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Lateralization of brain function - Wikipedia
Language functions such as grammar, vocabulary and literal meaning are typically lateralized to the left hemisphere, especially in right handed individuals.[3] While language production is left-lateralized in up to 90% of right-handers, it is more bilateral, or even right-lateralized, in approximately 50% of left-handers.[4]

Broca's area and Wernicke's area, two areas associated with the production of speech, are located in the left cerebral hemisphere for about 95% of right-handers, but about 70% of left-handers.[5]:69

Auditory and visual processing
The processing of visual and auditory stimuli, spatial manipulation, facial perception, and artistic ability are represented bilaterally.[4] Numerical estimation, comparison and online calculation depend on bilateral parietal regions[6][7] while exact calculation and fact retrieval are associated with left parietal regions, perhaps due to their ties to linguistic processing.[6][7]


Depression is linked with a hyperactive right hemisphere, with evidence of selective involvement in "processing negative emotions, pessimistic thoughts and unconstructive thinking styles", as well as vigilance, arousal and self-reflection, and a relatively hypoactive left hemisphere, "specifically involved in processing pleasurable experiences" and "relatively more involved in decision-making processes".

Chaos and Order; the right and left hemispheres: https://orthosphere.wordpress.com/2018/05/23/chaos-and-order-the-right-and-left-hemispheres/
In The Master and His Emissary, Iain McGilchrist writes that a creature like a bird needs two types of consciousness simultaneously. It needs to be able to focus on something specific, such as pecking at food, while it also needs to keep an eye out for predators which requires a more general awareness of environment.

These are quite different activities. The Left Hemisphere (LH) is adapted for a narrow focus. The Right Hemisphere (RH) for the broad. The brains of human beings have the same division of function.

The LH governs the right side of the body, the RH, the left side. With birds, the left eye (RH) looks for predators, the right eye (LH) focuses on food and specifics. Since danger can take many forms and is unpredictable, the RH has to be very open-minded.

The LH is for narrow focus, the explicit, the familiar, the literal, tools, mechanism/machines and the man-made. The broad focus of the RH is necessarily more vague and intuitive and handles the anomalous, novel, metaphorical, the living and organic. The LH is high resolution but narrow, the RH low resolution but broad.

The LH exhibits unrealistic optimism and self-belief. The RH has a tendency towards depression and is much more realistic about a person’s own abilities. LH has trouble following narratives because it has a poor sense of “wholes.” In art it favors flatness, abstract and conceptual art, black and white rather than color, simple geometric shapes and multiple perspectives all shoved together, e.g., cubism. Particularly RH paintings emphasize vistas with great depth of field and thus space and time,[1] emotion, figurative painting and scenes related to the life world. In music, LH likes simple, repetitive rhythms. The RH favors melody, harmony and complex rhythms.


Schizophrenia is a disease of extreme LH emphasis. Since empathy is RH and the ability to notice emotional nuance facially, vocally and bodily expressed, schizophrenics tend to be paranoid and are often convinced that the real people they know have been replaced by robotic imposters. This is at least partly because they lose the ability to intuit what other people are thinking and feeling – hence they seem robotic and suspicious.

Oswald Spengler’s The Decline of the West as well as McGilchrist characterize the West as awash in phenomena associated with an extreme LH emphasis. Spengler argues that Western civilization was originally much more RH (to use McGilchrist’s categories) and that all its most significant artistic (in the broadest sense) achievements were triumphs of RH accentuation.

The RH is where novel experiences and the anomalous are processed and where mathematical, and other, problems are solved. The RH is involved with the natural, the unfamiliar, the unique, emotions, the embodied, music, humor, understanding intonation and emotional nuance of speech, the metaphorical, nuance, and social relations. It has very little speech, but the RH is necessary for processing all the nonlinguistic aspects of speaking, including body language. Understanding what someone means by vocal inflection and facial expressions is an intuitive RH process rather than explicit.


RH is very much the center of lived experience; of the life world with all its depth and richness. The RH is “the master” from the title of McGilchrist’s book. The LH ought to be no more than the emissary; the valued servant of the RH. However, in the last few centuries, the LH, which has tyrannical tendencies, has tried to become the master. The LH is where the ego is predominantly located. In split brain patients where the LH and the RH are surgically divided (this is done sometimes in the case of epileptic patients) one hand will sometimes fight with the other. In one man’s case, one hand would reach out to hug his wife while the other pushed her away. One hand reached for one shirt, the other another shirt. Or a patient will be driving a car and one hand will try to turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction. In these cases, the “naughty” hand is usually the left hand (RH), while the patient tends to identify herself with the right hand governed by the LH. The two hemispheres have quite different personalities.

The connection between LH and ego can also be seen in the fact that the LH is competitive, contentious, and agonistic. It wants to win. It is the part of you that hates to lose arguments.

Using the metaphor of Chaos and Order, the RH deals with Chaos – the unknown, the unfamiliar, the implicit, the emotional, the dark, danger, mystery. The LH is connected with Order – the known, the familiar, the rule-driven, the explicit, and light of day. Learning something means to take something unfamiliar and making it familiar. Since the RH deals with the novel, it is the problem-solving part. Once understood, the results are dealt with by the LH. When learning a new piece on the piano, the RH is involved. Once mastered, the result becomes a LH affair. The muscle memory developed by repetition is processed by the LH. If errors are made, the activity returns to the RH to figure out what went wrong; the activity is repeated until the correct muscle memory is developed in which case it becomes part of the familiar LH.

Science is an attempt to find Order. It would not be necessary if people lived in an entirely orderly, explicit, known world. The lived context of science implies Chaos. Theories are reductive and simplifying and help to pick out salient features of a phenomenon. They are always partial truths, though some are more partial than others. The alternative to a certain level of reductionism or partialness would be to simply reproduce the world which of course would be both impossible and unproductive. The test for whether a theory is sufficiently non-partial is whether it is fit for purpose and whether it contributes to human flourishing.


Analytic philosophers pride themselves on trying to do away with vagueness. To do so, they tend to jettison context which cannot be brought into fine focus. However, in order to understand things and discern their meaning, it is necessary to have the big picture, the overview, as well as the details. There is no point in having details if the subject does not know what they are details of. Such philosophers also tend to leave themselves out of the picture even when what they are thinking about has reflexive implications. John Locke, for instance, tried to banish the RH from reality. All phenomena having to do with subjective experience he deemed unreal and once remarked about metaphors, a RH phenomenon, that they are “perfect cheats.” Analytic philosophers tend to check the logic of the words on the page and not to think about what those words might say about them. The trick is for them to recognize that they and their theories, which exist in minds, are part of reality too.

The RH test for whether someone actually believes something can be found by examining his actions. If he finds that he must regard his own actions as free, and, in order to get along with other people, must also attribute free will to them and treat them as free agents, then he effectively believes in free will – no matter his LH theoretical commitments.


We do not know the origin of life. We do not know how or even if consciousness can emerge from matter. We do not know the nature of 96% of the matter of the universe. Clearly all these things exist. They can provide the subject matter of theories but they continue to exist as theorizing ceases or theories change. Not knowing how something is possible is irrelevant to its actual existence. An inability to explain something is ultimately neither here nor there.

If thought begins and ends with the LH, then thinking has no content – content being provided by experience (RH), and skepticism and nihilism ensue. The LH spins its wheels self-referentially, never referring back to experience. Theory assumes such primacy that it will simply outlaw experiences and data inconsistent with it; a profoundly wrong-headed approach.


Gödel’s Theorem proves that not everything true can be proven to be true. This means there is an ineradicable role for faith, hope and intuition in every moderately complex human intellectual endeavor. There is no one set of consistent axioms from which all other truths can be derived.

Alan Turing’s proof of the halting problem proves that there is no effective procedure for finding effective procedures. Without a mechanical decision procedure, (LH), when it comes to … [more]
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september 2018 by nhaliday
Commentary: Predictions and the brain: how musical sounds become rewarding
did i just learn something big?

Prerecorded music has ABSOLUTELY NO
SURVIVAL reward. Zero. It does not help
with procreation (well, unless you're the
one making the music, then you get
endless sex) and it does not help with
individual survival.
As such, one must seriously self test
(n=1) prerecorded music actually holds
you back.
If you're reading this and you try no
music for 2 weeks and fail, hit me up. I
have some mind blowing stuff to show
you in how you can control others with
study  psychology  cog-psych  yvain  ssc  models  speculation  music  art  aesthetics  evolution  evopsych  accuracy  meta:prediction  neuro  neuro-nitgrit  neurons  error  roots  intricacy  hmm  wire-guided  machiavelli  dark-arts  predictive-processing  reinforcement 
june 2018 by nhaliday
Eliminative materialism - Wikipedia
Eliminative materialism (also called eliminativism) is the claim that people's common-sense understanding of the mind (or folk psychology) is false and that certain classes of mental states that most people believe in do not exist.[1] It is a materialist position in the philosophy of mind. Some supporters of eliminativism argue that no coherent neural basis will be found for many everyday psychological concepts such as belief or desire, since they are poorly defined. Rather, they argue that psychological concepts of behaviour and experience should be judged by how well they reduce to the biological level.[2] Other versions entail the non-existence of conscious mental states such as pain and visual perceptions.[3]

Eliminativism about a class of entities is the view that that class of entities does not exist.[4] For example, materialism tends to be eliminativist about the soul; modern chemists are eliminativist about phlogiston; and modern physicists are eliminativist about the existence of luminiferous aether. Eliminative materialism is the relatively new (1960s–1970s) idea that certain classes of mental entities that common sense takes for granted, such as beliefs, desires, and the subjective sensation of pain, do not exist.[5][6] The most common versions are eliminativism about propositional attitudes, as expressed by Paul and Patricia Churchland,[7] and eliminativism about qualia (subjective interpretations about particular instances of subjective experience), as expressed by Daniel Dennett and Georges Rey.[3] These philosophers often appeal to an introspection illusion.

In the context of materialist understandings of psychology, eliminativism stands in opposition to reductive materialism which argues that mental states as conventionally understood do exist, and that they directly correspond to the physical state of the nervous system.[8][need quotation to verify] An intermediate position is revisionary materialism, which will often argue that the mental state in question will prove to be somewhat reducible to physical phenomena—with some changes needed to the common sense concept.

Since eliminative materialism claims that future research will fail to find a neuronal basis for various mental phenomena, it must necessarily wait for science to progress further. One might question the position on these grounds, but other philosophers like Churchland argue that eliminativism is often necessary in order to open the minds of thinkers to new evidence and better explanations.[8]
concept  conceptual-vocab  philosophy  ideology  thinking  metameta  weird  realness  psychology  cog-psych  neurons  neuro  brain-scan  reduction  complex-systems  cybernetics  wiki  reference  parallax  truth  dennett  within-without  the-self  subjective-objective  absolute-relative  deep-materialism  new-religion  identity  analytical-holistic  systematic-ad-hoc  science  theory-practice  theory-of-mind  applicability-prereqs  nihil  lexical 
april 2018 by nhaliday
Theories of humor - Wikipedia
There are many theories of humor which attempt to explain what humor is, what social functions it serves, and what would be considered humorous. Among the prevailing types of theories that attempt to account for the existence of humor, there are psychological theories, the vast majority of which consider humor to be very healthy behavior; there are spiritual theories, which consider humor to be an inexplicable mystery, very much like a mystical experience.[1] Although various classical theories of humor and laughter may be found, in contemporary academic literature, three theories of humor appear repeatedly: relief theory, superiority theory, and incongruity theory.[2] Among current humor researchers, there is no consensus about which of these three theories of humor is most viable.[2] Proponents of each one originally claimed their theory to be capable of explaining all cases of humor.[2][3] However, they now acknowledge that although each theory generally covers its own area of focus, many instances of humor can be explained by more than one theory.[2][3][4][5] Incongruity and superiority theories, for instance, seem to describe complementary mechanisms which together create humor.[6]


Relief theory
Relief theory maintains that laughter is a homeostatic mechanism by which psychological tension is reduced.[2][3][7] Humor may thus for example serve to facilitate relief of the tension caused by one's fears.[8] Laughter and mirth, according to relief theory, result from this release of nervous energy.[2] Humor, according to relief theory, is used mainly to overcome sociocultural inhibitions and reveal suppressed desires. It is believed that this is the reason we laugh whilst being tickled, due to a buildup of tension as the tickler "strikes".[2][9] According to Herbert Spencer, laughter is an "economical phenomenon" whose function is to release "psychic energy" that had been wrongly mobilized by incorrect or false expectations. The latter point of view was supported also by Sigmund Freud.

Superiority theory
The superiority theory of humor traces back to Plato and Aristotle, and Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan. The general idea is that a person laughs about misfortunes of others (so called schadenfreude), because these misfortunes assert the person's superiority on the background of shortcomings of others.[10] Socrates was reported by Plato as saying that the ridiculous was characterized by a display of self-ignorance.[11] For Aristotle, we laugh at inferior or ugly individuals, because we feel a joy at feeling superior to them.[12]

Incongruous juxtaposition theory
The incongruity theory states that humor is perceived at the moment of realization of incongruity between a concept involved in a certain situation and the real objects thought to be in some relation to the concept.[10]

Since the main point of the theory is not the incongruity per se, but its realization and resolution (i.e., putting the objects in question into the real relation), it is often called the incongruity-resolution theory.[10]


Detection of mistaken reasoning
In 2011, three researchers, Hurley, Dennett and Adams, published a book that reviews previous theories of humor and many specific jokes. They propose the theory that humor evolved because it strengthens the ability of the brain to find mistakes in active belief structures, that is, to detect mistaken reasoning.[46] This is somewhat consistent with the sexual selection theory, because, as stated above, humor would be a reliable indicator of an important survival trait: the ability to detect mistaken reasoning. However, the three researchers argue that humor is fundamentally important because it is the very mechanism that allows the human brain to excel at practical problem solving. Thus, according to them, humor did have survival value even for early humans, because it enhanced the neural circuitry needed to survive.

Misattribution theory
Misattribution is one theory of humor that describes an audience's inability to identify exactly why they find a joke to be funny. The formal theory is attributed to Zillmann & Bryant (1980) in their article, "Misattribution Theory of Tendentious Humor", published in Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. They derived the critical concepts of the theory from Sigmund Freud's Wit and Its Relation to the Unconscious (note: from a Freudian perspective, wit is separate from humor), originally published in 1905.

Benign violation theory
The benign violation theory (BVT) is developed by researchers A. Peter McGraw and Caleb Warren.[47] The BVT integrates seemingly disparate theories of humor to predict that humor occurs when three conditions are satisfied: 1) something threatens one's sense of how the world "ought to be", 2) the threatening situation seems benign, and 3) a person sees both interpretations at the same time.

From an evolutionary perspective, humorous violations likely originated as apparent physical threats, like those present in play fighting and tickling. As humans evolved, the situations that elicit humor likely expanded from physical threats to other violations, including violations of personal dignity (e.g., slapstick, teasing), linguistic norms (e.g., puns, malapropisms), social norms (e.g., strange behaviors, risqué jokes), and even moral norms (e.g., disrespectful behaviors). The BVT suggests that anything that threatens one's sense of how the world "ought to be" will be humorous, so long as the threatening situation also seems benign.


Sense of humor, sense of seriousness
One must have a sense of humor and a sense of seriousness to distinguish what is supposed to be taken literally or not. An even more keen sense is needed when humor is used to make a serious point.[48][49] Psychologists have studied how humor is intended to be taken as having seriousness, as when court jesters used humor to convey serious information. Conversely, when humor is not intended to be taken seriously, bad taste in humor may cross a line after which it is taken seriously, though not intended.[50]

Philosophy of humor bleg: http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2017/03/philosophy-humor-bleg.html

Inside Jokes: https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/inside-jokes
humor as reward for discovering inconsistency in inferential chain



People of all ages and cultures respond to humour. Most people are able to experience humour—be amused, smile or laugh at something funny—and thus are considered to have a sense of humour. The hypothetical person lacking a sense of humour would likely find the behaviour inducing it to be inexplicable, strange, or even irrational.


Ancient Greece
Western humour theory begins with Plato, who attributed to Socrates (as a semi-historical dialogue character) in the Philebus (p. 49b) the view that the essence of the ridiculous is an ignorance in the weak, who are thus unable to retaliate when ridiculed. Later, in Greek philosophy, Aristotle, in the Poetics (1449a, pp. 34–35), suggested that an ugliness that does not disgust is fundamental to humour.


Confucianist Neo-Confucian orthodoxy, with its emphasis on ritual and propriety, has traditionally looked down upon humour as subversive or unseemly. The Confucian "Analects" itself, however, depicts the Master as fond of humorous self-deprecation, once comparing his wanderings to the existence of a homeless dog.[10] Early Daoist philosophical texts such as "Zhuangzi" pointedly make fun of Confucian seriousness and make Confucius himself a slow-witted figure of fun.[11] Joke books containing a mix of wordplay, puns, situational humor, and play with taboo subjects like sex and scatology, remained popular over the centuries. Local performing arts, storytelling, vernacular fiction, and poetry offer a wide variety of humorous styles and sensibilities.


Physical attractiveness
90% of men and 81% of women, all college students, report having a sense of humour is a crucial characteristic looked for in a romantic partner.[21] Humour and honesty were ranked as the two most important attributes in a significant other.[22] It has since been recorded that humour becomes more evident and significantly more important as the level of commitment in a romantic relationship increases.[23] Recent research suggests expressions of humour in relation to physical attractiveness are two major factors in the desire for future interaction.[19] Women regard physical attractiveness less highly compared to men when it came to dating, a serious relationship, and sexual intercourse.[19] However, women rate humorous men more desirable than nonhumorous individuals for a serious relationship or marriage, but only when these men were physically attractive.[19]

Furthermore, humorous people are perceived by others to be more cheerful but less intellectual than nonhumorous people. Self-deprecating humour has been found to increase the desirability of physically attractive others for committed relationships.[19] The results of a study conducted by McMaster University suggest humour can positively affect one’s desirability for a specific relationship partner, but this effect is only most likely to occur when men use humour and are evaluated by women.[24] No evidence was found to suggest men prefer women with a sense of humour as partners, nor women preferring other women with a sense of humour as potential partners.[24] When women were given the forced-choice design in the study, they chose funny men as potential … [more]
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april 2018 by nhaliday
"Really six people present": origin of phrase commonly attributed to William James - English Language & Usage Stack Exchange
Whenever two people meet, there are really six people present. There is each man as he sees himself, each man as the other person sees him, and each man as he really is.


Here's a graph of the number of references of the phrase "really six people present" Click on the first range (1800-1017) and you'll see this, which attributes this statement to Oliver Wendell Holmes. What's perhaps relevant is the reference to "John and James"--I'm guessing two placeholder names.
q-n-a  stackex  quotes  aphorism  law  big-peeps  old-anglo  illusion  truth  anthropology  psychology  cog-psych  social-psych  realness  dennett  biases  neurons  rationality  within-without  theory-of-mind  subjective-objective  forms-instances  parallax  the-self 
march 2018 by nhaliday
The weirdest people in the world?
Abstract: Behavioral scientists routinely publish broad claims about human psychology and behavior in the world’s top journals based on samples drawn entirely from Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) societies. Researchers – often implicitly – assume that either there is little variation across human populations, or that these “standard subjects” are as representative of the species as any other population. Are these assumptions justified? Here, our review of the comparative database from across the behavioral sciences suggests both that there is substantial variability in experimental results across populations and that WEIRD subjects are particularly unusual compared with the rest of the species – frequent outliers. The domains reviewed include visual perception, fairness, cooperation, spatial reasoning, categorization and inferential induction, moral reasoning, reasoning styles, self-concepts and related motivations, and the heritability of IQ. The findings suggest that members of WEIRD societies, including young children, are among the least representative populations one could find for generalizing about humans. Many of these findings involve domains that are associated with fundamental aspects of psychology, motivation, and behavior – hence, there are no obvious a priori grounds for claiming that a particular behavioral phenomenon is universal based on sampling from a single subpopulation. Overall, these empirical patterns suggests that we need to be less cavalier in addressing questions of human nature on the basis of data drawn from this particularly thin, and rather unusual, slice of humanity. We close by proposing ways to structurally re-organize the behavioral sciences to best tackle these challenges.
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november 2017 by nhaliday
How many laypeople holding a popular opinion are needed to counter an expert opinion?: Thinking & Reasoning: Vol 0, No 0
Although lay opinions and expert opinions have been studied extensively in isolation, the present study examined the relationship between the two by asking how many laypeople are needed to counter an expert opinion. A Bayesian formalisation allowed the prescription of this quantity. Participants were subsequently asked to assess how many laypeople are needed in different situations. The results demonstrate that people are sensitive to the relevant factors identified for determining how many lay opinions are required to counteract a single expert opinion. People's assessments were fairly good in line with Bayesian predictions.
study  psychology  social-psych  learning  rationality  epistemic  info-foraging  info-dynamics  expert  bayesian  neurons  expert-experience  decision-making  reason 
october 2017 by nhaliday
Two theories of home heat control - ScienceDirect
People routinely develop their own theories to explain the world around them. These theories can be useful even when they contradict conventional technical wisdom. Based on in-depth interviews about home heating and thermostat setting behavior, the present study presents two theories people use to understand and adjust their thermostats. The two theories are here called the feedback theory and the valve theory. The valve theory is inconsistent with engineering knowledge, but is estimated to be held by 25% to 50% of Americans. Predictions of each of the theories are compared with the operations normally performed in home heat control. This comparison suggests that the valve theory may be highly functional in normal day-to-day use. Further data is needed on the ways this theory guides behavior in natural environments.
study  hci  ux  hardware  embodied  engineering  dirty-hands  models  thinking  trivia  cocktail  map-territory  realness  neurons  psychology  cog-psych  social-psych  error  usa  poll  descriptive  temperature  protocol 
september 2017 by nhaliday
The Function of Reason | Edge.org

How Social Is Reason?: http://www.overcomingbias.com/2017/08/how-social-is-reason.html

Reading The Enigma of Reason. Pretty good so far. Not incredibly surprising to me so far. To be clear, their argument is somewhat orthogonal to the whole ‘rationality’ debate you may be familiar with from Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky’s work (e.g., see Heuristics and Biases).

One of the major problems in analysis is that rationality, reflection and ratiocination, are slow and error prone. To get a sense of that, just read ancient Greek science. Eratosthenes may have calculated to within 1% of the true circumference of the world, but Aristotle’s speculations on the nature of reproduction were rather off.

You may be as clever as Eratosthenes, but most people are not. But you probably accept that the world is round and 24,901 miles around. If you are not American you probably are vague on miles anyway. But you know what the social consensus is, and you accept it because it seems reasonable.

One of the points in cultural evolution work is that a lot of the time rather than relying on your own intuition and or reason, it is far more effective and cognitively cheaper to follow social norms of your ingroup. I only bring this up because unfortunately many pathologies of our political and intellectual world today are not really pathologies. That is, they’re not bugs, but features.

Finished The Enigma of Reason. The basic thesis that reasoning is a way to convince people after you’ve already come to a conclusion, that is, rationalization, was already one I shared. That makes sense since one of the coauthors, Dan Sperber, has been influential in the “naturalistic” school of anthropology. If you’ve read books like In Gods We Trust The Enigma of Reason goes fast. But it is important to note that the cognitive anthropology perspective is useful in things besides religion. I’m thinking in particular of politics.

My point here is that many of our beliefs are arrived at in an intuitive manner, and we find reasons to justify those beliefs. One of the core insights you’ll get from The Enigma of Reason is that rationalization isn’t that big of a misfire or abuse of our capacities. It’s probably just a natural outcome for what and how we use reason in our natural ecology.

Mercier and Sperber contrast their “interactionist” model of what reason is for with an “intellectualist: model. The intellecutalist model is rather straightforward. It is one where individual reasoning capacities exist so that one may make correct inferences about the world around us, often using methods that mimic those in abstract elucidated systems such as formal logic or Bayesian reasoning. When reasoning doesn’t work right, it’s because people aren’t using it for it’s right reasons. It can be entirely solitary because the tools don’t rely on social input or opinion.

The interactionist model holds that reasoning exists because it is a method of persuasion within social contexts. It is important here to note that the authors do not believe that reasoning is simply a tool for winning debates. That is, increasing your status in a social game. Rather, their overall thesis seems to be in alignment with the idea that cognition of reasoning properly understood is a social process. In this vein they offer evidence of how juries may be superior to judges, and the general examples you find in the “wisdom of the crowds” literature. Overall the authors make a strong case for the importance of diversity of good-faith viewpoints, because they believe that the truth on the whole tends to win out in dialogic formats (that is, if there is a truth; they are rather unclear and muddy about normative disagreements and how those can be resolved).

The major issues tend to crop up when reasoning is used outside of its proper context. One of the literature examples, which you are surely familiar with, in The Enigma of Reason is a psychological experiment where there are two conditions, and the researchers vary the conditions and note wide differences in behavior. In particular, the experiment where psychologists put subjects into a room where someone out of view is screaming for help. When they are alone, they quite often go to see what is wrong immediately. In contrast, when there is a confederate of the psychologists in the room who ignores the screaming, people also tend to ignore the screaming.

The researchers know the cause of the change in behavior. It’s the introduction of the confederate and that person’s behavior. But the subjects when interviewed give a wide range of plausible and possible answers. In other words, they are rationalizing their behavior when called to justify it in some way. This is entirely unexpected, we all know that people are very good at coming up with answers to explain their behavior (often in the best light possible). But that doesn’t mean they truly understanding their internal reasons, which seem to be more about intuition.

But much of The Enigma of Reason also recounts how bad people are at coming up with coherent and well thought out rationalizations. That is, their “reasons” tend to be ad hoc and weak. We’re not very good at formal logic or even simple syllogistic reasoning. The explanation for this seems to be two-fold.


At this point we need to address the elephant in the room: some humans seem extremely good at reasoning in a classical sense. I’m talking about individuals such as Blaise Pascal, Carl Friedrich Gauss, and John von Neumann. Early on in The Enigma of Reason the authors point out the power of reason by alluding to Eratosthenes’s calculation of the circumference of the earth, which was only off by one percent. Myself, I would have mentioned Archimedes, who I suspect was a genius on the same level as the ones mentioned above.

Mercier and Sperber state near the end of the book that math in particular is special and a powerful way to reason. We all know this. In math the axioms are clear, and agreed upon. And one can inspect the chain of propositions in a very transparent manner. Mathematics has guard-rails for any human who attempts to engage in reasoning. By reducing the ability of humans to enter into unforced errors math is the ideal avenue for solitary individual reasoning. But it is exceptional.

Second, though it is not discussed in The Enigma of Reason there does seem to be variation in general and domain specific intelligence within the human population. People who flourish in mathematics usually have high general intelligences, but they also often exhibit a tendency to be able to engage in high levels of visual-spatial conceptualization.

One the whole the more intelligent you are the better you are able to reason. But that does not mean that those with high intelligence are immune from the traps of motivated reasoning or faulty logic. Mercier and Sperber give many examples. There are two. Linus Pauling was indisputably brilliant, but by the end of his life he was consistently pushing Vitamin C quackery (in part through a very selective interpretation of the scientific literature).* They also point out that much of Isaac Newton’s prodigious intellectual output turns out to have been focused on alchemy and esoteric exegesis which is totally impenetrable. Newton undoubtedly had a first class mind, but if the domain it was applied to was garbage, then the output was also garbage.


Overall, the take-homes are:

Reasoning exists to persuade in a group context through dialogue, not individual ratiocination.
Reasoning can give rise to storytelling when prompted, even if the reasons have no relationship to the underlying causality.
Motivated reasoning emerges because we are not skeptical of the reasons we proffer, but highly skeptical of reasons which refute our own.
The “wisdom of the crowds” is not just a curious phenomenon, but one of the primary reasons that humans have become more socially complex and our brains have larger.
Ultimately, if you want to argue someone out of their beliefs…well, good luck with that. But you should read The Enigma of Reason to understand the best strategies (many of them are common sense, and I’ve come to them independently simply through 15 years of having to engage with people of diverse viewpoints).

* R. A. Fisher, who was one of the pioneers of both evolutionary genetics and statistics, famously did not believe there was a connection between smoking and cancer. He himself smoked a pipe regularly.

** From what we know about Blaise Pascal and Isaac Newton, their personalities were such that they’d probably be killed or expelled from a hunter-gatherer band.
books  summary  psychology  social-psych  cog-psych  anthropology  rationality  biases  epistemic  thinking  neurons  realness  truth  info-dynamics  language  speaking  persuasion  dark-arts  impro  roots  ideas  speculation  hypocrisy  intelligence  eden  philosophy  multi  review  critique  ratty  hanson  org:edge  video  interview  communication  insight  impetus  hidden-motives  X-not-about-Y  signaling  🤖  metameta  metabuch  dennett  meta:rhetoric  gnxp  scitariat  open-things  giants  fisher  old-anglo  history  iron-age  mediterranean  the-classics  reason  religion  theos  noble-lie  intuition  instinct  farmers-and-foragers  egalitarianism-hierarchy  early-modern  britain  europe  gallic  hari-seldon  theory-of-mind  parallax  darwinian  evolution  telos-atelos  intricacy  evopsych  chart  traces 
august 2017 by nhaliday
Human Self as Information Agent: Functioning in a Social Environment Based on Shared Meanings — Experts@Minnesota
A neglected aspect of human selfhood is that people are information agents .... We initially assumed that accuracy would be the paramount concern for the information agent... But there are other considerations. Groups benefit from collective action, and so consensual agreement may be a high priority. Consensus may be needed in many situations when the means to verify information’s accuracy are beyond reach... Even if dissenters tum out to have more accurate information, disobedience is punished... Why might evolution have made people willing to sacrifice accuracy in favor of consensus, at least sometimes? Here we speculate that desire for consensus may derive from an innate social motive, whereas accuracy is an epistemic motive that would need to be acquired, and is therefore less deeply rooted and perhaps weaker. There may not be an innate motive to evaluate the truth value of assertions or to appreciate the meaningful difference between truth and falsehood. Hence it may be necessary to leam from experience that accuracy is an informational virtue that confers benefits, whereas consensus may be more closely tied to innate motivations .... The human mind discovers early in life that other minds have different information, which is something most other animals never discover. The desire to share attention and thoughts with others could thus be innate (or innately prepared) whereas the desire to sort truth from fiction may only come along later...The group first builds consensus and only after that is done seeks novel, idiosyncratic input that might increase accuracy. In an important sense, information shared by the group is valued more and perceived as more accurate than unshared information

When shared information coalesces into a collective worldview that includes values, it often has sociopolitical implications. Many groups are committed to particular ideologies or agenda, and information that impugns shared beliefs could be especially unwelcome. Political and religious ideologies have often sustained their power by asserting and enforcing views of questionable truthfulness. Hence individuals and groups may seek to exert control over the shared reality so as to benefit themselves. Thus many individuals will find it more important to get the group to agree with their favored view than to help it reach an objectively correct view. One fascinating question about official falsehoods is whether the ruling elites who propagate such views believe them or not... As an example close to home, psychology today is dominated by a political viewpoint that is progressively liberal, but it seems unlikely that many researchers knowingly assert falsehoods as scientific facts. They do however make publication of some findings much easier than others. The selective critique enables them to believe that the field’s body of knowledge supports their political views more than it does, because contrary facts and findings are suppressed.

Assessing relationships between conformity and meta-traits in an Asch-like paradigm: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15534510.2017.1371639
Replication of unflattering psychology classic: People bow to conformity pressure, mostly independent of personality

Smart Conformists: Children and Adolescents Associate Conformity With Intelligence Across Cultures: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cdev.12935/abstract
Across cultures, children and adolescents viewed high conformity as a sign of intelligence and good behavior.
study  psychology  social-psych  cog-psych  network-structure  social-norms  preference-falsification  is-ought  truth  info-dynamics  pdf  piracy  westminster  multi  twitter  social  commentary  scitariat  quotes  metabuch  stylized-facts  realness  hidden-motives  impetus  neurons  rationality  epistemic  biases  anthropology  local-global  social-science  error  evopsych  EEA  🌞  tribalism  decision-making  spreading  replication  homo-hetero  flux-stasis  reason  noble-lie  reinforcement  memetics 
august 2017 by nhaliday
Individual Perceptions of Self-Actualization: What Functional Motives Are Linked to Fulfilling One’s Full Potential?Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin - Jaimie Arona Krems, Douglas T. Kenrick, Rebecca Neel, 2017
We examine which functional outcomes (e.g., gaining status, making friends, finding mates, caring for kin) people perceive as central to their individual self-actualizing. Three studies suggest that people most frequently link self-actualization to seeking status, and, concordant with life history theory, what people regard as self-actualizing varies in predictable ways across the life span and across individuals. Contrasting with self-actualization, people do not view other types of well-being—eudaimonic, hedonic, subjective—as furthering status-linked functional outcomes.
study  psychology  cog-psych  social-psych  values  thinking  rationality  neurons  stylized-facts  poll  status  meaningness 
july 2017 by nhaliday
Overcoming Bias : Conformity Excuses
I picked my likes first, my group second.
I just couldn’t be happy elsewhere.
I actually like small differences.
In future, this will be more popular.
Second tier folks aren’t remotely as good. [isn't this kind of true because of power laws?]
Unpopular things are objectively defective.
ratty  hanson  rationality  neurons  biases  individualism-collectivism  info-dynamics  epistemic  mood-affiliation  preference-falsification  thinking  metabuch  embedded-cognition  water  social-norms  impetus  hidden-motives  homo-hetero  flux-stasis  power-law  heterodox  happy-sad 
june 2017 by nhaliday
Reading | West Hunter
Reading speed and comprehension interest me, but I don’t have as much information as I would like.  I would like to see the distribution of reading speeds ( in the general population, and also in college graduates).  I have looked a bit at discussions of this, and there’s something wrong.  Or maybe a lot wrong.  Researchers apparently say that nobody reads 900 words a minute with full comprehension, but I’ve seen it done.  I would also like to know if anyone has statistically validated methods that  increase reading speed.

On related topics, I wonder how many serious readers  there are, here and also in other countries.  Are they as common in Japan or China, with their very different scripts?   Are reading speeds higher or lower there?

How many people have  their houses really, truly stuffed with books?  Here and elsewhere?  Last time I checked we had about 5000 books around the house: I figure that’s serious, verging on the pathological.

To what extent do people remember what they read?  Judging from the general results of  adult knowledge studies, not very much of what they took in school, but maybe voluntary reading is different.

The researchers claim that the range of high-comprehension reading speed doesn’t go up anywhere near 900 wpm. But my daughter routinely reads at that speed. In high school, I took a reading speed test and scored a bit over 1000 wpm, with perfect comprehension.

I have suggested that the key to high reading speed is the experience of trying to finish a entire science fiction paperback in a drugstore before the proprietor tells you to buy the damn thing or get out. Helps if you can hide behind the bookrack.

Beijingers' average daily reading time exceeds an hour: report: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201712/07/WS5a293e1aa310fcb6fafd44c0.html

Free Speed Reading Test by AceReader: http://www.freereadingtest.com/

claims: 1000 wpm with 85% comprehension at top 1%, 200 wpm at 60% for average


Take a look at "Reading Rate: A Review of Research and Theory" by Ronald P. Carver
The conclusion is, basically, that speed reading courses don't work.
You can teach people to skim at a faster rate than they'd read with maximum comprehension and retention. And you can teach people study skills, such as how to summarize salient points, and take notes.
But all these skills are not at all the same as what speed reading usually promises, which is to drastically increase the rate at which you read with full comprehension and retention. According to Carver's book, it can't be done, at least not drastically past about the rate you'd naturally read at the college level.
west-hunter  scitariat  discussion  speculation  ideas  rant  critique  learning  studying  westminster  error  realness  language  japan  china  asia  sinosphere  retention  foreign-lang  info-foraging  scale  speed  innovation  explanans  creative  multi  data  urban-rural  time  time-use  europe  the-great-west-whale  occident  orient  people  track-record  trivia  books  number  knowledge  poll  descriptive  distribution  tools  quiz  neurons  anglo  hn  poast  news  org:rec  metrics  density 
june 2017 by nhaliday
- the genetic book of the dead [Dawkins]
- complementarity [Frank Wilczek]
- relative information
- effective theory [Lisa Randall]
- affordances [Dennett]
- spontaneous symmetry breaking
- relatedly, equipoise [Nicholas Christakis]
- case-based reasoning
- population reasoning (eg, common law)
- criticality [Cesar Hidalgo]
- Haldan's law of the right size (!SCALE!)
- polygenic scores
- non-ergodic
- ansatz
- state [Aaronson]: http://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=3075
- transfer learning
- effect size
- satisficing
- scaling
- the breeder's equation [Greg Cochran]
- impedance matching

- reciprocal altruism
- life history [Plomin]
- intellectual honesty [Sam Harris]
- coalitional instinct (interesting claim: building coalitions around "rationality" actually makes it more difficult to update on new evidence as it makes you look like a bad person, eg, the Cathedral)
basically same: https://twitter.com/ortoiseortoise/status/903682354367143936

more: https://www.edge.org/conversation/john_tooby-coalitional-instincts

interesting timing. how woke is this dude?
org:edge  2017  technology  discussion  trends  list  expert  science  top-n  frontier  multi  big-picture  links  the-world-is-just-atoms  metameta  🔬  scitariat  conceptual-vocab  coalitions  q-n-a  psychology  social-psych  anthropology  instinct  coordination  duty  power  status  info-dynamics  cultural-dynamics  being-right  realness  cooperate-defect  westminster  chart  zeitgeist  rot  roots  epistemic  rationality  meta:science  analogy  physics  electromag  geoengineering  environment  atmosphere  climate-change  waves  information-theory  bits  marginal  quantum  metabuch  homo-hetero  thinking  sapiens  genetics  genomics  evolution  bio  GT-101  low-hanging  minimum-viable  dennett  philosophy  cog-psych  neurons  symmetry  humility  life-history  social-structure  GWAS  behavioral-gen  biodet  missing-heritability  ergodic  machine-learning  generalization  west-hunter  population-genetics  methodology  blowhards  spearhead  group-level  scale  magnitude  business  scaling-tech  tech  business-models  optimization  effect-size  aaronson  state  bare-hands  problem-solving  politics 
may 2017 by nhaliday
In the first place | West Hunter
We hear a lot about innovative educational approaches, and since these silly people have been at this for a long time now, we hear just as often about the innovative approaches that some idiot started up a few years ago and are now crashing in flames.  We’re in steady-state.

I’m wondering if it isn’t time to try something archaic.  In particular, mnemonic techniques, such as the method of loci.  As far as I know, nobody has actually tried integrating the more sophisticated mnemonic techniques into a curriculum.  Sure, we all know useful acronyms, like the one for resistor color codes, but I’ve not heard of anyone teaching kids how to build a memory palace.

US vs Nazi army, Vietnam, the draft: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2013/12/28/in-the-first-place/#comment-20136


Mental Imagery > Ancient Imagery Mnemonics: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/mental-imagery/ancient-imagery-mnemonics.html
In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, very elaborate versions of the method evolved, using specially learned imaginary spaces (Memory Theaters or Palaces), and complex systems of predetermined symbolic images, often imbued with occult or spiritual significances. However, modern experimental research has shown that even a simple and easily learned form of the method of loci can be highly effective (Ross & Lawrence, 1968; Maguire et al., 2003), as are several other imagery based mnemonic techniques (see section 4.2 of the main entry).

The advantages of organizing knowledge in terms of country and place: http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2018/02/advantages-organizing-knowledge-terms-country-place.html
west-hunter  scitariat  speculation  ideas  proposal  education  learning  retention  neurons  the-classics  nitty-gritty  visuo  spatial  psych-architecture  multi  poast  history  mostly-modern  world-war  war  military  strategy  usa  europe  germanic  cold-war  visual-understanding  cartoons  narrative  wordlessness  comparison  asia  developing-world  knowledge  metabuch  econotariat  marginal-rev  discussion  world  thinking  government  local-global  humility  wire-guided  policy  iron-age  mediterranean  wiki  reference  checklists  exocortex  early-modern  org:edu  philosophy  enlightenment-renaissance-restoration-reformation 
may 2017 by nhaliday
Mental Imagery > Mental Rotation (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
Shepard's hypothesis was that the task would be done by forming a three-dimensional mental image of one of the depicted objects, and rotating this whole image, in the imagination, to see whether it could be brought into correspondence with the other picture. The experimental results clearly supported this idea, because it was found that, for each subject, the time taken to confirm that both objects of a pair were, in fact, identical, increased in direct proportion to the angular rotational difference between them. It was as if the subjects were rotating their mental image at a steady rate (although this might be different for each subject), so that the further they had to go to bring their image into correspondence with the reference picture, the longer it would take them. On post-experimental questioning, most of the subjects confirmed that this was indeed how they believed that they had done the task. (Interestingly, it made no difference whether the rotation was in the plane of the page, or in depth.)
org:edu  wiki  reference  philosophy  psychology  cog-psych  spatial  iq  thinking  neurons  dennett 
march 2017 by nhaliday
Trust, Trolleys and Social Dilemmas: A Replication Study
Overall, the present studies clearly confirmed the main finding of Everett et al., that deontologists are more trusted than consequentialists in social dilemma games. Study 1 replicates Everett et al.’s effect in the context of trust games. Study 2 generalizes the effect to public goods games, thus demonstrating that it is not specific to the type of social dilemma game used in Everett et al. Finally, both studies build on these results by demonstrating that the increased trust in deontologists may sometimes, but not always, be warranted: deontologists displayed increased cooperation rates but only in the public goods game and not in trust games.

The Adaptive Utility of Deontology: Deontological Moral Decision-Making Fosters Perceptions of Trust and Likeability: https://sci-hub.tw/http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40806-016-0080-6
Consistent with previous research, participants liked and trusted targets whose decisions were consistent with deontological motives more than targets whose decisions were more consistent with utilitarian motives; this effect was stronger for perceptions of trust. Additionally, women reported greater dislike for targets whose decisions were consistent with utilitarianism than men. Results suggest that deontological moral reasoning evolved, in part, to facilitate positive relations among conspecifics and aid group living and that women may be particularly sensitive to the implications of the various motives underlying moral decision-making.

Inference of Trustworthiness From Intuitive Moral Judgments: https://sci-hub.tw/10.1037/xge0000165

Exposure to moral relativism compromises moral behavior: https://sci-hub.tw/http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022103113001339

Is utilitarian sacrifice becoming more morally permissible?: http://cushmanlab.fas.harvard.edu/docs/Hannikainanetal_2017.pdf

Disgust and Deontology: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1948550617732609
Trait Sensitivity to Contamination Promotes a Preference for Order, Hierarchy, and Rule-Based Moral Judgment

We suggest that a synthesis of these two literatures points to one specific emotion (disgust) that reliably predicts one specific type of moral judgment (deontological). In all three studies, we found that trait disgust sensitivity predicted more extreme deontological judgment.

The Influence of (Dis)belief in Free Will on Immoral Behavior: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00020/full

Beyond Sacrificial Harm: A Two-Dimensional Model of Utilitarian Psychology.: http://psycnet.apa.org/record/2017-57422-001
Recent research has relied on trolley-type sacrificial moral dilemmas to study utilitarian versus nonutilitarian modes of moral decision-making. This research has generated important insights into people’s attitudes toward instrumental harm—that is, the sacrifice of an individual to save a greater number. But this approach also has serious limitations. Most notably, it ignores the positive, altruistic core of utilitarianism, which is characterized by impartial concern for the well-being of everyone, whether near or far. Here, we develop, refine, and validate a new scale—the Oxford Utilitarianism Scale—to dissociate individual differences in the ‘negative’ (permissive attitude toward instrumental harm) and ‘positive’ (impartial concern for the greater good) dimensions of utilitarian thinking as manifested in the general population. We show that these are two independent dimensions of proto-utilitarian tendencies in the lay population, each exhibiting a distinct psychological profile. Empathic concern, identification with the whole of humanity, and concern for future generations were positively associated with impartial beneficence but negatively associated with instrumental harm; and although instrumental harm was associated with subclinical psychopathy, impartial beneficence was associated with higher religiosity. Importantly, although these two dimensions were independent in the lay population, they were closely associated in a sample of moral philosophers. Acknowledging this dissociation between the instrumental harm and impartial beneficence components of utilitarian thinking in ordinary people can clarify existing debates about the nature of moral psychology and its relation to moral philosophy as well as generate fruitful avenues for further research. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

A breakthrough in moral psychology: https://nintil.com/2017/12/28/a-breakthrough-in-moral-psychology/

Gender Differences in Responses to Moral Dilemmas: A Process Dissociation Analysis: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25840987
The principle of deontology states that the morality of an action depends on its consistency with moral norms; the principle of utilitarianism implies that the morality of an action depends on its consequences. Previous research suggests that deontological judgments are shaped by affective processes, whereas utilitarian judgments are guided by cognitive processes. The current research used process dissociation (PD) to independently assess deontological and utilitarian inclinations in women and men. A meta-analytic re-analysis of 40 studies with 6,100 participants indicated that men showed a stronger preference for utilitarian over deontological judgments than women when the two principles implied conflicting decisions (d = 0.52). PD further revealed that women exhibited stronger deontological inclinations than men (d = 0.57), while men exhibited only slightly stronger utilitarian inclinations than women (d = 0.10). The findings suggest that gender differences in moral dilemma judgments are due to differences in affective responses to harm rather than cognitive evaluations of outcomes.
study  psychology  social-psych  morality  ethics  things  trust  GT-101  coordination  hmm  adversarial  cohesion  replication  cooperate-defect  formal-values  public-goodish  multi  evopsych  gender  gender-diff  philosophy  values  decision-making  absolute-relative  universalism-particularism  intervention  pdf  piracy  deep-materialism  new-religion  stylized-facts  🌞  🎩  honor  trends  phalanges  age-generation  religion  theos  sanctity-degradation  correlation  order-disorder  egalitarianism-hierarchy  volo-avolo  organizing  impro  dimensionality  patho-altruism  altruism  exploratory  matrix-factorization  ratty  unaffiliated  commentary  summary  haidt  scitariat  reason  emotion  randy-ayndy  liner-notes  latent-variables  nature  autism  👽  focus  systematic-ad-hoc  analytical-holistic  expert-experience  economics  markets  civil-liberty  capitalism  personality  psych-architecture  cog-psych  psychometrics  tradition  left-wing  right-wing  ideology  politics  environment  big-peeps  old-anglo  good-evil  ends-means  nietzschean  effe 
march 2017 by nhaliday
Educating people about sources won’t stop fake news.
As it happens, another contextual detail you may forget is whether the story was flagged as a fake. A 2005 study published in the Journal of Consumer Research offers one example of why this approach will likely fail. In the study, people read statements that were flagged as true or false, such as, “Corn chips contain twice as much fat as potato chips” (false). Then, after delays of 30 minutes and three days, they saw the statements again, and indicated whether each was true or false. After three days, people remembered 26 percent of the false statements as true (and 15 percent of the true statements as false). Flagging fake news with warnings could be useful—it’s just easy for people to forget the warnings.

To make matters worse, the more we are exposed to false information, the more we tend to believe it is true—a phenomenon known as the truth illusion. The University of Toronto psychologist Lynn Hasher and her colleagues first reported this finding in the late 1970s. On three different days, subjects listened to 60 plausible-sounding statements and rated each statement on whether they thought it was true. Half of the statements were true—such as, “Ernest Hemingway received a Pulitzer Prize for The Old Man and the Sea”—and half were false—such as, “Zachary Taylor was the first president to die in office.” Also, some of the statements were repeated across the testing sessions. Hasher and colleagues found that the average truth rating increased from session to session for the repeated statements but stayed the same for the nonrepeated statements, regardless of whether they were true. The more the subjects saw a statement, the more convinced he or she became that it was true. We tend to mistake familiarity for verity. Of course, this is particularly problematic with a platform such as Facebook, where the stories that go viral often appear in your feed again and again and again.
news  org:lite  data  study  summary  rhetoric  internet  epistemic  bounded-cognition  retention  neurons  psychology  cog-psych  error  media  learning  info-dynamics  truth 
march 2017 by nhaliday
Arthur Schopenhauer: Chapter XXIV, On Reading and Books
Ignorance degrades a man only when it is found in company with wealth. A poor man is subdued by his poverty and distress; with him his work takes the place of knowledge and occupies his thoughts. On the other hand, the wealthy who are ignorant live merely for their pleasures and are like animals, as can be seen every day. Moreover, there is the reproach that wealth and leisure have not been used for that which bestows on them the greatest possible value.

When we read, someone else thinks for us; we repeat merely his mental process. It is like the pupil who, when learning to write, goes over with his pen the strokes made in pencil by the teacher. Accordingly, when we read, the work of thinking is for the most part taken away from us. Hence the noticeable relief when from preoccupation with our thoughts we pass to reading. But while we are reading our mind is really only the playground of other people’s ideas; and when these finally depart, what remains? The result is that, whoever reads very much and almost the entire day but at intervals amuses himself with thoughtless pastime, gradually loses the ability to think for himself; just as a man who always rides ultimately forgets how to walk. But such is the case with very many scholars; they have read themselves stupid. [...]
pdf  essay  big-peeps  history  early-modern  europe  philosophy  info-foraging  rant  rhetoric  meta:rhetoric  signal-noise  prioritizing  literature  learning  info-dynamics  aristos  lol  aphorism  germanic  the-classics  attention  studying  blowhards  retention  class  realness  thinking  neurons  letters 
march 2017 by nhaliday
Verbal fluency test - Wikipedia
Performance in verbal fluency tests show a number of consistent characteristics in both children and adults:[6][7][8]
- There is an hyperbolic decline in the rate of production of new items over the duration of the task.
- More typical category exemplars are produced with higher frequency (i.e. by more subjects), and earlier in lists, than less typical ones.
- Items are produced in bursts of semantically-related words in the case of the semantic version and phonetic in the case of phonetic version.

The analysis reveals that children have schematic organization for this category according to which animals are grouped by where they are most commonly seen (on the farm, at home, in the ocean, at the zoo). Children, adults, and even zoology PhD candidates, all show this same tendency to cluster animals according to the environmental context in which they are observed.[14]
language  quiz  methodology  psychology  cog-psych  neurons  psychometrics  iq  wiki  reference  distribution  psych-architecture  short-circuit 
february 2017 by nhaliday
Origins of the brain networks for advanced mathematics in expert mathematicians
The origins of human abilities for mathematics are debated: Some theories suggest that they are founded upon evolutionarily ancient brain circuits for number and space and others that they are grounded in language competence. To evaluate what brain systems underlie higher mathematics, we scanned professional mathematicians and mathematically naive subjects of equal academic standing as they evaluated the truth of advanced mathematical and nonmathematical statements. In professional mathematicians only, mathematical statements, whether in algebra, analysis, topology or geometry, activated a reproducible set of bilateral frontal, Intraparietal, and ventrolateral temporal regions. Crucially, these activations spared areas related to language and to general-knowledge semantics. Rather, mathematical judgments were related to an amplification of brain activity at sites that are activated by numbers and formulas in nonmathematicians, with a corresponding reduction in nearby face responses. The evidence suggests that high-level mathematical expertise and basic number sense share common roots in a nonlinguistic brain circuit.
pdf  study  psychology  cog-psych  neuro  language  math  learning  eden  meta:math  intelligence  visuo  spatial  visual-understanding  brain-scan  neuro-nitgrit  neurons  quantitative-qualitative  psych-architecture  🌞  retrofit 
february 2017 by nhaliday
The language of geometry: Fast comprehension of geometrical primitives and rules in human adults and preschoolers
The child’s acquisition of language has been suggested to rely on the ability to build hierarchically structured representations from sequential inputs. Does a similar mechanism also underlie the acquisition of geometrical rules? Here, we introduce a learning situation in which human participants had to grasp simple spatial sequences and try to predict the next location. Sequences were generated according to a “geometrical language” endowed with simple primitives of symmetries and rotations, and combinatorial rules. Analyses of error rates of various populations—a group of French educated adults, two groups of 5 years-old French children, and a rare group of teenagers and adults from an Amazonian population, the Mundurukus, who have limited access to formal schooling and a reduced geometrical lexicon—revealed that subjects’ learning indeed rests on internal language-like representations. A theoretical model, based on minimum description length, proved to fit well participants’ behavior, suggesting that human subjects “compress” spatial sequences into a minimal internal rule or program.
study  psychology  cog-psych  visuo  spatial  structure  neurons  occam  computation  models  eden  intelligence  neuro  learning  language  psych-architecture  🌞  retrofit 
february 2017 by nhaliday
The Learning Brain: Neuronal Recycling and Inhibition: Zeitschrift für Psychologie: Vol 224, No 4
Reading is an example of complex learning specific to human beings. In readers, an area of the brain is dedicated to the visual processing of letters and words, referred to as the visual word form area (VWFA). The existence of this brain area is paradoxical. Reading is too recent to be a phylogenic product of Darwinian evolution. It likely develops with intense school training via a neuroplastic ontogenic process of neuronal recycling: neurons in the lateral occipitotemporal lobe originally tuned to the visual recognition of stimuli, such as faces, objects, and animals, will be recycled for the visual recognition of letters and words. Thus, the VWFA inherits the intrinsic properties of these neurons, notably, mirror generalization, a process (or heuristic) applied to all visual stimuli that enables the recognition of a stimulus irrespective of its left-right orientation. On its own, this inherited property is not adapted to reading because it makes children confuse mirror letters, such as b and d in the Latin alphabet. In this article, we present evidence that inhibitory control is critical to avoid mirror errors inherited from the neuronal recycling process by blocking the mirror generalization heuristic in the context of reading. We subsequently argue that the “neuronal recycling + inhibitory control” law constitutes a general law of the learning brain by demonstrating that it may also account for the development of numeracy.
study  psychology  cog-psych  neurons  neuro  evolution  evopsych  learning  eden  attention  models  thinking  retrofit  roots  psych-architecture  inhibition  studying  🌞 
february 2017 by nhaliday
Overlearning hyperstabilizes a skill by making processing inhibitory-dominant | Hacker News
Usually, learning immediately after training is so unstable that it can be disrupted by subsequent new learning until after passive stabilization occurs hours later. However, overlearning so rapidly and strongly stabilizes the learning state that it not only becomes resilient against, but also disrupts, subsequent new learning. Such hyperstabilization is associated with an abrupt shift from glutamate-dominant excitatory to GABA-dominant inhibitory processing in early visual areas. Hyperstabilization contrasts with passive and slower stabilization, which is associated with a mere reduction of excitatory dominance to baseline levels. Using hyperstabilization may lead to efficient learning paradigms.
hn  commentary  study  org:nat  summary  psychology  cog-psych  learning  neurons  neuro  thinking  retention  practice  brain-scan  neuro-nitgrit  inhibition  mindful  knowledge 
february 2017 by nhaliday
Information Processing: Oppenheimer on Bohr (1964 UCLA)
I find it strange that psychometricians usually define "verbal ability" over a vocabulary set that excludes words from mathematics and other scientific areas. A person's verbal score is enhanced by knowing many (increasingly obscure) words for the same concept, as opposed to knowing words which describe new concepts beyond those which appear in ordinary language.
hsu  scitariat  thinking  metabuch  language  neurons  psychometrics  dimensionality  concept  list  critique  conceptual-vocab  quotes  giants  discussion  wordlessness  novelty  tricki 
january 2017 by nhaliday
Hyperbolic discounting - Wikipedia
Individuals using hyperbolic discounting reveal a strong tendency to make choices that are inconsistent over time – they make choices today that their future self would prefer not to have made, despite using the same reasoning. This dynamic inconsistency happens because the value of future rewards is much lower under hyperbolic discounting than under exponential discounting.
psychology  cog-psych  behavioral-econ  values  time-preference  wiki  reference  concept  models  distribution  time  uncertainty  decision-theory  decision-making  sequential  stamina  neurons  akrasia  contradiction  self-control  patience  article  formal-values  microfoundations  constraint-satisfaction  additive  long-short-run 
january 2017 by nhaliday
pr.probability - What is convolution intuitively? - MathOverflow
I remember as a graduate student that Ingrid Daubechies frequently referred to convolution by a bump function as "blurring" - its effect on images is similar to what a short-sighted person experiences when taking off his or her glasses (and, indeed, if one works through the geometric optics, convolution is not a bad first approximation for this effect). I found this to be very helpful, not just for understanding convolution per se, but as a lesson that one should try to use physical intuition to model mathematical concepts whenever one can.

More generally, if one thinks of functions as fuzzy versions of points, then convolution is the fuzzy version of addition (or sometimes multiplication, depending on the context). The probabilistic interpretation is one example of this (where the fuzz is a a probability distribution), but one can also have signed, complex-valued, or vector-valued fuzz, of course.
q-n-a  overflow  math  concept  atoms  intuition  motivation  gowers  visual-understanding  aphorism  soft-question  tidbits  👳  mathtariat  cartoons  ground-up  metabuch  analogy  nibble  yoga  neurons  retrofit  optics  concrete  s:*  multiplicative  fourier 
january 2017 by nhaliday
soft question - Thinking and Explaining - MathOverflow
- good question from Bill Thurston
- great answers by Terry Tao, fedja, Minhyong Kim, gowers, etc.

Terry Tao:
- symmetry as blurring/vibrating/wobbling, scale invariance
- anthropomorphization, adversarial perspective for estimates/inequalities/quantifiers, spending/economy

fedja walks through his though-process from another answer

Minhyong Kim: anthropology of mathematical philosophizing

Per Vognsen: normality as isotropy
comment: conjugate subgroup gHg^-1 ~ "H but somewhere else in G"

gowers: hidden things in basic mathematics/arithmetic
comment by Ryan Budney: x sin(x) via x -> (x, sin(x)), (x, y) -> xy
I kinda get what he's talking about but needed to use Mathematica to get the initial visualization down.
To remind myself later:
- xy can be easily visualized by juxtaposing the two parabolae x^2 and -x^2 diagonally
- x sin(x) can be visualized along that surface by moving your finger along the line (x, 0) but adding some oscillations in y direction according to sin(x)
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january 2017 by nhaliday
Adaptation executors - Lesswrongwiki
Individual organisms are best thought of as adaptation-executers rather than as fitness-maximizers
ratty  lesswrong  wiki  thinking  aphorism  concept  links  big-yud  things  pre-2013  🤖  essay  insight  metabuch  neurons  sapiens  evolution  roots 
december 2016 by nhaliday
Information Processing: Thought vectors and the dimensionality of the space of concepts
If we trained a deep net to translate sentences about Physics from Martian to English, we could (roughly) estimate the "conceptual depth" of the subject. We could even compare two different subjects, such as Physics versus Art History.
hsu  ai  deep-learning  google  speculation  commentary  news  language  embeddings  neurons  thinking  papers  summary  scitariat  dimensionality  conceptual-vocab  vague  nlp  nibble  state-of-art  features 
december 2016 by nhaliday
Thought Patterns: Marginal · Alex Guzey
Problem: you have a certain action you want to be doing but when the moment comes you forget about it or the trigger just never fully comes to your attention.

Example: Instead of postponing small tasks (e.g. taking out the trash) I want to do them immediately, but when they actually come, I forget about this intention and continue with whatever I was doing before i.e. telling myself I’ll do them later.

How to solve? Make these if-else action plans to always be somewhere at the back of the mind, preferably not far from the working memory, always on the edge of awareness.

Solution: Anki deck with the maximum card interval of 1 day and long initial learning curve.
ratty  advice  lifehack  rationality  akrasia  hmm  discipline  neurons  habit  workflow  🦉  wire-guided  skeleton  gtd  time-use  s:*  metabuch 
december 2016 by nhaliday
gt.geometric topology - Intuitive crutches for higher dimensional thinking - MathOverflow
Terry Tao:
I can't help you much with high-dimensional topology - it's not my field, and I've not picked up the various tricks topologists use to get a grip on the subject - but when dealing with the geometry of high-dimensional (or infinite-dimensional) vector spaces such as R^n, there are plenty of ways to conceptualise these spaces that do not require visualising more than three dimensions directly.

For instance, one can view a high-dimensional vector space as a state space for a system with many degrees of freedom. A megapixel image, for instance, is a point in a million-dimensional vector space; by varying the image, one can explore the space, and various subsets of this space correspond to various classes of images.

One can similarly interpret sound waves, a box of gases, an ecosystem, a voting population, a stream of digital data, trials of random variables, the results of a statistical survey, a probabilistic strategy in a two-player game, and many other concrete objects as states in a high-dimensional vector space, and various basic concepts such as convexity, distance, linearity, change of variables, orthogonality, or inner product can have very natural meanings in some of these models (though not in all).

It can take a bit of both theory and practice to merge one's intuition for these things with one's spatial intuition for vectors and vector spaces, but it can be done eventually (much as after one has enough exposure to measure theory, one can start merging one's intuition regarding cardinality, mass, length, volume, probability, cost, charge, and any number of other "real-life" measures).

For instance, the fact that most of the mass of a unit ball in high dimensions lurks near the boundary of the ball can be interpreted as a manifestation of the law of large numbers, using the interpretation of a high-dimensional vector space as the state space for a large number of trials of a random variable.

More generally, many facts about low-dimensional projections or slices of high-dimensional objects can be viewed from a probabilistic, statistical, or signal processing perspective.

Scott Aaronson:
Here are some of the crutches I've relied on. (Admittedly, my crutches are probably much more useful for theoretical computer science, combinatorics, and probability than they are for geometry, topology, or physics. On a related note, I personally have a much easier time thinking about R^n than about, say, R^4 or R^5!)

1. If you're trying to visualize some 4D phenomenon P, first think of a related 3D phenomenon P', and then imagine yourself as a 2D being who's trying to visualize P'. The advantage is that, unlike with the 4D vs. 3D case, you yourself can easily switch between the 3D and 2D perspectives, and can therefore get a sense of exactly what information is being lost when you drop a dimension. (You could call this the "Flatland trick," after the most famous literary work to rely on it.)
2. As someone else mentioned, discretize! Instead of thinking about R^n, think about the Boolean hypercube {0,1}^n, which is finite and usually easier to get intuition about. (When working on problems, I often find myself drawing {0,1}^4 on a sheet of paper by drawing two copies of {0,1}^3 and then connecting the corresponding vertices.)
3. Instead of thinking about a subset S⊆R^n, think about its characteristic function f:R^n→{0,1}. I don't know why that trivial perspective switch makes such a big difference, but it does ... maybe because it shifts your attention to the process of computing f, and makes you forget about the hopeless task of visualizing S!
4. One of the central facts about R^n is that, while it has "room" for only n orthogonal vectors, it has room for exp⁡(n) almost-orthogonal vectors. Internalize that one fact, and so many other properties of R^n (for example, that the n-sphere resembles a "ball with spikes sticking out," as someone mentioned before) will suddenly seem non-mysterious. In turn, one way to internalize the fact that R^n has so many almost-orthogonal vectors is to internalize Shannon's theorem that there exist good error-correcting codes.
5. To get a feel for some high-dimensional object, ask questions about the behavior of a process that takes place on that object. For example: if I drop a ball here, which local minimum will it settle into? How long does this random walk on {0,1}^n take to mix?

Gil Kalai:
This is a slightly different point, but Vitali Milman, who works in high-dimensional convexity, likes to draw high-dimensional convex bodies in a non-convex way. This is to convey the point that if you take the convex hull of a few points on the unit sphere of R^n, then for large n very little of the measure of the convex body is anywhere near the corners, so in a certain sense the body is a bit like a small sphere with long thin "spikes".
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december 2016 by nhaliday
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