My Erdos-Bacon-Sabbath Number

Time for a little frivolity in the New Year! I recently found out about the Erdos-Bacon-Sabbath project. I am sure most of you have heard of the Bacon number. You may also know about the Erdos number which is similar except it deals with whether you have co-authored a paper with someone who co-authored a paper, with someone who co authoered with the mathematician Paul Erdos. And then there is the Sabbath number which is much the same but uses members of Black Sabbath. Some people have Erdos-Bacon numbers, but very few (apparently) have Erdos-Bacon-Sabbath numbers.

Well I am here to tell the world that I am one of them!

Erdos Number– I recently co-authored a paper with Pete Mandik (Erdos #=6) which puts me at 7 (incidentally we will be presenting it at the Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology in February, and it will be forthcoming in Philosophical Topics).

Bacon Number– This one is a bit trickier. I was in (the background of) an episode of Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, which featured David Chalmers. Morgan Freeman has a Bacon number of 1.He did not actually come out to the shooting, but he did say ‘New York Consciousness Collective’, if this counts that would put my Bacon number at 2.

I think that is pretty good but for the picky there is an alternate, perhaps more embarrassing, route. Some of you may know that my wife and I appeared in episode 2 of Fly Girls (Jen’s sister Farrah Williams was one of the Fly Girls). In that episode Sir Richard Branson himself had a cameo, and his Bacon number is 2, which would put mine at 3. In what follows I’ll use 2 unless someone objects.

Sabbath Number– Way back in the 1990’s I used to live in San Luis Obispo Ca, and would occasionally play with the Shival Experience when they needed someone to sub for their regular drummer. In total I think I must have sat in for 3 shows, though I can’t recall for sure. Way before I ever met Shival he recorded an album with Babatunde Olatunji, the world renowned percussionist, and featured Carlos Santana, who has a Sabbath number of 6 (due to Brad Wilk playing on their new album ’13’). That put’s Shival’s at 7 and mine at 8.

Sadly no recordings from that era exist (to my knowledge), and it would be nice to have it all based on recordings. And there is a longer route that is based on recordings. Way back in the old days I played with Jonathan Boyle in Cannibalistic Mutilation. Jonathan played in Charlie Christ with Erik Lindmark. Erik is the founding member of Deeds of Flesh (actually I once tried out for Deeds of Flesh and so have played with Erik but since there is no recording I am not counting that), which now has Erlend Caspersen on bass. Erlend has done session work with Decrepit Birth , which now has Derek Boyer on bass, and who has a Sabbath number of 11. That would put my Sabbath number at 15.

Adding it all up I get an EBS of 7+2+8=17 (or 24 for the death metal route). Same as Thomas Edison!

Plus anyone involved in the New York Consciousness Collective now has a Sabbath number of 9 (or 16) and if they already have an Erdos-Bacon number they’re in! For instance, I know David Chalmers has an Erdos number of 5, and if the Morgan Freeman connection works, a Bacon number of 2, which would give him an EBS number of 16. One better than mine! Now if only my co-authors/bandmates Pete Mandik (from whom I get my Erdos number) and Hakwan Lau (Erdos number 8 because of our co-authored paper) had a Bacon number! Anyone know of anyone else, or better connections?

Ok, now back to work…


Here is some video from the Fly Girls!


Cosmology, Consciousness, and Computation


In the Spring semester I hope to be teaching a course at LaGuardia called ‘science, humanism and technology’ (the Liberal Arts capstone course). The idea of the course is to explore the ways in which science and technology can hinder and help human civilization. I have been thinking that it would be cool to have the class focus on physics, philosophy of mind and computation. We would start with a conceptual overview of physics/philosophy of physics (including cosmology). This would include a brief introduction to the history of physics, going to Newton, the basics of relativity theory, quantuun mechanics and issues surrounding string theory. We could then look at the debate in cosmology about the origin of the universe and cosmological arguments for the existence of God. With that as background we would then go into the debate about the metaphysics of consciousness and other issues in the philosophy of mind. That would naturally lead us to a discussion about the nature of computation and the debate about artificial intelligence and consciousness. From there we could talk about issues in transhumanism, the simulation argument, and the Singularity. Of course I have to work out the details and weekly schedule, but this is just a rough idea of what I am thinking about doing.

I want the course material to be accessible (this is for undergraduates) and mainly online (there will be a couple of books I will require but I haven’t decided yet). I have started to compile a list of them, below, but I am wondering what anyone else might think would be useful for a course like this. I have until March (our semesters start late) so any suggestions would be great!

I. Physics

II. Cosmology

III. Philosophy of Mind

IV. Transhumanism

V. Computation

VI. Simulation Argument

VII. The Singularity

cfp: Fifth Online Consciousness Conference

UPDATE: The deadline is fast approaching!

I am pleased to announce the call for papers for the Fifth Online Consciousness Conference, which is scheduled for February 15-March 1, 2013.

Invited talk by Daniel C. Dennett, Tufts University

Special Session on Self-Consciousness organized by John Schwenkler, Mount St. Mary’s University. Invited participants include Katja Crone and Joel Smith. This session will also include two submitted talks by graduate students or recent PhDs. If you want your paper to be considered specifically for this special session please indicate so in your submission email.

Papers in any area of consciousness studies are welcome (construed widely so as to include philosophy of mind and philosophy of cognitive science, as well as the cognitive sciences) and should be roughly 3,000-4,000 words. Submissions made suitable for blind review should be sent to by January 5th 2013.

For papers that are accepted, an audio/visual presentation (e.g. narrated powerpoint or video of talk) is strongly encouraged but not required.

Program Committee:
Richard Brown
David Chalmers
Adam Pautz
Susanna Siegel

For more information visit the conference website at

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