Bubble Wrap

Not sure where to put this, it’s a random thought I want to not forget – bird brains are denser with neurons than ours, of course, mass and weight matter for birds – so perhaps much of the mass and weight of the prodigious human organ isn’t doing cognition or other brain things, if some very clever birds can live without it?

Perhaps it’s a lot of swelling from the beatings and punch-ups, or a lot of padding evolved to lessen brain injury during those events?

Pending annoying and elusive things like evidence, I think it fits AST and maybe the larger narrative too!  The plasticity phenomenon – brain maps exist, but portions can be reallocated, functions can be relearned when the mapped area is damaged – does suggest other sorts of redundancy in the brain, other sorts of injury mitigation strategies, not saying I’m the one to ask, but I’ve heard of the circle of Willis, a blood vessel that seems to have that plan. They say human craniums are getting thinner, though, which I assume is involved, but I don’t assume how – there are head-bashing birds, after all. I need to check out woodpeckers and such. Something to keep an ear on for me.

Oh, Hell, theories! This was supposed to be a sideline, not a full-time distraction. Oh well, here goes: cranial size being limited by mom’s pelvis size, perhaps the growth of the brain took the inner thickness from the skull, what it could, from where it could, without growing the outer dimensions beyond that limit? Perhaps brain mass, either for cognition or for cushioning, was more important than helmet thickness – hmm, especially considering we developed technology to smash skulls somewhere along the way? I suppose skull thickness got outstripped, less useful against stone weapons (like stones) than smarts or padding? (Or both, of course?)

I need to learn the timeline – has it simply been a steady thinning over a few million years, or did it thicken first and thin out later? I don’t know, but I just read something that sold me that we haven’t been boxing the entire few million years, perhaps boxing is no use unless your opponent has a thin skull or something, but I also got an idea that abuse doesn’t form or malform your bones so much as your brain. Of course the science is bone-centric, that’s what we have.

Sort of my whole thing.

I’ve happened here upon an insight I know I’ve heard of other folks having – lighter bones, thinner skulls, the idea that these indicate a less violent life, the position of the self-domestication idea . . . not necessarily the case is it, by the argument I made, weapons technology could explain that with no break in the action. Thickness of your bones helps you survive a punch up with your mates, maybe hunting injuries, it doesn’t change the spear’s ability to violate your softer parts?

A long process of lightening may not indicate less violence, only a more technical violence? Just a thought, needs to be slept on. Again though, bones.

I think I have a brain puzzle that needs attention in the ramble above.

The intelligence of some smallish creatures and the flight-ready configuration of some very good bird brains (and a suggestion that those sorts of brains served dinosaurs for millions as many years as we can claim), contrasted with the relative bulk and weight of our own. It’s not subtle – the math doesn’t work, we are not that much smarter, we are on the same scale for intelligence, while the mass and volume is an order of magnitude different.

It’s not even linear, comparing the size of your brain with your dog’s, compared to the intelligence gap, or with a rat’s. I’m guessing this apparent disparity is a known question with a name, like Pascal’s Wager or some such, that we’re twice as clever, but with a brain ten times the size.

In the plasticity book, The Brain That Changes Itself, Norman Doidge’s work,  he makes the case that we do not need all of that mass to function, he cites a normal functioning hydroencephalytic with water where ninety percent of that mass is supposed to be! Volume is not smarts, not in any simple, must be sort of a way.

So I’m back to most of it being bubble wrap.

That’s my rap all day long.




February 15th., 2020

LOL – it’s better than my previous theory, believe me



This is Your Life Or The Problem of Consciousness

It’s nothing less than a revolution that’s required, of course.

I’ve worked it out, and things are not really so different from what the scientists are telling you, that’s pretty much the situation, we’re made to fight one another and the only answer is not to lose, except for one large, fundamental difference: it’s bloody optional. The way we talk about game theory or conflict theory, you’d think it was this way for everything that lives, necessarily this way. It’s not.

Actually more importantly, whether it is or not, it simply can’t be – and can’t be, can’t be anymore, what’s the difference? If we want any sort of a life we have to make it not. It’s unsustainable, look out your window, if you have one.

Evolution says we’re never finished being made for anything anyway, we’re always still in the process of being made, so nobody gets to say “this is just how I am,” the real question is how you are trying to be. Well OK, bears, beetles and such do, but nobody who talks to me gets to say that! If you are some unconscious, instinctive animal, you don’t get to use that as a defense, if you can’t be responsible for yourself, you don’t get to make a defense, you don’t get to speak. Even, especially, your hired spokespeople don’t get to speak, I don’t care if they do wear glasses and a lab coat! If that’s the description of us, the verdict, an aggressive primate with an intractable penchant for group conflict, I’ll be jiggered if I’m taking it from you. You ‘I’m aggressive, deal with it’ types always have some nefarious agenda, in my experience! If you are coming to me, mouth flapping and canines bared, you need to be conscious and self-aware, not making some excuse about how your behaviour is hard tied to your existence with no wiggle room.

Why would I converse with that creature? What’s the point? It’s clearly going to do whatever it’s going to do, no matter what I say – even no matter what it says. We already have its terms. It’s going to do what it has to do, and it just told us it has to fight.

But, wiggle room – that’s consciousness, isn’t it? I thought we liked that!

I have always been more than a little suspicious of the way we talk about consciousness, and the way we slander the creatures we say don’t have it. I am sure, yes, from nothing but my own esteem of my own experience and general knowledge, that the “awareness of our own death” trope is rubbish and that all creatures have it. Predator or prey, it’s your business all day long, isn’t it? One step further I will say that awareness of your own death is perhaps only the very first baby-step of consciousness.

One great leap further, perhaps a very important one, would be to have some awareness of what is going on while we yet live, I mean to ask, yes, death is the end of life – but does consciousness apply to our life? Are we aware of what we do with our life, what we spend it at? We are “the conscious animal” because we’ve figured out the time limit we’re under, but it would be a better definition if we actually had consciousness regarding our lifestyle – if most of us didn’t live according to forces beyond our own understanding or control, is what I’m trying to say. That’s sort of the definition of unconscious.

If you’re conscious, then tell me – what is the stated goal of your life? What’s the plan? Survive? Breed? Fight for the right to do so, if necessary? I suppose “digest” is also one your clever, conscious plans!

Feeling especially mean today. To be fair, I have concrete, conscious plans to digest today as well. But you know what I mean, tell ourselves we’re conscious all we like, we are achieving a destruction of our environment no-one wants to take credit for having done consciously, right? All our hopes and dreams, most of the good stuff dies with us, but much of the waste and damage accumulates. I have a rather grim view of us, but even I do not think this was planned. Not consciously planned.

How many of us can or do declare (I do declayuh!) at the end of our lives looking back, that we were conscious, how many get to say, “I meant to do that?” I personally have lived half a life of utterly blind self-deception since the first time I said that! There was something I was meaning to do, I swear, while I thought I alone was living intentionally at all, but that’s not what happened, so that’s not what it was. Forces beyond my understanding and control, I assume.

Failing that so far, or in our attempts to understand, we have zeroed in on what takes so much of our time and energy, the conflicts. It’s what grew this large brain, we say, and in this evolution-as-explanation paradigm, that is us, it’s what your meat-bag was made for. That’s what your massive brain is for, fighting these clever aggressive humans – never mind you put it that way, the logic sounds a little circular? Yes, not so much circular logic as a biological feedback being described, I know. So, the good minded folks think about restraint and containment, what with all that grey matter being bent on a fight. We are trying to escape that brutal past. Right?

I mean, except for most of what we do. If control was not also a fight, perhaps.

I mean, except for soldiers. Or street soldiers and other criminals. Or criminal justice. Or anyone in politics or competitive sports. Even competitive figure skating, you ask some people! Those folks need to use that evolution, don’t they? In fact, we all do, because those folks are everywhere. There is no life for a rabbit among the foxes. This is your life. Stay strong or it will be either a bad one, a short one, or both.

Again, I am not happy to be described that way by some violent creature who can fight well enough to kill whole planets but can’t think his way out of a simple damned if you do, damned if you don’t bind like this. If it’s not smart enough to see the trap, then it’s not smart enough to be giving lectures.

I am certainly not happy to be given my marching papers by this ape who introduces himself this way, as possessed of a debatable portion of free will in matters of violence. This is the guy telling us who we are. Really?

“This is your life.”

The Hell you say, Sir.

It’s a nasty little irony that one thing we may count as a sure sign of consciousness is lying. Not sure, I mean, I know what they mean, but people lie to accomplish some less than conscious goals also, so lying while unconscious is hardly rare. In fact, it’s not impossible to argue that inasmuch as deceit has a purpose, then unconsciousness also has a purpose. No point in a lie if everyone’s walking about fully conscious of everything, who are you fooling? It takes two for a deceit to function, one to tell the lie and one to not know it.

I write every week about the lie, about just what it is we do that feeds this evil wolf within us despite our denials, but not so much today. Today, I want to start something. I’ve told you that I find this view of us offensive and unproductive – did I? I meant to. I mean unproductive of peace and progress, of course. My entire thesis is that it’s productive of just the situation it declares to pre-exist – but today I want to ask you.

Are you happy with this state of affairs? With this description of yourself and with the life before you in this view? This is what you were made for, here’s your rifle, good luck out there? Moreover – do you feel conscious about it? Like you had some choice in the matter? Or does it maybe feel like if there is a greater share of consciousness out there somewhere, that the powers are keeping it to themselves? Or perhaps that there just isn’t, and they’re keeping only that data point, that atom of awareness to themselves, for what advantage that may give?

Mic drop, end of blog, pithy and bitter, as usual.

Or . . .

. . . or we could choose not to simply declare ourselves conscious in this unconscious state and make the effort. I don’t expect everyone to suddenly agree with me and change their minds, but I’m asking for our scientists to revolt, to distress their parents and their churches and their donors and bosses, by not rubber stamping the status quo as the way it is and the only way it can be, to rebel by not projecting our guessed at past onto the future, but to find the next move, the way forward and to life, to a future.

You’re the brain with the pocket protector, you’re supposed to find the solutions, not tell us there are none. Figure stuff out, don’t be happy to merely describe the end of the world, like the media does, don’t just narrate and watch!

Simply describing yourself as aggressive and saying, “watch out for me,” is a very low level of consciousness indeed, hardly worthy of science. And did no-one ever tell you that you’re not supposed to tell a kid he is bad, only that he’s doing bad things, and why? That’s what I’m talking about here, you are telling more than kids exactly that. Of course, that’s what the Koch Foundation is paying for.

Chin up! Be brave – and follow me. I’m a philosopher by nature, I can figure this stuff out in English, in words, but this needs scientists, proof and publishing, chemistry and math, all of that – let’s get something started. Or, you know. Planet of the Apes.





February 14th., 2020

Inobut – the Crackpot’s Dilemma

Believe it or not, I have some crude idea of my chances of being right about antisocialization theory.

Can we just say, “not good,” spare my ego a little?

Cue the waiter sketch from Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life” – “That’s why I became a blogger! I know it’s not much of a philosophie, but, well . . . “

I’ll stop there and say instead – but what if? Wait –

In these darkening times, I keep seeing “The Mote in God’s Eye” every time I close my eyes, a science fiction popular novel – Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle. There’s a planet, populated by primate-like creatures, from civilized sorts on down, but when our people start doing some archaeology there, what they find is disturbing, it’s just layer upon layer of ruins, stretching back as deep as they can dig, showing a history of civilization and collapse, a simple life cycle, repeating forever – and you know books are really about us.

In real life, we and our planet are in all sorts of trouble, but all signs are we are simply not up to turning ourselves around. More importantly to my mind, the things we do attempt, the only efforts we seem able to make amount to a fight, over what’s left, over how to respond, over who is causing more harm. Capitalism is a fight, money is a fight, everything is a fight. We try to stop the petrostate, they fight back, because fighting is our one size fits all answer for everything. This state of affairs, that the oil CEO sees a fight before him rather than the world dying under him, this bias, this prioritization, this is how you bake a lasagna of dead civilizations for future alien archaeologists’ core samples.

We’re an overly social species. We force the prioritization of human concerns over all else, over reason. In fact, it is my contention that the two are opposites, social and rational. The human difference is this magic trick, that we are able to create irrationality, force one another to do the impossible and unthinkable.

So, that’s what I worry about, that’s what I’m trying to solve.

Taking it head on, if I may mention, macho bloody mountain of intellectual pursuits! Nothing but the very top for me, saving the world. If I may also mention, I’m alone up here, me and some hippie Sherpas; the nabobs of human origins won’t even comment. Like any parent, like anybody really, they are very invested in punishment and do not wish to discuss that punishment is made of abuse.

Back to the point, I know it’s a long shot that I alone have happened upon it, of course it is. I squeaked into Mensa, but I am the lowest of the Mensans, nothing about me suggests I should figure out something the Einstein types, the world’s geniuses haven’t. All I can say is, if I think I’m right about my AST, I can only say it was a confluence of accidents, some rare alignment of the stars; perhaps I have a genetic mutation that makes it possible to worry about it for decades, that may be one of the stars – but what if?

The thing is, having this anomaly, or having been on this train of thought for long enough, I feel I’m at that stage of the investigation, that having eliminated other possibilities, what remains must be the answer, however apparently unlikely.

Are there competitive theories?

What other ideas are on offer to save the world?

Granting for the moment that my diagnosis is right, that it’s the fighting that needs to stop, what other suggestions are being made to address the fighting that have any hope compared to us moving a great deal of the hurt out of the “Pro” column for the very first time?

You know, an early impression in all this for me was that the idea of capital punishment hurt my feelings, my hope for us, to think that the good folks were willing to break the first commandment, and if so, what did we expect of any bad ones?

Religion has hopes for divine intervention, but it seems the fight has infected their efforts in the real world, I think anyone but any particular church’s adherents would say, that on balance, religion serves the fighting, that the basic biology of human group conflict is mostly what is happening there, religion is a group identifier more than a pacifier.

Secular progressivism seems good, but while we learn more and more about how we are destroying things, the powers that be are apparently refusing to learn and carrying on despite public opinion – even apparently hurrying the process, it looks like. Modern progressives have good opinions, good ideas, and they always have had, and here we are, nonetheless. Mostly, it’s another fight to join, just a better one, a more moral one, but another battle, like all things. How do I also complain that we’re not winning, if I’m supposed to not be endorsing the fight?

I don’t think we ever “win” this bigger threat, the end of the environment, by winning any fights. My conclusions, unlikely in the extreme, I know, but what are yours, are that the only way we have a future is we somehow eventually convince ourselves that the fight is the problem. We have to learn to not want to fight. It means we have to start setting things up differently.

It means when the next generation complains about a violent world, you don’t take them to the gym and teach them how to box.

It means when your toddler hits its sibling, you don’t say, “No, child, little people don’t hit each other, big people hit little ones. Like this, see?”

It means lots of things that are unlikely in the extreme! Of course, our interest is that our kids can fight – just not that everyone else’s can, and, relatedness, I know. Of course the world runs how on the powerful like it, not how on peers work things out, so the parental lesson is real world education, right?

But “everyone else” fighting includes some very bad stuff, oil CEOs, soldiers of all sorts, crime. So, what if?

What if there were some way, some highly dubious way that may not be a magic bullet (and rejects bullet metaphors!) to fix everything immediately but would possibly begin to turn things around very soon and show us the way? What if it seemed like the only way?

Wouldn’t you try?




February 2nd., 2020