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Post 0

Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - 4:17pmSanction this postReply
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Does anyone else find it ironic or strange that he is a Christian?



Post 1

Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - 5:36pmSanction this postReply
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not really.

 I have something close to Asperger's (which is simliar to autism).When I was younger I thought the idea of a God was very comfroting when I was overwhelmed by noise or social situations. I knew that big old comsic Daddy had some order of things and cared for me when I was relativity friendless. Also is good to pray to a Saint if you loose something :P

It wasn't till last year that I finally kicked the Jesus addiction. Rand helped me realized that not everybody is good at everything but you should still put full effort into things you care about (Dagney trying to sew), being emotionally repressed is a bad idea (Ken Danagger's story), and a hurt you have should only go so far (Roark).

The lesson's I learned about life from Ayn Rand's books helped me realized that I am strong enough to live without Big Sky Daddy, and that he was the one that needed me. 




Post 2

Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - 6:11pmSanction this postReply
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Reading this article reminded me of Ted Chiang's story, "Understand," which to me conveys the sense of what superintelligence must be like better than anything else I've read:

http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/stories/under.htm



Post 3

Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - 8:04pmSanction this postReply
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This was a very interesting and inspiring article. My son has an autistic spectrum disorder (PDD) which is very hard for most people to understand, and it took several years to get a diagnosis which is actually a non-diagnosis. PDD stands for Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. Medical terminology for "duh--hell if I know whats going on here".  Thanks, doc.

Misguided as it may be, I can see why many families living with autism turn to religion as the medical community really has nothing to offer. If you have ever seen a support ribbon comprised of a puzzle, and wondered what it symbolizes, its autism.




Post 4

Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - 8:55pmSanction this postReply
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(From the article)
>To (Tammet), pi isn't an abstract set of digits; it's a visual story, a film projected in front of his eyes.

This intrigued me, because it relates to a program I have been working on with my dyslexic son. It's called the Davis method. The designer of the method, Ronald Davis, was himself diagnosed as autistic until the age of eleven. He couldn't even spell his own name. He eventually learnt the alphabet visually in 3 dimensions, by making models of it in clay. This was the start of his exit from autism. Davis maintains that dyslexia is on a continuum with autism (he is still dyslexic) that they are extremely visual learners and thinkers, and that their 3D brains struggle with 2D abstractions such as letters or numbers. He teaches them to create 3D mental pictures of words to help overcome this.

Davis explains that behind this apparent disadvantage is a hidden advantage- he calls it "The Gift". The struggling expression masks a lightning-quick "global" kind of grasp of problems. That's why dyslexia occurs in an ADD type continuum too, with various behavioural problems stemming from this conflict between the rapid speed of understanding and the slow speed of expression.

Personally I've found it a highly successful method, and far superior to other options, such as phonics-drilling, which did not work at all in our case.

Those interested might want to check out:
http://www.dyslexia.com/

- Daniel



Post 5

Thursday, February 24, 2005 - 12:24pmSanction this postReply
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I think the discriptions he gives of what he sees are very fascinating. For me, they sound like some sort of --- synesthesia.



Post 6

Thursday, February 24, 2005 - 3:00pmSanction this postReply
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Interesting article, as you aid especially in the light of Randian epistemoloogy, his number multiplication method almost seems anti-conceptual, if you can trust his description.

You wrote "This is a strong indication that the present state of the human mind has not stopped evolving."

I don't think this is true. In order for a continued evolution in the mind to occur, you would have to have some sort of selection pressures that are mind-related, such as only "High IQ" (Whatever that means) people procreating. I don't believe this exists today. Any fundamental changes in the mind today would be the result of random genetic drift, there really arent any formidable natural selection processes going on, at least none that I am aware of.




Post 7

Thursday, February 24, 2005 - 4:45pmSanction this postReply
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It's interesting that he memorized pi, instead of calculating it. Because he was unable to do it?




Post 8

Friday, February 25, 2005 - 3:29pmSanction this postReply
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@Steve:

Well, I think the question is: How did mondern mind evolve in the first place? I don't think that it necessarily evolved via genes and natural selection. I'd rather like to go with Julian Jaynes who thinks that modern mind, i.e. especially consciousness of oneself, is a byproduct of language, a sort of metaphor, so to speak.

He explained his theory in his highly controversial book: "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind". It is quite worthwhile reading.




Post 9

Friday, March 4, 2005 - 8:46pmSanction this postReply
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What a fascinating article! That there is a continuum linking autism to dyslexia is a contentious. Much of our current understanding of  neurophysiology of the brain stems from research into the nature of vision. Being an Ophthalmologist this is an area of eternal fascination for me. Early visual experiments by Hubel and Weisel correlate visual stimuli with the brains electrical activity. Because they could not only control the former very precisely, but also measure the latter with microelectrodes they were really the first to tease out the mysteries of the brain in the sense of looking at it like an electrical wiring diagram.

 

They basic concepts underlying the architecture of the brain have since been extended to the other senses and motor functions.

 

It was a huge advance because prior to that medicine looked at brain damaged victims and deduced very crudely what bits did what. Head injury patients from World wars etc advanced the state of neurology considerably. Rather akin to smashing different bits of a car with a sledge hammer and seeing how it fails to perform.

 

The problem with Hubel and Weisel method of investigation, is it’s hard to control the input precisely for higher cerebral functions and then record them (they basically used lab animals with were sacrificed in the pursuit of science).  You can’t get Fido to contemplate Plato, and alternatively who would want electrodes shoved in his brain?

 

There have been many interesting studies looking at neuronal activity in less invasive fashions (Neuro imaging with PET etc). But they still lack the resolution of putting an individual microelectrode into an individual neuron and patiently working out what turns it or its neighbours “on or off” as it were.

 

The functioning of the brain and its relationship to our personal subjective experience of consciousness is really a search for our identity and who could turn from that? I suspect the next wave of understand will ultimately stem from our increased understanding of genetics.

 

I personally would not call Daniel Tammet a genius. I think that word is overused. I believe it really should be reserved for those rare individuals that have contributed to civilisation in some profound way that forever changes the way we view the world. For example Newton, Einstein and of course Rand! I also doubt he will function as a Rosetta stone because examining his subjective impressions is really still at the sledge hammer level of investigation into cognition.

 

I was interested, David, in your experiences with your dyslexic son. I too have dyslexia. I learnt to spell my name at the ripe old age of 10. 9s, 6s, Ps and bs were entirely interchangeable for me for the longest time. I am still rather poor at spelling, have no sense of direction and am rather absent minded. Yet I too am a very visual person. I can observe an operation and remember it in detail, a skill useful as a surgeon.  

 

I would agree with you Steve that there are little positive evolutionary pressures being applied to us as a species and that this is source of concern for the long term. Indeed, at least in New Zealand with our overgenerous welfare state, there are many large families that procreate early, and have lived on benefits for generations.  I still think that there are some weak evolutionary pressures. I would argue bright people are attracted to bright people and tend to have bright kids. Also there is a tendency for smart people to be successful. If you look at “Old world” countries (and I have visited many and lived and worked in England for a year) I would argue that the social stratification is more marked than in the “New World.” This is despite being taxed into oblivion and  after surviving politically correct educational systems Hell bent on labelling everyone as mediocre.  Maybe with time the “mean” intelligence may decline but perhaps there is emerging a wider more defined and self sustaining distribution for a range of abilities? Look out for the Morlocks!

 

I would also refer you to an illuminating article “The Outsiders” by Grady M Towers for what “High IQ” means, at least to an individual. It was an absolute revelation to me which explained three generations of my family. Finally I quote late David Wechsler who defined intelligence as "the global capacity to act purposefully, to think rationally, and to deal effectively with his environment". I think Ayn Rand would have approved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




Post 10

Sunday, March 13, 2005 - 12:09amSanction this postReply
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Sascha wrote: "Well, I think the question is: How did mondern mind evolve in the first place? I don't think that it necessarily evolved via genes and natural selection. I'd rather like to go with Julian Jaynes who thinks that modern mind, i.e. especially consciousness of oneself, is a byproduct of language, a sort of metaphor, so to speak.

He explained his theory in his highly controversial book: "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind". It is quite worthwhile reading."

I got the book today, and did a superficial reading, but very interesting...I googled for more information on the book, and was amused to learn that the Neotech people rely on it heavily...do you have any thoughts on this? I am not very informed about Neotech (though I did read their PAX NEOTECH on the website today.) But it's a trip, for sure.



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Post 11

Sunday, March 13, 2005 - 12:54amSanction this postReply
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Joe - "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind" by Julian Jaynes is definitely on my reading list. I am especially pleased that this article I posted keeps on providing sporadic comments. This "side issue" of the fascinating things that special human beings are able to do with their minds (despite other limitations) is something that I think has to be a part of Objectivist thought, principally in terms of epistemology.

Imagine mental manipulation of numbers with images! This is staggering for me. I want to do it too!

On the evolutionary thing, I am doing a little research. I literally had to learn what PDD, dyslexia  and Aspergers were by looking up literature on them. Wow!

My information on the evolution of the neocortex basically came from two books by Arthur Koestler I read  years ago: The Act of Creation and The Ghost in the Machine. I am going to have to dust them off and reread them. Anyway, the mind is most surely being bombarded with "selection pressures" for evolving. Whoever said that evolution always must be an improvement? It can merely be a difference. One easy example of such a pressure is the remote control mentality from bombardment of TV, videogames and computers on the very young. There are others, but that is another discussion.

I think Daniel and katdaddy are privileged for being obligated to live with these unusual conditions in their children and observing their development first-hand - with the added benefit of love thrown in. (I know, I know, that's easy for me to say because I don't have to deal with the downside, but still, I marvel at this experience.)

Philip Macdonald and Karl von Mises - I see that Philip has made only one post so far and Karl only seven. I found both of your posts fascinating. I am sure that there are more of us out here who do too. Please write more. I love new ways of looking at things and you both have a gift I don't (I love that term "gift" from the dyslexia people).

Michael




Post 12

Sunday, March 13, 2005 - 1:23amSanction this postReply
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Michael, why aren't you in bed? Instead, you're keeping me up with interesting posts. It's 4 am here...
Actually, I've been wrestling with BICAMERAL all night. Fascinating. I'm glad you brought up GHOST IN THE MACHINE in relation to this. The idea of "two selves" appears in both books, but there seems to be a diffence in the source of the dual. Jaynes talks about the assymetrical hemispheres, but Koestler talks about the three parts of the brain: reptilian base, mammalian cortex, and human neocortex. (It's been years since I read it, and it's past 4 am, so I may be citing that wrong.) I don't remember if Koestler addresses the dual hemispheres, but I remember that he claimed that the problem was with the neocortex and reptilian brain having communication problems (his metaphor being that the neocortex was "slapped on" to the underlying brain structure without clear channels of communication, creating the conflict of reason versus emotion.) Do you see this as competing with Jayne's theory, or is there a common ground?





Post 13

Sunday, March 13, 2005 - 4:55amSanction this postReply
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Autism, dyslexia, attention deficiency, and the other labels may or may not accurately describe the situation.

I thought that I recommended JULIAN JAYNES here a few months ago, but I cannot find the post.  I did find a discussion under "DIssent" about the diffrences in people's brains, Brains, Equality, and Equivalence.

Take dyslexia.  What is there in nature than demands reading as we know it? 

Does dyslexia exist among ideograph readers?  (Oh! You wrote "big" and I read "sky".  Above and below, I always read them wrong... ) 

p b d q ... you tell me where they exist in nature.  In fact, one aspect of Tolkein's elfish alphabet is that signs that LOOK similar SOUND similar, for which in our alphabet, only a few are true: C G (but not c g),  p b (and P B, perhaps), and maybe s z (and S Z) are true.  R K...  R P...  D T...  L R...  and oddly enough, we have M N which sound alike and look alike, but really M goes with B, as modern Greek orthography proves.

As for memorizing numbers, versus calculating them afresh, I knew a few ways to calculate PI and being stuck on acomputer without a math processor or math software in a business environment, I wrote the square root routine so that I could calculate Economic Order Quantity, and then wrote the trig functions.  I just find it easier to memorize the square root of three to some convenient limit.  On the other hand, in a real estate licensing class, I never was able to memorize the number of square feet in an acre, even though we chanted it in unison several times a day for a week.  I find it much easier to calculate, though only one other person in my class did that -- she was an airline pilot, and she memorized the number easily.

Making 3-D models of letters is a standard exercise in Studio classes for Art majors.  It never occured to me that there might be a cognitive need for that among them -- maybe they never thought so, either, but I can understand that now, that people who think in terms of shapes and spaces need to "get a grip" on letters to understand them.

As for ADD, there is nothing natural about sitting down and shutting up for hours on end while a teacher drones at you.  We grownups refuse to sit down for that.  We punctuate our meetings -- while we leave our kids in schools without the same freedom.  Basically, anyone in the wilds who does not have a constantly shifting focus is going to be something else's dinner.   And we say that A.D.D. is "unnatural." 

Raise your hand if you are near-sighted.  Living in a HOUSE wouldn't be the cause of that, would it?

Bottom line: we have as many ways to "think" as we do to make music or anything else that people do.  ADD autism whatever, the problem is not the people with these "conditions" but the society that does not allow them.  Next thing you know, whistling will be a disorder in a world of hummers.




Post 14

Sunday, March 13, 2005 - 8:39amSanction this postReply
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Nevermind about the Neotech question. Read enough to see that it's bunk.



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