Posts Tagged ‘ Animals ’

Who Is In Control?

Control? Controlling? Control freak?

Interesting aspects of human nature that we generally note with some negativity involved. Wait, what about self control? Does this dog have it?

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the ability to control oneself, in particular one’s emotions and desires or the expression of them in one’s behavior, especially in difficult situations.

Actually it’s not even about control. It’s about desiring a different outcome more. Control is not about repressing bad behavior. No, it is about desiring a more favored behavior more. Think about it. When it comes down to the nuts and bolts, choosing rocky road over vanilla is actually exercising control. Control is about expressing the desired behavior over the undesired behavior. Wisdom is in choosing the right desired behavior. There is always a trick, right?

Direct your mind and the body will follow. The dog above gets no love for not eating snacks, he gets the desired loving behavior for holding still. Perspective is everything… usually … most of the time… at least on Tuesdays.

Oh wait I hear you say. Just saying you want the more desired behavior is not enough, that never works. Well, no, not just saying it. You actually have to want it. When you want something enough it’s easy to achieve.

Think of it this way: You might not like the thought of eating a kitty kat. When you get hungry enough the desire to not die will over come your desire to not eat kitty kat. Sometimes keeping control feels like that: choosing to eat kitty kat. When the alternative is not living through the week, perspective changes.

All of that, I hope, makes reasonable sense even if it seems a bit off key. Why would I tell you this stuff? When believers say that without a moral law giver humans become amoral and lawless. The god of Abraham means nothing for this dog yet he finds subjective morality and can choose a desired outcome over and above the easy route. Morality is so easy that even a dog can do it.

Oh yes I did just hear you say that without training and a trainer he would not do that. No, without training and a trainer he would not have an object of affection he wanted the love from. The trainer has nothing to do with the dog’s choice to remain controlled other than what value the dog places on the trainer’s love. Oh damn that free will stuff! Yep, I just said that. The dog wants the love of his owner/trainer more than the taste of a snack. That is control… not of an owner over a dog, but of a dog over himself because he desires an outcome from the owner.

Does that make sense?

There are people who will understand what I’m saying. Believers want us to think that the dog is not capable of making a decision and neither are they. Without their god they would gorge themselves on the snacks. They think life is about the snacks or just themselves. Even the dog knows that life is about more. Even a DOG knows how the law of reciprocity works. When believers tell you this kind of thing, remember that they are not even as intelligent as a dog. Then go get some rocky road!

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What Is On The Other Side?

Women are not more important than men. Women and men are not important, no, not in the long run. Humanity. Humanity is important to all men and women yet they blind themselves to this simple fact, this simple idea, with all the hatred their minds can muster in the dark, dank places they do their thinking. The explorers we read about search new destinations not for the fame or glory but for humanity. Fame and glory are fleeting. Identity is fleeting.

http://totallyhistory.com/biography/famous-explorers/
300,000 years ago there was an ape who thought “I wonder what is on the other side of that mountain”. Her cousin had a similar thought. His nephew a similar one. Eventually one of those curious apes found themselves in northern Europe. More spectacularly, though that sounds like a nice story these apes full of wonderment were not explorers. No, they simply were looking for more food to feed their babies.

https://i0.wp.com/images.fineartamerica.com/images-medium-large/a-female-mountain-gorilla-and-her-child-michael-nichols.jpg
Those amazing minds among us that strive to keep alive drag the rest of us kicking and screaming into the future. No plan, no guide book, just the unmitigated gall to survive. Those that sit back and stake a claim to some branch of a tree are simply too stupid to go look on the other side of the mountain. It’s never important what is on the other side of the mountain. What’s important is going to see what it is.
https://i2.wp.com/izquotes.com/quotes-pictures/quote-violent-irrational-intolerant-allied-to-racism-and-tribalism-and-bigotry-invested-in-ignorance-christopher-hitchens-237657.jpg https://myatheistlife.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/db13d-10632352_830314300359069_1440023650_a.jpg?w=306&h=306

When the human mind stifles itself to maintain some paltry position of power it causes all of humanity to falter briefly. We’ve been stumbling toward the future of humanity for quite some time now. Do not listen to those that don’t want to go see what is on the other side of the mountain. Leave them under that tree to rot. Think not another thought for them. If they hold you back and beg you not to go to the other side of the mountain, pick up a stick and beat them with it. Their whimpering sounds will fade as you climb up the mountain, sun warming your back and the wind in your hair. No matter what you find, on the other side of the mountain is the future and it does not need that whimpering ape with the tiny mind and tiny thoughts.

https://i1.wp.com/highvibrationfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Touched-by-a-Wild-Mountain-Gorilla-Uganda%E2%80%99s-Bwindi-National-Park.jpg

Christians, What Time Is It?

https://suculente.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/dali-time.gif?w=513&h=410

For every thing, not some of them, all of them

There is a time for all things …

Unless, of course, there isn’t.

A time to be born, a time to die

A time to sew, a time to harvest

A time to kill, a time to heal

A time to destroy, a time to build

A time to cry, a time to laugh

A time to mourn, a time to dance

A time to forget the past, a time to make new memories

A time to be social, a time to be alone

A time to receive, a time to lose

A time to collect, a time to throw away

A time to be silent, a time to speak

A time to love, a time to hate

A time to fight, a time to be peace

Morality is how we find it, no more or less. That you find yourself in the wrong time is just how life works out some times. A lot of us can’t quite figure out when that time to be silent is. Meh.

We naked apes often seek wisdom to know what time it is, always looking at the clock and guessing what the next chunk of time will be or bring. Not many of us ever get that guess right. We naked apes forget that we’re just another animal on this planet. The one animal with the ability to destroy it or build it up. By destroy I mean ensure that humans do not survive. Other animals will, it is the way of ‘life’ on this planet. The other animals seem much better at knowing what time it is than we humans.

https://i0.wp.com/nigeriacommunicationsweek.com.ng/sites/default/files/styles/image-standard/public/field/image/starving_child_5.jpg

19 For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. —  Ecclesiastes 3:19

 

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I fear the animals regard man as a being like themselves, seriously endangered by the loss of sound animal understanding; they regard him perhaps as the absurd animal, the laughing animal, the crying animal, the unfortunate animal.    —  Friedrich Nietzsche

The Muslim world thinks it is time for war. The Christian world thinks its a time of persecution.

Wait for it. Let that sink in.

The hands of the clock of monotheism haven’t moved in over 2000 years. Think about that for a minute.

It’s time to get a new clock.

Empathy Is For Monkeys, And Rats, And Babies

Yes, it’s a video. Are you excited? Really? Yes, you’re going to have to watch the video to keep up with this post so go on, read it. I’ll wait….

No doubt, Jeremy Rifkin is a smart individual, however, that does not make him eternally correct. Yes, I’m about to say that I think he’s got a couple of things wrong. Observation is a really big part of science but the conclusions we draw from them are not always right.

Before we get into it I’ll set out the two presuppositions I’m relying on here. I’m not going to try to explain them in a short post so forgive me this shortcoming for the purposes of this post.

  1. In our heads is a simulation of the world around us. We live in that simulation, not the real world, and remain always isolated from the real world by sensory systems and motor systems.
  2. There is no one watching the simulation. That simulation is what we refer to as our consciousness. It runs 24/7/365 except when we are unconscious and even then, some parts of it are still running. Anaesthesia works by stopping the simulation. Without it we feel no pain, acquire no new memories or experiences etc.

I welcome comments on these presuppositions but cannot explain them at length in this post. On to the video.

https://i2.wp.com/multimedia.uga.edu/media/images/Adult-juvenile-watches-BWright.jpg

At about the 1:50 mark he says two things that drive me ‘nuts’:

  • Mammalian brains are soft wired to do things
  • He uses the term ‘mirror neurons’

Specifically he says: ‘We are soft wired to experience another’s plight as if we are experiencing it ourselves

This implies that it is mechanically oriented in some way that our brain does something when we observe it happening to others. I believe this is a naive understanding of the neuronal network in our brains and that it is a simplistic look at what neurons do.

Think for a moment about the knowledge that you need to understand what a human is doing when they try to open a nut. What skills must you understand? What knowledge must you possess to determine even what the human is doing before figuring out why or to what purpose. These things are things which we all take for granted. We learn a lot of them as children: how to move our limbs, what food looks like, the position of our fingers as they move to action and how to predict the forces being exerted when fingers move a certain way. What it looks like when a primate is ingesting food. What the body language of a primate is when being studious, eating, masticating and so on. We humans learn this before the age of 5.

All of these things are stored in our brains like rules. The rules of physics, rules governing ‘normal’ behaviors, rules governing recognizable objects or objects of familiar shapes. You can look at 1437 different mugs, cups, and glasses and in probably all cases determine what the object is probably for without any help. This is because of the rules you have stored up over time in your brain. With each of these stored patterns are also patterns of muscle movement. The way that the simulation in your head works is that you model things. If I ask you how to open a jar of peanut butter, in your mind you can see yourself (hands) going through the motions of opening the jar. As you do so, all those ‘mirror neurons’ are firing up exactly as if you are opening a jar of peanut butter. Whether you imagine it or actually do it, your brain does the same things because you LIVE in that simulation. The difference between imagining it and doing it is whether you actually orient your body toward a physical object and engage physical sensory systems and physical motor systems. Either way you are modelling the action in your head applying all the stored up rules and pattern recognition. This gives you reasonable expectation of what should happen as you open the jar. If the lid does not come loose in the expected manner you don’t stand there waiting for things to change, your brain engages new patterns and rules in order to effect the actions that you expected.

What the monkey was doing was learning patterns and rules storing them as he watched the human open the nut. Those patterns can then be used later by the monkey to acquire a tasty morsel. The monkey used observation to effect a model of how to open that kind of nut. As the monkey built the rules and patterns it looks exactly as it does as the monkey is trying to figure it out on his own. Try to observe this in your own brain as you have someone teach you some trick that you have not yet learned: a card trick, how to yo-yo, how to balance a pencil on your nose … anything.

That is not soft wiring. This is the function of our brains. This is it’s purpose: to simulate the world around us, being informed by our senses as to the rules and patterns we can use for the simulations we do. Soft wiring implies there is something else going on. No, this is the whole thing.

He goes on to state that our brains are soft wired for empathy. Bad mistake. Humans with no empathy will show the same results in the MRI, just like the monkey and the nut story. From there he goes on to say stuff that should make a use car salesman blush. The premise that we are wired for empathy is false. When our brains simulate the experience of others in order to build patterns and rules it triggers the calculations as though we experienced it. Remember we live in that simulation and modelling the experience of another in the simulation is the same thing as experiencing that simulation model personally. This isn’t ’empathy’ as it is classically defined, it is simply how the simulator in your head works. Nature is frugal. Why have multiple simulators when a single simulator can be reused for many applications.

Empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

When people say they got lost in the movie they were watching it is exactly because the simulator was busy simulating the world presented to them on the screen and was too busy to keep running a simulation of the physical world directly around them. When we empathize it’s because we understand the feelings of another and we understand those feelings because we modelled them in our simulation and ACTUALLY DID FEEL the same things, or what we imagine them to have been. We can never know exactly how something felt to another person except in vague generalities. Empathy is not something we are ‘soft wired’ for – it is a side effect of our consciousness, the simulator in our heads.

To conclude: There are NO mirror neurons and empathy is proof that we live in the simulation running in our heads, not  some wiring mistake.

The Impotence of Atheism – A Reply

Here we go again. Poor poor atheists. They just don’t understand. God did it… in which I comment on such a post. Let me know what you think in the comments.

https://hateandanger.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/neil-degrasse-tyson-it-doesnt-mean-if-you-dont-understand-something-and-the-community-of-physicists-dont-understand-it-that-god-did-it-if-thats-how-you-want-to-invoke-your-evidence-f.jpg?w=720&h=475

Now, for the post I am talking about, shown in quotes. Not linked = less traffic for them but if you must, search for “The Impotence of Atheism” and I’m sure you’ll find that gold mine.

It’s not that atheist explanations are wrong, so much as that, qua explanations, they are simply impotent, in the final analysis. At bottom, they have no basis in necessity. So, at bottom, they end up able to say no more than, “this is the way things happened; er, that’s all.” They are descriptions, rather than explanations. Not wrong; not uninformative; often utile; but, just inadequate. Atheist explanations cannot close the deal; for, they have no ultimate cash value.

I’m left wondering if the explanation for why ice tea is brown is simply impotent. It seems to me that the author is expecting more than an explanation, setting their expectations higher than is reasonable so as to be unsatisfied by a valid explanation. I do see what they are hinting at when they call explanations just descriptions rather than explanations. Now we know that by explanation the author means: “reason or justification given for an action or belief” When we look at the two common uses of explanation we see that they are not synonymous.

 a statement or account that makes something clear.
“the birth rate is central to any explanation of population trends”
synonyms:    clarification, simplification;
description, report, statement;
elucidation, exposition, expounding, explication;
gloss, interpretation, commentary, exegesis

a reason or justification given for an action or belief.
“Freud tried to make sex the explanation for everything”
synonyms:    account, reason;
justification, excuse, alibi, defense, vindication, story, answers

When we ask for an explanation of rainbows, this author wants to hear something like ‘god made them to remind us he’d never kill us all with a flood … again’ rather than the actual explanation for the existence of rainbows.

This is why the juridical question is efficacious against an atheist. Just keep asking “Why?” Eventually, he will be forced to reply with an exasperated, “Because that’s just the way it is; there is no further explanation.” So saying, he cannot but reveal his unreason; which, as sapping the very foundations of his doctrine, so vitiates the whole structure thereof – and, could he but see, ruins it utterly. His triumph is in the undisputed possession of a castle fallen into complete desuetude, that lost its strategic value long since.

Yes, on this bit I had to look a few things up. To my  knowledge there is no atheist doctrine with foundations. I can kind of see where they are headed with the word doctrine but that technically requires atheists to be a group, organized in some fashion. (a belief or set of beliefs held and taught by a church, political party, or other group.) The problem is that saying atheist doctrine is like saying non-golfer doctrine. It is meaningless as is the rest of the straw man they are building there. The one question that bothers theists? How? Keep asking them how and they have to admit ignorance or claim magic via their favorite deity.

It may be objected that the theist foundation of explanation is in a way just as arbitrary and ‘brute’ as that of the atheist. The atheist says, “this is the way the world is, and that’s all there is to say about it;” meanwhile the theist says, “this is the way that God is, and that’s all there is to say about it.” How is one of these moves better than the other? Indeed, don’t they amount to the same thing, in the end, if God is among the things that exist, and thus a member of the world in the broadest sense?

Well, that’s a mighty big ‘if’ in that last sentence. So, if you are like me you already know that there is probably not much point in reading this authors post. It presumes that there is a extant god and that this presupposition trumps reason and science.

From our perspective, so it certainly seems to be. We come into the world and find that it is the way it is, and that God is the way he is, and that’s all there is to it. Indeed, by the definition of “God,” there can be no explanation for God, for nothing is prior to him, that might explain him.

Note that there is some less than polite discourse as to the way god is. In fact, among those that believe in a god there is little agreement at all. Sure, the adherents of one religion seem to agree mostly but this is not proof of their belief. For any religious sect, more than 60% of the rest of the world population disagree with them and many in a vigorous way. There is clearly no consensus on ‘the way god is’ among humans. As for physics and how the world is, well there is consensus on that. So to clarify this author is equating a known data set with a data set which looks to be made up by all measures and despite any claims otherwise is a hotly contested data set. Many have fought and died in an attempt to prove their version correct over all competitors in an argument which is far from ‘settled science.’ These things are not in the same grouping. There is a reason that if you go to a book store looking for information on ‘how god is’ you will never find it in the ‘science section’ of the book store or library.

Nevertheless the theist explanation of things does have one key advantage over the atheist, reductionist explanation: it completes, in the sense that it terminates upon necessity. This the atheist explanation cannot ever do. The theist ends by saying, “this, or something very like this, is just the way things must be, in logic, and by definition, and so by metaphysical necessity.” The atheist explanation terminates upon radical ignorance: upon, “no idea.” Under atheism, all and any of this might not have come to pass, and whether or not it did, there could be no explanation for any bit of it: it *just happened.*

Didn’t this writer just state that there can be no explanation for god? So the theist argument ends with ‘because god’ … without explanation. That’s not half full or half empty argument. It’s full on empty with a claim that it’s full. You  know, because god.

For the theist, everything happens for a reason, even if he can’t see it. Everything is for him therefore intelligible, at least in principle. For the atheist, on the other hand, nothing that happens bopttoms out in a reason that cannot be controverted, and so nothing can be intelligible.

So, only those that claim to know all the answers can see the world as intelligible. I believe that there is a medical term for this: delusional. Remember here that the claim of theists is that there is a god. There is no proof or credible evidence for that god and of course there is no explanation. To the theist god simply is, and from their god comes all the magic that makes the world intelligible to them. The writer here is not offering any explanation further than ‘god did it’ for anything and everything. I remember the last time such make believe was acceptable. It was back when I got 8 oz of milk and a nap mat in the afternoons.

The theist lives in an ordered world. It is ordered ex hypothesi, whether or not he can himself discern that order. The atheist lives in a world that rejects the very notion of order. The latter move is of course not something that can be rationally completed. As a motion of the reason, it is forestalled ab initio, as the antithesis thereof.

To the theist, things cannot but be ordered. To the atheist, they cannot be ordered.

Pity the poor atheists! So lost are they, and adrift! We should all pray for them that they may be relieved of their sufferings.

There it is: The world is ordered. No explanation, just the proclamation that it is so. Don’t question that or you’ll be told that you’re just not trying hard enough to see it. The non-believer does live in a world of order and can see it, look it up in books/online, and study it for themselves. It’s a world of mathematics and science. Fibonacci , the golden ratio, Pythagoras, E=MC2, chemistry, biology, and on and on. The world is ordered by the laws that govern it, from the very small to the very large. It is all out there for us to learn and discover. The theist believes they already know all the answers and do not bother to look. Sure there are theist scientists, but they are few and far between. What theists demonstrate most when talking about atheism and atheists is a complete lack of understanding and worse than that, a complete lack of desire to understand. Order is all around us, because of chemistry, biology, the laws that govern the natural world.

 

https://i1.wp.com/www.patternsinnature.org/Images/Book%20Gallery/BookGallery-164.jpg

Five Is A Magic Number

I used to think so as a child, at least for a time. I also thought that perhaps 7 was a magic number too. By magic I thought that there was some special significance to the number. I didn’t have any knowledge of numerology or the significance of numbers in Judaism. I simply looked at the  world around me and all of the animal life I knew of had five extremities on their torso. Yeah, I knew about spiders but they were creepy crawly things so they didn’t count. Little did I know then that they didn’t count because they were on the wrong branch of the tree. So many animals and humans have the same basic body plan that I thought there must be some magic significance. Well, there is and it’s called evolution. It’s not magic but to a 5 year old or some theists it might as well be. It’s one of the successful body plans for life on this planet. It’s not magic yet it is magical on some level that so many species should have the same basic plan.

 

https://i0.wp.com/www.origin-of-mitochondria.net/wp-content/uploads/normal_tree_of_life.jpghttps://i1.wp.com/media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/f4/ba/08/f4ba08138987c2382884e49b8e6df818.jpg

There are a number of things that I have thought must have some magic quality in the time I’ve been alive. As it turns out none of them had magic qualities. It’s just how life is, how it evolved. Even whales have that body plan but several of the limbs  have been re-purposed over time as fins because it’s more effective. It seems like I’ve been doing science all my life. Observe, hypothesize, test, learn, change the hypothesis and repeat. Evolution made immediate sense to me when I realized (some years older) that the 5 point body plan is so popular because we all started out with a common ancestor that had a 5 point body. Why it is that this can make sense to a child but not adults baffled me for a very long time. To me it simply ‘just made sense’ that evolution explained the commonalities.

It doesn’t take long to find out why:

US Religious denominations that dispute evolution

On the other hand, in the U.S., many Protestant denominations promote creationism, preach against evolution from the pulpits, and sponsor lectures and debates on the subject. A list of denominations that explicitly advocate creationism instead of what they call “Darwinism” or evolution include the Assemblies of God,[80] the Free Methodist Church, Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod,[81] Pentecostal Churches, Seventh-day Adventist Churches,[82] Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, Christian Reformed Church, Southern Baptist Convention,[83] and the Pentecostal Oneness churches.[84] Jehovah’s Witnesses reject both evolution and creationism.[85]

That’s right. Religion makes it okay to believe in magic. Take that in. Believing in your imaginary friend as a child is one thing but believing in magic as an adult means that you must deny the truth if it conflicts with your imaginary friend no matter how much evidence there is to support the truth. Those listed above do not simply deny the truth and facts, they actively admonish people to not believe them. This is akin to teaching children that the world is flat or the Sun revolves around the Earth. It is knowingly wrong and people who believe these things (flat-earthers etc.) are properly ridiculed and ostracized.

It’s time we stopped believing in magic and started ridiculing those who do and rebuking those who teach it to children. It is harmful to our future well being and currently deprives millions of people their right to happiness, health, or life.

What an unimaginative creator this supposed god of Christianity is. He only came up with a short list of body plans and made some of them so poorly that those animals are no longer in existence. Everything he is supposed to have created is messed up and so haphazard as to look like an accidental mutation of previous things. Evolution is the only explanation that makes sense. It’s not magic, it’s biology. How fortunate I am that I live in a time when this is understood and I don’t have to accept the idea of an invisible sky daddy who works in mysterious ways. We humans have worked for hundreds of thousands of years to acquire this knowledge and I go through my days thinking of it a birthright, a debt owed to me. In the next hundred years we’ll learn more than has been learned in all of human existence so far. I’m sad that I probably won’t be around to know it too.

Life is not magical, but the experiencing of it has a kind of magical feeling. For me, numbers are no longer magic, but there is a wonderment I feel when I read about how many stars there are in this universe. Billions and billions of chances that there is someone, perhaps a lot like me, somewhere else in this universe thinking thoughts much like my own: knowing that the universe is not made for us and our best hope is to reach out and work together to find better ways to survive, thrive, and build great things.

 

Compassion Is …

Recognizing a life in pain and in the same moment working to alleviate that pain.

Miriam-Webster says: sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it

 

See how that works? You do it right then. There is no hesitation. If there is hesitation or delay, it’s just pity that you feel.

 

Am I wrong?

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