Received: by alpheratz.cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk id OAA08675 (8.6.9/5.3[ref email@example.com] for cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk from firstname.lastname@example.org); Wed, 31 Oct 2001 14:01:09 GMT Message-ID: <3BE00309.5917A504@bioinf.man.ac.uk> Date: Wed, 31 Oct 2001 13:56:25 +0000 From: Chris Taylor <Christopher.Taylor@man.ac.uk> Organization: University of Manchester X-Mailer: Mozilla 4.77 [en] (Windows NT 5.0; U) X-Accept-Language: en To: email@example.com Subject: Re: Study shows brain can learn without really trying References: <E15yvRcfirstname.lastname@example.org> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1 Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit Sender: email@example.com Precedence: bulk Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org
My girlfriend once got a massively higher score than she has managed
before or since on a pinball game, because she was totally distracted by
a complete idiot on a radio phone in we had on. I think to some extent
our subconscious is much better at most stuff (except the planning
stuff) so generally if our upstart (and IMO evolutionarily late
developing) conscious gets out from under, suddenly we become better at
(sometimes not so) simple tasks. I've driven for miles before I realise
I don't remember a damn thing about it...
I think we could get by pretty well without the conscious 'us' (although
only for the born-eat-shag-die + simple tool use level of stuff).
Consciousness as we understand it I reckon came to us very late on, for
big planning (future / complex social), and frankly does as much harm as
good. That Irish navi that had parts of his frontal lobes ( ~ where we
are) destroyed is perhaps an example of how we'd be without our 'higher'
functions. The fitness advantage for consciousness is not clear cut
either - curiosity doesn't just kill cats, but also hanglider pilots,
bungee jumpers and have-a-go DIY fanatics.
The lower-wattage brain of our near relatives provides a less rich
environment for memes (simpler, and slower spreading). What we need to
address (and I think Susan Blackmore, and definitely my old supervisor
Paul Higgs are looking at this), is to what extent 'we' developed as
meme spreading machines, serving noone's purpose but theirs (and getting
a fitness benefit, on balance, for us the hosts).
> Anecdotal also; but I remember having huge difficulty understanding Jacques
> Lacan's Ecrits until I started reading a chapter casually whilst knitting
> baby clothes; patterns of meaning just seemed to fall into place because the
> front of my mind was occupied. I believe (but with no specialist knowledge)
> that this appears in Zen beliefs.
Just shows how close to 'our' abilities our subconscious can get. Nice
example, because it's the reverse of mine (simple distraction from
complex task - mine is vice versa).
Chris Taylor (email@example.com)
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