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Madness

Neuroscience, Humanity & Some Occasional Bakker

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People who go to war to defend their countries should be given whatever is best for them to live their lives post-combat how they want it.

There's an interesting point here though, to what degree does mucking about with PTSD also much about wiht feelings of remorse/horror and revulsion at atrocities committed? If we "cure" PTSD, that has some pretty damning effects. Rememeber, the Holocaust existed in the form it did because the original plan ("Just shoot them") took such a high toll on the psyche of the executioners.

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Fair. At least, you are closer to understanding my distinction.

I'm, as well, completely discounting aliens, time paradoxes, ancient golden ages, among other quality notions. For the purposes of the discussion, though, we need to frame our communication with a perspectival lens for the idea of human-wrought change.

Wait... what?

I realized from the beginning of this discussion, clearly, that these words, natural and created would carry heavy connotations.

We changed something in biology when, at least in North America, we decided to mix genes for fish scales in with strawberries in order to facilitate a sort of created – using the word in terms of my distinction – resistance in the strawberries to frost. In this way, biologists and geneticists, as well as other academia, hope solve world hunger by being able to grow plants anywhere, despite the environment.

That should be, I feel, a striking distinction between a natural world sans, at least, humankind's intervention vs. a created world, the instances of humankind's interventions.

I decided just to find one of the preliminary reports. There are a couple paragraphs I wanted to quote.

http://www.sierraclu...tech/report.asp

This second quote is a great analogy for what my point is and certainly what, I think, Bakker's point is. We are on the cusp, hanging before the tipping point, of Neuroscience's own wave of drastic revolution, but the ground for concern is not our genes, which is already such a consequential field, but our very immediate experience and the brains that give rise to it.

Which is a very very long way of saying what I already said... that till it comes to genetic engineering, the difference between natural and created changes makes little sense.

As I re-read your quote, I realize, I might have appealed on a different tact.

There are very few instances, historically, of direct human, created, intervention. This has changed in an exponential way since the advent of steam power and we've been off running ever since, with every new understanding seeming to bring with it more direct, immediate consequences on our reality.

I mean, I don't buy it, but a huge portion of the worldwide community believe that all that industry during the revolution was largely a part of our global warming today.

You don't but global warming, but you're insisting we be careful with neuroscience? Interesting...

Maybe you can quote yourself for me but I believe you accused me of discussion phrenology when the brain, not the skull, had been the object of reference. Rough stuff.

I "accused" you of nothing. You said something about modular theories being unsatisfactory, and the way you said it made me think you were referring to phrenology, I only asked if that is in fact what you were referring to.

I felt as though you greatly simplified things when you were discussing the difficulties in language acquisition and, also, actually muddied the development waters for anyone who wants to learn a new language. There are reasons it is difficult, as far as we understand, and it is easier to acquire a new conceptual structure with an understanding of the physical and mental processes involved.

I did indeed simplify it. And given how your expansive side-track on linguistics has done nothing but obfuscate the central point we're discussing, I'm happy I did.

That is the type of lateral fluidity I like to read. The second part I bolded isn't actually easy statement for many neurosciencetists to make or digest. What does it mean or imply that areas we've previously associated with other senses or perceptions manage, seemingly, unrelated cognitive function? I think much.

It means much? Did I imply anywhere that it was trivial? I merely proposed this as a possible explanation for how people with a resected Broca's area could still talk. I'm not saying it is the only possible explanation.

I'm sorry. I will try and actively rebut the points you made that I may have glossed over in my statement. However, I would hope that you don't censor your knowledge simply because this isn't an academic forum. This is exactly the attitude among academics that I decry.

It's like Bakker is always harping on the literati. It's the responsibility of those in the know to disseminate their knowledge to those who don't. The onus of explanation is on the learned and the wise.

But you weren't explaining. You were dropping names and asking me to read books. If, in a literary discussion, someone responded to a point by saying "read books X, Y and Z. Then you'll understand what I mean by true literature", that person is not disseminating their knowledge, they're showing off their knowledge, but refusing to address the point in hand, and rebutting by saying they know better.

I've poured over textbooks like you, have felt the same frustration that any student feels, but yet I can't stop myself from devouring the subject matter. Know Thyself. I thought you, or anyone else, might actually enjoy reading some books or research done by some of neurosciences greatest pioneering minds, considering the discussion. I didn't whip out my dick to try and tell you it was thirteen inches. I simply thought you'd enjoy being exposed to something novel – if you're familiar with Schwartz, Merzenich, or Taub then I guess I apologize.

But that isn't the way to respond to a point of discussion! This is precisely why I said you were being condescending. I raised an issue with your statement, and you respond by giving me advise on how to improve myself? Even in a scientific forum, maybe especially so, such a thing is unacceptable. Have you even been to a seminar where the speaker has brushed away a question by saying "read these books and you'll understand"?

I, for one, won't dumb it down and I encourage you to do the same, fionwe. This dialogue needs to happen, everywhere and anywhere, to gain as much insight as we can. We've hardly come close to jargon and citations.

:rolleyes: Talking simple isn't "dumbing down". As you have shown with your extensive discussion on linguistics, all this has done is obfuscate the central point of the argument, which is whether there are exponentially more neuronal connections in polyglots.

To rebut & paraphrase:

You may or may not be familiar with case studies done with piano players, I believe, both new to the instrument and seasoned musicians.

Two groups of individuals practiced a piece of music for three hours a day, five days a week, with routine brain mapping done on Fridays and Mondays. The difference between the two samples was that one group actually practiced playing the piano and the other simply imagined practicing, very rigorously in their minds.

The outcome, to make a long description short, was almost identical changes in brain structure, with comparable actually ability in playing the piece of music. There've been plenty of duplications of this mechanism in other studies to the point of showing that simply rigorously imagining a workout with applied attention made nearly identical changes to the nervous system and brains areas for muscle memory.

I'm ranting and this likely hasn't convinced you of my use of the word exponential.

Yes, it completely hasn't. The cited study proves absolutely nothing about there being exponentially more neuronal connections associated with acquiring a new skill, or practicing it. It doesn't address my point that learning and refining skills would involve strengthening of existing connections almost as much as the formation of new ones. When you say "changes in brain structure", do you mean formation of new connections (synapses) or structural changes associated with strengthening existing connections?

My position is that if you overlap these ideas, actually doing the physical practice but applying rigorously attention and awareness to the experience of practice, holding more abstractions in mind, you will exponentially affect neuronal connections and density.

This still remains a "position" with no proof at all.

I look forward to hearing any thoughts on this, fionwe, before I continue digging.

My thoughts on this are unchanged. Especially when it comes to practicing and refining existing skills, I find it hard to believe that the brain achieves this by simply forming more connections. Since you want to get technical, my point is that long term potentiation (and depression) of synapses plays as much of a role in skill acquisition and especially refinement as formation of new synapses. Both these processes will cause changes to brain structure.

I hope to have the preliminary research out of the way next year so I can get on establishing our really controversial mental abilities.

I'll be interested to see that, though my hypothesis going in wouldn't be that there will be an exponential increase in the number of synapses.

You don't inspire minds or individuals talking down to them, fionwe. I've read pretty much nothing but quality, reflective perspective here, even an effort to wrestle complex ideas.

Don't put words in my mouth. And you seem confused by what talking in jargon entails. When you start flinging names of books and papers you've read instead of actually addressing the points on hand, that's when you're talking down. If I refuse to carry on this discussion in language suitable for a scientific journal article, I'm not "talking down" to anybody, I'm making an effort to communicate with them, rather that refusing to leave the comfortable shell of my field.

"You are confusing two different, separate, aspects of linguistic structure in your first paragraph. Firstly, Universal Grammar and the LAD (Language Acquisition Device), theorized by Chomsky. Secondly, the idea of phonemes, all the distinct sounds we can produce with the human throat, and their relation to one another."

The bolded points here from your earlier post, fionwe. This is what brought language into the conversation, as it hadn't been mentioned since Happy Ent and I had talked at the first about the German translations of Bakker.

If you actually do understand "specific aspects" like Universal Grammar and the LAD then I'm unsure what you are trying to say in much of your first paragraph.

The second bolded point really illuminates your misconceptions. It's because of ideas like Universal Grammar and the Language Acquisition Device that we're able to theorize why humans have the ability for language. I would make the statement that you and any other polylinguists do have exponentially more neuronal connections in whichever brain areas language may or may not rely on.

See here, this is exactly why I didn't get into the nitty-gritty of linguistics. First and foremost, LAD and Universal Grammar are theories, not exact representations of the neurophysiology of language. Second, both these theories only support my point that polylinguists likely have overlapping maps for the different languages they speak. If there is indeed a Universal Grammar, then would the brain really form a fresh set of connections to map similar aspects of the different languages is learns? You contend that it would, I'm frankly baffled by the contention.

As I said in one of my first posts on this subject, this is an example of why we need a library of brain maps, extensive imaging done, because imaging of your brain would provide insight into those areas where your language facilities connect and overlap. The density of connection – again, thanks, Curethan - provides us with interesting clues.

But it isn't just the density of connections, but also the strength of those connections that is critical.

By semantic blockage I was referring to all the little memes people pick up about the difficulties in absorbing other cultures or languages. Some things require understanding. We socially and culturally propagate "reasons" why it is difficult to learn a new language. We actively dissuade society from doing anything based on fictive time constraints and physical limitations.

However, I like the way you took my words and I appreciate the way this is paragraph is organized.

The second part I'm unsure of because there are so many muscle difficulties that many ignore when learning a language removed from their own. Languages are removed from one another only by the difference of their sounds, or phonemes. Obviously, there are instances of different syntax and grammar but, oftentimes, working the muscles involved with novel sounds is the hardest and most frustrating part of learning a new language.

Those are the hardest parts of learning to speak a new language. But there are people who read and write a new language just fine, but have difficulty in speaking. And this difficulty again points to there being overlapping maps for new languages, rather than a totally new set of connections.

Again, I'm sorry about the specifics, if it upsets you so, fionwe, but some people will genuinely be moved to learn and explore by my words. Sometimes people actually are interested and want to understand.

Wow. you have a very good opinion of yourself. I'm glad. But people may be more inclined to learn, or discuss if you actually try to explain your points instead of insisting that you know. When you imply that people are worthy of raising arguments only if they're neuroscientists or have read as much as you have, you've failed to make this a general discussion.

Lol, there are less polylinguists than the world needs, trust me. Don't ever take that mental fluidity for granted, fionwe, and seek ways to cultivate it further.

I come from a country of more than a billion people, a large percentage of whom are polylinguists to some extent. So forgive me if I fail to find the situation as dire as you make it seem.

Understandable but then we're talking about social and cultural organizations who have a SOP of compartmentalizing researchers and complex concepts in order to manipulate grand results – the Manhatten Project, anyone?

You're contending that there is a conspiracy to keep neruoscientists of different stripe from each other? :blink:

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There's an interesting point here though, to what degree does mucking about with PTSD also much about wiht feelings of remorse/horror and revulsion at atrocities committed? If we "cure" PTSD, that has some pretty damning effects. Rememeber, the Holocaust existed in the form it did because the original plan ("Just shoot them") took such a high toll on the psyche of the executioners.

Exactly. I agree.

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“I'm, as well, completely discounting aliens, time paradoxes, ancient golden ages, among other quality notions. For the purposes of the discussion, though, we need to frame our communication with a perspectival lens for the idea of human-wrought change."

Wait... what?

Other possible instances in which entities could have consciously changed reality – for instance, like humankind’s genetic manipulation.

Which is a very very long way of saying what I already said... that till it comes to genetic engineering, the difference between natural and created changes makes little sense.

Except you’re dead to rights set into a academic discipline whose primary economic function will be neurophysiological engineering.

But you weren't explaining. You were dropping names and asking me to read books. If, in a literary discussion, someone responded to a point by saying "read books X, Y and Z. Then you'll understand what I mean by true literature", that person is not disseminating their knowledge, they're showing off their knowledge, but refusing to address the point in hand, and rebutting by saying they know better.

Again, fionwe, I’m not asking you do anything. I am badly attempting to communicate some cutting-edge and beyond neurosciencitic theories and proofs – I can’t help that the researchers I mentioned have spent books describing things I’m trying to condense into single sentences.

Why these attacks on my imagined character?

I’m not trying to imply I know better, all I can do is try and effectively communicate my own perspective and given that I understand very little of what yours is and yet you seem to have a plethora of avenues in which to attack me, I’d say I’m succeeding slightly more than you are.

But that isn't the way to respond to a point of discussion! This is precisely why I said you were being condescending. I raised an issue with your statement, and you respond by giving me advise on how to improve myself? Even in a scientific forum, maybe especially so, such a thing is unacceptable. Have you even been to a seminar where the speaker has brushed away a question by saying "read these books and you'll understand"?

I’m sorry if I did so. It was not my intent.

Again, I have to wonder if you share my interest in this discussion or are simply intent of plastering this whole communication with your own semantic reference.

:rolleyes: Talking simple isn't "dumbing down". As you have shown with your extensive discussion on linguistics, all this has done is obfuscate the central point of the argument, which is whether there are exponentially more neuronal connections in polyglots.

This has hardly been an extensive discussion on linguistics. Also, I’m sure by this point there are as many “central points” to “the argument” as there are posters in this thread.

However, you do highlight an obvious question between us. I have my citations and theories and you have your doubts – until we meet with some brain imaging instruments I think we’re going to keep disagreeing.

The human brain defeats analogy – this is what we should learn from the computer metaphor. I’d open your mind a little to some more philosophic implications.

Yes, it completely hasn't. The cited study proves absolutely nothing about there being exponentially more neuronal connections associated with acquiring a new skill, or practicing it. It doesn't address my point that learning and refining skills would involve strengthening of existing connections almost as much as the formation of new ones. When you say "changes in brain structure", do you mean formation of new connections (synapses) or structural changes associated with strengthening existing connections?

Both and neither, among other things. Changes in brain structure, in my words, can accord with these statements or structural changes associated with new connections or neurophysiological change based on damage or simply living.

For you, I’ve pulled out the quotes, fionwe.

Aside from many assertions, one of the hypothesizes that Merzenich was eventually able to support was the idea of “sensory input increase cortical reorganization,” and “use-dependent cortical reorganization . . . How the brain remodels itself in response to behavioral demands . . . To map the motor cortex . . . inserted tiny stimulating electrodes into scores of locations in that part of the brain and noted which muscles moved when a particular area fired. The Motor cortex’s representations of movements varied greatly between one monkey and the next, he [Nubo, a postdoctoral working for Merzenich] found, as did the representation of the two hands: specific movements of the hand a monkey preferred to use for retrieving small objects took up more cortical area than the maps of the same movement in the nonpreferred hand. The motor cortex controlling the preferred hand was bigger and more spatially complex . . . What he found was that retrieving 600 pellets during two thirty minute sessions every day for eleven to fifty days produced dramatic remodeling of the monkeys’ motor cortices. The area that became active when a monkey moved his digits, wrist, and forearm had doubled, compared to the motor cortex representations in animals not trained to retrieve food pellets from annoyingly narrow food wells . . . as a monkey mastered the smallest well, the area of activation expanded, and the representation in the motor cortex of some movements increased several-fold . . . In a related experiment one of four monkeys was trained to turn a key-shaped bolt with a twisting movement of its arm . . . there was a marked expansion in the forearm area of the motor cortex. The motor cortex, concluded researchers, ‘is alterable by use throughout the life of an animal’ . . . Learning a new skill strengthens billions of synaptic connections.

Don't put words in my mouth. And you seem confused by what talking in jargon entails. When you start flinging names of books and papers you've read instead of actually addressing the points on hand, that's when you're talking down. If I refuse to carry on this discussion in language suitable for a scientific journal article, I'm not "talking down" to anybody, I'm making an effort to communicate with them, rather that refusing to leave the comfortable shell of my field.

Sometimes people don’t need to you to make any “effort” to manipulate the digestibility of your communication to them beyond simply opening your mouth and offering your unique individual worldview honestly.

I only “name dropped” as you succinctly put it as I felt I wasn’t communicating effectively and if you’d been exposed to their studies, you might offer insight or a culminating perspective. However, hopefully, the above quotation is sufficiently capable of breaching your offended sensibilities.

See here, this is exactly why I didn't get into the nitty-gritty of linguistics. First and foremost, LAD and Universal Grammar are theories, not exact representations of the neurophysiology of language. Second, both these theories only support my point that polylinguists likely have overlapping maps for the different languages they speak. If there is indeed a Universal Grammar, then would the brain really form a fresh set of connections to map similar aspects of the different languages is learns? You contend that it would, I'm frankly baffled by the contention.

I agree that they would have overlapping maps – thus areas strengthened and complex beyond those same rough areas in monoliguists.

But the brain would absolutely form fresh maps, at the very least, for the novel muscles movements they have to make for producing new sounds and the differences in semantic structure.

But it isn't just the density of connections, but also the strength of those connections that is critical.

I hate to tread this ground but I need to search for moments of shared comprehension. Have you ever been exposed to the idea of a Connectome? Simply that the synaptic connections don’t happen like a giant, flat, two dimensional schematic but rather as if you mapped that schematic with string and then rolled it into a big ball. Some neuronal connections might be one or two or thousands of synapses connecting together.

Again, not for the sake of understanding or the argument, but simply because I think you might be interested hit up:

Those are the hardest parts of learning to speak a new language. But there are people who read and write a new language just fine, but have difficulty in speaking. And this difficulty again points to there being overlapping maps for new languages, rather than a totally new set of connections.

All individual human languages create a partly overlapping but inevitably distinct cortical representation for each language with a corresponding conceptual organizational structure.

A better statement?

Wow. you have a very good opinion of yourself. I'm glad. But people may be more inclined to learn, or discuss if you actually try to explain your points instead of insisting that you know. When you imply that people are worthy of raising arguments only if they're neuroscientists or have read as much as you have, you've failed to make this a general discussion.

I bear the same opinion of you. A random percentage of individuals will be moved by your words as well, fionwe. Again, I’m sorry if I’m insisting I know but my perspective is all I know and I’m trying to understand yours as you experience it. I can only write my words.

I come from a country of more than a billion people, a large percentage of whom are polylinguists to some extent. So forgive me if I fail to find the situation as dire as you make it seem.

Well, I’m not sure if that country is India but they produce some of the worlds most renowned neuroscientists and brain surgeons. But that cortical fluidity is something I envy.

You're contending that there is a conspiracy to keep neruoscientists of different stripe from each other? :blink:

Actually, I was attempting to highlight that all neuroscientists can’t always make fully informed, reflectively balanced and moral decisions about their discipline due to the nature of the research they are involved in.

But uh… what you said?

I'll try and find some specific quotes for you concerning the exponentially complex reorganization, fionwe.

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As I see it, genetic manipulation doesen't neccessarily change anything RE: Evolutionary pressures. It just redefines those pressures. (into, essentially "What humans like") which has already happened to some extent.

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As I see it, genetic manipulation doesen't neccessarily change anything RE: Evolutionary pressures. It just redefines those pressures. (into, essentially "What humans like") which has already happened to some extent.

Aren't changing and redefining more or less the same thing?

I don't think the worry is that we'll make the wrong choices and destroy nature. I think the worry is that the results can be very unpredictable. We've been doing limited genetic engineering for a long time with plants and domesticated animals, and the world hasn't come crashing down. The problems with genetic engineering as we do it currently is that the effects (good or bad) of doing things like introducing a fish gene into the strawberry plant are going to be very very long term, and we really haven't set up any kind of regulatory mechanism that thinks in those time scales. There's a very serious probability that we may be seriously altering and speeding up evolution, and the fallout isn't going to be immediately obvious. The question is, should we go ahead with it before we have arrived at a better way to figure out the fallout?

Madness:

I'd like to respond to your post in detail, but I'm a little out of time currently. Till I can get back to it, I'd just like to point out that I found it amusing that what you posted about Merzenich's research ended up concluding that "Learning a new skill strengthens billions of synaptic connections", which was my contention all along.

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Aren't changing and redefining more or less the same thing?

My point was simply that we'd still be subject of evolutionary pressure, it's just a different kind of evolutionary pressure.

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*spoiler for neuropath (do you have spoiler brackets available on this forum?)*

I think the distinction is whether we would be under evolutionary pressures we can grasp, or evolutionary pressures which are outside our grasp as much as Kasperov's next chess move is largely outside my grasp or yours.

If you made a creature have really powerful jaws and teeth, that's kind of within our capacity to grasp what happens if that gets out.

Something like the female agent from neuropath - hell, people don't understand the number of run of the mill sociopaths amongst us now.

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*spoiler for neuropath (do you have spoiler brackets available on this forum?)*

Its

spoiler] ...content...

(omitted first square bracket so you can get the gist ;))

and welcome to the forums Callan

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I'd like to respond to your post in detail, but I'm a little out of time currently. Till I can get back to it, I'd just like to point out that I found it amusing that what you posted about Merzenich's research ended up concluding that "Learning a new skill strengthens billions of synaptic connections", which was my contention all along.

fionwe, I'll save you the trouble of writing another character hit piece and give you some more quotes to mull over. I condensed that quotation from over a few pages and, though perhaps I should have bolded it, I choose to end with that sentence for the word strengthens billions aspect. Enjoy.

Mark Rosenzweig['s] labs and others have shown that stimulating the brain makes it grow in almost every conceivable way . . . Acetycholine, a brain chemical essential for learning, is higher, in rats trained on difficult spatial problems than in rats trained on simpler problems. Mental training or life in enriched environments increases brain weight by 5 percent in the cerebral cortex of animals and up to 9 percent in areas that the training directly stimulates. Trained or stimulated neurons develop 25 percent more branches and increased their size, the number of connections per neuron, and their blood supply . . . postmortem examinations have shown that education increases the number of branches among neurons. An increased number of branches drives the neurons farther apart, leading to an increase in the volume and thickness of the brain.

These exercises weren't even designed with an a direction of growth in mind. You can sufficiently plan new brain mapping in advance and direct these increases.

Neuronal stem cells were long overlooked, in part, because they went against the theory that the brain was like a complex machine or computer and machines don't grow new parts . . . 1965, Joseph Altman and Gopal D. Das of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology discovered them in rats . . . 1980s Fernando Nottebohm was struck by the fact that songbirds sing new songs each season . . . during the season when the birds do the most singing, they grow new brain cells in the area of the brain responsible for song learning . . . Elizabeth Gould of Princeton University was the first to discover neuronal stem cells in primates . . . Erikson and Gage found a way to stain the brain cells with a marker . . . asked terminally ill patients for permission to inject them with the marker. When the patients died, Erikson and Gage examined their brains and found new, recently formed baby neurons in their hippocampi . . . To find out find out if neurogenesis can strengthen mental capacity Gage's team has set out to understand how to increase the production of neuronal stem cells. Gage's colleague Kempermann raised aging mice in enriched environments . . . when Kempermann . . . examined their brains, he found a they had a 15 percent increase in the volume of their hippocampi and forty thousand new neurons, also a 15 increase, compared with mice raised in standard cages . . . older mice raised in the enriched environment for ten months in the second half of their lives, there was a fivefold increase in the number of neurons in the hippocampus. They developed new neurons.

We know that the formation of new synapses, as a result of the growth of existing axons or dendrites, is involved in both the remodeling of circuits and cortical remapping. A change in the quantity of available neurotransmitters, or the enzymes that regulate them, can also foster plasticity. Now researchers are examining a mechanism that had long been dismissed as an avenue to plasticity: the actual creation of new neurons. Fred Gage placed adult mice in an "enriched" environment. By the end of the experiment, the formation and survival of new neurons had increased 15 percent in a part of the hippocampus called the dentate gyrus. In 1999, Gould of Princeton University, used similar techniques in adult rats to demonstrate that the creation of new neurons, called neurogenesis, was not a talent lost in infancy: the increased neurogenesis she found, is directly related to learning tasks that involve the hippocampus. "Neurogenesis was a hard thing for scientists to come to grips with" . . . By the new millennium it was clear that new neurons arise from stem cells, immature cells capable of differentiating into virtually any type of cell. There is now abundant evidence that neural stem cells persist in the adult brain and support ongoing neurogensis. In 1998, Eriksson of Goteborg, demonstrated that neurogenesis occurs in the adult human brain.

They [Merzenich] discovered that as they trained an animal at a skill, not only did its neurons fire faster, but because they were faster their signals were clearer. Faster neurons were more likely to fire in sync with each other, wiring together more and forming groups of neurons that gave off clearer and more powerful signals. This is a crucial point, because a powerful signal has a greater impact on the brain . . . Finally, Merzenich discovered that paying close attention is essential to long-term plastic change. I numerous experiments he found that lasting changes occurred only when his monkeys paid close attention. When the animals performed task automatically, without paying attention, they changed their brain maps, but the change did not last.

I believe that's a Neil moment. One thing at a time.

"Some of the most remarkable observations made in recent neuroscience history have been on the capacity of ... the cerebral cortex to reorganize [itself] in the face of reduced or enhanced afferent input" . . . Cortical representations are not immutable; they are, to the contrary, dynamic, continuously modified by the lives we lead. Or brains allocate space to body parts that are used in activities that we perform most often. But although experience molds the brain, it molds only the attending brain. "Passive, unattended, or little attended exercises are of limited value for driving" neuroplasticity, Merzenich and Jenkins concluded. "Plastic changes in brain representations are generated only when behaviors are specifically attended."

Though I can find specific studies to support this last quote as well.

Again, I can only limitedly string you along with the same realizations I had, fionwe, over a long period of time. Partially, these are meant to support novel ideas I've been writing about as well as suggest that polylinguists have an exponentially different cortical representation and potential for ability than monolinguists.

Yeah, Callan, well met. I've seen you kicking round Bakker's blog but its been a long time since the Three Seas. You gotta get your speculation on.

EDIT: Just noticed some spelling mistakes.

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Thanks, Curethan! And thanks for the welcome!

Hello, Madness! The three seas seemed to be overtaken by spamsranc quite often, worshipping their viagra gods there. If the no erection god has passed, I'll try and add some life there now...and I hope, this being my second post here and having a bunch of spam keywords, I'm not banned! lol!

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Lol, I'd fight the good fight at Three-Seas if I had mod powers.

Just wanted to post an article. It seems the only relevant place in my life to post this:

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-06/uosc-rmr061211.php

Always I manage to find existing analogies in Bakker but interestingly he specifically theorized about the play-out of the loss of explicit memories compared to retaining implicit memories in Cleric as well as, possibly, Meppa.

Also:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/19/neuroeconomics-women-city-financial-crash

This article highlights only a tiny aspect of how Neuroscience will revolution our civilization as we, as a society and as cultures, decide to reorganize human economic functions, as well as all the other seemingly static social and cultural positions, based on its findings.

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Part #2.

Onto Kalbear.

I can’t discuss this with you unless we find a mutual definition and, again, you only seem interested in your own semantic reference.

I tried to highlight my idea of natural vs. create, twice in this thread now. Specific response, Kalbear?

I don't see how it's particularly relevant, since you keep changing the goalposts. First, natural vs. created is the notion that anything that we've not specifically modified is natural, and anything we have is created. Next, though, it's anything that we haven't specifically harnessed that has shown itself to be harmless.

For example, Madness, how do you reconcile your definition and negative view of natural vs. created with LSD? How about vaccines in general? How about eyeglasses? Hearing aids? Artificial hearts?

Created works are great. Plenty of things were created by humans that we didn't fully understand and they've largely been wonderful. This is why I say you're a luddite - you have this bizarre fear of 'created works' but are fine with them once they've shown themselves to be mostly okay.

And please, cut the 'semantic reference' crap. Like what, you're not a victim of the same semantic reference? That you don't continually change your own definitions to suit your argument? Like you're actually enlightened? Come on. The only difference between me and you in this regard is that I don't claim to be above it all and I"m not trying to condescend to score points.

I don’t think that the lack of extras that you seem to accuse me of propagating is necessary nor do I advocate 35-lifespans, 50% infant mortality rates, or malnutrition – you’re simply attacking a character you’ve imagined for me and not the actual discussion.

No, I"m attacking the obvious conclusion of what your views would propagate. Because you're saying until something is almost perfectly understood we shouldn't use it.

ALL science is unknown until you experiment with it. There were thoughts that nuclear power would cause the entire atmosphere to ignite. There were thoughts that vaccines would poison or kill people with the disease. By the same token, there were no worries about lead paint or asbestos until later.

Here's my take on it, Madness: I believe that humans are bad at discovering risk. I also think that humans as a whole are bad at seeing all sides. That combines in my view to mean that most of the time, assuming something isn't world-endingly bad, we should go ahead and try it out.

As if peyote or pot would benefit from a human’s judgment. All I’m trying to say is that, for whatever reasons, the universe hadn’t collapsed or the human mind been destroyed, yet, because of the natural – without human intervention – aspects of evolution, as opposed to our discussion concerning created – human added – modifiers (LSD and the trend of designer chemicals, in this case).

Gotcha. So in this case your natural argument comes down once again to 'we've used it for a while and it's mostly okay, so keep doing it'. Whereas created work is bad because we didn't use it before.

Again, pure luddite nonsense. How many people died trying things to fuck themselves up before they found peyote? How many berries poisoned people, how many tree barks were brewed with catastrophic results to the people there?

Hmm. I'm starting to wonder - are you an intelligent design person then?

I’m not sure this affects you, Kalbear, quite so much as it affects me. I’m advocating a slower more reflective consideration of neuroscience’s progress, as you succinctly put it. Just because you can’t imagine the horror doesn’t mean we should all suffer your inevitable revelation.

You keep saying this but I'm so far the only one that's actually put forward statements about the horrors that might arise. You've stated...vagaries and references to the chiropractor, who at the end of the day is just a serial killer. Is that what you really fear - lots of serial killers running loose, fucking meat?

Put up your thoughts on said horrors. If I can't imagine them so much and you can, perhaps instead of condescending into such silliness or referencing Bakker as your flimsy shield, you could actually spell out what you mean. Because otherwise, your arguments are essentially 'nuh uh, I know better and you're just ignorant'.

That's not a conversation.

To first understand how much different, varied, and more expansive our experience can be in this fashion before resorting to neurophysiologic change by invasive surgeries and neuroceuticals.

But why?

How about this notion: why do you think biofeedback, meditation, vision quests and the like are somehow more effective at not creating monsters?

The diversity argument also falls flat to me because again, you advocate EVERYONE doing the same sets of things - learning languages, becoming ambidextrous, etc. How again does this encourage diversity? It encourages understanding, but it does so at the cost of being diverse.While we have all these varied experiences and neurological configurations it has been shown that similar activities in different people coincide with similar brain functions. In other words, once you start all doing the same sorts of things you'll start getting the same sorts of brains.

You, I, and every human, all have sufficiently distinct, unique neurophysiological configurations. That’s diversity. Variety, Kalbear.

I could care less about philosophic, religious, cultural, or social orientations. I ain’t calling you a nigger.

Why did you have to go there?

And why do you believe that neurological configurations are not changed by philosophic, religious, cultural, or social orientations? That seems to be completely flawed as a notion. Especially from your base beliefs that human brains are very malleable; we're not all born with hugely diverse brains, they're made that way with our interaction with the environment.

I’m simply promoting some neuropractices to inspire creative and intelligent awareness. Even if people maintained the habits I’m discussing, it would hardly reduce everyone to even remotely similar experiences.

You’re writing as if I sat here and defined all the ways and the only ways that provide distinct and varied personalities. This is just silly.

And you're writing as if everyone doing the same things for the same reasons isn't going to reduce diversity. As if 'creative and intelligent awareness' isn't stifling diversity by itself.

Now, I happen to think that those things are a good thing - but I certainly wouldn't promote it as being a good thing because of diversity. It's a good thing on its own, just like being more physically fit or knowing a second language is. It is not, however, promoting a diverse world.

You’re a contradictory individual, Kalbear. You’re happy that blind people can now breed – something I have no real opinion on beyond respecting life that exists – but yet you simply don’t bat at eye over the thousands, millions, or even billions who will suffer for your “faster and more effective” neuroscientific progress.

Say what?

I fail to see the contradiction.

I don't see why in a world where blindness is not a life-ending concern that blind people shouldn't breed. (or for that matter, be able to actually see, which is where we're going soon via CREATED works). I also don't see a problem with a lot of people suffering, though I certainly don't see a billion people suffering because of neuroscience. Humans are good at causing others' suffering. Neuroscience isn't going to be any better or worse than a gun for that.

At the end of the day I tend to think that most humans suck, and that that sucking is intrinsically linked to our humanness. All the atrocities towards other men or our environment or animals are done not because of religion, or because of philosophy - they're done because humans are wired to be selfish, brutal, and tribal. The sooner we can eliminate these parts of humanity the sooner we can actually start truly empathy beyond our monkeysphere, truly start long-term planning and truly take steps towards a finer world.

But in order to do that, a lot of what makes us human needs to be rescinded.

I don't think that being able to meditate will cure this. I don't think speaking another language will make us empathetic. But I do think that rewiring might.

Whether its already happened or whether it will in the future at some point humanity is going to cross some fundamental threshold, break some metaphysical rule, and death will come swirling down.
Possibly. There's very little empirical evidence for this, but sure. It could happen. It's interesting that you say 'metaphysical' though - it does make me think once again you're into intelligent design.

And this notion is once again ludditeness. The obvious response to this is 'therefore, we must stop doing anything that could cause any metaphysical rules to be broken!' After all, who understands metaphysics, truly? Who comprehends those things that are defined by their inability to be rigidly defined and must be accepted on faith alone?

Unless you're talking about a very different meaning of metaphysics than most people use. In which case again the notion would be 'STOP DOING ANYTHING THAT ADVANCES ANYTHING". You are, essentially, advocating fear. You are afraid of what might come - of really, anything that doesn't naturally exist and we haven't shown via millenia of experimentation to be acceptable - and advocate doing as much testing as possible before even touching it.

Now, tell me again how I'm mischaracterizing your position here? How you're not advocating fear here? I'm genuinely curious.

My interest here is the neuroscientific discipline foremost, obviously, among other things. I’d rather it didn’t have the potential for responsibility that it seems to.
The potential for responsibility? So you'd rather science was only done when it doesn't matter? Okay, that's very aristoi, but sure.
We simply aren’t without evolution, Kalbear. You have a very personal and human perspective of these ideas and you’ve a need to untwine those conceptions. Human pride and conceit are not wise bedrocks with which to establish neurosciences young memes.
It's funny, you accusing me of having human pride and conceit in a statement dripping with both.

I never stated that we're without evolution. I've stated that we don't need it any more. You make evolution sound like some grand design, like some huge process that we could not possibly understand. The fact of the matter is that evolution is a crapshoot. Things evolve quickly in big nasty jumps, and the process is very messy. Vestigal parts and pieces get left in because hey, we might need those some day and they're not hurting anything right now, so why not? So all sorts of stupid crap gets left in genes. It's like the worst source code ever written. And yes, we don't fully understand all of it yet. We don't understand how RNA transmittal works in multi-generational reproductive cycles. We don't understand how some genes are activated based on environmental cues and are reliant on other genes on completely separate chromosomal sets. We don't get a lot of that.

You'd advocating never trying anything until we have a perfect understanding of that information. I'd advocate trying it early on those who have no other hope.

Lol. Considering I could theorize that there are possibly thousands of individuals – if not many more - actively subject to neuroscientific experimentation around the world, that gives us the bottom rung of what will be an exponential rise – lots of chances for Chiroprators.

I don't think you quite understand the word 'exponential'. You've used it incorrectly multiple times. Do you think that thousands of chiropractors will become millions will become billions? Seriously?

Yes, there are 'chances' for chiropractors. There are also chances for cures. You pay your money, you take your chances. We know how to deal with serial killers, largely. It's not like we haven't before.

I want to more fully experience the exquisite potential of a complex sensory perceiving biological being.

Attention is like an individual muscle in the human brain. The more you exercise this, you effect the density of your neurophysiology for perception. You literally can become more aware of your senses and your perceptions, your relation to them, like when I blindfold myself and exercise my tactile awareness by reading brail or listening to variable decibel tones. And all these things transform our experience, provided us with better insight and perspective on traditional sciences, that is everything before Neuroscience, without invasive changes.

Yes, and other people want to fix themselves so that they don't suffer from crippling depression or flashbacks or cerebral palsy.

But hey, I'm sure you can just tell them to read some braille and they'll be right as rain.

I think I've figured out one of the issues here - that because I don't agree with you, it's clear that I don't do the things that you're advocating. That's really amusing.

I don’t support Transhumanism, by the way. At least, again, not progressively, beyond therapeutic applications.

However, Kalbear, you’re referencing moral systems. Bakker seems to be highlighting the neuroscientific idea of morality post morality.

I fail to see the distinction.

Morality is morality, period. It's a word. We can talk about what morality is going to look like in a posthuman world or a transhuman world, but the word 'morality' is still going to mean the same thing. Even if the morality of a posthuman world is simply the lack of any normalized morals, this is a morality. Seriously, this seems like linguistic wankery for its own sake. Madness, you're better than this.

I would say that humanity’s ways of self-regulation have become irrelevant, if not downright abysmal, where the advent of Neuroscience is concerned.

All the semantic distinctions you rely on in this statement are subject to possible valueless. Bakker has plenty of good reasons and examples for providing us with the image of the “vast, slow-motion version of the monkey pushing a button wired to his pleasure centres unto starvation.”

And if he'd care to share them, that'd be great.

Like I said, this is one possible outcome. If everyone chose to do this, so be it. Lots of people do choose to do this already, via drugs or videogames or arguing incessantly on the internet. Do you really believe that neuroscience is so much more potent than heroin that the mere existence of it would cause everyone to instantly addict themselves? One of the ways that humans don't do this is that there are social and personal pressures when you see what happens to those addicts. I don't see how seeing a bunch of drooling wireheads in slums is going to not dissuade people any more than it does right now.

But let's assume for a moment that you're right - that neuroscience will create such a powerful draw that all humans will succumb to using it to the point where we're all just wired up. Save...you, I suppose.

Wouldn't that make you happy? To see all of these weak-minded, unevolved people slowly dying while you stood above them with other like-minded people, a product of superior evolution and personal growth? Wouldn't that be what you actually want?

On average, our examples of humanities better nature are few and far between, neh?
Agreed. Which is why I'd like to do away with it sooner rather than later. You'd like to actually keep it around as long as possible while suppressing most ways that would actually change it.

Alright, Neil.

Seriously, Kalbear, if this is your opinion then Neil’s analogy in Neuropath about individual humans functioning like neurons in a single species-wide brain that is in process of rewiring itself is the likeliest prophecy concerning humanity. We’ll all just be a bunch of Neuropaths who’ve done away with the “unnecessary” elements of our mental experience – seemingly, the things that allow for the beauty and destruction of human nature.

I'm more optimistic. I think that we can get rid of a lot of the destructive bits without getting rid of the beauty. I think that it can make us better, stronger, smarter and more empathetic.

I do think there will be mistakes along the way. My gut feeling is that neuroscience is largely a red herring and that we'll see a lot worse coming out of pharma and tailored viruses in the next 50 years. Greg Bear's Mariposa is a great example of the kind of world I expect soon - where a therapy designed to stop PTSD by altering the guilt/pain receptors causes some humans to lose any kind of social morality other than 'fear' and 'pleasure'. And even then, the sociopaths created are not all evil. I do think that there will be catastrophes along the way too.

But I also think that we'll survive, and we'll adapt, and we'll be better for it.

It's kinda funny in that regard, Madness; you advocate making sure we keep evolution around (and seem to dislike the ways we've used artifice to discount it) but you actively fear the agents of evolution - change and catastrophe.

Great discussion. Thanks for being a wonderful foil, Kalbear.

I think it's the other way around, Madness. Not many people seem to be on your side or agree with you. Tell me - do you see yourself as the protagonist here? When everyone is arguing with you save Bakker? Do you really believe that you're the one that is most sane?

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Lol, I'd fight the good fight at Three-Seas if I had mod powers.

Just wanted to post an article. It seems the only relevant place in my life to post this:

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-06/uosc-rmr061211.php

Always I manage to find existing analogies in Bakker but interestingly he specifically theorized about the play-out of the loss of explicit memories compared to retaining implicit memories in Cleric as well as, possibly, Meppa.

Also:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/19/neuroeconomics-women-city-financial-crash

This article highlights only a tiny aspect of how Neuroscience will revolution our civilization as we, as a society and as cultures, decide to reorganize human economic functions, as well as all the other seemingly static social and cultural positions, based on its findings.

Both were awesome.

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The Atlantic has an article that I right up the alley of this discussion. I posted it in Gen Chat too as it's pretty relevant for a discussion going on over there as well.

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Next, though, it's anything that we haven't specifically harnessed that has shown itself to be harmless.

For example, Madness, how do you reconcile your definition and negative view of natural vs. created with LSD? How about vaccines in general? How about eyeglasses? Hearing aids? Artificial hearts?

Created works are great. Plenty of things were created by humans that we didn't fully understand and they've largely been wonderful. This is why I say you're a luddite - you have this bizarre fear of 'created works' but are fine with them once they've shown themselves to be mostly okay.

I always wonder about the connotations of my words. As many centers to the world as there are humans and as many different experiential interpretations of every possible thing.

I don’t feel as though I’ve been changes pitches on you but I sincerely am not trying to suggest that humanity stop using its tools to create nor that we should fear our ability to create. Respect it certainly.

The problem appears, at least from our historical vantage, that we no longer have the luxury of risk-acceptable sciences, that we are nearing the point of the exponential curve, where every avenue of progress seems to have only irrevocable, possibly catastrophically so, consequences. None so precious or precarious than Neuroscience, as all its ramifications lie firmly in our minds and our souls.

So, again, I would say that we need to stress our existing abilities to reason, to think creatively and laterally, morally, despite its existence as a philosophic ideal and one simple neural configuration among the infinite, and strive to find new ways of conceptualizing, using innate, existing, human biology, before permanently, purposefully or accidently, altering our natural genetic and memetic, or neurophysiological, heritage.

And please, cut the 'semantic reference' crap. Like what, you're not a victim of the same semantic reference? That you don't continually change your own definitions to suit your argument? Like you're actually enlightened? Come on. The only difference between me and you in this regard is that I don't claim to be above it all and I"m not trying to condescend to score points.

I’m not sure who I could possibly score points with arguing Neuroscience on Westeros forums? I mean, at most, I could meet someone, like fionwe, and collaborate academically in the future but the chances of this are increasingly rare.

I am hardly enlightened, Kalbear. To live is to learn, neh?

However, since I am actively trying to highlight my semantic reference and you are simply referencing things you understand but yet are not actually going to bring to the table, I, again, request to at least hear explanations of your understandings and not just read intimations of your, apparent, greater knowledge from your words.

No, I"m attacking the obvious conclusion of what your views would propagate. Because you're saying until something is almost perfectly understood we shouldn't use it.

ALL science is unknown until you experiment with it. There were thoughts that nuclear power would cause the entire atmosphere to ignite. There were thoughts that vaccines would poison or kill people with the disease. By the same token, there were no worries about lead paint or asbestos until later.

Here's my take on it, Madness: I believe that humans are bad at discovering risk. I also think that humans as a whole are bad at seeing all sides. That combines in my view to mean that most of the time, assuming something isn't world-endingly bad, we should go ahead and try it out.

Obvious?

Teach me, Master. But then if I actually got across that “until something is almost perfectly understood we shouldn’t use it” I would say that’s a wise point and nod in the sage way Xinemus thinks Akka does.

Look, even if Neuroscience specifically, but all exponentially advancing human knowledge, didn’t have world-endingly bad consequences – which they do now, on an unprecedented scale for scientific progress – I would still say that’s a sound idea.

Why repeat Rome’s possible decay at the hands of lead aqueduct lining or the black plague because we don’t know it’s the fleas, not the rats? Especially now, when there is so much potential for disaster.

We should overcome our cognitive shortcomings; get better at discovering risk and seeing all sides. Shouldn’t we?

Cause its just laziness then.

Gotcha. So in this case your natural argument comes down once again to 'we've used it for a while and it's mostly okay, so keep doing it'. Whereas created work is bad because we didn't use it before.

I think I tried to say LSD, and other designer chemicals, may not offer simple, clean, miraculous insight – see LSD & Burning holes in brains, which I must say would probably offer quite a spectaculars experience as it eats away whole sequences of experience. Where as I’ve read and heard no suggestion for the same chemical reaction from Ibogaine, Ayahuasca, Peyote, or Psilocybin.

Again, pure luddite nonsense. How many people died trying things to fuck themselves up before they found peyote? How many berries poisoned people, how many tree barks were brewed with catastrophic results to the people there?

Hmm. I'm starting to wonder - are you an intelligent design person then?

I am definitely not an advocate of anything except possibility or potential. I’m not conceited enough to suggest some all-encompassing metaphysical statement.

Why repeat such ignorance when we’re capable of so much better?

You keep saying this but I'm so far the only one that's actually put forward statements about the horrors that might arise. You've stated...vagaries and references to the chiropractor, who at the end of the day is just a serial killer. Is that what you really fear - lots of serial killers running loose, fucking meat?

Put up your thoughts on said horrors. If I can't imagine them so much and you can, perhaps instead of condescending into such silliness or referencing Bakker as your flimsy shield, you could actually spell out what you mean. Because otherwise, your arguments are essentially 'nuh uh, I know better and you're just ignorant'.

That's not a conversation.

Curethan gave me some inspiration to try and write a short story. It’s in the works, hopefully its readable. I’m not much of a writer.

You were advocating relentless “progress,” ignorantly and blindly because we simply don’t have the clarity of understanding in Neuroscience that you seem to think exists. We must proceed cautiously.

Apologies, however, if there aren’t enough imaginative outcomes in my little story then you can grill me for possible futures.

“To first understand how much different, varied, and more expansive our experience can be in this fashion before resorting to neurophysiologic change by invasive surgeries and neuroceuticals.”

But why?

How about this notion: why do you think biofeedback, meditation, vision quests and the like are somehow more effective at not creating monsters?

In these instances, the constraints and limitations are not our own. This will remain exceedingly important in the future.

Your body, which has yet to be near fully understood, can and will stop you. I’m sure you still have the potential to hurt yourself or others in these examples. But they require you to proceed at a pace of growth slower than human urges, clearly, would have.

The diversity argument also falls flat to me because again, you advocate EVERYONE doing the same sets of things - learning languages, becoming ambidextrous, etc. How again does this encourage diversity? It encourages understanding, but it does so at the cost of being diverse.While we have all these varied experiences and neurological configurations it has been shown that similar activities in different people coincide with similar brain functions. In other words, once you start all doing the same sorts of things you'll start getting the same sorts of brains.

But you won’t Kalbear, again, because you simply aren’t just the languages you speak, the instrument you play, or the hands you write with – I highlight those because they seem to be the primary ways of flexing large modules of the brain which promote fluid intelligence and creative lateral thinking. If anything, this implies increasing diversity by the standard you set, the ways in which different people can have increasingly divergent mental capacities. Naturally.

“You, I, and every human, all have sufficiently distinct, unique neurophysiological configurations. That’s diversity. Variety, Kalbear.

I could care less about philosophic, religious, cultural, or social orientations. I ain’t calling you a nigger.”

Why did you have to go there?

And why do you believe that neurological configurations are not changed by philosophic, religious, cultural, or social orientations? That seems to be completely flawed as a notion. Especially from your base beliefs that human brains are very malleable; we're not all born with hugely diverse brains, they're made that way with our interaction with the environment

Kalbear, this seems to highlight that you are indeed looking for a fight. Yet I can recognize how I might have made this more clear.

I could care less about philosophic, religious, cultural, or social orientations because they are all simply different conceptual structures with correlating cortical representations. Social and cultural conceptual structures that are mostly badly designed, because we just embodied them without thinking, and serve as functions in mostly vicious cycles.

I like that last sentence. The delicate balance between nature vs. nurture, our genetic hardware vs. memetic software.

And you're writing as if everyone doing the same things for the same reasons isn't going to reduce diversity. As if 'creative and intelligent awareness' isn't stifling diversity by itself.

Now, I happen to think that those things are a good thing - but I certainly wouldn't promote it as being a good thing because of diversity. It's a good thing on its own, just like being more physically fit or knowing a second language is. It is not, however, promoting a diverse world.

That is a thought. I’ll have to muse.

At the end of the day I tend to think that most humans suck, and that that sucking is intrinsically linked to our humanness. All the atrocities towards other men or our environment or animals are done not because of religion, or because of philosophy - they're done because humans are wired to be selfish, brutal, and tribal. The sooner we can eliminate these parts of humanity the sooner we can actually start truly empathy beyond our monkeysphere, truly start long-term planning and truly take steps towards a finer world.

But in order to do that, a lot of what makes us human needs to be rescinded.

I don't think that being able to meditate will cure this. I don't think speaking another language will make us empathetic. But I do think that rewiring might.

Sadly, I understand but I feel like we are already living one of the worst possible examples of a civilization attempting to limit our innate human nature and failing.

Also, personally, I’ll commit hara-kiri – being in no way related to the Japanese samurai – before I help a world emerge where our species survived simply by becoming Humanity 2.0, that’s just my opinion and one I’ll have no real control over. Kurzweil 2029, among other things. Boo!

I think we can do so much better by simply exercising our choice, rather than argue semantics about its existence.

Possibly. There's very little empirical evidence for this, but sure. It could happen. It's interesting that you say 'metaphysical' though - it does make me think once again you're into intelligent design.

In the interest of cultivating shared conceptual states, I try and use metaphysical to suggest foundational elements of the universe, philosophic, religious, fictive, or otherwise.

And this notion is once again ludditeness. The obvious response to this is 'therefore, we must stop doing anything that could cause any metaphysical rules to be broken!' After all, who understands metaphysics, truly? Who comprehends those things that are defined by their inability to be rigidly defined and must be accepted on faith alone?

Unless you're talking about a very different meaning of metaphysics than most people use. In which case again the notion would be 'STOP DOING ANYTHING THAT ADVANCES ANYTHING". You are, essentially, advocating fear. You are afraid of what might come - of really, anything that doesn't naturally exist and we haven't shown via millenia of experimentation to be acceptable - and advocate doing as much testing as possible before even touching it.

Now, tell me again how I'm mischaracterizing your position here? How you're not advocating fear here? I'm genuinely curious.

Nope. I would simply emphasize less the entirety of the quote and more the part I bolded. Humanity needs to mature the fuck up, our scientific joyride has to end, and we’ve got to get down to some serious understanding, offsetting the initially slow pace of “new” progress you seem to loathe by unleashing the shared potential of seven billion human brains by discarding the corporate educational structures for the open and honest dissemination of knowledge.

The potential for responsibility? So you'd rather science was only done when it doesn't matter? Okay, that's very aristoi, but sure.

I would rather some other discipline, rather than the one I am interested in, have these drastic implications and consequences.

I never stated that we're without evolution. I've stated that we don't need it any more. You make evolution sound like some grand design, like some huge process that we could not possibly understand. The fact of the matter is that evolution is a crapshoot. Things evolve quickly in big nasty jumps, and the process is very messy. Vestigal parts and pieces get left in because hey, we might need those some day and they're not hurting anything right now, so why not? So all sorts of stupid crap gets left in genes. It's like the worst source code ever written. And yes, we don't fully understand all of it yet. We don't understand how RNA transmittal works in multi-generational reproductive cycles. We don't understand how some genes are activated based on environmental cues and are reliant on other genes on completely separate chromosomal sets. We don't get a lot of that.

You'd advocating never trying anything until we have a perfect understanding of that information. I'd advocate trying it early on those who have no other hope.

Hubris, sir. I can think of few greater conceits than these statements.

But the bolded one.

You are Inchoroi.

Seriously, again, take into account that the majority of scientific research and, specifically, neuroscientific research is conducted at the hands military spending. So I don’t necessarily believe that more than a limited few advances in neuroscience will be due to the wholesome pursuit of actually saving someone’s life.

I don't think you quite understand the word 'exponential'. You've used it incorrectly multiple times. Do you think that thousands of chiropractors will become millions will become billions? Seriously?

Yes, there are 'chances' for chiropractors. There are also chances for cures. You pay your money, you take your chances. We know how to deal with serial killers, largely. It's not like we haven't before.

I think that every neuroscientific subject has the potential of being something like the Chiropractor – or vastly different – but irrevocably changed in ways that will backlash beyond our current ability to understand.

Considering the whole world might eventually be neurologically altered by invasive chemical or surgical means. I think I used it correctly.

Yes, and other people want to fix themselves so that they don't suffer from crippling depression or flashbacks or cerebral palsy.

But hey, I'm sure you can just tell them to read some braille and they'll be right as rain.

I think I've figured out one of the issues here - that because I don't agree with you, it's clear that I don't do the things that you're advocating. That's really amusing.

Who cares if you don’t do what I’m advocating? It’s not easy for me or anyone to drastically change their lifestyle so drastically and especially the accompanying experiential changes.

Funny that you mention it but I’ve read case studies where reading Braille helped stroke victims regain aspects of their lost cognitive functions.

I’ve tried to suggest multiple times that many of the things I’m advocating are aspects of progressive neuroscience, and I’m spending little time exploring their therapeutic aspects, of which there are many, because I’ve been interested here in discussing Neuroscientific ramifications for all human society, not just those who are in need of healing. I’d written early on that most of neuroscientific advances so far were all reactive, learned studying the ways in which brains fail, and that I was interested in exploring how to move neuroscientific out of that field of research.

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Part #2

I fail to see the distinction.

Morality is morality, period. It's a word. We can talk about what morality is going to look like in a posthuman world or a transhuman world, but the word 'morality' is still going to mean the same thing. Even if the morality of a posthuman world is simply the lack of any normalized morals, this is a morality. Seriously, this seems like linguistic wankery for its own sake. Madness, you're better than this.

It’s a philosophic distinction as you say.

Yet when we can no longer recognize morality as such, when we are no longer able describe it in the same terms as we do now, what then? Kellhus or Neil?

I’m sure removing, if only temporarily, the moral compass is already being researched.

And if he'd care to share them, that'd be great.

I’d like that too, Kalbear. But I feel he many of them are already at our disposal in his books.

Like I said, this is one possible outcome. If everyone chose to do this, so be it. Lots of people do choose to do this already, via drugs or videogames or arguing incessantly on the internet. Do you really believe that neuroscience is so much more potent than heroin that the mere existence of it would cause everyone to instantly addict themselves? One of the ways that humans don't do this is that there are social and personal pressures when you see what happens to those addicts. I don't see how seeing a bunch of drooling wireheads in slums is going to not dissuade people any more than it does right now.

But let's assume for a moment that you're right - that neuroscience will create such a powerful draw that all humans will succumb to using it to the point where we're all just wired up. Save...you, I suppose.

Wouldn't that make you happy? To see all of these weak-minded, unevolved people slowly dying while you stood above them with other like-minded people, a product of superior evolution and personal growth? Wouldn't that be what you actually want?

Nope. I would mourn our species and all the great ways we never choose to live. I would mourn the potential lost in seven billion beautiful human beings.

But I also think that we'll survive, and we'll adapt, and we'll be better for it.

It's kinda funny in that regard, Madness; you advocate making sure we keep evolution around (and seem to dislike the ways we've used artifice to discount it) but you actively fear the agents of evolution - change and catastrophe.

What survives won’t be us. It won’t even be the same species.

Thanks again, Kalbear.

Great article, Triskele.

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The Atlantic has an article that I right up the alley of this discussion. I posted it in Gen Chat too as it's pretty relevant for a discussion going on over there as well.

Great article, it the midst of it now. I think the questions of behavior influenced by biology reiterates something that I think Bakker works hard to present to us - that we should seek to be compassionate because we have little right to judge others.

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The problem appears, at least from our historical vantage, that we no longer have the luxury of risk-acceptable sciences, that we are nearing the point of the exponential curve, where every avenue of progress seems to have only irrevocable, possibly catastrophically so, consequences. None so precious or precarious than Neuroscience, as all its ramifications lie firmly in our minds and our souls.
What is so precious about our minds and our souls?

So, again, I would say that we need to stress our existing abilities to reason, to think creatively and laterally, morally, despite its existence as a philosophic ideal and one simple neural configuration among the infinite, and strive to find new ways of conceptualizing, using innate, existing, human biology, before permanently, purposefully or accidently, altering our natural genetic and memetic, or neurophysiological, heritage.
Why is this so specifically precious to you?

Humans alter themselves routinely. Humans have been affecting their genome for thousands of years, and never more than now. The amount of drugs, chemicals, and the changes in the environment alone have irrevocably altered the way humans have grown and the way genes have expressed themselves - and that assumes that the evolution of viral and bacterial vectors of genomic expression haven't been blown to hell too.

Heck, neuroscience implies there is no soul and our mind is a carefully crafted gestalt illusion. Would you rather lie to yourself so that you still believe that you have a soul instead of knowing the truth of how the mind actually functions?

I seek understanding. I'd love to know how the mind works. My suspicion is that it's pretty well a giant clusterfuck of random bits thrown on each other that happen to work. That things like the argumentative reasoning philosophy dictate that evolution says that we're meant to be self-delusional because it was a useful tool in defeating each other in the debate wars of prehistory.

You also say that we should do these things yet lament the fact that we are in the 'worst possible civilization'. So, pray tell - outside of tool using and the like how do we get out of this? Do you reasonably believe that 7 billion people are going to desire to go through biofeedback, meditation and juggling in order to solve their problems? Do you honestly believe that all 7 billion people on the planet are even capable of such?

Teach me, Master. But then if I actually got across that “until something is almost perfectly understood we shouldn’t use it” I would say that’s a wise point and nod in the sage way Xinemus thinks Akka does.

I certainly wasn't the only one that picked up on that. You're the one that states repeatedly things like 'your body, which is not fully understood' and the whole divide between 'natural' and 'created'. Perhaps you should revisit what you mean then.

Why repeat Rome’s possible decay at the hands of lead aqueduct lining or the black plague because we don’t know it’s the fleas, not the rats? Especially now, when there is so much potential for disaster.
Ah, the conspiracy theorist. Between this and the prozac in the water, you're quite the interesting person.

To derail this a bit - let's say Rome decayed because of lead aqueduct lining. They also lasted 1000 years because of aqueducts, built a way that worked as far as they could understand for hundreds of years without major repair. Should they have not made aqueducts until they invented the chemical analysis needed to determine that lead was bad for their brain?

Because that's the sort of thing you're proposing with neuroscience.

Your body, which has yet to be near fully understood, can and will stop you. I’m sure you still have the potential to hurt yourself or others in these examples. But they require you to proceed at a pace of growth slower than human urges, clearly, would have.
Actually I'm surprised that you'd state this given that you say you meditate and whatnot.

Biofeedback - personally controlled biofeedback - has been demonstrated to allow people to go far beyond what their body or brain's limitations would otherwise go. Being able to do things like control your heartrate, rip your muscles to shreds to lift heavy objects, endure massive amounts of pain and lacerations and consciously stopping bleeding. And yes, fucking your shit up so that you're in a coma. All of these things have been documented as occurring via meditation.

We should overcome our cognitive shortcomings; get better at discovering risk and seeing all sides. Shouldn’t we?
Read what I said again. This is part and parcel of being humans. If you overcome this you are changing humanity just as much as your vaunted genomic project does. Humans are wired to not see other people's views because this is specifically advantageous; this is part of your gloried evolution.

This is why I mock the evolution argument - because evolution is so much responsible for all the stupid, animalistic crap that humans do and humans are. All this cruft that makes no sense in a reasonable world is there. All this appealing to a religion or fighting over a color on a jersey - it's all built in. That is who we, all of us, are. And the sooner we can make rational decisions to get rid of some of this stupidity the sooner the world will be better off.

Where as I’ve read and heard no suggestion for the same chemical reaction from Ibogaine, Ayahuasca, Peyote, or Psilocybin.
You've not read much about the effects of mushrooms, then. Schizophrenia, homicidal urges, suicides...these are okay but harming the brain chemically is not? I just don't get you. I don't see why it's bad to alter a brain but it's fine to cause a person to go on a murderous (but temporary) rampage and then kill themselves.

Curethan gave me some inspiration to try and write a short story. It’s in the works, hopefully its readable. I’m not much of a writer.
Ah, you're pussying out. K.

Perhaps instead of explaining my points of view I should just go that way too. "Sorry, Madness, but it's clear to me that you're incapable of understanding the beauty of neuroscience and what it can create. I do understand it better than you and have thought about the wondrous majesty of the world it will bring. I'm not going to share that with you; I'm writing a short story about it, and you can read it some other time. But it's definitely clear that you haven't thought about it nearly as much as I have, because if you had you'd agree with me. "

This goes well with the earlier conceit - that 'you haven't read the same books I have and I'm not going to bother explaining it to you'.

But you won’t Kalbear, again, because you simply aren’t just the languages you speak, the instrument you play, or the hands you write with – I highlight those because they seem to be the primary ways of flexing large modules of the brain which promote fluid intelligence and creative lateral thinking. If anything, this implies increasing diversity by the standard you set, the ways in which different people can have increasingly divergent mental capacities. Naturally.
You aren't just those things - but you're largely those things. Neuroscience is increasingly sure that humans have pretty close to the same template, and then everything gets molded based on the environment and the actions you take. So sure, you're not just those things - but it's not like my brain is particularly different than yours or anyone else's. They're very similar in the template and largely differ in how the environment shaped it.

If you're fascinated by the ways the brain can adapt, great! It's a pretty fascinating organ. But it doesn't mean that it's particularly special compared to others.

I could care less about philosophic, religious, cultural, or social orientations.
And yet, you should. If you care about diversity of brains, it's hugely important about how they got that way. And things like cultural orientations are a huge way of changing diversity. Heck, you believe that yourself; why would learning a language change the way you think?
In the interest of cultivating shared conceptual states, I try and use metaphysical to suggest foundational elements of the universe, philosophic, religious, fictive, or otherwise.
Yeah, that's not a common definition. Though it still is odd that you emphasize religious. Do you think that with neuroscience we can kill God or something?

Or are you worried that with neuroscience we can kill our connection with God?

Hubris, sir. I can think of few greater conceits than these statements.

But the bolded one.

You are Inchoroi.

Get it right; I'd be Dunyain.

Of COURSE I think we can understand evolution. It's not a hard thing to understand! You think we can't get it possibly right, that we'll fuck something up about mammalian life so profoundly that it'll be irreversible and ultimately apocalyptic. I think I finally get that now; you fear the Children of Men scenario more than you fear a million chiropractors.

And sure, it's a conceit. Just as your conceit is that somehow pushing yourself via meditation is somehow different or better, or that humans have souls. At least the concept of evolution is scientifically backed and documented; where is your soul now?

Seriously, again, take into account that the majority of scientific research and, specifically, neuroscientific research is conducted at the hands military spending. So I don’t necessarily believe that more than a limited few advances in neuroscience will be due to the wholesome pursuit of actually saving someone’s life.
So was the internet, most modern medicine, air power, sea power, spaceflight, satellites, GPS, many recreational drugs, cybernetic limbs and tang.

History doesn't support you on this one.

I think that every neuroscientific subject has the potential of being something like the Chiropractor – or vastly different – but irrevocably changed in ways that will backlash beyond our current ability to understand.

Considering the whole world might eventually be neurologically altered by invasive chemical or surgical means. I think I used it correctly.

Or maybe the 28 days later concept. Gotcha.

What is wrong with being vastly different? Didn't you just say you wanted to celebrate the ways that the brain can be different, diverse? Einstein's brain was vastly different too; would you lament if he had been a product of neuroscience instead of water poisoning?

Yet when we can no longer recognize morality as such, when we are no longer able describe it in the same terms as we do now, what then? Kellhus or Neil?

I’m sure removing, if only temporarily, the moral compass is already being researched.

Actually it'd be not removing the moral compass but removing the cortisol that we get when we follow social groups in agreement. This is pretty well understood already in brains, IIRC. We don't have a moral compass any more than we have a soul.

I don't think morality stops being morality when it's not similar to what we have. Human cultures for millenia have had extraordinarily different moral values that are downright unrecognizable to us now. Heck, people 100 years ago had these, and I'm sure that in 100 years people will look at us as immoral heathen idiots. The notion that most people aren't godfearing is a new one, for crying out loud. Do you think that someone from the revolutionary war era of the US would recognize a current person as anything other than abomination? How about someone from China? There are very few moral universal truths, and you can find examples in one culture or another where any of them are violated.

Nope. I would mourn our species and all the great ways we never choose to live. I would mourn the potential lost in seven billion beautiful human beings.
But you dislike everything they've done! You've declared this the worst possible civilization we could create. Yet you think they're capable of more?

Why?

Put it another way: what makes you think that human's potential can be reached while being human?

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I'm sorry, I've been trying to follow along but missed what Madness's initial point was. Now I'm just seeing Madness and Kal sniping over tangentially related topics in essay length posts. I recall there was something about whether or not brain tampering in Neuropath is a good thing and that Madness seems to be espousing some sort of naturalistic transhumanism while Kal is championing artificial(?) transhumanism?

Anyway, since I've this argument with a hippies a bunch of times, I just wanted interject that LSD does not put holes in your brain and is no more dangerous than psylocybin and in fact is probably safer than ayahuasca or peyote. I don't get the point of naturalism when it comes to psychedelic drugs anyway, when psylocin, the psychoactive chemical that psylocybin is metabolized into can be produced in labs and has the exact same effects (minus the initial nausea) as eating a handful of shrooms.

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