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News Briefs 11-09-2009

It’s all relative, including relatives…

Many thanks to Greg for too many reasons to count.

Quote of the Day:

“While the traditional model of psychiatry and psychoanalysis is strictly personalistic and biographical, modern consciousness research has added new levels, realms and dimensions and shows the human psyche as being essentially commensurate with the whole universe and all of existence.”

Stanislov Grof

  1. Why We Believe In […]
    In 1958 there was an earthquake and flood in India. After, rather than express relief, most survivors expressed belief that worse was coming. This persisted for weeks. The Ford Foundation paid psychologist Leon Festinger to investigate this. As a result he devised a theory that explained this effect as well as numerous other instances of conflicting information, including that of emotional response. The theory and book were called Cognitive Dissonance. At the time it was called the ‘first entirely psychological drive’ — as opposed to biological.

    I took exception to that last part and wrote a paper outlining Pavlov’s orienting and exploring instincts (What Is It? and What Do I Do About It?), Festinger’s theory and Karl Pribram’s mapping of frontal lobes being switched in and out due to thalamic and limbic circuitry. Using their evidence I made a good case that they were all one phenomenon, going a bit farther than just proving the drive wasn’t strictly psychological (how something can be psychological but not biological being impossible until we have inorganic consciousness). After reading it Karl said he wished he have walked down the hall and talked to Festinger himself, because they could have come up with this 30 years before. I had no idea when I wrote it they were at Stanford together.

    We believe because it would be too stressful not to be able to have something to blame the stress on besides our own fear. If we are afraid of some THING, we are not so weak as to fall apart from the accumulated after effects (ie. memories) of stressful events. It matters not one bit if the thing imagined is of an entirely different nature than the source of our fear. In fact the farther removed the easier to forget the true source — since the scary other is now gone, it must be our selves to blame.

    Cognitive Dissonance has had only one major oppositional theory, from Bandura. The difference being, according to the papers that flew back and forth, CD resulted in psychophysiolologocal effects, Bandura’s did not. After finding ample examples of Bandura’s experiments being replicated with physio measures, I put that to rest handily. Thus Festinger remains alone to explain not only why we believe, but why we must.

    Check out his book “Cognitive Dissonance”. It’s not a test book, and hardly even very scientific except for its very simple main ideas. Then see for yourself if it explains a lot of behaviors you see in yourself and others, from the person next to you to international tensions, and most similar problems through history.

  2. Calling occupants of interplanetary, most extraordinary craft.
    That old Carpenters number goes back quite a few years…

    1977 – and Close Encounters (of the Third Kind) had us thinking that ET was not only here, but was actually not such a bad guy after all. About the same time, Star Wars came along and Sci Fi flicks would never be the same.

    Oh, and on a personal note, I turned 21 that March…

    Thanks for the time trip 🙂

  3. teleport vs corridors
    A slight disadvantage of the gravity corridors, according to the article, is that travel would be really slow. Thousands of years for the free trajectory to Jupiter, or something like that.

    So the market for your teleportation device won’t be affected much.

  4. choose own adventure
    the choose your own adventure game sounds interesting and perhaps educational.

    I have been chasing an idea that is philosophically related.

    I want to make an interactive movie, probably in the form of a game, which adapts the story and the characters’ behaviour, in a way similar to how we dream. These dreams would come from the human player’s interaction.

    The script of the game is not just the usual pre-determined background story. Rather, it is that story plus the actions (or lack of actions) of the human player. Then, the game machine dreams about this for a while. The next time, the human player sees an altered script, and a set of altered characters.

    There are some things missing in the state of the art for this. A big one is how we dream, which isn’t very well known in a mechanical way. But we could make up some approximation, it doesn’t have to be real. Most AI is like that, it fails to produce human-like intelligence, yet the methods are still useful. Some other things are missing too.

    But I have a sinking feeling that eventually I will do this.

      1. no-name product
        It doesn’t have a name at this point, although some stuff is stored in directories with a name 🙂

        Unfortunately, “No Name” is a brand name used by a canadian company, so I can’t take that.

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