Thursday, November 4, 2010

283: The Biology of the Brain 2

Let Bruce Hood do the talking here, the writer of "Supersense: Why we believe in the Unbelievable" (2009).

As you see, it is a recent publication. A more radical kind of other member in the choir is "The God Delusion" (2006) by Richard Dawkins.

What is going on these days is a development on which I wrote my thesis in 1977. And in those days by some people it was almost regarded as blasphemy: a materialist theory of the mind.

In the past 25 years there have been a revolution in technology and science, in our case, neurobiology.

This has enabled us to answer a lot of questions about the mind, or should I say , the functioning of the brain.

On my desk I have a brand new book, written by a world-famous Dutch neurobiologist, Dick Swaab. The title of the book is most telling: WE ARE OUR BRAIN, from womb to Alzheimer.

This is a confirmation of my initial philosophical stand as a young graduate in 1977. A confirmation. Epistemologically it means , according to Popper, that it makes my point of view only more probable, no true.

To be honest, after this initial series of lectures on our subject "The Mystery of the Brain", I don't mind. On the one hand in 2010 there is such a plethora of confirming evidence.

On the other hand, although there are many books written on the subject, there is so no really hard evidence for all that our supersense is able to generate.

When a law of nature is falsified by scientific experiments, it is because we have formulated a law of nature that explains our observations and predictions much better.

In the field of the supernatural, we never succeeded in proving the existence of (a) god. The very thought of a proof is almost disqualified as blasphemy and regarded as superfluous by a lot of people, which is most remarkable of course.

The scientific research on the results of astrological interpretation came up with apparently significant observations, but yet still highly questionable.

But , sorry Bruce, I began by saying that you would do the talking. Go ahead, you have the floor ^_^

"IN THIS BOOK, I have proposed that humans are compelled to understand the nature of the world around them as part of the way our brains try to make sense of our experiences.

This process starts early in childhood, even before culture has begun to tell children what to think.

Along the way, children come up with all manner of beliefs about the world, including those that would have to be supernatural if true.

These ideas go beyond the natural laws that we currently understand and hence are supernatural. Whether it is a disembodied mind floating free of the body,

a sublime essence that harbors the true identity of people, places, and things, or the idea that people are all connected by tangible energies and hidden patterns, these notions are all intuitive ways of thinking about the world.

We persist in these beliefs despite the lack of compelling evidence that the phenomena we think are real do in fact exist.

Culture may fuel these beliefs with fantasy and fiction, but they burn brightly in the first place because of our natural inclination to assume “something there,” as William James put it. Culture simply took these beliefs and gave them meaning and content."

Thank you, Bruce……….
In the concluding lecture, that is only concluding on the theme of Supersense, we'll have a close look at his argument for his point of view.

The Discussion

[13:22] herman Bergson: Thank you....
[13:22] herman Bergson: If you have any question or remark...feel free...
[13:22] Osiris Malso: ty Sir
[13:23] Gemma Cleanslate: i missed part bruce who
[13:24] herman Bergson: Bruce Hood is the writer I referred to
[13:24] herman Bergson: UK fellow
[13:24] Simargl Talaj: I must disagree that any evidence for astrology is statistically significant. Differences among people can be sufficiently explained by other factors that only coincidentally correspond to astrological sign. People whose parents have certain characteristics tend to be born in certain months rather than ohters, so we are really seeing a parent effect I believe.
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: there now i've catched up ㋡
[13:25] Simargl Talaj: oop forgot the 17 word thing. That will be hard for me.
[13:25] AristotleVon Doobie: he mentions a time before culture takes the supersense and molds it, when is that?
[13:25] Simargl Talaj: sorry
[13:25] herman Bergson: Plz read the rules behind me Simargl
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: Herman I thought maybe Hood
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: i think when we are only infants to 5 or 6
[13:26] herman Bergson: Well...culture kicks in in education at a later age....maybe when you are 4 or older...
[13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: yes about that
[13:27] herman Bergson: Before that children already show supernatural beliefs
[13:27] Osiris Malso: hehe Simargl dont you turn your bed to east?
[13:27] Simargl Talaj: Margaret Meade noted that children in Melanesia had fewer supernatural beliefs than adults. It took culture a long time to ingrain them.
[13:27] AristotleVon Doobie: if one were to accept this philosophy, then we would tav to admit the babies are not receptive of life until 4?
[13:27] herman Bergson: So the inclination to hold supernatural beliefs is hardwired in our brain it seems
[13:28] Gemma Cleanslate: babies are self centerd individuals
[13:28] Gemma Cleanslate: the center of their universe until about 2 1/2
[13:29] AristotleVon Doobie: supersense is so nonsensical to me
[13:29] Gemma Cleanslate: everyone and thing is there for them
[13:29] herman Bergson: Yes Simargl you are right...
[13:29] herman Bergson: But the frame of mind is wired thus that we only increase those beliefs the older we get...
[13:29] Simargl Talaj: Infants and children learn most deeply whatever is connected to their sense of survival even counter to later actual needs for survival. Thus the "supernatural" (not materially supported) beliefs/attitudes of abused children.
[13:30] herman Bergson: Well that nonsensical feature of Supersense we'll get next Thursday...
[13:30] AristotleVon Doobie: good LOL
[13:31] Simargl Talaj: :)
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: then if u tell a small children about well everything they believe it cause they dont know anything other yet, have no other facts,
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: for example that santa claus comes down the chimney at christmas eve and so
[13:31] AristotleVon Doobie: I am confident tho that a child begins to absorb the world from day one
[13:31] herman Bergson: Yes Aristotle...
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: thats all they ve heard until they get more facts
[13:31] Gemma Cleanslate: yes ari they do
[13:31] herman Bergson: with a basic mechanism…
[13:31] Osiris Malso: yes i think so too
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: also a thing
[13:32] herman Bergson: To see structures and order in the plethora of sensory experiences
[13:32] Gemma Cleanslate: so if santa claus comes when they are 1 or 2 so what
[13:32] Gemma Cleanslate: but after 3 or 4 they believe
[13:32] Gemma Cleanslate: until they find out later
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: I think i believed in that as well until i learned that hmm wait now i ve never seen or heard anyone come down the chimney or something like that
[13:33] Osiris Malso: ok people bye se next time
[13:33] AristotleVon Doobie: LOL, parents think Santa Claus is a good thing for their children to believe in, he is not much different from religion
[13:33] herman Bergson: Yes funny to see how we educate our children with fairy tales and then later tell them..sorry all not true
[13:33] Osiris Malso: by Sir
[13:33] Gemma Cleanslate: exactly!!!!!!!
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: bye Sir
[13:33] AristotleVon Doobie: bye Osiris
[13:33] Gemma Cleanslate: Bye, Bye ㋡
[13:34] Osiris Malso: byee
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: and then u find out theat santa is really your grandmother or grandfather or something
[13:34] herman Bergson: See you soon Osiris
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: in santa chothes
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: but before that was supersense of belief in him
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: and why always they go buy the newspaper just before he comes?
[13:34] AristotleVon Doobie: I wonder if anyone ever thinks about the mistrust that these tales create
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: when u start get that together
[13:35] herman Bergson: Well Aristotle....relogion takes over there :-)
[13:35] AristotleVon Doobie: or is that intended even?
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: never the .less santa has a place at christmas eve I think
[13:35] Gemma Cleanslate: yep
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: adds to the correct setting
[13:35] Gemma Cleanslate: but again that is culture
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: I use to be santa myself sometimes
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: :
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:36] AristotleVon Doobie: I am guilty with my children of passing it on to them
[13:36] herman Bergson: Well Bejiita ...I guess now you first need to see a doctor
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: lol
[13:36] herman Bergson: lecture we'll introduce rationality....
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: Its really interesting this with supernatural believes
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: same with ghosts and so
[13:37] herman Bergson: as the opponent of supernatural beliefs...
[13:37] AristotleVon Doobie: great, I need some
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: I ve never seen one but many claim they have
[13:37] AristotleVon Doobie: I would like to be on the rationality team
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: in old houses and so they really can hear strange stuff and so
[13:37] herman Bergson: Yes will be a little diappointing I believe
[13:38] herman Bergson: Well Aristotle..I think you should wait till next Thursday and then reconsider tour wish
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: If they were kind i wouldnt have anything about it if they existed
[13:38] AristotleVon Doobie: LOL
[13:38] AristotleVon Doobie: okie dokie
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: would be fun to really see one for once
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:39] Simargl Talaj: Herman, how would you like to focus the last few minutes here? I fear I have lost track of what is appropriate,
[13:39] herman Bergson: Oh yes Bejiita....I'd really LOVE to see a real ghost...!
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: would be cool
[13:39] herman Bergson: the intellectual and philosophical impact would be gigantic...
[13:39] Simargl Talaj: (and religious)
[13:39] herman Bergson: Same is even more true when there really landed a true alien on this planet
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:40] herman Bergson: that would kill God really, tho Nietzsche claimed that he is dead already
[13:40] AristotleVon Doobie: which is more possible , the alien or the ghost?
[13:40] herman Bergson: I would say neither ogf both
[13:40] Simargl Talaj: Why would it kill GOd? Religons allow for ghosts.
[13:41] Simargl Talaj: a new religion would allow for both gods and ghosts.
[13:41] AristotleVon Doobie: wb Gemma
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: wb gemma
[13:41] herman Bergson: Sim..there is just one god alien would falsify that all
[13:41] Simargl Talaj: and would have the advantage that half its theology was already demonstrated.
[13:41] Gemma Cleanslate: not necessarily
[13:42] Simargl Talaj: ah, you meant aliens not ghosts. Again I disagree. Religon allows for aliens.
[13:42] Gemma Cleanslate: yes it does
[13:42] AristotleVon Doobie: I could start a religion that believes in hobgobblins too, doent make any of it ture
[13:42] Simargl Talaj: Hinduism includes the existence of multiple inhabited planets and Catholic theologians have discussed soberly the spiritual condition of aliens if they exist.
[13:42] Gemma Cleanslate: no but i bet you would have a lot of followers
[13:42] herman Bergson: I am sorry, but chrisianity hardly accepted that the earth rotated around the sun
[13:42] Simargl Talaj: The doctrine of "that anonymous christian" pertained, I believe.
[13:43] herman Bergson: so how can it admitt aliens?
[13:43] Gemma Cleanslate: Herman it has
[13:43] Gemma Cleanslate: easily
[13:43] Simargl Talaj: It has acepted the solar system for quite a while now.
[13:43] herman Bergson: Explain Gemma...:-)
[13:43] AristotleVon Doobie: depends on how it affects the collection plate
[13:43] Gemma Cleanslate: because they would be creatures of the same god they believe in
[13:44] Gemma Cleanslate: it is my understanding that the vatican has issued some documents allowing for that
[13:44] herman Bergson: but that would mean that mankind left earth long time ago in space travel...?
[13:44] Gemma Cleanslate: not
[13:44] AristotleVon Doobie: Stargate?
[13:44] Simargl Talaj: Universalists would have no trouble with it, and there are Christain Universalists. Buddhists would have no trouble with it. Hindus would have no trouble with it. And the Bible does not say that Earth is the only planet on which God created life, so even Fundamentalist Christians would probabaly survive.
[13:44] Simargl Talaj: damn passed the 17 again, sorry. I'm trying.
[13:44] Gemma Cleanslate: they could have developed just as we did
[13:45] AristotleVon Doobie: odds are against it I think but it is possible Gemma
[13:45] herman Bergson: Well we wont waist our time on such theological discussions....
[13:46] Gemma Cleanslate:
[13:46] AristotleVon Doobie: but aliens and ghosts are just like supersense, ...figments
[13:46] herman Bergson: Because basically it presuposes the supernatural belief in a god...
[13:46] herman Bergson: Yes Aristotle..most likely
[13:46] AristotleVon Doobie: but I will gladly embrace them all if proven to me
[13:46] Gemma Cleanslate: :_)
[13:47] Gemma Cleanslate: we all wil if they are proven :-)
[13:47] herman Bergson: OH me too...I am still waiting for ET...
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: aa yes
[13:47] AristotleVon Doobie: indeed, such a nice guy he was
[13:47] herman Bergson: yes...
[13:47] Gemma Cleanslate: if they do exist they are too far away anyway
[13:47] Gemma Cleanslate: need time travel
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: If my LHC could prove something like that to me as well, but Ill have to satisfy if they find the higgs there i guess
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:47] herman Bergson: Yes seems so
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: would be nice to know for sure
[13:48] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ LOL ♥
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: are ghosts real are there something out there or not
[13:48] AristotleVon Doobie: just need another Jules Vern
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: really curious
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:48] Simargl Talaj: What is our intended topic at this point? The supernatural beliefs of children, and the extent to which they arise independent of culture?
[13:48] AristotleVon Doobie: or Roddenb erry
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: of all the musterious unknown things
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: but i want proof before I bellieve it
[13:49] herman Bergson: Well..I think we can conclude our session for today....
[13:49] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:49] herman Bergson: The issue is clear...we all wait for ET ^_^
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: Interesting as usual
[13:49] Gemma Cleanslate: bergie gave me the beginning
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: aa me too,
[13:50] bergfrau Apfelbaum: :-))
[13:50] herman Bergson: Or for a real ghost...which is of couse paradoxicall because ghosts aren't real

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