If you are acting like a zombie, you are probably acting mindlessly. Although they can be scarily entertaining, zombies are apt metaphors for mindlessness, a not so entertaining but sometimes scary state.
It’s not their fault, don’t blame them, they don’t even know they are zombies, they think they are awake, but they are not really, they are sleeping. They are so possessed by their minds that they think the dream is real, they think those voices in their heads are who they are and they have forgotten how to live. They experience everything through words and concepts and have forgotten that the world is a sensory delight.
Poor lost souls, they think the past and the future are real and they spend their lives there. Their minds drag them back and they propel them forward, they cannot see the glory of this moment. They cannot see it because they are not here. The present moment, the only place where life really exists, is cast aside as irrelevant, they miss the miracle of existence and are barely alive at all.
Fortunately there is an antidote for this dismal existence.
But there is hope for some, because most Zombies are not yet completely dead, they still have a chance at life, in fact some of them are even starting to wake up. Right now quite a few Zombies
The Institute of Human Development & The Institute of Cognitive & Brain Sciences at UC Berkeley, The Philosophy + Literature Initiative at Stanford, and the College of Arts & Sciences at Ohio State University presents:
The Science of Story and Imagination
Perspectives from Cognitive Science, Neuroscience, and the Humanities
This symposium will bring together leading scholars in philosophy, literature, cognitive science, and neuroscience to explore the following questions: What is the role of imagination in human cognition? Why do we create stories? How does the ability to produce and understand stories develop in childhood? Why are we attracted to some stories and not others? How do stories draw on and affect our causal, counter-factual, and probabilistic learning mechanisms? How do they intersect with our capacities for filling gaps, for retaining and integrating information, and for entering the minds of others?
This event is free and open to the public.
- All symposium events held in Levinthal Hall, Stanford Humanities Center -
Saturday, March 1st
Frederick Aldama - English, Ohio State Alison Gopnik - Psychology, UC Berkeley Joshua Landy - French, Stanford University
History has had many affairs with psychology. Its longest marriage, to psychoanalysis, produced a camel called “psychohistory,” typically consisting of post-hoc analyzing of major historical figures, usually involving their mothers, to explain wars, invasions, and revolutions. The result was sometimes preposterous and sometimes interesting, but it usually was neither good history nor good psychology.
But at last, history has gotten into bed with psychological science, and it’s a happy match. History gives us the data of, in Barbara Tuchman’s splendid words, our march of folly -- repeated examples of human beings unable and unwilling to learn from mistakes, let alone to admit them. Cognitive science shows us why. Its evidence has put a stake through the heart of any remaining arrogance we might have as a species that we are Homo “sapiens.” Our brains, which have allowed us to travel into outer space, have a whole bunch of design flaws, which is why we have so much breathtaking bumbling here on Earth.
Of the many built-in biases in human thought, three have perhaps the greatest consequences for our own history and that of nations: the belief that we see things as they really are, rather than as we wish them to be; the belief that we are better, kinder, smarter, and more ethical than average; and the confirmation bias, which sees to it that we notice, remember, and accept information that confirms our beliefs -- and overlook, forget, and discount information that disconfirms our beliefs.
Can a black-and-white banana remind us to be better listeners?
When people looked at a grayscale photo of a banana, a part of their brains related to perceiving yellow became active, perhaps indicating that prior knowledge of the fruit's color was triggered. For more information about this study, click here, here, here, or here.
The banana research reminded me of some questions asked by Roberto Kaplan, optometrist and author of a book I am reading. He wonders how much of what we see is attributable to us and how much to the objects being seen. He includes a rather startling quote of Alfred North Whitehead, a version of which I now include:
Nature gets credit which should in truth be reserved for ourselves: the rose for its scent, the nightingale for its song; and the sun for its radiance. The poets are entirely mistaken. They should address their lyrics to themselves and should turn them into odes of self congratulation on the excellence of the human mind. Nature is a dull affair, soundless, scentless, colorless ... .
Dr. Kaplan adds:
If Dr. Whitehead is correct, and it is my belief that he is, then we must accept the fact that what we think we are seeing most assuredly tells us more about ourselves than it does about the external world.
If we do not know how much of what we see is coming from us and not from outside, perhaps that lack of knowledge should throw us into a place of intellectual humility. With the possibility of a high degree of subjectivity, could that humility lead to a greater and sharper degree of attention to (and mindfulness with) other people to see how they see the world? Particularly those with whom we do not agree?
From a press release about new research looking at cognitive functioning of older adults (Association for Psychological Science):
Older adults are often encouraged to stay active and engaged to keep their minds sharp, that they have to “use it or lose it.” But new research indicates that only certain activities — learning a mentally demanding skill like photography, for instance — are likely to improve cognitive functioning.
These findings, forthcoming in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, reveal that less demanding activities, such as listening to classical music or completing word puzzles, probably won’t bring noticeable benefits to an aging mind.
“It seems it is not enough just to get out and do something—it is important to get out and do something that is unfamiliar and mentally challenging, and that provides broad stimulation mentally and socially,” says psychological scientist and lead researcher Denise Park of the University of Texas at Dallas. “When you are inside your comfort zone you may be outside of the enhancement zone.”
If you are interested in how we take in new information and then retain it, you will want to read this new article: "Making long-term memories in minutes: a spaced learning pattern from memory research in education" (Frontiers in Human Neuroscience). The article describes a method, Spaced Learning, that may make learning relatively quick and long-lasting. The authors also describe the probable underlying neuroscience. (Basically the technique involves brief bursts of exposure to content interspersed with activity unrelated to the lesson being learned.)
I found the reasons cited in the article that teachers resisted the technique to be telling and somewhat disconcerting:
Teachers reacted differently to Spaced Learning though some responses were common to many teachers. Many found Spaced Learning fun, different, and felt it was a positive learning experience for both teachers and learners. Negative responses included rejecting the underlying neuroscience out of hand, a concern about greater workload, and a fear of school inspectors judging Spaced Learning sessions harshly because they did not match recommended teaching methods.
The students often had a different response: "[They] on the other hand were very positive, asserting Spaced Learning helped them learn rapidly."
Three conflict resolution programs on May 2 and 3. Will you be joining us at these events sponsored by the ADR Section of the Maryland Bar Association?
And what does Edgar Allan Poe have to do with mediation?
Poe is acknowledged by many as the genius who invented the detective story and inspired the genre of science fiction. Over 150 years after his death, we can still learn much from the imagination of this author and poet.
A skilled mediator is a supreme detective. The foremost, primary, and threshold mystery to solve: What method of mediation is best suited to the individual conflict professional, the parties, and the conflict. We will use an assessment approach to facilitate that first solution.
The clues a mediator must be able to read with precision involve self-awareness and self-knowledge, discovery of purpose, theory of mind (or discovering what's in the minds of other people), and razor focus on solutions, not problems. We will take our magnifying glasses to those topics and sharpen those skills.
Brains on Purpose: Traits and States to Shape Your Conflict Fate
Our brains are changing all the time. We can be in control of those changes or we can have accidental brains, ruled by habit. Stephanie will show you how you can break bad habits, set and reach goals, and maximize your ability to handle conflict through the process of self-directed neuroplasticity. By using some basic techniques, you can take charge of how your brain changes. You can rewire your brain on purpose.