How human are humans?

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Abi Smith, Nov 3, 2018.

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  1. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I often talk in my head to work through a problem or something but I've never interpreted it as a conversation with a second presence. More like an inner monologue. When I was really young I used to think I could see myself as an observer. Now I think that was just a misinterpretation of your ability to picture your current facial expression.

    It's an interesting thought experiment but hard to say anything with proof, the brain constantly gives us feedback to our own actions. Probably as an extension of abstract social reasoning, the benefit we gain from being able to see how other people see us or may see our future actions, and on some level that feedback feels like real experience because it triggers some of the same neural structures that real experiences trigger. Like when you're playing a song in your head and it triggers some of the same brain activity as if you're listening to the song.
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Or maybe you really did have that sense of being watched as a child, but as you grew up, you were socially conditioned to dismiss it and convince yourself of a more conventional interpretation. You think of it as an inner monologue; I think of it as rehearsing some potential future conversation, or just a habit I got into. But maybe we're both rationalizing away our innate perception of something more going on, something we were more aware of as children before we talked ourselves out of it.


    That's plausible too. Our mirror neurons allow us to imagine what other people are thinking or feeling, to empathize as if we were experiencing the same thing. So they could allow us to imagine seeing ourselves through others' eyes as well. Of course, given how complex cognition is, both explanations could be right.
     
  3. marlboro

    marlboro Captain Captain

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    I would be lying if I said that I had a firm grasp on most of the stuff in that article, but I think I get the gist of it.

    Feel free to skip all of the stuff below. It's a rambling mess.

    So, when I see an object, there exists a "me" an "object" and an "awareness of me and the object." And that goes for everything that acts as a stimulus. 99.9999% of that happens without me being aware of it.

    Where the imaginary person/ crowd/God comes in would most likely be when we are dealing with an abstract problem. There would be "me" and "me and an apple " and a "hypothetical apple." Since the apple doesn't actually exist I have to modify the "apple and me" so that I can accurately describe the apple.

    Is my need to describe the apple to myself the reason why I concoct an imaginary listener? Maybe language makes it easier than trying to visualize an object or concept in my mind. So I "say" the apple is red, the apple is sweet etc. while my listener helps me refine my description. We are social creatures and language is an easy, but not always precise, form of communication so perhaps that is what we rely on to help us solve abstract problems.


    A follow-up question: why do we choose particular "listeners" ? Christopher's friend may have been influenced to have God as her sole listener, but why did I end up with multiple listeners? Why does Christopher sometimes have an entire crowd? Would it depend on what type of abstract problem we are trying to solve?

    I have no idea. An interesting topic nevertheless.


    'night folks.
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I don't think there's necessarily a specific reason for things like that; a lot of it is just the mechanics of how the brain works and us trying to make sense of it after the fact. I think the sense of duality -- ourselves and the consciousness watching us -- is just inherent in the way consciousness emerges, and we try to make sense of that perception through analogy with real-world equivalents. For instance, the reason I imagined I was talking to a TV audience as a kid was simply because I watched a lot of TV, including kids' shows with hosts addressing the audience (e.g. Captain Kangaroo, Mister Rogers, or Bill Cosby on Fat Albert), and so I emulated what I was used to seeing. It didn't hurt that I've always been kind of a ham and enjoyed performing for an audience.

    But you may be right about using language to help crystallize and focus our thoughts. I think that's implied in the article I posted about elephants -- that having a fully realized language to let us codify, transmit, and preserve the ideas in our minds allows us to develop and understand those ideas more fully, to express them to ourselves as well as others in ways we couldn't do without language. So our intelligence is intrinsically linked to language, and that's why we think in words and have inner monologues. And not just spoken words. When I hear words, I see them written in my mind's eye, and vice-versa. I've always assumed that was because I learned to read when I was very young; I literally have no memory of being unable to read, so I've always seen written and spoken language as facets of the same thing. To answer the earlier question about deaf or mute people, presuming they've been deaf since birth, they probably think in sign language and/or written language. Sign is as much a fully developed language as speech; in fact, it's believed that humans evolved sign language first and then repurposed some of that neural architecture for spoken language.
     
  5. FormerLurker

    FormerLurker Commodore Commodore

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    She could reverse it on you. Rather than she being the one to interpret her attention schema as God, she may feel you're some poor benighted soul, misinterpreting the voice of God as your subconscious complaining about how badly you file your memories. Indeed, if there is a God, manifesting as an attention schema makes much more sense than an ethereal voice from nowhere, telling you to respect the burning bush.
     
  6. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I think we all just see what we want. A religious person wants to see God so they see God. A very social person wants a crowd to converse with so they see that.

    (Attribution theory)

    I don’t know exactly what the process is neurologically that creates the effects, probably all of the above. Helping us predict the results of our actions, a runaway process of neural cascading creating multimodal feedback.

    Complex thought needs language because it allows you to reduce the number of concepts to hold in your active attention. Like a pointer or object in complex code.

    Also I wonder if using conversational auditory feedback is a memory hack. It increases the amount of information we can hold on our brains at the same time by making use of our ability to recall audio sequences.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2018
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Ooh, interesting thought. That's sort of like what we do with mnemonic phrases and songs to help us remember things like the alphabet or the planets or the states of the Union. (I still remember the insipid song we were taught in grade school to memorize the 50 states, and I still have to call it up in my mind if I want to go through the list of states in my head. I never needed to learn a mnemonic for the order of the planets, though; I learned astronomy so early in life that that knowledge was elementary to me and I didn't need anything else to help me remember it.)
     
  8. marlboro

    marlboro Captain Captain

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    Follow-up question: do your "listeners" ever talk back? Mine do not. The reason I ask is because I find the lady whose listener was God fascinating.

    I grew up amidst some very religious people, and I have often heard them say that God gave them the answer to some problem that they were praying to Him about. It never occurred to me that they actually may have "heard" a response in their mind.
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    If you mean, do I experience auditory hallucinations, the answer is no. The only times that's ever happened have been when I've been drifting off to sleep and in a hypnagogic, semi-dreaming state, or sometimes when I was sitting quietly in thought long enough to enter a similar state, and I'd often be startled out of it when I "heard" a disembodied voice suddenly say something or call my name. But for some reason, that hasn't happened in many, many years.

    As for my friend, I don't think she interpreted God as literally speaking to her in a verbal sense. As she described it, it was more just that she believed she sensed God's constant presence around her, watching over her, and never felt alone.


    I doubt most of them do. As I've heard religious people talk about it, it's more that they feel God has guided them to figure out the solution, or given them a sign that pointed them in the right direction. Or if they have an intuition or epiphany that just suddenly comes to them, rather than following a clear chain of reasoning, they interpret that epiphany as God putting the answer in their heads.

    Still, a number of ecstatic or ascetic religious practices (e.g. fasting, speaking in tongues, Whirling Dervishes, etc.) are about achieving an altered mental state that's conducive to sensory hallucinations, "out-of-body" perceptions, and the like, so people who get themselves into those states could easily believe they'd seen or heard the divine directly. I suspect that's why so many ancient religions were founded by people who had their spiritual epiphanies while fasting or lost in the desert. Although religious people would say that the altered mental state merely opens the mind to a higher truth.
     
  10. marlboro

    marlboro Captain Captain

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    No no I wasn't talking about an old testament "Hey, Moses you got a sec?" message from Jehovah. I just meant that my conversations were totally one sided. I speak, but there is no response. It isnt needed. Just the visualization of the non responsive listener is enough.

    I am just wondering if some people carry on an actual dialog of some sort. And, if so, how would the number of listeners they envision impact the way they think? And who your brain chooses as a listener would be incredibly important, too, I would think. Particularly if you only have one sounding board. Having your brain ask the equivalent of "WWJD? " for the countless minor and major problems we puzzle out every day would seem to be very restrictive.
     
  11. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I've heard of people who think they can speak to God when they smoke marijuana.
     
  12. Serveaux

    Serveaux The Wind Premium Member

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    They're all descended from Genghis Khan.

    When did he find time to conquer anyplace, anyway?
     
  13. Serveaux

    Serveaux The Wind Premium Member

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  14. KamenRiderBlade

    KamenRiderBlade Commander Red Shirt

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    I concur, Arik Soong figured out what was wrong with the original Augments, and Genetic Engineering can and will be used for the betterment of all society.
     
  15. KamenRiderBlade

    KamenRiderBlade Commander Red Shirt

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    Such a small view of things.
    Why do we have Bio Weapons & Nuclear Weapons? It's called the MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) doctrine.
    If you understood history, we need these things because large enemy Nation States like the USSR & China still possess them. Without them, we would be in very deep trouble should they threaten us and go through on that threat.

    Look at StarFleet, 1 Photon Torpedo can do way more damage than our greates H-Bomb. Yet every StarShip & Shuttle carries. them.

    For all the good we have done, we've found a way to preserve the peace & society by being armed & ready.

    Peace doesn't happen just because you wish for it and beg for your lives.

    It happens because others know that we don't mess around should we get threatened.

    You're living safe & sound in modern Western Society Thanks to all the Sacrifices that previous generations and Western allies have made to create the world we have.

    We have a duty to maintain that peace and to make sure that others can't just manipulate the world through force of arms as they see fit.

    StarFleet has the same duty and exists to Explore and Keep the peace.

    They did a good job in the Dominion War and did their best to keep the UFP in tact.
     
  16. Nyotarules

    Nyotarules Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Only one nation state in our history has used nuclear weapons on an enemy (rightly or wrongly) and it was not China or the former USSR.
     
  17. Nyotarules

    Nyotarules Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Medical advancements are just tools in the hands of humans, whether its used for good or ill depends on the hands using the tool.
     
  18. KamenRiderBlade

    KamenRiderBlade Commander Red Shirt

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    And? We had a good reason to use it. It was necessary to end the war. Or would you rather have more Americans dead because you were afraid to push the button? The Mainland invasion of Japan would've consumed a HUGE cost on American Soldiers lives along with unnecessary civilian deaths who would've literally fought to the bitter end.
     
  19. KamenRiderBlade

    KamenRiderBlade Commander Red Shirt

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    Exactly, that's why we should be using it to improve the human population.
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It actually had no impact on the war. Most of Japan's cities had already been destroyed with conventional firebombing raids -- some with higher death tolls than the immediate loss of life from the atomic bombs -- yet the Imperial regime had already decided they didn't care how many Japanese citizens died. The leaders of Japan barely reacted to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima -- and they convened their meeting to discuss surrender before Nagasaki was bombed. The real reason they surrendered was because Stalin had finally declared war on Japan the day before. Japan had planned to either use the USSR as an intermediary to negotiate beneficial surrender terms, or to fight fiercely enough against an Allied invasion to force the Allies to accept beneficial surrender terms. They couldn't do either of those if the Soviet Army invaded too, so they were left with no option but to accept unconditional surrender. They pretended they'd surrendered because of the bomb, since it let them save face and pretend they'd done it to protect their citizens, and since it appeased their American occupiers to let them think they'd been the ones to win the war.

    https://foreignpolicy.com/2013/05/30/the-bomb-didnt-beat-japan-stalin-did/
     
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