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The Family Tree of the Naked Ape

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The Family Tree of the Naked Ape

THE NAKED APE: Exploring the science and cultural evolution of human psychology, behavior, cognition, language, memory, intelligence, emotion, and consciousness. (Uh, did I miss anything?)

Location: #science
Members: 56
Latest Activity: on Sunday

Welcome to THE NAKED APE

Those who’ve know me for some time know that I have a moderately strong interest in human consciousness and psychology. Although mind and body cannot exist without one another – and indeed they shape one another – it does seem that the very core of the human experience of ‘self’ exists in the brain alone.

We all know that much of the functioning and maintenance of our body is controlled covertly by the brain or by biological systems that work beneath our threshold of awareness. We do not consciously decide to sweat, or digest our food, or replace our cells.

And yet, in spite of the fact that we know this, we still cling to the illusion that the functioning of our thoughts, our decisions, our perceptions, our preferences, our memories, and our reasoning are under our direct, conscious control.

But neuroscience and psychology are now showing us that this simply is not the case—that the processes of mind and awareness function just as covertly as our biological systems.

That fascinates me!

How is it that the mind – that place of concealment – is also the one place in which awareness itself is known to exist?

The truth is that we don’t know ourselves as well as we’d like to believe. We don’t control our decisions, our perceptions, our motivations, or our memories as well as we think we do.

THE NAKED APE was created to explore these important topics. I welcome any post on human psychology, behavior, cognition, perception, language, memory, intelligence, emotion, and consciousness.

 

Discussion Forum

How Not to Think About Scrotum's

Started by Doone. Last reply by Chris Nov 17, 2017. 3 Replies

Our Orgastic Future

Started by Doone. Last reply by Neal Jun 18, 2013. 3 Replies

E.O. Wilson: Tribalism, Groupism, Globalism

Started by A Former Member. Last reply by A Former Member Jun 4, 2013. 7 Replies

Gestalt psychology

Started by A Former Member May 11, 2013. 0 Replies

On the usefulness of illusions

Started by Michel. Last reply by Chris May 6, 2013. 1 Reply

How Whites Think About Race

Started by Neal. Last reply by Adriana Mar 20, 2013. 13 Replies

How to scare someone who knows no fear

Started by Adriana. Last reply by Adriana Feb 6, 2013. 6 Replies

10 Amazing Things People's Brains Have Done

Started by Michel. Last reply by Marianne Jan 19, 2013. 2 Replies

Paul Bloom: The Psychology of Everything

Started by A Former Member. Last reply by Michel Jan 2, 2013. 6 Replies

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Comment by Doone on August 11, 2011 at 8:10am

From 3Quarks

MEMORY'S PARADOX

According to Karl Barth, a paradox is a statement "that is not made via dóxa, via 'appearance', but is to be understood parà tin dóxan, i.e. contrary to what the appearance as such seems to say, in order to be understood at all."[1] Remembering and forgetting are deeply paradox human capabilities. A heightened capacity for remembering holds the promise of extended human access to the past, hence increased human sovereignty. At the same time, however, it is tied to the oppressive growth of the burden of the past, which hovers over the living like a nightmare. The burden of the past can, in turn, only be cast off through the development and cultivation of the opposite of remembrance, the ability to forget. The more we remember and thereby seemingly extend our power, the more are we in need of its opposite ability, forgetting. Forgetfulness ceases to be a fault – as it is generally understood – and becomes, as Nietzsche says, an "active, strictly speaking positive, capacity for restraint". We need it like a "gatekeeper", an "keeper of the order of the soul, calmness, etiquette".

more from Helmut König at Eurozine here.

Posted by Morgan Meis at 08:22 AM | Permalink 

 

Comment by Doone on August 10, 2011 at 10:45am

Bonobos vs Chimps: An IQ Battle

And the bonobos win! The key is not just smarts, but motivation, and at times the chimps were too busy fighting each other to complete tasks. But the sexually hyper-promiscuous bonobos could focus, and one in particular came out a genius:

 

Comment by Adriana on August 10, 2011 at 10:39am

I wish I was in LA and could attend this lecture!

 

Upcoming Lectures at Caltech

The Better Angels of Our Nature:
Why Violence Has Declined

Dr. Steven Pinker (photo by Harry Borden)

FACED WITH THE CEASELESS STREAM OF NEWS about war, crime, and terrorism, one could easily think we live in the most violent age ever seen. Yet as the Harvard University psychologist and New York Times bestselling author Steven Pinker shows in this startling and engaging new work, just the opposite is true: violence has been diminishing for millennia and we may be living in the most peaceful time in our species’s existence. For most of history, war, slavery, infanticide, child abuse, assassinations, pogroms, gruesome punishments, deadly quarrels, and genocide were ordinary features of life. But today, Pinker shows all these forms of violence have dwindled and are widely condemned. How has this happened? This groundbreaking work continues Pinker’s exploration of the essence of human nature, mixing psychology and history to provide a remarkable picture of an increasingly nonviolent world. The key, he explains, is to understand our intrinsic motives—the inner demons and the better angels—and how changing circumstances have allowed our better angels to prevail.

Comment by Doone on August 10, 2011 at 9:34am

The Old Man Boom

Room For Debate asks contributors to discuss the finding that "the number of men age 65 and older increased by 21 percent from 2000 to 2010, nearly double the 11.2 percent growth rate for women in that age group." Demographer Ronald Lee augments the data:

This difference reflects a change in earlier smoking behavior for men and women. Men took up smoking earlier in the century than women, so male life expectancy experienced its period of slow growth a while ago while the sex gap in mortality widened. Women started smoking later, and the slow improvement in their life expectancy reflects this.

Alicia H. Munnell weighs "cost vs benefits":

[T]he convergence in life expectancy may well lead to an improvement in the economic well-being of older Americans.

 

Comment by Doone on August 10, 2011 at 9:32am

Separating Human From Animal

Cory Cotten-Potter argues it's harder than you think:

When humanity is examined in a scientific context most of the traditional theories are problematic.  Man is a rational animal, yes, but thegreat apes have been shown to be capable of logical reasoning, and there is evidence to suggest thatAfrican grey parrots should be added to the list.  Man is a tool-using animal, but so are apes, dolphins, elephants, and others. Human dignity as a defining concept offers little help; although it is an integral part of many political, religious, and philosophical texts and may help shape our valuation of humanity, there is no consensus regarding its conceptual origin. Many agree that humans have an innate and inalienable dignity, yet the concept of dignity is usually proscriptive regarding humanity’s actions, not descriptive of humanity’s condition.

 

Comment by Doone on August 8, 2011 at 9:40am

Pundits: Foxes vs Hedgehogs

800px-European_hedgehog_(Erinaceus_europaeus)

Jonah Lehrer interviewed Philip Tetlock, the social scientist who disproved the authority of political pundits:

Some experts displayed a top-down style of reasoning: politics as a deductive art. They started with a big-idea premise about human nature, society, or economics and applied it to the specifics of the case. They tended to reach more confident conclusions about the future. And the positions they reached were easier to classify ideologically: that is the Keynesian prediction and that is the free-market fundamentalist prediction and that is the worst-case environmentalist prediction and that is the best case technology-driven growth prediction etc.

Other experts displayed a bottom-up style of reasoning: politics as a much messier inductive art.

 

Comment by Doone on August 4, 2011 at 3:35pm

Unnecessary Legislation of the Day

 

 

Unnecessary Legislation of the Day: In São Paulo, where a judge recently approved what would be Brazil’s first same-sex marriage, an article of legislation was adopted yesterday to declare the third Sunday of each December “Heterosexual Pride Day.”

The legislation still requires Mayor Gilberto Kassab’s signature to become official law, and gave no indication what his final decision might be.

Carlos Apolinario, who proposed the legislation, said Heterosexual Pride day was “not anti-gay but a protest against the privileges the gay community enjoys.” Apolinario raised specific objection to the annual Gay Pride Day parade’s occupation of Paulista Avenue, a main city street, which the March for Jesus is not allowed to use. “I respect gays and I am against any kind of aggression made against them,” he went on to say. “I have no trouble coexisting with gays as long as their behavior is normal.”

The Brazilian LGBT Association raised concerns that the legislation would lead to a rise in homophobic violence. “The celebration of heterosexual pride is inappropriate because it belittles the just cause of the LGBT community,” the association said. “Unlike homosexuals, heterosexuals are not discriminated against simply for being heterosexuals.”

[ap.]

 

Comment by Doone on August 4, 2011 at 11:16am

Why Are We Getting Smarter?

Jonah Lehrer mulls the Flynn Effect, or the "the widespread increase in IQ scores over time."  One theory:

One frequently cited factor is the increasing complexity of entertainment, which might enhance abstract problem solving skills. (As Flynn himself noted, “The very fact that children are better and better at IQ test problems logically entails that they have learned at least that kind of problem-solving skill better, and it must have been learned somewhere.”) This suggests that, because people are now forced to make sense ofLost or the Harry Potter series or World of Warcraft, they’re also better able to handle hard logic puzzles. (The effect is probably indirect, with the difficult forms of culture enhancing working memory and the allocation of attention.) As Steven Johnson argued, everything bad is good for us, especially when the bad stuff has lots of minor characters and subplots. HBO is a cognitive workout.

Reihan chimes in.

 

Comment by Michel on August 1, 2011 at 3:19pm

@doone - I've added the Believing Brain article to the Naked Ape group Pages.

Comment by Doone on August 1, 2011 at 2:20pm

We form our beliefs for a variety of subjective, emotional and psychological reasons in the context of environments created by family, friends, colleagues, culture and society at large.

  • After forming our beliefs, we then defend, justify and rationalize them with a host of intellectual reasons, cogent arguments and rational explanations.
  • Beliefs come first; explanations for beliefs follow. 

In my new book The Believing Brain (Holt, 2011), I call this process, wherein our perceptions about reality are dependent on the beliefs that we hold about it, belief-dependent realism.

  • Reality exists independent of human minds, but our understanding of it depends on the beliefs we hold at any given time.
  • Once we form beliefs and make commitments to them, we maintain and reinforce them through a number of powerful cognitive biases that distort our percepts to fit belief concepts.

Among them are:

  • Anchoring Bias. Relying too heavily on one reference anchor or piece of information when making decisions.
  • Authority Bias. Valuing the opinions of an authority, especially in the evaluation of something we know little about
  • Belief Bias. Evaluating the strength of an argument based on the believability of its conclusion
  • Confirmation Bias. Seeking and finding confirming evidence in support of already existing beliefs and ignoring or reinterpreting disconfirming evidence.

On top of all these biases, there is the in-group bias, in which we place more value on the beliefs of those whom we perceive to be fellow members of our group and less on the beliefs of those from different groups. This is a result of our evolved tribal brains leading us not only to place such value judgment on beliefs but also to demonize and dismiss them as nonsense or evil, or both.

Belief-dependent realism is driven even deeper by a meta-bias called the bias blind spot, or the tendency to recognize the power of cognitive biases in other people but to be blind to their influence on our own beliefs. Even scientists are not immune, subject to experimenter-expectation bias, or the tendency for observers to notice, select and publish data that agree with their expectations for the outcome of an experiment and to ignore, discard or disbelieve data that do not.

This dependency on belief and its host of psychological biases is why, in science, we have built-in self-correcting machinery.

  • Strict double-blind controls are required, in which neither the subjects nor the experimenters know the conditions during data collection.
  • Collaboration with colleagues is vital.
  • Results are vetted at conferences and in peer-reviewed journals.
  • Research is replicated in other laboratories.
  • Disconfirming evidence and contradictory interpretations of data are included in the analysis.

If you don’t seek data and arguments against your theory, someone else will, usually with great glee and in a public forum.  This is why skepticism is a sine qua non of science, the only escape we have from the belief-dependent realism trap created by our believing brains.

 
 
 

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