Friday, December 15, 2017

Brain and Beliefs

On a recent television interview I was asked how many belief systems I thought there were on this planet. Since every brain is different and beliefs are a brain’s own opinion, then in a sense each brain has its own belief system, which means there are seven billion plus belief systems (give or take a few) on this planet. To put it another way, each brains only has its own opinion. People talk about soft science and hard science, for example, as if hard science, so called, comes from some absolute authority. Human brains planned every research project, analyzed the data, and developed a conclusion. Everything is filtered through someone’s brain . . . Therefore I often preface a statement by saying “My brain’s opinion is . . .” or “In my brain’s opinion,” because I am clear that’s what it is. No matter that it may be based on research or empirical observation and experience, my filters everything as does every other functional brain on the planet. More tomorrow.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Brain and Bias, 4

Since mismanaged brain bias can turn into beliefs—semi-automatic or automatic habits and responses to which you give little if any conscious or analytical thought—what is the definition of a belief? I view belief as a term or label for your brain’s opinion about something (e.g., politics, religion, culture, gender, or you name it). In a nutshell it is simply a state of mind in which you perceive the likelihood of something being true (with or without empirical—experiential or observational—evidence), which means that since every brain is unique every brain has different beliefs. The behaviors and practices you exhibit tend to be based on your beliefs—in combination with your values; what you personally deem to be of paramount importance to yourself personally and to your family, friends, school, work, country and so on. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Brain and Bias, 3

The human brain appears to come with some level of built-in bias designed to help keep you safe. Your brain’s bias (to paraphrase some definitions) might tell you that those who are more like you in gender, appearance, and age, are more likely to be “safer” as compared to those you do not know. Therefore, a healthy ability to discriminate based on healthy and functional bias assessments is likely to help keep you safe. Unmanaged bias, however, or a warped bias can turn into learned bigotry, racism, and prejudice—all of which can become ingrained beliefs that tend to prompt and influence all your actions and behaviors. In fact, your beliefs can become semi-automatic or automatic habits and responses to which you give little if any conscious or analytical thought. More tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Brain and Bias, 2

The brain appears to be born with a “built-in bias” related to safety. Some say this built-in bias constitutes the fastest decision the brain every makes. It appears that no brain is completely unbiased, notwithstanding that many brains claim they have no bias or are completely unbiased. Indeed it is what you don’t even know you don’t know that can cause you problems. When does the brain activate this bias? It makes a lightning fast decision about safety every time it encounters someone or something for the first time

If it is a person, the brain evaluates:

1.   Is this person like me? If “no,” what are the differences and am I SAFE?

If it is a thing, the brain evaluates:

2.   Have I seen this something before and am I SAFE?

More tomorrow.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Brain and Bias

Recently I’ve had several questions about “Bias” and how the brain manages it, prompted reportedly by the racial and gender unrest not only nationally but internationally. First of all, how do you define “bias?” Merriam-Webster dictionary describes the noun “bias” as a tendency to believe that some people, some ideas, etc., are better than others, which usually results in treating some people unfairly. Wikipedia puts it this way:  Bias is an inclination or outlook to present or hold a partial perspective, often accompanied by a refusal to consider the possible merits of alternative points of view. When the word bias is used as a verb, one definition puts it this way: to feel or show inclination or prejudice for or against someone or something. Interestingly enough, it appears that the human brain comes with a built-in bias. More tomorrow.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Bumper Stickers

  • I feel like I'm diagonally parked in a parallel universe.
  • The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
  • Change is inevitable, except from vending machines.
  • Men are from earth. Women are from earth. Deal with it.
  • I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
  • Money Isn't Everything... But it Sure Keeps the Kids Calling
  • You have the right to remain silent—anything you say will be misquoted, then used against you.
  • I used to have a handle on life, but it broke.
  • The bird’s not dead—but it is electroencephalographically challenged. 
  • Saw it... Wanted it... Threw a fit... Got it!... Now what?

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Zoned Out – 3

In this recent study of cognitive lapses due to sleep deprivation, Dr. Yuval Nir, the study’s first author, reportedly said: “We were fascinated to observe how sleep deprivation dampened brain cell activity. Unlike the usual rapid reaction, the neurons responded slowly, fired more weakly and their transmissions dragged on longer than usual.” The cellular communication slowdown was one of the observed results, but overall brain wave activity slowed, as well. Professor Itzhak Fried, who led the study, said: “We discovered that starving the body of sleep also robs neurons of the ability to function properly. This paves the way for cognitive lapses in how we perceive and react to the world around us… Slow sleep-like waves disrupted the patients’ brain activity and performance of tasks. This phenomenon suggests that select regions of the patients’ brains were dozing, causing mental lapses, while the rest of the brain was awake and running as usual.” Bottom line conclusion? Inadequate sleep exerts a similar influence on our brain as drinking too much.