I haven’t blogged in awhile, actually it’s been 6 months, half a year! I see the bad and good in this. Bad, because there’s a lack of regular meaningful thinking or, optimistically, lack in finding coherency in disjointed meaningful thinking. It could be seen as good because I’ve been reading, watching many things and all this time has given me the opportunity to delve further into what I’ve been reading and watching. I’m starting to see everything as a whole and it’s providing clarity.
Recently I watched two fascinating talks. One was a presentation by Neurologist V.S. Ramachandran, a presentation about “The neurons that shaped civilization”. This presentation triggered another talk that I watched a few days ago by Jeremy Rifkin on "The empathic civilization”. Both talks are not directly related but surprisingly in essence, similar. They both describe a research study conducted in Parma Italy by Rizzolatti and colleagues which lead to the discovery of “mirror neurons”. I found Rifkin’s description of mirror neurons intriguing, and I felt optimistic from hearing about this. I’ve always been at qualms with the notion of whether humans possess good innate biological traits? Are we genetically good (in a moral sense) organisms? I think I share the same philosophy as what Rifkins mentions “Enlightment philosophers” ideologies of humans, which is we are materialistic, self interested, utilitarian and pleasure seekers by nature. I’ve come to this conclusion from Darwinism, evolution, Selfish genes, genetics, neuroscience and pure observation of human behaviour. However, this talk challenged this ideology which is what made it so intriguing.

Rifkin’s talks about in the early 90s in Parma, Italy, scientists were using MRI brain scanning machines on a monkey trying to open a nut. They wanted to observe what neurons light up when the monkey opened the nut. Just by serendipity, a human by accident, enters the laboratory and sees the nut and opens it. The monkey observed the human doing this, they found that the same neurons light up for both human and monkey despite that the monkey was purely observing and not physically experiencing the act of opening a nut. From this Rizzolatti discovered “mirror neurons”. They found all humans, primates are soft wired with these mirror neurons. For example if an individual was experiencing anger, frustration, joy ...etc.... and if another individual was observing these emotions, the same neurons would light up, as if they were experiencing these same emotions. We are all soft-wired to experience another’s plight, as if we are experiencing it ourselves. This suggests we are actually soft-wired not for aggression, violence, self-interest and utilitarianism but we are soft-wired for sociability, attachment, affection and companionship. So our first drive is to actually “belong”. This drive to belong triggers empathic behaviour.

Rifkin’s explains the evolution of empathy:
  • Around the age of 2 a child begins to recognise themselves in the mirror.
  • Empathy starts to mature once a child can identify themselves, they start to observe others and feel that others share the same feeling. This increases the feeling of “selfhood”.
  • Around the age of 8 years of age a child learns about birth and death. They learn where they came from, that they only have one life. That life is fragile, vulnerable and that one day they are going to die. The child learns that every moment is precious; they have their own unique history. This allows the child to experience another’s plight in the same way, that the other person, other creature has one and only life.
Empathy is grounded in the acknowledgment of death and the celebration of life.
  • In the past, for Forager hunter societies, communication extended only to local tribe and shouting distance. Everyone on the next mountain was alien to each other and so empathy only extended to blood ties.
  • Then there was the great Hydraulic Agricultural civilisations, script allowed us to extend the central nervous system to annihilate time and space and to bring more people together. The differentiation of scales and increasing self-hood lead to the theological consciousness. Consequently, instead of associating with one’s blood ties we began association with religious ties.
  • During the 19th century Industrial Revolution, we extend markets now to larger areas and create the idea of the Nation State, allowing us to extend our families based on loyalties based on complex energy communication revolutions that annihilate time and space.
Rifkin’s raises a pivotal question, “Why stop here?” Why would empathy stop at the Nation State identity.

“We have the technology to extend the central nervous system to think viscerally as a family, not just intellectually. Is it possible that the new technology is allowing us to connect our empathy to the human race writ large in a single biosphere?”

“Is it possible we can extend our empathy to the entire human race as an extended family and to our fellow creatures as part of our evolutionary family and to our biosphere common community?”

I’m starting to think perhaps we are homo-empathicus by nature and it has been repressed allowing for secondary drives such as narcissism, materialism, violence and aggression to override.

I had an inkling awhile back that this maybe is correct (blog entry “Sharing is caring??” May 2nd 2010).
“Caring, sharing = acceptance = species compatibility = species survival. But then I dispute that perhaps the need for the survival as a whole species and not just survival of the vessel (i.e. the individual itself) can be altruistic.”
“...perhaps some species wants and desires could be mutually, intrinsically communicated, hence a mutual need of harmonious symbiosis which could be seen as altruistic.”

I think this empathic nature is the key to human evolution. It is “the invisible hand, it’s what allows us to stretch our sensibility with another so we can cohere in larger social units.” It is what will save our species and our planet. We need to rethink human nature and bring out our empathic sociability. Current ideas of human nature have brought about assumptions in which institutions have been created and based upon. These institutions include our educational institutions, business institutions, business practices, governing institutions. I do agree with Rifkin’s, we need to also rethink the institutions of society and start to prepare the groundwork for an empathic civilisation. To empathise is to civilise, and to evolve.

Neurologist V.S. Ramachandran presentation “The neurons that shaped civilization” also describes the discovery of mirror neurons from the research conducted in Parma Italy. Ramachandran talks about ordinary motor neurons which fire when a person does a specific action and that these motor command neurons have been known for some time. However, there are a subset of neurons which fire when looking at somebody else performing an action. It is as though these neurons are adopting this person’s (i.e. person performing the action) point of view, as if it’s performing a virtual reality simulation of the other person’s actions.

These mirror neurons are significant because they involve imitation, emulation. They allow us to mimic complex act, allowing one’s brain to adopt another’s point of view. Go back to 75,000 to 100,000 years and look at human evolution and the rapid skills unique to human beings emerging such as tool use, the creation of fire, language, theory of mind etc...etc... The emergence of a sophisticated neuron system allowed humans to imitate and emulate action and so a sudden accidental discovery of a new skill e.g. the use of fire; instead of the skill dying it was emulated, replicated and it was spread. It is possible that these mirror neurons have perhaps been the cause of these rapid skills, as a result lead to the acceleration of human evolution.

Ramachandran gives an interesting example, “If you remove the arm, you simply anesthetise my arm, so you put an injection into my arm, anesthetise the brachial plexus so the arm is numb and there is no sensations coming in. If I now watch you being touched, I literally feel it in my hand, in other words you have dissolved the barrier between you and other human beings. So I called them Gandhi neurons or empathy neurons. And this is not some abstract metaphorical sense, all that is separating you from him, from the other person is your skin. Remove the skin, you experience that person’s touch in your mind. You’ve dissolved the barrier between you and other human beings. And this is of course the basis of much of Eastern philosophy, that is there is no real independent self, aloof from other human beings, inspecting the world, inspecting other people. You are in fact connected not just via Facebook and the internet, you are quite literally connected by your neurons. There is no real distinctiveness of your consciousness from somebody else’s consciousness.” There are many that share this theory and have mentioned it in a past blog “Sharing is Caring??”;

“...an interview with John Hagelin, PhD Professor of Physics, Director of Institute of Science Technology at Maharishi University of Management. Hagelin mentions that we are fundamentally “waves of vibrations of this underlying unified super string field.” There are many people that share similar theories; there was a quote by Bill Hicks that “we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively.”

Ben Stewart describes the earth as a “single living conscious organism” in the movie “Kymatica” (which I highly recommend, there are some things that I'm sceptical about however, it's worth watching because it gets you thinking). I think this description best illustrates this notion however, I wouldn’t limit it to just the earth. I have come to the conclusion that we have to stop seeing everything in classes, categories, distinctions, gender, nationalities, religions, blood ties, creatures, and start seeing everything as a whole organism coexisting in one consciousness. To bring about empathic sociability and come about in seeing one consciousness is the key to harmonious existence.

I recently watched a fascinating video of Michael Shermer giving a talk about the human tendency to believe in strange things and its association with humans’ hardwired survival skills. Michael Shermer is a historian of science and is the editor in Chief of the “Skeptic” magazine. I remember reading this magazine in Canada and found it an interesting read, unfortunately I haven’t seen it around in Melbourne and might get a subscription. It’s a science magazine, it explores cultural influences on science, pseudoscience, the use and misuse of theory and statistics. From reading the articles I got a sense of advocacy in the resistance of superstition and irrationality. I think I am generally a logical person and tend to gravitate to logical thinking however; I had a conversation awhile ago with someone about researching true knowledge being liberating. However, to gain true knowledge is to research about not just the topics you’re interested in but to venture out and to keep an open mind. Learn as much as you can about all topics, topics that may appear logical, irrational, superstitious, religious, sceptical...etc. So I try to keep an open mind.

Anyways, back to the talk Shermer talks about the act of believing, “belief”, is a default option for humans. We naturally resort to belief because it’s the easy option, it’s difficult to not believe. Scepticism is not natural. Humans are pattern seeking primates and use association learning i.e. we look for patterns and this is how we learn.

Shermer talks about “Patternicity” which is the tendency to find meaningful patterns in both meaningful and meaningless noise. He gives an example of Skinner’s study with a pigeon and describes a pigeon was placed in a box and he had to press one of 2 keys and tries to figure out what the pattern is and is given a reward in a hopper box when the pattern is discovered. When rewards are randomly assigned and there is no pattern, they will try and figure out any kind of pattern. And whatever they were doing just before to obtain the reward they will repeat that particular pattern, this is what “superstition” is.

Shermer explains that patternicity is an error in cognition. A type I error, or a false positive, is believing something is real when it is not. A type II error, or a false negative, is not believing something is real when it is. He gives an example of imagining you are a hominid walking on the plains of Africa 3 million years ago. You hear a rustle in the grass. Is it a dangerous predator, or is it just the wind? Your next decision could be the most important because your life may depend on it. If you think the rustle in the grass is a dangerous predator and it turns out to be just the wind you have made a Type 1 error, hence no harm done. You’re more vigilant and cautious. However, if you believe that the rustle in the grass is just the wind and it turns out it’s a predator, as Shermer puts it “You’ve just won a Darwin award.”

Awhile back I wrote about the idea of being controlled by fear in my blog “South Park Intelligent Social Satire.” I wrote about the meaning of the South Park Imaginationland episode and how it was trying to convey that terrorists attacks in the Western World have invoked a climate of fear and fear is used as a controlling mechanism. I also wrote about how this triggered the thought of fear, “where it stems from and whether we have socially conditioned ourselves through various means such as religion, or perhaps it is a human trait. We are species competing for survival and have developed this attribute of fear induced by our competing nature.” Shermer has provided some illumination. We are species which are poor at estimating probabilities, so in this case, the cost of believing that the rustle in the grass is a dangerous predator when it is just the wind is relatively low compared with the opposite. Thus, there would have been a beneficial selection for believing that most patterns are real. Consequently, we have inherited a nature of caution or perhaps fear. We tend to default to the safe option (it’s better to be safe than sorry) which is to be cautious, to be on guard of a threat.

Patternicity has evolved due to natural selection for the cognitive process of assuming that all patterns are real and that patterns represent real and important phenomena. Assuming that these patterns are real is where “belief” arises and these beliefs can be self-deceptive. Shermer then talks about lack of control is linked to the propensity to feel patterns and gives an example of how baseball players are notoriously superstitious. Batters are more superstitious than fielders and this is due to the probability of success, fielders are 90-95% successful and are less superstitious tendencies and batters are 7/10 are successful and hence more superstitious.

I was looking up the definition of “superstition” and found this meaning, “A belief in something not justified by reason or evidence.” So superstition is brought about by feeling more patterns and this is linked by the lack of control. This is all semantics and gets all tangled because people have different perceptions, they even have different perceptions of the words they use to communicate their perceptions. It just seems too generic to say that to see more patterns, to believe, is evidence of a lack of control, well this is what I think Shermer is implying. So how is lack of control brought about? believing in something that is “not justified by reason or evidence?” However, there is so much that is unknown in the universe; we haven’t enough evidence and cannot conclude to a solely sound definition. Those who are sceptical, who search for the evidence and do not blindly believe are supposably “in control”? I’ve always had this thought, more the thought of those who blindly believe or delude themselves into believing something that is not justified by reason and evidence, are they happier than those who are sceptical and find answers that lead them to more questions, to more unknowns? Personally, I find searching for true knowledge as liberating, I find when I’m in the act of this I’m happier, however, I can see how delving into more unknowns can produce a void and how people would want to fill that void by believing in something.

Image Credit: Simon Page

I was listening to “Blending Quality” by Arts the Beatdoctor on the train today.

There’s statements within the track:

Essentially what happens is you can employ all sorts of combinations to make different colours out of the sound and it had a blending quality…..”

There’s a certain warmth to it, I think that’s one of the things that make it appealing…

Such tiny things will make my mind go off on a tangent and trigger things that I have seen or heard, well this statement in the song made me think about an article I read awhile back when I was living in Canada. The article was about an autistic savant called Daniel Tammet who perceives numbers as complex, multi-dimensional, coloured and textured shapes. Using these shapes he can visualize and remember the digits of the mathematical pi constant as rolling numerical panorama. In the article, “Thinking with Num6ers”, Tammet states:

Although the digits of pi are, mathematically speaking, strictly random, my internal representation of them was anything but – filled with rhythmic strokes and structures of light, colour and personality. From this random assembly of digits I was able to compose something like a visual song that meandered through every contour of my mind, through which I was able to hear the music of the numbers.”

Extraordinarily Tammet is able to perform complex calculations by segmenting and manipulating number shapes in his mind. Just like the syntactic computation in most people’s minds when segmenting and manipulating words and phrases into meaningful sentence, Tammet’s numerical abilities are as rapid, intuitive and unconscious.

I found this enticingly fascinating and such an unusual way of perceiving numbers. I had a conversation last week on Friday , someone was describing to me about a producer of electronic music who creates their music by means of a programming language. This seems to me the opposite to Tammet’s thought processes on numbers however similar at the same time. ‘Opposite’ in a sense that music and what it invokes can be intangible, ambiguous but can be created in a systematic, logical method. ‘Similar’ in a sense that the process for this is unconventional. It proves that we are capable of breaking away of the conventional, conditioned way of thinking.

I know this is slightly off the topic and is loosely connected to what I was thinking but I then went off on a tangent about why do some of us crave music so much and why do I need to be constantly listening to music. I was reading about a neurologist last year, Oliver Sacks who’s recent book “Musicphila: Tales of Music and the Brain” focuses on unusual cases having to do with music’s effects on the mind. There were a few cases mentioned where a person who suffered from Tourette’s syndrome found relief by playing on the drums, cases where music helped patients to recover, music aiding memory and included people suffering from aphasia (the inability to speak) could sometimes sing. There was an interesting question raised in the article “The mind reader” by Susan Kruglinski. The question was “Does the deep-rooted nature of music suggest that it is somehow essential to human survival, or at least to social survival?” In response to this question Sack includes:

This is a big question. I can only say that there is no culture without music. There are almost no individuals without music.”

And in every culture, music forms a social cement for dancing, singing. It’s invariably part of ritual and religion, and then there are things like work songs and martial music."

This makes me think that music could be partly instinctive. I think of music as ordered chaotic rhythmic wavelengths. I think that everything is made up of wavelengths, vibrations and it makes sense to see why we gravitate (crave) to harmonious, rhythmic vibrations. When I think back to thinking about perceiving music in a systematic logical manner as unconventional, it’s not so unconventional because music is made up of sounds, sounds are wavelengths that can be quantified and measured. The physical world is governed by physical law which is logical and quantifiable. Those who have studied music theory read music by symbols i.e. notes which are a small scale of our alphabet cdefgab, beats are also represented by different notes, minim, crotchets, quavers, semiquavers, semibreve..etc.. sounds distinguished between major, minor, treble, bass… how a sound is represented can be symbolized by p “piano” soft, f “forte” loud, hammer on, pull off… etc variations can be represented in different scales… it can go on…

We perceive music as beautiful, intangible, envoking emotion and logic as sterile, concrete and cold. Maybe we need to start steering away from the conventional thought process of segmenting things into logical, systematic and irrational, abstract and then maybe we can compose something extraordinary.
More information on: Daniel Tammet & Oliver Sacks

On Friday night I was sitting on the tram with a friend, we were going to Brunswick Street. Opposite me was a guy that looked in his mid 20s. The tram was becoming packed and there was a woman who looked in her 40s. The guy offered his seat to her. I’ve seen it many times on public transport, some people get offended because they think giving up their seat indicates they are old, actually it was only a couple of days ago I heard an older woman say to the younger woman who offered to give her seat that, “oh dear, you make me feel old.” Well, back to the lady on the tram, she just stood in silence, jaw dropped and her eyes looked like they were getting watery. Her face had a combination of sadness and offense. I actually felt sorry for her so I started asking her if she knew any good pubs and bars on Brunswick Street. She looked a little happy or maybe I just distracted her thoughts. Another incident where a seemingly good deed sort of backfired, I was attending a house inspection and many people turned up so you had people moving to and fro throughout the place. There was a couple in their 20s. I heard the guy murmur to himself "hmmm…. I wonder which way is north”. It sounded like he was thinking out aloud. I took out my iphone and showed him the compass and said “hey want to know which way is north?” He was surprised and excited as if I read his mind. He kept smiling and saying thank-you. His girlfriend came by and had the dirtiest look on her face. I thought about why we do all these (socially constructed) “good” actions, especially when sometimes they can backfire and are unappreciated.

I started thinking about a recent discussion I had with a friend about is “sharing really caring”. I tend to say that, more for the fun of it but I actually technically don't believe “sharing is caring”. I think sharing and caring is disguised as altruistic and is in fact selfish because most biological responses stem from some selfish reason. The main reason is preservation of the body, survival. Caring, sharing = acceptance = species compatibility = species survival. But then I dispute that perhaps the need for the survival as a whole species and not just survival of the vessel (i.e. the individual itself) can be altruistic. There are some theories, especially if you explore the field of quantum mechanics that state we are essentially energy, vibrations. I remember watching an interview with John Hagelin, PhD Professor of Physics. Hagelin mentions that we are fundamentally “waves of vibrations of this underlying unified super string field.” There are many people that share similar theories; there was a quote by Bill Hicks that “we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively.” Nevertheless, if you believe in this connectivity, then perhaps some species wants and desires could be mutually, intrinsically communicated, hence a mutual need of harmonious symbiosis which could be seen as altruistic. Or it could be due to unfortunately, as I mentioned in my later blog (Hack segment on whether junk food is as addictive as drugs or smoking) our “crude mechanisms that are easily outwitted," animalistic parts which we lack the wisdom to consistently outwit.

However, despite that “good” actions are perhaps derived from selfish reasons, or they may seem like a waste of time because they are unappreciated, sometimes taken advantage of. However, if you see the totality of things, corny as it may seem, I believe “good will eventually prevail.” I remember reading about “Tit for Tat” which is a strategy in game theory for the iterated prisoner’s dilemma and it was used as an example to find an evolutionary stable strategy. It was found from “Tit for tat” that evolution often favors co-operative behavior hence “nice guys finish first”. Well, my personal view is people/organisms who take advantage of others, who find satisfaction in others degradation, who work on a hierarchal mentality, is just evidence of an un-evolved, primitive mind, hopefully these traits will be phased out as we evolve.


Image Credit: Cutest Paw Website

I had a conversation at lunchtime today with some random old lady at the tram stop near my work. The conversation started off about how there was some guy next to me that looked like Kyle Saunders but then trailed off to what “good” shows are airing on tv. There was only so much that I wanted to continue on with this conversation and I ended up disappointing her and saying, I generally don’t watch a great deal of tv because there’s a whole heap of garbage out there. She responded by being alarmed and saying at least watch Sea Patrol. The conversation with her just accentuated the notion that there is a lot of garbage out there. I was watching old episodes of South Park the other day. Some find South Park extremely vulgar and I can see why it wouldn’t be some people’s cup of tea, it can be disturbingly warped, grotesque and excessively crude. All this aside, South Park is actually very clever and is a brilliant social satire. Surprisingly it would probably provoke more meaningful thought than some of the rubbish that is aired on tv.

I watched South Park’s ImaginationLand, Cartoon Wars and Go God Go. All episodes are exceptionally smart and inventive. ImaginationLand is quite gruesome and bizarre, for example you have all the Good ImaginationLand characters being blasted with bombs, severed body parts are flung around, manbearpig ravages everyone on site and then you have the woodland critters and their disturbing exploits. Underneath the grotesqueness of ImaginationLand there is an underlying valuable message. What the episode is trying to convey is that terrorist attacks in the Western World have invoked a climate of fear and have let our imaginations run wild. This message brought me back to the movie "Zeitgeist" and the idea of fear being used as a controlling mechanism. I started thinking where it stems from and whether we have socially conditioned ourselves through various means such as religion, or perhaps it is a human trait. We are species competing for survival and have developed this attribute of fear induced by our competing nature.

Cartoon Wars also shares a similar message. It makes inferences on the incident which I remember reading in “The God Delusion”. The incident involves a Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published 12 cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad which lead to demonstrators burning Danish flags, embassies and consulates being trashed, Danish goods being boycotted, Danish citizens physically threatened. Nine people were killed when Libyan rioters attacked and burned the Italian consulate in Benghazi. Demonstrators carried banners with the messages, “Slay those who insult Islam,” “Butcher those who mock Islam,” “Europe will pay; demolition is on its way.” The episode is about freedom of speech and how freedom of speech is in jeopardy when we let terrorism and fear dominate and control us.


Go God Go satires the evolution and creationism debate. It pokes fun at both views. I think this episode is brilliant and think it has a very significant message. Richard Dawkins is a brilliant intelligent man (I’ve probably seen every documentary made by him, have read his works and generally share his ideas) however, with all he’s efforts to educate, to enlighten us, he is at the same time inciting attacks on differing points of views. Atheism, polytheism, monotheism, secularism, agnostism and religious-isms on top of that.... all this categorisation, this separateness is the cause of the great divide, the cause of great turmoil in the world. Dawkins is just creating another party to be at war with, as Tray Parker and Matt Stone put it in Go God Go, a militant brand of Atheism. We need to eliminate this idea of separateness, respect other beliefs, think rationally, and we need to educate ourselves, question everything and be open to alternative ideas.

Image Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:South_Park.png

Recently I read a facebook status which sparked a bit of a religious debate. Religious debates always seem to be a touchy subject. Some people find it too deep of a topic that they don’t want to delve into it because it forces them to re-evaluate their lives, their beliefs or possibly because it requires a great deal of thinking. Awhile back I watched the movie “Religulous” and what I remember so much from it was the aggressive, dominating, unintelligent, unsubstantiated answers towards questions about religion. Some reactions were so aggressive and frightening; it was so disturbing to see how religion can ignite so much fear, aggression and hatred towards other individuals. Some people are fixed into believing what they have been indoctrinated into believing. Aggression, denial, refusal to understand alternative reasoning becomes a defensive mechanism when beliefs are come into question.

I remember Richard Dawkins interviewing a priest and was asking him valid questions about religion. The priest answered ambiguously, poetically, just plain airy fairy. He just answered with some poetic jargon which he himself admitted to not understanding his own answer. Believing in answers that are fanciful, irrational, superstitious and unsubstantiated is dangerous; it hinders the growth of our intellect, it hinders our quest for true knowledge. It’s our intellect; our thirst for knowledge, the reason why human species have prospered.

This brought me back to thoughts on Eamonn Healy’s talk in the movie “Waking Life” (which is a brilliant movie and by far one of my favourite movies of all time), the future of human evolution and which direction would it take. Eamonn Healy is a chemistry professor predicts the evolution of a neo-human manifesting traits of truth, loyalty, justice and freedom. He talks about when we look at the evolution of the human organism and the development of its interaction with the environment we begin to see the further telescopic evolutionary time.


For example we have 2 billion years of life, 6 million years of the hominid, 100 thousand years for mankind as we know it, then further on we get agriculture, scientific revolution and industrial revolution, hence you are looking at 10 thousand years, 400 years and then 150 years. Evolutionary time becomes shorter and shorter. What this means is as we go to the new evolution, it’s going to telescope to the point where it is going to manifest itself within our lifetime, within a generation.


Healy talks about the new evolution stems from new information, 2 types of information which are digital and analogue. Digital is artificial intelligence and analogue results from molecular biology organisms and this is then combined with neurobiology.

In the old evolutionary paradigm the other (other species) will die and the other will grow and dominate (survival of the fittest). However, in the new paradigm they will exist as a mutually supportive, non competitive grouping independent of the external. Evolution becomes an individually central process, emanating the needs and desires of the individual and not an external process, as passive process where the individual is at the whim of the collective. The result is a neo-human with a new individuality, a new consciousness and so the new cycle of evolution proceeds where the new input is this new intelligence. So as intelligence piles on intelligence, ability piles on ability the speed changes (similar like an exponential function) until a crescendo is reached in a way could be an enormous, instantaneous fulfilment of human and neo-human potential, it could be the amplification of the individual, the multiplication of individual existences, the parallel existences the individual is no longer restricted by time and space (what quantum mechanics is currently exploring). The manifestations can be dramatically counter intuitive but in contrast the old evolution is cold, it’s sterile, it’s efficient, it’s manifestations are those social adaptations such as parasitism, dominance, morality, war, predation, these would be subject to de-emphasis, these would be subject to de-evolution. In the new evolutionary paradigm, it will give us human traits of truth, loyalty, justice and freedom....Healy's concept is interesting, positive and something I would like to see in the future.

I was listening to hack on the train in the morning on the way to work. Hack had a segment focused on a study conducted by Paul Kenny a neurobiologist who researched on the effects of high fatty foods on lab rats. Kenny found that the effects parallels on how humans can be addicted to drugs. Drugs over stimulate the rewards pathways, the reward pathways become hypo functional causing it to not function as well, which in turn drives us further and further to drug use. Our behavior becomes compulsive to the point it’s beyond our control. In the study they found that the high fatty foods send a similar feedback loop in the brain as drug addiction. The question was raised “whether junk food is as addictive as drugs or smoking?”

To this, I think absolutely but of course it varies under certain cases and differentiates between individuals. Some individuals may have more self control and can refrain from gorging on fatty foods and others less and this could be due to numerous factors such as perhaps being brought up to see fatty foods as a rewards system, being conditioned at a young age, being rewarded with candy or maccas for finishing your homework hence, the act of this is ingrained into your psyche. Also, it could be purely because of ignorance, not knowing what foods are good for us. There could also be psychological factors involved.

Well, I don’t think it’s such a terribly far-fetched idea to see addiction to fatty foods in the same league as drug addiction. The nutritionist made a great comment about how it may seem innocuous to walk down the road and grab a burger however the effects on your health can be severe and long term. Since eating is such a habitual act, we can be blind and not see addiction to fatty foods as serious.

This segment really made me think back to the article I read in one of my neuroscience magazines, “The Puzzle of Pleasure” by Gary Marcus. “The human mind, a quirky yet magnificent product of the entirely blind process of evolution.” I’m going to add a statement made by a prominent evolutionary psychologist Randolph Nesse,

"Our brains could have been wired so that [eating] good food, [having] sex, being the object of admiration, and observing the success of one’s children were all aversive experiences, [but] any ancestor whose brain was so wired would probably not have contributed much to the gene pool that makes human nature what it is now. Pleasure is our guide and without it, the species wouldn’t propagate."

Marcus makes a valid point, “only few species seem to spend much time having nonprocreative sex, and none watch television, go to rock concerts, or play organized sports. Which raises the question is pleasure really an ideal adaptation, or – with apologies to Shakespeare – is there something klugey in the state of Denmark?” We have pleasure centers that consist of mechanisms that are tuned to promote the survival of the species however, we also have crude mechanisms that are easily outwitted, we lack the wisdom to consistently outwit our animalistic parts.

Awhile back I was listening to the scientist Joseph Dispenza (author of “Evolving your brain and The Science of Creating Personal Reality.”) Dispenza talks about rewiring the brain and to be aware intellectually that we don’t have to make the same choices, those biological tendencies, biological responses concerned with the preservation of the body. It’s almost like we need to break the habit of being human, to gain control and override the physiology. Every moment we are overriding those physiological responses, we are changing brain chemistry, breaking the addiction to the stimulus and response that so many people live by everyday. Response back to Nesse’s statement above, perhaps if we can do this we can make a more progressive evolutionary contribution to the gene pool.

More information on Kluge by Gary Marcus


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