How To Think Like A Baby, Why That Is A Good Idea

That title can lead a lot of places so some of you may be wondering where this is going to go. Well, it’s movie night or at least video night. I’ve got two videos for you to watch on the topic of babies and what or how they think.I know that 45 minutes is a long time to carve out of your day but I think both of these are worth watching. The second one can be understood with just the audio for the most part.

Some of my regular readers will be aware that I think we humans are meat machines with grand computers between our ears. I’ll go ahead and say it here, we are born blank slates with no reason to even think there are imaginary or invisible beings that created all that is existence. This first video goes a long way to explaining why we might be thinking there are gods by the time we are 5 years old.

Our brains are given to us with little to no meta-data about the world. We do not know red or round or hot or that sometimes all three belong to the same object. These are things we must learn as children. We learn from our parents and our surroundings. When all we know insists that there is an invisible being that created all existence and watches when we masturbate it is completely natural that our brains would accept this as true. The experiments in the first video hint at this without going that far.

In the second video the speaker talks about babies doing something that we like to call critical thinking. Don’t rule out options a priori, explore the evidence and then make a decision.

Our brains are brilliant at several things and from the time we open our eyes (if not before) they are doing just that. One of those things I think is hugely important to intelligence is to acquire and assign meta data about the objects we find in the world around us so that we can simulate those objects in our brain. Linguists study how we use communication as do authors and others. When I say “I like driving my vehicle except when other drivers are careless” I have communicated an incomplete idea. Your human brain will, in an attempt to simulate the idea in your brain, assign ‘reasonable’ meta data to the objects in the story. You will have done one or more of the following as you read that sentence:

  • envisioned what kind of vehicle I drive
  • where I am driving
  • the type of traffic
  • what it means when I say drivers being careless

The reason that your brain does this is because you have to simulate the idea in your head to comprehend it. Even if someone is talking to you over the phone you can see how you imagine in your head what the story is doing even as it is being told. Critical thinking is about not using your own meta data but investigating until you have all the meta-data required to replicate the idea in your brain rather than simply simulate an approximation of it. The critical thinker will ask

  • what kind of vehicle
  • where I am driving (highway, small country lane etc)
  • is the road busy or near empty?
  • By careless do I mean talking and texting while driving, not using proper signals, or something else.

Most of the human race likes to take short cuts in communication. You can think of hundreds of ways that you do so every day. The better thing is to not accept short cuts from others, especially those with a reason to confuse you or lie to you. Politicians and preachers come to mind. Even if they are not trying to confuse you on purpose and their intent is good, do not accept short cuts. Don’t fill in any of the details for yourself. Make them give you every detail of the ideas they are trying to convey. This is exactly what children are doing as they learn about the world. They will make inferences about what they are shown. The isolation that religion creates is bad. If you showed kids of 2 years old that people go to all kinds of churches it would be very helpful to those children. Most religious groups are guilty of abusing the children in their care simply because they isolate the learning mind of that child from the other possibilities.

I suspect that boredom or the ‘know it all’ syndrome in teens stems from not having enough to learn or the challenge to learn it. This is where I think our learning institutions could do much more and exactly why they should be better funded. Who knows how many geniuses fell prey to ‘boredom’ and never expressed the genius in them?



  1. Interesting videos

    • To me it’s very interesting on many levels. It has implications in religious belief, education, and AI research.

    • entropy
    • June 7th, 2015

    The thing that popped in my mind watching this videos was: how, if you would be willing to consider, can we know for sure there is no metaphysical knowledge available to children, like knowledge from previous lives? 🙂

    • Consistency. If there is previous life info available then all children had the same experience if their thinking is indicative of that experience

        • entropy
        • June 7th, 2015

        Shouldn’t the possibility of previous lives not be taken into account with the experiment then?

        • The experiments do not indicate anomalies to investigate. How would you detect it?

            • entropy
            • June 7th, 2015

            I imagine you could test the correlation of the child’s learning curve with common knowledge and new knowledge, respectively, something like that. 😉

            • In decades of child learning research they have not discovered anomalies which would indicate that there is something else to study, such as previous life knowledge. They have made amazing discoveries but none that would indicate we are more than blank slates as new-borns. These videos indicated that certain learning objectives are achieved at specific times in development of the brain. The only outliers are those with learning difficulties rather than those that are ahead of the learning development schedule.

                • entropy
                • June 7th, 2015

                It just wasn’t clear to me if the research should have actually measured possible preconceived metaphysical knowledge as such. 😉

    • entropy
    • June 7th, 2015

    I understand my parents better now… 😉 😛

  2. In the Roman Catholic Church, babies are baptized to cleanse them of original sin. I know some Christian denominations baptize older children and/or adults, but the catholics must cleanse your filthy soul as soon as possible. My sister & her husband baptized both their children before they were six months old. And as I watched (I went to the ceremonies, there was a luncheon after) my niece & nephew (separately) cry, nap, and fidget through this important day in their lives, I couldn’t help but wonder if either of then had any idea what it was all for or about. I mean they both got some very nice monetary gifts, but I think they would’ve been happier with chew toys. Both times the event was more about my sister & everybody saying how fast she lost the baby weight.

    • such things are always about the parents. If it were about the children there would be no ceremony, just as there is no ceremony for changing diapers.

  3. The talks look interesting; I’ve saved them to watch later. Thanks for sharing.

  4. MAL,
    Of course, first off, thank you for the videos, I must agree with them and applaud you for posting these. I love how Ms. Schulz refers to our time as the “Era of the brain”, how the subconscious mind has become so prevalent these days! I love how she refers to the difficultly people have in figuring out what others are thinking and feeling. This really ties into the second video with the broccoli/cracker experiment. I do not think adults find it difficult, per se, to decipher what other people are thinking and feeling…it is more or less the desire to do so. I mean unless there is a chance of getting laid or some other personal gain from figuring out the thoughts and cravings of another, why would I want to do that? 😉 I love how these videos use babies to show how we adults should truly apply ourselves. Ms. Schulz states that babies are the learners and adults are the appliers, this correlates beautifully with your definition of babies: ‘blank slates with no reason’. For we are born with blank slates to fill and then apply with empirical practice, as adults. The second video really hit home with one significant point: the adults’ conscious mind is most capable when there is something of grave importance or relevance to it. But of course! Now to look at someone’s conscious (truthful, actual) views to perceive what facets of their life that they truly find most important to them… This always helps me understand who and what they really stand for…fascinating approach with even more fascinating results. 😉 In the second video, she explains how a baby’s brain has barley any inhibitors, making them sponges for new information, views, feelings, etc…why cannot we, adults, be more like this?
    I LOVE your thoughts on critical thinking and the example you provide. Your idea that your own meta data will only hinder you as oppose to actual investigating reminds me of a wise saying from famous explorer and scientist, Vilhjalmur Stefansson, “A scientist never tries to prove anything. He attempts only to find the facts”.
    Yes, MAL you say it perfectly…inquire, inquire, inquire!!
    Thank you so much for this post, you are a great mentor.

    ~slave bri
    Of course, first off, thank you for the videos, I must agree with them and applaud you for

  5. My comment turned so long that I turned it into a blog post lmao.

  1. June 10th, 2015
  2. June 16th, 2015

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