Cognitive Science and Psychology

Cognitive Science

[I have] spent most of my life, not just my career, thinking about the nature of mind, the mind-body problem, how mind, morals, and the meaning of life connect, trying to make the world safe for a fully materialist view of mind […]

—Owen Flanagan, The Bodhisattva’s Brain (emphasis added)

Books

I Am a Strange Loop, by Douglas Hofstadter

An excellent array of conceptual models for thinking about thinking! Ch. 16 offers an especially poignant and personal story of how this academic idea of strange loops brought some comfort to the author after an unexpected loss.

The Hidden Pattern: A Patternist Philosophy of Mind, by Ben Goertzel (PDF)

I found out about the book while searching for ways to refute the idea of p-zombies (bah!) during an extremely long-winded debate the nature of consciousness… on OkCupid. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s definitely at the top of my list! (Here’s a brief overview of patternism.)

Various books by Daniel Dennett

Psychology

It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.

Jiddu Krishnamurti

This section is still very much under construction, but some of the ideas that I find most exciting in psychology include psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy and positive psychology.


R. D. Laing, Knots (1970)

Transcript: 

There is something I don’t know
that I am supposed to know.
I don’t know what it is that I don’t know,
and yet am supposed to know,
and I feel I look stupid
if I seem both not to know it
and not to know what it is I don’t know.
Therefore I pretend I know it.
This is nerve-racking
since I don’t know what I must pretend to know.
Therefore I pretend to know everything.

I feel you know what I am supposed to know
but you can’t tell me what it is
because you don’t know that I don’t know what it is.

You may know what I don’t know, but not
that I don’t know it,
and I can’t tell you. So you will have to tell me everything.

R.D. Laing: Wikipedia, Knots, another excerpt of Knots

See also Gregory Bateson’s double bind theory (Wikipedia; article)

The atoms come into my brain, dance a dance, and then go out — there are always new atoms, but always doing the same dance, remembering what the dance was yesterday.

Quote in context:

“For instance, the scientific article may say, “The radioactive phosphorus content of the cerebrum of the rat decreases to one-half in a period of two weeks.” Now what does that mean? It means that the phosphorus that is in the brain of a rat — and also in mine, and yours — is not the same phosphorus as it was two weeks ago. It means the atoms that are in the brain are being replaced: the ones that were there before have gone away. So what is this mind of ours: what are these atoms with consciousness? Last week’s potatoes! They now can remember what was going on in my mind a year ago — a mind which has long ago been replaced. To note that the thing I call my individuality is only a pattern or dance, that is what it means when one discovers how long it takes for the atoms of the brain to be replaced by other atoms. The atoms come into my brain, dance a dance, and then go out — there are always new atoms, but always doing the same dance, remembering what the dance was yesterday.”

Richard Feynman, “The Value of Science” (speech at NAS meeting, 1955)
reprinted in The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short
Works of Richard P. Feynman
 (Jeffrey Robbins, ed., 1999)

More brachiopods! The spiral lophophores are a filtering apparatus. 

Image 1: Brachiopod, (image source)

Image 2: Magellania, an articulate brachiopod (source)

Image 3: Group of brachiopods. (Source). The coolest one is “E”:

Notosaria nigricans E. Brachial interior with spirolophous lophophore 


SPIROLOPHOUS LOPHOPHORE”!!!

Sounds like we have a word (or phrase) of the day!

Adrift in Space Time, by Jason Padgett

http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/jason-padgett.html

Jason D. Padgett is a number theorist with Acquired Savant Syndrome from Anchorage Alaska, currently living in Tacoma Washinton. The beauty of numbers and their connection to the pure geometry of space time and the universe is shown in his fractal diagrams. 

All are HAND DRAWN using only a pencil, ruler and compass.”

http://fineartamerica.com/featured/2-adrift-in-space-time-jason-padgett.html

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2012/04/27/real-beautiful-mind-accidental-genius-draws-complex-math-formulas-photos/

After being kicked in the head repeatedly during a mugging:

A scan of Padgett’s brain showed damage that was forcing his brain to overcompensate in certain areas that most people don’t have access to, Brogaard explained. The result was Padgett was now an acquired savant, meaning brilliant in a specific area.”

shawnkthompson:

Following a head injury, Jason Padget developed extraordinary mathematical skills and a weird form of synesthesia that allows him to see the fractal reality.

According to the artist’s profile, 

“All are HAND DRAWN using only a pencil, ruler and compass.”

http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/jason-padgett.html?page=1

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2012/04/27/real-beautiful-mind-accidental-genius-draws-complex-math-formulas-photos/

After being kicked in the head repeatedly during a mugging:

A scan of Padgett’s brain showed damage that was forcing his brain to overcompensate in certain areas that most people don’t have access to, Brogaard explained. The result was Padgett was now an acquired savant, meaning brilliant in a specific area.”

Monocot root cross-section

The vast majority of these illustration plates are from a plant systematics wall chart series – the Dodel-Port Atlas – released between 1878 & 1883”

via: http://bibliodyssey.blogspot.com/2012/12/plant-anatomy-charts.html

In the end, we are self-perceiving, self-inventing, locked-in mirages that are little miracles of self-reference.

Awww but the combined one is sooo much better! http://r0m1n.minus.com/ly92QXzZkU2Wx … dang file-size limit

Glasses of Nerdicon, from Adventure Time episode “The Real You”

http://adventuretime.wikia.com/wiki/Glasses_of_Nerdicon

four-part gif via sugarlessponygum

Through our eyes, the universe is perceiving itself. Through our ears, the universe is listening to its harmonies. We are the witnesses through which the universe becomes conscious of its glory, of its magnificence.

Attributed to Alan Watts, although it might be a paraphrase

Images 1-3 from Marshall et al. 2007. “Stomatopod eye structure and function: A review.” Arthropod Structure & Development. Volume 36, Issue 4, Pages 420–448. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.asd.2007.01.006 

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1467803907000126

Image 4 from Marshall et al. 1999. “Behavioural evidence for polarisation vision in stomatopods reveals a potential channel for communication.” Current Biology. Volume 9, Issue 14, Pages 755–758. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0960-9822(99)80336-4

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982299803364

The biologist George Wald once compared his work on an exceedingly specialized subject, the visual pigments of the eye, to ‘a very narrow window through which at a distance one can see only a crack of light. As one comes closer the view grows wider and wider, until finally through this same narrow window one is looking at the universe.

Rachel Carson, Silent Spring (1962)

Quote by George Wald, in context:

Years ago I used to worry about the degree to which I had specialized. Vision is limited enough, yet I was not really working on vision, for I hardly made contact with visual sensations, except as signals, nor with the nervous pathways, nor the structures of the eye, except the retina. Actually, my studies involved only the rods and cones of the retina, and in them only the visual pigments. A sadly limited peripheral business, fit for escapists. But it is as though this were a very narrow window through which at a distance one can see only a crack of light. As one comes closer the view grows wider and wider, until finally through this same narrow window one is looking at the universe.”

(Unsure of original source; quoted here)

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern.

William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790–1793)

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/William_Blake

Aldous Huxley’s book The Doors of Perception takes its title from this quote: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Doors_of_Perception

The full text is available at Erowid: http://www.erowid.org/psychoactives/writings/huxley_doors.shtml

Stomatopods rule! They have 16 photoreceptor classes!  Humans? A paltry 3! (Psssht, okay — and mayyybe up to 4. Rarely.) PLUS stomatopods can distinguish between linearly and circularly polarized light!

Slide by Michael Bok: http://arthropoda.southernfriedscience.com/?p=1776

“This is a comparison of photoreceptor classes in human and mantis shrimp retinas. Each photoreceptor class has a distinct wavelength sensitivity curve. On the human plot, you can see our three cone photoreceptor classes; blue, green, and red. These receptors cover the electromagnetic light spectrum between 400 nm (violet) and 700 nm (red). Our brains are able to process relative stimulation between the three cone photoreceptor classes, allowing us to differentiate many colors.

Mantis Shrimp don’t have the advantage of a large brain for downstream processing, so they take another approach to seeing many colors: They have 16 distinct photoreceptor classes, packed via optical filtering into tight slivers of the spectrum. Of these, five classes are sensitive to UV light, below our visual range (these are the receptor classes that I am attempting to characterize). In addition, not shown in this slide, mantis shrimp can discriminate linearly and circularly polarized light.”

Comic from Abstruse Goose: http://abstrusegoose.com/421

(Excellent reference in filename: if_the_doors_of_perception_were_expanded_everything_would_appear_as%20it_is-infinite.jpg)