedding bouquet
    between a cancer statistic and a sick friend
    between a warm spaghetti and an evening meal

    Those are interesting distinctions here, but it seems utterly and completely confused to think of these distinctions as having anything to do with metaphysics, let alone materialism.

    The distinctions you’re suggesting here involve degrees of socially and symbolically mediated affective investment, or put somewhat otherwise, the symbols and norms through which we express care and concern for others. Those symbols draw on a whole range of emotions, both positive and negative, and do so in context-sensitive ways.

    If one were to abstract away from that context, or adopt a more detached attitude, then one would not ‘see’ the affect-laden symbolism.

    In short, what these examples point to are two different attitudes in which we can exist in the world: in an attitude of involvement (care, concern, emotional investment) or in an attitude of detachment (distanced, more ‘objective’, clinical).

    I think that’s a really important and helpful distinction. (I should add at once that these are poles on a continuum, not a sharp dichotomy. Certain kinds of situations, like being a good therapist, may involve a complex relation of being both involved and detached.)

    But I do not think that the distinction between involvement and detachment, however important (and I do think it is very important) has any bearing on the question as to how we should relate the descriptions and explanations of the personal level to the descriptions and explanations of the level of subpersonal cognitive and affective processes.

    The reason for this is simple: involvement and detachment are both themselves attitudes taken by persons, which means that both will have correspondences at the level of subpersonal cognitive and affective processes that are ultimately biological and neurobiological.

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