Epistemology: Belief, Knowledge & Pragmatism, an original essay by 420randomness

Guest Post by 420randomness, translated from Greek into English by rootsnwingz for our English-speaking readers!

Epistemology: Belief, Knowledge & Pragmatism

According to recent scientific evidence … living within reason … we find ourselves in a blind existence without any archetypes, where everything seems to happen anyways, for no reason at all !

~ 1.1 Expression ~

one stimulus makes you twice as stimulated becomes one stimulus does not stimulate you at all

In other words, “Once bitten, twice shy,” becomes “Once bitten, never shy,”

But what can we do, if we can’t learn about a subject when we lack the relevant experience in that subject matter?

~~And thus, the rhythms of the natural world are still unappreciated~~

However, let us take a closer look

Passage from: “How We Believe”, Michael Shermer. Scientific American,

‘’I argue that our brains are belief engines: evolved pattern-recognition machines that connect the dots and create meaning out of the patterns that we think we see in nature. Sometimes A really is connected to B; sometimes it is not. When it is, we have learned something valuable about the environment from which we can make predictions that aid in survival and reproduction. We are the

ancestors of those most successful at finding patterns

This process is called association learning, and it is fundamental to all animal behavior, from the humble worm C. elegans to H. sapiens.’’

~ 1.2 Scientific Reference ~

Using evolutionary modeling and having a demonstration through it, Harvard University biologist Kevin R. Foster and University of Helsinki biologist Hanna Kokko in ’08, tested the theory and tried to have a gist out of it:

They begin with the formula pb > c,

where a belief may be held when the cost (c) of doing so is less than the probability (p) of the benefit (b). For example, believing that the rustle in the grass is a dangerous predator when it is only the wind does not cost much, but believing that a dangerous predator is the wind may cost an animal its life!!

 <.Think about it as you consider the following image.>

wer 

natural selection will favor patternicity

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Ernst Mayr on questioning ‘eternal truths’

ernstmayr“The study of the basic philosophies or ideologies of scientists is very difficult because they are rarely articulated. They largely consist of silent assumptions that are taken so completely for granted that they are never mentioned …..[ But] anyone who attempts to question these ‘eternal truths’ encounters formidable resistance.”
– Ernst Mayr

One of the 20th century’s leading evolutionary biologists, taxonomists, tropical explorers, ornithologists and historians of science.

Guest Post by 420randomness

“Drugs World” Visual Venn Diagram

drugsinfoisbeautiful

Accurate Venn diagram showing and categorizing natural and chemical drugs according to their effects and uses. The simple and self-explanatory design by David McCandless successfully depicts each drug in terms of its effects as a depressant, hallucinogen, stimulant and anti-psychotic. Thus emerges a clear image of the nature of drugs and their effects / uses. I won’t say much more, except look at where cannabis lies on the diagram… How much more in our face could the truth be??!! Could it be that nature provided us with a medicine that is superior to pharmaceuticals? Nah, it couldn’t, could it? 😉

*For those who still don’t get it, the diagram conclusively shows cannabis as the only drug with active ingredients that can cause depressive, hallucinogenic, stimulant and anti-psychotic effects (all 4 types of psychoactive effects). Its medicinal benefits and superiority to pills become evident when we consider the range of uses the plant could therefore have. Moreover, this brings to question the necessity for synthetic pharmaceuticals even existing, when there already is a drug found in nature that covers the entire spectrum of psychoactive effects. What a threat to these corporations’ current profits it would be if there was a scientific consensus on cannabis…

Legalize it!

Visualization of the major causes of death in the 20th century

deathwellcome
In November, two years ago, I was lucky enough to visit the Wellcome Collection in London, UK. The unique exhibition was entitled “Death: A self-portrait – The Richard Harris Collection” and focused on the iconography of death and humanity’s complicated attitudes towards it. From rare paintings, medical documents to scientific specimen and ancient skulls. The first exhibition I visited at the Wellcome Collection was about the brain and was a lot more disturbing than this one, yet I loved it and found it amazing. So I was mentally prepared for what awaited me. Albeit macabre, the exhibits were remarkably interesting and the analysis and explanations provided were very insightful and well-researched. Essentially, the exhibition succeeded in depicting humans’ journey in history to come to terms with and comprehend death.

On the wall of the final exhibit room was the most impressive, in my opinion, piece: a massive visual diagram showing and effectively ranking the major causes of death (counted in millions) in the 20th century. Simply and elegantly designed, this artwork was commissioned by the Wellcome Collection to David McCandless of http://www.informationisbeautiful.net, who created an extremely helpful visualization of greatly significant, very well researched facts and data about death. I particularly appreciated the original statistical information on the leading causes of death and risks in life. Note that diarrhea killed 226 million people in the 20th century, while only 6 million were killed by snake bites. Kind of makes you re-prioritize your fears, doesn’t it? Another good one is that illegal drugs caused 6,5 million deaths, whereas tobacco caused a stunning 100 million deaths in the 20th century alone! Click on the image to see for yourself the diagram in full size and zoom to explore the information easily.

Entrance to the Wellcome Collection is free to the public and its exhibitions are always on topics of extraordinary relevance and interest. For instance, the current exhibition, which I really hope I get a chance to go to, is on the history of the human study and perception of sexuality (on till September 2015).

http://www.wellcomecollection.org/
http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/

“How Playing an Instrument Benefits Your Brain” – Anita Collins. A must watch for music & neuroscience enthusiasts.

Excellent animated lesson from TED-Ed.  The animation by Sharon Coman Graham is very cool and the narration by Addison Anderson really makes the lesson easy to follow, even for people who are unfamiliar with neuroscience and music terminology.  Highly recommended.