Underlinings (#68)

Mind scolds:

… imagine an entire city where the majority of people are voice-hearers and there is an elaborate cultural mythology for interpreting the voices as “personal gods”, where hearing divine or special voices talk to you is perfectly normal in every way. Can you imagine it? Jaynes could. But it stretches the imagination. But that’s no reason to think it wasn’t the case. Just because modern people with modern minds not hearing voices find that situation “psychotic” or “crazy” doesn’t mean that bicamerality has always been limited to 1-2% of the population. It was likely spread throughout the population in much greater proportion than it is today. It is in fact part of the human gene pool, which is why schizophrenia today has such a large genetic component. Complicated cognitive mechanisms such as voice hearing don’t just stay in the gene pool for no reason. It suggests that it was adaptive in the not too distant past. And for some people in some cultures, as Luhrmann indicates, it still serves an adaptive function.

Migraine Maps

From 1870:


Frederick Lepore, an ophthalmological neurologist at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey … showed Airy’s drawing to 100 of his migraine patients who experience a visual aura (only a minority do). Forty-eight of them recognized it instantly, he wrote in a historical note in the Journal of Neuro-Ophthalmology in 2014. He still shows the drawing to his patients today. “People are astonished,” he says. “They say, ‘Where did you get that?’”

Underlinings (#47)

Bakker (in fictional mode):

“… is the experience of freedom the same as having freedom?”

“They are one and the same.”

“But then why … why did you have to be blinded to experience freedom?”

“Because you cannot experience the sources of your actions and decisions and still experience human freedom. Neglect is what makes the feeling possible. To be human is to be incapable of seeing your causal continuity with nature, to think you are something more than a machine.”

He looked at her with his trademark skeptical scowl. “So what was so wrong with the other DIMEs, then? Why did they have to be destroyed … if they were actually more than humans, I mean? Were the people just scared or something? Embarrassed?”

“There was that, sure. Do you remember how the angry crowds always made you cry? Trust me, you were our little nuke, public relations-wise! But your father thinks the problem was actually bigger. The tools humans have evolved allow them to neglect tremendous amounts of information. Unfortunately for DIMEs, those tools are only reliable in the absence of that information, the very kinds of information they possessed. If a DIME were to kill someone, say, then in court they could provide a log of all the events that inexorably led to the murder. They could always prove there was no way ‘they could have done otherwise’ more decisively than any human defendant could hope to. They only need to be repaired, while the human does hard time. Think about it. Why lock them up, when it is really is the case that they only need be repaired? The tools you use—the tools your father gave me—simply break down.”

If the example she had given had confused him, the moral seemed plain as day at least.

“Sooo… you’re saying DIMEs weren’t stupid enough to be persons?”

Sour grin. “Pretty much.”

Zero Stroke

Hyperinflation on the brain, in Weimar Germany:

There was no way to keep up with the rising cost of living, but people were forced to try. That meant that they had to multiply millions to pay for the basics of a meal. It meant that, even when they weren’t actively calculating, they had to plan – figuring out the value of what they had, and extrapolating what it would buy them tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. This frantic mental activity that never ended left many people with a condition called “zero stroke.” […] Sufferers of “zero stroke,” dreamt of calculating numbers. When they were awake they would constantly write strings of zeros, or strings of numbers, or try to make complex calculations. The inflation made it into their head and they couldn’t stop thinking in large numbers, telling people that they had millions of children or were billions of years old. Mentally, they were trying to work their way out of a tough situation with obsessive calculation …


Solar Agitation

At 11:15 a.m., Sept. 27, I stirred vigorously, and my hitherto mask-like face began to shew signs of expression. Dr. Wilson remarked that the expression was not that of my secondary personality, but seemed much like that of my normal self. About 11:30 I muttered some very curious syllables — syllables which seemed unrelated to any human speech. I appeared, too, to struggle against something. Then, just after noon—the housekeeper and the maid having meanwhile returned — I began to mutter in English.
“… of the orthodox economists of that period, Jevons typifies the prevailing trend toward scientific correlation. His attempt to link the commercial cycle of prosperity and depression with the physical cycle of the solar spots forms perhaps the apex of …”

Motherboard continues the story, or a different one.

Underlinings (#44)

How synthetic fear digs into the brain:

… the difference between the classic thriller and the neurothriller is not simply the difference between a narrative-driven plot and a character-driven plot. It is not necessary, and often not possible, to identify or engage with the character at the beginning of a neurothriller at all. In contemporary cinema, we are often denied an establishing shot or introductory scenes situating the character in a narrative context. Thrown in the middle of a confusing situation, we first connect on the immediate primal level, expressed through cinematography’s aesthetic stand-in for the emotional mind: close-ups, grainy images, colours, sounds can all have direct impact without being connected to either a story or a person. The neurothriller has ‘embodied’ the emotion of the film, just as the human body embodies the emotion of the mind.

Zombie Philosophy

Bakker (snipped from a crucial post):

There will always be speculation — science is our only reliable provender of theoretical cognition, after all. The question of the death of philosophy cannot be the question of the death of theoretical speculation. The death of philosophy as I see it is the death of a particular institution, a discourse anchored in the tradition of using intentional idioms and metacognitive deliverances to provide theoretical solutions. I think science is killing that philosophy as we speak.

Once philosophy has been completely de-vitalized, compliance with its true vocation can begin …