Unthought: The Power of the Cognitive Nonconscious


This is my favorite read, if I want something encompassing nearly everything.

She clearly separates thinking and cognition. Thinking is something only humans can do.

But cognition is something many things can do – what goes on in any living cell (including those of plants) up to what Computers can do with their Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning – and what happens when someone starts using their cell phone (whole cellphone networks spring into action).


First words: The surprisingly simple foundation of language

New Scientist

These are important advances in Linguistics, I was not aware of.

The debate over the extent to which language is learned or innate is one of the most enduring in linguistics. Most children start to speak around age 2, and within a few short years are proficient, often prolific, users of language. Do they simply listen and learn, or are they born with some language facility that is filled in by the specifics of their native tongue? Learning is obviously involved – children pick up the language(s) they are brought up with. But can this alone account for the complexity and creativity of language?

I saw this once myself. I knew an Italian family in NYC who had a young daughter who only knew English. They went for a vacation in Italy – and when they returned, their daughter could speak Italian!

When I asked her how she learned this, she said “I listened to them talk, and figured out what they were saying.”

Simple as that!

Making a World That Works

I can refine this idea. The World worked very well when we were a minor species in it, but as we become more powerful – we have messed it up. And it is now up to us to straighten things out.

However, most people do not agree – the World is in no trouble (they are sure of that) and they are not responsible for saving it. The World has plenty of problems, they will say – what world doesn’t? But they can still take all they want, anytime they want.

The Economy is a solid as ever – and anyone who says otherwise is a danger to the world order.

Global Warming is just a lie – invented by some crackpot scientists.

What Does It Mean, To Have an Idea?

I am taking a MOOC about Cognitive Neuroscience – how our nerves let us feel and think. It refers to a book I have on my desk Metaphors We Live By – that explains how our brains use areas associated with practical matters, such as our ability navigate through space (a very complicated task!) – to think of abstract ideas, such as Love.

Plenty of smaller animals have most of these skills – the tiny flying insects, so common in the tropics, for example – can fly, walk, see, smell, and taste – and reproduce in vast numbers. But it takes a large brain (like the one we have) to use language, and be conscious.

We do have some understanding of how we feel and reason – by giving people some simple problems to solve, and watching how they solve them – in perhaps a fMRI, a functional MRI. Certain areas of the brain are used to do different things.

This is the basis of Experimental Science – one of the greatest advances in human knowledge. But one which most people today have rejected entirely.

No Science for them! They are not interested in the way things are – only in the way they should be. They are not interested in learning from the world – only in making the world learn from them.

A crazy idea if ever there was one.

Roger Bacon

I was told he was the originator of experimental science, and I decided to find out more about him. So I ordered Roger Bacon’s Philosophy of Nature – and got a rude awakening.

I quote from page liii:

Let us be clear at the outset that this work does not foreshadow the science of subsequent ages – the undulatory theory of light, the idea of experimental physics, or any other modern scientific development… Bacon did not possess a seventeenth century mind or a twentieth century mind – but a very good thirteenth century one; and there is no possibility of understanding his achievement unless we view it in medieval context.

I am not interested in this medieval context, and will not read this book any further.

The Modern World would come along in the 15th Century – and I am more interested in that.

What is It that Breathes Fire into the Equations?

This is a quote taken from Information and the Nature of Reality page 68.

Scientists have always believed that the world operated by laws – laws that could be expressed by mathematical equations.

How and why this belief came about is left to the historians of Science. A long, complicated history – that produced some very complicated mathematical equations.

Until recently, with the advent of the Computer – that does not operate with equations, but with algorithms – a series of instructions to the computer. This resulted in two modes of inquiry – mathematical and algorithmic. As different as night and day!

Computer Scientists follow certain procedures on data – their input. And derive useful outputs – more magic, but a different magic! That has no mathematics in it.

The amount of data is huge – enough to stretch to the moon and back. The computer is looking for hidden patterns in the data – and it won’t give up until it has found them – which may take days of processing. But that is not a problem – computer time is cheap!

Computer Software now produces Artificial Intelligence – using methods such as regression – that no one can understand – but gets useful results – like pulling a rabbit out of a hat!

God and Quantization

Quantization refers to the existence of matter and energy in distinct units only. This theory was introduced by Quantum Mechanics – that most people have rejected entirely – as something destructive to their religion – and of their concept of God.

Eventually, this led to their rejection of Science itself. And of the World itself. They were only interested in their beliefs about Reality – not Reality itself – that they rejected entirely.

Were they aware of this? No. This huge change occurred entirely in the dark (in the unconsciousness) of their minds.

But the digital computer did the same thing – it took analog inputs. that can have an infinite range of values – and digitized them into a limited range of values – that could be represented by digital numbers – each of which can only be a one or a zero.

People should have noticed this – but they did not! Why?

Their minds have tricked them. They could watch a movie, that consisted of nothing but a series of still images – and see a moving picture! They can also see a computer screen, that consists of nothing but colored dots – and see a naked, dancing woman.

The overall effect was the same – the rejection of reality for an illusion. Reality was boring, compared to their illusions. And they went with them – without thinking about it.

They were destroying their world – without thinking about it!