Archive for the 'Psychology & The Mind' Category

Through the looking glass: The case against reality…

When reality is hard to swallow, remember, this scientist says that the world presented to us by our perceptions is nothing like reality at all…

 

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From The Atlantic,

 

The Case Against Reality
A professor of cognitive science argues that the world is nothing like the one we experience through our senses.
by Amanda Gefter

 

As we go about our daily lives, we tend to assume that our perceptions—sights, sounds, textures, tastes—are an accurate portrayal of the real world. Sure, when we stop and think about it—or when we find ourselves fooled by a perceptual illusion—we realize with a jolt that what we perceive is never the world directly, but rather our brain’s best guess at what that world is like, a kind of internal simulation of an external reality. Still, we bank on the fact that our simulation is a reasonably decent one. If it wasn’t, wouldn’t evolution have weeded us out by now? The true reality might be forever beyond our reach, but surely our senses give us at least an inkling of what it’s really like.

 

Not so, says Donald D. Hoffman, a professor of cognitive science at the University of California, Irvine. Hoffman has spent the past three decades studying perception, artificial intelligence, evolutionary game theory and the brain, and his conclusion is a dramatic one: The world presented to us by our perceptions is nothing like reality. What’s more, he says, we have evolution itself to thank for this magnificent illusion, as it maximizes evolutionary fitness by driving truth to extinction.

 

Getting at questions about the nature of reality, and disentangling the observer from the observed, is an endeavor that straddles the boundaries of neuroscience and fundamental physics. On one side you’ll find researchers scratching their chins raw trying to understand how a three-pound lump of gray matter obeying nothing more than the ordinary laws of physics can give rise to first-person conscious experience. This is the aptly named “hard problem.”…

 

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The stove goblin of Zaragoza…

This is truly a strange mystery…and “unconscious ventriloquism” is something we’ve never heard of!

 

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A young girl, possibly Pascuala Alcocer, poses with the chimney where the voice was said to emanate from. (Screencap by ANINBOXING on Youtube)

 

From Atlas Obscura,

 

Unconscious Ventriloquism: The Unsolved Mystery of the Zaragoza Goblin

 

by Eric Grundhauser

 

“The supernatural often seems to get a short shrift from government authorities, but that isn’t always the case. Or, at least, once, this wasn’t the case, because in 1930s Spain, the police, the military, and the international press were all summoned in response to the supposed voice of a goblin living in a residential stove.

 

The strange incident in Zaragoza, Spain in September of 1934 was finally blamed on “unconscious ventriloquism,” leaving one (probably) innocent woman slandered, and an entire city confused. (We scoured the almost daily reports from the 1934 London Times for the story.)

 

The madness began on September 27th, 1934 in the second floor home of the Palazón family, who lived in an apartment building on what was then known as Gascón Gotor street. It was on that date that the family first began hearing strange screams, laughter, and voices that seemed to come from the walls of their kitchen, specifically from their stove or its chimney. The chimney connected to many other units in the building before escaping to the roof, so the logic was that it must have been coming from someone in the building. The roof itself was taller than any around it and too isolated to access easily.

 

The voice, male, did not seem to just be in the heads of the Palazón family either…”

 

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If you think your mind is safe, think again…

Is this research the stuff of nightmares, or the stuff of future ways to understand each other better?

 

“Although the technology still has some way to go, early work reveals that, in the not too distant future, we may be able to send pictures with our thoughts.”

 

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From Futurism.com,

Scientists Have Invented a Mind-Reading Machine That Visualises Your Thoughts

 

“If you think your mind is the only safe place left for all your secrets, think again, because scientists are making real steps towards reading your thoughts and putting them on a screen for everyone to see.

 

A team from the University of Oregon has built a system that can read people’s thoughts via brain scans, and reconstruct the faces they were visualising in their heads. As you’ll soon see, the results were pretty damn creepy.

 

“We can take someone’s memory – which is typically something internal and private – and we can pull it out from their brains,” one of the team, neuroscientist Brice Kuhl, told Brian Resnick at Vox.

 

Here’s how it works. The researchers selected 23 volunteers, and compiled a set of 1,000 colour photos of random people’s faces. The volunteers were shown these pictures while hooked up to an fMRI machine, which detects subtle changes in the blood flow of the brain to measure their neurological activity.

 

Also hooked up to the fMRI machine is an artificial intelligence program that reads the brain activity of the participants, while taking in a mathematical description of each face they were exposed to in real time. The researchers assigned 300 numbers to certain physical features on the faces to help the AI ‘see’ them as code.

 

Basically, this first phase was a training session for the AI – it needed to learn how certain bursts of neurological activity correlated to certain physical features on the faces…”

 

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