Let’s face it: Human interpretations of “technology-data” suck.
Perception does not equal reality. Observer variation messes up medical decisions.
Perception does not equal reality. Observer variation messes up medical decisions.
Humans have more than five senses, according to how “sense” is defined. As usual, there is a range of opinion about the subject, so the reader is welcome to plow through the debate elsewhere. But, however many there may be, the brain must coordinate sensory information as perception.
I think that there is an aspect of perception that sets some of us on a special path through reality: the aesthetic conclusion or judgment. For social humans this perception is attached to other people and is experienced as emotion, as connections to family and friends, but emotions are short-lived and fickle. The euphoria lasts but a few seconds and people are stuck trying to regain those feelings of “aesthetically pleasing emotions” by obsessively manipulating their own feelings and the feelings of others. For all but a few relationships, it’s an exercise that is doomed.
If emotions are the aesthetics of life, life will be perpetually dependent on momentary satisfaction, followed by a letdown (change in body chemistry) and the subsequent struggle to regain the external certification of self-worth that comes after social acceptance. Emotions are temporary reactions to the environment, but this doesn’t stop modern social humans from elevating “feeling” to an experience that dominates everyday life. This dependence restricts aesthetic satisfaction to a fleeting experience that lacks continuity; and when emotional connections aren’t there? The artificial “high” supplied by drugs and other addictive behaviors is pursued.
Other animals experience their environments via a wide variety of senses, many of which are entirely alien to humans, and even with technical help, we cannot “see” or “hear” the electro-magnetic spectrum as many animals experience it. Aesthetics may or may not be expressed or experienced in a fish or a bear; we tend to assume that “lower” animals are robotic and lack deep connection to the environment.
Aesthetics may exist as a reference point around which an animal’s behavior is contained; interaction between the bear or bird and its physical environment achieves equilibrium, and allows for rest, recuperation and play.
I think that “aesthetics” has a similar source in humans; awareness of what constitutes equilibrium can be formed or “intuited” – a state of calm, receptivity, a “joining with” nature and one’s surroundings; a letting go of the attempt toimpose behavior on oneself and other human beings. It is commonly believed by social humans that a specific cluster of behavior defines “being human” and can be applied to every human on the planet. Imposing our own warped and egomaniacal conditions on other humans is disastrous, and yet we persist with all our might in remaking the world. What we have managed to do is to create environments that are disordered, unhealthy and out of balance: social environments lack “aesthetics” as the fundamental guide to optimum functioning – nature’s primary aesthetic.
I would have to say that exposure (confinement) in a chaotic or unbalanced environment is the trigger for many of (my) Asperger symptoms. When I was a child, my reactions were unconscious, immediate and inexplicable to other humans. I was told over and over that I ought to love “people” events: crowds of pushing, shoving, loud, incoherent, aggressive beings – with no escape. I was supposed to say things I didn’t mean, to suppress my awful discomfort, to pretend that unlike the bear or tiger, I had no internal sense of my proper boundaries. Only after a lifetime of living with “invasive and alien” social requirements have I come to understand that an intuitive “aesthetic” that is inherent in animal sensation may underlie the conflict.
Day in and day out government experts and “charity” groups who “own” the poverty discussion ignore the single most obvious fact about child poverty: Single female households. All the cupcakes, balloons, fun-walks and promotional T-shirts in the universe cannot make a dent in child poverty. But again, belief in the supernatural dimension, and the belief in the power of “magic words” to create reality, keeps Americans from ever mentioning the obvious. Single parent households are the #1 indicator of low income, low education, low ability to support and raise children.
This dire situation is not an accident. Social Policy is geared toward stocking the bottom of the pyramid with women and children who will remain a permanent class of uneducated and powerless poor, and guarantee a class of male “criminals” who are effectively barred from participation in “normal” society. The “helping, caring, fixing” industry relies on the poor as conduit of wealth that pumps ever more profit to the “businesses” who control the upper reaches of the social pyramid.
Where does all that government money go? Not to the people who supposedly “milk” taxpayer money through welfare – if so, poverty would have ended long ago. Money is are channeled through the poor and powerless to a “welfare industry” that receives billions of dollars in bureaucratic wages, private corporate profit – a massive giveaway of grants, studies, contracts and agency funding, Medicaid payments, rental subsidies (no poor slumlords, that’s for sure) super-high prices at poor-quality stores and a host of parasitic “advocacy” services. This array of wealth-seekers doesn’t even scratch the surface – more profits are skimmed by the “justice” system, lawyers, prisons corporations, rehab clinics – the War on Drugs. It’s a bonanza and it stinks.
The truth is: Government is not a substitute for Fathers.
This video is a very clear video and graphic combo of “how it works”
A note: It is obvious that “socializing” requires heavy use of verbal communication. I suspect that for some Aspergers, the resulting feeling of exhaustion may be due to an actual physical problem within the “breathing-talking” system. One reason I don’t like “talking a lot” is that it “hurts” (feels awkward and even unnatural) and I quickly become hoarse and my throat sore. Have other Aspergers noticed anything like this?
So much is made of the language abilities of humans, but the price for verbal language is the danger of choking to death, as well as numerous breathing problems. Sleep apnea can really mess up restorative sleep, brain activity and/or cause death.
We have a typical counter-intuitive problem in evolution. People (including scientists) speak of humans as somehow being able to make complex changes to our anatomy (from apes to “us”) in order to facilitate modern speech.
Ai, yai, yai! This is not how evolution works! There is no evolutionary destiny, goal or plan; what works must work “in the present time” in a specific environment, in which the organism is a “part of a whole” system. Time (and physiology) do not flow backwards from the future; from human concepts of narcissistic evolutionary supremacy. The environment drives change; organisms are equipped (or not) to adapt. It’s about reproduction, not sentience, metaphysics, philosophy or science.
The fact that changes in human breathing, feeding, and noise-making anatomy are actually BAD DESIGN for individual survival raises questions. This specific physiology is but one “flaw” or challenge that relates to becoming bipedal. Is human “speech” a consequence (side affect, artefact) – an “adjustment” to overall anatomical change, one that “turned out to b” useful and exploitable? How does human speech “promote” viable reproduction?
We do not know, nor can we claim, that even with the advent of anatomically modern humans that speech as language – as we know it – existed in Homo sapiens, since a prior processing and communication system existed: visual processing of sensory acquisition: a much more detailed, “correct” representation of physical reality that provided superior memory and recall of patterns, connections and “packages” of information about plants, animals, weather systems and organic and inorganic materials; a system that has served, and still does serve, survival of thousands of species.
When and why did dependence on a (very generalized and inaccurate) word model of reality, overwhelm this more specific, concrete, and necessary ancient “sensory-visual thinking system”?
How “modern” is human language? How recent? Since present day language, in all its variety, its subjective content of sound, meaning and “non-universality” is the dominant “method” of social processing of information (social thinking) this question is important. How is mutually unintelligible “verbal language” an “improvement” over visual communication, which can be “understood” across groups, and great distances and deep time?
Whatever our early ancestors “spoke” is lost; their concrete physical products are not; from tools to markings on bone, ivory or stone; from painted symbols, animals and people, to jewelry and textiles, these communicate to us from vanished worlds, if we do not impose our “word-magic” beliefs onto them.
Our “modern languages” must still be translated from one into another; meaning is imprecise, vague, misleading and easily misinterpreted. Word language in practice, is very poor communication. Relationships between individuals, groups and nations is a “guessing game” of meaning and intent, contrary to what “psychologists” portray as a “hooky-spooky mind-reading” ability being a pan-species “magical property” of the “normal” human brain. Tragedy may hinge on one poorly selected and culturally dependent word or phrase.
The question remains: How does this “dangerous flaw” in anatomy, which provides for human speech, promote viable reproduction of our species?
2012 Public Policy Polling Survey: 63 percent of young Americans ages 18-29 believe that invisible, non-corporeal entities called “demons” can take partial or total control of human beings. The poll showed that this belief isn’t declining among Americans; it’s growing.
The comment (below) was posted to a recent article in the New York Times that discusses whether or not it’s proper to diagnose an ‘out-of-control’ boy as a psychopath. With this type of radical judgement looming over children, especially those who displease and annoy adults, can there any doubt that some children may become phobic, antisocial, anxious and frightened?
VERBATIM COMMENT: “I would suggest that this child is possessed by a demon. And I don’t state this out of ignorance, as I am professor in a western University. The signs and symptoms are all there. There have been many cases like this that have been documented. Of course to the western rational mild this is pure poppycock. But this child’s condition will not be alleviated until the true causes are recognized and dealt with. This is a spiritual problem that needs spiritual intervention from an experienced priest, Catholic or Orthodox, traditions which recognize this condition and have a 2000 year history dealing with it. The answers will not be found in science as his condition will worsen and never go away. Such arrogance in the scientific community and the scientific mindset will keep this poor soul tormented.
In most of the American West, the entire region has always been a Man Cave, not only for invaders, but for the Warrior society natives.
Sadly, manly expression for some domestic males is confined to household “fixit” projects, like maintenance of the house, appliances and plumbing. Hence “Homo habilis” the Handy Man (thought to be extinct).
The garage however, can be a secret passage leading to the hunt for trophies of the Anthropocene: Note the common association of vehicles with “Paleolithic Goddess” imagery.
Of course, the man cave never really “went away.” Extravagant animal trophy rooms, and indeed, entire houses and museums, are still being built to house dead animals procured in both legal and illegal hunts.
Can men be “neutered” and remain men? That’s a rhetorical question.
When do men smile? After they’ve killed something.
Psychology Today / Steven Kotler
May 01, 2010
There’s some new research (link is external) coming out of the University of Rochester that sheds a bit of light on the origin of language in humans. What these researchers were looking into was if there’s one certain area of the brain that gives humans advanced language capabilities over other animals. (Assumption – OUR language is de facto superior, regardless of the fact that it would be of absolutely no use to “other” animals, which have their own communication systems that are adaptations to THEIR environments) To this end, they designed a great experiment (which was published in the latest edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) to determine if different brain regions were used to decipher sentences with different types of grammar. (This is not as straightforward as it sounds. 1. These are contemporary artifacts of language used by contemporary humans, which CANNOT be assumed to have been present in early human language 2. We have seen in numerous articles, experiments and studies how the limits of what can be factually “known” by using brain imagery is IGNORED)
Languages like English use word order to establish meaning. “John hugs Susan” means John is subject doing the hugging, while Susan is the one feeling the squeeze. But other languages, like say Spanish, rely on inflection-and suffixes tacked onto the ends of words-to convey subject-object relationship (while word order remains interchangeable).
Sign language, though, can do both. (The assumption is, that sign language, which requires visual activity, is assumed to be processed just like verbal language) So the researchers put native signers (people who are deaf from birth) inside an MRI machine and showed them video of other native signers signing 24 sentences twice. One time they would sign using the sentence with the word-order arrangement, the next time would use inflection for emphasis. What the researchers found is that there are two separate parts of the brain used to process these two types of different sentences – (In people who are deaf from birth. We’re chopping the brain into pieces again, and using these subdivisions to “justify” wild speculation about the origin and evolution of human language.)
A sentence that draws its meaning from word order draws on the parts of the prefrontal cortex that we use to put information into sequences, while the inflection type lights up the temporal lobe which specializes in dividing language into separate parts. (Circular reasoning: if we already “know” that these “brain parts” do what the study is “looking for”, then why bother with the study? It’s “obviously” just a repeat of “conclusive” prior studies.)
This suggests that one of the crucial distinctions between human and animals lies not in the architecture of the brain, rather in the ways we establish connections between locations within that architecture. (Does it? This relies on the assumption that the “chopped into pieces” brain model is correct, which it isn’t, and that human language is explained by “different” connections between anatomically generated “parts” (useful in dissection) This ignores the rest of the physiology necessary to human speech, and the “other” attributes that aid communication: body language, visual perception, hand gestures, etc.)
Richard Granger, head of the Brain Engineering department at Dartmouth University, has come to similar conclusions. Granger has spent much of his career looking for the parts of the human brain (that) are actually different from other animal’s brains. “The first thing you need to know is you can count the neurological differences between humans and animals on the fingers of both hands,” he told me not too long ago. “Mostly they’re tiny, inconsequential blips. None account for things like language, for any skill we would put under the Cartesian heading of ‘human specialness.'” (Cartesian: Mind Body duality again. Are we looking for “language origin” or “human specialness”? )
What accounts for those skills, according to Granger, is brain size. (SIZE, not “magic specialness”! At last, something “real”)
“If brains are computers than (and) both humans and animals have the same hardware and the same software, ours just comes in a bigger box. Because of that bigger box, our neurons have more space to make more connections with other neurons. In the wiring diagram of the brain, we have more wires. And this bigger box and these few more wires are the source of our superpowers. (What superpowers? Compared to….?)
This is essentially the argument Granger, alongside UC Irvine psychiatrist Gary Lynch, made in their recent book Big Brain (link is external). It’s also what the University of Rochester experiment points towards, but it raises a very interesting question.
If, as these ideas seem to claim, the development of language actually required the recruitment and wiring together of a bunch of preexisting computational structures within the brain, this begs the question of causation. (Here we go!) Meaning all mammals have these same brain structures so why did this ability develop in humans and not in other animals? (Yes, as my comment above: Every animal on the planet is “inferior” to us because they can’t “talk to us” They are literally “dumb” – anthropomorphism. However, this focal function of “computational power” as the superpower of the human brain could account for our utter lack of wisdom and forethought concerning the consequences of our “superpowers” – like destroying the planet)
According to Richard Leakey, Homo sapiens did not posses the necessary anatomy to produce language until about 300,000 to 400,000 years ago. Meanwhile, Steven Pinker has argued that since all modern humans have identical language abilities along with a universal grammar, it makes sense (not really) that language appeared concurrently with the first appearance of modern humans about 200,000 years ago. Furthermore, there was a more than a tripling of brain size during the period between the first appearance the genus Homo (in the form of Homo habilis – that’s Homo erectus) about two million years ago until Homo sapiens appeared, suggesting that the brain developed in that period partly in order to accommodate the new language centers. (Anticipatory evolution again)
1. anatomically, language “appeared” 300,000-400,000 years ago.
2. language “appeared” 200,000 years ago (based on the assumption that “modern humans” appeared 200,000 years ago – and they were ‘just like us” in every way, including the use of verbal language just like ours today)
3. The “magical” proposition that since “human language” was the ultimate goal of evolution, the brain began “ramping up” in size 2 million years ago, in anticipation of becoming our modern superpower brain.
There is a totally different theory which looks at the spread of tool use–a spread that could only have happened if language existed for various tribes to tell others about how to make and use these tools. (Here’s where I absolutely loose it! Why does no one acknowledge that VISUAL processes and learning existed PRIOR to verbal language, and remain the “preferred” method of teaching many old and new skills and arts? It’s ridiculous and ignorant prejudice on the part of “brain scientists” to not even acknowledge visual thinking.
Conscious tool making (as opposed to using whatever rock is at hand) didn’t begin until about 200,000 years ago, (remember, conscious means verbal processing, so unless you are “creating” a tool using “magic words”, don’t call it conscious. At best, words may be used for emphasis in tool-making; “watch this, look carefully, hit here, this is best” etc. No early human gave a lecture or wrote a booklet on How to Make a Nifty Tool!) but it wasn’t until about 35,000 years ago that tool making became a really dynamic process, suggesting that real language might not have developed until 35,000 years ago.
But there’s something in the University of Rochester research that makes this last part especially interesting. Matt Ridley has a new book coming out called The Rational Optimist (link is external). It’s a fantastic read essentially arguing that specialization and the trade that emerged from specialization was the essential driver of human cultural evolution. It’s a great book and one I’m not going to destroy by summarizing here, but I do want to mention that there may be a direct link between Ridley’s argument and these new ideas about language.
See New York Times review of the book: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/13/books/review/Easterly-t.html
Ridley argues that one of the main drivers of cultural evolution is the exchange of ideas that comes from trade (among many other examples, he points out that when governments get rigid then economic monopolies develop-with everything being done for the good of the king-and this has a stunning tendency to destroy civilizations). But trade requires communication between groups of people who speak different types of languages. (Again – we’ve got “nonsense” – One can’t trade “ideas” without “object” trade, which requires verbal language, but trade is prevented by people who ALREADY have developed mutually unintelligible language!) And since communication requires having a brain that is flexible enough to understand different forms of sentence structure (What – the “two types” – the contemporary English word order and Spanish inflection types?) it can be argued that it was trade between different groups of early humans that forced the brain to start recruiting other structures to try to understand the bizarre tongues being spoken by other speakers. (OMG! This is stupid.)
If this idea is correct then the tool use argument comes a lot closer to the truth about the development of language than Leakey or Pinker’s ideas, which also mean that language is a much more recent development than many believe.