Home > Science > Left and Right

Left and Right

If you caught that spinning silhouette optical illusion thing today, I suggest checking out this post about the significance of what you see.

Categories: Science
  1. Bob
    October 14, 2007 at 6:08 pm

    We, as organisms, are complex, open systems. Trying to locate particular areas of our brains where this or that occurs is useful for very limited and targeted purposes. It’s like the “urban legend” about using only ten percent of our brains. Even if we can identify area-A of part-X of the brain as processing function-Y, we are still focusing on a narrowly conceived notion of ourselves as closed mechanical-like systems.

    We hypnotize ourselves into believing that we are as limited as we think and say we are. Scientific modeling needs to get beyond the paradigmatic idea/ideal of mathematical “objectivity” before it can come even close to developing a language that describes the complexity of human and other forms of evolutionary life. Who cares which way we imagine a silhouette is spinning? YouTube is an optical illusion too.

  2. October 14, 2007 at 8:03 pm

    Even if we can identify area-A of part-X of the brain as processing function-Y, we are still focusing on a narrowly conceived notion of ourselves as closed mechanical-like systems.

    What does that even mean? Obviously brain-imaging studies are a very blunt tool and the people doing them realize this, so what exactly is your issue?

    Scientific modeling needs to get beyond the paradigmatic idea/ideal of mathematical “objectivity” before it can come even close to developing a language that describes the complexity of human and other forms of evolutionary life.

    Why don’t you enlighten us as to why that is and what you would put in its place.

    Who cares which way we imagine a silhouette is spinning?

    Optical illusions like that exploit assumptions in our brains’ visual processing system. It gives us information about how that system works in doing so.

  3. Bob
    October 14, 2007 at 9:38 pm

    How about “liquid crystals” as an alternative test model of how we function as “open system” complex organisms? I am suggesting that we are not limited to “brain” as the seat of intelligence or consciousness. Food for scientific thought, at least, don’t you think?

  4. October 14, 2007 at 11:12 pm

    I guess I’m not getting the analogy. Liquid crystals are interesting, but they change order based on external stimuli. The brain does the same thing under any model (how could a model not include external stimuli?). You’ll have to let me know what I’m missing here.

    Food for scientific thought, at least, don’t you think?

    Unless you have some reason beyond random speculation to suggest it, I don’t think so.

  5. Bob
    October 14, 2007 at 11:55 pm

    You’ll have to let me know what I’m missing here.

    Shit happens?

  6. Bob
    October 15, 2007 at 12:50 pm

    OK, after a night’s sleep and getting other business out of the way this morning, allow me to say more than “shit happens,” which is not an appropriate answer to your comment: “You’ll have to let me know what I’m missing here.” I was tired. I apologize for my curt reply.

    I have a problem with “models” of all kinds, be they scientific, religious, or whatever. I do not believe that we can “model” ourselves in abstractions or summations of any kind. The “whole enchilada” is more than the sum of its parts. Scientific vernaculars tell us a little about this and a little about that, but nothing about how a coherent organism experiences itself (along with “others”) as a whole.

    Other credible (and much older) cultures have for millennia considered the “heart” as the seat of human intelligence, not the “brain.” As a metaphor, so to speak, I think “heart” gets closer to the “whole” as a model.

    Western science limits us to bits and pieces of experience. Life is a tough subject to deal with in bits and pieces. I am searching, late in life, for a language to describe how I actually live, and have lived. “Brain” does not sum it up for me. There is much more than that going on (and I do not mean “emotions” or any other abstraction). There is something beyond science and religion in life, and I suspect that “something” is the “whole enchilada” that we are always gnawing at in order to stay alive.

  7. Jay Stevens
    October 15, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    She’s spinning? All I notice is a pair of enormous breasts…

  8. Bob
    October 15, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    Jeff, regarding the “liquid crystal” model, “The Rainbow and the Worm: The Physics of Organisms” by Mae-Wan Ho lays it out. She is a biophysicist. She cranks out a lot of math, which I am not versed in, but my own “anecdotal experience” tracks what she is saying.

  9. October 15, 2007 at 6:30 pm

    I apologize for my curt reply.

    No worries.

    I have a problem with “models” of all kinds, be they scientific, religious, or whatever. I do not believe that we can “model” ourselves in abstractions or summations of any kind. The “whole enchilada” is more than the sum of its parts. Scientific vernaculars tell us a little about this and a little about that, but nothing about how a coherent organism experiences itself (along with “others”) as a whole.

    We’ll probably never have an accurate model of how organisms work, but isn’t the process of taking what we know and trying to explain the overall workings how advances are made? I don’t think scientists have an issue with your statement that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. “Emergence,” as it’s called, isn’t exactly being ignored. I read a book not that long ago (Genesis by Robert Hazen) describing that concept and how it relates to the origin of life.

    Other credible (and much older) cultures have for millennia considered the “heart” as the seat of human intelligence, not the “brain.” As a metaphor, so to speak, I think “heart” gets closer to the “whole” as a model.

    You may be able to guess, but I’m not much for that kind of cultural relativism. We have plenty of reasons to believe the brain is the seat of intelligence and consciousness and no reason to believe it’s anything else.

    Western science limits us to bits and pieces of experience. Life is a tough subject to deal with in bits and pieces. I am searching, late in life, for a language to describe how I actually live, and have lived. “Brain” does not sum it up for me. There is much more than that going on (and I do not mean “emotions” or any other abstraction). There is something beyond science and religion in life, and I suspect that “something” is the “whole enchilada” that we are always gnawing at in order to stay alive.

    I think you’re making the mistake of assuming that because we haven’t described everything, we’re going in the wrong direction. As you’ve said, we are extraordinarily complex. The brain is orders of magnitude more complex than anything we understand to a reasonable degree. To be dissatisfied with the state of scientific progress seems premature.

    My own opinion is that it’s a fool’s quest to search for anything “more” at this point, as science isn’t there and with anything else there’s not really a way to separate the comforting nonsense from the truth. I can at least understand the feeling, though. I don’t believe in an afterlife and I have two regrets in that regard, one of which is that an afterlife might allow me to understand how all of this works.

  10. Bob
    October 16, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    Good points, your honor.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: