Re: Study shows brain can learn without really trying

From: Dace (
Date: Mon Nov 26 2001 - 03:28:39 GMT

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    Subject: Re: Study shows brain can learn without really trying
    Date: Sun, 25 Nov 2001 19:28:39 -0800
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    > <That an individual with greater than average mental reflectivity is more
    > > likely to succeed doesn't mean that cultivating mental self-awareness is
    > > "all we have to do to be successful." You planted that notion and then
    > > imagined you'd found it there. This is not something you do on purpose.
    > > In the fog of your unconscious it replicates without your knowledge or
    > > permission. It's the "let's twist what was said into nonsense and then
    > > ridicule it" meme. In the abstract we might call it "ridiculization."
    But it's
    > > not abstract. It's real. As real and alive as our species mind and its
    > > largely unconscious individuations.>
    > >
    > This was your original comment-
    > <It gives a competitive edge among intensely social animals like
    > > > primates. While it does nothing for survival of the group as a
    > > > whole, reflexive consciousness determines which members of the
    > > > group are more likely to reproduce. It's among primates that
    > > > terrain of competition begins to shift from environmental to
    > > > The successful ones are those who are aware of themselves as
    > > > minds and not just as bodies.>
    > >
    > Rather than accuse of me deliberate misreading, conscious or otherwise,
    > you not see in the wording here the explicility absoluteness 'reflexive
    > consciousness determines...', and 'the successful ones are...'?
    > Now, if you didn't mean to express this in such absolute terms, then fair
    > enough, but I was going on what you wrote.

    The key phrase, as quoted above, was "more likely." Mental self-awareness
    makes *more likely* the survival and reproduction of the carrier. Nothing
    in my statement suggests your interpretation, which was crudely projected
    onto it. This is something we do unconsciously. There's no need to
    intentionally select the strategy, as it selects itself. It's memetic.

    > <Your mind provides the ecology within which memes succeed or fail. This
    > > one succeeds because it appeals to your desire to believe that what you
    > > oppose is nonsensical. It appeals, not to logic, but to ego. Our job
    > > to root out these opportunistic, freelance memes. To be fully human is
    > > determine which memes are selected instead of letting them self-select
    > > our dark, dingy basement. The potential for freedom in the self-aware
    > > is undermined by memes that specialize in exploiting our prejudices.>
    > >
    > You should be careful about assuming that people disagreeing with
    > you are suffering from this, and you are somehow immune. Do you not think
    > that perhaps that you are subject to the Sheldrakian memes that you

    Guilty as charged. That an idea is memetic, i.e. self-propulsive, doesn't
    make it false any more than true. It's only the cancerous memes that
    perpetuate themselves without regard to their effects on the world or the
    mind of the individual in which they breed. Every malignant meme sprang
    from one that was at one time benign. For instance, while researching the
    "ether" recently, I came upon an attribution for the Lorentz Transformation
    to "Konrad Lorentz." As a physicist pointed out to me, my source was
    apparently confusing the venerable old physicist to the more recent
    biologist, Konrad Lorenz. At first, he would have seen "Hendrick Lorentz,"
    which later mutated. But "Konrad Lorentz" has no idea about such things.
    It will reproduce as readily as the meme for the correct name. If it
    somehow pleases us in some way, by connecting a dimly remembered name to one
    currently appearing before us, than it will outcompete the correct meme in
    the same way that normal cells are strangled by carcinogenic ones. Of
    course, some malignant memes are trivial enough that no harm is done. Some
    can be quite dangerous but not if they're removed promptly enough. Others
    have been known to bring down civilizations.

    > You have after all, been shown to have selectively misread at least two
    > pieces you referred to, and have rejected all oppositional comments
    > expressed about Sheldrake's ideas.

    I recall only one misread on my part, and the Dawkins excerpt in question
    was inherently confusing, perhaps even deceptive. Also, I did accept at
    least one argument against Sheldrake, regarding the ability of birds and
    fish to see 360 degrees around. However, it turns out they actually can't
    see all around them, as I discovered later. Didn't need to yield on that
    one after all.

    > > <A radio signal has no need for consciousness, either at the point of
    > >> transmission or reception. But life is habitual, not automatic...>
    > >>
    > >> What do you mean by habitual and habit?
    > <Habit is based on memory. Automation is based on timeless,
    > > mathematical principles. The difference between life and machine is
    > > memory and eternity.>
    > >
    > Habit, in nature, is based upon the accumulation of adaptive
    > behaviours over time. Corals on the Great Barrier Reef all release eggs
    > sperm at the same time within a 3-4 day period at the same time each year-
    > millions and millions of coral all within the same period of time, clear
    > evidence of the millions of years corals have been evolving, and the
    > adaptive benefits of doing this at the same time as other corals so your
    > eggs don't all get eaten. Do corals have memories, or are they merely
    > following an encoded programme in their neural tissue (I don't even know
    > corals have brains, so to speak) itself a product of evolution?
    > Vincent

    Do we have actual memories, or does the brain encode knowledge and
    experiences for future retrieval? In other words, is memory reducible to
    retrieval of stored information? The existence of a kind of memory which is
    somehow organic yet artificial-- be it genetic or neural-- has never been
    proven and appears to be no more falsifiable than God in Heaven or the
    Resurrection of Christ.


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