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?