Sam Harris’ school work
Posted: 12 December 2007 10:01 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2007-12/uoc—uss121107.php

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Posted: 13 December 2007 10:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Great stuff.

It’s about time we heard from Sam on this front.

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Posted: 25 December 2007 12:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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Here’s a quote from Sam Harris (in the article) about the neurological pathways that lead to our acceptance/rejection of beliefs regardless of their perceptual or conceptual genesis:

“” “What I find most interesting about our results is the suggestion that our view of the world must pass through a bottleneck in regions of the brain generally understood to govern emotion, reward and primal feelings like pain and disgust,” Harris said. “While evaluating mathematical, ethical or factual statements requires very different kinds of processing, accepting or rejecting these statements seems to rely upon a more primitive process that may be content-neutral. I think that it has long been assumed that believing that two plus two equals four and believing that George Bush is President of the United States have almost nothing in common as cognitive operations. But what they clearly have in common is that both representations of the world satisfy some process of truth-testing that we continually perform. I think this is yet another result, in a long line of results, that calls the popular opposition between reason and emotion into question.” “”

In the article the researchers talked about results obtained from fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) tests showing this particular “bottleneck” phenomenon in brain activity.  So now we can futuristically imagine that each of us has the fMRI technology (in both an outgoing and incoming form) personally embedded within us and that we can scan the “screens” of others when they are confronted with new ideas or with any information whatever.  We can thus be informed whether anyone is believing what they are hearing or, conversely, whether they are lying while they are verbally informing us.  Of course I won’t believe it till I see it!

Bob

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Posted: 26 December 2007 06:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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Could it be that we believe what we want to believe?  No…

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Posted: 26 December 2007 06:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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Antisocialdarwinist - 26 December 2007 11:30 PM

Could it be that we believe what we want to believe?  No…

This puts me in mind of my hypothesis about the way people lie about such things.

I’d love to take some of the folks who come here professing their faith and put them in the scanner, to see them peg the meter on “pain and disgust”. I tell ya, ASD, they’re lying through their teeth.

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Posted: 27 December 2007 12:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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Salt Creek - 26 December 2007 11:54 PM

This puts me in mind of my hypothesis about the way people lie about such things.

I’d love to take some of the folks who come here professing their faith and put them in the scanner, to see them peg the meter on “pain and disgust”. I tell ya, ASD, they’re lying through their teeth.

That would be an excellent experiment.  Do you think a practiced liar could fool the scanner in the same way they can fool a polygraph test?

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Do-gooding is like treating hemophilia—the real cure is to let hemophiliacs bleed to death, before they breed more hemophiliacs. -Robert Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

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Posted: 27 December 2007 03:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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Antisocialdarwinist - 27 December 2007 05:15 PM
Salt Creek - 26 December 2007 11:54 PM

This puts me in mind of my hypothesis about the way people lie about such things.

I’d love to take some of the folks who come here professing their faith and put them in the scanner, to see them peg the meter on “pain and disgust”. I tell ya, ASD, they’re lying through their teeth.

That would be an excellent experiment.  Do you think a practiced liar could fool the scanner in the same way they can fool a polygraph test?

It’s even worse than that. They know we know they’re lying.

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Posted: 27 December 2007 08:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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All this causes me think of James Halperin’s “The Truth Machine.”  shock 

Hey, does anyobody know:

Is the “bottleneck” Harris refers to, in or near the limbic system?
If it’s in the area of the brain where emotions and feelings of reward and the primitive processing of pain and disgust occur, how is it also “content-neutral”?
Is the bottom line of this particular aspect of results said to be revealing that the reasoning and emotional processing are intertwined; in effect, doin’ the tango in the bottleneck before kicking out the brain’s assessment of the statement(s)?

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Posted: 28 December 2007 09:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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isocratic infidel - 28 December 2007 01:43 AM

Is the bottom line of this particular aspect of results said to be revealing that the reasoning and emotional processing are intertwined; in effect, doin’ the tango in the bottleneck before kicking out the brain’s assessment of the statement(s)?

That’s pretty much what I got out of it, that the “decision” to believe or not believe something is based on emotion rather than reason.  This holds true whether the “something” is quantitatively true or false like a mathematical proof, or more subjective, like whether Saddam Hussein posed a threat to the United States. 

It sure makes sense to me.  How else to explain how any educated person could believe some of the more miraculous aspects of the Bible? 

To be fair, though, I’m sure I’m guilty of doing the same thing myself.

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Do-gooding is like treating hemophilia—the real cure is to let hemophiliacs bleed to death, before they breed more hemophiliacs. -Robert Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

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Posted: 29 December 2007 10:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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Thanks antisocialD…kind of strange that emotions are involved in something as dry as mathematics…I wonder though, if the less credulous show less activity in this area during processing than the credulous.

Any thoughts, anyone, (c’mon Salty, you know everything, don’t you?! wink ) on the other two questions?

Has anyone read Mathew Alper’s “The God Part of the Brain”? He had some suggestions for experiments in regard to areas of the brain that might be more active in god-believers vs non…I think he purposed that god-believers had more activity in the right frontal cortex.
I want more experiments!!! I love this shit.

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Posted: 30 December 2007 03:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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isocratic infidel - 29 December 2007 03:19 PM

Has anyone read Mathew Alper’s “The God Part of the Brain”? He had some suggestions for experiments in regard to areas of the brain that might be more active in god-believers vs non…I think he purposed that god-believers had more activity in the right frontal cortex.
I want more experiments!!! I love this shit.

I think this guy was on ‘Charlie Rose’ and talked about experiments with the effects of electomagnetic waves on the brain and spiritual experience. This has been around for a while, but what’s new is observing the brain as it’s happening.

I remember years ago hearing a theory about how the magnetic waves not only stimulate the activity but that the experiences and visions produced are similar and relevant to the time period and culture in which it occurs. For instance, the similar descriptions of alien abductions, or saintly visions, etc.

Supposedly, there are different geographic locations where higher levels of electromagnetic waves are concentrated therefore producing these effects. Just wait until the earth’s magnetic poles flip, there are supposed to be large pockets of holes (no protection from radiation) globally in the atmosphere and I suppose enough EMW’s floating around to produce a lot of ‘tripping’ by a lot of people.

I’m no scientist, so don’t take my word for any of this.

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