Chris Langan Knows What It's Like to be a Bat

By Elton Braun & John Adam Gosham ►

In 1974, philosopher Thomas Nagel published a landmark essay entitled "What is it Like to be a Bat." Curiously premised as its eponymous thought experiment may have been, Nagel's essay poses a crucial challenge for reductionist, materialist theories of consciousness. The materialist position holds that consciousness reduces rather tidily and objectively to physical and physiological processes in the brain and the body. For Nagel, however, it is the "subjective character of experience" that makes consciousness what it is. Because there is something it feels like to be a bat (or a person or a cat or really anything above an amoeba), a reductive, materialist explanation of consciousness will always be incomplete, as subjective mental phenomenon cannot be reduced to a material substrate. Even if a human were to somehow acquire a bat's inimitable sensory apparatus, he or she would not have possessed said bat's perceptual wiring from birth, and at most, this hypothetical Batman or Batwoman would be experiencing their own consciousness superimposed upon that of the bat. Ergo, reductive materialist explanations of consciousness falter.

In 1974, however, neither Nagel nor the world knew much of Christopher Langan. Though the word "genius" is often thrown around ad nauseam at present, Langan is just that. With a tested IQ somewhere around 200, Langan is an outlier among statistical outliers, and the intelligence tests don't equivocate. Langan proved too much for the mighty American education system to handle, running laps around his most gifted classmates and teaching himself advanced math, physics, and philosophy as a teenager, all the while mastering classical languages like Latin and Greek. College couldn't handle him either, and he ended up dropping out of Montana State University on the strong hunch that he was smarter than his professors. Throughout his adult life, as he supported himself via a variety of jobs ranging from bar bouncer to cattleman, he has dedicated his intellectual efforts to finding a Theory of Everything merging math, physics, theology and even consciousness, all while remaining isolated from conventional academicians in those fields (to whom he refers as “acadummies”). The result of Langan's toil is his self-published Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe (CTMU), which is, in brief, a dual-aspect monism where consciousness isn't just a subjective character of experience. Rather, cognition is inextricably linked to the existence of the physical universe itself.

Considering what we know about the sheer power of Langan's mind, would it be so farfetched to speculate that he can know what it is like to be a bat? After all, his performance on multiple IQ tests has proven that he can discriminate complex patterns in sets of data wherein lesser intellects would see none. Is it so much of a stretch to posit that Langan's expansive consciousness could, like a bat, recreate echolocation through outgoing impulses and subsequent reverberations, his nimble brain sorting the information so as to realize a sort of three dimensional forward perception, thereby enabling him to perceive and experience objects in the same way that a winged mammal does? Not all human consciousnesses are created equal, after all, and what mind would be a better bet than Langan's for realizing a bat's perspective? As far as the reader and the authors and Nagel go, we are most certainly not able to have access to what it's like to be a bat, but Chris Langan just might.

There are other subtle indicators of Langan's bat-like capacities. In the past few years, Langan's polymathic genius has branched out into a number of other intellectual pursuits, most notably politics, both American and global. As his own political opinions have been tuned up to a high-frequency shriek, our man-bat with the 200 IQ has proven he can discriminate a lot more than just complex patterns. Indeed, he has rapidly dispensed analyses of equally complex social issues for his adoring Facebook faithful. For instance, Langan offers the following with regard to immigration: "Koko [the famed gorilla] was believed to have had an IQ of between 75 and 95 and could sign more than 1,000 words. The average IQ of a human is around 90 to 110. […] Koko's elevated level of thought would have been all but incomprehensible to nearly half the population of Somalia (average IQ 68). Yet the nations of Europe and North America are being flooded with millions of unvetted Somalian refugees who are not (initially) kept in cages despite what appears to be the world's highest rate of violent crime. Obviously, this raises a question: Why is Western Civilization not admitting gorillas? They too are from Africa, and probably have a group mean IQ at least equal to that of Somalia. In addition, they have peaceful and environmentally friendly cultures, commit far less violent crime than Somalians, and with minor modifications to Western education systems, can easily be taught to use language. Why are these gentle creatures, who have been threatened with genocide for decades, not being taken in by Western nations as refugees despite the indisputable fact that they are teetering on the edge of extinction in their homelands? Can this be called humane or compassionate? What on Earth is going on here?"

Now that, dear reader, is batshit insane.

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Elton Braun and John Adam Gosham have a combined IQ of 195. 

Image attribution: This image is a composite of two images. The Langan part is by Ben David [CC BY-SA 2.0  (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. The bat part is originally by Oren Peles; Derivative work by User MathKnight [CC BY 2.5  (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons.