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I'm surprised that translation between languages isn't mentioned as a more simple example of where misinterpretation of meaning can arise.

Additionally, most people will now be aware of the variation in symbolic meaning between cultures (ie finishing all food on your plate being a compliment in some countries, and a sign that you weren't given enough food in others).

It's almost as if there is a requirement to have a constant reality-check process operating within the mind to ring alarm bells if the received response is against expectation. If this were operating effectively within both members of the tree-falling arguement they would more rapidly discover the arguement lay in the meaning of the word "noise" and not a failure of logical processing.

Two questions that occur following reading this:

1) Using the Blegg/Rube example would it be reasonable to suggest that the reaction to a purple egg would be different had it occured 20 years of working on the machine with no anomalies, than if it was the first off of the conveyor belt ... or the fith etc? What would be a threshold between casual acceptance and dumbfounded confusion?

2) The concept of neural pathways strengthening with usage and heightening connections through multiple observations leads to the question: At birth are our neural pathways all of equal "strength" and if not have we established yet what pre-existing configurations we are born with? (Is there an ultimate human "priori" with which we all start off or are there genetic differences, and if so are there any general constants?) Apart from an unlucky few am I right in saying that at birth there is a ready-made connection between sharp teeth/claws/aggresive noises and fear regardless of the occurence of previous observations or not?

It is clear that the human body is good at adjusting and fine-tuning itself in response to immediate need. What in-built "amplification" do we have when intelligence is needed, and how could it be harnessed?

For example: The natural fight-or-flight reflex appears to provide instant alertness and focus, and I would imagine blood-flow to decision making functions is enhanced? Linked to a comment below I have found my reaction time and competance at rapid reaction computer games improves rapidly following surges in adrenaline. Is this coming from the improved focus (could this be simulated?), or increased bloodflow?

Interestingly I have noticed a similar "time slowing" effect in rapid reaction computer games following extreme bursts of adrenaline for whatever reason - I wonder if action movies at 2x give you an adrenaline boost?

I would suggest that the greatest leap forward in recent years of combined human intelligence has been the internet, and an Intelligence Amplification method is having ready access to it and the base level of intelligence required to correctly use it for information!

I read your last section ("Note general failure mode: ...") with amusement as I have found myself following almost the exact train of thought several times recently.

It was an appreciated, although unpleasant, kick-in-the-teeth to realise that my thought process actually belied negative aspects to my character rather than positive ones.

Could I ask for advice then on reversing this situation? What internal monologue, or indeed actions, should be ideally followed based on a situation identical to the one given in the article.


To me it is a process, a method, an outlook on life. But so often it is used as a pronoun: "Science says tomatoes are good for you".

It should be used to encourage rational thinking, clarity of arguement and assumption and rigorous unbiased testing. The pursuit of knowledge and truth. Instead it is often seen as a club, to which you either belong by working in a scientific profession, or you do not.

As a child of a mixed religeon household I felt like an outcast from religeon from an early age - it didn't matter that I have beliefs of my own, if I didn't belong to a specific club then I didn't belong at all. Very few religeous people I met encourage me to have faith regardless of what that faith is.

I see a scientific approach to life and its mysteries as my way of forming my own "map of the territory" as others perhaps use religeon and I hope that as promoters of rationality that we can encourage scientific principles in others rather than making them feel like outcasts for not being in our "club".

I used paint to take part of one cube, split through the "special" square and move it over to the other image - my brain told me that I was seeing one colour, but the second the opposite image came in contact with its rival square my brain began telling me the square had been grey all along. Remove it and the effect was reversed. It was almost as if my mind was trying to erase any false memories - quite a fun experience.

How is this not just a simple arguement on semantics (on which I believe a vast majority of arguements are based)?

They both accept that the tree causes vibrations in the air as it falls, and they both accept that no human ear will ever hear it. The arguement appears to be based solely on the definition, and surrounding implications, of the word "sound" (or "noise" as it becomes in the article) - and is therefore no arguement at all.

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