Why are you so biased?

Nomad

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I would argue that the inner self (the mind) is itself a product of genetics and environment.

Personally, I'd add one's choices to the list of what makes up the inner self. Certainly one could argue that choices made can be biased by both genetics and environment, but I for one believe strongly in free will, and that the choices we make (good and bad) play a large role in determining who we are.
 

Archangel M

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Personally, I'd add one's choices to the list of what makes up the inner self. Certainly one could argue that choices made can be biased by both genetics and environment, but I for one believe strongly in free will, and that the choices we make (good and bad) play a large role in determining who we are.

I agree...we are the sum of our choices.
 

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Glad you made it, belated by decades. :) Dramatic as the change was though, I'm guessing you still felt like the same old "you." In the case of Phineas Gage the railroad worker, his brain injury turned him from a quiet, prudent gentle man to an angry man who liked to fight and squander his money gambling. Our personalities and thoughts come from our brain. Our brain is a biological structure that is the product of the interaction of genes and environment.

This is not about ideology or belief. This is what the evidence shows.

While this is true, there is also plenty of evidence of feedback loops. What you do, especially with plenty of repetition, becomes a part of you, and can rewire brain connections, making some channels stronger over time. I believe that thoughts and conscious choices work in a similar fashion, creating patterns. This is easily seen in people that go from one abusive relationship to another, or in many kids, who, when told often enough how worthless they are, see themselves as worthless. Of course, the reverse can also be done, where you can teach healthy connections and patterns by reinforcing positive behavior.

It's a combination of all of the above, IMO.
 

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While this is true, there is also plenty of evidence of feedback loops. What you do, especially with plenty of repetition, becomes a part of you, and can rewire brain connections, making some channels stronger over time. I believe that thoughts and conscious choices work in a similar fashion, creating patterns.

But those thoughts and choices are themselves shaped by hardwired patterns and tendencies. You face a choice: risky option or safe option, which do you go with? Well, we know that risk tolerance or risk seeking is an innate trait, and that will influence all future decisions. Same with traits like sociability or novelty-seeking, which will again influence your decisions.

I do believe there is something approaching free will, but I also think it is wrong to separate our mind from our biology. There is no independent, aphysical logic machine housed in your brain which can make decisions free from influence. Your decisions are shaped in part by your biology. Even consciousness itself is not the unitary experience we think it is, it is multiple independent processes that are welded together by our brain to present a convenient interface. This is shown by conditions like prosopagnosia, where faces can be described, but have difficulty being recognized, even with close family. Or the condition (can't remember name) where the individual can clearly describe what a square is, but when they try to draw one, a circle comes out every time. If our minds were separate from our brains, these conditions would not exist.

It all feeds together in a complex way, and cannot be separated.
 

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"If something happens very slowly over quite some time, maybe over decades, the different parts of the brain take up functions that would normally be done by the part that is pushed to the side," added Muenke, who was not involved in the case.

While truly remarkable, that case does not disprove my point. Otherwise, Terri Schiavo, who had more tissue volume than this man, would have been walking and talking instead of vegetating. Strokes would have no effect on anyone. Brain injuries would not change behaviors and personalities. And so forth.
 

Archangel M

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People in the world cannot identify their own mind. They believe that what they see, or hear, or feel, or know, is mind. They are blocked, and so cannot see the brilliant spirit of their original mind.-Huang-po.

...

Not thinking of good, not thinking of evil - tell me, what was your original face before your mother and father were born?-Zen Koan.
 

Sukerkin

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Some research that I found fascinating, especially as it shed light on some symptoms that I suffer from my bike accident, is that each hemisphere of your brain has it's own consciousness.

Sounds a bit weird and creepy but it seems that even in our own heads we are a committee :D.

My accident damaged the interface between the hemispheres of my brain and when I get over tired (or too tipsy) there is a tendency for the usually less dominant side to steal the reins - it's very odd and hard to describe because it's still 'me' but (all too often) not behaving in a fashion "I" approve of :lol:. It's akin to the normal dis-inhibiting effects of over-indulging but not really the same.
 

Nomad

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But those thoughts and choices are themselves shaped by hardwired patterns and tendencies. You face a choice: risky option or safe option, which do you go with? Well, we know that risk tolerance or risk seeking is an innate trait, and that will influence all future decisions. Same with traits like sociability or novelty-seeking, which will again influence your decisions.

I do believe there is something approaching free will, but I also think it is wrong to separate our mind from our biology. There is no independent, aphysical logic machine housed in your brain which can make decisions free from influence. Your decisions are shaped in part by your biology. Even consciousness itself is not the unitary experience we think it is, it is multiple independent processes that are welded together by our brain to present a convenient interface. This is shown by conditions like prosopagnosia, where faces can be described, but have difficulty being recognized, even with close family. Or the condition (can't remember name) where the individual can clearly describe what a square is, but when they try to draw one, a circle comes out every time. If our minds were separate from our brains, these conditions would not exist.

It all feeds together in a complex way, and cannot be separated.

We also have the ability to go against our nature; recognize a pattern and choose deliberately to go outside of it, for better or worse. Many people never make that leap, but I know several that have as well, and have created real and lasting changes in themselves by effectively denying or redirecting their innate urges.

I'm saying exactly the same thing from the other side of the coin. Yes, it all feeds together in a complex way that is difficult to separate. Yes, thoughts and choices can be guided by biology and genetics, but on the flipside, thoughts and choices can also directly influence and alter the biology itself. It's a subtle process, and obviously much more difficult to define than a traumatic brain injury which changes personality, but the feedback loops are there, and can be utilized.

This is the basis for the concept that if you're nervous, but project and "fake" confidence instead, eventually the confidence becomes real. You form new mental pathways through conscious mimicry until they are established and "become" the trait itself.
 

Empty Hands

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People in the world cannot identify their own mind. They believe that what they see, or hear, or feel, or know, is mind. They are blocked, and so cannot see the brilliant spirit of their original mind.-Huang-po.

Why do you believe in a non-physical mind? What evidence can you point to that validates your beliefs? How do you explain physical changes (i.e. trauma) that affect the mind? Assuming you are correct, what sort of evidence could we look for that validates your belief?
 

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Some research that I found fascinating, especially as it shed light on some symptoms that I suffer from my bike accident, is that each hemisphere of your brain has it's own consciousness.

Sounds a bit weird and creepy but it seems that even in our own heads we are a committee :D.

My accident damaged the interface between the hemispheres of my brain and when I get over tired (or too tipsy) there is a tendency for the usually less dominant side to steal the reins - it's very odd and hard to describe because it's still 'me' but (all too often) not behaving in a fashion "I" approve of :lol:. It's akin to the normal dis-inhibiting effects of over-indulging but not really the same.

Interesting, Mark.

I don't know if my comments are really relevant, but when I was about 3 years old I was quite the little monkey. Always climbing on stuff. I wandered over to the neighbors yard and started climbing a tree. The branch I was holding broke and I fell out of the tree, I suspect not more than 5 feet, but it knocked me cold. My brother, one year older than I am, thought I had died and ran home in a panic. I ended up spending the night in the hospital, and recovered seemingly none the worse for wear.

I have my own demons. Minor stuff, but it's there and I fight it from time to time. bad habits, behavior that has the potential to be sort of self-destructive if I don't keep it under control. I sometimes wonder if that knock on the head at such a young age had anything to do with my personality as I grew older. Maybe if that accident had not happened I might be a different person today. Or not. I really have no idea but it's an interesting item to ponder at times.
 

5-0 Kenpo

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Where's your data then? There is plenty out there on the heritability of various traits, and plenty of proof that shows that the "inner mind" is not at all independent of biology and outside influences.

With all due respect, I don't need proof. This discussion is ostensibly not about proving anything to anyone, but rather for each of us to come to some understanding about each other's perspective.

It's easy to "think differently", but I would like to see some data.

Not so easy to think differently. But think differently I do. Can I give you scientific proof. Nope, not at all. All I would be able to give you is personal experience. It wouldn't satisfy your inquiry, so I won't bore you with it.

As to your extended point, I do not disclaim all responsibility for one's actions. Explanation and understanding is not exculpation. Our daily experiences are indistinguishable from "free will", no matter the influences, thus it makes sense to treat people as autonomous and responsible. To some greater or smaller degree they are.

To some degree they are not however, to which the proof is ironclad - and often ignored.

You seem to be talking about the practical effects. That I get. I am more referring to the philosophical ones. How can one be truly responsible for one's actions if it is essentially "pre-determined" by genetics and environment. Which is why I don't really understand, when someone who believes as you do, why you would get so indignant about certain actions that people take. You have rationally come to the understanding that for all intents and purposes, it's not their fault.

That doesn't mean that we as a society don't do something about it. But, and this may not go for you personally, people who I have seen who think as you do get so offended by certain actions, while at the same time philosophically absolving them of any ultimate responsibility because it is the fault of genetics and environment. What's to get offended about. It's not their fault.

For instance, if I were to hurt someone that you cared about, although you might believe for the good of society I should be inprisoned, from what perspective would you really have to make a personal judgment about me? I go back to the Vulcan analogy that I used in another thread.

ETA: I called myself a conservative and voted for Republicans until 2005. Don't be too quick to tie "my beliefs" into a scientific view of the world. My scientific view of the world never changed, but my beliefs did.

I'm not quite sure what you mean here.
 

Empty Hands

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Not so easy to think differently. But think differently I do. Can I give you scientific proof. Nope, not at all. All I would be able to give you is personal experience. It wouldn't satisfy your inquiry, so I won't bore you with it.

And yet I can give you scientific proof that suggests the opposite of what you believe. When confronted with two hypotheses, one which has proof and one which does not, why would you ever choose to believe the one with no proof against the one that did? Your personal experiences are subject to well known biases, which is why we have all the scientific tools we do. My personal experience suggests that the Sun revolves around a flat Earth or that light travels instantaneously, which we all know is not true. Why privilege these particular personal experiences against the scientific data? Because you want them to be true? It fits your religious beliefs? Not good enough.

How can one be truly responsible for one's actions if it is essentially "pre-determined" by genetics and environment. Which is why I don't really understand, when someone who believes as you do, why you would get so indignant about certain actions that people take. You have rationally come to the understanding that for all intents and purposes, it's not their fault.

Again, this is not about belief, no more than I "believe" in the existence of DNA or protons. However, I don't believe in determinism, so your argument is misplaced. We exist on a continuum between disembodied logic machines without influences and hardwired computer programs. Where on that continuum I can't say because there is not enough data to say. However, we are clearly closer to that hardwired program than most people are comfortable with.

I'm not quite sure what you mean here.

You said that my politics followed from my understanding of the human mind. My point was that my politics have changed while my view of the mind has not.
 

5-0 Kenpo

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And yet I can give you scientific proof that suggests the opposite of what you believe.

That is the key word.

When confronted with two hypotheses, one which has proof and one which does not, why would you ever choose to believe the one with no proof against the one that did?

Because there is enough lack of information in science that allows my biases to fit in. Not only that, but I don't necessarily believe that, in this instance, the two have to be mutually exclusive.

Your personal experiences are subject to well known biases, which is why we have all the scientific tools we do. My personal experience suggests that the Sun revolves around a flat Earth or that light travels instantaneously, which we all know is not true.

But we only know it's not true because we have "experienced" a scientific experiment. So once again, it still comes down to experience.

Why privilege these particular personal experiences against the scientific data? Because you want them to be true? It fits your religious beliefs? Not good enough.

Not good enough for you, but it is for me. I'm not trying to convince you. I'm merely explaining my position to you. But that is not to say that my belief, in God for instance, is based merely on personal experience, but logically deductive based on my knowledge of current scientific understanding.

And, quite frankly, I have not seen any evidence that disproves what I believe. Again, there is a lack of information in science that allows what I believe to still be true.

However, it all has the ability to come down on whichever scientific hypothesis you understand to be more likely then not, so it would be an unproductive position to argue.

Again, this is not about belief, no more than I "believe" in the existence of DNA or protons. However, I don't believe in determinism, so your argument is misplaced. We exist on a continuum between disembodied logic machines without influences and hardwired computer programs. Where on that continuum I can't say because there is not enough data to say. However, we are clearly closer to that hardwired program than most people are comfortable with.

What is a disembodied logic machine? Maybe I'm misunderstanding the concept, but you earlier asked the question, "Why do you believe in the non-physical mind?" What would make something "disembodied" in the context of the mind?

How can the human mind have a "section" that is free from influence. Even our ability to understand logic is based on genetic and environmental influences though, isn't it? So doesn't your argument end up back where it started, meaning that, whether we understand all of the causes or not, we are not truely responsible for our behavior?

And just for clarification, I'm not arguing, at least in this thread. I'm just trying to understand the position.
 
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