What’s It Like Inside Your Mind?

Filed under: — Bravus @ 2:47 pm

This article was shared on social media about two weeks ago and caused quite a stir:

Have to admit, I was surprised that people were surprised. One of the things Suzie and I have been doing for over 30 years now is comparing notes: “What’s it like inside your mind?”

Our minds are quite different. She really doesn’t have an internal monologue. I sort of do, but it’s much more of a cacophony of images and voices and sounds and songs than it is a monologue.

(If you follow me on Facebook you get some of the random things that float up in the middle of living life…)

Her mind was subjected to some trauma do to abuse in childhood that may have led it to adapt, at a very plastic time, in ways it wouldn’t ‘naturally’ have done, but we don’t have a ‘control’ mind to compare.

You’ll notice I’m saying ‘mind’, not ‘brain’. There’s a fair bit of both psychology and philosophy behind that distinction, but for the moment I’m just using it to emphasise that I’m talking about our own subjective experience of our own minds.

It’s often tempting to ascribe differences to gender, but in many ways we don’t fit the traditional gender stereotypes: she’s more logical and analytical, I’m more intuitive, she’s a problem-solver, I’m more nurturing.

I tend to be very self-conscious, and (I hope) that also means I’m aware of my impact on others, and how what I’m saying and doing is impacting on them. Suzie is less so, and therefore is authentically herself in any context.

I do quite a lot of 3D mental modeling and rotation when we’re doing things like assembling Ikea furniture or working out whether a fridge will go through a door. It’s hard to know whether those skills caused my study in physics or were caused by it – probably a little of each.

But, specifically around the issue of an inner monologue, she definitely still thinks things through, but either that happens in her subconscious/unconscious mind and is then simply presented to her conscious mind as a fait accompli, or else it happens in dialogue with other people.

Conversations with others are crucial to hone her thinking. I tend to much more work through things and turn them around in my mind, look at options and solutions, try to simplify and clarify ideas and so on.

I’m pleased that the original article above was posted, though: the more people in society are able to simply recognise and understand that projecting their own subjective experience of their own mind onto everyone else doesn’t get the job done, the better.


A Theism of Transcendence

Filed under: — Bravus @ 10:38 am

I’m not really a theist in a sense most people would recognise. I think the universe’s existence and origin is well explained by natural science. I think human moral reasoning has the potential to be morally better than the dictates of any religion, and so on.

A conversation with a friend got onto these topics, and he made the point that a God can be dispensed of entirely with those views. Probably true, but my reply was as follows:

To me, God is there to be the transcendent, much more than to be a surrogate parent or president. A name for that which is beyond us… and perhaps a big part of the 21st century mallaise is that so few of us recognise that there is anything beyond us.

– me in a FB DM conversation

My friend is a pastor, and noted that this sounds like Paul Tillich, and I suspect it probably does: there’s nothing new under the sun. I haven’t read Tillich, though, this is just what I’ve arrived at for myself.

Maybe applying the name ‘God’ to this doesn’t work well: for so long it has been used as a claimed supernatural guarantor for ‘you should be like me and do what I say’. Perhaps using a different wording like ‘The Nameless’ or something works better.

But I think there’s some remaining value in the concept. Your mileage may vary.


Novel Coronavirus Update

Filed under: — Bravus @ 12:54 pm

Stats and graphs are from: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

The novel coronavirus statistics are still very worrying, with more than 31,000 cases now and more than 630 fatalities.

There is some reason for hope, though: have a look at the slope of each of these curves. The deaths curve seems to have gone from exponential to linear, and the slope of the infections curve has actually started to decrease.
The impact will still be immense, but this pandemic is not growing in an out-of-control exponential way.

Fatality rates for those infected are estimated (on a fairly small sample size) at about 2%, and as with most other flus, those already frail – old people, children, ill people – are over-represented in the fatalities. That rate may also fall as more medical resources are deployed more effectively.

Comparisons between the fatalities from this novel virus versus the ‘normal’ seasonal flu don’t work very well, because the infected populations and even exposed populations are vastly different at this point.