OPEN DISCUSSION OCTOBER 2019

Oct 1, 2019

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83 comments on “OPEN DISCUSSION OCTOBER 2019

  • The October open discussion thread is now open.

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  • Oct 1, 2019 at 2:56 pm
    38
    Chrystyna Zawinska says:

    How evolution could create sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste. How did evolution know that taste receptors were supposed to be on the tongue. How did she create the perfect eyes: they transmit light, they have no blemishes or other obstacles, they can focus?
    And how does a bee know that it must dust the flower. And from the flower fruits are formed.

    I have taken the liberty of moving your comment to the correct open discussion thread for the month of October.

     

    All of your questions are interesting. All of them have answers in science.

    What I’d like to know first is – what books, articles and documentaries have you consulted to discover the answers to the questions you posed above?

    Would you like to take those questions one at a time with us? We could start by suggesting some reading for you and then we could meet back here and discuss the ideas.

  • Hi, Chrystyna. Welcome.

     

    Just a few observations before digging into details (when I have more time).

    Taste receptors, for example, are not “supposed to be” anywhere. Nothing is designed to be specifically like we see it. Evolution changes things to improve reproductive fitness and that means simply better surviving to reproduce and create robust off spring and it will continue changing as the eco-system around it changes. In our evolutionary past, for instance as a much simpler animal like a sea squirt in the oceans, taste receptors (chemical detectors of different sorts) would have existed simply on a surface patch of skin and would have directly triggered a muscle to draw that passing current of water inwards to have the nutrients, so detected, filtered and absorbed.

    When you study evolution in animals we see good tricks like chemical detectors, light detectors, re-used in later adaptions. Some tricks, like eyes, are so good they get invented and evolved from scratch again and again.

    Eyes cannot be complicated to start because simple animals have only a cluster of neurons, nothing like our clever brain. All early animals in the shallows of the oceans needed were simple light dark detectors (ocelli, light sensitive patches of skin) to detect an overhead shadow and “know” to keep still, as it might be a predator able to detect the sound/vibration of its feeding. “Knowing” before brains meant those that happened to keep still with a shadow detected better survived and reproduced. But equally those too nervous and stopping feeding at the wrong kind of light level change (say brief  changes from animals too small to be a threat) would have survived less well because of the long periods of not feeding. Now such an animal that had a few extra neurons might be able to distinguish longer and shorter duration shadows and be able to optimise feeding in the occasional presence of threat, better survive and more prolifically reproduce. Eyes became more sophisticated in concert with more sophisticated brains and behaviours.

     

    Our eyes are far from perfect, though they are impressive. Other animals can see finer detail, smaller movements, different colours, lower light levels, even magnetic fields! Evolution gives us only what we needed in the recent past and then only just enough to reduce the evolutionary selection pressure below the level of other pressures. We could have all the animal kingdoms super powers but the energetic cost, the amount of energy we’d need to support these things especially in the power hungry brain need to apprehend all this extra sensory data, would keep us looking for food beyond the power of ecosystems to support, making us hugely more vulnerable to any downturn, or competition, or uptick in predation.

    What we excel at is not our senses but our use of those senses. Having the biggest brain in general purpose computing capacity, allows us to bind those coincident senses together and also model what we expect to sense and most efficiently detect the nature of threats, and by the same capacities plan how to be the most effectively threatening.

    Next time, co-evolution, symbiosis, parasitism, the predator/prey arms race. Or questions? Report abuse

  • How evolution could create sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste. How did evolution know that taste receptors were supposed to be on the tongue. How did she create the perfect eyes: they transmit light, they have no blemishes or other obstacles, they can focus?
    And how does a bee know that it must dust the flower. And from the flower fruits are formed.

    Evolution is a process. It doesn’t DO anything, it is something that happens over time.  There is no thought or planning behind it.  So Evolution doesn’t “know” anything, either.

    There are lots of different kinds of eyes and each kind is “perfect” for the use to which the organism puts it.  Flies have compound eyes and they see in entirely different ways than we do.  They need to be aware of different environmental happenings than humans do.  For one thing, no giant hands come out of the sky to swat humans, but that happens to flies all the time, so their compound eyes are far more sensitive to movement than our human eyes are, and the scope of their vision is much wider, nearly 360 degrees in fact.  They need to see behind themselves to be safe.  Tails, hands, tongues, branches, leaves, there are a lot of ways a fly can get smashed if it can’t see and react quickly enough to something that’s about to smoosh it.  So flies that could see and react to such dangers were more likely to survive and have more offspring to whom they pass on their traits than flies that can’t see or react quickly enough.  Over time, there are more flies born with the “new, improved” eye structures and the older form dies out.  But they can’t focus at all.

    Cats, whose eye structure is more like ours on the surface at least, are more sensitive to movement (in different ways from the flies hence a different eye structure is most efficient for them) because they need to hunt small prey.  When they can see and react to movements in the underbrush and grass as quickly as possible, they eat better.  That means they are more healthy, live longer, and successfully have and raise more progeny than other cats that can’t see movement and react to it as quickly.  Cats can see some colors but don’t see shades of red.  The colors they do see, doubtless look different to them than they do to us.  Many birds have a wider range of color vision than humans, hence the brightly colored plumage that is attractive to others of their species for purposes of finding a mate and judging the health of that mate.

    A sense of taste is held in common by nearly all animals, but there is great difference in the types of receptors (“taste buds”), what they sense, and even where they are located.  The animal with the most taste buds is the catfish, with over 100,000 taste buds that are located not only inside its mouth, but on its whiskers and all over its body.  These chemical receptors help the catfish to find food in the dense, dark, muddy waters where it lives.  These receptors do not react (“taste”) the same things we do – we would find most of a catfish’s diet disgusting.  But by being sensitive to various chemicals that the critters it is hunting release, a catfish can find food in an environment where its eyes are of little use.

    Cats have taste buds too, but they cannot taste sweet things.  Cats are obligate carnivores – they are “obliged” to eat meat.  There is no purpose – no evolutionary advantage – to being able to taste sweet things, as there is for humans.  If the ability to taste sweets arises in members of the feline species, it confers no advantage, so the trait gains no foothold in that species.  So it “dies out” every time it arises.  If you see your cat licking up ice cream, it is the fat in the ice cream they are tasting, not the sugar.  Since they are obligate carnivores, being able to taste and prefer the flavors of fats and meat is an adaptive trait that helps them find the right kinds of food for survival.

    Humans, on the other hand, have historically struggled mightily to find enough food, and particularly enough proteins for our relatively large brains, so the extra calories in honey and fruits helped early hominids to survive and fill out their caloric needs.  Hence “liking” sweets was an adaptive feature.  Hominids who developed the ability to taste sweet things and sought them out had an evolutionary advantage over hominids that did not.  Likewise, hominids that sought out and ate meat had an evolutionary advantage over hominids that did not because proteins are needed for the proper development and functioning of the larger brains we were gradually developing, especially during our increasingly extended childhoods.  And here is the evolutionary reason for THAT:

    Our brains became so large that our children had to be born long before their brains are fully developed, or their heads wouldn’t fit through their mother’s birth canal. Most other animals are born able to walk and communicate relatively rapidly.  Herd animals such as deer and horses have offspring that are up on their feet and moving around in minutes, so they can run away from predators who would be attracted by the smell of blood from the birth.  Predators such as felines may be born blind and it may be a few days to a few weeks before their eyes are open, because they are NOT subject to predation so there is no real evolutionary advantage to being up and on the go within minutes.

    But in early hominids, mothers that carried babies for longer periods risked not being able to get their big brained children with their larger heads out the birth canal, so mother and baby were at more risk for stillbirths and incomplete deliveries.  Whereas a hominid mother who birthed the offspring a little earlier, while the head was smaller, were less likely to experience problems during delivery, and so had an evolutionary advantage, were more likely to have more and more healthy offspring and to be in better shape and better able to care for her new offspring after birth.  So human children are born very small and long before their brains are fully developed.  The small size makes it easier both for birth and for the mother to be able to carry the baby off and away from danger.

    Another reason that eating meat – which early hominids only did rarely (and most primates today do also eat meat, though not the way humans do, though chimpanzees?  I think it is? have actually been observed hunting) is adaptive for a hominid such as ourselves is that there is a high concentration of salt in meat.  It was one way for us to supplement our diets with salt, as we moved around and not all parts of the globe have easy-to-get-at salt deposits.  So our hominid ancestors who ate more meat, in environments where salt was not readily available, were healthier than their compatriots that did not eat meat.  The ability to get salt from meat also meant that those hominids with that trait were able to inhabit areas that their non-meat eating compatriots could not survive – another ecological advantage.  Often being able to move out of an area and live elsewhere (not being tied to a shoreline or an area with accessible salt deposits) was the difference between survival and extinction, due to droughts or climate changes or catastrophes such as flooding or volcanic eruptions that might make an area uninhabitable for a long time.

    Bees and other pollinators (there are many, and they are not all bees – there are wasps, flies, and many other insects that act as pollinators, even some animals such as hummingbirds) developed AFTER plant life on earth developed flower-like structures.  This is a system that developed in tandem, plants evolved bigger, showier, and smellier flowers and similar structures to better attract pollinators, and pollinators that could better locate flowers (they are after the nectar in the flowers and the pollination happens more or less “by accident) survived and procreated better because they could find food more easily.  Plants that attracted more pollinators had more offspring, and pollinators that could more easily and more often find the plants that provide their food had more offspring.

    This process took millions of years before flowering plants became common because it takes time for a more complicated system like this that involves two or more species developing in tandem.  First the early flowerlike structure had to arise in a plant, then an insect needed to be nearby and stumble across that flower.  It most likely arose and fell many times before these changes began to spread and become self-supporting.

    There are lots of false starts and blind alleys in evolution, because it is NOT guided, it just happens.  Sometimes a feature arises in an organism that confers no advantage nor does it cause a disadvantage, and that feature may become ensconced in the genome anyway.  Nothing selects for it but nothing selects against it either but it sticks anyway.  Doesn’t help, but doesn’t harm.  Remember, evolution is just CHANGE.  It is not always change for the BETTER.  An organism can develop a trait that makes it HARDER to survive as well as easier, and actually probably more often than not, new traits have no effect at all and may or may not stick anyway.

    Not all plants need a pollinator because they evolved using OTHER methods of pollination and seed dispersal.  Some weeds develop burrs and stickers that make their seed stick to the coats of passing animals and their seed is disseminated that way. Corn is an example of a plant that relies on the wind to blow its pollen to other nearby plants to achieve pollination.  There is no one solution to any of these problems and thus many many different organisms have evolved in different ways, depending on the conditions of the environment.

    Sometimes a trait dies out because it is no longer adaptive.  There are species of moths that originally adapted to hide on the bark of trees, so they had dark mottled coloring.  Then humans started building homes in cities and using light colored stone, or paint, so moths in cities that lacked the pigment that made them dark suddenly had an evolutionary advantage – a light colored moth on a light colored background is harder to see, harder for predators to see, where the dark colored moth can be easily seen.  So pretty quickly in this case (because the moth reproductive cycle is pretty short for one thing), the dark colored moths died out and the light colored moths became the norm.

    Then humans started heating their homes with coal and charcoal and structures quickly became coated with dark soot.  Now the light colored moths were more easily seen, and the moth coloring reverted to dark, mottled colorings that made it easier for the moths to hide – the population reverted to its previous coloring.

    So a trait doesn’t have to be permanent once it is in a population, it can at any time (depending on environmental conditions) be lost, if it is no longer useful and especially if it becomes harmful.  If an organism cannot react quickly enough to changing conditions, that organism dies out.  Hence the mass extinctions that occur after worldwide disasters such as comet strikes and large volcanic eruptions.

    Pollen is a gamete, like sperm and eggs for humans, that needs to make its way to the ovaries of other plants (which is where the seeds are formed).  Here is a diagram of the reproductive structures for a typical flower:

    https://image.shutterstock.com/z/stock-vector-illustration-showing-the-parts-of-a-flower-141162013.jpg

    Plants may be self-fertile (eg they can pollinate themselves), cross-fertile (they must be pollinated by a different plant) or sometimes both.  Different ecological advantages are conferred by each strategy, and what is an advantage in one environment may be a disadvantage in another.  Again – no one solution for any problem in life and survival.

    In general, cross-fertilization confers many advantages over self-fertilization.  If a plant ONLY self-fertilizes, it cannot incorporate new genes into its offspring and therefore may miss out on adaptive traits developed in nearby plants of the same sort.  On the other hand, where vegetation is sparse and widely distributed (such as in a desert), depending on cross-fertilization may mean the plant sets no new seed at all in a given season if nobody happens by to fertilize the plant with pollen from a distant member of the same species.  So what is helpful in one case is harmful in another.

    Bees by and large are most helpful to plants that are dioecious (eg a given member of that species is either male and produces only pollen or female and produces only ova/seed) or monoecious (a flower on an individual plant produces both pollen and ova/seed) but that have developed traits that enforce cross rather than self fertilization.  One such strategy is to have the pollen and ova “ripen” at different times, so that when a bee or other pollinator alight on a flower with mature pollen, the ova on that particular flower are not yet “ripe” eg cannot receive that pollen.  The pollen that sticks to the bee’s legs while it roots around for nectar is then carried off to another plant and only if the bee alights on the flower of a plant of that species whose ova are “ripe” (eg able to receive pollen) will the pollen successfully enter and fertilize the ova/seed.  When the ova are ripe, the pollen is not, and vice versa.  So that most pollination will only occur between different plants.

    There are other ways to solve that problem as well, and some plants seem to do fine self-fertilizing, it just depends on the environment how much of an advantage a different trait may (or may not) confer.  Other plants don’t rely on fertilization at all, or not much, and spread by creating new bulbs or corms, or by sending out runners, so that all new plants created in that way are clones of the parent plant.  Some plants spread both by self-cloning AND setting seed.

    Nature is wonderful and varied, there’s always something surprising and different to be found.  But there is no guiding intelligence, all evolution arises out of interactions between the creature/plant and the environment.  The “environment” includes weather patterns, temperature ranges, other creatures and plants that survive in the area, the amount of light available (such as in a deep canyon or cave that gets little light vs a hilltop or plain with few trees where there is lots of light, and day length which varies depending on distance from the equator).  Predation is also a factor, and plants are “prey” for herbivores as one animal or insect may be prey to another.  Some plants even prey on insects and small mammals (such as the Venus Flytrap).

      Report abuse

  • Addendum to the encyclopedia I already wrote:  WHY FRUIT?

    Fruit is a carrier, a dissemination strategy, for seed, and enhances survivability by spreading the seed sometimes considerable distances from the parent plant.  Good for the child and parent both because such dissemination means the child plant doesn’t have to compete with the parent plant for the same resources.  Spreading out across greater distances means local occurrences such as a forest fire or flood are less likely to kill every member of a species.

    When an animal eats a fruit, it often ingests the seeds as well, and then “poops them out” much later and at some distance from the parent plant, in a perfect little plop of fertilizer to help establish a new seedling even better.  Some seeds have even developed thick coatings that allow the seed to better survive its trip through the gut, and even HAVE to pass through the gut of an animal to remove this coating.  Again, no planning here – it happens randomly and is more likely to persist if it is helpful to survival of the organism.  Fruit is adaptive for both the plant and the animal, since the fruit provides calories, vitamins, and minerals needed by the animal for its better survival.

    Fruits that are more nutritious for an organism enhance that organisms ability to survive and procreate, and the more an organism seeks a fruit out, the more often and more widely the seed of that plant will be disseminated.  Fruits that are not palatable don’t get eaten as often.  And there are some instances where NOT having its fruit eaten is more adaptive in certain situations, so there are plants that have developed unpalatable or even poisonous fruits.  Whatever helps is more likely to stick; whatever harms is more likely to disappear (or cause the extinction of a species).

    So not all seed distribution strategies are good for everyone concerned, and some are dangerous (poison) or annoying to an animal, such as burrs that are uncomfortable or even painful to the creature that gets stuck with one, but nevertheless helpful to the plant since an animal will do its best to rid itself of the seed (and then it can sprout and grow in the new location).  Not all strategies for survival are mutually helpful. Report abuse

  • I’ve sometimes wondered whether evolution by natural selection might be expressed in the broadest possible sense as the principle that complexity emerges be cause well-ordered systems are better at propagating themselves. But then, one might ask, why should this necessarily be the case? Surely the sheer robustness and explanatory power of the theory means that it is not merely tautological. I want to make it clear that I’m not presenting a version of the teleological argument that simply happens to be “one node removed;” rather I am hoping to contribute another layer of depth to the discussion. Report abuse

  • I found the post just before mine fascinating. I will try my best to paraphrase the idea being presented in it to check my understanding, but anyone please feel free to correct me if I am misinterpreting part or all of it. Is the idea essentially that a concatenation of mutations–some of which if isolated would be disadvantageous to the organism–can develop latently without harm to the organism until all the mutations together give the organism an evolutionary advantage? Sorry, by the way, the above sentence  was a much, much wordier way of saying the same thing as the aforementioned post, but hopefully the sentence is at least factually accurate. Report abuse

  • Dear Professor Dawkins,

    I was very interested to read about your interview by New Scientist, published in its issue of 21 September.

    In particular, I was interested by your statement that we need some kind of explanation for the fact that religion is such a ubiquitous phenomenon all over the world.

    I am writing in order to put forward a possible explanation.

    Although brought up as a Roman Catholic, I rejected this religion as a teenager and read physics at university, looking for a rational view of the universe.  Some years later, I studied the historical accounts of mystics, and contemporary accounts of near death experiences [NDEs] looking for a scientific or rational explanation for the religious experiences and practices which seemed to have caused so much damage to my family’s lives.  The answer which I found at that time might explain why religions persist in an otherwise largely rational age.

    As you know, the core religious experience [RE] consists of an ineffable experience in which everything is felt as being ‘one’; that the subject and the universe meld together.  Love, acceptance and compassion are felt to an extraordinary extent.  In one variation, the near death experience, the subject passes through a tunnel, which may be dark, to a bright light.  There may be people, or beings in the light.  The faces of the people may or may not be clearly visible but they are usually very welcoming.  Hands may reach out to the subject.  Some people are aware of a cord linking them to the body.  There is a barrier beyond which the subject understands that the transition will be irreversible.  For a minority of people, the experience may be hellish rather than blissful.

    These experiences are all compatible with memories of being in the womb and of the time of birth, as interpreted at that time by a child without language, clear concepts or any other experiences with which to compare them.  

    Religious experience and the core NDEs are neither hallucinations nor dreams but real memories of real events; of being in the womb and of being born into the light.  These memories are the most fundamental we have, and have huge, overwhelming, emotional impact for us.  Like being in love, they are utterly convincing.  Later, the child may be invited by religions to relive those memories and to impose false interpretations upon them, dependant upon the local religious culture.  

    These experiences are potentially available for all humans regardless of geography, historical era, race or culture.

    If we are capable of remembering our time in the womb or our birth, then why is it that so few of us do so under normal circumstances?  Accounts of the lives of mystics show that evolutionary forces would select strongly against these memories being available.  Mystics rarely have children.  Once people have experienced anything approaching ‘enlightenment,’ typically they spend the rest of their lives trying to recreate the experience, neglecting all other activities and responsibilities. 

    Why, then, do people have access to these memories when they are near to death or under other great stress?  Dr Sam Parnia, a critical care physician, gave the explanation to this when he wrote in his book The Lazarus Effect that, in his experience, amongst people who have come close to death, those who have NDEs tend to do better, medically, than people who do not experience them.  If this is generally the case, evolutionary forces would act in the opposite direction to unblock access to birth memories during extreme stress.  I expect that access to the birth memory limits stress and fear, preventing people from sinking into depression and giving up the will to live. Many NDEs convince their subjects that there is a purpose to their lives which they have yet to fulfil.

    Even people who have only experienced a muted version of RE will often devote considerable time and resources towards developing the experience and trying to understanding it. But the fact that religions are found throughout human culture suggests that this lesser type of experience is very widespread and that the psychological comfort and practical support systems which religion provides exceed its cost in evolutionary terms – as long as the chances of enlightenment remain vanishingly low.  One might speculate that a religion which produced enlightenment in its adherents quickly and reliably would rapidly vanish without trace. 

    The standard method of bringing about religious experience is to banish as far as possible all conscious thoughts and all sensory experience. There may be fasting, immobility, such as Zen sitting, or limited repetitive movements and a restricted, often dark, environment such as a cell or a cave. This, itself, can be seen as an attempt to return to the conditions in the womb.  In the absence of external stimuli, the brain is perhaps more likely to recall its previous experiences under such womb-like conditions – its very oldest memories. 

    In his book, Consciousness Beyond Life, Pim van Lommel, referred briefly to the idea that NDEs might be ante-natal memories but then dismissed it in a few lines on what I consider to be a false premise that the brain is believed to be insufficiently developed at birth to allow for birth to be remembered.  It seems clear that there is now considerable evidence that the foetus can learn while in the womb, and this strongly suggests the formation of memories. 

    “We now know that the unborn child is an aware, reacting human being who from the sixth month on (and perhaps even earlier) leads an active emotional life.  Along with this startling finding we have made these discoveries:

    The foetus can see, hear, experience, taste and, on a primitive level, even learn in utero (that is, in the uterus). Most importantly, he can feel – not with an adult’s sophistication, but feel nonetheless.
    A corollary to this discovery is that what a child feels and perceives begins shaping his attitudes and expectations about himself.  Whether he ultimately sees himself and, hence, acts as a happy or sad, aggressive or meek, secure or anxiety-ridden person depends, in part, on the messages he gets about himself in the womb.
    The chief source of those shaping messages is the child’s mother. This does not mean every fleeting worry, doubt or anxiety a woman has rebounds on her child.  What matters are deep persistent patterns of feeling.  Chronic anxiety or a wrenching ambivalence about motherhood can leave a deep scar on an unborn child’s personality.  On the other hand, such life-enhancing emotions as joy, elation and anticipation can contribute significantly to the emotional development of a healthy child.” 

    [Dr Thomas Verny & John Kelly The Secret Life of the Unborn Child, Foreword]  

    Emotions pass from mother to unborn child, most obviously when the mother is distressed.  More  typically these will be love and acceptance.  People remembering this find the love and acceptance overwhelming and impossible to describe adequately in words – at the time, the child had no words or clearly formed concepts.  The experience of consciousness in the womb forms the basis for the concept of eternity. 

    At the antipodes of the mind, we are more or less completely free of language, outside the system of conceptual thought.  Consequently our perception of visionary objects possesses all the freshness, all the naked intensity, of experiences which have never been verbalized, never assimilated to lifeless abstractions.  Their colour (that hallmark of givenness) shines forth with a brilliance which seems to us praeternatural, because it is in fact entirely natural – entirely natural in the sense of being entirely unsophisticated by language or the scientific, philosophical and utilitarian notions, by means of which we ordinarily re-create the given world in our own drearily human image.”  [Huxley, Heaven and Hell  p 75]

    NDEs and REs are usually positive – as would be womb experiences – but where the mother feels fear, anguish and despair, these emotions will presumably also be transferred to the child – to a child who is too young and inexperienced to put these experiences into any sort of context and so is extraordinarily vulnerable.  According to Verny and Kelly, even a mother’s smoking habit can thrust a child into a chronic state of uncertainty and fear, as smoking lowers the oxygen content of the maternal blood passing across the placenta.  The minority of negative experiences is thus explained.

    “When the visionary experience is terrible and the world is transfigured for the worse, individualization is intensified and the negative visionary finds himself associated with a body that seems to grow progressively more dense, more tightly packed, until he finds himself at last reduced to being the agonized consciousness of an inspissated lump of matter, no bigger than a stone that can be held between the hands.” [Huxley, Heaven and Hell p 108]   

    This sounds to me very like a memory of a distressing time in the womb or birth canal.  There are many references in accounts of NDEs to hands/ pincers/ devils dragging the subject down and these may relate to the process of birth and perhaps the use of forceps.

    Similar distress can be experienced by people practising meditation or mindfulness.  An article in New Scientist [Panic, depression and stress: The case against meditation 13 May 2015] referred to  profoundly adverse effects (including twitching, trembling, panic, disorientation, hallucinations, terror, depression, mania and psychotic breakdown) resulting from meditation for 7% of people on meditation retreats according to David Shapiro of the University of California. 

    “Negative emotions – the fear which is the absence of confidence, the hatred, anger or malice which exclude love – are the guarantee that visionary experience, if and when it comes, shall be appalling.” [Huxley, Heaven and Hell p 109]  

    According to Verny and Kelly, the foetus is sensitive to light from the sixteenth week in utero and his heartbeat will fluctuate dramatically if a torchlight is shone on the mother’s stomach.  Although some light may reach the womb if the mother sunbathes, in most traditional cultures the child is unlikely to experience light until he reaches the birth canal.  This may well be perceived as a light at the end of a dark tunnel (or a tunnel with glistening sides), towards which the child is propelled.  Even where there is a caesarian section, the child will travel into the light, although the theatre lights will presumably be strong enough to illuminate the womb with a reddish light before birth. 

    Figures seen in the light into which the child first emerges on birth may well be endowed by the child with god-like or angelic significance.  These are the first beings whom the child has ever seen, even though he may have sensed the presence of ‘others’ for some months.  He has only 20/500 vision, according to Verny and Kelly, and cannot focus clearly on faces which are not close to his own.  These faces may then be remembered during a RE as unclear or shrouded in mist.

    The first experience of light may occasionally be that a reddish light may reach the womb.  I have read an account of a RE (although I have been unable recently to locate it) in which a man, while travelling in a taxi, experienced being bathed in a warm red light like flame, but which did not burn him and this sounds very much like light reaching the foetus in the womb.  Otherwise, the first experience of light will be in the birth canal.  RE subjects report the beauty and novelty of the colours they see and this may be a memory of being enraptured by their first perception of colour after being born.  Indeed every object seen may be endowed with heightened visual significance, just as perceived by a new-born.

    Many accounts of REs refer to seeing people, beings or objects which seem to shine from within.  A newborn infant knows nothing of the nature of light; of light sources, shadow and reflection.  Any object seen in light might well be assumed to be creating its own light until the baby eventually makes the necessary logical inferences, and this may well be some considerable time after birth.

    REs report floating and also physical constriction – I couldn’t turn my head – I couldn’t move my legs.  Floating would be a memory of being in the womb while physical constriction would be a memory of the birth canal.

    The cord which may link the person experiencing an NDE to the body may be a memory of the umbilical cord.

    Some people who have experienced NDEs have reported that they did not consider the needs of their loved ones at all during the experience – and were surprised or embarrassed to admit it to themselves on reflection afterwards.  This would be consistent with being completely immersed in memories from a time when those relationships did not yet exist.

    Huxley in The Doors of Perception (P19) quoted with approval the views of Dr C D Broad. 
     
    “The suggestion is that the function of the brain and nervous system and sense organs is in the main eliminative and not productive.  Each person is at each moment capable of remembering all that has ever happened to him and of perceiving everything that is happening everywhere in the universe.  The function of the brain and nervous system is to protect us from being overwhelmed and confused by this mass of largely useless and irrelevant knowledge, by shutting out most of what we should otherwise perceive or remember at any moment, and leaving only that very small and special selection which is likely to be practically useful.”  

    I would not go as far as to agree that we can perceive everything in the universe, but I strongly agree that the eliminative role of the brain is considerable.  To offer a very simple example, how is is that so many people with both good vision and the motor skills necessary to write by hand are unable to create an accurate drawing of what is in front of them unless the brain is eliminating most of what they see before it reaches their conscious minds?

    According to research on rats reported in New Scientist 3 December 2016 We may be able to tap into our memories from infancy, memory traces from our earliest years might stay in our brains, ready to be reactivated with the right trigger.  Most people have infantile amnesia which means that they cannot remember incidents from the first two or three years of their lives although a great deal of language and motor skills are obviously learned during that period. 

    Alesso Travaglia at New York University found that 17-day-old rats – equivalent to 2 to 3-year-old children – could learn to associate one side of a box with a shock, but the memory would be gone within a day. Older rats could hold onto these memories for several days.

    “However, the team discovered that the right reminder would prompt young rats’ lost memories to resurface. Once the pups had forgotten to associate one side of the box with a shock, Travaglia and his colleagues gave them another shock. “Suddenly they had the memory back,” says Travaglia. This suggests that the memory is still there, just not normally accessible.   “The study … shows that very early memories in mammals are not lost but stored as latent traces that can be recalled later,” Andrii Rudenko and Li-Huei Tsai of MIT wrote in a comment piece published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.  

    I have little difficulty accepting that some people, at least, can remember gestation, birth and early childhood because of my own earliest memories.  All that I can now remember were traumatic, such as the lancing of a painful boil when I was one year old or the chafing of a rubber nappy cover. There will certainly have also been positive early events, but I cannot recall them.  The earliest direct memory which I can date was of being in a cot placed in an alcove in the living room.  I can remember that I was able to sit up but not stand and that the room was decorated with what I would later understand to be Christmas decorations.  As I was born in June, I must have been six months old.  There was a crowd of people standing in the room talking and laughing.  I wanted to join in and started waving my arms at them, bouncing up and down and gurgling.  They all laughed, but I noticed that one of them laughed in a different way, from which I understood, with a shock, that she was to be feared. 

    My other early memory of note is of a recurring nightmare that I had up until the age of 2 or 3  years which, with hindsight, is probably an indirect memory of the moments immediately after I was born.  In the dream, I am lying on my front on a large flat expanse of white and the fact of perceiving distance across this whiteness terrifies me.  I remember my father sympathising with me after having been woken up by my crying and telling me that he, also, had had a recurring nightmare when he was my age, and that he had called his dream “Near and Far.”  I remember concluding at the time that it sounded like the same dream as mine.  I think that this dream was a memory of being placed on a bed or table immediately after birth, my eyes focussing on distance for the first time, and being disorientated and frightened.

    My conclusion is that religions are a ubiquitous phenomenon because ante-natal memories are potentially available to all people in all cultures throughout the world.  It is unfortunate that religions encourage false interpretations to be placed upon these experiences, but it does explain why adherents, acting in good faith, can be so utterly convinced that they are right, and why they cannot be convinced that their experiences are just imaginary.  Their experiences are real, but their interpretations are not.  

     
    I do not mean to criticise the scientific community when I suggest that scientists might react more constructively to religions by researching and acknowledging the existence of ante-natal memories  in order to explain them to the people who experience them instead of dismissing them as imaginary.
      Report abuse

  • I believe you said that evolution has allowed people near death to access ante-natal memories because people who experience them are more likely to see their condition improve. However, if these people don’t reproduce after having the experience, it would seem that evolution would not favor an adaptation that grants individuals near death access to ante-natal memories. Or, maybe, since people near death are unlikely to reproduce anyway, the adaptation is neutral and thus has been able to be passed down through so many generations. Report abuse

  • Most NDE accounts are obtained from people who have ‘died’ from injuries (including surgery, in the modern world) and often young enough to reproduce. People dying from old age are not generally resuscitated and questioned. Report abuse

  • Hi All. I’ve been gone for a while. This is directed at the Mods and/or any members with knowledge greater than mine in this area. I haven’t been here for a few months but upon my return, now, I see that the comment area is now hideously backlit…or front-lit. I see black text on a deep blue background making it almost impossible for me to read. Is this something in my settings? Surely someone else has had this issue… Report abuse

  • Evolution Knows Physics?

    The eardrum fluctuates under the influence of sound waves and transmits these vibrations to the auditory ossicles of the inner ear.

    Under the pressure of the air coming out of the lungs, the vocal cords converge, stretch and oscillate, causing the voice to appear. Report abuse

  • N Devon says:

    Most NDE accounts are obtained from people who have ‘died’ from injuries (including surgery, in the modern world) and often young enough to reproduce.

    There are various medical conditions which produce what is often described as “near death experiences”.

    https://www.quora.com/As-an-atheist-how-do-you-explain-the-classic-Life-after-death-experiences-in-which-the-person-was-later-revived/answer/Alan-Appleby-4

    The explanations are medical and scientific – so these should be given top consideration rather than any suggestions of credibility for delusional supernatural claims made by the brain-stressed patient or fanciful hangers-on pursuing their own agendas.

    Report abuse

  • Chrystyna,

    Evolution Knows Physics?

    Many words were written above to help you understand a bit about evolution but here you go writing a similarly obtuse statement once again.

    Try to understand that evolution is not a life form. It has no brain and is incapable of any sort of cognition. Evolution cannot “know” physics or anything else for that matter. Relativity cannot “know” the germ theory of disease. Thermodynamics cannot know the Krebs cycle. This makes no sense at all. Stop saying it.

    If you want to participate in discussion then do your own homework and start reading some elementary level science material or at least watch informative videos that are not infected with religious drivel. At least ask questions here that are not simplistic and utterly boring.

    Please up your game forthwith.

     

      Report abuse

  • By the way, since the subject of NDEs came up earlier, would there be anyone interested in discussing various theories in philosophy of mind? I hope this topic falls within the discussion guidelines. Report abuse

  • Evolution IS a product of physics. Yes physics. The drive to complexity and structure emerges from thermodynamics.

    Because our universe is in disequilibrium with huge energy flows from the thorium and uranium fission reactors at the planet’s core and the fusion reactors of every star including our sun, the general increase in chaos, in entropy as we physicists say, that this represents is partially reversed in the creation of little nuggets of order at the very heart of the right level of heat fluxes. Matter organises itself.

     

    Put a pan of water on a hob, set the heat just right and structure appears in the very convection flows of the water. Little hexagonal convection cells like a living crystal form, just big enough to form a sphere, nested in hexagonal arrays. These nuggets of order are of much lower entropy, non-chaotic and they form in effect to actually speed the heat flux itself. It speeds up the winding down of the universe.

     

    Life is exactly a higher level version of this, briefly creating order as the heat from the earth;s core and the heat from the sun pass through into an otherwise wasted oblivion. Evolution is the mechanism by which order is built by thermodynamics, by physics.

     

    Next question, Chrystyna? The evolution of eardrums from vibration sensors? The co-option of jaw bones into mechanical impedance transformers in the ear to improve acoustic coupling. The use of resonant hairs to pick out different frequencies? The application of positive feedback to those hair roots to greatly magnify sensitivity but plague me with tinnitus? The great string of animals at different stages in this development chain showing that different purposes are served for vibration/acoustic sensors depending on their needs? What?

      Report abuse

  • Chrystyna

     

    Here is a biologist talking about physics in the evolution of the mammalian ear and why if taking a physics top down view (teleologically designed to a purpose) some of the physics “choices” made look strange.

    The point is that there is lots of alternative physics that could have been stumbled into and selected by enhanced reproductive fitness, as at least a bit better.

     

    https://acousticstoday.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/The-Mammalian-Ear-Physics-and-the-Principles-of-Evolution.pdf Report abuse

  • Chrystyna ´s wonderings is  the “illusion of design”, she could enance her comphreension of such “illusion” by Reading, Watching the Blind Watchmaker, climbing Mount Improbable, or even to watch Professor Dawkins ´ documentaries and Christmas lectures.

    https://youtu.be/BV2XqYBVLU4

     

  • In particular, I was interested by your statement that we need some kind of explanation for the fact that religion is such a ubiquitous phenomenon all over the world.

    N Devon on comment 9

    I  would like to read your explanation (to see if its biased).

    You ´d need to have comparative knowledge  of all cultures (that ever existed, that´s impossible), you d need to define “religion” in first place.

    You d need to ask why is the use of cell phones , cars of even signs of trafic so “ubiquitous”?

    If as “religion” you are referring to a specific set of supernatural beliefs, why did the RCC established a court to abolish withcraft or heresy? (supernatural beliefs and even to prossecut scientists, why weren t them tolerant to “religious beliefs” of others?  

    In some interview to the Play Boy I think, Prof Dawkins referred to Jay´s Gould´s NOMA, once again, (Non Overlaping Magisteria), which he didn´t agree with, which would be in fact an intrommission into the operational concepts of social sciences and the important concept of “total social fact” (Neil de Grasse Tyson made a reprisal to scientists hiding behind NOMA, what would allow some reputed scientists to be physists and leaders of religious congregations, what was really the case that hapened in Portugal when a well reputed scientist  invoqued NOMA, just as an argument of authority of another reputed scientist Jay Gould).

    Non overlapping magisteria? Really?

      Report abuse

  • Than, there s another problem, Ethnology doesn t use comparative methods, it aims to understand a culture as it is, I m afraid.

    I m not going to study the “science” of amazonian tribes for instances and compare them to rocket science. Why are people so interested in “religion” and not in other cultural aspects? Report abuse

  • Anthropology found its Galileo in Rivers, its Newton in Mauss.
     
    — Claude Lévi-Strauss
     
    Referring to anthropologists W.H.R. Rivers and Marcel Mauss for revolutionizing theories of anthropology. In Structural Anthropology (1958), 159.
     

  • Although brought up as a Roman Catholic, I rejected this religion as a teenager and read physics at university, looking for a rational view of the universe.  Some years later, I studied the historical accounts of mystics, and contemporary accounts of near death experiences [NDEs] looking for a scientific or rational explanation for the religious experiences and practices which seemed to have caused so much damage to my family’s lives.  The answer which I found at that time might explain why religions persist in an otherwise largely rational age.

    N Devon on comment 9

    Hi N Devon,

    People become conditioned by the beliefs where she/he was brought up, if not having a balanced education, the person is even much more vulnerable, perhaps not you that had access to a scientific education and a balanced one so that the same beliefs didn´t affected or conditioned you in the same way.

     

     

    What is perhaps “universal” are cognitive stages, and there s one when we are vulnarable to magical thinking in an early age, as categorized by Piaget.

    https://www.britannica.com/science/magical-thinking

    Perhaps it affects people in distress (as a child that finds herself alone because parents were dead in war draws a parental figure and lays next to it, or the rupestre art that is thought to be magical, hunters depicted their prey not because they were drawing a biological description of animals, but because they thought of a causal connection between the drawing and their intention of hunting the prey, or other causes that triggers this superstious thinking. A dog, as I ve read from an ethologist may be supertious too, when the dog barks at the door its because  is making a superstitious causal connection, if  it barks, someone will appear next side of the door?)

     

     

      Report abuse

  • The baby begins to learn about the world by testing objects with mouth and sensing them, de-connecting the experience with herself/hiself and learning and in balanced way  des-centering . Learning is perhaps creating the right distance between the object of experience (the distance lactant/object), distance that becomes useful in scientific experimentation and rejecting what´s not objective.

    Religion, by the way in it s ethiological sense seems to be there for the opposite reason, it means re-connecting with oneself-or deity, curious isn´t it? (perhaps yoga is good for it, I know this because once I was interested in yoga in my teens). Report abuse

  • Religion doesn’t allow me to “connect with myself” in any way, shape or form. Try looking at how very human religion has been, and how it has brought to the surface the flaws of the human brain. Then it becomes apparent that it is a bunch of made up stories consisting of superstitious nonsense that was invented by primate mammals who thought the world was flat.

    Seriously, some Ockham’s razor, please. Report abuse

  • We all know that animals are more evolved than plants. We also know that there is no shortage of sunlight. Then why the power of photosynthesis was eliminated from animals by natural selection.  If all living beings can prepare his own food then there is no need to kill another living being either it is a plant or an animal. Also there is no need of food chain. Report abuse

  • Seriously, some Ockham’s razor, please.

     

    More, means drawing NOTHING.I m really short in my way of writing, have you noticed that?

    More would be saying NOTHING.

    Can you imagine that?

  • Then it becomes apparent that it is a bunch of made up stories consisting of superstitious nonsense that was invented by primate mammals who thought the world was flat.

    Than it was necessary that the right men that knew how to test the world around them in an objective way to aknowledge that the world was round,  I guess, because the other buch of humans couldn´t think of na objective way to test?

  • There Was a sociologist that categorized “scientists” of two types, one type: those Who Live as IF they are living in an ivory tower, so high that they look At Their human fellows not as equals, but almost as deities, looking from high, and the other type, interested to know about the second de type? Report abuse

  • BH UPADHYAYA

     

    Though I suspect you want to make some moral point, there are answers to your first question.

    First, photosynthesis is notoriously inefficient, typically less than 1% typically.

    Evolution exploits what is available. Moving around, being animate, an animal, frees you to exploit better sources and locations of energy. But it also requires very much more energy than plants need to do the moving.

    A hunter-gatherer may typically expend 100 Watts of power on average through the day, but he will be lucky to intercept as much energy in sunlight on his body at that rate especially in winter, Then at 1% conversion efficiency the energy shortfall if we only photosynthesised would be stark. Eating plants is a great way of getting concentrated solar energy into us. Eating other animals that ate plants concentrated the energy even more.

    Now we can make highly energetic food in entirely other ways. Mycoproteins don’t even need light and are very energy dense. Report abuse

  • The two characters, Prometheus on the first example (sacríficed himself for the love of humanity:

    Pearse English says: September
    Hi Maria, I certainly see the point you raise from the great Carl Sagan. He could be so right. It might take further evolution for the thoughts I have written to materialise or not. Yet when President John F. Kennedy said at the beginning of 1960 ‘s that he envisaged a man on the moon by the decades end he was even looked upon with scepticism by the scientific community at the time. Yet it came to pass. Who knows what our future as a species holds but we have the intelligence to create and make things happen on a monumental scale, when you see what we have done down the centuries from the pyramids to monster aircraft like the Airbus and space travel however much in its infancy. Discoveries can happen quickly yet take time for the seed to fully develop. I am now 60 and as a child would never have even dreamt of being able to own or use a computer! Being able here to share with you all, my some might say, inane thoughts would have to be seen to be believed. The computer developed with the help of  one of my heroes Alan Turing in and around WWII is now with the microchip common in more homes than not. That in just a few short decades. I recall seeing a news clip from the early 90’s I think of sending email by phone and computer by dial up. That was a tedious process yet 10 short years afterwards we couldn’t believe how fast and everyday it has become via broadband and now fiber optics.
    Being able to travel to say Australia from the UK in 24 hours today when only at the beginning of the 20th century took weeks by boat. I’m sure so many other examples exist. So yes maybe Carl Sagan is right and it will be a further evolution that might achieve the thoughts I have. But then given the enormous leaps that we born in the last 100 years have seen, who knows. The next generation will be the most educated that our species has produced given the opportunities to advance and their intellect might show and discover things unimaginable to us. Let us embrace our young, educate them, I’d argue without fees, as they are our future and let us behold their wondrous insight as we did the likes of our scientific heroes today. I am of an age when at 13 in school teachers scorned upon the Big Bang as impossible even. Now it is mainstream scientific fact. So evolution of ideas, thought and species can happen slowly but also quickly. And indeed Carl was a hero to me as are all our free thinking scientists. The future can be bright even with some unbelieving politicians in natural events being affected by us. I live in hope and hope the universe can continue to reveal itself to an intelligence that can interpret it and guide us in what it reveals. That might happen as Carl says slowly but might like John F. Kennedy’s wish and our unfeathered education of our young, maybe faster. Who knows, yet it is truly a wonderful journey and a journey none of us should despair of I feel.

     

    Faust, the second example (sold his soul to the devil and benefited from it):

    Religion doesn’t allow me to “connect with myself” in any way, shape or form. Try looking at how very human religion has been, and how it has brought to the surface the flaws of the human brain. Then it becomes apparent that it is a bunch of made up stories consisting of superstitious nonsense that was invented by primate mammals who thought the world was flat.
    Seriously, some Ockham’s razor, please.

    Comment 34 by Centauri, October

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0160791X84900198

     

     

     

     

     

  • Sorry Centauri, are you a careful learner, have you seen the post with the link for a vídeo I have posted here? What  Were the methological difficulties the anthropologist  referred to concerning The difficultiesf of a definition of religion, The holístic view of Anthropology? The concept of total social fact? Im making my  efforts tô teach, I m serious. Report abuse

  • Hello Stephen of Wimbledon [#19],

    I’ve already begun to perceive your attempts to inject some humor into the conversation. Now, about philosophy of mind, I was going to bring up a rather disturbing thought I had the other day. Many people are instinctively repelled by the idea that certain things they possess immediate access to–e.g., beliefs, desires, perceptions, etc.–constitute nothing. But, if the nature of “nothing” is unknowable, how can one rule out the possibility that the posits of folk psychology referenced above amount to nothing?

    Anyway, the thought I just expressed is probably unpersuasive and full of contradictions. Maybe someone will take the trouble to dismantle it and point out some of the inconsistencies embedded in it for me. Report abuse

  • What s philosophy of mind? I know cognitive Ethology studies The mind of animals, but not all the People think animals have minds, I Believe not only a dog hás a mind but that in some circumstances it can predict what I m going tô do next.
    Observe the observed observer Report abuse

  • In the Philosophy of mind debate, I am a physicalist, monist.

     

    Xanadu (or Justice) is real when it inhabits minds, which it does distinctively, with brain states like thus and so. It is merely latent as topological configurations on a surface or within a volume, a book say, and were there no minds to reflate it into existent brain states, it could not be said to currently exist. The topological configurations could though be said to exist.

     

    Mental stuff is actually physical stuff… which is the real wonder… Report abuse

  • Mental stuff is actually physical stuff… which is the real wonder…

    Pardon me my ignorance, but I don t see it otherwise either, if I get the point.

    When Antonio Damasio thought he could study emotions from  a scientific perspective his collegues thought it was impossible because emotions were subjective and there was no way of studing emotions from an objective scientific perspective, well, nothing could be more wrong, emotions can be  defined now as functions of an organ, as far as the heart pumps blood, some part of the brain “pumps emotions”, and the same kind of emotions are even the same across different species (as far as the heart of a frog, nevertheless different from an elephant, still is an organ that pumps blood. (Marc Bekoff´s description that made it clear for me once for all, in the  book “The Emotional Life of Animals”).

    Even if you don´t think emotions as “objective” stuff,
    well it seems emotions really are objective stuff. Report abuse

  • Dear Professor Dawkins,
    I was very interested to read about your interview by New Scientist, published in its issue of 21 September.
    In particular, I was interested by your statement that we need some kind of explanation for the fact that religion is such a ubiquitous phenomenon all over the world.
     

    N Devon, comment 9

    Dear N Devon, dear  Professor Dawkins (and others that share the same wonder: “religion” as an ubiquitous phenomenon all over the world), please consider Reading this critique, and perhaps finding yourself some other limitations of the “ubiquitous phenomenon”.

     

    Hope you enjoy the Reading as much as I do.

    http://www.anthrobase.com/Browse/home/hst/cache/bocomp.html

     

      Report abuse

  •  

    I m looking to a new curricular unit and it´s Curriculum in my former Un. Institution and wish I could learn from it, I know the former lecturer, wish I could learn because religion was one of my interests actually (at the time I was a student there, there was no such curricular unit.
    We should be able to go back and choose what we want to study untill our 90´s)
     

    http://netpa.iscsp.ulisboa.pt/inscri/doc?stage=FichaUnidadeCurricular&_event=publicacaoFUC&anoLectivo=201920&codeDiscip=9448406&docIsAttachment=false&popup_mode=true

  • Hi maria.

    I know we are both fans of Damasio. I hold in very high regard his ideas about interior experience, about the importance of emotional engagement to make rational decisions meaningful, coherent and effective.

    Thanks also for the linked PDF on consciousness in animals. I have long accepted that the avian pallium may be the equivalent of a neo-cortex. Evolution “invented” eyes at least eight times and ears possibly twenty times, quite independently. I have no reason not to believe the same for the general purpose inferential engine of a neo-cortex extracting meta data from the senses and modelling likely future sensory data to be more intelligently and speedily engaged in its environment.

    We have only recently discovered quite how efficiently compact the neural wiring of birds is. The selection pressure for lightness and energy efficiency has driven the neural equivalent of Moore’s Law. Miniaturising neurons like miniaturising transistors on computer chips is continually virtuous increasing processing speed and dropping energy requirements until the limits of physics are reached. Birds can do more with seemingly less.

    My own studies (I am hoping for a return to University to do another degree) now strongly leverage ideas of neuro-constructivism. These analyse how neurons are put together before and after birth. How neural wiring is particularly dependent on everything in the neuron eco-system especially the flow of data presented. Born with uniquely undeveloped and premature brains we are wired (irretrievably) very substantially in cultures. Genes give us neuron types to choose from but neural plasticity and happenstance most often decides what actually gets linked up and what separated.

    One of the first neuro-constructivist books “How Emotions are Made” by Professor Lisa Feldman Barrett, actually argues that apart from primary physical emotional affects (fight or flight etc.) the rest of what gets described as emotions are astonishingly variable between cultures, precisely for neuro-constructivist reasons and that individuals can be astute, detailed observers of such emotion, or notably coarse-grained.

    I suspect this would sit well with Damasio and his intuitive division of visceral bodily emotions from the fine grained “feelings” arrived at through introspection. Barrett adds cultural wiring to actualise and fix some of these introspections. Report abuse

  • One of the first neuro-constructivist books “How Emotions are Made” by Professor Lisa Feldman Barrett, actually argues that apart from primary physical emotional affects (fight or flight etc.) the rest of what gets described as emotions are astonishingly variable between cultures, precisely for neuro-constructivist reasons and that individuals can be astute, detailed observers of such emotion, or notably coarse-grained.

    previous comment

    Thanks for your comment, I took some tips from it you and  watched a TED Talk “You Aren´t at the Mercy of your Emotions”.

    She referred to defeat as a chechenian cultural meaning  for  the  “stone” face of the chechenian terrorist boy.

    That´s kind of gross headlines in sensacionalist newspapers, one would have to make sense of all information and connect it, and not as something completly new, but something that can help to connect to our former knowledge.

    I doubt that we cannot read emotions in faces (you would just need to look at a chimpanzee s surprise face´for instance or other expressions to guess emotions are harwired and have a precise expression).

    But certainly you know more about it than me.

    I think Dr. Kim Bard  could link all the scientific new data and connect it and give some answers to my doubts, but not in such  gross headlines. I would like to know for instances about “universal” emotions in different cultural environments (philogenetic behaviour). Report abuse

  • Hi Phil Rimmer [46],

    Forgive my ignorance, but I was mystified by what you said about topological configurations. If this is possible, could you perhaps explain what the above phrase means to a layman? I also wanted to say that I think your post contains exactly the kind of esoteric hypothesis that any properly worthwhile discussion thread ought to explore. Report abuse

  • I doubt that we cannot read emotions in faces (you would just need to look at a chimpanzee s surprise face´for instance or other expressions to guess emotions are harwired and have a precise expression).

    And yet we may well get it wrong. You have to remember the arms race of being deceptive about about your state of mind to wrong foot your adversary/predator/competitor and their needing to coopt other factors to assess what you may actually be feeling and intending. Also that salesmen need to convince themselves before they can truly effectively sell to others.

    In Mindwise by Professor Nicholas Epley he shows how we understand the state of mind of others with only 20% reliability though we ourselves feel much more certain. Even long partnered couples only achieve 40%. Yet even this low score is enough to get socialising started.

    I think Professor Bard is a neuro-constructivist in the making.

    Her studies of social cognition suggest that humans and great apes share a large degree of plasticity, especially in early socio-emotional communicative abilities. 

    It is precisely the plasticity, of neural wiring contingently within a cultural flux, that can produce emotional divergence, most particularly between isolated cultures but also between the (genetically) cognitively diverse within a culture. And to repeat, those big visceral emotions like those underlying fight or flight, of fear and and anger, are not the issue hear, though aspects of their presentation and management may be culturally modulated. Report abuse

  • Hi Josiah.

     

    Thanks for the question.

    It does look a little highfalutin (pretentious). But I wanted a phrase that covered a lot of possibilities. At base it means a singular (joined up) structure having a particular shape. I chose it to stand for books or paintings or sculptures or models or binary code on a magnetic disc, or charge clustered on a chip. All these are ways that Xanadu can be stored and transferred between minds. But a reality for Xanadu, say, can only be said to exist when it exists in a mind for which it has meaning, one that has the cultural processes and knowledge to reconstruct it. Without such minds those topological configurations of the poem and its imagined place, lose their character. To alien minds they may be partially or entirely inaccessible.

    Xanadu, an imagined place, is a mental artefact. But it has a physical reality in the brain states of certain minds. Without those minds it loses (perhaps irretrievably) the most important aspect of its physical reality. Report abuse

  • Hello,

    I came here to see if I could comment on Mr Dawkins defining a religious belief as a delusion, to be honest, but got hooked on the open discussions threads. An alluring read. Thank you

    However, about that delusion though. Personally I think that most of those with a strong religious belief actually have no such. What they believe is simply some other person’s words. They believe what someone else told them about god. They believe a story of a stranger, or a relative/friend/book/etc. Nothing more.  Nothing religious about it really. Spellbound by a story-telling talent Who’s got his ‘belief’ from another story weaving talent, in most cases. Like someone told you, for example, that a particular internet provider was better than the others, and you believed that tell. It’s not religious.

    It’s probably not a mental disorder – a delusion, if I got the word’s meaning right – but a mere weakness of the mind. Or its laziness, or lack of training / education / habit of a critical comprehension.

    Not to mention that I myself believe in god. Or rather to put it more precisely that this world was created. And I am not delusional )  And thusly my belief is rational. Although it is possibly a conclusion rather than belief. I think the ‘evolution’ has taken no place, but all was created in stages, and the last phase of the creation – the world as it is now – has been in existence without evolutionary changes. So a Creator – yes, a God – no, and Religion – Non-religious, and not delusional, but persuasive or coercive

  • Hi Ujin007.

    Welcome. Please stay as long as you want and feel free to ask any questions.

    Thanks for your comments. They prompt a few questions from me.

    Are there any areas concerning the emergence of a universe, the emergence of life or its development through evolution that you find incredible?

    Do you generally trust experts?

    Do you think consensus among scientists represents a consensus among experts?

    Of course we’d like to give it a shot to change your minds on some things. Its a main reason we are here. Its exactly those potential problems you may have that exercise our minds so. Report abuse

  • Hi Ujin007 [57],

    I’m curious: what specifically is your objection to the theory of evolution by natural selection? I can’t blame you if you find it an implausible explanation for the emergence of life;  I certainly can’t get myself to believe it the same way I believe the hand in front of me is mine. Nonetheless, since we are merely highly intelligent organisms and not divine beings capable of contemplating the universe sub specie aeternitatis, we must be careful not to reject a theory on the ground that it appears to go against common sense. Or do you want to be sacrificed on the same altar as Thomas Nagel? Report abuse

  • This TEDX Talk is more my genre (type), I considered it more balanced, not sensionalist-

    If there s something wrong about our former knowledge, that´s not new (“we know by opposition to our former knowledge, we think now what we haven´t thought before” Gaston Bachelard, my free translation).

    But, by the way, I ve never heard of the idea that we cannot learn in an elderly age, as I ve said I had a Professor in his 70´s and he had the duty to still learn, as he said to his students. Sociology refers that socialization endures for our entire life. This Professor in his 70´s actually said that just in severe cases the cognitive structures (not fixed as Kant supposed, and contrary to Piaget) can be affected, I stress severe cases, perhaps  as the case of “the wolf boy”, psychiatry on the other hand maybe the responsive for this and other “myths”.

    I recognize this “myth” had become a cliché, in courts for instances.

    https://youtu.be/GgtLyYCpFsU

     

     

  • Ujin007  #57:  I too hope you will continue to share your thoughts with us.

    You say that you believe that “this world” (I assume you mean the cosmos, not simply the planet earth) was created and that everything therein was created in stages.  I wonder if you could explain the basis of that belief, can you point to any evidence to support it?
        
    I think a better case could be made that everything we see is here because of a natural process that does not require any supernatural intervention.  In my opinion, the necessity of a supreme being to explain the workings of the natural world began to unravel when, in 1543, Copernicus published his work demonstrating that the earth is not the center of the cosmos.  In the next century, Kepler discovered how it is that the planets move around the sun.  In the 1800s, Charles Darwin discovered how living things evolved into their present form.  Richard Dawkins has continued that work.  Physicists like Einstein, Steven Hawking. Victor Stenger, and Lawrence Krauss help us understand how matter came into being and arranged itself in the way we see today.  Does science explain everything?  No, but science continues to ask questions and search for answers, and the more scientists search, the answers they find are natural.
               
    I’d like to suggest a book that you might find interesting — Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark.  Although I realized decades ago that I am an atheist, Sagan helped me articulate my disbelief and realize that there is rational basis for what I “knew” intuitively, i.e. that neither God nor Santa Claus are real.  There is a myriad of other authors who have written in the recent past to explain complex science in terms we can all understand.
             
    Again, stick around, test your ideas and force me and the others to test our ideas.

  • Interesting talk. Thank you for it. My French isn’t great but having just come back from the pub I seemed to understand it quite well.

    I believe we can continue to learn into old age. I am old and expect to go back to University to do an MSc.

    I think the mode of our learning changes as we age. I think modes like repair are facilitated, even when they involve new channels for existing capacities. BUT they are unlikely to involve new capacities. IF you have not experienced near coincident vision from two healthy eyes, developed on your visual cortex of the alternate left and right stripe of the of those two slightly different views then you will not develop the brain wiring in the layer immediately behind that creates the sensation of stereoscopic vision. Chronotopy is the gatekeeper for each type of neural, cultural configuring.  If you don’t have your squint fixed early enough your brain  will have forever lost the possibility of stereo vision.

    Pierre-Marie Lledo works with olfaction and the regeneneration of these very primitive (tiny and easily damaged) neurons. . I think these types of repair are to be expected. I think we have seen not only the wireless replacement of motor neurons with the paralysed but also (in a notable Russian athlete’s case) the coopting of sensory, afferent nerves to replace motor nerves damaged in a spinal injury. Repairing what once worked is very much a capacity we have.

    Old folk like me still learning seems to be similarly enabled. Once you have the ability to use general purpose capacities like  the cultural tools of language and logic and maths and still have a viable memory then new thinking (learning something) using those tools is enabled with very little extra effort. You will need to rehearse your new capacities regularly though.

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  • You can activate English  subtitles, I ve just shared because English subtitles are available.
    I m going to read the poem Xanadu, you were there commenting with a poetic inspiration it seems (I ve just read “Justice”).

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  • Uijin 007,

     

    Hi Uijin 007, 

    I think you are new here?

    Found your comment intriguinging,  if not intriguing original at least, but an ethnographer  would  write what you think about yourself and confess him/she (as part of their method).

    Imagine that some time ago an ethnographer has been to my work place, seat near us observing us, then  did the same in the Parliament, and he wrote exactlly what we and others told  about ourselves, the Parliament politicians interviewed thought they were living in some kind of jungle, how  funny sounded the ethnographic method. Report abuse

  • Some time ago, Let s say a year ago, not some time ago, I guess.

    I Was só Fortunate because I Was one of The few People that received an authographed book in a later visit because I showed interest in his work, that Was discussed on a TV debate too. Report abuse

  •  

    Sat, not seat

    Hi Uijin 007, again,

     

    And right now, it s my turn on you, the community where you belong to certainly is not geographically or politically isolated (because you are commenting on the internet) from the rest of the world, but they seem to have  built an island to isolate themselves from the rest of humanity, how sad is that? when recentely I ve seen amazonian indians in an emotional discourse saying they were fighting to save Amazon, not only because it´s their homeland, but because they are fighting for the rest of us too (an healthy environment should be a human right too).

    How sad is that to hear from you that you seen to have made an island to isolate yourself from the rest of humanity?

    Aren t you prescribed with antibiotics when have a desease? (a scientific achievement)

    Some amazonian indians even go to a school of medicine to help their isolated fellows in the tribe, they maybe geographically isolated, but they know the meaning of humanity (in fact, Yanomani means “humans”, I guess).

    It is a fundamental right for a child to have a balanced education to help him/her to develop in a balanced way as a full human being, not to become hostil and isolated from the rest of humanity, it s History and achievements, including science, not that all people will become  scientists, nor historians, but so that they may choose whatever profession they want in future, know their origins and the real world around them, not a fairy tale garden.

     

    So, that´s my point, thanks for letting me know yours, because I really appreciated that you join us to comment.

     

      Report abuse

  • Beautiful poem by the way, from the internet souce actually

     

    Empire Jun 9
    Human
    I suppose
    In my sudden
    And terribly jarring realization
    That I am, in fact, human
    I was struck by how utterly terrifying
    Being human is
    And not just fear of mortality
    But the understanding
    Of what I am capable of
    And I’ve since learned
    That once perfection is no longer an option,
    Everything else becomes
    Horribly intriguing
    #human #perfection #

     

    Source https://hellopoetry.com/words/intriguing/ Report abuse

  • Hello All,

    Just joined tonight and tbh find the navigation of the site a little confusing. But that’s ok I’ll figure it out and look forward to sharing thoughts and ideas with you all going forward.

    Cheers,

    Ian Report abuse

  • Hi Josiah [#44],

    I apologise for my slow response, I’m not very bright.

     … about philosophy of mind … Many people are instinctively repelled by the idea that certain things they possess immediate access to–e.g., beliefs, desires, perceptions, etc.–constitute nothing.

    I’ll have to take your word for that.  I can’t say that I’ve actually come across anyone saying they are repelled by their own thought processes.

    I have seen plenty of circumstantial evidence that many people avoid thinking – they rarely say why and I have therefore formed an untested hypothesis; thinking causes some people actual physical pain and, perhaps, in some cases, a level of confusion that is the root of multiple psychoses resulting in distress.

    I further hypothesise that for a large minority, bordering perhaps on a small majority, this tactic of ‘think-avoidance’ has an instinctive root.  I call this group the Brain Exits Right Stage group because, when anything more complex than, for example, agreeing with the last person who said something they agree with is called for, their brains appear to exit stage right – I call them Brexiters, for short.

    Is being a Brexiter the same thing as thinking that thoughts are nothing?

    It is sometimes said that the only thing that computers actually do is turn electrical energy into heat.  A nice corollary to that, if your hypothesis is correct, would be that brains do something similar – turning chemical energy into heat, and nothing more.  This is certainly true for my proposed Brexiters.

    But can we really believe that?  Do we believe that our thoughts, that knowledge, are/is worthless – a nothing?

    Does my ability to spell have an effect on my ability to put bread on my table.  Does my dodgy grasp of grammar prevent me from communicating effectively.  Has my knowledge of how to use and care for a hatchet kept me and my companions warm on a cold winter’s night.  You do not know me personally, so I will add: Yes, these are mere rhetorical questions.

    I conclude, lacking any counter-evidence, that at least most of my thoughts have practical implications in the physical world beyond my brain, that my thoughts are as real as a hatchet.

    Now, to be clear, you chose some specific classes of thinking:

    Beliefs
    Desires
    Perceptions

    There are, I feel sure you will agree, many people who hold untrue beliefs.  Does that mean that their thinking is as nothing?  For example: You decide to leave a club, of which you have been a member for some years, telling the other members that you are leaving in order to set up shop in competition with them.  You believe that this should not upset the other club members in any way and that they will simply roll over and give you whatever you request as part of your parting agreement.  Is this belief sound.  Yet such beliefs are held by many, and such beliefs directly affect you and me.

    Beliefs are not always founded on facts or even, as above, logic.

    I conclude from this that beliefs are a form of thinking that have real consequences in our World – and can have negative effects where they are based on, say, fantasies.

    Desires are a natural part of what we are, we have lusts that drive us – first and foremost – and thinking that is not directly associated with satiation are usually reducible to long term planning for later sating.  Biology teaches us that there are lusts within us, and also beyond our conscious perception.  In society at large we also see hidden agenda, hidden desires, but they’re not necessarily beyond our perception, we just need to study to find  them.

    Facts will always find out the liar.  Parallel thinking will make hidden motivations less opaque.  But, in order to achieve such enlightenment we must, ourselves, have the motivation – we must desire truth and a real perception of the real World.  My Brexiters have the opposite problem, they are motivated to simply believe.  Many, indeed, give every appearance of desiring things that will harm them and their children.  The selfish gene is not all it’s cracked up to be, perhaps.

    Beliefs, of course, can support or undermine our desires and where our thinking is poor we will be manipulated by those with different beliefs and desires – including, but not limited to, getting screwed over.  I refer you to the excellent book *The Big Short* one real life example which spells out how the American poor and middle class were royally screwed, to the tune of many hundreds of billions of dollars, by the American rich.  Some foreigners got screwed too – but nobody cares about them.

    Desires then are a clear example of our minds shaping the World around us to satisfy our needs.  They are real.  They are not nothing.

    Perception is usually the word we use to describe the World as we see, hear, smell, taste and touch it.  What we perceive, in the immediate and now sense, is our brain’s interpretation of sense inputs.  Are our perceptions nothing or are they real?  Well, we wouldn’t live very long, and our species would go extinct pretty quickly if our brains and senses – together – weren’t at least giving us a very close approximation of reality.  In this sense our perceptions are very far from nothing.

    There is, of course, another meaning to perception; our intuitive understanding, our interpretation of facts.

    A Brexiter’s intuitive perception is a form of disability.  I have observed that their lack of the ability to think beyond their immediate sense-perception e.g. that if some people say the same things repeatedly and loudly (which they mistake for authoritatively) they must be true.  The beliefs that they form on that basis leave them open to flagrant fraud.  But they cannot break out of their straight-jacket thinking because of their fear of pain and/or severe distress if they have to face facts, change their beliefs, or admit that they trusted someone who has lied to them continuously (we’ve circled back to *The Big Short*).  It is very sad but, for many, there appears to be no cure.  The slightly rude term *dog whistle politics* is a natural fit for Brexiters.

    Intuitive perceptions, then, have real consequences in the real World.  It may be that, on occasion, these perceptions have positive consequences but, where they lack a factual basis – or are propagated by those who’s actions are not directed by the interests or welfare of anyone else – I observe that the consequences are routinely negative.

    To me, that makes beliefs, desires and perceptions real – and not nothing.

    Philosophically, we could take a tangent and consider the fact that the observable Universe is vast, mostly hostile to our very existence and shows no sign of caring if we thrive, or not.  Add to this the apparent futility of any one individual life in the above universe and we seem to be faced with a choice between nihilism, fantasies of escape from the brutal realities we see, or embracing the existential absurdity of life.

    In the context of absurdity, our thoughts, our beliefs, our perceptions and especially our desires are only for the here and now.  Their shelf life is the same, pretty much, as ours.  But that doesn’t make them any less real.

     … the nature of “nothing” is unknowable …

    Indeed so.

    I will go further: Nothing is a human concept that does not exist outside of human minds (as far as we know). It is useful only in helping us define things (the not nothings).  In the sense that our desires exist as real things, as hidden driving forces that shape the physical World, so too is nothing.  Unlike desires, or perceptions – and very like beliefs – nothing is a useful thinking tool that may, or may not, have a real counterpart.  A nothing has never been observed, and the smart bet is therefore that nothing is, literally, nothing.

    Can we conclude from this the we’re capable of thoughts that are nothing?  Well, it’s certainly true of nothings themselves.  How about falsehoods?  My take on that is that, as above, falsehoods that are believed, or which are perceived to be desirable, are frequently misused by the unscrupulous to screw the Brexiters of this World.  Nothing thinking is in a set of one – but not thinking is common, and dangerous.

     … how can one rule out the possibility that the posits of folk psychology .. amount to nothing?

    By objective inquiry.

    And, if any folk psychology is thus shown to be founded in objective truth, we will add it to our store of knowledge.  But not before.

    Peace.

    Disclaimer: Any similarities between my hypothesis that many people cannot think, or are afraid to think, or find thinking physically painful, or distressing and British people who think the gigantic cost to them, their children and their grandchildren – but not the rich – of leaving the most successful international club for peace, prosperity and progress ever conceived and created is a good deal … are purely coincidental.  They should, nevertheless, be taken seriously.  I’ll see you all, I hope, on the 19th. Report abuse

  • https://www.peoples-vote.uk/march_for_final_say

    I’ll be there, Stephen.

     

    That most don’t like to think is possibly the result of one of the most primitive drivers for life that screw us over even today. Conserving energy.

    Brains are use it or lose it because they are expensive to run. When calories were tight our brains only worked on what we now know as heuristics. This is simple Bayesian neural conditioning creating good enough automatic responses with the least circuitry. In the last ten thousand years particularly, however, calories became increasingly reliable in supply and (for the richer few at least) culture created thinking tools to better discern reality. Sufficient leisure and food lets us grow spectacularly with the cultural thinking tools of language and logic, accumulated knowledge and its application.

    But cultures can let us down as well as build us up. We can get by on heuristics alone in the complex self-running machine of competent enough societies. That old habit of energy saving runs very deep. Brains, under used, really do lose it. And like every domesticated animal, our shrinking neural autonomy, puts us in the hands of those who would keep us on that path.

      Report abuse

  • … about philosophy of mind … Many people are instinctively repelled by the idea that certain things they possess immediate access to–e.g., beliefs, desires, perceptions, etc.–constitute nothing.

    Our thoughts are not “things” as a table or a chair.

    Language  is a “superstructure”, Umberto Eco would compare it to a hive: when bees construct hives, they do not begin by consctucting from the basis,  but from the above (a methaphor), Plato would think, and even be very annoyed by people that don t speak of “things” (chair, table etc.)

     

    By oppostion to economy, based on  real stuff, our ideas and creativity  is built from  upon.

    Economy is seen as an “infrastructures”, and politics and ideas as a “superstructure”.

     

    Marx would say, it is the material that determines our ideas by opposition to Hegelian idealism. For instances political ideologies may determine economy (political ideas are  superstructures, contrasting economy, the basis).

    Which one determines the other?

     

    Language however constitutes “nothing” when I signal you and you don´t get my signal. even so, perhaps its something rather than nothing. As a linguist how more discourse I analyse how more I  relate ideas and can draw a system of values.

     

    Gaston Bachelard would say that we need to take the consequences of  “dreaming awake”, or go further with abstraction to “reach something”, even if a dream.

    More Occam´s razor, please? (because I m talking too much?)

    Just to be funny: Skinner would say that people use language as their second skin, so they are really attched to it.

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  • Hi Phil [#73],

    I agree.  The fact is that even those of us who recognise the need to apply thinking, research and scepticism often struggle to create the ‘space’ – to apply our attention – to understanding the World as it really is.

    I am reminded of Richard Dawkins’ oft-repeated position on moral behaviour which he usually fashions along these lines: Yes, we are driven by lusts but, just as surely, it is incumbent on us all to apply those gifts with which we are endowed – such as intelligence – to not only soften the impact of our seeking to slake those thirsts, but even to deny ourselves where the greater good will be served.  Richard is much better at summarising, and he is usually talking in context when he explores these thoughts, and I don’t think he would ever put it exactly like that.  This is clearly one of his founding moral precepts though, and it most often comes up when he discusses vegetarianism.

    In the context of thinking in more general terms it is, surely, incumbent on us all to struggle against our natural indolence (in an almost identical way to making sure we apply our intelligence to our moral choices – as Richard urges us to do) and to apply ourselves to understanding the World as it really is, if we want to live in a better World.  Yet that is clearly what many millions of people fail to do.

    Energy is part of the equation, and so too is time.  Any species that evolves to value time, and how it is spent, will tend to have an advantage in almost all environments.  Time spent thinking is therefore at a premium.  Recognising the potential return on investment when spending attention (energy and time) is a tricky skill to acquire and I very much doubt that any Earth species has it as an instinct – including us.

    I’m not so sure I can follow you down the same road on culture.  As a social species (like most mammals) we build social hierarchies.  There is an immediate trade-off to be had with a hierarchy – and anyone who has had to manage other people will recognise what I mean immediately: You get to outsource difficult decisions.  The most common symptom is in the modern phrase: “That’s not in my pay grade”.

    Outsourcing decisions, of course, makes it more difficult to break out of our natural, evolved, attention-saving instincts.

    In the last ten thousand years particularly …

    In the most recent evolutionary eye-blink …

    … calories became increasingly reliable in supply …

    … there has been some indirect evolutionary pressure which we would hope would mitigate some of the less advantageous phenotypes in human behaviour …

    … and (for the richer few at least)

    A bit negative there Phil – 6 billion and counting?

    Sufficient leisure and food lets us grow spectacularly with the cultural thinking tools of language and logic, accumulated knowledge and its application

    Yes, but it hasn’t been long enough, or universal enough, throughout that history, to move our entire species to express free enquiry, scepticism and a desire to research from facts to understanding as a universal phenotype.  Sad but true.

    Here again I feel Richard is right: Every individual human needs to learn that scepticism and thinking are healthy and interesting – and that outsourcing decision making only works some of the time.  Indeed, within the context of culture, outsourcing our thinking is increasingly looking like a very bad deal.  When he urges us to apply our empathy and intelligence to moral decisions his entreaty is predicated on the basis of an audience that understands and values these things.  Yet it seems to me that such an understanding is only accessible through a good education – an education that is increasingly only offered to an elite.

    The recent surge in support for populist, authoritarian, politicians is a case in point.  Lacking the education and the adult, democratic, support they require to overcome their instinctive desire to outsource decisions and then to pat themselves on the back for saving their attention.  They do this in what, to them, appears a clear headed and rational way.  They simply lack the tools, the basic intellectual understanding, that they have, in effect, stabbed themselves in the back because the culture of mass media is almost tailor made to exploit a poorly educated public on exactly that basis.  To their credit many suspect, the fake news trope is the Establishment’s defence – the ‘here be dragons’ warning on the outdated Community Maps that many people hold in their heads is enough to turn them away.  They fail to explore, or are easily misled because they never learned to weigh evidence.

    There is much variation in the human species.  We need to be alive to the fact that many of our contemporaries will have a genetic make-up that is untouched by the recent, above detailed, evolutionary blip.  We should also not judge; many of our contemporaries lack the necessary education to live in a modern democracy driven by information.  And anyone over 25 reading this: You too are part of the problem if you have failed to support education as the most important thing to be funded by your government.

    … cultures can let us down as well as build us up

    No argument here.

    We can get by on heuristics alone in the complex self-running machine of competent enough societies

    “In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
    A stately pleasure-dome decree … ”

    Dreams are so nice, aren’t they they though?

    That old habit of energy saving runs very deep. Brains, under used, really do lose it. And like every domesticated animal, our shrinking neural autonomy, puts us in the hands of those who would keep us on that path.

    We have come to the same end of the road – though we have taken different paths.

    I’ll see you on the streets, on the 19th.

    Peace. Report abuse

  • I d like to comment on brexiteers and those  like Richard Dawkins that still points out economy´s reasons to remain, but don´t get me wrong because you would not trust the voice of a foreigner (as far as I recall recently an american economist gave his view that Portugal would bennefit more from leaving , hear comments that some countries should even leave against their will, an usual tv commenter wouldn t trust the american economist).

    Richard Dawkins still points out economical reasons to remain, but that´s kind of “rude” because UE is much more than that, and it is really one of those human institutions that was constructed (and still is) upon ideas and ideals.

    Economists will face the challenge and economy will adapt sooner or later whether UK remains or leaves.

     

    I m glad that someone here reminded that UE is a “great institution”, that is to be really more polite and less “rude”.

    I’m not so sure I can follow you down the same road on culture.  As a social species (like most mammals) we build social hierarchies.  There is an immediate trade-off to be had with a hierarchy – and anyone who has had to manage other people will recognise what I mean immediately: You get to outsource difficult decisions.  The most common symptom is in the modern phrase: “That’s not in my pay grade”.

     

    I like to read E. O. Wilson interviews as far  as I have the opportunity I read them.

    As you may know  an eusocial species is rare amongst mammals (two species,  us and naked-mole rats), it s more common within insects, and actually I m glad in a primate mammal, because we have a sense of equity, and I doubt we base our society on  greed and blind hierarchies like ants, without any sense of equity and justice, and the creativity of a primate.

     

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  • I know the person who I must “obey” has formation for leadership, so that they cal others to participate and give their best, not to distress. Some are great in these jobs, some are weak, and some don´t care at all.

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