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Unread April 11th, 2006, 03:09 PM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 271
Default Re: Pinker's Blank Slate

Fred, You said,
Your inability and/or refusal to accept or acknowledge this reality, despite the overwhelming evidence that has been provided here and in the excellent resources you’ve recently been reading, suggests that your cognitive capability is less than optimal and/or or that you’re blinded by your emotions.
I am responding to your post despite my stated determination not to respond to such ad hominem attacks. You might say that I'm giving you one last chance to stop being a jerk. I am doing this because you are obviously smart and I hate to dismiss your ideas. But I will not respond to any post in the future that like this one, suggests that I am stupid because I don't agree with you. This is a common way that you respond. It is something that you seem to have developed to a high skill. I realize you must have a had a troubled childhood but using educated prose to insult people is not the best way to get back at those who picked on you so many years ago. In any case, I will not be your enabler.

Also, you should try to understand that differences of opinion are not attacks on your identity. They can easily become that way if you start attacking the intelligence of those who disagree with you. That's what I'm trying to avoid so that the substance of what we are discussing can be considered - without the strong personal emotions that you insist on bringing in. It's called objective discussion. Despite my misgivings I will attempt to have one of those with you now.

You said,
Consider that the primary emotions of we humans are essentially equivalent to that of many mammals—fear, anger, disgust, etc. What primarily distinguishes us from other mammals is the reality of our enhanced cognitive ability, our intelligence, the “cognitive” in Ledoux’s mental trilogy. What other mammal can comprehend the objective truth of infinite primes or of pi; or can comprehend concepts like “mental trilogy” or self ?
What other mammal can comprehend the objective truth that negroes are subhuman and should be held as slaves for white men, that women were created from Adams' rib 6000 years ago in the Garden of Eden or that Jews should be exterminated as a race? There are many humans today who would claim the objective truth of each of those assertions - and some perhaps who would consider killing you if you did not agree.

My point is not that humans do not a have a powerful intellect. It is that our intellect only affects our decisions according to the emotional strength that we attach to the various ideas or concepts that we create or consider. And that is something that we have little control over. It depends on how well those concepts support or grate against the beliefs that we already hold in our minds - beliefs that we probably adopted when we were very young.

I would go so far as to say that belief is an emotional response to an idea that conforms to our existing higher level identity beliefs.

In that way, our intellectual conclusions are first guided by our existing beliefs (in that some ideas won't fit with our identity beliefs and will be rejected before we consider them) and those that we do consider will only be weighted in our decisions according the emotional strength we subconsciously grant them.

You said,
Have you ever had a dream, Margaret, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world? Sooner or later, Margaret, you’re going to have to accept that there's often a difference between what you feel, and what is real.
I would counter that what anyone actually believes (to be true) is only that which they feel to be true. Without that emotional validation they can not truly believe - no matter what they might say. The difference between us is where we find our emotional validation. Is it in facts about human nature that can be observed - or in bromides about free will and atheism that make you feel so good when you hit the submit button? I know this will make no sense to you - but I offer it to consider if you wish.

But, this is similar to my free will challenge. We can not choose any behavior that does not optimize the predicted emotional outcome for our benefit. In that same way we can not believe anything that emotionally violates our existing higher level identity beliefs.

Michael Behe, despite his PhD in biochemistry believes that some supernatural intelligence designed life in the universe. He has proposed no falsifiable theory to explain this. Like Behe, most of us spend far more mental energy justifying our existing beliefs than logically and objectively examining them before we adopt them.

You said,
Free your mind, Margaret—we can only show you the door—you're the one that has to walk through it.
Who is the we here? Your conservative admiration for authority and your need to feel that you somehow belong to that grand structure is showing. Try making your own arguments and stop seeking validation from those who have their own ideology to promote. Consider yourself on double secret probation.


PS - I have no need to convince you of anything. Only the quality of your arguments will make any difference to me. If you screw this up there are plenty of interesting forums where I'd rather be spending my limited time. The only door I'll be going through is the one outta here.

Last edited by Margaret McGhee; April 11th, 2006 at 03:49 PM.
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