Simple Breakdown / How the Brain Processes Information

In 2008, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency issued a challenge to researchers: Create a sophisticated, shoebox-size system that incorporates billions of transistors, weighs about three pounds, and requires a fraction of the energy needed by current computers. Basically, a brain in a box.

Although neuroscience has made important strides in recent years, the inner workings of the brain are still largely a mystery. “So little is really understood about the hardware of the brain—the neurons and their interconnections, and the algorithms that run on top of them—that today, anyone who claims to have built ‘a brain-like computer’ is laughable,” says Stan Williams, a research fellow at Hewlett Packard Labs.

Programs mirror human logic, but they don’t mirror intuitive thought.”

Rich Friedrich, Hewlett Packard Labs

A caveat from HP Labs (super website) regarding the analogy that the human brain like a computer processor. 


We have to start somewhere!

eLearning Design and Development

By Christopher Pappas,  November 11, 2016

The brain is often likened to a processor. A complex computing machine that takes raw data and turns it into thoughts, memories, and cognitions. However, it has its limits, and Instructional Designers must know the boundaries before they can create meaningful eLearning courses. In this article, I’ll explore how the brain works, from its basic biological and memory functions to its ability to process information. I’ll also share 3 tips to help you create an eLearning course design that facilitates knowledge absorption and assimilation.

Information Processing Basics: A Guide For Instructional Designers

The brain is a wondrous thing. It transforms letters, numbers, and images into meaningful data that governs every aspect of our lives. Neural pathways spark and new ideas meet with the old to form complex schematic structures. But one of the most miraculous tasks it tackles is learning. As eLearning professionals, we must understand how information processing takes place in order to create effective eLearning experiences.

Brain Biology / The brain consists of many different structures, and the cortex encases all of them. The cortex is the outermost shell of the brain that takes care of complex thinking abilities. For example, memory, language, spatial awareness, and even personality traits. The inner regions of the brain control the most primitive aspects of human nature, such as our base impulses, fears, emotions, and our subconscious. The brain also houses a “subcortex,” which connects directly to the cortex. As such, it’s able to transmit and process information. (A cliché description of “primitive, subconscious”)

The Human Memory

Now that we’ve briefly explored the physical makeup of the brain, let’s delve into one of its most vital functions: memory. After all, memory is crucial for eLearning. If online learners aren’t able to remember the information, then all is for naught. We usually don’t give memory much attention, as it’s an automatic process. Every event, no matter how small, passes through the gates of our memory without us even noticing. However, most of the occurrences are just passing through and never take up permanent residence. There are three types of memory that Instructional Designers should be aware of:

1. Sensory Memory 

When our senses are triggered by a stimulus, our brains briefly store the information. For example, we smell freshly baked bread and can only remember its scent for a few seconds before it vanishes. Even though the bread is no longer in front of us, our mind’s still hold onto its impression for a short period. The brain then has the option to process it through the memory banks or forget about it. In eLearning, sensory memory is triggered by a visually compelling image, background music, or any other element that utilizes the senses.

2. Short-Term Memory

A process that falls under the purview of working memory, which temporarily stores information when it is triggered by stimuli. Short-term memory can only hold a maximum of 7 items at one time. It also has a time limit, which is usually between 10 seconds to a minute.

3. Long-Term Memory

After passing through the short-term memory, relevant information is moved to long-term storage. At this stage, the brain is less likely to forget important details. However, even the long-term memory can diminish over time if we don’t refresh our knowledge.

Information Processing Stages

There are a number of Information Processing theories and models. However, many suggest that the learning process involves three key stages:

Stage 1: Input / The brain is exposed to a stimuli, at which point it analyzes and evaluates the information. For example, the online learner reads a passage and determines whether it’s worth remembering.

Stage 2: Storage / Our brains store the information for later use. It also adds it to our mental schema and encodes it. If the information is not reinforced, the brain may simply forget it over time.

Stage 3: Output / The brain decides what it’s going to do with the information and how it will react to the stimulus. For example, after reading the passage, the individual uses the information they learned to overcome a challenge.

Simple! The question is, How do specific human brains handle these processing tasks? Psychologists would have us believe that there is only ONE way this ought to be accomplished; their way. Bull Shit.



What is an Adult Human? / Biology Law Psychology Culture

Photo from Duke Health – group of 10-13 year olds. Biologically, they are adults. Legally they are not. Culturally? Psychologically? Big Questions.

Biological adulthood Wikipedia

Historically and cross-culturally, adulthood has been determined primarily by the start of puberty (the appearance of secondary sex characteristics such as menstruation in women, ejaculation in men, and pubic hair in both sexes). In the past, a person usually moved from the status of child directly to the status of adult, often with this shift being marked by some type of coming-of-age test or ceremony.[1]

After the social construct of adolescence was created, adulthood split into two forms: biological adulthood and social adulthood. Thus, there are now two primary forms of adults: biological adults (people who have attained reproductive ability, are fertile, or who evidence secondary sex characteristics) and social adults (people who are recognized by their culture or law as being adults). Depending on the context, adult can indicate either definition.

Although few or no established dictionaries provide a definition for the two word term biological adult, the first definition of adult in multiple dictionaries includes “the stage of the life cycle of an animal after reproductive capacity has been attained”.[2][3] Thus, the base definition of the word adult is the period beginning at physical sexual maturity, which occurs sometime after the onset of puberty. Although this is the primary definition of the base word “adult”, the term is also frequently used to refer to social adults. The two-word term biological adult stresses or clarifies that the original definition, based on physical maturity, is being used.

In humans, puberty on average begins around 10–11 years of age for girls and 11–12 years of age for boys, though this will vary from person to person. For girls, puberty begins around 10 or 11 years of age and ends around age 16. Boys enter puberty later than girls – usually around 12 years of age and it lasts until around age 16 or 17 (Or in rare cases 18 and a half).[4][5]

There seems to be disagreement on the attainment of adulthood: is it at the start or completion of puberty?

More from Duke Health:

When Is Puberty Too Early?

October 01, 2013

Early Puberty in Girls

For girls, puberty is generally considered to be too early if it begins at age seven or eight. African-American and Hispanic girls tend to start puberty slightly earlier than Caucasian girls. The average age of pubertal onset in girls is 10-and-a-half years old, but it ranges from seven to 13 years old. The average age of menarche is 12-and-a-half to 13 years of age. The whole process of puberty should take three to four years.

Rapidly progressing puberty — start to finish in less than two years — can be a concern as well because it can be due to an endocrine disorder

Early Puberty in Boys

For boys, puberty is generally considered too early before the age of nine years. In boys, onset of puberty is from nine to 14 years, but on average starts at 11-and-a-half to 12 years old. The whole process of puberty should take three to four years. Rapidly progressing puberty can also be a concern in males

Preventing Early Puberty

While genetic factors play a role in the early onset of puberty, parents can help delay the environmental causes of early puberty. Preventive measures include:

  • Encourage your child to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Avoid exposure to exogenous hormones like estrogen, testosterone, DHEA, androstenedione that may be found in creams/gels, hair treatments, medications, and nutritional supplements. (And who knows where else these powerful hormones are being used and entering environmental systems)

 Psychological Adulthood? 

Here is where we encounter the perils of “socially constructed” opinion about human development: What a mess!

Psychological development

Written By: The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica

Psychological development, the development of human beings’ cognitive, emotional, intellectual, and social capabilities and functioning over the course of the life span, from infancy through old age. It is the subject matter of the discipline known as developmental psychology. Child psychology was the traditional focus of research, but since the mid-20th century much has been learned about infancy and adulthood as well. A brief treatment of psychological development follows. For full treatment, see human behaviour.

Infancy is the period between birth and the acquisition of language one to two years later.

Childhood is the second major phase in human development, childhood, extends from one or two years of age until the onset of adolescence at age 12 or 13.

Adolescence Physically, adolescence begins with the onset of puberty at 12 or 13 and culminates at age 19 or 20 in adulthood.

Hmmm…. a discrepancy of 7-8 YEARS between biological and psychological demarcation for the beginning of adulthood, that is, IF adulthood is the onset of puberty. IF it’s the completion of puberty – the discrepancy is more like 4-5 years.

But! We now have a serious problem: the socially constructed stage called adolescence, interferes with, and contradicts, the biological transition from pre-reproductive childhood, to reproductive adult with no clear transition at all. The result is chaos in education, legal jurisdiction, sex-reproduction-parenting, health, nutrition and behavioral expectations!

Adulthood is a period of optimum mental functioning when the individual’s intellectual, emotional, and social capabilities are at their peak to meet the demands of career, marriage, and children. Some psychologists delineate various periods and transitions in early to middle adulthood that involve crises or reassessments of one’s life and result in decisions regarding new commitments or goals. During the middle 30s people develop a sense of time limitation, and previous behaviour patterns or beliefs may be given up in favour of new ones.

Wow! Just how does a person between the ages of 10-20 years old negotiate this bizarre disconnect between a developmental paradigm “invented” by psychologists, and the physical reality of the human body?

One might expect individual cultures to “help” with this vital transition… 

Cultural Adulthood? 

How the American legal system defines adult status is a crucial cultural factor.  

Adult: A person who by virtue of attaining a certain age, generally eighteen, is regarded in the eyes of the law as being able to manage his or her own affairs.

Wow! Highly optimistic and unrealistic in American culture, which overwhelmingly advocates for the indefinite postponement of adulthood… 

Note that American education does little to nothing to prepare children, adolescents, and now “emerging adults” (a new category of underdeveloped Homo sapiens that is MEASURED BY the subjective “feeling” of being adult) for these sudden legal and financial facts of life.  This dithering over adult status is the “privilege” of the wealth classes; poor and minority children too often become “instant adults” – in a jail cell.  

The age specified by law, called the legal age of majority, indicates that a person acquires full legal capacity to be bound by various documents, such as contracts and deeds, that he or she makes with others and to commit other legal acts such as voting in elections and entering marriage. The age at which a person becomes an adult varies from state to state and often varies within a state, depending upon the nature of the action taken by the person. Thus, a person wishing to obtain a license to operate a motor vehicle may be considered an adult at age sixteen, but may not reach adulthood until age eighteen for purposes of marriage, or age twenty-one for purposes of purchasing intoxicating liquors.

Anyone who has not reached the age of adulthood is legally considered an infant. (!! Really?) West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.




Physical Education and Sport / Ancient Times to Enlightenment

EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH / Vol. 2, No. 4, 191-202 / ISSN 2165-8714 Copyright © 2013 EUJER

“Bikini Girls” exercising, Sicily, 4th C. AD

Harmandar Demirel & Yıldıran / Dumlupinar University, Gazi University, Turkey

(I’ve broken the text into shorter paragraphs for easier reading and omitted some introductory material. Complete pdf is about 8 pages. I’ve high-lightened a few main ideas and vocabulary.)

My general comment is that American Public Education is essentially less “sophisticated” than even Ancient Greece and Rome; a disgrace and “Medieval”…

An Overview from the Ancient Age to the Renaissance

The Greek educational ideal which emerged during the 8th – 6th centuries B.C. aimed at developing general fitness via “gymnastics” and the “music” of the body; that is, the development of body and spirit in a harmonic body and, in this way, providing a beautiful body, mental development and spiritual and moral hygiene. These are expressed by the word Kalokagathia, meaning both beautiful and good, based on the words “Kalos” and “Agathos” (Aytaç, 1980; Alpman, 1972). Thus, the use of physical training and sport as the most suitable means as discussed first in Ancient Greece (Yildiran, 2005). To achieve the ideal of kalokagathia, three conditions were required: nobility, correct behaviour and careful teaching (Yildiran, 2011). Physical beauty (kalos) did not refer just to external appearance; it also referred to mental health. Humans who had these qualifications were considered ideal humans (kalokagathos) (Bohus, 1986). The idea of the Kalokagathia ideal, which was developed during the early classical age, had seen archaic-aristocratic high value “arete”s thinned and deepened (Popplow, 1972).

The vital point of aristocratic culture was physical training; in a sense, it was sport. The children were prepared for various sport competitions under the supervision of a paidotribes (a physical education teacher) and learned horse riding, discus and javelin throwing, long jumping, wrestling and boxing. The aim of the sport was to develop and strengthen the body, and hence, the character (Duruskken, 2001). In Ancient Greece, boys attended wrestling schools because it was believed that playing sports beautified the human spirit as well as the body (Balcı, 2008). The palaestra was a special building within ancient gymnasiums where wrestling and physical training were practiced (Saltuk, 1990). The education practiced in this era covered gymnastic training and music education, and its aim was to develop a heroic mentality, but only for royalty. With this goal in mind, education aimed to discipline the body, raising an agile warrior by developing a cheerful and brave spirit (Aytac, 1980).

The feasts which were held to worship the gods in Ancient Greece began for the purpose of ending civil wars. All sport-centred activities were of religious character. As the ancient Olympic Games were of religious origin, they were conducted in Olympia. (Home of the gods) Over time, running distances increased, new and different games were added to the schedule, soldiers began to use armour in warfare, art and philosophy were understood better and great interest was shown in the Olympic Games; therefore, the program was enriched and changed, and the competitions were increased from one to five days (Er et al., 2005). However, the active or passive attendance of married women was banned at the ancient Olympic Games for religious reasons (Memis and Yıldıran, 2011). The Olympic Games had an important function as one of the elements aimed at uniting the ancient Greeks culturally, but this ended when the games were banned by Emperor Theodosius 1st in 393-4 A.D. (Balci, 2008).

Sparta, which is located in the present-day Mora peninsula, was an agricultural state that had been formed by the immigration of Dors from the 8th century B.C. Spartan education provided an extremely paternalistic education, which sought the complete submergence of the individual in the citizen and provided him with the attributes of courage, complete obedience and physical perfection (Cordasco, 1976). In Sparta, where the foundations of social order constituted iron discipline, military proficiency, strictness and absolute obedience, the peaceful stages of life had the character of a “preparation for the war school” (Aytac, 1980). The essential thing that made Hellenic culture important was its gaining new dimensions with distinctive creative power regarding cultural factors that this culture had adopted from the ancient east, and its revealing of the concept of the “perfect human” (Iplikcioglu, 1997).

Children stayed with their family until they were seven years old; from this age, they were assigned to the state-operated training institutes where they were trained strictly in war and state tasks. Strengthening the body and preparing for war took a foremost place in accordance with the military character of the state. Girls were also given a strict military training (Aytac, 1980). The same training given to the boys was also given to the girls. The most prominent example of this is the girls and boys doing gymnastics together (Russel, 1969). Although physical training and music education were included, reading, writing and arithmetic were barely included in Spartan education (Binbasioglu, 1982).

Unlike Sparta, the classical period of Athenian democracy (Athens had advanced trade and industry) included the Persian Wars and Peloponnese Wars, and Cleisthenes’ democratic reforms and the ending of sea domination in domestic policy. As this democracy covered “the independent layer”, it took the form of an “aristocratic democracy” (Aytaç, 1980). Learning was given great importance in the Athenian democracy. The sons of independent citizens received education in grammar and at home or private school. Music education and gymnastic training were carried out in “Gymnasiums” and “Palestrae”, which were built and controlled by the state; running areas were called “Dramos”, and chariot race areas were termed “Hippodromes” (Aytac, 1980). Children older than 12 years started receiving sports training and music education in Athens, where the military training was barely included.

Athenians insisted on the aesthetical and emotional aspects of education. Therefore, the best art works of the ancient world were created in this country (Binbasioglu, 1982). As in the 5th century B.C., Greek education was unable to appropriately respond to new developments; Sophists emphasised the development of traditional education in terms of language and rhetoric in an attempt to overcome the crisis. Sophists provided education in the morals, law, and the natural sciences in addition to the trivium, grammar, rhetoric, dialectic) (Aytac, 1980).

Greeks considered physical training prudent and important because it developed the body and organised games conducive to the gathering of large crowds; in these games, all regions of Greece were represented (Balci, 2008). Rome constitutes the second most important civilisation of the Ancient age. In Rome, the family played the strongest role in education, and the state did not have much say or importance. While exercise constituted the means of education in Ancient Rome, the purpose of this education was “to raise a good citizen”, such that each person had a skilled, righteous and steady character. Physical training was provided in addition to courses such as mythology, history, geography, jurisprudence, arithmetic, geometry and philosophy; this training was provided in Grammar schools, where basic teaching covered the “Seven free arts” (Aytac, 1980).

Due to the Scholastic structure of the Middle Ages, values respecting the human were forgotten. However, the “Renaissance” movement, which started in Europe and whose ideas inform the modern world, developed many theories related to education and physical training and attempted to apply this in various ways; the development of these ideas was continued in “The Age of Enlightenment”.

The Renaissance General Aspects of the Renaissance

The word renaissance means “rebirth”; in this period, artists and philosophers tried to discover and learn the standards of Ancient Rome and Athens (Perry et al., 1989). In the main, the Renaissance represented a protest of individualism against authority in the intellectual and social aspects of life (Singer, 1960). Renaissance reminded “Beauty’’ lovers of the development of a new art and imagination. From the perspective of a scientist, the Renaissance represented innovation in ancient sciences, and from the perspective of a jurist, it was a light shining over the shambles of old traditions.

Human beings found their individuality again during this era, in which they tried to understand the basics of nature and developed a sense of justice and logic. However, the real meaning of “renaissance” was to be decent and kind to nature (Michelet, 1996). The Renaissance was shaped in Italy beginning from the 1350s as a modern idea contradicting the Middle Ages. The creation of a movement for returning to the old age with the formidable memories of Rome naturally seemed plausible (Mcneill, 1985). New ideas that flourished in the world of Middle Age art and developed via various factors did not just arise by accident; incidents and thoughts that developed in a social context supported it strongly (Turani, 2003). Having reached its climax approximately in the 1500s, the Italian Renaissance constituted the peak of the Renaissance; Leonardo da Vinci observed the outside world, people and objects captiously via his art and Niccolo Machiavelli’s drastically analysed nature and use of politics through his personal experiences and a survey of classical writers (Mcneill, 1985).

The Concept of Education and Approaches to Physical Training during the Renaissance

The humanist education model, which was concordant with the epitomes of the Renaissance, was a miscellaneous, creative idea. Its goal was to create an all-round advanced human being, “homo universale”. At the same time, such an educational epitome necessarily gained an aristocratic character. This educational epitome no longer provided education to students at school (Aytac, 1980).

In 14th century, the “humanist life epitome” was claimed. The humanism movement was gradually developing and spreading; however, in this phase, humanism-based formation or practice was not in question. In the history of humanity, the humanism period has been acknowledged as a ‘transitional period’. Modern civilisation and education is based on this period. Philosophers, such as Erasmus, Rabelais, Montaigne and Luther, flourished during this period. Universities began to multiply, and latitudinarianism was created. Scholastic thought was shaken from its foundations at the beginning of this period via the influence of Roger Bacon (scientist), who lived during the 13th Century.

Original forms of works constituting the culture of Ancient Athens and Rome were found, read, and recreated concordantly; moreover, the ideas of latitudinarian, old educators such as Quintilianus were practiced. In teaching methods, formulae enabling pupils to improve their skills and abilities were adopted. Students started to learn outdoors, in touch with nature. Strict disciplinary methods gave way to rather tolerant methods. The importance and value of professional education were acknowledged (Binbasioglu, 1982). Positive sciences, such as history, geography and natural history were not given a place in the classroom for a long time, but Latin preserved its place until recent times (Aytac, 1980).

With Desiderius von Erasmus, who was alive during the height of European humanism, humanism adopted its first scientific principle: “Return to sources!’’; for this reason, the works of ancient writers were published. Erasmus’ educational epitome consists of a humanist-scientific formulation; however, it does not externalise the moral-religious lifestyle. Having worked to expand humanity into higher levels, Erasmus summarises the conditions for this quest as follows: good teachers, a useful curriculum, good pedagogical methods, and paying attention to personal differences among pupils. With these ideas, Erasmus represents the height of German humanist pedagogy (Aytaç, 1980).

Notice the antagonistic set up between faith and science we still experience today in the U.S.?

On the other hand, Martin Luther considered universities as institutions where “all kinds of iniquity took place, there was little faith to sacred values, and the profane master Aristotle was taught imprudently” and he demanded that schools and especially universities be inspected. Luther thought that schools and universities should teach religiously inclined youth in a manner heavily dependent on the Christian religion (Aytac, 1980). Alongside these ideas, Luther made statements about the benefits of chivalric games and training, and of wrestling and jumping to health, which, in his opinion, could make the body more fit (Alpman, 1972).

The French philosopher Michel de Montaigne, known for his “Essays”, was a lover of literature who avoided any kind of extreme and was determined, careful and balanced. In his opinion, the aim of education was to transfer “ethical and scientific knowledge via experiments’’ to pupils. De Montaigne believed that a person’s skills and abilities in education, which can be called natural powers, are more important than or even superior to logic and society (Binbasioglu, 1982). The Humanist movement has played a very significant role in educational issues. This movement flourished in order to resurrect the art and culture of ancient Athens and Rome with their formidable aspects, thereby enabling body and soul to improve concordantly with the education of humans (Alpman, 1972). Humanism was not a philosophical system but a cultural and educational program (Kristeller, 1961).

Note that in the United States, current public education is obsessed with “social engineering” based on two religious ideologies: (1. liberal / puritanical – (social and psychological theory-based; conformity to prescriptive “absolutes” of human behavior.) 2.  evangelical – anti-science, faith-based denial of reality; socio-emotional fervor.) These competing religious systems have replaced a brief period of “humanist” academic emphasis; the arts and physical education have been jettisoned, supposedly due to “budget” limitations… but this elimination of “expressions of individual human value” is a choice made by parents and educators to “ban” secular ideals from education)  

The necessity of physical training along with education of soul and mind has been emphasised; for this reason, physical practices and games have been suggested for young people. It is possible to see how the humanists formed the foundations of the Renaissance, beginning from the 14th century to the 18th century and working from Italy to Spain, Germany, France and England. Almost all of the humanists stated the significance of physical training in their written works on education (Alpman, 1972).

One of the humanists, Vittorino da Feltre may have viewed it as the most pleasant goal of his life to raise a group of teenagers and fed and educated poor but talented children at his home (Burckhardt, 1974). Feltre practiced a classical education in his school called “Joyful Residence”. In accord with Ancient Greek education concepts, he claimed that benefits were provided by the education of body and soul through daily exercises such as swimming, riding and swordplay, and generating love towards nature via hiking; he also emphasised the importance of games and tournaments (Alpman, 1972; Aytac, 1980). Enea Silvio de Piccolomini is also worthy of attention; alongside his religious character, he thought that physical training should be emphasised and that beauty and power should be improved in this way (Alpman, 1972). de Piccolomini attracted attention to the importance of education as a basis for body and soul while stressing the importance of avoiding things that cause laxity, games and resting (Aytac, 1980). Juan Ludwig Vives, a systematic philosopher who had multiple influences, in one of his most significant works “De Tradendis Disciplinis”, which was published in 1531, advised such practices as competitive ball playing, hiking, jogging, wrestling and braggartism, beginning from the age of 15 (Alpman, 1972).

The German humanist Joachim Camerarius, who managed the academic gymnasium in the city of Nürnberg, is also very important in relation to this subject. Having practicing systematic physical training at the school in which he worked, Camerarius wrote his work, “Dialogus de Cymnasis”, which refers to the pedagogical and ethical values of Greek gymnastics. In this work, he stressed such practices as climbing, jogging, wrestling, swordplay, jumping, stone throwing and games that were practiced by specially selected children according to their ages and physical abilities, all under the supervision of experienced teachers (Alpman, 1972). The Italian Hieronymus Mercurialis’ De Arte Gymnastica, first published in Latin in Venice in 1569, contained very little on the Olympic Games. Indeed, the author was hostile to the idea of competitive athletics. The Frenchman Petrus Faber’s Agonisticon (1592), in its 360 pages of Latin text, brought together in one place many ancient texts concerning the Olympics but was disorganised, repetitive and often unclear (Lee, 2003). The first part of the De Arte Gymnastica included the definition of Ancient Greek gymnastics and an explanation of actual terminology whereas the second part contained precautions about the potential harms of exercises practiced in the absence of a doctor. Moreover, he separated gymnastics practised for health reasons from military gymnastics (Alpman, 1972).

Note the military requirement for it’s personnel to be “physically fit” compared to the general U.S. population, (including children), which is chronically obese, sedentary and unhealthy. “Being physically fit” (at least the appearance of) is now a status symbol of the wealth classes and social celebrities, requiring personal trainers, expensive spa and gym facilities, and high-tech gadgets and equipment.    

The Transition to the Age of Enlightenment: Reformation, Counter-reformation and the Age of Method

The Age of Reformation: The most significant feature of European cultural life during this age was the dominant role played by religious issues, unlike the Renaissance in Italy (Mcneill, 1985). This age symbolises the uprising of less civilised societies against logic-dominated Italy (Russell, 2002). Bearing a different character from Renaissance and Humanism, the Reformation did not stress improvements in modern art or science, but rather improvements in politics and the Church; consonant with this, its education epitome emphasised being religious and dependent on the Church. Nevertheless, both Humanism and the Reformation struggled against Middle Ages scholasticism, and both appreciated the value of human beings (Aytac, 1980).

The Counter-reformation Movement: In this period, which includes the movement of the Catholic church to retake privileges that it had lost due to the Reformation, the “Jesuit Sect’’ was founded to preach, confess and collect “perverted minds’’ once again under the roof of the Catholic church via teaching activities (Aytac, 1980).

The Age of Method: Also known as the Age of Practice, this period saw efforts to save people from prejudice, and principles for religion, ethics, law and state were sought to provide systematic knowledge in a logic-based construction. Aesthetic educational approaches, which were ignored by religion and the Church because of the attitudes prevailing during the Reformation and Counterreformation, were given fresh emphasis. Bacon, Locke, Ratke, Komensky, Descartes and Comenius are among the famous philosophers who lived during this period (Aytac, 1980).

The Age of Enlightenment General Features and Educational Concepts of the Enlightenment

The Enlightenment Period had made itself clear approximately between 1680 and 1770 or even 1780. Science developed into separate disciplines, literature became an independent subject, and it was demanded that history also become independent (Chaunu, 2000). During this period, educators transformed the concept of education from preparing students for the afterlife into preparing them for the world around them, so that they could be free and enlightened.

Moreover, educators of the period were usually optimistic and stressed the importance of study and work. At school, students were educated in such a way as to engrain a love of nature and human beings. Based on these ideas, learning was undertaken by experiment and experience (Binbasioglu, 1982). William Shakespeare mentioned the concept of “Fair Play” and the ideas of “maintain equality of opportunity” and “show the cavalier style of thinking” at the end of the 16th century; by the 18th century, these ideas were included in sport (Gillmeister, 1988). Systematic changes in the foundations of the principles of fair play that occurred in the 19th century were directly related to the socio-cultural structure of Victorian England (Yildiran, 1992).

The Concept of Physical Training during the Enlightenment and Its Pioneers Ideas and epitomes produced prior to this period were ultimately practiced in this period. Respected educators of the period stressed the significance of physical training, which appealed only to the aristocracy during the Renaissance; simulating the education system of the Ancient Age, educators started to address everyone from all classes and their views spread concordantly in this period.

John Locke: The Enlightenment reached maturity during the mid-to late eighteenth century. John Locke, a lead player in this new intellectual movement (Faiella, 2006), was likely the most popular political philosopher during the first part of the 18th century, who stressed the necessity of education (Perry et al., 1989). Locke’s “Essay on Human Intellect” is acknowledged as his most prominent and popular work (Russell, 2002). His work, “Notions of Education” stressed the importance of child health, advised children to learn swimming and to maintain their fitness. Moreover, Locke noted that such activities as dance, swordplay and riding were essential for a gentleman (Alpman, 1972) and that education should be infused with game play (Binbaşıoğlu, 1982).

Jean Jacques Rousseau: in his work, Emile, the philosopher from Geneva discussed educational matters in regard to the principles of nature (Russell, 2002). In this work, which he wrote in (1762) Rousseau argued that individuals should learn from nature, human beings or objects (Perry et al., 1989), and expressed his notions concerning the education of children and teenagers (Binbasioglu, 1982). Rousseau held that children should be allowed to develop and learn according to their natural inclinations, but in Emile, this goal was achieved by a tutor who cunningly manipulated his pupil’s responses (Damrosch, 2007). The aforesaid education was termed “Natural education’’ of the public or “education which will create natural human beings’’ (Aytaç, 1980). Emile exercised early in the morning because he needed strength, and because a strong body was the basic requirement for a healthy soul. Running with bare feet, high jumping, and climbing walls and trees, Emile mastered such skills as jogging, swimming, stone throwing, archery and ball games. Rousseau demanded that every school would have a gymnasium or an area for training (Alpman, 1972).

Continued next post. Time to watch the Olympics!

Chris Packham Videos / Personal Account Adult Asperger – Excellent

Familiar, and yet different! Fascinating to see how the same “impulses” play out in another Asperger… Overwhelmingly sad at points … love and beauty. That different perception of time. Would I want to be “cured”? Never. 

My salvation was having an Asperger father, who loved me like Chris loved his Kestral. 

ABA child abuse. An American travesty: rationalized torture. Eugenics.  

Employment of ASD people, Silicon Valley 

LOSS. The unbearable.   

New Site / Science-Based Medicine

A topic that fires up violent reactions in “rational” types LOL

Psychology and Psychotherapy: How Much Is Evidence-Based?

Psychology Gone Wrong: The Dark Side of Science and Therapy, by Tomasz Witkowski and Maciej Zatonski, Witkowski is a psychologist, science writer, and founder of the Polish Skeptics Club; Zatonski is a surgeon and researcher known for debunking unscientific therapies and claims in clinical medicine. Together, they turn a spotlight on research and treatment in the field of psychology. They uncover distressing flaws, show that many commonly accepted psychological principles are based on myths, argue that psychotherapy is a business and a kind of prostitution rather than an effective evidence-based medical treatment, and question whether psychotherapy should even exist, since in most cases it offers no advantage over talking to a friend about one’s problems, and in some cases can cause harm.

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Fate / Human maladaptation to a future world

Each of us is born into a world that is not of his or her own making. The trouble is, that it’s no longer a world that nature has prepared us for. DNA is like a suitcase full of physiological plans, functions and designs; of physics, chemistry, thermodynamics and electro- magnetic energy arranged by billions of years of testing for operational brilliance in an environment that no longer exists.

Human babies are like time travelers, adapted to a strenuous existence in forest and desert; along rivers, lakes and seashores; ready to learn, survive and excel, and to be a wild animal, among wild animals.

We arrive in a place many futures ahead of where we belong. In a hospital. Among machines, without which more and more babies would die on arrival. Not a living thing in sight. To parents whose bodies have adapted rather badly to an artificial world, not of their own making. Trapped in a world not of their own making. The dysfunction of being born into a toxic future, for which our DNA suitcase does not prepares us, accelerates, not by a few years, but thousands of years in mere generations.

The DNA suitcase is becoming useless. We don’t function; we cannot adapt; we can only maladapt.

So what do we do? A frantic response: Attack our DNA. Cut it apart, rearrange it, combine it, mix it like a salad. Hope that we can keep ahead of the future, a future in which dysfunction is normal. Are we there yet?  



A revelation about being Asperger / Chronic Pain

I had a bad day today. What does that mean? Pain.

I had never looked at bad days as being identifiable in terms of pain. I see “problems to solve” as the source of discontent, disruption, a bad mood – the badness in a bad day. I experience physical pain (sometimes intense) at the same time; maybe a meltdown. How could I not connect the two?

Today I could identify that bad days are not discrete events, but wave tops of continuous, chronic pain. I could suddenly see that this has been the pattern, since childhood. This was a connection I had never before made. This connection must be shown visually.

— Such that the wave crest is maximum pain (a meltdown); the wave trough, is the absence of pain: the path of the wave describes chronic pain. I didn’t see the continuous nature of pain because I ignore (am unaware of, don’t feel) the pain between the peaks and troughs.  As is often said of Asperger types, there is pain we don’t feel; there is pain we do feel. Our response to pain is “eccentric.” There is a “threshold” at work in this experience of pain.

Something else is familiar about the “highs and lows” of this wave: Years ago I was diagnosed bipolar. Since the discovery that I’m Asperger, I have suspected that bipolar was a mistaken diagnosis. Could this “wave pattern” of chronic pain (stress induced?) “look like” bipolar mood swings and engender the belief that bipolar is co-morbid with being Asperger? My proposed “Asperger Wave” is actually the inverse of bipolar swings: The peak is extreme pain, the valley is pleasure.

The next question is, What is the origin of chronic pain? 

I’m off to consult the Wizard… 


Confrontational scavenging of large vertebrate carcasses / Early Homo

Freshly scavenged elk carcass


Humans and Scavengers: The Evolution of Interactions and Ecosystem Services

BioScience, Volume 64, Issue 5, 1 May 2014, Pages 394–403,
Published: 22 March 2014

Excerpt: Diet of early humans: Food provisioning and the onset of cultural services

Around the time of the Pliocene–Pleistocene transition, increasing seasonality in precipitation occurred in African savannas (Cerling et al. 2011a). This forced the australopithecine ancestors of humans to diversify their diet in order to cope with the developing seasonal bottleneck in fruits and other soft plant foods. While hominins of the genus Paranthropus became adapted to exploit durable seeds, roots, and sedges (Cerling et al. 2011b, Klein 2013, Sponheimer et al. 2013), the lineage leading to Homo turned to the meat provided by large vertebrate carcasses to overcome the effects of the increasingly seasonal production of fruits and new plant growth (Foley and Lee 1989, Bunn and Ezzo 1993, Ungar et al. 2006, Klein 2013). Although the relative role of hunting and scavenging by early humans remains controversial (Domínguez-Rodrigo 2002, Ungar et al. 2006, Pickering 2013), many anthropologists contend that the earliest humans obtained animal food largely through confrontational scavenging (also called power scavenging and aggressive scavenging) by driving large carnivores from their kills (figure 1; O’Connell et al. 1988, Bunn and Ezzo 1993, Brantingham 1998, Ragir 2000, Domínguez-Rodrigo and Pickering 2003, Klein 2009, Bickerton and Szathmáry 2011). Indeed, it has been proposed that the emergence of endurance running could have helped early humans to secure sufficient access to the scattered and ephemeral resource that is carrion, although this might have been a later feature facilitating the hunting of live ungulate prey (Bramble and Lieberman 2011).

Figure 1.

Major meat acquisition strategies of humans (Homo spp.) in relation to key events during the Quaternary Period. (a) A logarithmic time scale (in thousands of years ago) showing the main human-related events that occurred during the Quaternary Period that shaped the interactions between humans and scavenging vertebrates. (b) The major means of meat acquisition by humans during the Quaternary Period. See the text for further details.

Major meat acquisition strategies of humans (Homo spp.) in relation to key events during the Quaternary Period. (a) A logarithmic time scale (in thousands of years ago) showing the main human-related events that occurred during the Quaternary Period that shaped the interactions between humans and scavenging vertebrates. (b) The major means of meat acquisition by humans during the Quaternary Period. See the text for further details.

Interference and resource competition probably accounted for most of the interactions among the earliest humans, vultures, bone-cracking hyenids, and other vertebrate scavengers (Bunn and Ezzo 1993, Owen-Smith 1999, Bickerton and Szathmáry 2011, Bramble and Lieberman 2011). In addition, confrontational scavenging would have exposed early humans to increased risks of injury or death while they were driving away the large carnivores that had killed the carcasses or driving away other fearsome scavengers present at them (Bunn and Ezzo 1993, Bickerton and Szathmáry 2011). But facilitatory interactions could also have been a feature, as it happens in current vertebrate scavenger guilds (Cortés-Avizanda et al. 2012, Pereira et al. 2014). For instance, observations of contemporary hunter–gatherers who actively exploit scavenging opportunities suggest that watching the behavior of vultures and large mammalian carnivores could have helped early humans locate carcasses (O’Connell et al. 1988). Such food provisioning probably represents the first ecosystem service that humans gained from scavenging vertebrates.

Moreover, a major function of the earliest stone tools crafted by early hominins was the processing of large carcasses to yield meat and marrow, a pattern of butchery that extended well into the Pleistocene (de Heinzelin et al. 1999). Competition with other scavengers probably contributed to the refinement of these tools and their use and, therefore, to cultural diversity. In addition, selective pressures associated with confrontational scavenging—specifically, the spatiotemporal unpredictability of carcasses and exposure to predation—probably contributed to the most distinctive features of humans: collaborative cooperation and language development (both of which were used to express where the resource was imagined to be awaiting; Bickerton and Szathmáry 2011). In turn, the improved diet quality due to increasing meat consumption has been related, along with other factors, to the extraordinary brain enlargement within the human lineage (Bramble and Lieberman 2011, Navarrete et al. 2011). Therefore, (confrontational) scavenging helped shape our modern cognitive identity.


Amensalism: any interaction between two individuals or groups of the same or different species in which one organism or group is harmed but the other is unaffected.

Carrion: any type of dead animal tissue.

Coevolution: reciprocal selective pressure that makes the evolution of one taxon partially dependent on the evolution of another (Brantingham 1998).

Commensalism: any interaction between two individuals or groups of the same or different species in which one organism or group benefits without affecting the other.

Competition: any interaction between two individuals or groups of the same or different species that reduces access to a shared resource or set of resources. Competition is direct (interference) if one organism or group affects the ability of another to consume a given limiting resource or indirect (exploitation) if the consumption of a given limiting resource by one organism or group makes the resource unavailable for another.

Ecosystem services: benefits people obtain from ecosystems (MA 2005) or the set of ecosystem functions that are useful to humans (Kremen 2005). These include provisioning (products obtained from ecosystems), regulating (related to the regulation of ecosystem processes), and cultural (nonmaterial benefits) services that directly affect people, as well as the supporting services needed to maintain other services. Provisioning, regulating, and cultural services typically have relatively direct and short-term impacts on people, whereas the impact of supporting services is often indirect or occurs over a very long time period (MA 2005).

Facilitative processes: those processes whose effects on a given organism are beneficial and increase its development or fitness.

Facultative scavenger: an animal that scavenges at variable rates but that can subsist on other food resources in the absence of carrion. All mammalian predators (e.g., jackals, hyenas, and lions in Africa and southern Asia; foxes, raccoons, wolves, and bears in temperate ecosystems), numerous birds of prey (e.g., kites, most large eagles), and corvids (e.g., ravens, crows), as well as other vertebrates (e.g., crocodiles), can be considered, to a greater or lesser extent, facultative scavengers (DeVault et al. 2003, Pereira et al. 2014).

Mutualism: any beneficial and reciprocal interaction between two individuals or groups of different species. This relationship of mutual dependence can be obligate (when a given organism or group cannot survive or reproduce without its mutualistic partner).

Obligate scavenger: a scavenger that relies entirely or near entirely on carrion as food resource. Among Quaternary terrestrial vertebrates, only vultures (both Old and New World species—families Accipitridae and Cathartidae, respectively) are considered obligate scavengers.

Predation: an interaction in which one animal kills and eats all or part of another. Predation can affect prey through the two fundamental mechanisms of direct consumption and capture risk.

Scavenging: an interaction in which one animal eats all or part of a dead animal. Scavenging is active (also called confrontational, aggressive, or power scavenging) when the predator that was responsible for the kill is chased away and most of the meat on the carcass is procured, or it is passive when the bones, which may contain fragments of meat, marrow, and skull contents, are collected.

Much, much, more…