On going disagreements about social issues or personal issues that are a constant source of conflict with family or friends can range from darkly funny to intensely frustrating. Will these conflicts ever end. One might pause to consider some solace. Some part of us thinks that by coming up with newer or better arguments, or just master the art of the casual debate we can wear our opponents down. We can win. Sometimes it takes a while, but we do have incremental progress. History testifies to that concept to some degree. Once we were a world of knuckle draggers who believed in things which bumped in the night. Religion was an a rational empirical answer to those bumps but was progress by way of at least giving our fears some systematic organization. If you believed in green ooze covered goblins, the church may have declared there is no such thing. The church only accepts the existence of while ooze free goblins and belief otherwise is heresy. Your total population of apparitions goes down quite a bit when they have to be accounted for and agreed upon some a central authority. Progress in cognition and the realization of the normative and its consequences is not a neat straight line on a graph. Bits and pieces of the past are held on to way must their usefulness. Tyrants remain tyrants, abusive individuals remain abusive, after all the evidence should lead them to see the error of their ways and beliefs. Official bogeymen are difficult to have removed from the record in order to move on to the next ladder of enlightenment. Yes, progress is like a video game with trolls, dragons and fallible gods. What if the trolls are not just on official decrees, but deeply embedded in our organic being. So much for those grains of solace we just had from thinking a proper argument and some perseverance would save the day. How Perception Reveals Brain Differences – The ways in which brains differ from one another show up in the ways their owners perceive the world
Not surprisingly, subjects differed greatly in the accuracy of their judgments (independent of the level of their performance). Think of the game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, where contestants have to judge whether they want to use a lifeline before they know the answer, depending on their confidence. Some people are astute, using the lifelines wisely; other people fritter them away. The cognitive scientists extracted a measure of variability of introspection and discovered that this measure correlated with variability in gray matter volume in the right anterior prefrontal cortex. The more neurons you have in this region in the front of the brain, the better your introspection. Not that your performance goes up, but the insight you have into your performance—whether you thought you did well or not—increased. Patients with lesions in these regions typically lose the ability to introspect. And this part of the neocortex has expanded more than any other region in primates. Again, the neuronal mechanisms underlying this correlation remain unknown for now.
Rees’s studies establish that differences in the morphology, or shape, of our brains are mirrored in differences in the way we consciously experience and apprehend the world, including our own brains and bodies. In this way, neuroscience maps the physical structure of the material brain onto the inner geometry of phenomenal and ineffable experience.
Some the cocoon of our own self-awareness and our emotional and physical needs and desires is often difficult to see others thinking, truly thinking, much less thinking about thinking ( running a down a laundry list of beliefs, without being informed by knowledge, is marginally thinking). If you want to make the world a better place much easier to think in terms of getting everyone food, clothing and shelter than trying to get them to think about the cognitive processes needed to be reevaluated in order to stop wasting water, stop persecuting women, stop dumping toxins into the atmosphere, stop thinking you can have a civilization without taxes or stop killing all the black rhinoceros. So you’re an adult who wants your parents to stop thinking of you as someone who will eat crayons if left to your own devices. Good luck with that, your chances are better than even. Want a mass of people to stop doing bad things. That’s a lifelong project that may not reap benefits until long after you’ve rejoined the carbon cycle.
From an interview with author Mary Cappello about her book “Swallow”, “Swallow”: The strange things people swallow
The one story from the book that really stuck with me was the story of the “Human Ostrich.”
Yes, I read about him in an article that appeared in the Brooklyn Medical Journal for 1922. He would swallow things that members of the audience would pass up to the stage. In the course of an evening, this might amount to 80 pins, a lot of hair pins, and long wire nails, most of which, according to the doctor who wrote about him, he would excrete without harm to himself. One night, however, he accidentally swallowed a 4-foot-long window chain that he had been inserting into his throat and pulling back out (much in the way a sword swallower might with a sword). He arrived at Dr. Hopkins’ offices in a great deal of pain, and begged to be operated on. Upon opening his stomach, Hopkins discovers “129 pins, 6 hair-pins, two horseshoe nails, 12 half-inch wire nails, 2 door-keys, 3 chains, and a large ring.”
From here on in, the unnamed Human Ostrich decides to give up his career and try to make a living selling pictures of the cut the surgeon’s knife inflicted on his stomach, but a few months later he returns to the hospital with more stuff inside him and claims he was forced to swallow things by a group of men who recognize him as the “Human Ostrich” in a bar. Perhaps his compulsion was fed by his audience’s need in a symbiotic sort of way. As I put it in the book, “he was forced to swallow hard, sharp bits of the object world by a hungry crowd.”
Just reading this made me uneasy. I have issues with hearing about, much less watching anyone swallow strange objects. And as uneasy as I am with people like the Human Ostrich, what is wrong with the people who showed up for his performances and would bring metal or broken glass for him to consume. It’s odd they did seem to have some kind of symbiotic relationship. Sorry for the pun, but each seemed to feed off the others compulsions.
Also in world oddities, State Senator Jim Alesi Sues Couple that Declined to Press Charges Against Him. In short. A Republican state senator breaks into a home that is under construction. Criminal trespassing. Having illegally entered the premises he feels the need to use a ladder. He slips and falls off the ladder – which was in good repair. He hurts himself. Property owners decide to be gracious and magnanimous enough not to press charges. As the statute of limitations runs out on the couples time to press charges the Republican state Senator sues for his injury. When contacted about the lawsuit Alesi issues this statement – “My attorney has filed a civil lawsuit on my behalf… beyond that I have no comment.” Attorneys do not get up one day and decide to file a civil suit. Their clients have to initiate said suit. The couple could still sue Alesi for trespassing and possibly criminal mischief. If it was me and the Senator wanted to play psycho hard ball, I’d give the senator about five minutes to drop the suit, publicly apologize and offer restitution for any expenses the couple has incurred, or file a counter suit.
Ms. Wilson led a 51-member contingent to Geneva in April 1962 to raise their voices before delegates to a 17-nation disarmament conference. They met with the conference’s co-chairmen, an American and a Russian, and handed over bundles of petitions with more than 50,000 signatures calling for an end to nuclear testing. Coretta Scott King, the wife of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was a member of that group.
In August 1963, the United States, the Soviet Union and Britain signed a historic treaty banning atomic testing in the atmosphere, in space and underwater. The idea to form Women Strike for Peace, Ms. Wilson said, came to her in 1961 while she was sitting with friends in the backyard of her house in the Georgetown section of Washington. They were troubled by the jailing in London of the philosopher Bertrand Russell for his part in antinuclear demonstrations.
[ ]…In 1965, Ms. Wilson’s activism attracted the attention of a subcommittee of the House Un-American Activities Committee, which summoned her and two colleagues to testify in secret about their efforts to gain a visa for a Japanese professor who had come to the United States for a lecture tour espousing pacifism. They were convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to testify unless the hearing was opened to the public. A year later, an appeals court overturned their convictions.
Considering the opening article this would be considered closing on a positive note. Not very often, but once in a while, good and rationalism wins out. Their rarity is one reason to cherish those victories.
Interior of Bomb Shelter 1955. Original caption,
Garden City, L. I.: H-Bomb Hideaway. Snug as a bug in a rug, a family can sustain itself for three to five days after an H-Bomb blast in this buried tank shelter, called a Kidde Kokoon, is manufactured by Walter Kidde Nuclear Laboratories of Garden City, L. I. It offers protection from blast damage in a zone extending three to 12 miles from a nuclear explosion. The shelter also protects against exposure to radioactive fallout. At far end is the fan which draws purified air through a special filter. The handle is used in the event of power failure. Equipment includes a radiation detector, portable radio, protective clothing, blankets, tools, first aid equipment and food supplies. (© Bettmann/CORBIS)