Samstag, 30. Dezember 2017

Self-deception inhibits laughter

Self-deception inhibits laughter
Robert F. Lynch and Robert L. Trivers


How does self-deception affect the appreciation of humor and laughter? Fifty-nine undergraduates at Rutgers University (33 females, 26 males) were videotaped while watching a stand-up comedian for 28 min. Positive emotional expressions associated with laughter were analyzed for short sections of the act (total: 8 min or 14,400 video frames) and were scored for each subject using the facial action coding system (FACS). Participants who scored lower on a self-deception questionnaire (low self-deceivers) laughed significantly longer and more intensely than those who scored higher on the questionnaire (high self-deceivers). This was true when corrected for measures of impression management, extraversion, mood and how much a person laughs in their everyday life. If self-deception evolved to deceive others and laughter is a hard to fake signal of preferences, then suppressed laughter by self-deceptive individuals may serve to mask ones preferences. More generally since humor often involves seeing life or a person from a novel angle and self-deception tends to reduce such angles, self-deception will naturally tend to reduce ones sense of humor.

Peterson on Trust and Betrayal:

On the initial discovery of an interest:

"Paradoxically, the initial discovery of an interest often goes unnoticed by the discoverer. In other words, when you start to get interested in something, you may not even realize that's what's happening."

Angela Duckworth

Freitag, 29. Dezember 2017

Anxiety & Exploratory Behavior:

~ Anxiety keeps our exploratory behavior in check.


Selbstkontrolle besteht primär im Auswählen von Gedanken, von Objekten, denen Aufmerksamkeit gewidment wird, von Handlungen und von Kontakten.

Man gibt sich selbst Rechenschaft, indem man folgende Frage beantwortet:
Von allen Gedanken, die dir möglich waren, von allen Objekten, denen du Aufmerksamkeit widmen konntest, allen Handlungen und Kontakten, die dir möglich gewesen wären, warum entschiedest du dich eben für diese Gedanken, Objekte, Handlungen und Kontakte?

Planning Cycle:

o create a plan
o execute the plan
o observe the results of your plan
"You come to make better decisions by making not-so-good decisions and then correcting them. You get to be a good planner by making plans, implementing them and seeing the results again and again."

On the 'Costs' of Cognitive Control:

"In contrast to the intentional, goal-based tasks ... are tasks that can actually be disrupted by heightened cognitive control. This is most often seen in tasks that are aided by the use of previously irrelevant information, or on tasks that generally benefit from drawing on diverse bits of information from various sources. For example, in the retrieval-induced forgetting paradigm, increased cognitive control in young adults is associated with the suppression of competing information for better retrieval of target information. However, when the suppressed non-target information becomes relevant in a future task, young adults show poor memory for that information [20]."

"although suppression typically enhances memory by reducing interference at retrieval [9–12], there are some contexts that require knowledge of the suppressed information in which low cognitive control would provide a benefit."

"engagement of cognitive control may impede creativity by focusing attention on a limited number of non-optimal strategies."

When Younger Learners Can Be Better (or at Least More Open-Minded) Than Older Ones

Alison Gopnik, Thomas L. Griffiths, and Christopher G. Lucas

From flexibility to efficiency

Another factor may be that as children grow older, there are changes in the way they learn that make them intrinsically less flexible and less able to attend to unusual possibilities. There are complementary computational, neuroscientific, and evolutionary reasons for thinking this might be true.

A Bayesian learner, whether that learner is a child or a computer, must have some technique for searching through the vast space of possible hypotheses and trying to find the most likely option. Recent studies have explored the search methods children might use (e.g., Bonawitz, Denison, Griffiths, & Gopnik, 2014; Denison, Bonawitz, Gopnik, & Griffiths, 2013).

Using an analogy to physics, computer scientists talk about different search “temperatures.” In “high-temperature” searches, the learner searches broadly but is less likely to “settle” on any one answer for long—the learner bounces widely around in the space of hypotheses like a molecule bouncing around in a hot liquid.

From a Bayesian perspective, raising the temperature of a search will have an effect equivalent to “flattening” the prior—initial differences among hypotheses will make less of a difference. In addition, however, it will have the effect of weakening the likelihoods.

High-temperature searches are wide ranging but very variable, and the learner can move away from good hypotheses as well as bad ones. Low-temperature searches are more likely to quickly lead to “good enough” hypotheses. However, the learner risks getting stuck in a “local minimum”—passing up potentially better but more unusual hypotheses that are further away from his or her initial guess.

One way to compromise between the advantages and drawbacks of high and low temperature is to start with a high-temperature search and gradually “cool off.” This is called simulated annealing in computer science, by analogy to the heating and cooling that leads to robustness in metallurgy (Kirkpatrick, Gelatt, & Vecchi, 1983). By beginning with a high-temperature search, a learner can explore the possibilities more widely before focusing more narrowly on the likely candidates.

If children initially perform high-temperature searches and gradually “cool off” to perform low-temperature ones as they grow older, this might explain why younger learners sometimes infer unusual hypotheses better than older learners. How could we discriminate between this simulated-annealing idea and the related flat-prior idea? In Lucas et al. (2014), we included a “baseline” condition. Participants in this condition saw only the ambiguous events—they never saw the unambiguous new data that pointed to each principle. If adults initially thought that the “individual” hypothesis was more likely than the “combination” hypothesis, and children did not, that should have been reflected in this baseline condition. But, in fact, both children and adults preferred the “individual” hypothesis initially. The difference seemed to be that children were more willing to switch to the alternative hypothesis. A Bayesian model consistent with the annealing possibility matched children’s judgments. However, more studies of the dynamics of learning are necessary to distinguish these possibilities.

Findings in neuroscience also mesh well with the annealing idea (e.g., Thompson-Schill, Ramscar, & Chrysikou, 2009). An early period of neural flexibility and plasticity is succeeded by a more narrow and inflexible, though more efficient, set of procedures. In particular, as children get older, frontal areas of the brain exert more control over other areas. This frontal control is associated with focused attention and better planning and executive control. However, this control has costs. Empirically, disruptions to frontal control, resulting in a more “child-like” brain, can actually lead to better performance in cognitive tasks that involve exploring a wide range of possibilities (e.g., Chrysikou et al., 2013). There may be an intrinsic trade-off between exploitation and exploration—between swift, focused, efficient adult action and wide-ranging, exploratory child-like learning.

A pattern of early cognitive exploration also makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. Across many species, flexibility, brain size, and intelligence are associated with a long, protected period of immaturity—a long childhood. Human beings have the largest brains, the most flexible intelligence, and the longest childhood of any species. One explanation for this distinctive life history is that an early protected period allows young organisms to explore possibilities in an unconstrained way. This early exploratory learning, in turn, allows learners to act more effectively when they grow older (Buchsbaum, Bridgers, Weisberg, & Gopnik, 2012). Childhood may be evolution’s way of performing simulated annealing.

Adults may sometimes be better at the tried and true, while children are more likely to discover the weird and wonderful. This may be because as we get older, we both know more and explore less.

Donnerstag, 28. Dezember 2017

Early exploration and late exploitation ...

Algorithms to live by, B. Christian & T. Griffiths:
[See also: Play and the Escape from Local Optima, The Concept of Play]

Explore ...

While laboratory studies can be illuminating, the interval of many of the most important problems people face is far too long to be studied in the lab. Learning the structure of the world around us and forming lasting social relationships are both lifelong tasks. So it’s instructive to see how the general pattern of early exploration and late exploitation appears over the course of a lifetime.

One of the curious things about human beings, which any developmental psychologist aspires to understand and explain, is that we take years to become competent and autonomous. Caribou and gazelles must be prepared to run from predators the day they’re born, but humans take more than a year to make their first steps. Alison Gopnik, professor of developmental psychology at UC Berkeley and author of The Scientist in the Crib, has an explanation for why human beings have such an extended period of dependence: “it gives you a developmental way of solving the exploration/exploitation tradeoff.” As we have seen, good algorithms for playing multi-armed bandits tend to explore more early on, exploiting the resulting knowledge later. But as Gopnik points out, “the disadvantage of that is that you don’t get good payoffs when you are in the exploration stage.” Hence childhood: “Childhood gives you a period in which you can just explore possibilities, and you don’t have to worry about payoffs because payoffs are being taken care of by the mamas and the papas and the grandmas and the babysitters.”

Thinking about children as simply being at the transitory exploration stage of a lifelong algorithm might provide some solace for parents of preschoolers. (Tom has two highly exploratory preschool-age daughters, and hopes they are following an algorithm that has minimal regret.) But it also provides new insights about the rationality of children. Gopnik points out that “if you look at the history of the way that people have thought about children, they have typically argued that children are cognitively deficient in various ways—because if you look at their exploit capacities, they look terrible. They can’t tie their shoes, they’re not good at long-term planning, they’re not good at focused attention. Those are all things that kids are really awful at.” But pressing buttons at random, being very interested in new toys, and jumping quickly from one thing to another are all things that kids are really great at. And those are exactly what they should be doing if their goal is exploration. If you’re a baby, putting every object in the house into your mouth is like studiously pulling all the handles at the casino.

More generally, our intuitions about rationality are too often informed by exploitation rather than exploration. When we talk about decision-making, we usually focus just on the immediate payoff of a single decision—and if you treat every decision as if it were your last, then indeed only exploitation makes sense. But over a lifetime, you’re going to make a lot of decisions. And it’s actually rational to emphasize exploration—the new rather than the best, the exciting rather than the safe, the random rather than the considered—for many of those choices, particularly earlier in life.

What we take to be the caprice of children may be wiser than we know.

... And Exploit

At the other extreme from toddlers we have the elderly. And thinking about aging from the perspective of the explore/exploit dilemma also provides some surprising insights into how we should expect our lives to change as time goes on.

Laura Carstensen, a professor of psychology at Stanford, has spent her career challenging our preconceptions about getting older. Particularly, she has investigated exactly how, and why, people’s social relationships change as they age. The basic pattern is clear: the size of people’s social networks (that is, the number of social relationships they engage in) almost invariably decreases over time. But Carstensen’s research has transformed how we should think about this phenomenon.

The traditional explanation for the elderly having smaller social networks is that it’s just one example of the decrease in quality of life that comes with aging—the result of diminished ability to contribute to social relationships, greater fragility, and general disengagement from society. But Carstensen has argued that, in fact, the elderly have fewer social relationships by choice. As she puts it, these decreases are “the result of lifelong selection processes by which people strategically and adaptively cultivate their social networks to maximize social and emotional gains and minimize social and emotional risks.”

What Carstensen and her colleagues found is that the shrinking of social networks with aging is due primarily to “pruning” peripheral relationships and focusing attention instead on a core of close friends and family members. This process seems to be a deliberate choice: as people approach the end of their lives, they want to focus more on the connections that are the most meaningful.

In an experiment testing this hypothesis, Carstensen and her collaborator Barbara Fredrickson asked people to choose who they’d rather spend thirty minutes with: an immediate family member, the author of a book they’d recently read, or somebody they had met recently who seemed to share their interests. Older people preferred the family member; young people were just as excited to meet the author or make a new friend. But in a critical twist, if the young people were asked to imagine that they were about to move across the country, they preferred the family member too. In another study, Carstensen and her colleagues found the same result in the other direction as well: if older people were asked to imagine that a medical breakthrough would allow them to live twenty years longer, their preferences became indistinguishable from those of young people. The point is that these differences in social preference are not about age as such—they’re about where people perceive themselves to be on the interval relevant to their decision.

Being sensitive to how much time you have left is exactly what the computer science of the explore/exploit dilemma suggests. We think of the young as stereotypically fickle; the old, stereotypically set in their ways. In fact, both are behaving completely appropriately with respect to their intervals. The deliberate honing of a social network down to the most meaningful relationships is the rational response to having less time to enjoy them.

Recognizing that old age is a time of exploitation helps provide new perspectives on some of the classic phenomena of aging. For example, while going to college—a new social environment filled with people you haven’t met—is typically a positive, exciting time, going to a retirement home—a new social environment filled with people you haven’t met—can be painful. And that difference is partly the result of where we are on the explore/exploit continuum at those stages of our lives.

The explore/exploit tradeoff also tells us how to think about advice from our elders. When your grandfather tells you which restaurants are good, you should listen—these are pearls gleaned from decades of searching. But when he only goes to the same restaurant at 5:00 p.m. every day, you should feel free to explore other options, even though they’ll likely be worse.

Perhaps the deepest insight that comes from thinking about later life as a chance to exploit knowledge acquired over decades is this: life should get better over time. What an explorer trades off for knowledge is pleasure. The Gittins index and the Upper Confidence Bound, as we’ve seen, inflate the appeal of lesser-known options beyond what we actually expect, since pleasant surprises can pay off many times over. But at the same time, this means that exploration necessarily leads to being let down on most occasions. Shifting the bulk of one’s attention to one’s favorite things should increase quality of life. And it seems like it does: Carstensen has found that older people are generally more satisfied with their social networks, and often report levels of emotional well-being that are higher than those of younger adults.

So there’s a lot to look forward to in being that late-afternoon restaurant regular, savoring the fruits of a life’s explorations.

How to know if someone's ideas are their own ...

Dienstag, 26. Dezember 2017

Anxiety: Here and Beyond

Anxiety: Here and Beyond
Miloyan, Bulley, Suddendorff; 2017


The future harbours the potential for myriad threats to the fitness of organisms, and many species prepare accordingly based on indicators of hazards. Here, we distinguish between defensive responses on the basis of sensed cues and those based on autocues generated by mental simulations of the future in humans. Whereas sensed threat cues usually induce specific responses with reference to particular features of the environment or generalized responses to protect against diffuse threats, autocues generated by mental simulations of the future enable strategic preparation for hazards that may not require an immediate response. The overlap of these mechanisms makes defence effective and versatile, yet can manifest as contemporary anxiety disorders in humans.

The Mutant Says in His Heart, “There Is No God”

The Mutant Says in His Heart, “There Is No God”: the Rejection of Collective Religiosity Centred Around the Worship of Moral Gods Is Associated with High Mutational Load
Edward Dutton, Guy Madison, Curtis Dunkel; 2017


Industrialisation leads to relaxed selection and thus the accumulation of fitness-damaging genetic mutations. We argue that religion is a selected trait that would be highly sensitive to mutational load. We further argue that a specific form of religiousness was selected for in complex societies up until industrialisation based around the collective worship of moral gods. With the relaxation of selection, we predict the degeneration of this form of religion and diverse deviations from it. These deviations, however, would correlate with the same indicators because they would all be underpinned by mutational load. We test this hypothesis using two very different deviations: atheism and paranormal belief. We examine associations between these deviations and four indicators of mutational load: (1) poor general health, (2) autism, (3) fluctuating asymmetry, and (4) left-handedness. A systematic literature review combined with primary research on handedness demonstrates that atheism and/or paranormal belief is associated with all of these indicators of high mutational load.

Different kinds of defensive responses:

"we distinguish between defensive responses on the basis of sensed cues and those based on autocues generated by mental simulations of the future."

[Source: Anxiety: Here and Beyond]

On Preparation:

"Chance favours the prepared mind."

Louis Pasteur

["In the fields of observation chance favours only the prepared mind."]

On Becoming Active:

"Your interest is captured by those things that lead you down the path of development. ... And so there is some utility in pursuing those things that you are interested in. ... And often it's the case that when new parts of people manifest themselves and grip their interests ..., they do it very badly and shoddy. You stumble around like an idiot when you try to do something new. ... You have to be a fool, before you can be a master. And if you are not willing to be a fool then you can't be a master. It's an error ridden process. ... So imagine that something glimmers before you. An interest that is dawning. And you decide ... Well, first of all you are paralyzed. You think: "How do I know I should pursue that. It's probably a stupid idea." The proper response to that is: "You are right. It probably is a stupid idea." Because almost all ideas are stupid. And so, the probability that as you move forward on your adventure that you are gonna get it right the first time is zero. It's just not gonna happen. And so then you might think: "Maybe I will just wait around until I get the right idea." And which people do. So they are like forty year old thirteen year olds. ... And so they wait around. It's waiting for Godot. Until they finally got it right. But the problem is you are to stupid to know if you got it right. So waiting around isn't gonna help. Even if the perfect opportunity manifested itself to you in your incomplete form, the probability that you would recognize it as the perfect opportunity is zero. You might even think it's the worst possible idea that you have ever heard of anywhere. Highly likely, highly likely. Nietzsche called that "Will to Stupidity". Which I really liked. Because he thought of stupidity as ... You have to take it into account. Fundamentally. And work with it. And so you can take this tentative steps on your pathway to destiny and you can assume that you are gonna do it badly. And that's really useful. Because you don't have to beat yourself up. It's pretty easy to do it badly. But the thing is, it's way better to do it badly than not to do it at all."

Montag, 25. Dezember 2017

Sympathie und Aufmerksamkeit:

In welchem Ausmaß besteht der Kernaspekt von Liebe bzw. von Sympathie tatsächlich in gesteigerter Aufmerksamkeit für eine bestimmte Person?


"In a dangerous social environment it's not obvious that being an extroverted person is a good idea. Because extroverted people, they stand out. Especially if they are extroverted and creative. Because not only are they noisy and dominant and assertive, they are also colorful and flamboyant and provocative. Well that's great if your are in a society that rewards that sort of thing, but if you are ruled by an authoritarian king, who wants absolutely no threat whatsoever to his stability ever, then dressing in grey and shutting the hell up is a really good survival tactic."


"You got to surround yourself with people who want the best for the best part of you."

Jordan Peterson

Sonntag, 24. Dezember 2017

Fröhliche Weihnachten! Merry Christmas!

Auswahl der Gedanken:

Viele Gedanken, die sich in unserem Kopf finden, erwarben wir uns auf Kosten anderer Gedanken, die sich nun nicht in unserem Kopf finden.


Bezüglich der Auswahl von Handlungen ließe sich analog feststellen:
Viele Handlungen, die wir ausführten, führten wir auf Kosten von Handlungen aus, die wir nicht ausführten.


Wir entscheiden uns tagtäglich:

o für Gedanken und gegen Gedanken
o für Handlungen und gegen Handlungen
o für Erfahrungen und gegen Erfahrungen


Müssten wir das Feld möglicher Handlungen, müssten wir unser Handlungsspektrum auf x (z.B. 100) mögliche Handlungen reduzieren, für welche Handlungen würden wir uns entscheiden?

Müssten wir das Feld möglicher Gedanken, müssten wir unser Gedankenspektrum auf x (z.B. 100) mögliche Gedanken reduzieren, für welche Gedanken würden wir uns entscheiden?

Müssten wir das Feld möglicher Aussagen, müssten wir unser Spektrum an Aussagen auf x (z.B. 100) mögliche Aussagen reduzieren, für welche Aussagen würden wir uns entscheiden?

Müssten wir das Feld an Kontaktmöglichkeiten, müssten wir unser Kontaktspektrum auf x (z.B. 20) Kontaktmöglichkeiten reduzieren, für welche Kontakte würden wir uns entscheiden?

In solchen Überlegungen geht es nicht zwingendermaßen darum, Handlungs-, Denk- oder Kontaktspektren tatsächlich einzuschränken. Vielmehr geht es um eine akkurate Bestimmung von Kernen der jeweiligen Spektren.

Samstag, 23. Dezember 2017

On acting out contradictions:

"Often when I've read badly written essays. Often undergraduate essays. One of the things that occurs very frequently is that the writer will make a statement on ... paragraph one and then two paragraphs later write a statement that directly contradicts the first statement. And because their thinking is confused, because they are young and because they don't know how to write and aren't particularly careful, they don't notice that the two propositions actually are in logical conflict. And one of the things that indicates is that people actually don't notice when things are in logical conflict, because there is no marker for that. The only time people notice that their presuppositions about the world are in conflict is when they try act out two contradictory notions at the same time and find out that acting one out interferes with acting another out. Sometimes that happens because they are in conflict with themselves, but even more often it happens because they enter into conflict with someone else. So you might say that you don't even notice your propositional conflicts until you act them out and the world stops you. So you can maintain contradictory cognitions endlessly, without ever noticing how disorganized you are, because the world doesn't slap you in the face for your foolishness unless you try to act those things out. ..."


Roboter A: ... werden 50 Aussagen einprogrammiert, von denen er in tausend ausgewählten Situationen jeweils eine einzelne Aussage nach einer vorgeschriebenen Regel- und Gesetzmäßigkeit abruft.

Roboter B: ... werden 50 Aussagen einprogrammiert, von denen er in tausend ausgewählten Situationen nach einem stochastischen Entscheidungsprozess jeweils eine einzelne Aussage abruft.


Woher kommt Freiheit?

Von dem Wissen um Alternativen bzw. von der Fähigkeit, Alternativen prinzipiell wahrhaben zu können.

Freitag, 22. Dezember 2017


Moralische Ambitioniertheit spiegelt sich letztlich in dem Versuch, jeden Moment aus dem Feld möglicher Handlungen die sinnvollste Handlung zu wählen.


"Kognitive Ambitioniertheit" würde demgemäß in dem Versuch bestehen, jeden Moment aus dem Feld möglicher Gedanken und Aussagen den sinnvollsten Gedanken bzw. die sinnvollste Aussage zu wählen.

"Perceptive Ambitioniertheit" würde sich in dem Versuch spiegeln, jeden Moment aus dem Feld möglicher Eindrücke den sinnvollsten Eindruck zu wählen.


If a person strives to become good at joking, he should test his jokes with different audiences. A verbal output should be produced and people's reactions to the output should be observed. By creating jokes we can deepen our knowledge about our social environment.

Donnerstag, 21. Dezember 2017

Innere Dämonen:

Sofern so etwas wie innere Dämonen existieren würden, ließe sich manches im Leben interpretieren, als ein Streit zwischen Dämonen die Veränderung wollen, und solchen, die bestrebt sind, den Status quo beizubehalten.

Letztere würden sich wohl auch als eine Art Furcht vor dem Neuem, als eine Art Furcht vor Veränderung bemerkbar machen.

Mittwoch, 20. Dezember 2017


Gemäß Attneave empfindet man Unsicherheit primär bezüglich der Zukunft: bezüglich dem, was passieren wird.

[Möglicherweise macht es sogar Sinn, die gefühlte Unsicherheit bewusst nach vorne zu richten.]

Dienstag, 19. Dezember 2017


Gemäß Peterson verfolgen kreative Menschen eine High-Risk-/High-Return-Strategy. D.h. die Tendenz aufs Ganze zu gehen ist vorhanden und ausgeprägt.

[Jordan Peterson über Kreativität]

Sh**ty first drafts:

"For me and most of the other writers I know, writing is not rapturous. In fact, the only way I can get anything written at all is to write really, really shitty first drafts."

Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

[See also: "Blurt it out!"]

Montag, 18. Dezember 2017

Schuld & Scham:


Wenn Handlungen vor gewissen Beobachtern und Zeugen nicht bestehen, und deshalb negative Konsequenzen befürchtet werden.


Wenn Handlungen an sich eine moralische Prüfung nicht bestehen.

Sonntag, 17. Dezember 2017

Würden wir durch einen bösen Umstand gezwungen, alle bis auf drei Bücher aus unserer Bibliothek entfernen zu müssen, für welche Bücher würden wir uns entscheiden?


Unter allen Änderungen, die bloß Einzelaspekte des Verhaltens betreffen, d.h. nicht bestrebt sind, das Verhalten in seiner Totalität zu verändern, welche Änderung hätte den maximal positiven Effekt?

Vielen Personen dürfte Änderung aus dem Grund kaum gelingen, da sie unfokussiert vorgehen. Eine "totale", "alles auf einmal" Verhaltensänderung wird angestrebt bzw. diffus gewünscht. Eine angemessene Herangehensweise wird vernachlässigt. Schrittweises und planvolles Vorgehen richtet die Konzentration seriell auf Veränderung einzelner Aspekte mit maximalen potentiellen Payoff.

[Siehe auch]

Rudolf Flesch on Writing Fluency (II):

>Some time ago I talked to a friend of mine who, like myself, had for years been teaching an evening class in writing. Being competitors, we decided to compare notes on our experiences.
"What's your problem?" I asked him.
"My main problem," he said, "is always the same. I get swamped. During the whole period of the course, I spend every weekend buried under a mountain of papers. It's a terrific chore."
Nothing could have surprised me more. Not only were my weekends happily free of papers to correct, but on the contrary I always had just the opposite trouble: I could never manage to get my students to write enough. They just didn't produce. I tried this and that, I begged, I coaxed, I implored them - it was no use. I had long ago come to the conclusion that the average student would do anything rather than writing.
What was the explanation for this enormous difference between our two writing courses? Obviously this: My friend taught creative writing and I taught the other, practical kind. People who take creative-writing courses have an urge to write, people who take practical-writing courses have a writing-phobia.
Naturally, there are exceptions to this basic rule. About once every year, there appeared among my students a specimen of the "creative" type and I was handed long, wordy slices of autobiography, fictionalized experiences, and essays on philosophical themes. Thinking back over the year, I arrived at the conclusion that about one out of fifty adult Americans suffers from graphomania - which is defined in Webster' Unabridged Dictionary as a "morbid desire or mania for writing". The remaining forty-nine are victims of the much more common ailment of "graphophobia"- which is not listed in Webster's but certainly ought to be.
There is some statistical evidence for what I just said. In 1949 someone took a public-opinion poll in the city of Louisville, Kentucky, and found that 2.1 per cent of the voting population "wanted to write". I don't doubt that this figure is roughly true for the country as a whole. There are about 2 per cent graphomaniacs among us - people who have desk drawers full of stories and essays and unfinished novels, people who fill evening classes in creative writing, people who have the diary habit - in short, people whose nervous systems crave the activity for putting words on paper, just as those of alcoholics crave liquor.
Of course, among those 2 per cent there are a few that are successful and have made a name for themselves as authors. ...<

How to write, speak and thing more effectively
Rudolf Flesch (1960)

Goals and Conditions for Failure:

"And often people won't specify their goals too, because they don't like to specify conditions for failure. So if you keep yourself all vague and foggy, which is really easy, because that's just a matter of not doing as well, then you don't know when you fail. And people might say: 'I really don't want to know when I fail, because that's painful. So I will keep myself blind about when I fail.' It's fine except you fail all the time then. You just won't know that until you fail so badly that you are done. And that can easily happen by the time you are forty."


Gedankenfreiheit ist etwas, das man sich zu erwerben, und wenn erworben, das man zu hüten und wahren hat. Das Denken der meisten Personen scheint sich auf Schienen und Gleisen zu bewegen.

On Goals and Targets:

Jordan Peterson:

"When people go through life they don't hit the target. And the reason for that often is they don't specify the target. They are afraid to allow themselves to know what they want because that also sets up conditions of failure. So they shrink from it. But I can tell you one thing that I've learned as a clinical psychologist: 'You do not hit a target you don't aim for.' "

"You conceive yourself in terms of distance to the target. But if the distance is too great and it crushes you then you have to set a closer target. It should be challenging and meaningful, like you can tell when you set up the target properly, because it's challenging and meaningful but it doesn't overwhelm you with anxiety. And so you can calibrate it. If your're too anxious then you move the target closer and you make it easier to hit. You don't want to make it so easy to hit that anyone idiot can do without any change and effort because then there is no growth. But you want to set up the target so that you have a pretty decent chance of hitting it but it stretches you a little bit beyond from where you are now."

[See also: Reasons for Failure, Goals and Conditions for Failure]

Reasons for Failure:

"one of the main reasons that people don't get what they want is because they don't actually figure out what it is."

"a huge part of the reason that people fail is because they don't ever set up the criteria for success. And so since success is a very narrow line and very unlikely the probability that you are going stumble on it randomly is zero. And so there is a proposition here and the proposition is: 'If you actually want something you can have it.' Now the question then would be: 'What do you mean by 'actually want'?' And the answer is that you reorient your life in every possible way to make the probability that that will occur as certain as possible. And that's a sacrificial idea. ... You don't get everything. ... But maybe you can have what you need. And maybe all you have to do to get it is ask. But asking isn't a whim or today's wish. ... You have to be deadly serious about it. "

[See also: On Goals and Targets, Goals and Conditions for Failure]
"fewer and fewer people attain the formal level at which they can think in terms of abstractions and develop their capacity for deductive logic and systematic planning."

[Source: Flynn & Shayer; J. Thompson]

Freitag, 15. Dezember 2017

Intelligence ...

"Intelligence is a very general mental capability that, among other things, involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly and learn from experience. It is not merely book learning, a narrow academic skill, or test-taking smarts. Rather, it reflects a broader and deeper capability for comprehending our surroundings-'catching on,' 'making sense' of things, or 'figuring out' what to do."

Linda S. Gottfredson


Wir können uns hin und wieder Zeit nehmen, uns die (subjektiv) wichtigsten Informationen (z.B. die drei wichtigsten Aussagen) bezüglich eines Phänomens, einer Person, eines Themas zu vergegenwärtigen.

Bewusstes Filtern:

D.h. das bewusste Entscheiden zwischen Wesentlich und Unwesentlich / Wichtig und Unwichtig.

Dienstag, 12. Dezember 2017

Zwischenmenschliche Aufmerksamkeit:

Wie viele Personen sind es, denen man im Laufe des Lebens tatsächlich eingehend Aufmerksamkeit widmet? (Bezüglich wie vielen Personen verfügen wir über ein tiefgehendes Wissen?)

Wie sehr variiert diese Zahl von Mensch zu Mensch?

Definition of Love:

"I truly want the best for what wants the best in you."
("I'm not on the side of you, that's aiming at your defeat.")

Jordan Peterson


Eine der wichtigsten Fähigkeiten, die ein Mensch entwickeln sollte, ist letztlich die Begabung, sich mit eigenem Gedächtnisinhalt zu unterhalten. (Phantasien, Vorhaben und Luftschlösser lassen sich in gewisser Hinsicht auch als Gedächtnisinhalt verstehen.)

Beherrschung des Gedächtnisses:

Wir haben insofern Macht über unser Gedächtnis, als wir uns entscheiden können, welche Inhalte wir wieder und wieder abrufen. (+ Welche neuen Inhalte wir bestrebt sind aufzunehmen.)

Je freier und ungestützter der Abruf eines Gedächtnisinhalts, um so effektiver die Verankerung.

Montag, 11. Dezember 2017


Welches Tagebuch ist nützlicher?

(A) Ein Tagebuch, das sämtliche Tagesinhalte unselektiv in größter Detailiertheit festhält.

(B) Ein Tagebuch, das Kerninhalte und Schlüsselereignisse festhält.

Es wäre vermutlich sehr mühsam, Tagebuch A zu lesen. Für die meisten Zwecke ließe sich Tagebuch A kaum nutzbringend verwerten.

Abruf und Wahl der Gedächtnisinhalte:

Wie oft hat man sich einen Sachverhalt zu vergegenwärtigen, ehe er dauerhaft verfügbar wird / ehe er in Fleisch und Blut übergeht?

Welche und wie viele Sachverhalte, will man dauerhaft verfügbar haben?

Sonntag, 10. Dezember 2017

Affective Disorders:

"In approaching the aetiology and clinical consequences of manic-depression, etho-psychiatrists have focused on the fulfilment and frustration of two basic archetypal needs: (1) the need for affectional bonds, and (2) the need for social rank or status. The adaptive function of elevated or depressed mood is to enable an individual to adjust to his circumstances when he is convinced that either one or both of these needs has been decisively fulfilled or irrevocably frustrated."
"Beck (1983) distinguished between deprivation depression (caused by the loss of affiliative opportunities) and defeat depression (caused by failure to achieve desired goals). In Beck’s view, ‘sociotropic’ people, to whom affiliative needs are of particular importance, are more prone to develop ‘deprivation depression’ when their affiliative needs are frustrated, while ‘autonomous’ people, who are more self-reliant, are more prone to ‘defeat depression’, when their competitive needs are frustrated. A parallel distinction was made by Blatt (1974) between anaclitic depression (Greek, ana = upon; klino = lean), caused by failure to form lasting attachment bonds, and introjective depression, occurring in people with a strict, critical superego, who fail to live up to the high standards they demand of themselves. In addition, Birtchnell (1993) has distinguished between horizontal depressions, which result from dissatisfactions in interactions involving ‘closeness’ and ‘separateness’, and vertical depressions, which result from dissatisfactions in ‘upper-to-lower’ (rank) interactions."
"Whereas attachment theory proposes that depression is an adaptive response to losing an attachment figure and conceiving of oneself as unlovable, rank theory proposes that depression is an adaptive response to losing rank and conceiving of oneself as a loser. The adaptive function of the depression, according to rank theory, is to facilitate losing and to promote accommodation to the fact that one has lost. In other words, the depressive state evolved to promote the acceptance of the subordinate role and the loss of resources which can only be secured by holding higher rank in the dominance hierarchy. The function of this depressive adaptation is to prevent the loser in a status conflict from suffering further injury and to preserve the stability and competitive efficiency of the group by maintaining social homeostasis.
In circumstances of defeat and enforced subordination, an internal inhibitory process comes into operation which causes the individual to cease competing and reduce his level of aspiration (Gilbert, 1992). This inhibitory process is involuntary and results in the loss of energy, depressed mood, sleep disturbance, poor appetite, retarded movements, and loss of confidence which are the typical characteristics of depression.
The selective advantage of an evolved capacity for the recognition and acceptance of rank difference in social groups is that it reduces aggressiveness and establishes precedence in granting rights of access to indispensable resources such as territory, food, and potential mates. It follows that gaining rank is associated with elevated mood and losing rank with depressed mood."
"To be popular and hold rank within a group are immensely desirable accomplishments; to perceive oneself as unpopular and without rank are causes of misery and unhappiness; while to be rejected from the group altogether is one of life’s greatest disasters. It is in terms of these factors that joy and sorrow, mania and depression, contentment and anxiety can be most readily understood.
One important contribution of rank theory is that it has proposed a hypothesis of how depression actually evolved: it emerged as the yielding component of ritual agonistic conflict. This has been called the yielding subroutine (Price and Sloman, 1987). The adaptive function of the yielding subroutine is twofold: first, it ensures that the yielder truly yields and does not attempt to make a comeback, and, second, the yielder reassures the winner that yielding has truly taken place, so that the conflict ends, with no further damage to the yielder. Relative social harmony is then restored.
Similarly, we may offer the hypothesis that mania evolved as the winning component of ritual agonistic behaviour: the winning subroutine. Here again, the adaptive function is twofold: first, it ensures that the winner truly wins and makes clear that any attempt at a comeback by the yielder will be successfully resisted, and, second, it ensures that should the yielder attempt to reopen the conflict, the winner will have such resources of confidence, determination, strength, and energy that he will force the yielder to yield for good and all.
Both yielding and winning subroutines thus ensure that social change is accomplished relatively quickly without too much disruption of group activities and that once it has occurred it will prove lasting. The object of the losing strategy is damage limitation, that of the winning strategy is status preservation. Inevitably, such subroutines carry greater significance among group-living species than among those living a solitary existence."
"That the incidence of depression is higher and its course longer than hypomania suggests that natural selection has favoured the prolonged yielding subroutine over its winning equivalent. This could reflect the evident fact that in any asymmetrical society there are potentially more losers than winners. It also reflects the fact that few people are ever known to present themselves at psychiatric clinics complaining of ‘suffering’ from hypomania. Inevitably, the medical services are concerned with losers rather than winners, and whereas the loser in a physical encounter is more likely than the winner to end up in Casualty, so the loser in a ritual encounter is more likely than the winner to end up in the Psychiatric Out-Patients Department."

Evolutionary Psychiatry, Anthony Stevens & John Price
"This model makes the prediction that some disorders will actually be more common, when the environment is very stable, very safe, and nothing bad happens to you."

Marco Del Giudice: A unifying framework for evolutionary psychopathology

Samstag, 9. Dezember 2017

“For countless generations men have shaped women, women have shaped men, and here we are – the product of this amazing, complicated history. If we understand this, our judgment becomes broader and less superficial, whether we like the way we are or would like to change it.”

Die Idee des inneren Genius:

Im Menschen findet sich von Natur aus ein Genius.
Ein jeder entscheidet darüber, wie viel Einfluss er dem Genius auf Handeln, Denken, Wahrnehmen und Fühlen gewährt.
Moralische Vollkommenheit bestünde dann, wenn eine Person dem Genius maximalen Einfluss gewährt.

Schizotypy and fitness indicators

Marco Del Giudice et al., 2010:

"The role of schizotypy in human mating has been further explored by Shaner et al. (2004, 2008a), whose evolutionary model treats psychotic-spectrum disorders (and more specifically schizophrenia) as the dysfunctional extreme of one or more sexually selected fitness indicators. Fitness indicators are traits with no immediate survival value, evolved through sexual selection to function as courtship ornaments due to their ability to reveal their bearer's genetic quality (lack of mutation load) and general conditions (Miller, 2000a,b). “Fit” individuals are able to display the attractive form of the trait, while individuals of low genetic quality and/or in poor conditions end up displaying its unattractive variant. In the model proposed by Shaner et al. (2004, 2008a), schizophrenia (whose typical symptoms are delusions, disorganized speech, reduced emotional expressiveness, poor sense of humor and impaired perspective taking) represents an aberrant form of human verbal courtship behavior, or, as the authors put it, a “catastrophic failure of mating intelligence.” Highly successful forms of verbal courtship require the opposite features: humor, skilled mind-reading, verbal creativity and emotional attunement, and so on. Several strands of evidence appear to support the hypothesis by Shaner and colleagues: for example, the typical age of onset of psychotic symptoms (adolescence and early adulthood) coincides with the peak of mating effort, and there are sex differences in age of onset that may reflect the different timing of maximal sexual competition in males and females. Moreover, dopamine agonists – known to stimulate courtship behavior in many species – also worsen the symptoms of schizophrenia, while dopamine antagonists have the opposite effect (see Kahn and Davis, 1995; Shaner et al., 2008a).

In this framework, schizotypy can be seen as a sensitivity-enhancing trait, so that high levels of schizotypal traits increase the correlation between genetic/environmental quality and mating displays. In other words, schizotypy would act as an “amplifier” of individual fitness as reflected in fitness-indicator traits, increasing both the risk of developing psychosis (when genetic quality is low and/or development is hampered by poor environmental conditions) and the likelihood of outstanding mating success (when genetic quality and environmental conditions are good)."


In the SSM, schizotypy enhances the sensitivity of a fitness indicator, by affecting brain processes so as to increase verbal/artistic creativity and other mating-related traits. As a result, schizotypal individuals enjoy higher mating and reproductive success when their genetic fitness is high, but suffer a higher risk of schizophrenia and reduced reproductive success when their genetic fitness is low. The figure shows two classes of genetic factors contributing to increased risk of schizophrenia: (a) fitness-reducing mutations and (b) schizotypy-increasing alleles


Schjelderup-Ebbe (1935):

My goal:

I truly would like to see this blog becoming a large store of valuable nuggets of information.
Every real passion is associated with some costs.

Freitag, 8. Dezember 2017

Can depression, anxiety and somatization be understood as appeasement displays?

Can depression, anxiety and somatization be understood as appeasement displays?
John S. Price, Russell Gardner Jr., Mark Erickson (2004)

we view escalation and de-escalation as alternative agonistic strategies that result in normal communicative behavioral states but at times manifest as mania and depression, respectively (Gardner, 1982, 1988). We suggest that the three levels of the triune forebrain (MacLean, 1990) each independently choose between escalation (fight) and de-escalation (flight or submission).
Our theory holds that patients suffering from depression, anxiety, and co-morbid conditions such as fatigue states and somatization disorders communicate to fellow human beings non-combatant status for whatever form of social competition the society uses. When such communication occurs in nonhuman animals, the label of ‘‘appeasement (or submissive) display’’ indicates it functions to switch off the aggression of the rival. It says, ‘‘I am no threat to you, I will not retaliate.’’
Cannon (1929) first pointed out that organisms do not run at full steam all the time, but that great reserves of energy can be called on when a situation demands.
Escalation refers to a switch to a more expensive form of competition; when an individual escalates, the chances of winning increase but the potential costs of losing also increase. In de-escalation, the individual gives up any chance of winning, but reduces the costs of losing. De-escalation may take the form of departure, but in group-living animals submission with appeasement display represents the more common form of de-escalation.
In line with the complexity of social competition, escalation and de-escalation became more complex over the course of evolution. For instance, these behaviors may have become more prolonged: instead of a rapid choice between fight and flight, an interpersonal struggle for dominance may last several months, even in chimpanzees (deWaal, 1989). And in humans, for whom competition for prestige has largely replaced agonistic competition (Gilbert, 1992; Stevens and Price, 2000, pp. 51 – 52, 159 – 160), escalation may take the form of the vigorous pursuit of goals, whereas de-escalation may take the form of giving up goals.
At the instinctive level, we hypothesize that escalation in the reptilian brain takes the form of elevated mood, giving the individual a prolonged increase in energy, optimism, self-confidence and heightened sociability all of which function to recruit allies. Conversely, de-escalation at the instinctive level takes the form of depressed mood and may include unfocused anxiety, fatigue and a sense of physical disability. The appeasement display at this level communicates this impairment and disability to any rival or to society as a whole. Parenthetically, when directed at friends and allies, the appeasement display takes the form of a distress signal, sending the message, ‘‘I am sick, care for me, and do not send me into the arena to fight on your behalf’’ (Price and Gardner, 1995).
Normally, a person directs submission to one or more individuals, for example, to a leader, a parent, or God. This applies to the appeasement display of the rational neocortical level. But the depressed patient, communicating at the reptilian level, makes a non-directed, general communication of submissive incapacity.
Whereas a depressed manager appears to ‘‘go quiet’’ to his superiors, for example, his underlings may find him irritable or downright aggressive.
Indeed, part of the effectiveness of the depressive reaction as a form of submission stems from the conviction that things will not get better or even that they should not get better. The lack of hope of, or desire for, recovery, exhibits ‘‘design’’ features. It communicates no preparation whatsoever for a ‘‘come-back.’’ Depressed patients therefore display high motivation to refuse treatment.
Depressed emotion contrasts with depressed mood (Davidson and Ekman, 1994) in that it has an object, i.e., one is depressed about something, and if the situation changes for the better, one cheers up; also, depressed emotion feels less pervasive than depressed mood does. Champion and Power (1995) suggest that depressed emotion functions to help one to abandon unrealistic goals, and Watson and Andrews (in press) argue that it fosters change from a depressing niche to a more satisfactory one.
[It's of importance to distinguish] between depressed emotion and depressed mood. Although subjectively and even objectively similar, the two levels of de-escalation have different aims; depressed emotion functions to regulate the individual’s goal choice and niche selection; depressed mood on the other hand functions to transfer goal pursuit from the depressed individual to a rival; both depressed emotion and depressed mood facilitate de-escalation at the rational level, and if this occurs, conflict resolution likely results.
depressed mood commonly produces depressive thinking such as pessimism, low self-esteem, a reduced sense of entitlement, and the feeling that things are not worth fighting for;
The zoologist who first described social hierarchy (Schjelderup-Ebbe, 1935) noted two distinct types of depression in the domestic hen, a severe depression in a deposed alpha bird, and a chronic sense of ‘‘hopelessness’’ in the low ranking bird.
For both change and homeostatic depression appeasement functions similarly; therefore, manifest impairment of function, and the expression of pessimistic ideas about the self, the world and the future, represent expressions appropriate for both. On the other hand, the theory predicts different ideas about the past. The ‘‘change’’ depressive formerly possessed higher rank and he might aspire to regain it; but if delusional distortion of the past holds center stage, the patient may deny ever having had higher rank, honours or wealth; the person subjectively feels nothing exists to regain. This means a lessened likelihood of attempted comeback; the appeasement function of depression would therefore have worked more effectively. The homeostatic depressive, on the other hand, never had higher rank, and so depressive delusions about the past would have no function.
Another difference between the two types of depression shows up in the accounts of relatives and friends. Relatives of the ‘‘change’’ depressive tend to notice a change of personality and make comments such as, ‘‘He just isn’t the man I married’’, whereas the relatives of the ‘‘homeostatic’’ depressive notice little change, making comments such as, ‘‘He’s much the same as always, only more so.’’

John Bowlby, Personality and Mental Illness

William James on Scatter-Mindedness:

"Some of the most efficient workers I know are of the ultra-scatter-brained type. One friend, who does a prodigious quantity of work, has in fact confessed to me that, if he wants to get ideas on any subject, he sits down to work at something else, his best results coming through his mind-wanderings. This is perhaps an epigrammatic exaggeration on his part; but I seriously think that no one of us need be too much distressed at his own shortcomings in this regard."

William James on Attention:

"Whoever treats of interest inevitably treats of attention, for to say that an object is interesting is only another way of saying that it excites attention. But in addition to the attention which any object already interesting or just becoming interesting claims — passive attention or spontaneous attention, we may call it — there is a more deliberate attention, — voluntary attention or attention with effort, as it is called, — which we can give to objects less interesting or uninteresting in themselves. The distinction between active and passive attention is made in all books on psychology, and connects itself with the deeper aspects of the topic. From our present purely practical point of view, however, it is not necessary to be intricate; and passive attention to natively interesting material requires no further elucidation on this occasion. All that we need explicitly to note is that, the more the passive attention is relied on, by keeping the material interesting; and the less the kind of attention requiring effort is appealed to; the more smoothly and pleasantly the classroom work goes on. I must say a few more words, however, about this latter process of voluntary and deliberate attention.

One often hears it said that genius is nothing but a power of sustained attention, and the popular impression probably prevails that men of genius are remarkable for their voluntary powers in this direction. But a little introspective observation will show any one that voluntary attention cannot be continuously sustained, — that it comes in beats. When we are studying an uninteresting subject, if our mind tends to wander, we have to bring back our attention every now and then by using distinct pulses of effort, which revivify the topic for a moment, the mind then running on for a certain number of seconds or minutes with spontaneous interest, until again some intercurrent idea captures it and takes it off. Then the processes of volitional recall must be repeated once more. Voluntary attention, in short, is only a momentary affair. The process, whatever it is, exhausts itself in the single act; and, unless the matter is then taken in hand by some trace of interest inherent in the subject, the mind fails to follow it at all. The sustained attention of the genius, sticking to his subject for hours together, is for the most part of the passive sort. The minds of geniuses are full of copious and original associations. The subject of thought, once started, develops all sorts of fascinating consequences. The attention is led along one of these to another in the most interesting manner, and the attention never once tends to stray away.

In a commonplace mind, on the other hand, a subject develops much less numerous associates: it dies out then quickly; and, if the man is to keep up thinking of it at all, he must bring his attention back to it by a violent wrench. In him, therefore, the faculty of voluntary attention receives abundant opportunity for cultivation in daily life. It is your despised business man, your common man of affairs, (so looked down on by the literary awarders of fame) whose virtue in this regard is likely to be most developed; for he has to listen to the concerns of so many uninteresting people, and to transact so much drudging detail, that the faculty in question is always kept in training. A genius, on the contrary, is the man in whom you are least likely to find the power of attending to anything insipid or distasteful in itself. He breaks his engagements, leaves his letters unanswered, neglects his family duties incorrigibly, because he is powerless to turn his attention down and back from those more interesting trains of imagery with which his genius constantly occupies his mind.

Voluntary attention is thus an essentially instantaneous affair. You can claim it, for your purposes in the schoolroom, by commanding it in loud, imperious tones; and you can easily get it in this way. But, unless the subject to which you thus recall their attention has inherent power to interest the pupils, you will have got it for only a brief moment; and their minds will soon be wandering again. To keep them where you have called them, you must make the subject too interesting for them to wander again. And for that there is one prescription; but the prescription, like all our prescriptions, is abstract, and, to get practical results from it, you must couple it with mother-wit.

The prescription is that the subject must be made to show new aspects of itself; to prompt new questions; in a word, to change. From an unchanging subject the attention inevitably wanders away. You can test this by the simplest possible case of  sensorial attention. Try to attend steadfastly to a dot on the paper or on the wall. You presently find that one or the other of two things has happened: either your field of vision has become blurred, so that you now see nothing distinct at all, or else you have involuntarily ceased to look at the dot in question, and are looking at something else. But, if you ask yourself successive questions about the dot, — how big it is, how far, of what shape, what shade of color, etc.; in other words, if you turn it over, if you think of it in various ways, and along with various kinds of associates, — you can keep your mind on it for a comparatively long time. This is what the genius does, in whose hands a given topic coruscates and grows. And this is what the teacher must do for every topic if he wishes to avoid too frequent appeals to voluntary attention of the coerced sort. In all respects, reliance upon such attention as this is a wasteful method, bringing bad temper and nervous wear and tear as well as imperfect results. The teacher who can get along by keeping spontaneous interest excited must be regarded as the teacher with the greatest skill.

There is, however, in all schoolroom work a large mass of material that must be dull and unexciting, and to which it is impossible in any continuous way to contribute an interest associatively derived. There are, therefore, certain external methods, which every teacher knows, of voluntarily arousing the attention from time to time and keeping it upon the subject. Mr. Fitch has a lecture on the art of securing attention, and he briefly passes these methods in review; the posture must be changed; places can be changed. Questions, after being answered singly, may occasionally be answered in concert. Elliptical questions may be asked, the pupil supplying the missing word. The teacher must pounce upon the most listless child and wake him up. The habit of prompt and ready response must be kept up. Recapitulations, illustrations, examples, novelty of order, and ruptures of routine, — all these are means for keeping the attention alive and contributing a little interest to a dull subject. Above all, the teacher must himself be alive and ready, and must use the contagion of his own example.

But, when all is said and done, the fact remains that some teachers have a naturally inspiring presence, and can make their exercises interesting, while others simply cannot. And psychology and general pedagogy here confess their failure, and hand things over to the deeper springs of human personality to conduct the task."

Dienstag, 5. Dezember 2017

Explizites Wissen:

In Zeiten von Google & Co macht es durchaus Sinn, sich manchmal die Aussage zu vergegenwärtigen: "Man weiß nur das, was man tatsächlich im Gedächtnis hat."

Ziel: So zu lernen, dass man Inhalte tatsächlich im Kopf, verfüg- und abrufbar hat.
"Part of the art of choosing difficulties is to select those that are indeed just manageable. If the difficulties chosen are too easy, life is boring; if they are too hard, life is defeating. The trick is to choose trouble for oneself in the direction of what one would like to become at a level of difficulty close to the edge of one’s competence."

Nicholas Hobbs

The myth of “they weren’t ever taught….”

Sprache, Schrift und Fokus

Die schriftliche Überwachung des eigenen Fokus ist der rein sprachlichen Überwachung in mancher Hinsicht überlegen.

Das schriftliche Notieren der Top-Priorität für einen bestimmten Zeitraum (z.B. die nächste Stunde) erleichtert in manchen Fällen das Fokussieren erheblich.

Montag, 4. Dezember 2017

William James on Cramming:

"The reason why cramming is such a bad mode of study is now made clear. I mean by cramming that way of preparing for examinations by committing 'points' to memory during a few hours or days of intense application immediately preceding the final ordeal, little or no work having been performed during the previous course of the term. Things learned thus in a few hours, on one occasion, for one purpose, cannot possibly have formed many associations with other things in the mind. Their brain-processes are led into by few paths, and are relatively little liable to be awakened again. Speedy oblivion is the almost inevitable fate of all that is committed to memory in this simple way. Whereas, on the contrary, the same materials taken in gradually, day after day, recurring in different contexts, considered in various relations, associated with other external incidents, and repeatedly reflected on, grow into such a system, form such connections with the rest of the mind's fabric, lie open to so many paths of approach, that they remain permanent possessions. This is the intellectual reason why habits of continuous application should be enforced in educational establishments. Of course there is no moral turpitude in cramming. If it led to the desired end of secure learning it would be infinitely the best method of study. But it does not; and students themselves should understand the reason why."

The Principles of Psychology, William James
"Entscheidungen [bzw. Urteile], die wir zu treffen haben, sind mit einem Ausmaß an Ungewissheit belastet, dessen Äquivalent die Größe der Information ist, die für eine sichere Entscheidung [bzw. für ein sicheres Urteil] erforderlich wäre. Meldungen, das sind Wahrnehmungen, persönliche Erfahrungen und Mitteilungen, enthalten Information insofern, als sie uns das Fällen von Entscheidungen [bzw. von Urteilen] erleichtern."

Fischer Lexikon, Psychologie, 1957

Idee der Kontemplation:

Die Idee der Kontemplation besteht darin, dass das aufmerksame Betrachten eines Gegenstands gegebenenfalls in das Erleben der Schönheit bzw. der "Essenz" eines Gegenstand übergeht. Die aufmerksame Betrachtung ist somit eine Art Brücke zur Kontemplation.


Das aufmerksame Betrachten eines Bildes, Sehen geht gegebenenfalls in ein Schauen über, und führt so zur inneren Anteilnahme an dem Erleben, das ein Künstler hatte, als er das Bild schuf. (Die Essenz bzw. der Inhalt des Bildes wird durch Betrachtung entschlüsselt.)


Sonntag, 3. Dezember 2017


(I) anschauliche Vergegenwärtigung bzw. anschauliche Vorwegnahme der Zukunft

(II) abstrakt-sprachliche Vergegenwärtigung bzw. abstrakt-sprachliche Vorwegnahme der Zukunft


Siehe auch: Mental Space Travel, Mental Time Travel
(+) Wir können uns Gegenstände vergegenwärtigen, die sich nicht in unserer Nähe befinden.
(++) Wir können uns Gegenstände vergegenwärtigen, die nicht, nicht mehr, oder noch nicht existieren.

"When two minds of a high order, interested in kindred subjects, come together, their conversation is chiefly remarkable for the summariness of its allusions and the rapidity of its transitions. Before one of them is half through a sentence the other knows his meaning and replies. Such genial play with such massive materials, such an easy hashing of light over far perspectives, such careless indifference to the dust and apparatus that ordinarily surround the subject and seem to pertain to its essence, make these conversations seem true feasts forgoes to a listener who is educated enough to follow them at all. His mental lungs breathe more deeply, in an atmosphere more broad and vast than is their wont. On the other hand, the excessive explicitness and short-windedness of an ordinary man are as wonderful as they are tedious to the man of genius. But we need not go as far as the ways of genius. Ordinary social intercourse will do. There the charm of conversation is in direct proportion to the possibility of abridgment and elision, and in inverse ratio to the need of explicit statement. With old friends a word stands for a whole story or set of opinions. With new-comers everything must be gone over in detail. Some persons have a real mania for completeness, they must express every step. They are the most intolerable of companions, and although their mental energy may in its way be great, they always strike us as weak and second-rate. In short, the essence of plebeianism, that which separates vulgarity from aristocracy, is perhaps less a defect than an excess, the constant need to animadvert upon matters which for the aristocratic temperament do not exist. To ignore, to disdain to consider, to overlook, are the essence of the ‘gentleman.' Often most provokingly so; for the things ignored may be of the deepest moral consequence. But in the very midst of our indignation with the gentleman, we have a consciousness that his preposterous inertia and negativeness in the actual emergency is, somehow or other, allied with his general superiority to ourselves. It is not only that the gentleman ignores considerations relative to conduct, sordid suspicions, fears, calculations, etc., which the vulgarian is fated to entertain; it is that he is silent where the vulgarian talks ; that he gives nothing but results where the vulgarian is profuse of reasons; that he does not explain or apologize; that he uses one sentence instead of twenty; and that, in a word, there is an amount of interstitial thinking, so to call it, which it is quite impossible to get him to perform, but which is nearly all that the vulgarian mind performs at all. All this suppression of the secondary leaves the field clear , -- for higher heights, should they choose to come. But even if they never came, what thoughts there were would still manifest the aristocratic type and wear the well-bred form. So great is our sense of harmony and ease in passing from the company of a philistine to that of an aristocratic temperament, that we are almost tempted to deem the falsest views and tastes as held by a man of the world, truer than the truest as held by a common person. In the latter the best ideas are choked, obstructed, and contaminated by the redundancy of their paltry associates. The negative conditions, at least, of an atmosphere and a free outlook are present in the former. I may appear to have strayed from psychological analysis into aesthetic criticism. But the principle of selection is so important that no illustrations seem redundant which may help to show how great is its scope. The upshot of what I say simply is that selection implies rejection as well as choice; and that the function of ignoring, of inattention, is as vital a factor in mental progress as the function of attention itself."

William James, The Principles Of Psychology

"Geniuses are, by common consent, considered to differ from ordinary minds by an unusual development of association by similarity."

William James, The Principles of Psychology
"Hardly any one of us can make new heads easily when fresh experiences come. Most of us grow more and more enslaved to the stock conceptions with which we have once become familiar, and less and less capable of assimilating impressions in any but the old ways. Oldfogyism, in short, is the inevitable terminus to which life sweeps us on. Objects which violate our established habits of 'apperception' are simply not taken account of at all; or, if on some occasion we are forced by dint of argument to admit their existence, twenty-four hours later the admission is as if it were not, and every trace of the unassimilable truth has vanished from our thought. Genius, in truth, means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an unhabitual way."

William James, The Principles of Psychology 
"the faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention, over and over again, is the very root of judgment, character, and will."

William James, The Principles of Psychology

William James on Geniuses:

"Geniuses are commonly believed to excel other men in their power of sustained attention. In most of them, it is to be feared, the so-called 'power' is of the passive sort. Their ideas coruscate, every subject branches infinitely before their fertile minds, and so for hours they may be rapt. But it is their genius making them attentive, not their attention making geniuses of them. And, when we come down to the root of the matter, we see that they differ from ordinary men less in the character of their attention than in the nature of the objects upon which it is successively bestowed." 

The Principles of Psychology

Freitag, 1. Dezember 2017

"men tend to disengage when negatively aroused whereas women prefer to engage with others and talk about their distress more directly, a pattern thought to reflect women’s stronger desire for affiliation when experiencing negative affect or stress (Taylor et al., 2000). Moreover, research suggests that women may need to feel that their partners remain close and attentive to them even when they are feeling angry or upset (Eldridge & Christensen, 2002)."

"Women, in contrast, may not be as threatened by their partners’ negative emotions. Women who more accurately read their partners’ negative emotions were the most satisfied in their relationships. It could be that for women, perceiving their male partners as having negative emotions reflects some degree of the male’s investment and emotional engagement in the relationship, even during times of conflict. The withdrawal behavior in relationships that is more typically observed in male partners has been shown to negatively impact the female partners, who are looking for more engagement and emotion expression (Eldridge & Christensen, 2002; Gottman, 1994; Johnson & Denton, 2002)."

[Source | via Alles Evolution]


Elridge and Christensen, 2002:

"It has long been speculated that women tend to be demanders in relationships, while men tend to withdraw. Authors often cite the work of Terman, Buttenweiser, Ferguson, Johnson, and Wilson (1938) as the earliest study to demonstrate this empirically. These researchers found that distressed wives complained of their husbands’ withdrawal, while distressed husbands complained of their wives’ nagging, criticism, and emotionality. A number of studies have supported this gender difference, finding that women were more emotionally expressive and conflict-engaging while men were more conflict-avoiding (Kelley, Conningham, Grisham, Lefebvre, Sink, & Yablon, 1978; Komarovsky, 1962; 1976; Rubin 1976; 1983; Rugel, 1997). ..."

[Es ließe sich auch etwa so formulieren: Frauen begrüßen es im Falle einer Konfliktsituation gegebenenfalls, ihren Mann in einer nicht rein stoischen Geistesverfassung zu sehen.]

Donnerstag, 30. November 2017

Fehler in Aufmerksamkeit und Handeln:

Fehler der Aufmerksamkeit

Fehler 1: 
Nichtbeachtung eines Phänomens, obwohl es sinnvoll oder notwendig wäre, das Phänomen zu beachten.

Fehler 2:
Beachtung eines Phänomens, obwohl es sinnvoll oder notwendig wäre, das Phänomen nicht zu beachten.

Fehler im Handeln

Fehler 1:
Nichtausführung einer Handlung, obwohl es sinnvoll oder notwendig wäre, die Handlung auszuführen.

Fehler 2:
Ausführung einer Handlung, obwohl es sinnvoll oder notwendig wäre, die Handlung nicht auszuführen.

Mittwoch, 29. November 2017

"Do Gametes Woo? Evidence for Their Nonrandom Union at Fertilization"


A fundamental tenet of inheritance in sexually reproducing organisms such as humans and laboratory mice is that gametes combine randomly at fertilization, thereby ensuring a balanced and statistically predictable representation of inherited variants in each generation. This principle is encapsulated in Mendel’s First Law. But exceptions are known. With transmission ratio distortion, particular alleles are preferentially transmitted to offspring. Preferential transmission usually occurs in one sex but not both, and is not known to require interactions between gametes at fertilization. A reanalysis of our published work in mice and of data in other published reports revealed instances where any of 12 mutant genes biases fertilization, with either too many or too few heterozygotes and homozygotes, depending on the mutant gene and on dietary conditions. Although such deviations are usually attributed to embryonic lethality of the underrepresented genotypes, the evidence is more consistent with genetically-determined preferences for specific combinations of egg and sperm at fertilization that result in genotype bias without embryo loss. This unexpected discovery of genetically-biased fertilization could yield insights about the molecular and cellular interactions between sperm and egg at fertilization, with implications for our understanding of inheritance, reproduction, population genetics, and medical genetics. 

[See also: Quanta Magazine]

Mental Time Travel:

Wir können einem Gegenstand Aufmerksamkeit widmen, obwohl er nicht, nicht mehr, oder noch nicht existiert.

Mental Space Travel:

Wir können einem Gegenstand Aufmerksamkeit widmen, obwohl er sich gegenwärtig nicht in unserer Nähe befindet.

Dienstag, 28. November 2017

On Opportunities:

"Unless we have a destination in mind, it's tough to separate the opportunities from the distractions."

"most opportunities have expiration dates. If missed, they are often lost forever."

Living Forward, M. Hyatt & D. Harkavy

Montag, 27. November 2017

Ziele und Weggabelungen:

Für den, der keine Ziele verfolgt, ist es letztlich gleichgültig, welchen Weg er bei einer Weggabelung einschlägt:

"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to go to," said the Cat.
"I don't care much -" said Alice.
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Die Kunst der Lebensgestaltung scheint in dem Gebrauch der Fähigkeit zu bestehen, die Stunde, den Tag, das Monat, das Jahr, das Leben, vom Ende her zu denken.


Es gibt / gab Menschen, die einem optimalen bzw. durch und durch konstruktiven Verhalten zumindest sehr nahe kommen / kamen.

Spatial Behavior:

Michael Argyle, Bodily Communication:

"Argyle and Dean (1965) found that in a given situation people seek a certain degree of proximity, lean forward or back to attain it, and feel uncomfortable if they cannot. We proposed that this is the result of a balancing of forces of approach and withdraw: people are attracted to others (as the result of past rewards) and also repelled (as the result of past punishment)."

"If one person likes another, the approach forces will be stronger and the avoidance forces weaker, resulting in greater proximity."


"People stand closer to others whom they like. This has been found consistently using a variety of methods."

"Willis (1966) found that subjects stood at different distances in real-life settings, in order of closeness as follows:

close friends

Individuals sit and stand closer to each other if they are of similar rather than different status, age (Lott and Summer 1967), or if they are similar in other ways, such as race."

"Orientation is also affected by liking: people generally sit side by side with close friends, while with those they do not like they choose a directly facing position. The main exception to this is that people like to face eating friends (Cook 1970)."

"Argyle and Dean (1965) ... found that people seek a certain degree of proximity, lean forward or back to attain it, and feel uncomfortable if they cannot.
It follows from the model that if a person comes too close this will arouse stronger avoidance forces than approach, so that the other will both be disturbed and back away. Particular discomfort is produced if the other is too close, and for people who like one another a different kind of discomfort is produced by being too far apart. In either case attempts are made to restore equilibrium. This can be done by changes in spatial position, for example by moving further away, leaning backwards, or adopting a less direct orientation (Patterson 1973)."