It is more likely that our brains are designed in such a way that we naturally see structures and patterns in the world and that we understand the world by developing intuitive theories.
Besides that there is something in our biology that stimulates us to believe. Of course we can believe what others tell us, but in advance we are already inclined to believe that of which we think it is true.
To explain this we should be able to find a supernatural belief, which is present in most humans but is not a product of culture.
A question: Did you ever have had that feeling that someone is looking at you, that you are being watched and when you turned around you saw those staring eyes indeed?
[13:15] herman Bergson: Anyone?
[13:15] Pete Saxondale: Yes
[13:15] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:15] Daruma Boa: yes
[13:15] herman Bergson: ok..:-)
It is a special human ability to sense this, if it really a human ability is. About 9 out of 10 people claim that they can 'feel' that someone is looking at them, watching them. Let's call this special ability our supersense.
This is not something we learn our children, so where does it come from? Already Plato believed that our eyes sent some kind of energy to the objects to be able to see them.
A lot of us still believe that they penetrate the other with their eyes, or look deeply into the eyes of our beloved one. Some even still believe in the power of the 'evil eye'. In 1921 a Dr. Charles Russ published an article in the Lancet about experiments to measure the energy emission of the eye.
You could regard the belief in being watched as a supernatural belief, but a belief with a natural origin, based on a naive theory of visual perception. When you ask a kid to draw 'seeing' it most of the time draws an arrow from the eye to the object.
Most interesting , however, is that children respond in general much less positive, when you ask them, if they can feel that someone is watching them than adults. So our ability to feel the unseen looking eyes increases the older we get, it seems
An explanation can be that the older we get the more socially connected we become with the group. Eyecontact becomes an important social communication system. Children still have to learn not to stare at the lady with the silly hat.
The look of the other activates parts of the brains, the amygdala and ventral striatum, which are related to emotions in social exchanges. Your heartbeat may increase, or you may feel ashamed.
We develop this supersense even to such a level, that when we know that we are observed we behave more cooperative, social and honest . Some believe that their ancestors are watching them from the afterlife. And here you already see the advantage of this supersense for the group.
The supersense is characterized by beliefs and experiences, that makes us inclined to see hidden structures, patterns , energies and dimensions in reality. If we couldnt control these thoughts we would become psychotic or schizophrenic.
This control is related to dopamine, some substance in the brain. If you disturb the dopamine system things go wrong. Some see a relation with creativity. Artists often see all kinds of structures and relations in reality we dont see.
And some even balance at the edge of insanity or mental breakdown, loosing all control of their supersense: van Gogh, Beethoven, Byron, Dickens, Hemingway, Keats. All artists that suffered of psychotic periods.
What saves us from uncontrolled intuitive thinking is the frontpart of our brain: the dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex (DLPC). It contains the short term memory, planning ability, ability to ignore irrelevant or distracting thoughts and actions and our ability to evaluate thoughts and actions in relation to a desired goal.
While the intuitive thinking, our supersense, is there from the begining, this other part of the brains develops during our lifetime: it becomes our conceptual-logical, analytical-rational, intentional and systematic power, while the intuitive thinking is natural, automatic, heuristic and implicite.
The supersense that we as adults experience is a remnant of the intuitive reasoning system of the child which wrongly comes up with statements that do not fit in the rational model of reality.
Some people claim that the supernaturalism of adults is the result of religious indoctrination of children. What I have said so far my show that there is clear evidence for the fact that this supernatualism spontaneously emerges from the way the brains operate.
Most adults hold supernatural beliefs. Don't you have that specal coin in your purse, which you wil never spend, because it brings luck? Or that perfume, that absolutely will seduce every man, or the urge to touch that specific spot or object before you continue, otherwise bad luck.....
Can we ever free ourselves from this irrationality? Why should we uphold such a way of looking at the world in this aera of reason and scientific explanation? Will mankind ever become reasonable? I dont think so...
But is reason the ultimate standard, the higher level of being human? I dont think so either. Evolutionary the intuitive thinking came before the development of our rationality. It is still obvious in developmental psychology.
And it gives us certian things that are unaccessible for rational analysis. It gives us a system of beliefs that unites the members of a group, based on sacred values. Not only religious values and ideas, but basic ones for a start.
Personal freedom, the integrity of our body, the right to live. Religion is a cultural next step in this matter.
Let me finish with one example. I enter a room and there are four supreme scientists. However, they are lethally ill. Their death would be a tremendous loss for society. They all need a transplant of some organ.
My body contains these healthy organs, so the doctor makes a calculation. I kill one to save four important lifes, he concludes That is the right decision. So no next class, friends :-(
This lecture is based on chapter 9 and 10 of the book "Supersense: Why we believe in the unbelievable" by Bruce H. Hood (2009)
[13:28] Gemma Cleanslate: oh boy
[13:28] Daruma Boa: ^
[13:28] herman Bergson: Bye (^_^)
[13:28] Gemma Cleanslate: lol not fair
[13:28] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:29] herman Bergson: Thank you :-)
[13:29] Laila Schuman: intuition.... vs a moral decision? i do not see the link
[13:29] Daruma Boa: yw^^
[13:29] Pete Saxondale: Thank you.
[13:30] herman Bergson: What do you mean Laila?
[13:30] Laila Schuman: you talking about the brain and "sencing"...then you gave an example about organ transplant ... which is a moral type decision
[13:31] Laila Schuman: i do not see the link
[13:31] herman Bergson: The link is that the right to live can not dealt with by pure logic and rationality
[13:31] Gemma Cleanslate: was that the end of the lecture or the beginning of the next?
[13:31] herman Bergson: We just have a basic disgust of certain things
[13:31] Laila Schuman: one other thing...
[13:32] Pete Saxondale: Well, isnt' that like your opinion?
[13:32] Pete Saxondale: I mean to you that is irrational
[13:32] herman Bergson: Well..let me give another example..
[13:32] Pete Saxondale: It might not be to me
[13:32] Laila Schuman: i have worked with blind people... many people think that they have special sensory powers
[13:32] Laila Schuman: but it is just training... and experience
[13:32] Pete Saxondale: Right laila
[13:32] herman Bergson: The jacket of a ferocious serial killer is for sale....and I want to show off with it by wearing it
[13:33] Laila Schuman: and what artists see... is a result of training and interest
[13:33] Pete Saxondale: Ok
[13:33] Pete Saxondale: So what about the jacket?
[13:33] herman Bergson: Then Laila everyone, well trained with a special interest could become an artist
[13:33] Laila Schuman: we can sence someone looking at us... because we have developed awarenesses that we don't put into words...
[13:33] Daruma Boa: yes
[13:33] Daruma Boa: as joseph beuys says
[13:33] Pete Saxondale: Or we're just paranoid
[13:33] Daruma Boa: and myself^^
[13:34] Pete Saxondale: and only notice when we are correctly
[13:34] Laila Schuman: that is a long thing to reply to herman... could take weeks
[13:34] Pete Saxondale: paranoid
[13:34] Laila Schuman: but yes... training is a huge piece of it
[13:34] Daruma Boa: and the will to see
[13:34] Pete Saxondale: Right but synesthesia (sp) or something like it may come into play for artists
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: i think this is another thing of believing what we want to believe
[13:35] Gemma Cleanslate: no scientific proof
[13:35] Pete Saxondale: Seeing patterns and whatnot
[13:35] Daruma Boa: we ave to otherwise the world would be grey
[13:36] herman Bergson: the issue is that we have structure and patterns as defined by science
[13:36] Jangle McElroy: Regarding the ability to sense when we are being watched. I have seen an experiment where people queue to enter a theatre. Unknown to them, they are being watched by a group of people who sit behind a one-way miirror that completely hides them from those in the queue. A researcher asks the group to focus their attention on different people in the queue - one at a time for several seconds. The person in the queue who is being looked at senses something and looks around, but sees nothing. The research was conducted on live TV i nthe UK and validated by the audience who went to see the live programmme - they were the people in the queue :)
[13:36] herman Bergson: but there is no scientific proof thata I have the right to my body for instance
[13:36] Laila Schuman: really, believing... and when it comes to moral things etc. you could say the philosopher has no more proof than the person who is saying there is a got
[13:36] herman Bergson: Jangle ..read the rules behind me
[13:37] Gemma Cleanslate: but how does that prove that they would not have turned aroound anyway
[13:37] Pete Saxondale: I would like to see a clip of that experiment.
[13:37] Jangle McElroy: Repetition proves
[13:37] Gemma Cleanslate: regardless of the focus
[13:37] Pete Saxondale: Statistically
[13:37] Qwark Allen: yes
[13:37] Qwark Allen: me to
[13:37] Jangle McElroy: Chance happens, repetition for 20-people in one go
[13:37] herman Bergson: What experiment Pete?
[13:37] Pete Saxondale: Well the theater queue
[13:38] Pete Saxondale: If that is real, then you'd have objective scientific proof of an extra sense, wouldn't you?
[13:38] Laila Schuman: i do not see God as necessarily being the result of people having these sensory "moments"...
[13:38] Pete Saxondale: I would think that would be kinda important
[13:38] Laila Schuman: you can discuss the existance of God in the same way philosophers logically come to conclusions
[13:39] Pete Saxondale: considering the fact that there hasn't been a single one that I know of that has conclusively proven anything remotely like that in the entire history of the human race.
[13:39] Jangle McElroy: afgree the research would need to be repeated, but it did work on live TV and the audience confirmed what had happened. It was interesting
[13:39] Laila Schuman: and a philosopher would be horrified to be compared to the "intuitive" sensing
[13:39] herman Bergson: True Pete....these experiments have been done..also recently...
[13:39] herman Bergson: what happened was this...
[13:39] Gemma Cleanslate: lol yes
[13:40] herman Bergson: when people got feedback on whether they were looked at or not you got a significant results
[13:40] herman Bergson: if they didnt get the feedback it dropped to the normal 50% average
[13:40] Laila Schuman: i am sorry...but i think the foundation of the argument is a red herring
[13:40] Gemma Cleanslate: but someone in the line may have looked at thiem at the same time or they were looking for someone too
[13:40] Pete Saxondale: So doesn't that mean that the results are tainted?
[13:40] Pete Saxondale: Right?
[13:40] Gemma Cleanslate: i think so
[13:41] herman Bergson: The fact that there is a mirror is already a disturbing factor..
[13:41] Pete Saxondale: I just wanna be clear.
[13:41] Pete Saxondale: True
[13:41] herman Bergson: people tend to look in the mirror and see others in the line looking too
[13:41] Gemma Cleanslate: there are many paranormal experiments going on at universities all the time
[13:41] herman Bergson: so I dont think that is a real test
[13:41] Gemma Cleanslate: and the answers just do not hold up much
[13:41] Daruma Boa: i think nothing can be tested "real"
[13:41] Jangle McElroy: problem with trying to describe things briefly ifs you don;t do the point justice. But basically the queue and the mirror weren;t the problem :)
[13:41] Daruma Boa: we would like to know everything;-))
[13:42] Gemma Cleanslate: oh yes
[13:42] Laila Schuman: and i don't think discussing "supernatural" in this way... is the way to approach the subject of God
[13:42] Gemma Cleanslate: but it would probaly kill us if we did
[13:42] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:42] Pete Saxondale: Well, is that what we're discussing? God?
[13:42] Daruma Boa: could be yes
[13:42] herman Bergson: Ok....let's get back to the comment of Laila...
[13:42] Pete Saxondale: Ok
[13:42] Gemma Cleanslate: well we did start that way yes
[13:42] Laila Schuman: isn't that the question
[13:42] Pete Saxondale: ok
[13:42] Daruma Boa: and would be sooo boring 2 know everything
[13:42] herman Bergson: and back to what this is all about
[13:42] Daruma Boa: adam and eve^^
[13:43] herman Bergson: The question was: is it reanonable to believ ein God?
[13:43] Pete Saxondale: oh...
[13:43] Daruma Boa: yes
[13:43] Laila Schuman: is it reasonable to believe a LOT of things that philosophers say
[13:43] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:43] herman Bergson: My thesis of today is that we have reasons indeed to accept this phenomenon ...it is part of human nature....
[13:43] Laila Schuman: when you ask for emperical proof
[13:44] Pete Saxondale: Well, doesn't it depend on your definition of reason right?
[13:44] Pete Saxondale: I mean if you need laboratory empiricle "proof" then no
[13:44] Pete Saxondale: right
[13:44] Pete Saxondale: I mean as science defines reason
[13:44] Jangle McElroy: I guess that's splitting the debate point in 2 though? Like saying, 'yes it's reasonable to belive in god becasue believing in things is human' vs. ' Yes believing in god is reaosnable because it is possibly correct.'
[13:44] herman Bergson: I gave you lots of examples of empirical findings about the working of the brain
[13:45] fliegen so hoch wie moeglich: All Go
[13:45] herman Bergson: the interpretation of the value it has for society is an interpretation indeed..
[13:45] Laila Schuman: hmmmmm
[13:45] Gemma Cleanslate: welcome back bergfrau
[13:45] herman Bergson: You still can be a zealous atheist or scienticist
[13:45] Pete Saxondale: And understand the reason behind believing in God?
[13:46] Pete Saxondale: I hear you there
[13:46] Pete Saxondale: if that's what you're saying
[13:46] herman Bergson: yes....I dont give it any ontological meaning
[13:46] bergfrau Apfelbaum: danke gemma :o)
[13:46] Pete Saxondale: But that is different than believing that it is reasonable.
[13:46] herman Bergson: it is a n element of human behavior
[13:46] Pete Saxondale: to believe
[13:47] Pete Saxondale: Interesting
[13:47] Laila Schuman: approaching it from this direction feels like a fish oil salesman quoting things about the brain or body... all of which can be true but is it pertinant
[13:47] herman Bergson: Well...it would be unreasonable to try to abolish any such believes...like the atheist wants
[13:47] Jangle McElroy: Just the same as when a Japanese person says 'Yes' - it may mean 'Yes I understand what you've said' - rather than 'Yes, I agree with what you've said'
[13:47] herman Bergson: unreasonable because biological evidence tells us that it is part of our (social) system
[13:47] Pete Saxondale: Well, I dont' know about that. I think it's unrealistic for an atheist to want that
[13:48] herman Bergson: Well..people like Dawkins?
[13:48] Pete Saxondale: To say that it is unreasonable would infer that it is necessary to believe
[13:48] Pete Saxondale: and it isn't really, although there is a innate need
[13:48] herman Bergson: No ..not necessary...
[13:49] herman Bergson: it is an empirical fact that our brains tend to believe
[13:49] Gemma Cleanslate: so many opinions :_) and questions
[13:49] Daruma Boa: yes, and so less time^^
[13:49] Laila Schuman: i do not see that as an emperical fact
[13:49] Gemma Cleanslate: that is true that oour brains tend to believe
[13:49] Pete Saxondale: An Empirical fact that the brain needs to believe in God?
[13:49] Laila Schuman: want to
[13:49] herman Bergson: No...
[13:50] Pete Saxondale: Or believe in general
[13:50] herman Bergson: As I said....Religion is a next cultural step...
[13:50] Daruma Boa: not god only. i think 2 believe in genreral
[13:50] Daruma Boa: general
[13:50] Pete Saxondale: I hear you
[13:50] herman Bergson: religion builds on on this tendency of the brains
[13:50] Pete Saxondale: Right
[13:50] Laila Schuman: doesn't belief come out of having questions... lots of questions to work through
[13:50] Pete Saxondale: I can dig that
[13:50] Gemma Cleanslate: oh yes
[13:51] herman Bergson: Yes Laila...kids have lots of questions and then believe everything is alive...
[13:51] Gemma Cleanslate: bu tjust look at teh commerciala that promise weight loss lolllo
[13:51] herman Bergson: the trees , a stone....they even talk to them
[13:51] Jangle McElroy: I guess it's partly down to what we wish to use as reference, other researchers say some people are predisposed i ntheir brain function to be beleivers - and it's not a social function
[13:51] Gemma Cleanslate: and so many believe
[13:51] Daruma Boa: true gemma^^
[13:51] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:51] Daruma Boa: was good work then^^
[13:51] Qwark Allen: yes
[13:51] Qwark Allen: :-))
[13:52] herman Bergson: Well..like all human abilities...it is distributed among individuals in an average way...Gauss curve like
[13:52] herman Bergson: so we have from extreme sceptics to convinced believers
[13:53] herman Bergson: They have done some tests..
[13:53] herman Bergson: sceptics are not so ealily inclined to see faces in a tv screen that only shows pixel noice...believers are more easily inclined to that
[13:54] herman Bergson: at the same time they did research on the dopamine..
[13:54] Qwark Allen: got to go
[13:54] Qwark Allen: cya thursday
[13:54] Jangle McElroy: Including pictures of Christ or Mary in slices of burnt toast :)
[13:54] Daruma Boa: bye qwark
[13:54] Ze Novikov: off to Rl see you all soon bb
[13:54] Pete Saxondale: HA
[13:54] Jangle McElroy: Bye Qwark
[13:54] herman Bergson: feeding dopamine to sceptics did work and on the believers it even had a negative effect
[13:55] Daruma Boa: bye ze greetings to rl^
[13:55] Qwark Allen: allways so interesting heerman
[13:55] Qwark Allen: thank you
[13:55] Pete Saxondale: Negative?
[13:55] herman Bergson: Ok Qwark..thnx..
[13:55] herman Bergson: Yes....they became more reluctant to see shapes in the pixel snow
[13:55] Pete Saxondale: With more dopamine?
[13:55] herman Bergson: yes
[13:55] Gemma Cleanslate: oh?
[13:55] Pete Saxondale: Well what's the conclusion
[13:56] Jangle McElroy: Do we have conclusions in a philosophy disucssion ? :)
[13:56] Pete Saxondale: Sorry HA
[13:56] Pete Saxondale: I meant what's the hypothesis
[13:56] Pete Saxondale: Or what can we conclude?
[13:57] Justine Rhapsody: time I need to leave bye :)
[13:57] Jangle McElroy: Bye
[13:57] Daruma Boa: bye justine
[13:57] Gemma Cleanslate: will wait til nexttime for more :-)
[13:57] Daruma Boa: bye gemma
[13:57] herman Bergson: I don tknow the details of that experiment, but it was a test to see to what extend dopamine influences these basic attitudes
[13:57] Gemma Cleanslate: Bye
[13:57] herman Bergson: Bye Gemma :-)
[13:57] bergfrau Apfelbaum: byebye
[13:58] Jangle McElroy: Bye Gemma
[13:58] herman Bergson: Oh...to be exact..the sceptics saw more shapes by using levadopa...
[13:58] herman Bergson: but the believers became more reluctant
[13:59] Pete Saxondale: Weird
[13:59] herman Bergson: yes it is..
[13:59] herman Bergson: but not only the dopamine systems in the brains are responsable for this behavior...
[14:00] herman Bergson: They are at the beginning at discovering the brains and their working
[14:00] Pete Saxondale: Well, It's been a good discussion. Gotta run!
[14:01] herman Bergson: Thank you Pete
[14:01] Daruma Boa: bye peter
[14:01] Pete Saxondale: Thank you.
[14:01] herman Bergson: Bye
[14:01] Pete Saxondale: Bye everybody!
[14:01] Daruma Boa: think must leave too
[14:01] Daruma Boa: thank u herman
[14:02] herman Bergson: yw Daruma ^_^
[14:02] Jangle McElroy: Bye Daruma
[14:02] Daruma Boa: see u thursday
[14:02] herman Bergson: Let me know if Hope replies
[14:02] Jangle McElroy: Good night everyone
[14:02] herman Bergson: Bye jangle
[14:03] Laila Schuman: night
[14:03] bergfrau Apfelbaum: danke herman :o) es war wie immer sehr interessant!!!! danke für deine arbeit
[14:03] bergfrau Apfelbaum: Yeah!!!!!
[14:03] herman Bergson: gerne gesehen, Bergy ^_^
[14:03] bergfrau Apfelbaum: bis bald und schönen aben dnoch :-)
[14:03] herman Bergson: Du auch :-)
[14:04] bergfrau Apfelbaum: danke :-)