Qualia are a Critical Part of Consciousness
Traditional physical sciences are all about cause and effect or behavioral properties of nature. An example being, the surface of the strawberry has a property in that it reflects 700nm (red) light. Science already knows plenty about such behavioral properties.
We could call such a causal property, "traditional red", and such properties are the initial cause of the perception process. The final result of the perception process is our knowledge of such. It is critically important that we clearly distinguish between these two very different things and talk of them unambiguously. Our mind uses qualia to consciously represent such information. This phenomenal knowledge could be called 'phenomenal red'. There is 'traditional red', which initiates the perception process, and there is also 'phenomenal red' which is the final result of or our knowledge of such.
There is an important categorical difference between the natures of these two types of properties and what we know about them. With one, all we know is causally downstream abstracted representations of its behavior, while with the other, we know firsthand what it is fundamentally and phenomenally like.
Traditional cause and effect scientific observation is, by design, abstracting. Though the pattern of 700nm light reflected off of the strawberry abstractly represents the properties of the surface of the strawberry, the light is not fundamentally or phenomenally like it. The 700nm light is merely abstractly representing its referent. What such abstracted information is represented by, is, by design, unimportant. The only important thing is how do we abstractly interpret such representations.
Such abstracted 'red' information can, by design, transition through any number of intermediate drastically different fundamental representations. All such downstream abstract representations are similar in this way. It doesn't matter what the red information is represented by, as long as we correctly interpret it, or map it back to the original. All of our abstracting cause and effect based observation senses, scientific tools, and computational devices work in this same abstracting detecting way. By design, it doesn't matter what the information is represented by - only the interpretation of such is all that is important.
Our phenomenal knowledge of red is categorically different than all such abstracted information in a critically important way. What it is fundamentally represented by, and what it is phenomenally like, is all important. Though most anything can easily detect, observe, or abstractly represent such, in order to know the true meanings of such abstracted representations, you must map the representations back to the original.
One theoretically possible way of doing this mapping back to the original is sometimes referred to as 'effing the ineffable' (as in "Oh THAT is what salt tastes like!") and is described in the Consciousness is Representational and Real
camp on the best theories of consciousness topic.
Because of this 'blind' nature of abstracted representations and any cause and effect based observation, it is entirely possible that nuts and bolts researchers could continue the fantastic success they are having telling us how all stuff in our brain behaves. They could continue to come up with complete abstracted models that perfectly describe just how we behave. Though such would surely be very valuable information, it would still be completely missing the true and fundamental meaning of what it is like to be conscious. And of course, once you ask such abstract models, what phenomenal red is like for them, the best they will be able to do is to lie, since by design, abstract models don't care what their knowledge is represented with.
We believe that as long as the nuts and bolts neural investigators only consider abstract representations of the stuff in the brain, they will remain blind to, and continue to miss what we believe could become the greatest scientific discovery of all time.
Until the nuts and bolts researchers investigating how the brain works fully realize there is something more than the abstract they need to look for (qualia); until they know where to look for it (in the brain, not on the surface of the strawberry), and how (effing the ineffable) they will continue to miss what we believe could be the greatest scientific discovery of all time. We believe there is a good chance someone already has enough scientific knowledge to make this discovery, or is at least very close to it, if they could just fully realize what it is we should be looking for, where to look for it, and how. All that might be required is for some nuts and bolts researcher that already understand enough about how neurons work, to realize what they should be looking for, where and how to finally see and say something like: 'There it is, it was there all along, I just didn't realize what, where, and how to look for it.'
You certainly can't find something you are not looking for - even if it happens to be sitting right in front of you. So we believe it is critically important that the what, where, and how of qualia be included as a critical part of what is being discussed at any scientific conference, discussion, or consideration of what it means, and most importantly, what it is fundamentally and phenomenally like to be conscious.
Rewrite with goal of unifying YES camp.