What influences us to think

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What influences us to think

Postby The two YOUs on November 3rd, 2017, 11:14 pm 

What influences or causes us to think, to form thoughts. Any help would be appreciated.
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Re: What influences us to think

Postby zetreque on November 3rd, 2017, 11:55 pm 

First thing that comes to my mind is the consumption of glucose and cellular respiration along with a few other elements and compounds. Driven by hormones telling us to consume it and essential amino acids so that we survive.
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Re: What influences us to think

Postby someguy1 on November 4th, 2017, 12:19 am 

zetreque » November 3rd, 2017, 9:55 pm wrote:First thing that comes to my mind is the consumption of glucose and cellular respiration along with a few other elements and compounds. Driven by hormones telling us to consume it and essential amino acids so that we survive.


Oh I was sure you would answer, "Russians."

In fact what influences us to think is the mass media. Whoever controls that controls controls the thoughts of the people. Edward Bernays is a big name along these lines. Got women to smoke cigarettes and helped overthrow the government of Guatemala for the CIA. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Bernays

ps -- OP, can you say whether you mean what is the biochemical basis of thought? Or why we have the thoughts we do? The former are biological. The latter are psychological and cultural.
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Re: What influences us to think

Postby BadgerJelly on November 4th, 2017, 2:55 am 

Everything. Pretty much our capacity to store memories and play around with them allows for an unimaginably array of possible thoughts. Thankfully most of the work is done unconsciously.

At a very basic level our emotions dictate how we deal with certain situations. The environment (and our own thoughts, being part of the "inner environment") also impact on what we feel and therefore what we think.

As an example you can activate the same neurons in someone's brain and get completely different subjective results which seem to be dictated by nothing other than mood. The example I am thinking of is a study done on smell. If happy the smell was "pleasant" and if angry or sad the smell was "foul", this even though the stimulated neurons in both cases was exactly the same.

So, vague sweepingly I would say EMOTION. That holds a vast array of other very intriguing questions embedded within.
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Re: What influences us to think

Postby Braininvat on November 4th, 2017, 10:00 am 

Oh I was sure you would answer, "Russians."
LOL!
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Re: What influences us to think

Postby Serpent on November 4th, 2017, 7:17 pm 

The two YOUs » November 3rd, 2017, 10:14 pm wrote:What influences or causes us to think, to form thoughts. Any help would be appreciated.

Existential threats. The need to survive. Our big brain is our best weapon of both defence and offence -
Unfortunately, it's also our most under-reported and treacherous tragic flaw.

Help with what?
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Re: What influences us to think

Postby mitchellmckain on November 4th, 2017, 10:03 pm 

What influences us to think?

Experiences including both objective and subjective as well as internal experiences of our own thinking and choices

What causes us to think?

This is an odd question, because thinking is not always just responsive. Some of us, at least, are always thinking about something. Without external stimuli we come up with reasons to think anyway. I suppose you could say brain activity in an awake or conscious brain constitutes a material cause. Assuming that dreaming is not included in what is meant by "thinking," then as long as we are awake and the brain is fully functional then many (if not all, and most certainly for some of us) think about something.

I was tempted to talk about free will but we rarely choose to think as opposed to not thinking. What we choose, when we do choose, is rather the direction of our thinking. It is much the same as life. We do not choose to live in the first place (though we may choose life over death at times thereafter), but we do choose what to do with our life.
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Re: What influences us to think

Postby The two YOUs on November 5th, 2017, 3:50 pm 

I am digesting the responses posted here. Will respond soon.
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Re: What influences us to think

Postby BioWizard on November 5th, 2017, 7:50 pm 

The two YOUs » 03 Nov 2017 10:14 pm wrote:What influences or causes us to think, to form thoughts. Any help would be appreciated.


Everything that enters our brain from our blood stream through the blood brain barrier can, in principle, influence our thinking. All the neural impulses that reach our brain through our sensory nervous system can, in principle, influence our thinking.
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Re: What influences us to think

Postby BioWizard on November 5th, 2017, 7:55 pm 

As for what causes us to have thoughts in the first place, I would say it’s having a brain that can form thoughts.

Not trying to be glib or anything - but the question was rather vague.
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Re: What influences us to think

Postby The two YOUs on November 5th, 2017, 8:46 pm 

Zetreque
It would seem that there is an influence that causes the process you described to start.

Someguy1
The bio is a reaction to the cause, to the influence to think. (I think) I have a theory as to the why that I’ll state it at the end of this.

BadgerJelly
Isn’t our capacity to store memories just the component material that we use to form thoughts?

I think emotion is a huge player in the game, and can be the influence, to go get the material that thoughts are made from, but, I don’t see emotion as the basic root cause (push) of why we form thoughts and mental images in the first place. We do so, whether we want to or not. I will get into a new theory about emotion and its effects, but first I want to establish the why of why we think. What is the root foundation.

Mitchellmckain
I agree, I think all of us are always thinking about something. Even without external stimuli, we come up with reasons to think anyway. We are under an influence to form thoughts and mental images.

Serpent
You say existential threats, and I tend to agree, if the influence to think is a part of our survival instinct.

Your question “Help with what”
I have written a book titled The Two YOUs. In it I presented a couple of new theories. My goal on this forum is to see if you fine folks can guide me to any flaws in them. Have I missed something crucial? I am not a PHD nor a word Smith, just a guy that has spent several decades trying to understand human nature and how we evolved to our current level.
I wish to pursue these theories in a step by step process, and so must start at “why do we think and form thoughts.” If you have ever tried meditation to quiet the mind, to slow or stop thoughts from forming, you know how hard it is. It is near impossible, except for a short period of time, and then usually an emotion tied to a memory will lure us back to the thought forming process. But that is a tool of the influence to form a thought. I believe that the root cause of thought formations is an inherited DNA/instinctive (mostly survival driven) push to do so. That the influence is an internal process that we don’t recognize, can’t control, and that is instinct based, like the instinct to find food, water, or sex.

This is the first time I have posted on a forum of any kind. So if I am not following some rule or common methodology, please correct me.
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Re: What influences us to think

Postby Serpent on November 5th, 2017, 9:01 pm 

Some questions:
When you say step by step, what is base-line? Your starting point? Step one?

What is "instinct"?
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Re: What influences us to think

Postby BioWizard on November 5th, 2017, 9:49 pm 

The “why” of thought formation is a very tricky question, and potentially not something you can answer scientifically.

If I ask you “why does the sun produce heat?”, you might be tempted to say “nuclear fusion”. But what you will have answered is more the question of how the sun produces heat. So why does it do it? Because it does.

My point here is, what if most of our conscious thought is simply a byproduct of other phenomena? If you program a bunch of robots to go around behaving exactly as humans would, and cover them with biologically live tissue, they may be indistinguishable to an external observer from humans. What if conscious thought was somehow noncausative of anything we do, but rather a byproduct if it?

Granted these are extreme suggestions, but something to think about while you’re at the other extreme of thinking about this.
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Re: What influences us to think

Postby Serpent on November 5th, 2017, 10:19 pm 

Why is water wet?
It's not something water chooses to do: wetness is part of its identifying character-set.
Not-thinking (or meditation) is never the at-rest state of biological entities with brains: we have to concentrate on and practice special techniques to slow or stop the thinking process. It also happens spontaneously sometimes in moments of extreme stress, when the conscious mind seems to shut down: deer-in-the-headlights syndrome. So - what exactly happens in the brain of that rabbit or deer caught in a situation for which its experience, memory and instinct have no appropriate response? What happens in the brain of a human when suddenly confronted with a phenomenon with which it's unequipped to cope?
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Re: What influences us to think

Postby The two YOUs on November 5th, 2017, 10:32 pm 

In moments of extreme stress the influence to form thoughts is removed and instinct takes over, because thought formation is too slow, and would endanger the host if it spent time pondering the possibilities. I think the at rest state of biological entities that have a big enough brain is thought/mental image formations based on the value of the memories that they are formed from. "What happens in the brain of a human when suddenly confronted with a phenomenon with which it's unequipped to cope?" Again, initially the process of thought formations stop and survival instinct takes over, in this case we would most likely run, a deer or rabbit has a different instinctive package, and non movement has in their past prevented them from discovery.
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Re: What influences us to think

Postby BioWizard on November 5th, 2017, 11:16 pm 

The two YOUs » 05 Nov 2017 09:32 pm wrote:In moments of extreme stress the influence to form thoughts is removed and instinct takes over


So then thought formation is not instinctive? Do humans not form thoughts without being taught to do so?

Maybe you need to define what you mean by instinct, as Serpent had suggested earlier.
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Re: What influences us to think

Postby Serpent on November 5th, 2017, 11:18 pm 

The two YOUs » November 5th, 2017, 9:32 pm wrote:In moments of extreme stress the influence to form thoughts is removed and instinct takes over,

How? What pulls the switch?
Again, initially the process of thought formations stop and survival instinct takes over, in this case we would most likely run, a deer or rabbit has a different instinctive package, and non movement has in their past prevented them from discovery.

Both of those animals are natural runners; they only become motionless when there is insufficient head-start for flight. Apes flee or fight, bluff or hide, call for backup or climb - depending on circumstances.
But in some situations, we don't have an instinctive default response, we simply "freeze" - not for any logical or evolutionary reason, and in fact it's the response most likely to get us killed.

I do find the question of instinct intriguing, because so many dismiss complex animal behaviour as "just instinct". Where is the line between instinct and thought? What is the evolutionary progression? How does a brain keep parallel tracks of instinct and thought going? How does it reconcile them and switch from one to the other?
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Re: What influences us to think

Postby The two YOUs on November 8th, 2017, 10:54 pm 

BioWizard and Serpent

First off sorry for the delay in responding, I wanted to do some thinking on your responses and a few things on the honey do list. Also thanks to all for taking the time to read and respond to my posts.

The definition that I think best fits my usage of Instinct is “Instinct is an influence with its primary function being that of survival.”

In my previous statement “In moments of extreme stress the influence to form thoughts is removed and (I should have put in the word SURIVAL instinct) instinct takes over, because thought formation is too slow, and would endanger the host if it spent time pondering the possibilities.” Instinct covers a wide range of influences, survival being the most powerful. I believe that we have to form thoughts, that we don’t have a choice. Our Survival instinct will shut down this process in times of Danger. When the danger has been resolved or discovered not to be a real threat, our survival instinct releases its control over thought and our normal DNA/Instinctive influence to form thoughts exerts itself.

I went to the forums topics here and read comments on the topic of “instinct” and I agree with the comment that is a slippery label.

(From the forum) Freud describes it as a “drive”.

Paralith stated “Unfortunately, like many terms in science, the exact definition and usage of the word “instinct” varies a lot from field to field, and even from person to person” (and) I’ve rarely come across people using this (the) strong instinct definition outside of behavioral ecology classrooms. Most people us it as a catch-all term for any behavior or behavioral urge that is not largely based on conscious, self-aware thought.” “I assume that by heritable you mean that is has a genetic basis. This is where things can get a little bit tricky, however. Strong instinct would definitely fall under this definition-it has to be genetic if no environmental input is required for the behavior to be carried out.”

By Forest Dump
“Some instinct would be behaviors that are written into DNA. Basic biological “urges” to eat, stay alive or procreate could count here. Along these lines could be behavior influenced or controlled by hormones.”

Paralith also stated “Your brain is a massive Pattern finding machine-that’s what is does best, all the time.”
And “If you’re going to have a scientific discussion about instinct, you’re going to end up not using that actual word very much, precisely because of its lack of specific measurable meaning. If you want to use it under your own definition for a given conversation, that’s fine too.


It seems to me that this pattern finding is an influence that is manifested.
I read this as “the PUSH to find patterns (and produce thought) is the influence of DNA/and or instinct. It is not a random act or directed by self. The exact how of this is not known at this time but we all think all the time and cannot help it.


Paralith also stated. “There is the issue of validating with certainty that the behavior in question is fixed, unlearned, and unaffected by any environmental input. This is not simple. I mention DNA because the assumption is that the strong instinct is writ entirely in DNA, but showing that for any complex trait is very difficult. As I said, the evidence for something being a “strong instinct” usually consists of a behavior being exhibited prior to any known possible learning experience, and it is common to all individuals of the species.”

Neuro stated. “What behaviors are possible for the organism? This is of interest, because DNA and biological limitations define which behaviors are physically possible, in addition to which ones will be enacted by default (instinct).”

Cagla stated. “If we consider the definition of the strong instinct, could we say it functions because it’s primitive and unconscious?”

Mitcheilmckain stated above. “Thinking is not always just responsive. Some of us, at least, are always thinking about something. Without external stimuli we come up with reasons to think anyway.”


I’m saying that I believe that our brain is required to form thoughts (almost non-stop) and or mental images, and I point to DNA and or Survival Instinct as the source influence of this set of inherited instructions. My key overall premise is that we have to think and form thoughts, that there is something other than sensory input or emotional triggers that influences us to form thoughts. Without this push to form thoughts, Sensory input and emotional triggers would only operate like it does in most animals.

If sensory input and emotion were the only drivers of thought in humans, then the only things we would think about would be sensory related, and emotional experiences, if triggered. When the sensory input was removed we would cease forming thoughts related to the input. There would be no influence to create more thoughts by searching our memory, and we would not likely be able to associate tires with cars. (this is probably the state that many animals live with). Once an emotional experience passed we would revert to awaiting the next sensory input. Without the PUSH to form thoughts the things we had stored in memory would just sit there, unsearched and no reason for retrieval. An emotional experience would not bring up related emotional memories (as happens), and eluded to “in the pattern machine mentioned by Paralith.” Without the push to form thoughts we would not have created language, math and many other things.) The continuous Push to form thoughts is why when we see the word tweaking that we pull up the “at the moment” thought things from memory that is relevant to tweaking. (the value of the memory also plays a part)


The root cause of thought is hard to pin down, like gravity, but like gravity we can surmise its characteristics.
That we cannot stop having thoughts is evidence of an influence to have them.
Again I purpose that we form thoughts because our DNA/Instinct influences us to do so. I have not been able to discover a better reason (decades of research) why we think and form thoughts.
That we can’t prevent thoughts from forming is evidence that the influence to do so must be mandated in our DNA/Instinct.

If anyone out there can offer up a reason that indicates why this cannot be true, I would love to read it. TRULY.

We don’t like the idea that we are influenced by our instincts, “to form thoughts.” Our survival instinct kicks in to protect the beliefs of “self” as the be all originator of our minds and our thoughts.


1. Since this topic cannot (yet) be proven scientifically, should it be moved to the theory section?

2. If most of you can accept as a theory/premise that a major function of our brain is to influence the creation of almost continuous thought flow, (what we experience during our normal waking hours) then I would like to use this as a root foundational starting point.

3. The next step I would like to explore and get your reactions to is another new theory as related to how thoughts are constructed, the selection of memories used. Specifically the Creation and use of valued memory.

Thank you all for your time and input.

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Re: What influences us to think

Postby BioWizard on November 12th, 2017, 7:51 am 

I haven’t read your response in its entirity yet, but I have a question. Where did the quotes by paralith, neuro, and forest come from? Can you please provide reference when you quote others or use the quote function which includes a link to their post?
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Re: What influences us to think

Postby The two YOUs on November 12th, 2017, 11:14 am 

BioWizard, I am not adept yet on this (or any forum yet). Where I found the quotes by paralith, neuro, and forest came from. Under personal theories. I did a search on "instinct" Went to page 2 of 2 by Sponge and clicked on
Re: What is thought, (from 4/6/2013) I printed out all three pages. Their Quotes came from those 3 pages of postings.
Author was Gregorygregg1
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Re: What influences us to think

Postby BioWizard on November 12th, 2017, 12:45 pm 

The two YOUs » 12 Nov 2017 10:14 am wrote:BioWizard, I am not adept yet on this (or any forum yet). Where I found the quotes by paralith, neuro, and forest came from. Under personal theories. I did a search on "instinct" Went to page 2 of 2 by Sponge and clicked on
Re: What is thought, (from 4/6/2013) I printed out all three pages. Their Quotes came from those 3 pages of postings.
Author was Gregorygregg1


That's ok. Learn how to use the quote function, it's extremely helpful and convenient (as I did right above).
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Re: What influences us to think

Postby Serpent on November 12th, 2017, 7:20 pm 

The two YOUs » November 8th, 2017, 9:54 pm wrote:The definition that I think best fits my usage of Instinct is “Instinct is an influence with its primary function being that of survival.”

That's not a definition; that's restating the purpose of an undefined "influence" - Of what? On what? Where is it located? How does it operate? What are its origins?

In my previous statement “In moments of extreme stress the influence to form thoughts is removed

By what agency? By what means?
and (I should have put in the word SURIVAL instinct) instinct takes over, because thought formation is too slow, and would endanger the host if it spent time pondering the possibilities.”

(Be careful of words like "host" which suggest an outside agency occupying one's brain. I'm pretty sure that's not what you mean.)
Repeating that doesn't explain why it happens - even when the resulting action, or in this case, inaction, is the least conducive to survival. For instance, a scene you often see in movies, where a man is chased by a car, and he runs straight down the road. Now, this may be the instinctive reaction. I've seen a kitten do this when chased by a dog. But it's the stupidest reaction. A split-second's thought would tell the cat that it had nearby trees to climb, which would have saved its life - only, it had never encountered a dog before and didn't know its adversary's capabilities. A split-second's thought would tell the man to leap sideways. That's what the rabbit's instinct would tell it to do if chased by a live predator: rabbits naturally zig-zag in flight. But it doesn't understand headlights; doesn't have an appropriate instinctive behaviour for this situation.
Instinct is a repertoire of reactions - I think - rooted in the animals's evolutionary experience (racial memory, as it were; I don't know if that phrase is allowed.) It's not well equipped to deal with recent - that is, within the last fifty or so generations - changes in the animal's sphere of experience. IOW, it's no good for dealing with urban life, large-scale social organization or technology. That's why intelligence is such an effective tool of adaptation to unfamiliar environment.


By Forest Dump
“Some instinct would be behaviors that are written into DNA. Basic biological “urges” to eat, stay alive or procreate could count here. Along these lines could be behavior influenced or controlled by hormones.”

I would differentiate "urge" and "instinct." An urge is simple, unconscious and biological; synonymous, perhaps, with "drive" - the impulse to satisfy needs. An organism with no brain responds to environmental events and obeys its drives. Instinct is more complex; it's a process in the brain. Something like: the mental function that forms patterns of behaviour and develops these over time (experience) to maximize an animal's capability to satisfy these biological drives. Survival would, of course, be the foremost drive, but instinct doesn't always have the necessary experience to respond appropriately.
I don't think that's what shuts down thinking in panic mode. I think, in shock, instinct is also paralyzed, just like thought - the whole brain shuts down.

It seems to me that this pattern finding is an influence that is manifested.
I read this as “the PUSH to find patterns (and produce thought) is the influence of DNA/and or instinct. It is not a random act or directed by self.

That's another word to be leery of!

Paralith also stated: As I said, the evidence for something being a “strong instinct” usually consists of a behavior being exhibited prior to any known possible learning experience, and it is common to all individuals of the species.”

Breaking out of the shell would qualify, and suckling. Everything after that might be invented, discovered by trial and error (the experimentation itself is instinctive) learned, or learning-enhanced, and/or elaborated through thought. I don't imagine we can trace any survival-activity all the way to its origin.

Mitcheilmckain stated above. “Thinking is not always just responsive. Some of us, at least, are always thinking about something. Without external stimuli we come up with reasons to think anyway.”

I wonder. We think all the time, but we're also stimulated - to some degree - most of the time. That's why meditation requires either the deliberate (effortful) shutting out of the environment, or else a sensory-deprivation tank. People in solitary confinement go crazy. We, none of us, know how long it would take to use up our stored memories and our ability to invent mental games, in that situation. Understimulated babies become both emotionally and intellectually backward children, handicapped for life, even if their biological needs are met.

I’m saying that I believe that our brain is required to form thoughts (almost non-stop) and or mental images, and I point to DNA and or Survival Instinct as the source influence of this set of inherited instructions. My key overall premise is that we have to think and form thoughts, that there is something other than sensory input or emotional triggers that influences us to form thoughts. Without this push to form thoughts, Sensory input and emotional triggers would only operate like it does in most animals.

Of course. Thinking is what brains are for; they can't not think any more than kidneys could not filter toxins from blood and dump them in the urine. But if the body is deprived of fluid, the kidneys have insufficient material to work on. If sensory and emotional input cease, the brain has insufficient material to work on. What makes you think "most animals" (which?) don't think? The bigger and more convoluted the brain, the wider its range and scope of possible thought. But if you believe other species don't form recognition patterns and memory connections or make observations and solve problems, you've never paid attention to other animals.

By the way, what are emotions?
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Re: What influences us to think

Postby Serpent on November 12th, 2017, 10:34 pm 

I overlooked this part last time - had to do something elsewhere and timed out. (On the up-side, the newly insulated north wall will keep my life-mate warm tonight.)

2. If most of you can accept as a theory/premise that a major function of our brain is to influence the creation of almost continuous thought flow,

What do you mean by 'a major function of our brain'? You know the brain has many components, right?
That's important to keep in mind, when talking about its functions. You might like to keep this https://www.mayfieldclinic.com/PE-AnatBrain.htm or something like it, available to consult when discussing the brain and how it does what it does.
And then, what do you mean by 'influence the creation of thought'. It's not an influence; it's the whole enchilada. It all happens in there. That's not new or theoretical:
Nothing but a brain can generate thought, emotion, instinct, dreams, ideas, language, belief. Nothing else can observe, estimate size and quantity, connect and compare impressions, imagine alternatives, store memories, hold convictions, conceptualize, form images, indulge sentiments - as well as supervise, control and co-ordinate all the muscle and endocrine work of the body.

...almost continuous thought flow (what we experience during our normal waking hours) then I would like to use this as a root foundational starting point.

Also abnormal waking hours and REM sleep. Fine. But starting what, that's going where?
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Re: What influences us to think

Postby The two YOUs on November 17th, 2017, 12:01 am 

Sorry for the delay. I am preparing my response. The two YOUs
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Re: What influences us to think

Postby Braininvat on November 17th, 2017, 10:43 am 

I like Tononi's theory of mind.....

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integrated_information_theory

It provides testable hypotheses about the causal nature of consciousness and how conscious experiences and thoughts are integrated.

Be warned: his theory is substrate-independent.
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Re: What influences us to think

Postby Biosapien on November 17th, 2017, 1:06 pm 

What makes us to think ?
I would say our surrounding environment is the cause factor which make us to think. Nothing else
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