Viser arkivet for stikkord evolution

Stigma.

To stigmatize is in no way a good thing, but there are far too many bogus myths about why people do it for people to be efficiently made to not do it anymore.
Reasons people stigmatize is commonly: Believing millions of people have chosen to be evil, or that a group want something bad to happen to millions of people. Sprinkled by reasons to stigmatize that consist of negative attributes, like any “bad people” you see in Star Trek (that the Vulcans are logical might be enough reason for some groups to stigmatize them). But free will does not exist, it is a clever illusion that has evolved in humans (and many other animals and possibly even insects and fish). So we do not choose anything as such.
Here is how free will can not exist within the laws of physics, and here is the closest thing to free will we can get in a deterministic universe.
We can no more blame people for their actions as we could blame a stone for falling on our foot. But if you try to make them do something, or not do something, and you fail, trying the same method/argument twice expecting a different result is your fault. Peoples behavior is dictated by the laws of physics.
People have evolutionistic behavior patterns, behavior that often helped survival and reproduction. In the case of stigmatization it has evolved into group forming behavior that aid in getting entrance and acceptance into groups. And it aids in keeping groups together (you might have some idea of how much time can be spent laughing talking about some other group your social group likes to stigmatize). Someone with a walking cane are stigmatized by a person from a certain group, lets say someone with glasses, then the stigmatized person is more likely to want to stigmatize people with glasses. People with glasses then are more likely to stigmatize people with walking canes. And then when we run through all the variations, long hair, short hair, dark skin, light skin, tall, short, fat, skinny, left politically, right politically, Norwegian, Swede, Ferrari driver, Volvo driver, owner of a big house, owner of an apartment, young people, old people, employed people, unemployed, sick people, retired people, etc. Then we have tons of groups of people who stigmatize other groups, exactly as would be the case in our hunter-gatherer ancestral life. In the hunter-gatherer life other groups must have been stigmatized by the group in order for the group to continually have an emotional driver that spurs on fighting to keep their hunting territory. Those that did not think their neighbors were evil and bad in numerous ways would not continue to successfully prevent their neighbors from wiping them out. It only takes one day to wipe out a tribe completely, largely removing it from the gene-pool, therefore this has shaped our genes a lot. And it also remains a powerful behavior we inherit all the time (very few exceptions). When we inherit our DNA we also inherit our brain and senses. What our senses do and how they function is dictated before we are born, and how our brain reacts to what we sense is out of our first-hand control.
Only after we feel something, only after we think something, only after our brain decides something to do, can we have the option of stepping in and stopping ourselves.
Stopping ourselves from acting on feelings, stopping ourselves from striking out in anger.
Stopping ourselves from doing what our brain decided is the right action that split-second.
Stopping ourselves from striking back because someone’s brain did something against us.
Stopping ourselves from striking back because a stone landed on our foot, a human stone we have evolved to sense and react to as if it has free will.

Arguments against evolution.

Usually people dismiss arguments they find no fault in because of some first-hand experience. A perfect example is free will. Everyone are happy to accept determinism arguments when they see a billiard-ball getting bumped around on a billiard-table. But make the table and its shape invisible, along with the other billiard-balls, then humans feel like they see a will at work behind the movements of the billiard-ball we can still see. If the cause of the movements are not easily apparent, it gives the illusion of a will.

This first-hand experience is at work when people refuse to agree to determinism arguments, but hardly anyone are clever enough to realize they use first-hand experience (which is very unreliable scientific evidence) to dismiss rational arguments with perhaps no flaws. The dangerous thing about this phenomena is that people feel dismissing arguments based on first-hand experience is the rational thing to do. But if an argument is rational and good, it should over-rule first-hand experience. Like for example when you find no scientific reason to conclude there is such a thing as colored photons. Even though we experience color, it is not an accurate representation of reality and if we use first-hand experience to dismiss all the arguments against the existence of color based on first-hand experience, we are ultimately irrational.

When it comes to evolution there is a number of first-hand experiences at work, most of which haven’t been found yet. I’d say most involve fallacious ideas about what evolution is, because evolution is such a top-down idea when it is taught in school. In reality it is a bottom-up thing, basic chemicals gradually over time becoming more and more complex molecules because they have the time to go through every temperature, pressure, acidity etc again and again over billions of years. But without a heavy knowledge of chemistry most get the first-hand experience that they are unable to connect the dots from hydrogen and carbon and the rest of the elements, to a self-replicating molecule. A metaphor would be that you can see two points on a map, but you are unable to plot a road between them. Then this first-hand experience prevents them from accepting the arguments, and they feel it is the rational thing to do. The reason they dismiss the arguments for evolution are not because of arguments, it is because of their first-hand experience, so all the arguments they cook up against evolution mirror their misguided reason for dismissing evolution. Since they only dismissed evolution because of some first-hand experience, not arguments, their arguments are always fallacious. The reason for this is that they try to back-up their irrational dismissal of the arguments, they are in essence thinking “I am rational, and I dismissed evolution, therefore evolution must be wrong”. They don’t go out to disprove the theory, they just go out to find indications of it being wrong. In a way, they think “what would a wrong theory look like?”, and then they set off and find drunk researchers, greedy researchers, obvious errors and all the rest of it. They already know the theory is wrong, so they don’t actually remember to find an argument that convinces everyone that it is wrong, they just point out things like comedians. “hey have you noticed how they can not figure it all out after 150 years of study? Have you ever seen a lion give birth to a duck? Do these evil people really expect me to believe this thing they have not figured out completely?”. None of which disprove evolution, but to them, who already feel like they know evolution is wrong, its the funniest thing in the world, and it helps them feel rational for dismissing evolution.

People don’t need the right answer, they just need to feel good about the answer they already have. Its the 100 dollars now is better than 101 dollars in a month bias. We all think our current view of the world is worth a hundred bucks, so our laziness keeps us from expending more energy on it. Our genes make us lazy because we might need that fat for a famine.

What is consciousness?

The conscious mind is something philosophy have struggled with for a long time, but today it is solved conceptually because of an understanding of neuroscience. I do not know of a source where it says what it actually is, therefore I must write one myself.

Consciousness consist of a few needs to qualify as consciousness. To be conscious of self, that is you can move your arm, sense it as your body and mind doing the moving, and to determine a reaction accordingly. And most will also demand consciousness needs the ability to compare past events with current events and project what the future might hold. On some level or another.

To be conscious of self is something apes, dogs, humans and a vast amount of other species show strong signs of doing. We don’t punch an apple when we reach to grab it, the brain determine the intent to grab the apple, the brain determines how we need to move from comparing past events to current events, but more importantly by projecting how the future will be without further intervention, and then the brain projects what have to happen for us to successfully grab the apple. The brain then determines how much the arm has to move, signals muscles to move, the brain senses the actions of the muscles moving the arm, the eyes and other senses see how far the arm has come on its journey towards the apple, the brain compares it to past events and projects what will happen in the future with this trajectory of movement, and determines to change the speed at which the muscles move the arm. This is repeated several times, but seeing as humans generally only see about 24 frames per second, humans probably don’t go above 24 such cycles most of the time, though one cycle is probably a tad more complex than this example (Only in number of actions, as there are 85 billion neurons, so there can be trillions of firing actions in a single cycle). I will refer to each such cycle that happens in 1/24 of a second as “1 cycle” down the line.

Clearly consciousness is something that is common. Consciousness of self in the traditional sense, as in “I can think”, does not exist. It is merely an extension of the previously explained cycles, but with more sensory input sources, and more ability for comparing and contrasting, and last but not least, more ability to selectively choose what is and is not relevant to remember down the road.
For example, chess grand masters use the perhaps 1 cycle long reaction of a well-trained skier or fencer, and knows the optimal thing to do instantly. Those that are not good at skiing or chess, or not good at fencing, will have to compare and contrast with very few relevant past events, and subsequently a very low ability to project what will happen in the future with and without intervention, and especially bad at projecting what the body needs to do to get a positive future outcome. For example, a bad fencer or skier might know immediately that something bad will happen, like getting struck by a sword or falling down, and might even in spite of little experience be able to project which body part it will impact and how he will fall down on the skis, but it will be almost impossible to successfully determine how to react in a way that stops the impact of the sword, or which stops him from falling down while skiing. This can be shown in any number of ways in any number of species. Practice makes perfect, and just as you don’t remember every stone in the road, but lets say faces, a bee or mouse will only remember something relevant to its survival, like the smell of other mice, color of flowers with nectar, but it will forget most everything else, not because it does not have the capacity to remember, but because much of what the brain does is to forget unimportant things, things that have not improved chances of survival for any individual mice, bees or humans that remembered those things (it is about efficiency, life naturally evolve to not spend energy on that which costs more than it gives in survival ability, bees only do what bees do to survive, they don’t have board-room meetings or vacation days. In the case of humans such things have flourished because it did not decrease survival in later decades).

How this becomes more complex is for example by adding a sense that senses past negative outcomes, or more specifically, the actions that lead to negative outcomes. Then it is far more likely that you will not repeat an action that lead to a negative outcome twice, even if the action can be relevant in many scenarios. So if an action leads to a negative outcome in one scenario, you are hesitant to perform that action even if it is a rationally sound action in another scenario. So if betting on red at the tables in Las Vegas lost you a lot of money, you might be hesitant to choose a red car for no particular rational, intelligent reason. We observe this every day, when we choose one brand of shoes over another it is not unlikely it is because we irrationally hesitate to choose the other options because of memories from our past. We have an opposite sense, or perhaps it is considered the same sense, which sense what actions that lead to positive outcomes. But seeing as positive outcomes is slightly more difficult to sense, simply doing a thing today, and if you are here tomorrow, that thing you did today might be perceived as a good act more often than is healthy for us. So for example, if you ski at an early age, chances are higher that you will ski again in your life, even after accounting for variables that affect the statistics like having skis or living near snow. Even though skiing in itself give very little positive outcomes, from an evolutionary psychology perspective, simply doing something and not dieing will in some cases be more positive than negative. My hypothesis on the matter is that many species have evolved some form of actions that increase psychological well-being (skiing and many other physical activities make the brain release lots of reward-chemicals and subsequently increases what we define as happiness, and happiness is shown to increase level of activity, which means it helped the species with happiness to survive by making them have a high level of activity which made them happy which made them have a high level of activity). And familiar routines might be part of that, so that is likely much of the reason why you for example drink coffee, tea, neither or both, when you do and not when you don’t.

In consciousness there is often the “we can talk and communicate ideas” argument. But it is also an expansion of the cycles in the third paragraph. We say things that brought positive outcomes before, hesitate to say things that brought negative outcomes before. That is why we avoid certain words and use of language, like curses and certain subjects like tabus, and also why we often use certain words like greetings and subjects like the weather, that almost never give a negative outcome. The only difference in an ape doing this, by avoiding falling off a tree or avoiding to make the alpha male aggressive, and a human doing this, by avoiding to fall on the ice and to avoid making the boss aggressive, is only in that the language we use is different. As apes and many other animals have the larrings to form sounds like human language, they lack that genetic trait in their brains, to group feelings, images, groups of images, as remembered sounds, so they have far more reliance on body-language (though humans have more body language) and think by feelings, pictures and some sound, instead of words. For example, when they see a fruit, their favorite fruit, they probably have the ability to think “that is a good feeling, I must take it before someone else”, only it does it more in images and feelings than sounds of words (many, not all, humans think sounds, in the form of words, as well as pictures and sound like notes and noise). The ape also has the ability to think how it can get that fruit from its current location, where it must go, climb, who it must not alert etc.
The gorilla Koko could also communicate ideas, for example, it tried to claim it was its pet cat that ripped a sink off the wall. So it is apparent gorillas can lie too, which is far more complex than simply communicating a concept.
By the way, grouping feelings, actions, scenarios etc as sounds, what we call language, has a genetic basis in humans because we at some point began to make slightly less offspring if we had less ability to communicate, not because we’re somehow special or smarter, but simply because we were lucky some cultural phenomenon took hold many thousands of years ago.

Speaking of cultural phenomenon. Some use culture as evidence for consciousness, but young apes play, and cling to their mothers when their mothers gather food, that’s education. The apes spend much effort finding food, that is a job. Some look for dangers while others look for food, then they switch, that’s an economy (though not capitalistic I know, perhaps a bit communistic even). Give them several million more years to evolve, and they might think they’re the center of the universe as well, because that is after all how it looks to your perspective everywhere you stand.

To summarize, consciousness is a simple concept, a simple causal physical line of reactions, but its results are complex and you can probably continue to add angles to it for a thousand years. Like fractal mathematics, extremely simple, but if you let it run its course millions of generations it will form an image of borderline infinite complexity. But given the efficiency of life, since inefficient have a tendency to have a worse survival rate than what is slightly more efficient, it will never gain the kind of complexity we often believe about ourselves. Unless it is artificially imposed. In the future, we will make ourselves so intelligent and genetically superior to apes as we like to think we are today. But until then, we must realize why we avoid some things and seek other things. Like trying not to think about for example aging. If we thought about dieing every day, and talked about dieing, and what can be done to stop it, then politicians would not treat health nearly as a taboo. Scientists have working theories on how to stop almost 98% of the causes of death (2.84% of deaths in 2002 were intentional, war, violence, suicide, etc), and working theories on how to begin to stop aging as we know it from existing.

But even I, who often know exactly why I find some things uncomfortable, find it uncomfortable to mention life extension to those older than myself, those with less life left than myself. Because if I somehow make them snap out of the delusion that they have a soul that will live forever after they are dead, they might go bananas (and arguably ironically sometimes realizing ones own mortality leads to becoming suicidal, which I have close to zero understanding of thus far). I have not managed to find a way to make it ethically right to do such a thing. So that leaves my consciousness to trying to get politicians (most older than me) to focus on life extension, without making them realize they are mortal beings without souls or some form of eternal life after the bank account is empty.