Neuro-Babel Babble?

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Neuro-Babel Babble?

Postby BadgerJelly on February 27th, 2019, 4:20 am 

A very strange title : “Neuroscience, Semiotics, and the Tower of Babel”

https://medium.com/the-masters-university/neuroscience-semiotics-and-the-tower-of-babel-371d11a1a073

I found this quite interesting, setting aside some of the assumptions.

I really found this to be a nice analogy (in part):

When we see riots over civil war memorials, when we cringe at the sight of Nazi symbols, when the Corinthian church formed tribes around different leaders, and even when we wear our favorite sports logo (full disclosure — wearing my USC sweatshirt right now), we are experiencing little artifacts of our broken ability to worship.


The line in bold rings true for me (although my stance on the meaning of “worship” is likely VERY different to the authors!). Even so, I do think there is something worth considering here. We are certainly investigative beings and we’re seeking out something because of this. Once we frame an idea and another, and another, it seems to me we inevitably must construct some form of overreaching “architecture” in order to orientate ourselves.

Anyway, interested to hear your thoughts on this and even more interested to see if anyone can see past the “religious” aspect entwined thoughout this little article I stumbled across ;)
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Re: Neuro-Babel Babble?

Postby A_Seagull on February 27th, 2019, 7:37 pm 

The article is full of God this and God that...

Perhaps you could define God or at least what 'God ' means in this context?
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Re: Neuro-Babel Babble?

Postby BadgerJelly on February 28th, 2019, 1:29 am 

A_Seagull » February 28th, 2019, 7:37 am wrote:The article is full of God this and God that...

Perhaps you could define God or at least what 'God ' means in this context?


I was hoping you’d ignore that - or rather seeing if you could. Obviously the guy is religious, but does that mean everything he says is nonsense? Generally when it comes to science I interpret “god” as “nature” for simplicity.
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Re: Neuro-Babel Babble?

Postby A_Seagull on February 28th, 2019, 5:59 pm 

BadgerJelly » February 28th, 2019, 5:29 pm wrote:
A_Seagull » February 28th, 2019, 7:37 am wrote:The article is full of God this and God that...

Perhaps you could define God or at least what 'God ' means in this context?


I was hoping you’d ignore that - or rather seeing if you could. Obviously the guy is religious, but does that mean everything he says is nonsense? Generally when it comes to science I interpret “god” as “nature” for simplicity.

LOL

OK, I can accept your definition for the purposes of this thread.

I don't think there is such a necessity for worship as there is a necessity of belonging to a group and the feeling of security that such belonging can bring.

And perhaps also there is an innate desire to have a leader to follow... particularly for younger people.

This relates to the other thread about beliefs and opinions and feelings of being lost. The feeling of belonging to a group can assuage the fears of being lost and alone.

And yes perhaps there is a gap in the needs of people in this regard, particularly for those alienated by religion and are not fanatical sports fans. Perhaps large music concerts can fulfil this role.
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Re: Neuro-Babel Babble?

Postby davidm on February 28th, 2019, 7:22 pm 

LOL, that is pretty much the stupidest thing I have ever read, and I have read MANY stupid things! :-D
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Re: Neuro-Babel Babble?

Postby davidm on February 28th, 2019, 7:23 pm 

BadgerJelly » February 27th, 2019, 11:29 pm wrote:... but does that mean everything he says is nonsense?


Yes, complete and utter nonsense. :-)
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Re: Neuro-Babel Babble?

Postby davidm on February 28th, 2019, 7:28 pm 

When we see riots over civil war memorials, when we cringe at the sight of Nazi symbols, when the Corinthian church formed tribes around different leaders, and even when we wear our favorite sports logo (full disclosure — wearing my USC sweatshirt right now), we are experiencing little artifacts of our broken ability to worship


Ha ha ha, who is this idiot? :-D
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Re: Neuro-Babel Babble?

Postby BadgerJelly on February 28th, 2019, 11:49 pm 

I thought the bio said it all:

Professor John Beck a business professor and the chair of TMU’s new Marketing Media major, a unique program offered at no other school. This program is for the creatively-minded student with the desire to combine business strategy, communication skills and a creative flair to any company, job or endeavor. To learn more, contact our admissions counselors.


I did find the whole thing extremely hard to take seriously, and even more so to imagine how anyone of any reasonable education could take all of it seriously.

It looks like he is doing his job. Selling an idea by using some select neurophysiological facts to make it seem like the later part of what he says has as much validation.

Davidm -

I don’t really think it is all useful nonsense because it gives us an insight into the thinking of a deeply “religious” person. I guess your reply shows the opposite and gives us an insight into someone adamant that anyone offering up some religious babble has nothing of serious value to say?

I took the “worship” part as a common observation, but a stretched one I keep hearing. I was actually searching for neuroscience and semiotics so I was looking at it in that manner - for the purposes of my search it was utterly useless yet I found it strangely interesting because it took serious effort to read it without the kind of attitude you’ve expressed - hence why I was interested to see if anyone could read this devoid of the “religious” context entwined within it.

Given that my interest was semiotics it made this especially intriguing if you see what I mean? Pushing aside the religious symbolosm used to understand the basis of the text ... there wasn’t a lot there tbh, but it was a particularly difficult task in this article because my inner being was straining to violently scoff at every other sentence! Haha!

ANYWAY I was looking for studies about semiotics and cognition in relation to how/if our ability to interpret symbols under stress alters - neurochemical changes and reported experiences.
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Re: Neuro-Babel Babble?

Postby TheVat on March 1st, 2019, 10:52 am 

To qualify for a science thread, citations would need to have science, rather than a notably dogmatic religious view, as a starting point.


As God’s intended image bearers, we know that humanity holds a special place in the created order, and there are many theological directions we could go with a discussion like that.


This opening seems to suggest we are not in the realm of science, or even of open minded inquiry.
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Re: Neuro-Babel Babble?

Postby davidm on March 1st, 2019, 1:45 pm 

Well, if you want to discuss semiotics, why not just start a thread on that, rather than drag in this guy’s nonsense? “(full disclosure — wearing my USC sweatshirt right now)” … therefore, God? Argumentum ad sweatshirt? :-D

He says:

What makes us biologically unique is our ability to conceive of God.


But then he says:

What massively parallel architectures are good at is pattern recognition.


Well, which is it? Our brains are made to conceive of god, or for pattern recognition? After all, they’re not the same thing. Also, of course, he begs the question that our brains were made for anything at all. This is what happens when you put “Goddidit” into your premise rather that arguing for it as your conclusion.

How does he even know that other species don’t conceive of a God? He has no idea. How does he know that elephants, for example, who mourn and even bury their dead, don’t conceive a God?

And does he think other species don’t employ pattern recognition? Seriously? The senses of many other species are much more acute than our own. Does he think birds aren’t good at pattern recognition? They see much better than we do; pigeons, for example, have five color receptors compared with our three; this means they see colors we can’t even conceive, hundreds of millions more of them, as a matter of fact. Maybe pigeons are the image bearers of God, who blessed them with seeing way more colors than we puny humans?
The elephant’s trunk is one-off. Maybe the elephant is the image bearer of God? The giraffe’s neck is a one-off. Maybe the giraffe is …

Being able to conceive something, doesn’t mean it’s real. This is the central flaw of Anselm’s ontological argument.

It is also a fact that our pattern “recognition” is often misrecognition. There is even name for it: pareidolia. This is understandable from an evolutionary standpoint, though incomprehensible from a design standpoint. If you see a face of something that may want to eat you, even if it isn’t really a face, you will run away, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.

He also fails to consider the possibility that language, music appreciation, and even culture are spandrels. Chomsky has argued that language is a spandrel, Pinker that music is a spandrel. This would be an interesting discussion.

He writes:

We made gods out of every recognizable pattern in nature, and even created systems of our own to worship. We began worshiping creation rather than the creator. As John Calvin once said, “Man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.”


I call bullshit. I do not worship patterns, systems, or even nature. This is just another question-begging line of BS to the effect that everyone, even atheists, worships something. Sorry, no. Quoting Calvin is hardly persuasive.


Finally, I wonder why we should be impressed that he is a business professor? This fact credentials him to expound on this topic how, exactly? Not that one can’t have something useful to say outside of one’s own field, but from his own words I see nothing to indicate that he does.
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Re: Neuro-Babel Babble?

Postby davidm on March 1st, 2019, 2:23 pm 

Just a few interesting btws:

Ants domesticated animals and invented farming some 40 million years ago, long before humans were even a twinkle in evolution’s eye. Ants have beens shown to pass the mirror test for intelligence! Pigeons, crows, and bees — yes, bees! — can recognize and remember individual human faces. Bees can do math! Plenty of species, including octopuses, make and use tools. Plants might possess memory, intelligence and learning. There is a scientist who, after what I believe was a forty-year study, concluded that prairie dogs have a spoken language. Of course this claim is highly contentious and contested. I will look this up later.

It seems increasingly evident that we have vastly underestimated the cognitive abilities of non-human organisms.

What is so grating about this guy’s article is his smug certitude about what is true and what is not, while at the same time evincing no familiarity whatsoever with the relevant science and philosophy.
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Re: Neuro-Babel Babble?

Postby davidm on March 1st, 2019, 2:31 pm 

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Re: Neuro-Babel Babble?

Postby BadgerJelly on March 2nd, 2019, 9:49 am 

You cannot even consider that it is possible to interpret “worship” with a thick layer of generosity?

I do have a level of sympathy for some religious folk who try to convince “atheists” they believe in some abstract representation of “god”. On one hand I think their use of basic concepts is flawed yet in some minute way I think they are referring to something far more mundane (well, some of them!).

I posted it because I found it amusing and an interesting exercise to try and read past the babble and get to something meaningful.

I guess in some way we could say some people view spandrels as worthy of admiration.
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Re: Neuro-Babel Babble?

Postby Brent696 on March 3rd, 2019, 7:03 pm 

BadgerJelly » February 27th, 2019, 3:20 am


Setting aside the religious, or perhaps doctrinal framework from which the author comes, and although he is focusing on semiotics, he seems to really be approaching the issues of "values" as according to our frame of reference in the world, so do we automatically assign values to certain words, structures, etc.. and this has a devolving effect upon our communication.

For example, I say the word "God", and then one of those people who tend to always be mocking the religious says the word "God", it is the same word, but it is easy to see how each person possesses a set of values associated with the word, even perhaps a different emotional import so to speak, and often communication between the two speakers is a lost cause.

In Zen there is a proverb which I have mentioned before here, namely, Before Zen a mountain was a mountain and a river was a river, but during Zen a mountain was not a mountain and a river was not a river, but after Zen, then a mountain was a mountain and a river was a river.

In the practice of Zen, one learns to focus on one's mind, to inwardly observe one's self objectively, and to notice how the mind lives within a cacophony of PRE-conceptions. Inasmuch as many people are never really touching reality as it is, but rather experience only as their innate value systems as regards their mental frame of reference.

This is more clearly seen in the emotional realm as to me a spider has little impact on me, but to someone who grew up in a filthy house, finding spiders in their hair, etc... spiders to them carry a far greater emotional, and mental value and impact. And so all the Phobias are born.

But setting the emotions aside, even the pure intellect of the brain attach a more subtle form of values.

Imagine for a moment living, experiencing life, without all these values, where everything that is, is truly simply what it is, there is no good, no evil, no suffering, pain yes, suffering no. Do not project anything of yourself upon what you see, or even feel, hear, taste.

The purity of possessing no judgments at all. Even if you pull your finger back from the flame, it would possible provoke curiosity but not displeasure.

Along the biblical metaphors, which few of even the religious ever come to realize, the Tree of knowledge is where the soul, the true observer, began to impose values upon the world, upon their experience, and the tower of Babel is how such will without fail disrupt pure communications. Many think of such events in a historical framework, just as can be done with Greek mythology, but the true purpose of such stories is to relate to us knowledge about our present selves, to help us understand ourselves and how our minds work.

Now as we seek communication, if we truly do, we try to see and understand where the other person is coming from, what their frame of reference is, what values they place upon the words they are using, without feeling such pressure as we might have to agree just to understand another person. As such is the difference between a gracious person and a fool.
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