Happiness and the riddle of experience versus memory – Daniel Kahneman’s model of selves.

Called one of the most influential psychologists of our time, Daniel Kahneman has been appearing in articles from Freakonomics – yes because of a recently released book, Thinking Fast and Slow – and here’s an example:

http://www.freakonomics.com/2011/11/28/daniel-kahneman-answers-your-questions/

Q. You recommend the use of checklists in business decision-making to counteract a number of the most common biases – confirmation bias, anchoring, etc. I would like to know what you think of the argument that framing bias (and the associated narrow targets) has an even greater impact – for example, framing strategy as being about beating competitors (with potentially misleading analogies from chess, football, judo etc. used as a guide) or framing the focus of marketing as being on branding (thereby encouraging an inside-out perspective) rather than customers (which would encourage a more outside-in approach), even the focus on shareholder value (rather than broader stakeholder value) which has been linked to short-termism that ultimately isn’t in shareholders best interests? -Jack Springman

A. You are absolutely right – or at least I agree with you! Appropriate framing of the problem that is to be solved is essential to everything that follows. And it is certainly the case that a bad frame of the problem will lead to bad decisions. We may not have emphasized this point sufficiently in the checklist we proposed in the Harvard Business Review earlier this year.

In my own work with self-development and the enlightenment culture technologies I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about and observing the behavior of “selves” – the organizing structures in the brain mind that make us behave in the ways we recognize as human and ‘conscious’. I think Kanhemans model of the experiencing vs the remembering selves was both useful, and that it is very instructive when applied to the enlightenment tradition’s models.

He talks about this a bit in this excellent TED video – so, take the time to watch it if you have an interest in the nature of the self, the “ego” as it’s commonly (and typically pejorativly) called in moden ET (enlightenment traditions) ulture, then the minutes you spend watching this video should seem worthwhile – that is, your remembering self will store a story about them being worthwhile which you will occassionaly recall.

Here is a transcript of a relevant part for those who read faster than they watch:

Now, the experiencing self lives its life continuously. It has moments of experience, one after the other. And you can ask: What happens to these moments? And the answer is really straightforward: They are lost forever. I mean, most of the moments of our life — and I calculated, you know, the psychological present is said to be about three seconds long; that means that, you know, in a life there are about 600 million of them; in a month, there are about 600,000 — most of them don’t leave a trace. Most of them are completely ignored by the remembering self. And yet, somehow you get the sense that they should count, that what happens during these moments of experience is our life. It’s the finite resource that we’re spending while we’re on this earth. And how to spend it would seem to be relevant, but that is not the story that the remembering self keeps for us.

So we have the remembering self and the experiencing self, and they’re really quite distinct. The biggest difference between them is in the handling of time. From the point of view of the experiencing self, if you have a vacation, and the second week is just as good as the first, then the two-week vacation is twice as good as the one-week vacation. That’s not the way it works at all for the remembering self. For the remembering self, a two-week vacation is barely better than the one-week vacation because there are no new memories added. You have not changed the story. And in this way, time is actually the critical variable that distinguishes a remembering self from an experiencing self; time has very little impact on the story.

Now, the remembering self does more than remember and tell stories. It is actually the one that makes decisions because, if you have a patient who has had, say, two colonoscopies with two different surgeons and is deciding which of them to choose, then the one that chooses is the one that has the memory that is less bad, and that’s the surgeon that will be chosen. The experiencing self has no voice in this choice. We actually don’t choose between experiences, we choose between memories of experiences. And even when we think about the future, we don’t think of our future normally as experiences. We think of our future as anticipated memories. And basically you can look at this, you know, as a tyranny of the remembering self, and you can think of the remembering self sort of dragging the experiencing self through experiences that the experiencing self doesn’t need.

(This article on Daniel Kahneman will be continued…)

Archaeological finds that bear on the topic of human self-development

Some interesting bits of archaeology news…

The oldest yet-dicovered paintings of signs/symbols in central europe have been found in southern Germany – central europe is not known for much cro-magnon era painting.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111108075401.htm

Three of the new painting show double rows of red dots on limestone cobbles, while one painted fragment may originate from the wall of the cave. These are the first examples of painted rocks recovered in Germany since 1998 when Prof. Nicholas Conard’s team working at Hohle Fels discovered a single painted rock. In addition to the painted rocks, finds of ochre and hematite that were used to make pigments have also been recovered.

Although Ice Age cave paintings are well documented in western Europe, particularly in France and Spain, wall paintings are unknown in central Europe. The lack of wall paintings at Hohle Fels in particular as well as in Central Europe as a whole may in part be a reflection of the harsh climate of the region that continually led to the erosion and damage to the walls of the caves. The paintings from Hohle Fels Cave in the Ach Valley near Schelklingen document the oldest tradition of painting in central Europe. The painted limestone cobbles from Hohle Fels all show very similar motifs, and these rows of painted red dots certainly must have had a particular meaning to the inhabitants of the region. This being said, unlike the many examples of painting of animals in the Paleolithic art, these abstract depictions remain difficult to interpret.

Bronze castings from Asia discovered in a 1.000 year old eskimo house excavation – evidence of the movement of culture around the planet. The moement of technology and ideas, even if only in fragments.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111114112314.htm

The artifact consists of two parts — a rectangular bar, connected to an apparently broken circular ring, said CU-Boulder Research Associate John Hoffecker, who is leading the excavation project. The object, about 2 inches by 1 inch and less than 1 inch thick, was found in August by a team excavating a roughly 1,000-year-old house that had been dug into the side of a beach ridge by early Inupiat Eskimos at Cape Espenberg on the Seward Peninsula, which lies within the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve.

Both sections of the artifact are beveled on one side and concave on the other side, indicating it was manufactured in a mold, said Hoffecker, a fellow at CU-Boulder’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research. A small piece of leather found wrapped around the rectangular bar by the research team yielded a radiocarbon date of roughly A.D. 600, which does not necessarily indicate the age of the object, he said.

“I was totally astonished,” said Hoffecker. “The object appears to be older than the house we were excavating by at least a few hundred years.”

Hoffecker and his CU-Boulder colleague Owen Mason said the bronze object resembles a belt buckle and may have been used as part of a harness or horse ornament prior to its arrival in Alaska.

The new archaeology being practiced around Stonehenge uncovers ceremonial areas the predate the stones, indicating the long use of the area as a sacred region.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-15917921

Procession route

It is thought the pits, positioned within the Neolithic Cursus pathway, could
have formed a procession route for ancient rituals celebrating the sun moving
across the sky at the midsummer solstice.

A Cursus comprises two parallel linear ditches with banks either side closed
off at the end.

Also discovered was a gap in the northern side of the Cursus, which may have
been an entrance and exit point for processions taking place within the
pathway.

These discoveries hint that the site was already being used as an ancient
centre of ritual prior to the stones being erected more than 5,000 years ago,
the team said.

Archaeologist and project leader at Birmingham University, Professor Vince
Gaffney, said: “This is the first time we have seen anything quite like this at
Stonehenge and it provides a more sophisticated insight into how rituals may
have taken place within the Cursus and the wider landscape.”

Programming the Mind of God – yeah that’s right…

So – if we are software, then all kinds of interesting things become possible, is I suppose the takeaway from this piece. It does still posit something outside, tinkering with what’s inside.

Inherently unsatisfying or supremely satisfying, depending on your favorite imprinted storylines.

How to Build a Computer Model of God

Can Souls Exist Without a Physical Component?

I normally hate it when people use Physics principles or Mathematical theorems to justify something unrelated and not intended. That said, my thought process started with the wonders of Gödel’s incompleteness theorem. It says, in a nutshell:

Any sufficiently complex mathematical system will contain truths which cannot be proved using that same system.

It is much more complex than that of course, but it basically means that, at least in Math, some truths will always be out of grasp in the current system. What if the system we live in – Earth – has similar properties? Of course, moving from a Math system to life is a bit of a stretch. Instead, I thought, could I build a real life computer system which has these properties??

To achieve this, I introduce a new function to the Hypervisor. This new function allows the system to look at any process running in a virtual machine by accessing (reading) a given memory location. In this way, the Hypervisor can view any processes state that it wishes. It may also store a copy of that state to disk without notifying or having the virtual machine environment have any evidence that it is happening. When a process dies, the Hypervisor can save the state of the process to disk, and still 100% of virtual machine resources are given back to the system. No evidence of this saving is left behind for the virtual machine to notice, since all of it happened outside the virtual machines scope and view.

It is now a simple matter for the Hypervisor to do some interesting things with the saved process states. It could, for instance, reincarnate the saved process into a new process in the same virtual machine by copying the saved contents into a new process, or perhaps only certain segments of the saved process state. It could also take the saved process state and insert it into a new process in other virtual machines, which could be completely different operating environments than the one the process originated in. In this way, the Hypervisor could approximate a process flowing through states of reincarnation or travel from Earth to Heaven or Hell, all without leaving a trace in the original environment.

Ancient Penis Art

An IO9 article worth taking a look at if you are interested in archaeology and what it tells us about the evolution of mind and consciousness.

What do ancient penis decorations say about us?

Enter Spanish researchers Javier Angulo and Marcos García, who since 2003 have devoted thousands of hours to cataloguing depictions of sexuality, reproduction, and eroticism from the Upper Paleolithic, while paying particular attention to prehistoric representations of male genitalia. (Angulo is an MD, PhD in Universidad Europea de Madrid’s Department of Urology; García is an anthropologist and expert in Paleolithic archaeology at Universidad del País Vasco).

When I spoke with Angulo and García about their research, they explained that the paucity of Paleolithic art depicting the human form is one of the greatest challenges facing the study of prehistoric sexual behavior. For example, in a review article published in the journal Urology in 2009, the researchers report that in European Paleolithic art, a total of just 702 full-body human representations (as opposed to partial depictions—a handprint, for example) have been discovered since 1864, and that only 74 of these representations can be classified as unambiguously male, sketches of which are shown here.

Willam Seabrook and various heiresses and posh types put on a voodoo ritual to curse Hitler – LIFE photos lol

William Seabrok Voodoo Ritual - Seabrook and the Birdseye Heiress
Putting a HEX on Hitler – William Seabrooks infamous “voodoo ritual” photos in LIFE magazine.

 

William Seabrook Wiki    William Seabrook Books

 

 

“Interview with a Stoic” – stoicism as one of the philosophies of “enlightenment”

I have a saying, kind of a principle, that goes like this, with a few minor variations. “Don’t seek enlightenment, enlightenment will take care of itself. Seek wisdom.”.

One of the classic types of wisdom that reappears in teh human culture streams over and over around the planet is stoicism, in some variation or another. Not under that name, as we know it in our culture stream, a name taken from the ancient greeks. But, as a system of principles.

The kind of mental training you do to explore your own consciousness and ‘seek enlightenment’ can end up producing a range of different kinds of minds and personal philosophies. One of these, a fairly common place to ‘end up’, is somthing I think of as ecstatic stoicism – a complete accepting of things as they are, without emotional fixations that they should be one way or another, combined with a tendency fot the way things are to induce spasms of bliss, because the way things are is so freekin amazing.

So I’m always interested in references to stoicism, and it blisses me out that stoicism is becoming more popular.

Avi: Why are spiritual exercises important in Stoicism?

William: Seneca, a famous ancient Stoic, wrote that a Stoic must, at the end of each day, reflect on every decision and action he performed that day. He must scrutinize his deeds, one by one, and evaluate whether they were done well or poorly. Thus, Stoics are very serious about training themselves to apply their (Stoic) judgments about what is good (virtue), what is bad (wickedness), and what is neither (everything else) to their daily living. This intensive spiritual exercise, or introspective meditation, is vital for making progress in the art of living the good life as a Stoic. Studying the ideas, theories, and arguments in Stoicism is easy enough.  Applying Stoic judgments to every single decision, action, and reaction to events around us is very difficult. It requires great discipline and years of rigorous practice to apply Stoicism to all our beliefs, value judgments, decisions, intentions, and actions.

Interview with a Stoic: William O Stevens – from boingboing.com

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From this article:

His argument is based on the fact that for more than 99 per cent of human evolutionary history, we have lived as hunter-gatherer communities surviving on our wits, leading to big-brained humans. Since the invention of agriculture and cities, however, natural selection on our intellect has effective stopped and mutations have accumulated in the critical “intelligence” genes.

“I would wager that if an average citizen from Athens of 1000BC were to appear suddenly among us, he or she would be among the brightest and most intellectually alive of our colleagues and companions, with a good memory, a broad range of ideas and a clear-sighted view of important issues,” Professor Crabtree says in a provocative paper published in the journal Trends in Genetics.

“Furthermore, I would guess that he or she would be among the most emotionally stable of our friends and colleagues. I would also make this wager for the ancient inhabitants of Africa, Asia, India or the Americas, of perhaps 2,000 to 6,000 years ago,” Professor Crabtree says.

“The basis for my wager comes from new developments in genetics, anthropology, and neurobiology that make a clear prediction that our intellectual and emotional abilities are genetically surprisingly fragile,” he says.

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