Name: Emily Varani
Subject: Brain and Behavior
Date: Mon Jan 26 14:49:29 EST 1998
I am not convinced that there is a mutually exclusive relationship between brain and behavior for two reasons. One: behavior is possible in organisms that lack even rudimentary nervous systems. Prokaryotes, without even a nuclear membrane for their genetic material, are capable of many of the behaviors we listed in class. Ingestion, digestion, reproduction, predation, and competition are just some of their behaviors. To say that brain and behavior are synonymous disregards the activity of these and other nervous-system-lacking organisms, relegating all their movements to a yet undetermined catagory. Two: I believe it is dangerous to assume that we have found and answered all the questions of the brain. Humans have only just begun to understand how this complex organ works. By selling ourselves to the idea that we have found the root of behavior, we are closed to making new observations about either the brain or behavior. I don't dispute the connection between brain and behavior; I simply won't commit myself to accepting an exclusive relationship between the two.
Name: Vera R. Barkas
Subject: What is our brain?
Date: Mon Jan 26 17:05:29 EST 1998
When we discussed whether or not there existed more to our behavior than just our brain, I began to wonder about the significance of outside influences on our behavior and specifically outside influences that affect bundles of nerves. The concept of the brain was enlarged to encompass the entire nervous system. This means that every neuron in our body is considered part of our brain. However, I never thought of the events that occur over a certian synaptic cleft, which is esstentially very biological and chemical, in the same way as I saw "the brain", a large and comlicated think tank where event can occur because we will them to and not merely becouse of chemical interaction. I may not be making myself entirely clear. Basicaly, I'm having a hard time differentciating the purely biological aspect of neurology and the details of voluntary behavior. I see the brian as the central organ for thought and control of bodily processes. But I also believe there are many things which can affect our behavior that originate outside of the brain. I think that when we trip over rocks we do so because of gravity and not because our brain told us to trip. I guess "triping" in this sense, can be seen as a reaction to stubbing our toe? I find it difficult to think of myself as a purely biological machine. But until I learn more about the brain and the nervous system, no matter how hard I think of something to contridict the statement that there is no more to our behavior than just our brain, I will have to accept this notion.
Name: Miriam Kulkarni
Username: mkulkarn
Subject: Is the brain responsible for all behavior?
Date: Tue Jan 27 11:18:54 EST 1998
I do not take isssue with Prof. Grobstien's assertion that the brain is responsible for all behavior. I do not believe that there is a mind or a soul that exists apart from an individual's nervous system.

However, I do not believe that behavior will ever be fully explained by information gained from studying the brain. The brain is infinitely complex, and the knowlege gained in neurobiology and psychology will always be an incomplete picture. While these disiplines provide useful insights into behavior, many of the most fundamental aspects of human behavior remain unexplored. For example, consciousness is a fundamental aspect of human behavior that is so complex that it is difficult to define, let alone explore scientifically. I do not forsee a time in which neurobiologists and psychologists have explored every aspect of human behavior and discovered the biological processes responsible for it.

My position on on Prof. Grobstien's assertion is that while I agree that biological processes in the brain are responsible for behavior, some aspects of behavior are simply too complex to be understood in those terms.

Name: David Bellows
Subject: re: free will
Date: Wed Jan 28 22:05:18 EST 1998
I've always found it useful to consider the question of free will best divided into two seperate ideas - universal and conscious free will. Universal free will explores the idea of whether or not there is some outside agent (God, natural laws,...) determining our actions (and thoughts), whereas conscious free will asks if our conscious mind controls our actions. For brevities sake I'll only discuss the latter.

I divide conscious free will into three separate categories. First there is strong free will which states :our conscious mind originates or creates our conscious mind eg. when walking along a road you reach a fork and your conscious mind creates the thoughts "there is a fork, do I go left or right?" and then makes the decision. The second form, weak free will, states that it is our subconscious mind which originates (creates) thoughts but the conscious mind makes decisions eg. (from above): at the fork in the road, the subconscious creates the question "Do I go left or right?" and then your conscious mind creates an answer. Lastly, the no free will approach states that the subconscious mind creates the thoughts (and questions), makes decisions (answers the question), and then reports these to the conscious mind so that our conscious mind creates nothing but is only the part of the mind that is aware that any of this is going on. The no free will model seems the most reasonable as simple models can be made to fit this idea. I've never seen any models that were able to explain how we could have strong or weak free will (without using supernatural explanations such as a soul).

Name: Miriam Kulkarni
Username: mkulkarn
Subject: the I function
Date: Tue Feb 3 09:52:14 EST 1998
Last class, we used the observation that paraplegics still experience sense of self as evidence that sense of self does not require the whole nervous system.

I think that the I function integrates inputs from all parts of the nervous system to produce a sense of self. When the brain is disconnected from the spinal chord, as in paraplegia, sense of self continues, but sensation and movement of the body from the neck down are no longer included in sense of self. In behavioral neuroscience last semester, we saw a film about a man whose hippocampi had been destroyed by a viral infection, leaving him unable to learn new information. This man, too, still experienced sense of self, but his sense of self did not include actions which he performed only a few minutes before.

Thus, while the core of sense of self seems to remain intact when parts of the nervous system are destroyed, some part of it is missing.

Name: RIT
Date: Wed Feb 11 01:48:01 EST 1998
I played the game. For the 2nd hardest I got it the first time and for the hardest I got it the 5th time. None of the other levels took more then 5 or 6 moves. I have no idea how, I just went on instinct. On some of the earlier ones there seemed to be a pattern that I followed.
Name: RIT
Subject: Nothing's Hidden
Date: Wed Feb 11 23:14:15 EST 1998
I've tried the Find Serendip game and throughout the 1st 4 levels of difficulty I usually find it on the first try. However, it took me 16 moves for the hardest. Is the game properly working? I find it odd that I would get it right the first time 3 or 4 times in a row.
Name: Patrick Riley
Username: priley@basin.und-w.nodak.ed
Subject: memory and color
Date: Thu Feb 12 12:59:47 EST 1998
Years ago when I first started teaching learning disabled adults, we were told that the color blue stayed in the memory better than all other colors. We used blue cue cards, blue letters, etc. in our teaching. I have a renewed interest in this area, but have been unable to find any reference to this theory in literature available in our region. If anyone can help me with this or steer me in the right direction,I would appreciate the help.
Name: MARIA BLANCO (Spain)
Subject: HELP, PLEASE!
Date: Wed Feb 18 09:39:50 EST 1998
Hello! First of all, congratulations for this wonderful site. I'm an economist, my "branch" is the History of Economic Thought, and I'm working on a paper about how economist of 1870's introduced mathematics in economic theory. The main problem for them was to find a mesure of needs and wants of consumers, the mesure of individual utilities of goods and the aggregation of individual variables into a "social mesure". One of them (William Stanley Jevons) was one of the students of the psychologist Alexander Bain at London. Jevons and his succesors stated that we can mesure the individual perception of one need or desire of one good for the same reason that we can mesure the individual perception of a sense. The most important succesor of Jevons, named Francis Edgeworth knews the Fechner' formula, and the works of Wundt, and Edgeworth used it to wrote about economic theory. He stated the principles that allowed economic theorist to introduce mathematics in our theories, and it permet us to create mathematic models. Both (Jevons and Edgeworth) wrote in the review "Mind", it said the first english review of psychology. My problem is: when Jevons wrote his book in 1871, Fechner theories was not published, so there must be some kind of relationship between him and some of Fechner disciples in London. Somebody can help me? I hope you can forgive my intrusion. As an economist I recognize that WE have many things to learn about PSYCHOLOGY, and I'm glad to find you. Thank you.
Subject: NOBODY needs you
Date: Thu Feb 19 13:22:28 EST 1998
Hello. I'm NOBODY and I need your help. I have just posted a message in "Local Resources Forum" but I don't know if somebody reads it or not. As I realize that the last comment here is very recent, I hope that one of you, experts in this field, could help me. I appologize my ignorance, but I'm NOBODY, so I will try to explain as best as possible my problem. One of my friends told me that people with an intelligence coefficient of 120 or more (I think he said "the Waiss test") has many problems because they are bad-integrated in society. I supposed at this moment that he was speaking about him, and I thought to myself that we (AVERAGE PEOPLE) also have integrations problems (like me, for instance), I also felt lonely, different, without the desirable help and understanding of my family.... But last week, I have passed this Waiss test and my I.C. was 134. I was so depressed.. If I would have 100 (the average value) more or less I was been able to explain that LIFE is so difficult to live to me, but with this "extra-capacity" (if this is what it meant the I.C.)... there is something wrong, perhaps my friend was right? or not? Why I feel so sad? Is the I.C. a realistic coefficient? Please, I NEED an answer, or some book to read that could help me... Thank you in advance, and sorry for the intrusion.
Name: Jacob Ghitis, M.D.
Date: Thu Feb 19 17:17:54 EST 1998


Name: Miriam Kulkarni Username: mkulkarn Subject: the I function Date: Tue Feb 3 1998

Miriam, you have touched on a most important subject. Not only of psychology, but of the whole universe. I will write a short note on this very soon. Besides, I plan to write a larger contribution for later on. All based on the NEW PSYCHOLOGY, as defined in the BIOLOGY forum. For now, let me just comment that the 'I function' reminds of the 'ego' as defined by psychoanalisis, where 'ego' is just the Latin name for 'I.' Now, 'self' is much more than 'I.' as I'll attempt to explain soon. For today, I limit myself to stress that the consciousness of the body is quite complex, and that the 'body image' is different to what you are writing about. Please stay tuned. I wrote the above on-line. J.G.

Name: Patrick Riley Username: priley@basin.und-w.nodak.ed Subject: memory and color Date: Thu Feb 12 1998

Patrick, I believe you will not get help here, but nice to read your post. Colors are kept in memory encoded in special 'color' proteins. I see no reason to be surprised if blue is better suited than any other color to be strongly associated with text memory. After all, evolution is guided and constrained by physical laws and by ecological factors. If man has been daily seeing the vast blue of the skies, such color might have become a special influence. I've not read about your specific question. I just checked with askjeeves 'color+blue' without getting any useful information. Sorry. Keep me posted and come back.

Name: MARIA BLANCO (Spain) Username: Subject: HELP, PLEASE! Date: Wed Feb 18 1998

Hola, Maria: Este no es el sitio. Bienvenida, pero Serendip no posee informacion sobre el tema que te interesa. Sigue visitandonos.

Name: NOBODY Username: Subject: NOBODY needs you Date: Thu Feb 19 1998

NOBODY, I believe your high I.Q. demands much from your brain -> mind -> thinking. Thinking demands a lot of neurotransmitters, among them, serotonin. Apparently, your neurons do not produce enough of it. This causes difficulties in coherent thinking and a belief of not being 'understood.' With good reason! The result is that a neurotic personality develops. Obsessions and compulsions may be explained as a faulty thought flow. Depression is unavoidable. In short, a mental hell. Help may be obtained by increasing the concentration of serotonin in the synapses. If you identify with my words, please feel free to contact me.

Name: anne
Subject: can intelligence be increased?
Date: Thu Feb 19 23:47:15 EST 1998
hi. my name is anne and i'm a senior in high school and i'm new to this whole internet thing, so please forgive me for any mistakes (computer faux pas?) i may be making. at any rate, here is my situation: in my psychology ap class, i have to debate whether or not intelligence can be increased. i've been looking everywhere for information on this subject, but so far to no avail. if anyone can tell me of sites where i can get stats and info for my debate (i argue the side that it can not be increased), please let me know. i do not have an e-mail yet, so if it is possible, can you post it here? thank you so very, very much. =>
Name: anonymous
Subject: NOBODY: thank you!
Date: Fri Feb 20 08:34:30 EST 1998
First of all, thank you very much for your attention, Jacob. I have heard this explanation before but I don't understand it completely. Why my neurons are unable to produce the serotonin adequated to my needs? This explanation make me think that the capacity of "thinking" or to reasoning is independent of the brain, because, in my case, for instance, I have too much capacity for my brain (for my neurons); and this problem explain my behaviour. Really?. In some sense this make me feel abnormal, an it's a very uncomfortable feeling! But, at the same time, you must to be right because it's true that I have a compulsive behaviour (I am an anorexic-bulimic woman). I am in a psychotherapy since the last four years. My conclusion is that my abnormal behaviour is related (in some way) to the lack of help in my childhood, when I have had need it. As my family (and in general our society) is unable to recognize such failure they educated me as best as they could but in the middle of a generalized "social lies". Surely they are avoiding the responsability, in an unconcious way. I don't know if you are understanding, cause it's difficult to me talk about all this. Another thing. I want you to explain what do you mean with "COHERENT THINKING". I used to have the "fame" to be rational and coherent in my thoughts IN EXCESS, so it's a little be surprising what I undestand that you are saying. Perhaps I have misunderstood you. Please, tell me if my conversation is not "in the line" with this forum, I don't want to be boring someone, but maybe, I am a practical example about the problems in the relation between brain&behaviour. I accept any comment from everybody...
Name: Jacob Ghitis, M.D.
Subject: TO NOBODY
Date: Sun Feb 22 16:17:45 EST 1998


On Thu Feb 19 1998 you wrote,

Hello. I'm NOBODY and I need your help … I hope that one of you, experts in this field, could help me.

Any, we are not experts. We are interested in offering forums for educated propositions concerning areas which are not metaphysical, as I have detailed in several posts on the subject of metaphysics. Our goal is to try and make sense of the ambiguities that surround us, human beings. Therefore, we propound science and philosophy as the exclusive or preferred areas of knowledge to be pursued in these pages. I am not part of the Serendip management. I am a devoted Serendipian, though, who follows a personal line of thought and discourse. Please do not take me as representative of this forum, only as a contributor. After this disclaimer, I must add that it is convenient to read my lines about the NEW PHILOSOPHY in order to understand my approach. Mainly, this philosophy does not offer counsel, limiting itself to endeavor explicating realities which cannot be analyzed scientifically. However, scientific facts are used when available to support these philosophic realities. The most important of which concerns language, it being human intellect's foremost expression. As for science, the main stress of the New Philosophy is placed on the brain, it being the location of the mind, whose main output are thoughts. It is my contention that meta-thinking (thinking about thinking) is the supreme manifestation of the human mind.

... have integrations problems... lonely, different ... without the desirable help and understanding of my family.... But last week, I have passed this Waiss test and my I.C. was 134. I was so depressed.. If I would have 100 (the average value) more or less I was been able to explain that LIFE is so difficult to live to me, but with this "extra-capacity" (if this is what it meant the I.C.)... there is something wrong ...
Why I feel so sad? Is the I.C. a realistic coefficient? Please, I NEED an answer, or some book to read that could help me... Thank you in advance, and sorry for the intrusion.

On Feb 19 I posted to you,

I believe your high I.Q. demands much from your brain -> mind -> thinking. Thinking consumes a lot of neurotransmitters (as well as glucose and oxygen), among them, serotonin. Apparently, your neurons do not produce enough of it. This causes difficulties in coherent thinking and a belief of not being 'understood.' With good reason! The result is that a neurotic personality develops. Obsessions and compulsions may be explained as a faulty thought flow. Depression is unavoidable. In short, a mental hell. Help may be obtained by increasing the concentration of serotonin in the synapses. If you identify with my words, please feel free to contact me.

Then on Feb 20 you posted,

Thank you very much for your attention, Jacob. I have heard this explanation before but I don't understand it completely. Why my neurons are unable to produce the serotonin adequated to my needs? This explanation make me think that the capacity of "thinking" or to reasoning is independent of the brain, because, in my case, for instance, I have too much capacity for my brain (for my neurons); and this problem explain my behaviour. Really?.
In some sense this make me feel abnormal, an it's a very uncomfortable feeling! But, at the same time, you must to be right because it's true that I have a compulsive behaviour (I am an anorexic-bulimic woman). I am in a psychotherapy since the last four years. My conclusion is that my abnormal behaviour is related (in some way) to the lack of help in my childhood, when I have had need it. As my family (and in general our society) is unable to recognize such failure they educated me as best as they could but in the middle of a generalized "social lies".
Surely they are avoiding the responsability, in an unconcious way. I don't know if you are understanding, cause it's difficult to me talk about all this. Another thing. I want you to explain what do you mean with "COHERENT THINKING". I used to have the "fame" to be rational and coherent in my thoughts IN EXCESS, so it's a little be surprising what I undestand that you are saying. Perhaps I have misunderstood you.
Please, tell me if my conversation is not "in the line" with this forum, I don't want to be boring someone, but maybe, I am a practical example about the problems in the relation

Any, please edit and repost the lines you wrote above, correcting the syntax and orthography, also adding some information on your educational background. The subject of serotonin is complex; I'll try to write about it sometime. Lots of people are genetically defective in adequate serotonin production. Anorexia-bulimia may be also related to special situations of serotonin underproduction.
Please read my short essay 'On Survival,' in BIOLOGY forum. Dopamine appears to be the neurotransmitter required to make the individual feel hunger when his organism needs food. Dopamine and serotonin are needed for neurotransmission, but only serotonin has given rise to therapeutic uses in depression and in anorexia-bulimia. I am starting to suspect that neurotic ('maladjusted') personality, associated with the belief of 'not being understood' is also related to serotonin deficit.

This will do for now. Any, the present dialogue might interest several readers and move them to participate. Please keep your initiative alive, it might signal a sea change in cyberworld.


Subject: nobody again
Date: Mon Feb 23 12:07:14 EST 1998
Hello again, Jacob. Excuse my faults. My english is not very good. I can read it and I can understand classes or conferences, but it is very difficult to me talk about my feelings. (I use to speak about economics). I am an economist from Spain. I am 33 years old, I am a separated woman, and I have two children. My post-graduate studies are related with the philosophy of economics, the relation between economics and other sciences (like psychology, sociology, mathematics...), the origins of economics and also of the sciences in general (sometimes sciences have the same origin, for instance, some XIXth economist was psychologist too). Perhaps my last comment was a little bit... violent? Excuse me, please. I write to Serendip because I agree with the main principles stated here, and I need to have ANSWERS. I hoped that Serendip (& contributors) make me think about my problem in a positive way, cause we share the same points of vue in many things. I enjoy very much with some of your articles (I have had no time to read all of them)... I'm learning so much! So, I appreciate very much your comments and the forum. But SERENDIP is the only way I have to express my complaints or deceptions or, at least, to ask the questions that nobody have answer me as I need. I will read the article on "The New Philosophy" and post my comments. May I ask more questions about the power of myself to overcome my quimical deficiencies?
Name: Jacob Ghitis,M.D.
Date: Mon Feb 23 16:10:37 EST 1998



On Thu Feb 3 1998 you wrote,

Last class, we used the observation that paraplegics still experience sense of self as evidence that sense of self does not require the whole nervous system. I think that the I function integrates inputs from all parts of the nervous system to produce a sense of self. When the brain is disconnected from the spinal chord, as in paraplegia, sense of self continues, but sensation and movement of the body from the neck down are no longer included in sense of self. In behavioral neuroscience last semester, we saw a film about a man whose hippocampi had been destroyed by a viral infection, leaving him unable to learn new information. This man, too, still experienced sense of self, but his sense of self did not include actions which he performed only a few minutes before. Thus, while the core of sense of self seems to remain intact when parts of the nervous system are destroyed, some part of it is missing.

I commented on Feb 19,

Miriam, you have touched on a most important subject. Not only of psychology, but of the whole universe. I will write a short note on this very soon. Besides, I plan to write a larger contribution for later on. All based on the NEW PSYCHOLOGY, as defined in the BIOLOGY forum. For now, let me just comment that the 'I function' reminds of the 'ego' as defined by psychoanalysis, where 'ego' is just the Latin name for 'I.' Now, 'self' is much more than 'I.' as I'll attempt to explain soon. For today, I limit myself to stress that the consciousness of the body is quite complex, and that the 'body image' is different to what you are writing about. Please stay tuned. I wrote the above on-line. J.G.

Now I continue,

I understand the 'I' or 'ego' as the repository of those attributes which an individual feels to represent his 'free will.' It might be theorized that 'free will' is actually a result of the interplay of the 'superego' --conformed by moral-ethical-social successful teachings by respected authority figures-- and the 'id' --a set of inborn genetically determined behaviors related basically to the individual's --and his group's-- survival. (Please refer to 'On Survival' in BIOLOGY forum.)

The concept of 'self' includes the above mentioned components, largely in a fuzzy manner, giving rise to much debate on the free will, where theologians have the upper hand, their arguments being above contest either by philosophy or by science. The New Philosophy is careful not to enter the fray, waiting for scientific studies of the brain to support one of the opposing opinions or to find a common ground.
The self includes other components, of which I'll limit myself here to just the 'body self' or 'body image.' A person suffering from quadriplegia, unable to move or to feel or control most of his body develops a new body image, which is realistic, not pathological. Contrast this situation with the case of autopagnosia, where a lesion in the brain's parietal lobe results in the patient's inability to point (on demand) to a given body segment, yet he can identify it when touched. The dysmorphic syndromes observed in psychotic states, where parts of the body are felt as missing, are variable and do not follow anatomical pathways.
These aspects are really not so important in the analysis of the body self image. Important is the way an individual realistically or not accepts or rejects and attempts to modify his body image.
For the moment I consider relevant for this contribution to describe another component of the self. It is called the 'self as a story.' Indeed, just read this: "I was born in such date in such place of such parents. My siblings were this and that. I remember my father telling me that honor is more important than money...I studied, I did this and that... then I became interested in the Internet and... "

Now, I'll conclude explaining why I commented that the self is the most important thing in the Universe. (Please read my short post on 'The Three Laws of Being.') The self is what allows us to be active part of society, which is actually a composite of many selves. It was not until the first human became aware of 'himself' (his own self) that he could perceive his clear separation from others and from his surroundings ('social' and 'ecological' selves). Until then, the Universe had no 'meaning.' If you read my introduction to 'The Game of Analogies' (in COMPLEXITY forum), you will understand my reluctance to exploit analogies to 'make a point.' Yet I believe that the following one is useful for the present case. If one is asked, "A tree falls in a woods, where no humans are present. Does the fall cause noise?" the answer oughtd be, "No, because only humans know how to define noise. Were there hearing animals around, they would hear a loud, startling 'sound." Otherwise, in complete desolation, there would be only a vibration of the air."

Ergo, it is the self which endows the Universe with meaning.

Name: Jacob Ghitis, M.D.
Date: Tue Feb 24 16:01:32 EST 1998



* On Feb 19 1998 you wrote,

hi. my name is anne and i'm a senior in high school and i'm new to this whole internet thing... in my psychology ap class, i have to debate whether or not intelligence can be increased... if anyone can tell me of sites where i can get stats and info for my debate (i argue the side that it can not be increased), please let me know...

Anne, since your post has not been attended to yet, I'd suggest you look up this subject in regular libraries. However, for your own advance in "this Internet thing," practice finding sources. Go to and then ask for the word inteligence: you'll get results on sources (web sites) dealing with military intelligence. Therefore, try something different, like mind, mentality, understanding, learning... After all, intelligence is defined as the ability to learn and understand.

My impression is that genes determine the maximum capacity to develop intelligence. Then, the exposure to appropriate heuristic and empirical experiences will effect this development. It should be clear that individuals with innate intelligence in the upper echelons of the Gauss curve (the 'bell' shaped curve) have a better chance of developing their capacities, to the point of being in good part autodidacts. Those less endowed require devotion and encouragement from capable people, not only for enhancing their intelligence to the possible maximum, but also to prop up their intellectual-self respect. Which is not secondary to the body-image self.

I would suggest too that you prepare off-line a report on this matter, once you debate it at school, and post it here, using a modicum of HTML. We also want to learn, don't we?

Name: Jacob Ghitis, M.D.
Date: Sun Mar 1 10:40:29 EST 1998




On Feb 23 1998 you wrote,

... I am 33 years old,... My post-graduate studies are related to the philosophy of economics, the relation between economics and other sciences (like psychology, sociology, mathematics...), the origins of economics and also of the sciences in general... I write to Serendip because I agree with the main principles stated here, and I need to have ANSWERS. I hope Serendip (& contributors) will help me think about my problems in a positive way, because we share the same points of view in many areas. I've enjoyed very much some of the articles (I have had no time to read them all)... I'm learning so much! So, I appreciate very much your comments and the forum. SERENDIP is the only way I have to express my complaints or deceptions or, at least, to ask the questions that nobody has answered me as I need. I will read the article on "The New Philosophy" and post my comments. May I ask more questions about the power of myself to overcome my chemical deficiencies?

You have posted an outline of yourself (your self). Now you are somebody, right? Whoever cares to read your unedited posts, will realize that you have described your self as a story, still including aspects of your points of view on your social self (your thoughts on your parents' behavior and of society in general). All this has helped me --as part of the world surrounding you (your self)-- to relate to you with my self.
Perhaps you feel now better centered. Many of the answers you're looking for will eventually be found by yourself. My role --as a person who thinks that he has the learned ability to guide-- is to help you find those answers. However, there are physical realities that demand a physical approach. It would appear that you, as so many people, require more than your genetically determined capacity to concentrate the neurotransmitter serotonin in the synapses of neurons devoted to thinking. Not being capable of thinking lucidly leads to unavoidable desperation, the more so when the person has heavy responsibilities of a personal nature.
Thus, Nature defeats its own apparently intelligent purpose of making man the vertex of evolutionary perfection. Why? Because Nature acts naturally, meaning without a purpose. Teleology is man's creation. Indeed Nature is lazy, following the line of least resistance, looking for the states of least energy. And so, unwittingly, Nature discovered how to compress energy in a little molecule rich in phosphorous, which we call adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Nature also discovered almost-perfect woman (and then imperfect man), who are intent on bettering it, correcting faulty genes and improving many of them.
Perhaps sometime I'll tell you about phosphoribosyl-pyrophosphate, (PRPP) present in the red blood-cells, and how I came to believe that it plays a role in disposing of excessive energy in man and related organisms.

Somebody, of course you are welcome to continue participating in these forums, whether asking or commenting.

Name: Jacob Ghitis, M.D.
Date: Sun Mar 1 16:29:52 EST 1998



From Spiritus to Jacobus :

I would be most interested to hear more details of your observations on any of the topics you have expounded as significant.

I AM a jack of all trades, and a master of none, which I like, since I prefer to see wide, green pastures instead of an extensive, grim deep cave. I found the truth in The Three Laws of Being. The 1st:
*You are the most important individual that has been or will ever be created.*
It took me some time to find the 2nd: *And its value is nil.*
The 3rd followed shortly thereafter: *Endeavor to make it meriting paying V.A.T.*

The symbiosis of research in many 'different, 'MULTIPLE areas ---however different they might appear to be-- is vital to 'true,' DEEP understanding. Your work --rather than PRETENDING to encourage or demand co-incidence-- has catalyzed what would appear to be new lines of understanding in my own (wide ranging) beliefs.

VERY NICELY PUT. It agrees with my world-view (sounds more impressive in German: Weltanschuung ). Indeed, one can get a lot of activity with a little bit of ferment if the right stuff is there.

I would be most interested to learn a little more about your background. (Your writing conveys much already.) As beings that communicate efficiently through abstractions, it aids communication to properly frame abstractions in the context of the receiver's paradigms.

You might wish to edit this paragraph, as if you were going to post it. In the meantime, here is a CV that has not much to do with your question. (I sent you a concise C.V., and you continued,)

Not wanting to leave this without some obvious seed, I give you this to consider: If ENTROPY is in fact a partial 'law' with SYNERGY as its co-option, how does this relate to RESULTANT (entropic?) and EMERGENT (synergistic??) phenomena? :-)

OK, you got your smile's worth. Now be serious; why 'partial' :-( ?

It's easy to forget the 2nd law in fact applies to HEAT.. It is through the assumption of energy as a pure metaphor, and the assumption of heat as pure energy that we derive other laws ... If those assumptions are flawed.. :-)

WOULD you dare to edit and post that paragraph? :-(

Indeed the truism of this holds example in an 'experiment' I conducted on myself some time ago. Over the period of about a month, I consumed several dozens of texts on many subjects. I use the word 'consume' rather than 'study' to highlight the nature of this observation. Texts that I would normally spend a week or month perusing, I would 'read' in several hours. Techniques varied from simply glancing at each page, to having several often seemingly unrelated texts available to cross reference. Focus was directed to concepts/terms and even single words that seemed to have relevance outside of the perceived scope of the particular text. More and more the value of a single sentence, properly understood (c.f. sent(i)ence) often outweighed the value of an entire tome.

IT is a very personal experience. I can only comment that it takes me an unusually long time to read an article that interests me, because one word or sentence will make me think and associate.

For someone with a better than average (by scholastic mensuration) grasp of my own language (EASY TO NOTICE), I found the most useful text was often (and this surprise some, it certainly surprised me..) a dictionary or text on etymological roots... I found myself dissecting words and sentences, and in the process uncovering potential pearls of wisdom otherwise hidden (perhaps even to the original author)...

WHEN I learn a new word I check its origin. I have Random House dictionary (one of the few possessions that emigrated with me), Webster in three tomes, and the College one. Also, two Hebrew and one Spanish.

How do we choose which word to use in a particular context? I suspect most peoples use of words reflects their understanding of things highly intuitively and with a degree of accuracy and insight that is almost always grossly underestimated by both themselves and others.

I prefer to express myself in writing, for it allows to find the right word, either using a dictionary or a thesaurus. I prefer English to Spanish because of its conciseness and its richnes in nuances.

As this experiment unfolded I found it became more and more multiphasic, the more senses used for simultaneous input the more value was often found. Numerous open books, a computer screen, TV, music, burning aromatics, food, tactile sensations all intertwined.

I USE only music. Perhaps these added sensations help suppress the permanent mental 'noise.' (the constant tendency of the mind --thoughts-- to wander.)

Name: J. Ghitis
Date: Mon Mar 2 15:59:55 EST 1998

Due to the excessive lenght of this column, I'll be returning once weekly only. Analogy Games will continue in COMPLEXITY.

Name: vera
Username: vbarkas
Subject: corallary discharge?
Date: Mon Mar 2 22:29:30 EST 1998
just a question. Last week we talked about what causes motion sickness and it reminded me of running. When I've run a really fast race, I've thrown-up. Did i throw upo because of the strain of my exersion on my stomach or did I throw up because my brain, or nervous system in general, couldn't handle the changes in my physical position fast enough? This may sound stupid but I have nothing else to say...
Name: Jake
Date: Thu Mar 5 16:42:03 EST 1998

VERA, please wait until I workup an answer. Some e-mailed details about your background would be most helpful.

Name: Tony Oliver-Paull
Subject: Barometric Pressure and Student Behavior
Date: Tue Mar 17 11:05:15 EST 1998
I am doing a science project about how barometric pressure affects 5th grade student's behavior. I can't find any information about this subject anywhere. Can someone out there in Webworld give me some advice on this subject like where to look, what webpage, some books maybe?
Name: Somebody (Maria)
Subject: hello, I'm somebody
Date: Wed Mar 18 11:10:02 EST 1998
Hello again. I've been sometime too busy to do anything except to be too busy. I have been unable to read or post any message from 23-Feb. until today, 18-March. I am happy to discover that my reflexions and yours are in the same direction. In almost a month, I have found many answers on myself (my self)and I realized that I am able to do it. Now, as I have more confidence in myself I am willing to discover many more answers on it in the future. I think that my "efforts and work" (there is four years that I'm in a very deep and intensive psycho-therapy) begins to be fruitful. I agree completely with you when you say (if I have understood properly your words) that Nature acts naturally, A MEANING WITHOUT PURPOSE. One of the answers that MYSELF gives me is related to this idea. I need to enjoy doing "things" without a functional purpose. "Things" (to write tales, e.g.) guided by my sensibility and that I do not for money, responsability... but only to ENJOY with it. The Dialogue is wonderful. It's a coincidence but my last "tale" is about someone who is comdemned to live in a cave... I'm not able to translate it in english (easy to notice), but if you can read spanish (and you are interested), I will send you my story. Have you wrote more stories like this dialogue? I will be here to read the next one.
Name: Jacob Ghitis, M.D.
Subject: TO MARY (From About...Serendip)
Date: Sun Mar 22 14:53:30 EST 1998



On Mar 19 1998 you wrote,

I have just discovered BMC online. My next move was to discover what if any space there might be for my particular bent

Mary, Welcome to Serendip. I am the self appointed host, a veteran Serendipian, by tacit approval from Prof. Paul Grobstein (Paul), the creator and supreme chief. Please read his guidelines. Now I have my own say: We are a select club, accepting only those who are interested in joining. You automatically join by posting just once --ergo, welcome to the club! Kibitzers are also accepted.

The categories of participation in Serendip, as far as I can discover, are either through following the data available,

Actually, according to Paul's uncomplicated rules, or, if you don't mind, my own, which are there somewhere. Mainly, unambiguous economic language, avoiding the word 'metaphysics'. Add offline writing of the post, with a modicum of HTML.

OR through establishing one's own line of musings via its forums,

Better than musings, their edited results, once approved by self critique.

which … have no possible discernable consequences in the world of societal decision-making …

No such pretenses here. Our society is modest in its designs. Of course, if you play bridge, you know that the 'Acol' system started in a London club and that by now it is the preferred one in the world…

thereby relegates them to a chat category, the value of which is largely entertainment or argumentation to no real purpose!

Would you care to write again, after perusing the material available in the forums, please?

At 78, I've become increasingly intolerant of this way of filling one's remaining years.

Till 120, I wish you!

I have a friend who travels the world warning that our children are already lost to us and that, barring major changes in society's ways of destroying their minds and spirits, the human race is destined for very bad times indeed.

I tend to agree with him. I am doing my best to prevent that catastrophe, without becoming gloomy, but rather enjoying life.

Cousteau has told us that we have… ( few)… years before irreversible changes in the earth's biological makeup begin to occur.

This means that we should do our best to get the best of those scant years…

Why are we wasting our lives engaging in such narcissistic chit-chat which has NO RELEVANCE to the real world?

YOU answer that! I do not feel part of that 'our'

… if you feel like challenging …(me),

About what?

I won't engage in argument for its own sake… Argumentation may temporarily relieve… (one's)… sense of futility… can become counter-productive as a draining off of the life energy it takes to begin to institute change.

Well, I'm glad you have finally reached such far-reaching conclusion! Now you are ready to provide us with the mature fruits of your life experience…

And now, it is my turn to tell you my own philosophical story, heard from my wise brother: An octogenarian was asked what the secret for her young fresh looks was. She answered that she avoided argumentation. "I cannot believe that; you must be wrong!" was the retort. She said, "Perhaps…"

Name: Jacobo Ghitis, M.D.
Subject: To Maria
Date: Tue Mar 31 10:19:16 EST 1998


PARADOXES: J'accuse Nature

To: Somebody called MARIA

On Mar 18 1998 you wrote,

I have been unable to read or post any message from 23-Feb. until today. I am happy to discover that my reflections and yours are in the same direction.
In just a month, I found many answers about myself (my self ),and have realized that I am able to continue doing so. Now, as I have more confidence in myself, I am willing to discover many more answers in the future. I think that my efforts and work --four years of very deep and intensive psycho-therapy)-- begin to bear fruit.
I agree completely with you when you say (if I have understood your words properly) that Nature acts naturally --meaning, WITHOUT PURPOSE--. One of the answers that MYSELF gives me is related to this idea. I need to enjoy doing "things" without a functional purpose.
"Things" (to write tales, e.g.) guided by my own sensibility, and which I do, not for money, responsibility... but only for my own ENJOYMENT. Your Dialogue Method is wonderful.

It's a coincidence, but my last tale is about someone condemned to live in a cave... I'm not able to render it into English, but if you can read Spanish (and if you are interested), I will send you my story. Have you written other dialogues? I will be here to read the next one.

Maria, you have been very honest in your posts, and perhaps you are on the verge of being fully rewarded by your efforts. It would appear that there is no more place for Serendip dialoguing. However, in view of your significant contribution to this site and of your continued interest, I have developed a new idea based on your correct understanding of Nature acting without purpose. It might be argued that it is paradoxical that organisms --who act teleologically, doing things for their own benefit and survival-- should spring up from 'blind' Nature.

Let me first explain about paradoxes. Those of Zeno, as told by Plato, were meant just for the benefit of mind sharpening. The argument that Achilles couldn't overcome a tortoise that was already ahead of him because he had to traverse the infinite halves of the distance, is defeated by just saying that Achilles was running 'digitally' and not 'analogically.' Also, the tortoise could not have advanced, as it also had to traverse infinite half distances. Again, we have paradoxical statements, such as, "less is more," where sober architectural lines add to natural beauty, as contrasted with kitsch. Also, one could say, "saving is wasting," when not spending money rationally results in wasting the pleasurable use of it. These type of paradoxes is explained by saying that the contrasting terms do not refer to the same values. Paradoxes based on just two words are called 'oxymorons.' "Sweet pain," "the burning ice in your eyes" --as described by lovers-- are examples. Sometimes oxymorons are used for comic effect, with the two paradoxical words separated, like in, "he is not a perfect idiot because nobody is perfect."

Let us enter now the subject of what appear to be serious paradoxical propositions. But firstly, we must begin by assuming that there are no contradictions in Nature, and by taking a look at absurd propositions: "Nature acts intelligently: if there were no rivers or other nearby sources of water, city dwellers would die of thirst." That the city was built around a water source is somewhat sophistically inverted in this statement.
Also, "Eyes were created for seeing." There are cave-dweller fish which have only slit marks where the eyes should be. Obviously, an extremely long period of time in the cave suppressed the determining influence of light in eye development, a process physically dictated by pure "trial and error" in the course of eons. Should Nature act teleologically, it would have "created" very fast the perfect "creatures" and conditions. The preceding are not examples of paradoxes but of faulty thinking.
Truly apparent paradoxes as dealt with by me in this post, I explain as follows.

Matter obeys laws created just moments after the Big-Bang, when the primal energy of infinitely compacted 'proto-electrons' and 'proto-positrons' was transformed into Hydrogen and the subsequent atoms. By dint of those laws, living organisms came into existence. Until recently, we believed that viruses have been created as separate live forms. Now we know that there is a class of wasp that creates a virus!
It is formed in the wasp's genome, serving to defeat immune mechanisms of a moth caterpillar into which the parasitic wasp injects its fertilized eggs.

All the particularities of evolution are determined by physico-chemical laws and by circumstances. Therefore, there is no "planned" teleology in the resulting developments of evolution giving rise to teleologically oriented organisms. There is no paradox here at all. Even the most impressive type of energy found in nature --direct-current electricity, carried in electrons-- is not the one we utilize at large, but the alternating-current type created by man!

We humans, are the vertex of evolution, no doubt, yet there is no reason for feeling ourselves excessively proud for that. Life in this planet is very imperfect, and none of us should pretend to really know what is essentially good and bad. We create our own values in order to live in society, because Nature "determined" that we be social animals.

I propose that there is no "Nature" at all. We have become accustomed to apply that term to the sum total of the results we detect from the interplay of energy-matter according to physical laws. We were used to talk about the matter states solid, liquid and gaseous. A long time ago we added the absolutely ionized matter state which was named "physical plasma." The past year added the "Bose-Einstein condensate state."

I propose that humans are intelligent, as distinct from non-existent Nature, which is just a result of immutable physical laws. Condesate matter probably does not exist except under extreme laboratory conditions (perhaps in comets?), while the stars have plasma in their superhot parts. Humans have discovered this, as well as the mysterious world of subatomic particles in the quantum mechanics reality. Should it be surprising that we are amazingly intelligent? And are we to be despised for manifesting the supposed hubris of pretending that we surpass dumb Nature?

Well, think of man's creations: can we run faster than a car? Can we fly as an airplane? Can we calculate and program ourselves as a simple PC? Isn't it true that we perfect Nature's bungling, lazy evolutionary grappling ? And that our own creations behave much better than ourselves, their creators, in their respective capabilities? No paradox here.

Even worse, as far as "inconsiderate" Nature acts: She did not "take in consideration" that an animal would be developed who would be able to challenge her. And I am going to be specific. I accuse Nature of being selfish, inconsiderate, interested only in the young and procreative. My absolutely clear arguments are as follows. 1. Men are allowed to procreate up to any age, while women cannot, having recourse to proxy wombs, even their own mothers'. 2. Natural estrogen has two separate functions, which are fine in young, procreative women. But just let women become "useless" for Nature, and estrogen will be dangerous for their uteri and breasts. Enter hubris-drunk man, and he develops a form of estrogen selective for the benefit of those women! 3. Did "wise" Nature prepare our planet for the appearance of an animal who would poison the atmosphere?

The same animal called man has developed so many technical novelties, that the mind of a significant segment of the world population has been unable to adapt itself to such revolutionary changes. The result? Consumerist society with crime-prone members being unable to adjust and react for the benefit of society as a whole. More crime, more Police and more confusion. Is man to blame? No! Just "Nature"!

Do I believe that I'm revolutionary with my New Philosophy reasoning? I plan to show that the Paradise legend already knew that people are divided in two camps, the Evolutionists and the Creationists. I only claim the merit of having detected such component in the legend, and of challenging Nature as just a convenient name for phenomena that are not intelligent and yet resulted in a highly intelligent non-planned product which is truly intelligent. And that there is no paradox in this phenomenon.

This will do for now. Many questions may arise from this post. I believe I'll be able to answer some of them. This is a basic purpose of Serendip, as defined by Paul (Prof. Grobstein): leisurely striving to disrobe life on our planet off some of its ambiguous wardrobe. The tool I'm pretending to develop is the NEW PHILOSOPHY.

Name: maria
Subject: human being/nature
Date: Mon Apr 13 13:57:10 EDT 1998
Why do you speak as if we, human being, were not a part of Nature? Perhaps we are so selfish as the Nature, because WE ARE ALSO NATURE. I don't understand you very well. I think that we have to accept (humbly?) that we are, at least, made as a part of "the system" of Nature and we are always "trying" to believe that we are different, that we are better than the not-intelligent Nature. But... (sometimes, CONTRADICTION is my name!) at the time, I think that we have the power to create, to imagine, to move the feelings of people, to modifie the history... and, perhaps this is the difference between human being and Nature. I'm not sure, it is more a desire than a real fact (?). I hope that IF (and only if!) women and men learn how to develope, how to use, their mental powers (mental include the energy of affections, desires...) in the best way, we were able to save ourselves and the next generations of a disaster (this one told by Mary). But perhaps (and again) it is only my desire and not a real possibility.
Name: Jacob Ghitis, M.D.
Subject: To MARIA in April
Date: Mon Apr 20 04:07:44 EDT 1998



To: MARIA on April

On April 13 1998 you wrote,

Why do you speak as if we, human beings, were not a part of Nature?

Being ourselves a result of the Physical Laws, which determine how energy-matter interact, we are as part of Nature as anything else created by those Laws. The only things that are not part of Nature are the things that we make, be them a chair or a poem. I say, we --or anything else that exists naturally-- are part of Nature, not its creation. Nature does not create, it is continuously created, starting at the exact moment of the Big Bang. Suppose a child grows in a desert, and he has no opportunity to see anything else, including any images of other places. He will come to the conclusion that Nature is mostly sand. My intention has been to call the attention to the real signification of the name and concept of Nature.

Perhaps we are as selfish as Nature itself, because WE ARE ALSO NATURE.

'Selfishness' is a human concept. The only component of Nature which I can include as capable of acting in a way which we can qualify as 'unselfish' toward man is the dog. We can never attach as deeply to any other non-human creature as to a dog. Dolphins are apparently also capable of empathizing with humans, but it is not possible to have a dolphin around us. Animals in general appear to be 'unselfish' toward their own, specially toward their litter, up to a given age.

Clarifying concepts supplies us with a degree of understanding about ourselves and what surrounds us. The 'Laws of Nature' are actually the Physical Laws . There is only Physics. Anything else is a part of it. As an example, Chemistry, one of the Natural Sciences is a branch of Physics. So is Biochemistry. But Mathematics is just one of the essential elements of Physics, not a specific derivative or branch of it. That is why Mathematics is not a Natural Science. Medicine is an Applied Science composed of the natural science Biology (which itself incorporates the natural science Biochemistry) and of diverse technological human inventions, all for a specific application . Natural sciences incorporate no teleological components. Medicine is all teleological, its target being the benefit of man's health.

I think that we have to accept (humbly?) that we are, at least, made as a part of "the system" of Nature and that we are always "trying" to believe that we are different, that we are better than the 'non-intelligent' Nature.

If you peruse the pages I've written at Serendip, you'll notice that I 've proposed that we humans --at least the Serendipians, a class apart-- are entirely different from any other creature because we are capable of meta-thinking.
You wrote in a previous post (in which you did include your full name and @), that you like my dialogue method. From that statement I have derived the title for the present post. Please allow me explain.

As I've written previously, Thales is considered to be the first philosopher. Parmenides and Heraclitus, as examples, also left their seal. Then Socrates arrives, to become a pivotal benchmark. So we have the pre-Socratic, the Socratic, and the post-Socratic philosophers. Socrates utilizes the "Socratic method." He stops young people in the street and ask them questions. Forces them to think, think, think. He writes nothing that we know of. He possesses or is possessed by an intimate god who tells him when he is right or wrong. Lucky fellow! He drinks the hemlock because that's what his god tells him is the correct thing to do, if his teachings are not to be for naught.
Comes Plato, who invents the Dialogue, letting others express their own ideas-beliefs. Those dialogues are set in writing. Arrives Aristotle, who utilizes a different approach. He wants order, is a taxonomist, looks for convincing explanations. His philosophy now verges on science.
Following these "Socratics" comes a long list of "post-Socratics," the likes of Kant, Spinoza, Nietzche, Wittgenstein, some confusing, some too simple, some mixed-up, none convincing.
Enter Ghitis: he creates and develops the Inter-dialog. Dial-log. Just because now something very unique has been invented and developed. Which is, the Internet. And also because dialogue is the most interpersonal way of communicating with people at large --or at least with other Serendipians. As Ghitis starts to dialog, his previously inchoate philosophical leanings start to gather blood and flesh, and the NEW PHILOSOPHY is conceived. Not for the world at large, not for just the Western World, but only for Serendipians --you, Maria, being one.

... I think that we have the power to create, to imagine, to move people, to modify History...Perhaps this is the difference between human beings and Nature.

Would you now rephrase the above?

I hope that IF (and only if!)...

Serendip forums do not deal with hopes and ifs but with the world of ideas: Brain, Mind, Thinking. No metaphysical concepts, to be avoided at Serendip, as explained somewhere else. No theology, only philosophy, when supported by science, and with science when touching on philosophy.

...(if we) women and men learn to develop our mental powers ('mental' includes the energy of affections, desires...) in the best way, we'll be able to save ourselves --and the next generations-- from disaster.

Who is 'women and men'? Humanity is divided into many cultures, subcultures and mentalities. Individually, perhaps every adult looks for a 'twin soul.' Even for a limited space of time.


I write 'naturally,' for the benefit of no one, non-teleologically. Just for my own pleasure and just for Serendip. The New Philosophy offers no counsel. Like jumping into a swimming pool, but having some idea of the water's temperature and depth. The Interdialog provides an opportunity for jumping in with somebody you might be interested in swimming with.

Name: Hamnet
Subject: Swimming
Date: Mon Apr 20 17:05:35 EDT 1998

Learning to swim is fun when you're young! You have little fear of drowning or of the people/person you might be swimming with.

With age comes wisdom (and healthy fear). Since I never learned to swim as a kid (and almost drowned as a young adult) I'll stand at the side of the pool for now.

Hey, listen! I think I heard the lifeguard's yelling down to to the show-off...

"No diving in the shallows, kid!". :>

Oops, I'm just teasing, and I could be wrong! Nonetheless, I think the water's a little cool for me right now. I'll jump in later! Promise.


Name: Maria
Subject: swimming
Date: Sat Apr 25 13:16:22 EDT 1998
"To jump into the swimming pool with somebody" is a very beautiful image, Jacob. I'm sure I have read it anywhere... (in a poetic prose?). OK! I agree with you. Serendipians are different... And I know that I'm always saying (writing) contradictory statements, or thoughts... I'm sorry, I think that DOUBT is the source of evolution of thought. And I doubt... I don't think that young people can learn how to swim better that "not-so-young" people. Indeed, I'm still learning how to do it... and I'm not a little girl! It's more a way of living, an attitude. I'm afraid too, but I don't want to live a "half-life". I have to read again some writings of The New Philosophy before answer JACOB. The words "naturally, nature,..." are used in common language in a way that finally I really don't know their real meaning, and you make me think about it. Maria
Name: Jacob Ghitis, M.D.
Subject: Replyng to MARIA II
Date: Sat Apr 25 16:52:33 EDT 1998

To Maria II: Please post your email address, if possible. I might need ask you to clarify some points without undue cluttering of this Forum.
The simile of the swimming pool was written by Maria I in an email to me. On DOUBT, please read my posts on the Cartesian Doubt, essential for learning disregarding false authoritarian constraints.

Should you be sincerely interested, I'll try to develop the myth of Eden as the earliest known depiction of the Cartesian doubt.

Please clarify the subject of "half life." As a prospective member of this exclusive club called the Serendip Forums, I suggest you also read my posts on language, with especial emphasis on unambiguous communication.

Name: Jacob Ghitis, M.D.
Date: Sun May 10 17:03:02 EDT 1998



There is a lull on Serendip's forums, preventing me from applying the 'Interdialog' method in the developing of further themes on the NEW PHILOSOPHY. As result, I've decided to post the following letter, sent to -- but not published in-- Newsweek, commenting on the article devoted to the current expansion of Pentecostal 'revivalism' in the USA, the Holy Spirit being the central theme.


"Living on the Holy Spirit" (April 13) is informative, not instructive. Jehovah, His Chosen People, and the Torah (Moses' Holy Writ) composed the original Trinity. The Hebrew God communicated with His People by means of the Torah.

Iconoclastic Jews sought to convert this parochial Jehovah into a universal God. One Jew, Jesus (Jehoshua,' meaning 'Jehovah saves') was made to displace the whole of the Chosen People. He was theologically invested with the 'Letter' ('Word') of Moses' Holy Writ: this Word became Jesus' 'flesh.' The 'Spirit' of the Torah (the Teaching, the Law, the Way, the Guidance) became the Christian 'Holy Spirit.' This evolution took time and introduced an enigma, solved only by faith.

There are 574 references to 'Spirit' in the whole Hebrew Bible ('Old Testament'). Few refer specifically to a 'Spirit' associated with Jehovah, or with Elohim (God, in Hebrew, whose 'Spirit' guided the Creation from Chaos), or with the Sanctity (Spiritus Sanctus in Latin, from the original --Biblical-- Ruach Hakodesh). This latter 'Spirit' (very loosely rendered as 'Holy Spirit') eventually acquired a very specific connotation: Jehovah's bestowal of prophethood, a word deriving from roots meaning 'to foretell' (God's forthcoming punishment or redemption), while the original --Hebrew-- 'navih' derives from ' vocal expression.'
This is understandable, as language is essential for intellective communication. The prophets became Jehovah's (the Hebrew God) 'witnesses,' i.e., His speakers.

I'd suggest that the Christian 'Holy Spirit' refers to God's and Jesus' means of communicating with Women and Men. Being 'hit' by it, however it is understood or unconsciously interpreted, would be tantamount to receiving the Holy Word from the Divinity. No wonder it is manifested by a dramatic physical and emotional effect. The manifestation of the "gift of tongues" is thus very clearly part and parcel of language as the means of godly communication.

Still, all the above is not enough to help interpret the whole phenomenon of astounding Pentecostal revivalism renewal, which obviously has much to thank the technological capacity to fly from far away and to spread the word to enormous gatherings.
After all, gurus creating convulsive trances in 'domino' fashion by a flash of their hand is no fresh news. What is really new is the knowledge that there is in the brain cortex a zone that might be referred to as the 'crime and punishment center' or 'moral area.' The owner's (not only humans) center links her/his acts with the corresponding reactions of mentors, at infancy. It thus becomes the node for 'moral conscience.' A few studies have shown that murderers who were raised in moral environments evince an underdeveloped 'moral area.'

The possibility exists that an 'overdeveloped' area feeds its 'victim' vague-to-clear chronic guilt feelings. If a liability to enter a deep hypnotic trance is added to it, the therapeutic effects of the 'hit' should be scientifically understandable.

Name: Maria
Subject: crime and punishment
Date: Wed May 13 15:01:24 EDT 1998
Hello, Jacob. Firs of all, I'm Maria I and Maria II; that's why I asked (¿ironically?)if you have found the image of a swimming pool in a poetic prose (MY poetic prose!). OK, "half-life" is a literal translation of a spanish expression (media vida), what I was trying to say is that if you don't risk anything, if you are always afraid, you will live only the half of your life.. Excuse me. I will try to improve my english expression... It's very interesting your last post. I have read many books on anorexia and bulimia (trying to understand my own anorexia), and there is some evidence of a connexion between religion and anorexia/bulimia diseases. In Spain, for instance, there is a strong trend in radical catholic girls to have anorexia. The "anorexic" message lying in the radical catholic doctrine is that "flesh is weak and you have to be strong" or "one of the deadly sins is the flesh sin" (el pecado de la carne). In spanish flesh and meat or food is almost the same (carne). The spirit is the only important thing... The main problem of psychologists with this girls is that the parents (radical catholics, of course) impede the girls'recovery. What do you thing about it? Do you know what about other religions?
Subject: maria (1&2)
Date: Sat May 23 15:44:29 EDT 1998
Jacob, I don't know why you don't answer my questions. Are you ill? Anybody is interested in my questions? I'm beginning to feel so sad and lonely... Please tell me something
Name: Yakov
Date: Tue May 26 11:26:18 EDT 1998

TO the only MARIA :

Nobody has forgotten anybody. Yes, I've been very ill, but suddenly, like magic, I've been cured.

I believe I've some answers, please be patient. I'll start working on it. You know, you are the only person interested, therefore, I must confess that I love you for being constant.

Yours truly,

Jakov, I mean Jacob

Name: maria
Subject: goodbye
Date: Tue May 26 12:22:59 EDT 1998
Jake, I am leaving this forum, cause I have decided to solve my problems all alone. Please, respect my decisions. Goodbye forever.
Name: Jacob Ghitis, M.D.
Subject: SEX = SIN
Date: Tue May 26 16:22:18 EDT 1998

Please avoid using this forum, or any other, for personal affairs. I have been very clear regarding the central point: The NEW PHILOSOPHY doesn't offer counsel.

To the last post: I can only be glad that you have decided to solve your own problems. I do hope that you've picked here and there some useful ideas. I'm quite certain that we all here at Serendip will be hqppy to learn about your progress in self-help. You sound as an intelligent and mature person. Are you perchance the same Nobody who requested "help from experts?"

I told you, there are no experts here, just people looking for answers, in order to make the world that surrounds us in daily social intercourse less ambiguous. I can not claim having succeeded. In fact, it's been a year this month since I started participating here, and I do not recall even one e-mail telling me that I have helped anyone in making his/her life less ambiguous. Yet, I have also explained that I post here for sheer pleasure, just like smelling a flower, which is just there, with no purpose at all. It is not up to her for us to enjoy its aroma, no, it is up to us to know that we can enjoy it, and all for free!

As for the post on the "Sin of the Flesh," it really is not so complicated as it might seem at first sight.
Elohim's first commandment to man and woman and all animals, is "Fructify and multiply." Elohim is the first God, the one of Creation; take a look at Genesis. Note that after this simple introduction, He somewhat later is quite confused, and creates man and woman, and then only man (adam, in Hebrew). Quite confusing, right? How can religious people not be confused about sex, pregnancy, fertility, procreation, man, woman, bisexualism, and so on?

But wait! That's not enough...God now tells adam and havva not to touch something. What is that? Freud was not needed to suspect that God was forbidding sexual relations. Why? How did He expect people to fructify and multiply? What a mess! So, what did the Jews do? They got themselves much later on a private, tribal, parochial God, whom they called, or who called himself, YHVH, wrongly pronounced Javeh or Jehovah. {I"ll tell you how it should be pronounced and why. Also, when and why did this NAME, the Tetragrammaton, become ineffable. But somebody will have to ask me to do so. No gratuitously pronouncing God's NAME!}

So, these Jews said, fructify and multiply, that's God's first commandment. And they go, and get married according to Israel and Moshe, and increase the ranks of the Jewish people.
Yet, there are some crackpots, the Essenes, and they become celibates. Why, not important here and now, they were not the first crackpots. And then, some Jews decide to make more interesting the boring Jewish tenets, and create, unwittingly, a new religion, Christianiry. Now, the Catholics get touched by the Essenes celibacy, and convert the EX of SEX into the IN of SIN! Other Christians abhor this abnormalcy and become protesters.

The central tenet of SEX = SIN has its ups and downs. From time to time there is a revival of the flagging beliefs. This is called "revivalism," although applied almost exclusively to the Pentecostal religion. (See "Crime and Punishment.")

What the poster says about flesh = meat = food, is interesting, yet valid only when "cathected," meaning, when charged with "libidinal energy," which is the emotional energy mostly of the unconscious. Such equivalency cannot affect a whole religion, only one individual.
Therefore, the present phenomenon of anorectic young women is not new. It is the times which are new, ever changing. There is a revivalism now of this tragic sex = sin mess-up. No psychologist is going to make a mark on this periodic phenomenon. Let it flare up and then burn down, do not waste time, smell the free aroma of the flowers in the wild, make garlands of them for your hair, and strive to be happy with what you have. Use your brains in order to make order, not disorder. (See God and the Big Bang.)

Serendipians, wherever you are, tomorrow I am off for Jerusalem, shall return in three days, must retire now, wrote this in a jiffy, no time for any corrections or HTML.

Name: Jacob Ghitis, M.D.
Date: Tue Jun 16 15:36:37 EDT 1998




On 17 Oct 1997, we continued our dialog, and you permitted me to post it at Serendip. I'm doing that now...

What is there to unlock? Why do you complicate your life?
You don't have schizophrenia and if you had you would not change things by unlocking something that is not locked but faulty. You appear to be playing with chance. I am not criticizing nor analyzing, only trying to clarify what you say in an enigmatic way. You are not battling against yourself. But the battle is not going to help your self if you don't know what, why, and how. You might simplify matters if you devote your time to find out, rationally, why you are so sure you have to battle. The 'true me'(the self) is very complex, due --among many other reasons-- to the intangibles of changing circumstances.

I think that once again we are agreeing on the same points here, but simply choosing incongruous words with which to do it. The only point I really had there, was that all learning comes from experience, so a strong desire to learn almost tautologically equates to a strong desire to sample from all of life's experiences. To limit experience is to limit learning. (Whether this is 'good' or 'bad' is a moral --and, I believe, personal-- decision...).

Too sweeping! Mostly we learn vicariously, by using our senses passively: reading and listening. A strong desire to learn leads mainly to a house of study, to books and the like. Desiring to learn by 'sampling' life's experiences will teach the limited input you get from it. Pleasant, certainly can be, and if you waft through it unscathed, it may be a source of delightful memories and practical lessons. Please enlighten me on a 'sampling' experience which furnished you with essential applicable knowledge, in the strict sense of the concept. I must insist on Linguistic Analysis to convey alethic ideas capable of meaningful dialogue.

I left serotonin alone for now to discuss this.. This line of reasoning comes from 'experimental' (experiential?) evidence I gained while conducting mind experiments into the nature of what I call the 'Belief Tree'. Without boring you with too much detail, I essentially perceive that most people that we would consider of 'normal' mental health, are anchored to a definite belief structure with which they identify themselves, e.g., "I am a Christian", "I am a Jew", "I am an engineer", "I am a good person."

Experimental, indeed. Experiential too, since you were the subject. Where from did you get the credentials for experimenting scientifically? People fixated on a given immutable personality are not normal; they are rigid and cling to it for protection against anxiety, the latter being the key existential determinant of their apparently irrational behavior.

If this structure is not challenged significantly in any way, it gains strength and becomes a consistent 'ground plane' from which this person may act comfortably and securely. Problems for this person only arise if this structure is challenged in some significant way. If the structure is too 'rigid,' it may not withstand change without breaking entirely. If the challenge is to a subconscious or "core belief" -- it is usually responded to with some form of primal 'fight or flight' mechanism.

Well put! Compare with my words immediately above: yours are the same ideas, expressed in plain language, employing quotes instead of pompously saying: 'people who appear to be within the range of mental normalcy,' or saying 'core belief' instead of 'fixation.' Using the terms 'subconscious' and 'unconscious' is fraught with dangers, since they are quite different in meaning. 'Fight or flight': correct, and they are the mechanisms of response to the anxiety aroused by the challenge you mention.

So, after spending our entire lives building this belief tree (which basically consists of a series of interrelated decisions, with 'generations' of decisions based on parents' and grandparents' decisions etc.), what happens, if we successfully challenge and overthrow one (or more) of the fundamental (core) beliefs near the top of the tree? The answer is, that all childhood beliefs not anchored to another unchallenged 'sibling' belief, potentially become invalidated, or at very least, warrant reexamination. Hence we have 'puberty blues', 'midlife crises', 'menopause', and a whole range of other 'change of life' psychological illnesses. So, what does this have to do with schizophrenia and ego-states and their like?

"...building this belief tree..." Are you sure? Isn't the tree being built without our being aware? How can we challenge-- and less, overthrow--- unconsciously created fixations? What I'd like to add is that perhaps a "Low Serotonin Mental Status" has much to do with the liability to falling into psychoneurotic personality problems. This is a rather new concept of mine, I believe, which would lead to early diagnoses and supplemental preventive measures. As for adults now, supplements after correct diagnosis might prevent the 'blues' and other mental suffering related to 'transition states'.

Well, if you hadn't already guessed, a strong ego results from firm identification with one of these core beliefs (and hence, with its associated 'siblings').

'Strong' applied to the ego is not the correct adjective. Preferably, 'robust.' There is a contradiction here, since a 'core' belief is actually an abnormality, termed 'fixation.' A robust ego allows for flexibility.

Multiple ego states result from changing identification with different core beliefs. If the change is high up in the tree and the associated 'siblings' are quite unique to that particular branch (i.e., there are no, or few, cross links to other branches), then we might see the kind of drastic behavioral swings we associate with 'multiple personality' phenomena (I'm loathe to blanket them with the word 'disorder'). At a smaller scale we all shift beliefs regularly on a daily basis, as we 'change hats' to suit our situation, 'Doctor', 'Father, 'Husband', 'Teacher', 'Pupil', 'Judge', 'Lover'....

A 'strong' ego actually doesn't identify with a given personality. Such identification is a defense mechanism. An unconstrained --robust-- ego automatically adopts the 'hat' required for the given circumstances. I would think that the basis for 'multiple egos' is biological, with special life circumstances creating the problem, which then can be psychoanalytically reversed, although the biological basis remains.

Good points! I shot all this from the hip (so to speak) and it did turn into more of a rant than I intended...It was supposed to be a simple description of a human response structure that I have observed, but the act of describing it was not as simple as I thought! Perhaps I should replace the word 'strong' with 'stable' (relatively 'constant/unchanging'). People who tend to have most of their answers already decided upon and to do things 'by the book' (at least their own edition of it, anyway), are perhaps the sort we may refer to as 'narrow-minded'.
I'm happy with your definition of unconstrained ego, though it was not what I had meant by 'strong', but what I believe to be the 'ideal'. A situation where we do not hang blindly by a single set of universal beliefs but rather intelligently, adopting changing beliefs that are appropriate to each situation as it arises.
Nature's shining model is evolution and change, so why do so many of us strive to be static?

'Strive' together with 'static'? An oxymoron!

TO BE CONTINUED... In the mean time: Spiritus, would you be willing to rewrite your ideas, in case you tend to accept some of my observations? Another point: I believe you have not been specific on what you do for a living at the present; it is related to engineering, and yet your intellect is tuned to matters of the mind! If you are not happy and are financially independent, what about studying medicine at this 'late' age, to become an expert in mind matters, vulgarly called psychiatry?

Name: Jake
Date: Tue Jun 16 15:44:40 EDT 1998
Something is wrong here! The posting method has regressed to the primitive previous, no corrections are made, it is becoming too long. I'm abandoning it, unless I get a @ from a Serendipian... Professor P. Grobstein does not answer my @ entreaties, as if he doesn't care anymore. Jake
Name: J. Ghitis
Subject: Look me up at sabranet/
Date: Fri Jun 19 01:01:54 EDT 1998
I'm posting now at sabranet/ BBS forum Chat.
Name: laurel
Subject: emotional intelligence
Date: Fri Jul 24 17:15:31 EDT 1998
Hello. I am a doctoral student at the University of La Verne looking for help in my dissertation research. My topic is the emotional intelligence leadership style of Eleanor Roosevelt. I am looking for websites, emails, experts, models, people to interview for my topic. Does anyone out there have suggestions? I am extremely appreciative if you would share. Laurel
Name: Roy J. Palma
Date: Fri Jul 31 14:05:39 EDT 1998
RE: RIGHTFIELD HEMIANOPSIA READING\VISUAL AIDS I am writing to anyone who can possibly help me in finding visual aids or treatment for rightfield hemianopsia. I specifically need something that will help me to read. I suffered (2) quite severe subarachnoid hemorrhages due to a large left intercranial arterial venous malformation years ago. I had surgery to remove the AVM, in which they had to sever the corpus callosum to retrieve the ventricle mass. After A second bleed the doctors decided on remove the ratsnest of veins, in order to reach this mass of veins they entered through the back and cut the corpus callosum. this is the most significant part, the heaviness of my entire right side, the memory loss, the financial problems it caused are nothing compared to not being able to read. I have four methods I use at different times for reading. 1. Scanning or speed-reading sort of works. 2. I use a scanner on my PC at home and at work along with OCR software and let the computer read to me. 3. I use special minifying glasses for reading, these make the letters of a word smaller and closer together and I can read a little faster. 4. I turn the paper/book upside-down and read right to left, this method is workable but I get some strange looks from people when they see me reading this way. Oh well! ... Its frustrating but I am happy to be alive. Now when I try to read I can only see a few letters in a word coming up. By the time I figure out individual words, I've lost all comprehension in a sentence & am very slow."T-H-E" could be: then, therapeutic, or theater, etc. By the time I figure out individual words, I am very slow with scanning a sentence and lose all comprehension of what I had just read. I would appreciate if anyone could help. Thank You, Roy J. Palma
Name: Sabran
Subject: The inner side of a "new philosopher"
Date: Wed Oct 7 12:02:26 EDT 1998
You are all invited to see what's underneath the litany of words of Serendip's intense contributor, Jacob Ghitis.

It isn't "brains", "philosophy", or exchange of new ideas.

It is posts like this one, posted by him on 10/7/98, and similar ones, posted either under his name or aliases such as Trogly etc.

******** line deleted by webmaster **********

You can learn there a lot more about human behavir than in what's in Ghitis' long posts.

Name: Joe
Subject: This is a joke
Date: Thu Oct 8 16:06:52 EDT 1998
I have a Java-enabled browser, and I can see your program just fine. However, I don't see any dots regardless of what settings I have. I have read the instructions.
Name: AH
Subject: ???
Date: Wed Oct 14 04:23:37 EDT 1998
??"mutually exclusive relationship between brain and behavior"?? Mutual- sharing by two Exclusive - shutting out all others Relationship - connected Brain - a mass of nerve tissue Behavior - an organisms response to stimuli I simply don't understand this play on words. Stimuli is non-exclusive, Meaning the brain and behavior are not alone. Sharing between a mass of tissue and a behavior response? What is shared, hmmm.??? Connected, brain controls response, yes. Brain evaluates stimuli and controls reponse. Yes. Remember each cell in a living organism is working to benefit the whole. The brain is not in control of everything. Many reponses can be biochemically controlled and the brain can have influence on those systems, but thankfully not complete control. The organisms physiologic processes are infinitely complex. Greater than our understanding. It is like the Christians formulating intellectual boundaries of understand and chaulking the unknown to Gods Divine Power. We come full circle. The God they were talking about is a pattern of lifes code imbedded into the DNA of simple life forms which are programed for sucess and evolve into thinking beings.
Name: Don Chinnici
Subject: Reset codes
Date: Sun Nov 22 20:59:33 EST 1998

Speaking of embedded codes, someone needs to re-introduce the appropriate html "closing tags" to reset all this underlining and non-default font.

...And, on the presupposition that the following programming is going to work...


There, isn't that better?   :)

...a former BMC Alumnus

Name: Don Chinnici
Subject: Second attempt
Date: Sun Nov 22 23:37:11 EST 1998

And, if at first you don't fully succeed, (at the correct code)

...try, try again.

Name: Don
Subject: Attempt three
Date: Sun Nov 22 23:52:51 EST 1998

..And again. --What I'm trying to do in these posts is to un-embed the incorrect codes to return the page to the original defaults that were altered in some of the previous posts. It's not going well. :)

Name: Don Chinnici
Subject: Blindsight
Date: Mon Nov 23 00:51:19 EST 1998

And now for my comments regarding Blindsight...  Intriguing concept --and real result. After a few test attempts to be able to settle on settings that would yield responses that were predominantly, "I don't think I saw.." or "I didn't see.." (Settings: speed=1, radius=4, contrast=1), I took the test with about forty iterations. Of the ones that I saw, I scored 100%; of those that I thought I saw, I scored also 100%; but finally, surprising to me, of those that I did not see, I scored 56%!   Fascinating, all of this.

And as explanation of the last three posts, I suppose there are those of us who can be just a little too tenacious in the value to implement correct html code (and other areas) —simply because I felt that it was correct, and that it would make the rest of the posts easier to read. My attempts and efforts were to fix a problem that probably most people would've walked away from. But I suspect most Mawrters understand this, right?  :)

In case there are any who are interested in seeing my --hopefully html correct-- websites, the first and second (newly underway) are at those links.

Name: Jacobo Ghitis, M.D.
Subject: A NEW LINK
Date: Sat Nov 28 07:12:26 EST 1998
I'm now posting on Dynamic-Scientific Philosophy:

Jacob Ghitis, M.D.

Name: Jacob Ghitis, M.D.
Subject: Dynamic-Scientific Philosophy
Date: Sat Nov 28 07:25:19 EST 1998
The "Preview" button is not working!!

The following is the link to my new Page:

Name: mike severa
Subject: blindsight
Date: Fri Dec 4 13:12:45 EST 1998
blindsight test: settings: speed: 19 radius: 1 contrast: -7 score on 46 hits: of 19 seen: 100% of 6 maybe: 50% of 21 not : 4% well im not sure what this means, but in any case whatever blindsight is, i dont appear to have it ... :-) mike.
Name: Kevin Phillips
Subject: Irlen Syndrome
Date: Wed Jan 13 19:08:57 EST 1999
I am a 16 year old sophomore male and I just heard about Irlen Syndrome yesterday. I didn't know that I have it. Now I realize that I have it. My 3rd-6th period classes all have fluorescent lighting and I have horrible migraines every day. At first I thought it was the prescription of my eyes but after getting glasses the pain only increased! I ordered some Irlen filters and am hoping they will work. If they don't I guess I'm doomed to migraines every day... I don't want that though! Does anyone have any suggestions?
Name: anonymous
Date: Sun Jan 24 05:35:47 EST 1999

Name: Stacy
Username: Shmore
Subject: optiacl illusions
Date: Sun Jan 24 13:44:15 EST 1999
Help!! I'm doing a science project on opitical illusions and I cant find information on the science behind them. If ANYONE knows ANYTHING about where to get it, or had some, E-mail Thanks!
Name: Eric Banks
Subject: A pompous point of view
Date: Sun Jan 24 15:01:09 EST 1999

I am not taking this course, but am interested in this discussion.

What are all these thoughts concerning the nature/origin of behavior? It is amusing and interesting to entertain notions of some intangible forces having some control over the behavior of human beings. But, let’s think for a moment. Actually, let’s think empirically for a moment. If some "force" is not observable, it is beyond the realm of science. If you are in the proximity of someone who is physically ill, and then develop similar symptoms of illness, do you ask yourself if the person you were exposed to was possessed by "evil forces" or do you wonder how the virus/bacteria entered your system? Do you wonder over the infinite permutations and combinations of what is possible or do you use the principle of parsimony? Questioning whether or not there is a "god" is analogous to questioning whether or not you got sick from those dreaded "evil forces." If a thing cannot be observed, it cannot offer itself to scientific examination. Before the scientific method emerged, you may have had your arteries opened to cure your illness. Hell, it was "possible" that bloodletting would cure you. Our universe could be a speck of dust in an infinitely larger universe; which could be a speck of dust in an infinitely larger universe; and so on. All this is "possible", but it is most probable that such speculation is ludicrous and potentially dangerous. If there is no empirical evidence – nothing that can be tested with the scientific method – don’t satisfy some emotional need to explain something that cannot be explained. Yes, it may someday be empirically feasible to know and explain everything concerning our existence, but until that day, let’s not waste our time pondering untestable possibilities.

So, I’m an empiricist. I think the reader understands my thoughts on the subject of "god" and what is possible. Trying to be as arrogant and pompous as possible (while still being correct!), the only realistic viewpoint for an intelligent and educated human being to have regarding the existence of such possibilities is that of agnosticism. Because there is no direct evidence that supports or denies the existence of a "god," it is not rational to be an atheist or a believer.

Why is there such an emphasis on the unobservable when it comes to discussing human behavior? I guess we like to feel that we are somehow more important than we are. It is comforting emotionally to think that we are all part of some "plan." I’m more interested in the observable "truth" than feeling good.

Back to the brain/behavior conundrum. Everything that we can observe; everything that science has to offer regarding this immense, leviathan of a brain-teaser points to the brain being the source of all behavior. We must, however, have a biological support mechanism for the brain. I would think that it would be obvious to most that if we yanked the brain and central nervous system out of any individual human being, there wouldn’t be much "behaving" following such a procedure. The brain needs its support mechanism in order for it to remain "functional."

Sorry for the sarcasm and arrogance of my writing but the mere idea of debating whether an unobservable "god" is responsible for our behavior is intellectually repulsive to me. We are not far removed from a time in our history when "witches" and other "evil" forces were viewed to affect our behavior. Human beings were persecuted or killed because others believed that they were "possessed" with unseen forces. And it was fear of the "unknown possibilities" (and probably the search for power) that drove their tormentors. Let’s not revert to those "glory days."

I am now thinking of Carl Sagan. I wish I could be as articulate and eloquent as he was in his defense of science and rational thought. In his book, "The Demon Haunted World," he stressed the importance of logic and the scientific method. He also warned of the pitfalls of believing in such "mystical" things as the power of crystals and "ESP." I feel that I am doing Sagan a great disservice just by mentioning his name. I know I am not as persuasive and mellifluous as he was. (Yes, I looked up "mellifluous" in the thesaurus!) But, in any case, I’m getting tired of this. Why don’t we all just go out and join a cult? Thats a form of behavior.

Name: Melissa Bromwell
Subject: disagreement that all behavior is a function of the brain
Date: Mon Jan 25 18:55:15 EST 1999
As a future psychoanalyst, I am unable to accept that all behavior is a function of the brain per se. I make a distinction between the brain and the mind and I also believe in a soul. I must admit that I have only taken Biology 101 and 102 and therefore do not have as much knowledge of biology as others; my beliefs are based on my knowledge of psychology and what I know of mental illnesses. I have never been able to accept that mental illness is a product of brain dysfunction; rather, I believe it is the result of psychosocial factors throughout a person's life, often stemming back to childhood. As a neuroscience concentrator, I am obviously aware of the literature that asserts there are pharmacological bases of all mental disorders, yet I put very little faith into these theories. I have known many people with a variety of mental illnesses for whom medications do not provide any relief. For these people, my family and friends, psychotherapy has been the only thing that has helped. I cannot ignore the fact that many individuals do improve with the use of medications; however, their illnesses usually return. In the world of psychology, I view medications as a quick fix, a way to get rid of the symptoms for a period of time, without solving the real, central problem. Therefore, I have come to the conclusion that mental illness does not have its roots in the brain, but in the mind - the abstract entity that I believe is responsible for things such as personality, morals, and emotions.
Name: Jacob Ghitis, MD
Date: Mon Feb 8 18:14:18 EST 1999
Comments: Please contact me. You confuse mind and brain,although I follow what you try to state. Basically you are right, but you need to refine your exposition. I suggest you read the related subjects at
Name: Chantal Abrams
Subject: Software engineering
Date: Wed Mar 10 08:51:23 EST 1999
THIS DIALOG HAPPENED BETWEEN ME AND PROFESSOR IM TAKING SOFTWARE ENGINEERING AND THE WHOLE POINT OF IT IS REDUCING COMPLEXITY(grows exponentially with system's tasks) (Why it takes Microsoft years to improve NT,and its still buggy?) Question=Me Answer=Professor Question: Why is that concepts represented visually are easier to grasp than ones that are presented in a form of scientific proof? Answer: because the level of abstraction is higher, thus theres less details for brain to process at one time,thats why you can understand visual stuff easier and faster. Question: OK, but how does this exactly work? Answer: Ask the medical faculty staff,i'm a coputer guy. Question: I can understand multidimensional arrays but i have no idea how to represent 3D or 4D arrays visually without 3D computer graphics, do you think its even possible? Answer: Hmmmmmm, i have no time now, come see me Monday. (meaning that i have no glue either, leave me alone!) CAN ANYONE HELP ME ?????????????????? Thanks
Name: Joe Coder
Subject: Human Brain = GIVE IT UP!!!
Date: Wed Mar 10 10:29:50 EST 1999
Hi! I'm a computer programmer and this is how i see it(you can laugh all you want but this is how some of us in software business see it) Everybody says that the human brain is so complex and capable and so on. My point is that its not, howcome it takes so many years to become a doctor? If our brain was well-engineered we wouldnt have to study such a long time to become neurobiologist and then if someone asks us how brain works, we can't even answer. Point is is that the computer is even in its primitive stage now capable of doing some things way more efficiently and accurately than human. And if we want to know more about how brain works we will never do it without the help of computer. I think that this is the nex step in evolution, the cyber-revolution that will produce beings superior to human in a ways that we can't even imagine now. i know that i sound like sci-fi nut but so did anybody who said 100 years ago that one day human will build a plane so he can fly. point is that our human nature is the biggest obstacle for us to become smarter as civilization, so it follows that evolution is looking ways of improvement (as its the very nature of evolution) and cyber-revolution is its newest experiment. We cant comprehend even what consciousness is, and we like to think ourselves as intelligent beings. Now i begin to believe Darwin theory that apes are our relatives, i can see our inefficciency compared to computer. computer is improving way faster than humans and one day it will surpass it. we can now grow synthetic skin, one day we will grow neurons and get rid of the electronic binary standard that we use in computers now, cos its limited. And anybody who laughs at the idea that beings resulted from cyber-revolution will become superior to us in next 100-200 years is too ignorant to see whats happening. Always remember that your human history is like a movie script that stays same forever, only actors and places change but story remains same. meaning that you thought anybody who believed Earth is round 600 years ago was insane=now you believe that computer can't develop to the point that it will be smarter,better looking etc. than human. you cant even see how can it become better looking because you dont understand that computer is just an idea, an abstraction just like any other scientific idea. since its an idea its perfect and perpetual and can be transformed to anything possible. What do you think Evolution is? it's the idea from some form of entity that we don't comprehend. And the idea of this entity is beter than our ideas because we can even define it, let alone understand it. We are just bunch of apes trying to figure things out, and we cant even understand that we must cooperate(100000 apes are likely to be smarter than 1) not let our egos to limit us in any way(does- hey! it was MY idea, sounds familiar to you?) Well it doesnt matter whos idea it is because for any solved problem there is zillion to explore and solve and to learn from so you help yourself to methaporize to understand something you're stuck with now. Anyway we are all just bunch of ugly,stupid primates, if our brain was as big as our ego we would be better off with our lives. Here's my message to all women hat think they're too good for me:(think thats my problem? prrrrrrzz... wrong guess try again. My problem is that before you open your mouth to critisize, take a good look at yourself.but your ego won't probably let you...)I cant wait to meet a female cyborg that is smarter and better looking than 10 Cindy Crawfords multiplied together, but i know i will not see it in my lifetime. Do you even know who was the greatest inventor America has ever seen? It was Nikola Tesla, who was way ahead of his time. He invented the AC that you use now to power the box used to surf net so you can read my krazy mumblings. TAKE CARE!!!!!!!
Name: Joe Coder
Subject: Psychological Profile
Date: Wed Mar 10 10:59:13 EST 1999
Anyone wants to run psychoanalysis on me is most welcome! I can take construcive critizism beacuse i'm no afraid of unknown and no, i DO NOT want to get a life because i like computers too much!!! Software Engineering is the only field that combines all other scientific disciplines together and multiplies them by 10 to get the science of software engineering as result. It has more puzzles and problems than any doctor can ever imagine, so all your "theories" of brain and consciousness just make me laugh. If you can tell how old was the father of the landlord when he died, when information given is that landlord has 29 buildings, 17 are commercial, theres 433 trees on his property and his wife likes gray cats, one of the cats likes to mate with a dog. Or try this one: Our firm needs some application that solves our problems but dont expect our firm to help you to tell you what our problems or the solutions we are looking for are, you are software firm its your job to figure it out! Then when the program is ready you have another on that goes like this: "Wow! this is kool and it works well, but its not what we wanted." When you can solve all these puzzles i can respect your intelligence. Regards Joe Coder,BehavioralScientist,Designer,Diplomat,Critic and so on...
Name: Susan Desautels
Subject: Human vs. Evolution
Date: Sat Mar 13 17:24:21 EST 1999
Code Review For Creator of Human. Faults of Architecture, Design, Construction, Maintenance. Suggestions for Modifications: dont fix, rebuild from scratch. Main flaw is Overall complexity of the human system. It seems like human was designed by some perversely mischevious being who made us really want to do a lot of things, and makes us pay loanshark’s usuries when we do those things. Body: When we exercise we end up exhausted. We need to waste our time to sleep 20-40% of 24-hour day. We store enough power to operate for days, but just few hours after a meal, our hunger-fearing body-brain chemistry starts whining for food. (there’s evidence that chronic semistarvation diet can significantly increase one’s lifespan… Another twisted engineering trick.) Even when we are in good shape our mobility is severely constrained –(30 mile walk takes a day) Reason we tire easily is - our walking is energy inefficient (birds/fish are lot more calorie efficient) There are problems with our senses, example: we can’t temporarily shut down, there is no quick ways to ignore odors that make you sick or will kill you. When someone tells that human is image of god, just reply “Why, that poor deity.” Mind: Peformance of human brain and mind leaves much to be desired. (we repeat phone number over and over only to forget it when we need it: this is just 7 digits!) In general, we can manage 5 to 9 pieces of of info at the same time, beyond that our poor working memory overloads and loses some information. We are notorious for forgetting things. Notes, lists, film and video, cd-roms are all inadequate crutches for our limited memory capacity. There is not enough storage capacity in the brain to remember the vast amount of information coming from our senses. Human sloppy analog-digital system is not always able to remember specific items with precision, we remember snippets of our past and fill in details with odds and ends, remembered or imagined. Humans learn and communicate slowly. Information transfer between humans is a jerry-rigged affair of voice, signals and signs. We “upload” info from textbooks, movies, at mental crawl. When reading text or listening to a lecture, we scan or hear only 10 000 words per hour. Most of the world’s people can’t talk to each other because of myriad of different languages. Even 3D virtual reality won’t solve the learning problem because it, too, is is limited by the information –uploading speed of the eye-brain system. Now, a test: using just your mind, in 0.0312 seconds multiply 2 341 441.097474 by 934. 6473 A snap for a digital computer, not for human. Even the best math minds can not match computers because brains lack precize digitization. We use slide rule, calculators for marginal substitutes. The combination of poor memory, slow communication and limited sloppy thinking means that human education is long term, basic and higher education takes many years. Human temporal perception is so bad thatwe have to wear watches on our wrists. The brain and mind develop only marginal rationality and generally exercise insufficient controls over emotional extremes. Rational intelligence does not in itself ensure emotional stability. The emotional life, set into motion by childhood reactions to experience, can be conditioned by active intelligence once it develops. Until that time, however, the young developing brain and mind are spring-loaded traps ready for the programming we call knowledge, information and misinformation are equally apprehended as knowledge by the developing mind. The human brain is programmed to believe even irrational myths, it has to be or childhood would never be a survivable condition. Without significant life experience, we must accept what parents and adults say as gospel. Mental maturation is battle between gullibility and rationality from which a victor never emerges. The irrationality of human mind stems, in part, from the way it evolves beyond explicit mental control. During childhood and into our adult lives, many behavior patterns become strongly fixed as the neural networks that control how we respond to different situatins evolve and become reinforced into near-rigidity. As the human mind evolved from the mind of apes, natural selection had no need, and perhaps no means, for the mind to know anything about how the brain works. We are left hard-pressed to alter the neural pahways that make us do even those things we know Are bad for us and others. Add to tha he yranny of brain chemistry flooding neural connections with mood-swinging hormones ready or no, needed or not. Before you know it you find your mild-mannered self snapping at your kid over some trifle. Human free will is more constrained than we wish to admit. We are still, to a marked degree, automatons whose neural networks and emotional chemistry often override the rational mind. Frequently we find it hard to enjoy the emotions of pleasure and are too easily flattened prone by those of displeasure. A misinterpreted glance can trigger outrageous jealousy and tornado of behaviour. Otherwise sane humans sometimes make no sense. We think and act out the most foolish things. At the personal level this is expressed as the obstinate refusal to do what is clearly best for oneself and others, such as refusing to go to ER when chest pains are spreading down an arm, still continue to smoke, battering one’s spouse and joining a manipulative cult (church,yoga.) More Architectural Flaws - Mob Mentality: Individual minds can be hard enough to control. Groups of humans, each with a mind, can be mindlessly, utterly destructive to themselves and others. Otherwise healthy individual minds can combine into groups and societies, losing collective good mental sense in favor of disastrous actions and policies.(WW1, WW2) The century has looped on itself like an oxbow lake and we are right back where we started 100 years ago. The number of conscious minds that have been destroyed by the hands of fellow humans must be in the billions. Vulnerability: People suffer because they are subject to abuse they have become aware of. When outnumbered, outgunned, or surprised, individuals or masses of humans are easily harmed or controlled. The neural pathways that are so resistant to internal control seem surprisingly suspectible to external control (brainwashing). Tortures exploit human susceptibility to pain. Most vulnerable of all are the most innocent of all: the children. Even a walk in woods at summertime is an experience in inconveniences and dangers for modern Homo Sapiens: sunblock,insect repellent,sunglasses etc. When Systems Fail So far we have observed humans that are more or less healthy. We live on the edge of debilitating and catastrophic failures, making us perpetually vulnerable. Why don’t we have bones made of advanced composite materials with strength values besting titanium steel alloy? Why do we have only one heart, liver, brain, why not two in case one fails? The enry of a single bullet or massive impact can lead to total body-mind failure. Major parts cannot be regenerated, lose an eye and it’s gone, lose two and you’re blind. If the hearing goes, the primary means of human communication is lost. The erect bipedal posture we are so proud of makes us so unstable that falling can have devastating results, results only made worse by a design that almost appears intended to make things as bad as possible, slip on ice - damage your spinal cord – get paralyzed – no more slips… You are in a fix for two reasons , first: no redundancy in system means if one cord is gone, your brain has lost control of he body, because ther’s only one control cable, it’s reasonable to expect it to have excellent recovery capabilities. In fact the bruise itself has only temporary effects, the nerves should be able to recover, given time, but nop, no can do Sir! What results in permanent paralysis is a mysteriously self-destructive cascade of chemical reactions that destroys nerves that would otherwise recover. Similar process smashes brain cells after the temporary effects of stroke have worn off. A miniscule computational glitch in a DNA strand and cell growth runs wild leading to a cancer. Glitch in fetal genetics means birth defects, minor or catastrophic. Immune system is too imperfect, leaving us vulnerable to infection that results in short or long term disability otr death. Human bodies gradually run down, systems slowly degrade, limiting mental and physical performance to our distress and leading to a total breakdown. Effect on our looks is mirroring it. Chemical imbalances, physical imperfections, and deterioration lead to deep depression, mind-twisting psychosis, epileptic seizures, failing minds, and suicide. Lacking an intristic understanding of how it works – mind is helpless to help itself out of this mess. Ability of brain and nervous system to correct damage is further limited because it cannot grow any new neurons to replace those that are lost. Once few billion brain cells are gone, they gone forever. Add to this addiction, the susceptibility of the chemical brain to mishandle pleasure inducing chemicals until there’s no pleasure left. Pain is the downside to the sensory system that gives us so much pleasure, Pain is necessary deterrent and warning system for creatures subject to damage by external and internal forces. Problem is that pain gets out of hand, having served it’s purpose it can then drag on and torment. Anticipation of pain is itself a drag, worrying us that it will come, frightening us from seeking needed medical attention that may prevent more pain, or worse in the future. In spite of progress, modern medicine is still a crude and primitive craft as scary and unpleasant as it is necessary. If I weren’ for he noble intent, many procedures performed on human patiens would be forms of torture. (The middle-aged man who delays attending to his chest pains is not old fool,he knows what may await him at the hospital…) For we die, we have some choice about when, where, and how, bu no choice about whether to do it Every day we face poential disaster. No matter how healthy or careful you could end up gravely injured or dead aminue from now. (Every night is the one your place could burn down with you in it) There has got to be a better way… Better Living Through Better Data Processing: The main reason each human mind is such a fix is because we are all trapped in our bodies and minds. We all violate the first rule of good computing: save the data in each system. You know enough to save your hard disk files on cd-rom right? Each mental egg, however, is left in just one basket. When the brain each mind runs in, fails because of mental or physical failure, so will fail all the data in it. It is the flaw of bioevolution, which is solely interseted in ensuring the survival of DNA, not minds. Fixing Humans Up – The War Between Computers The natural human condition does not leave a lot to be desired. But, say, we can spiff up the old human form with advancing technology in an ultimate makeover for the brave new world. Perhaps put an end to human suffering and death while making medicine more user friendly, and making things all around easier and more pleasurable. (Its true that a lot can be done) Lets start with disease: few including many in medicine, relly understand what modern medicine is when it comes to fighting diseases caused by microbes and cellular failure. Medicine is not an art, not is it really a battle between technology and nature – it is a war, war between computers. On our side: the cognitive human brain and increasingly intelligen computers it makes. On the other side: The noncognitive and simple RNA and DNA computers of antihuman microbes and human cells gone bad. So far the latter have lost a ground, but they have done remarkably well and even gained back little territory via fast-action guerilla tactics (e.g. rapid adaption to antibiotics) The (not so surprising) ability of microbes to evolve countermeasures to today’s primitive medical technologies has led many to conclude that war on disease will sink into a stalemate. Not so -RNA/DNA will lose the war, as fast as the genetic codes may evolve, they are old simple systems whose basic level of performance plateaued epochs ago. Worst of all – they do not think. They have never seen the likes of the increasingly smart macro and nanocomputers that will be thrown at them in the next few decades. The technology is moving much faster than its targets, and the Information-processing speed of microbes will soon be billions of times less than that of their attackers. We still know only a fraction what there is to know about body and disease, bu the knowledge is accumulating exponenially, and sometime in the next century, we will know all ther is to know. Medical systems will become more complex than the bodies they treat. Most medical researchers assume this will take long time because research seems slow and human body so complex. So far medicine has been hampered by a catch-as-catch-can methodology, in software engineering this is known as trial-and-error (e.g. write-program-and-fix-errors-later, alias: recepie for failure) Software-engineering Cleanroom methodology has no equivalent in current medical science. The serendipitous (and nearly missed) discovery of peniccilin is a classic example. Even now, many drugs and the like are found by chucking differen agents one by one into petri dishes full of disase microbes and cancer cells, and wathing what happens (inductive approach) If the target cells die, a long series of tests follows, many spanning years to find out if he agent hurts or helps the human patient. Most drugs are still derived from or inspired by products of nature, this is not the good hing most assume it is. The botanicals found in rain forest don’t exist just to be put into drugs that help people. The plant evolved for some other purpose, it just happens to have a side effect of killing human cancer cells without killing the human patient. The odds that it will do so with complete efficiency and without side effects for human, are very low. What is needed is medical research development complex that rapidly figures out how a disease works and then as quickly designs a specific preventative or cure for that disease that is cheap, easy to administer, and does not harm the person. Genetic engineering, computer-designed drugs, and genome sequencing are already starting up, but they remain crude in execution. This primitive phase will pass. The speed of medical research is accelerating as whole labs full of technicians are replaced with a few pieces of static robotic equipment that do all the petri dish sampling and genetic sequencing, and do it much faster. (e.g. medical industry will follow the banking industry.) A month of human work can be done by a robot in an hour or minutes,depending on robot quality. This does not mean that cure-alls will be available in 2010, it means that the blueprints needed to attack all diseases involving genetic factors will be available. As computers get faster and smaller they will be able to read the genetics of anything more and more quickly. Organ transplants will become rare, because organs will be repaired gradually and internally at cellular level. As for pain it should be possible to modify brain and body neuron function and chemistry so pain becomes only a tolerable injury or disease-triggered warning system, not a chronic nightmare. The cost of treatment usually (but not always) follows the pattern of bell curve, at first its cheap because nothing can be done about it, then it becomes expensive as complex, but inadequate treatments are developed, vaccines or cures are expensive, then the improving technology will eventually bring the cost down. The Fountain of Youth: The dream of some and nightmare of others is the ability to stop aging and extend lifespans indefinitely. Creatures live longer lives when the metabolic rate per tissue is low, they live shorter when it is high. (Turtle’s rate is lot less than Mouses, (Turtle lives 100-150 yrs./ Mouse 1-2 yrs.) Only a lineage of ever-splitting cells never ages, never dies, it’s immortal. When you add a lifetime of general wear and tear, the inability of human tissue to regenerate itself completely and the exposure to extra environmental toxins - you have an old person. The pattern of longevity oserved in organisms is largely compatible with the wear down scenario. The higher the metabolic rate, the more oxygen and free radicals that enter each cell, and the more damage is done. So Mouse dies sooner than Turtle, which in turn dies before Tree that just sits there. So humans age more slowly if their diets are restricted to the minimum needed to sustain normal activiy is also in line with wear-induced aging, limiting food lowers the metabolic rate and oxygen consumption, thus, less damage to cells. However the exceptions to the general aging pattern suggest that there’s something else going on as well. (the perfect antitoxant system will still age.) Your body is on self-destruct timer. Your cells do not reproduce rapidly enough to offset life/death balance, the older you get, the slower becomes the rate at which cells reproduce themselves. As you age, more and more cells expire, and you have fewer cells making up for your muscles and organs, which will shrink in size. Your immune system also declines in its effectiveness. Evenually there’s just not enough left of you to keep going. Conversely - cancer cells become misprogrammed to proliferate so rapidly and without loss of that they crowd out other cells to the point that some critical organ fails. Genetic inheritance is responsible for the short life span of cerain cells versus the immortality of others. (another flaw of DNA microcomputer…) At the tips oof chromosome strands are thousands of molecular units, called telomeres, that do nothing except protect the primary DNA coding each time it splits for cell fission. (e.g. plastic ends that keep your shoelaces from fraying ) In a mortal cell, each generational division results in a loss of of 50 to 200 of the protective subunits, so the telomeres shorten a little bit each time the cell divides. Eventually, most or all the telomeres are gone, the main body of DNA is exposed and becomes deranged, and the cells self-destruct. (e.g. tips of your shoelaces wear off and the shoelace will start unraveling.) In immortal cells, the telomeres remaining are even repairedwith each DNA division by a RNA protein rig called elomerase, ensuring consistent reproduction each generation. Returning to the lifespans of living things, animals with high metabolic rates, also have high rates of cellular reproduction, so they run out of internal generations more rapidly than less energetic animals and plants, and crash sooner. Parrot must be something of a biomarvel, with long-lived DNA and high-powered cellular damage control systems. (Parrot lives longer than Human) The suicidal habits of our cells are part of an internal housecleaning system. Life in a natural world is tough, so statistically speaking, any given organism has just so many prime reproductive years before something puts a stop to its efforts at replication. Idea#1: Parent organisms are genetically programmed to die to clear the way for young. Idea#2: Its better to dedicate a lot of organism’s energy and resources into producing as many new ones as possible when organism is still young/vigorous, rather than into mainenance for long life. Such a choice may have to be made because an organism cannot optimize everything at once. There are always tradeoffs, and reproduction takes a lot of effort, both for females and males. Its possible that both the genetic timebomb and the breed-fast-and-wear-out processes are operative in various creatures, including humans. Whats he potential of immortality then? In principle, if we fiddled with our cells to keep us growing forever, we would never get older. This is not practical of course, we would all be bumping ceilings. What is needed is to get the rejuvenation without the growth. Readjust the DNA in most or all your cells so telomerase keeps the telomeres in shape, nad the cells can keep reproducing indefinitly, these things must be done delicately… The function and rate of reproduction of immortal cells must normalize or they will become cancers. With the cells able to keep dividing on and on, it will also be necessary to alter cellular genetics to boost the antitoxant and repair capacities of cells and organs so they will be as good as or better than those of natural immortal cells. Programming cells so that damaged cells self-destruct in favor of healthy replacements is one way to do this. Something will also have to be done about re-gearing the nerve cells so they can reproduce, thereby keeping the brain from shrinking with time. Now, merely stopping aging will suffice only for those who are young, it will not do to leave those who are already old stuck in creaking, sagging, wrinkling body indefinitely. Reversing aging by repairing and restoring all the body’s components, from the heart to skin, until they look and operate like they belong to a 20-year-old will be the ultimate goal. Altering the body to maximize long-term sustainability may cut into reproductive potential, bu where is the will to do this in an overpopulated world? For influential and rich only, you didn’t reprogram the human nature… Reprogramming trillions of cells is not practical by the current standards of medicine. Perhaps future technologies will use safe viruses to insert new DNA into the original strands of cells, or maybe some form of genetic nanotechnology will do the job. At first, stabilization would be the target. Eventually, returning all the cells, organs, and bones of those already aged to prime condion would be the goal. Add a genetically improved immune system and high-powered medicine to the mix, and you have a person whose brain and body will always be healthy unless raumatic injury occurs. Even much of that will be correctable, lose an eye, grow a new one in week. It should be feasible failrly soon to regenerate nerves, so paralysis will be fully curable. Brain cells also will be growable, so brain damage will be correctable, but recovering data will be impossible Point is: sooner or later something will get you because man can never fully control a chance. Cyborg - The Next Frontier Perhaps in the future, it will not make a difference if you get run over by steamroller. Almost every cell in your body (nucleus-lacking red blood cells are excepion) has your geneic code within it. If just one of your cells with a complete strand of DNA survives an encounter with a steamroller Someday they will be able to clone a whole new you from that one cell, with growth speeded up perhaps with geneic modifications, this day is not as far away as it may seem now (A.D. 1999.) Except it will not be you, sure the new body will be 100% identical to that of yours, but with your brain squashed, your mind will be dead no matter what happens to your DNA. Strong Points of Human System / ( Architectural Pearls ) None, but that’s what you are stuck with until you are smart enough to do something about it.
Name: Christina Bokat
Subject: crick and koch
Date: Mon Mar 15 11:44:39 EST 1999
Christina Bokat

Crick and Koch

Crick and Koch’s use of visual consciousness to explore consciousness did not seem to be very thorough. This could very well result from my own misunderstanding of their article however. However, I do believe that much of their paper was fairly unclear. For example they mention that they believe that the number of neurons in a group which might be a representation of a face is probably closer to 100-1,00 than 10,000-1,000,000 without giving any discernable support for this hypothesis. Another question arises from their hypothesis that the brain "always tries to use the quickest appropriate pathway for the situation at hand". How would the brain know what is the most appropriate pathway? And what higher conscious process has ultimate control in determining this? I believe that it is questions such as these that make it impossible for visual consciousness to be used as a possible model for other forms of consciousness as Crick and Koch intended which is the impression that I was under. Another aspect of their argument that I find puzzling is that regarding the relation of the encoding of the visual neurons to that of the motor neurons used for speech, for example. Crick and Koch mention that they theorize that information must be recoded when one wishes to talk about a certain visual image, but I do not seem to see any proof that they have for this or even why the information is necessarily "recoded". Another semantical problem I had with this paper was that Crick and Koch never seemed to define what a bistable precept was. The major fault of their paper in general seems to be lack of proof. Maybe for someone who has more background knowledge about the topic of the neural correlates of consciousness the article would not seem as confusing but I found it generally to be fairly uninformative due to the lack of support for many of their theories.

Name: pm
Subject: Lack of education and brain development
Date: Wed Mar 24 13:54:01 EST 1999
Hello, I am a school psychologist and have been asked to evaluate a high school age female student who cannot read. This young girl recently arrived in the United States from a refugee camp in Somalia. She never attended school and did not learn to read in her own language. She may have been malnourished, I'm not sure. There was no education in the camps. She lived in the camp until she was 14, moved to the U.S. at 14. She now speaks some English but cant read at all. We usually see faster progress than this but usually the child has had at least some education prior to arriving in the U.S. This child has never been in school. I gave her a routine test of intelligence just to get a sample of behavior--she did very poorly on all of it and yet she comes across as interested and intelligent. My question is--is there any research on the impact of no education on brain development. I'm concerned that it might be too late to educate this lovely young girl.
Name: Christina Bokat
Subject: blindsight
Date: Mon Mar 29 13:40:18 EST 1999
Christina Bokat

March 28, 1999

Unconscious Vision

I enjoyed Lawrence Weiskrantz’s article on the phenomenon of blindsight. I thought it brought up some valid possible starting points for looking at and understanding the mechanisms behind unconscious thought. From what I understood from the article, Weiskrantz’s basic argument is that blindsight results from neural connections outside of the main connections to the visual cortex. In the situation of blindsight, individuals who claim they cannot see after damage or removal of part or all of their visual cortex still perform better than chance on various visual tasks such as discriminating between vertical or horizontal lines, locating objects, etc. So even though this individuals with blindsight do not consciously see an object, the information about the object is getting into their brains.

Weiskrantz and other researchers make the logical hypothesis that blindsight is due to connections that the optic nerve makes with regions of the brain outside of the visual cortex, including the superior colliculus. They suggest that other areas of the brain that receive this neural input continue to process vision when the visual cortex is not functioning. It was unclear to me after reading this article if the author proposes that these other neural networks are activated solely in the absence of the typical visual processing or if they are typically part of the visual subconscious. If this is what they are suggesting, it seems to be a reasonable theory. It could possibly explain not only visual subconsciousness but other senses as well such as hearing. For example, maybe an explanation for why we sometimes pick up information that we do not consciously remember hearing but must have heard is that the auditory neurons are going to other parts of the brain which can also process the information, just not in a conscious format. I am still unclear as to how one could extrapolate this information to understand abstract thought processes, it does seem to be a promising place to start understanding basic sensory consciousness.

Name: Benjamin de Bruyn
Subject: stupid game
Date: Fri Apr 2 19:22:15 EST 1999
This is not a game but a tease of variables.If you cheat you will win and if you cooperate you will break even so in order to win you must cheat and the more you cheat the more coins you will gain and beat the wizard.Even when you cheat you cannot get ahead more than five coins.
Name: Christina Bokat
Subject: artificial intelligence
Date: Mon Apr 12 13:31:09 EDT 1999
Christina Bokat

April 12, 1999

Artificial Intelligence

For this paper I decided to discuss the article by Nicholas Humphrey "The private world of consciousness". The concept of artificial intelligence seems to be gaining more popularity in this age of computers. One does not necessarily have to be involved with the sciences or philosophy to be interested in this topic. Artificial intelligence is even the topic of current science fiction movies. However there are complications with the idea that there can be symbolic representation of thoughts which can be physical entities that can therefore be programmed into a computer so that computer can therefore manipulate these symbols to create conscious thoughts. And these problems stem from more then the dilemma that we don’t exactly know how to program these symbols. The subjective quality of feelings is still missing. This is what Humphrey discusses in his article. Humphrey spends a considerable portion of the article talking about how the subjective quality of sensations evolved and this is the point where he looses me. He argues that "natural selection can only act on those features of an organism that make a difference to its chances of survival. And it follows that there can only have been selection for the quality of sensory perception if this quality has a public effect – which apparently, it does not". It is on this point that I disagree with Humphrey to a certain extent. To a certain degree, the quality of sensory perception does have a public effect. It must have been important for our ancestors to evolve some sort of similar perception. Everyone would need to see colors in approximately the same way so that, for example, one of our ancestors could tell the dark red berries from the lighter ones because those were poisonous. Admittedly, once as long as we all have the same basic sensory perceptions, more detailed perceptions could evolve that could be individual and for which natural selection could not act upon due to the privacy of these subjective experiences. It seems to be that Humphrey is entirely correct in pointing out how the subjective experience of perception is often overlooked in AI models. I believe that that is why a top-down approach to AI would not work. I believe that we need to know more about the neural networks of qualitative feelings before we can create a program to artificially create intelligence.

Name: Debbie Plotnick
Subject: Big Boxes, Bigger Boxes
Date: Wed Apr 28 12:15:47 EDT 1999
NB week n-1 Is intrinsic variability in behavior akin to the variability, for example, of some simple things that we all learn as small children, such as that each snowflake is unique? Or that even though a leaf may come from a maple tree it is different from all the other leaves on its own tree and on every other maple tree? But in both of these examples, and innumerable others, each snowflake and each maple leaf possess not only variability but “sameness.” We do recognize a snowflake as a snowflake and a maple leaf as a maple leaf.

Isn’t that the same type of thing that we see when we recognize a voice (speech pattern), or a gait (walking pattern) or any other kind of motor symphony. They are all different from each other but again they possess all of the necessary components to make them recognizable as being what they are.  But within the pattern of each individual voice or walk are variations that can be again attributed to huge number of causes. The person who displays the voice or walk might be frightened or cold, or sick or hurt, etc, which would produce variability within that person’s own unique pattern. Again it is the patterns that make something recognizable as itself.  A motor symphony that produces walking we have concluded is caused by a pattern generator.  But that pattern has variability within itself.

When Professor Grobstein, studies frog behavior and sees variations in the snapping behavior of any individual frog or the fact that a frog does not snap when presented with a worm he concludes that variability is part of the pattern of behavior that frogs exhibit.
And clearly as we have seen and everyone is thinking and talking about after last week’s Colorado events, patterns of behaviors, while clearly possessing the qualities of being behavior are sometimes unimaginably unpredictable.

Why are incarnate objects (snowflakes, rocks, etc) and all living things (animals, plants, cells) different from each other but each still possessing qualities of patterns that make them identifiable as belonging to a particular classification? I’ve been thinking about that question by extending our metaphor of the nervous system as being a series of boxes, to the natural world as boxes within boxes, within boxes? I have a sense (for what ever that’s worth) that one of the reasons has to do with the fact that the myriad of possibilities for the arrangements of things or organisms within themselves (creating individual examples) or in combination with each other do produce unlimited possibilities of combinations.  Therefore any and all organisms which exhibit behaviors must posses the qualities necessary to behave, i.e. have responses that recognizes variations/sameness and respond/behave in ways that have intrinsic variability.

Name: Chennita Gartrell
Date: Fri Apr 30 00:46:44 EDT 1999
Hi, I tried your little experiment and it was alot of fun. I did 50 trials and my score was a 68%. The parameters I set were: Speed-2, Radius-1, and contrast- -5. Of 32 seen my score was 96%, of 1 maybe my score was 100%, amd of 17 not seen my scoe was 11%.
Name: I Am.
Username: God@Heaven.Org
Subject: Susan Desautels Criticisms
Date: Tue Jun 29 18:38:35 EDT 1999
Creator to Susan Desautels. Re: Design of Human Your criticisms are all valid and completely accurate. However, you have overlooked something in My divine plan. Contrary to popular belief among your species, I am by no means Omnipotent. I am constrained by Time, that is, I must operate through it. Natural selection, while not optimally efficient, seemed to be the simplest mechanism (logistically) through which to manifest My Will. However, natural selection would take far too long to directly produce the kind of intelligent systems that I had in mind (even the Divine have limits on their patience). So I made a "short cut". I surmised that it would only take a few billion years of iterative natural selection to produce a rudimentary intelligence capable of "directing" the evolutionary process. The human species, you must admit, are temporally close to producing a much more adequate intelligence with their so called "computers". Basically, what I'm saying is that before I made my ideal intelligent system, I had to make my tools first. Humans fit the bill, and I predict a viable bona-fide intelligence within two centuries. So, while your criticism of My Design may be valid, you have missed the point alltogether. Hold off your criticisms until you see the finished product, which I think will impress you very much. I may add finally, that it seems to be a quaint trait of your species to see itself as "My Finished Desing". As I hope you understand by now, nothing is further from the truth. Basically, what I mean is this: Humanity is Nature's way of Creating Computers. Rergards, God.
Name: I Am.
Username: God@Heaven.Org
Subject: Sorry.
Date: Wed Jun 30 18:06:09 EDT 1999
As further proof that I am not omnipotent, I seem to have posted this last message to wrong forum. My appologies, it was meant for the Brain Matters forum. Heh.
Name: bloopsey doopsey...@
Subject: Thats cool!
Date: Thu Jul 1 20:35:27 EDT 1999
Well i think that the brain`s pretty cool... hehehe.... yeah... It thinks...
Name: Mr. Bathrom
Subject: BATHROOM?
Date: Mon Oct 11 10:52:49 EDT 1999
There are no "parts."