Perception, Psychology, & Evolution


Perception flows from interior to exterior regions of the brain, from evolutionarily oldest to newest.

An unidentifiable perception flows first through the startle reaction of fear and flight, then the emotive, superstitious and paranormal explanation before finally, when enough data has been collected, to fit to our rational understanding of nature.

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Comment on Kloor – Trusted Influentials – Rising in the reasonableness ranking


Science journalist Keith Kloor, has an article up at his blog Collide-a-Scape at the Discover.com website titled: Trusted communicators who shape the GMO Discourse.  Kloor seems to be a fairly sensible fellow, and is a journalist who is generally rising in the Meme Merchant’s quality blogger index.

Lately, KK has been on a sort of anti anti-GMO tear, that is trying to roll back some of the fear, hysteria and disinformation that is surrounding the entire anti-gmo movement.  In today’s case he talks about the role of people he terms “influentials” in shaping the debate within the anti-GMO movement:

Influentials are the information brokers that have major media platforms and big receptive audiences. For example, on the GMO issue, top influentials include Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman, Dr. Oz, and Vandana Shiva. Each of these influentials have been responsible for spreading or endorsing nonsense about GMOs via social media and other highly trafficked venues.

Its not the point of this blog post to take on the topic of Genetically Modified Organisms in general, or even the anti-GMO movement in particular.  I am much more interested in the notion of “Trusted Communicators”, why do we trust them?  And why do we continue to trust them even if they have been demonstrated to be wrong on many occasions about what they are saying?

Trusted is not the same as trustworthy, as I’m sure we can all agree – at least in principle.  But when it come to your own cherished beliefs however…

Kloor quotes Princeton social scientist Linda Fiske:

People trust people they think are like themselves. This is human nature. They trust people who they think share their values and goals.

I would paraphrase Ms Fiske slightly, ‘People trust people who think like themselves’. People like having their world view reinforced, its very natural.  People don’t like cognitive dissonance, they don’t like doubt or uncertainty.  An excess of doubt or uncertainty can make decision making difficult, or even day to day functioning.  People walk out the door every day with the expectation that they will not be run over by the bus or a planetesimals will fall out of the sky and wipe out civilization.  We tend to reserve doubt for critical situations, and ones where we expect to need it.

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New Artwork by Atani – towards a new mythology of dispute resolution


Upaya gives Phi a good talking-to as Pee looks on                                              [©Atani Studios-2012]

Wygart is having some kind of a dispute with a friend elsewhere in the digisphere that is revolving around the extreme difficulty there is in talking about the authenticity of knowledge gained from non-ordinary experiences.    Hopefully, with the able assistance of our senior editor Upaya, some type of gainful resolution will be brought to the matter.

I’ve decided to be helpful by illustrating how things actually work around here.  Usually trouble starts with something Phi does or says, [as ironically happens to be the case between Wygart and his friend ] –  it’s simply amazing the amount of trouble that fool character causes!  Next the Meme Merchant team gets together to start to work on the problem.  The method that is used around here is to use characters to represent mythologically various endogenous and archetypal psychological functions.  These characters are then worked up in the form of some kind of art:  a picture, a story, poetry, epigram & etc to attack the problem at the archetypal and mythological level.  Once this is done it is easier to interpret down into the more mundane psychological levels without the human people’s hurt feelings getting in the way – or – being limited by discussing higher level psychological functions in a lower level mind-space.

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Jamcracker Punk-Rock Piracy – the expression of free will by adult-right-acting-anarchists and neo-lifestyle-anarchist-Johnny Depp-rock’n’roll-pirates and FINALLY towards a science of authentic experience


So you want to be a pirate?                                                          [Pirate Marooned, Howard Pyle, 1910]

I seem to have set some kind of a record with this title, Uncle Marshal would be so pleased.

One of the really great things about the blogsophere, it delivers the most unanticipated sources of in-spiration to your front blogstep.   In today’s case the instigatrix is one Clotilda Jamcraker a very interesting lady and blogger from Texas who stopped by recently and ‘liked’ one of my posts.

I am inspired today by the opening rave [as opposed to rant] on Ms. JamCracker’s regular website ClotidaJamCracker.com, [as opposed to her blog].  What is interesting that this is the second time she has inspired me to post, this either means that there is some deep synergistic resonance happening between our two websites – or – basically anything anyone says can trigger a thought response in me that immediately flows through the creodes of my normal though process towards what you are about to get.

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The Psychic Octopus – Modeling Magical Oracles of Irrational Processes, A Comment on Pielke and Silver


Wygart has a comment in over at Pielke the Younger’s blog on his recent post Parlor Games and Predicting Presidential Elections in which he discusses an article by Nate Silver at the NY Times on the ability of political scientists to predict elections based upon measurements of various [mostly economic] “fundamentals”

Silver asks:

Can political scientists “predict winners and losers with amazing accuracy long before the campaigns start”?

And his answer

The answer to this question, at least since 1992, has been emphatically not. Some of their forecasts have been better than others, but their track record as a whole is very poor.

And the models that claim to be able to predict elections based solely on the fundamentals — that is, without looking to horse-race factors like polls or approval ratings — have done especially badly. Many of these models claim to explain as much as 90 percent of the variance in election outcomes without looking at a single poll. In practice, they have had almost literally no predictive power, whether looked at individually or averaged together.

Pielke the younger says:

“Ouch.”

And he goes on, in his usual inimitable way, to dissects the issue, establishes the parameters of what a ‘skillful’ model would have to accomplish in order to prove its, er, skillfulness, how modelers fool themselves and others into thinking that their pet model has some skill, and then lays out the actual track record – not good.

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