Intuition and Emotion

Emotions are a pain in the arse, but also an essential, protective mechanism. Some emotions, namely happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise and disgust are intrinsically human and cross the boundaries of culture. They are necessary to keep us alive and protect us from wilderbeast and slugs. My point is that we all have emotions, and we are born with them. We are designed (evolved) to have emotions.

But the way we interact with emotions is now different. Whilst before they were a physical protection mechanism, now we ‘suffer’ from them all the time within our modern concept of society, seek to get rid of them or shove them away in a dark corner of our existence.

But can, or should, we hide away from such instincts? Emotions completely overrule some and damage their lives, of which the obvious answer is yes. But we have emotions for a reason. This may just the world’s largest cliché, but to ‘follow your emotions’ and ‘do what’s right’ are cliché notions for a reason. Millenia of evolution has made the human into an advanced machine, and in our society we over conform and maybe do too much to fit in and ignore what’s right.

Perhaps this is just a flight response, but the fight or flight intuition is again a human protection mechanism. Maybe to do what’s best and right for us, we need to stop correcting and hiding our feelings and do what our bodies tell us is right. We only have one life, why live it in a way that produces one of the multitude of negative feelings? It can’t be right. Stop conforming!

The joke that made me A-lister famous: ‘I have a funny feeling I know what a heuristic is, but I’m not entirely sure’. I wasn’t sure how it was going to go down, but I had an intuition it may pull a laugh. Using my slow thinking I can now see that double irony. Slow is boring, but use it in the right mind to grasp your intuitions and use them for the better.

Kuhn: Science, Progress and Truth

I heard the other day a phrase: ‘You can tell when a man is dead, because he’s not progressing’. Awful & very cliché, but it presents a point. Humans have a simple desire to progress, in my opinion. Science is very much like this (if Scientific and Human progression could not be inextricably linked), and Kuhn’s concepy is not one is scrapping and changing but rather one of progress. In fact, following induction and falsification, it is in itself an example of its own concept.

Kuhn’s concept seems to triumph over Inductivism and Falsification in that it represents a much larger form of science, rather than just small experiments to represent parts of theories. It is all encompassing, and in fact includes aspects of inductivism and falsification for proof within the frame of progress and improvement.

It can also encompass the aspect of change within the scientific community over time. It may now be more accurate as people are more readily willing to believe a new theory but conversely may be less accurate as scientists have more personal ambition in an age of supreme competitiveness and focus on their own work rather than peer review.

I, like a vast majority of people, greatly believe in science, and for me Kuhn seems to be an accurate representation of progress through theories, knowledge and time together. Perhaps naïvely, it has restored my faith in science which has come under certain doubt when viewing new theories as bare-bones replacements of an older one. For me, it represents science in the way that it is very scientific itself.

Does language change personality?

‘The visible aspect of one’s character as it impresses others.’ Dictionary.com definition of personality. If personality is an impression of someone, then it is a perception and subjective. Is language not also subjectively perceivable, and necessarily interlinked? By meaning ‘the visible aspect’, personality must include language, for it may not be seen with our eyes but our words are heard, and visible.

The way in which we speak, and the words we use, change all of our character and personality in society. Those that slur and drop their Ts are deemed to be the scum of the earth by the system, whilst those who speak ‘toffee-nosed’ are The Cream (rich but thick) who are to be kicked and scorned upon. You may not be able to (convincingly) change it, but your internation and vocabulary is who you are.

Our personality and character are completely subjective to the viewer. It is said that you first judge someone within 4 seconds and almost finally judge someone in 30 seconds. Your ‘true’ self and personality may not matter much if no one else sees your true personality to begin with. No one may give you the time of day to reveal your true self, hence the phrase ‘first impressions count’.

Perhaps it says more about our society than anything else, but language is a clear communicator for personality, and if personality is completely subjective and it is woven right into language, then language must be able to change personality.

Science and Pseudo Science

What is it that makes science different from pseudo science?

Oxford Learner’s Dictionary definitions:

Science: (noun) knowledge about the structure and behaviour of the natural and physical world, based on facts that you can prove, for example by experiments

Pseudoscience: a set of theories, beliefs or methods that some people claim are based on scientific fact even though in reality they are not

According to the Oxford dictionary then, the difference between science and pseudoscience is fact, or evidence. If that is the distinction, then it is evidence that makes science what it is; there is a reason that logically and evidence minded people like to follow the sciences. Reason/logic is the primary WOK for science.

What I’m more interested in, however, is why people believe pseudoscience. I believe it to be a case of ease. It is terribly easy to believe something that makes your life more simple, interesting or cheap than something which may be challenging, but true.

Climate change denial is the best example of this, I think. By letting emotion (another WOK, which confuses things immensely) to come into the equation, people can be inclined to disbelieve what the logic and evidence is telling them (or they just do not know enough).

Science by its process is reliant on logic and evidence first and foremost. Most trust science, but it is important not to let it be confused. Pseudoscience can cost lives.

Chapter 3: Personal and Shared Knowledge

For me, the most interesting part of chapter 3 was on Groupthink. I found it such because it is the proof of one of the world’s largest and most successful industry; the lobbying industry, which of course in itself encapsulates many different industries. It is something we have seen used so much recently, for example in the 2016 US presidential election, but it has always been around in successful brainwashing. I believe it is so powerful in that it can undermine all of our personal and shared knowledge by undermining it with false beliefs, and shows that ‘knowledge’, or lack thereof, can be used for such nefarious purposes. 

This links well into peer pressure, and specifically the false consensus effect, which for me is so noticeable with advisors in politics. It is something we everyone wishes to avoid and claim that they are not affected by, but of course we all are. Humans follow each other so closely, so it could be said that all we have in society is just one person following another and following another in turn. 

So maybe the thing that I took most out of this chapter was just to the extent that knowledge can be manipulated, by such clear and obvious means. I would be naive if I said that I didn’t already know that, but formalising it does scare me.

Chapter 2: The Nature of Knowledge

Who knows? I know, but do you know? For I have evidence, and I believe, and I know. But is what I know true?

Oh, God Knows! May be your response. We say it all the time, to put knowledge out of our hands and in the hands of another. We don’t always wish to keep knowledge for knowledge is both a blessing and a burden. We seek knowledge and we are endowed with it, and sometimes it just creeps into our life in unknown ways.

And every time we gain a new piece of knowledge, we think about truth. We suspect (mainly subconsiously) and we question. Or at least I hope we would. The feeding of lies has historically caused the biggest atrocities, but sometimes people just suck it up. Every piece of knowledge fits in our mind on the spectrum between impossibility and certainty; but all is thwarted by trust. Trust is the most misleading thing in the world, as we lose our inhibitions and believe anything that comes our way. Trust in Newspapers, trust in Adolf Hitler, trust in Western Politicians. As soon as we let our guard down, we are attacked.

So for me the most potent message to come out of chapter 2 was caution. Trust nothing initially, until you are sure that you can rely on what you are being told. Trust things only that you can explore in depth and with different skills (DO see if the bridge wobbles as well as being told that it doesn’t).

Safety in knowledge and safety in ignorance. To be picky in knowledge and trust is to be wise.

Initial Findings and Response to Chapter 1

I think that TOK can be daunting for many. It is such a strange concept, or rather one that we take for granted so much that the study of it seems strange. You hear of the Grecians who still can’t make head of tail of it. And I think that this is because it makes us afraid. It really makes us ask the questions like: ‘Why am I doing this at all’ & ‘So what is the ultimate goal.’ And it makes us question, really, if what we have spent our whole life doing is for any reason at all or if we could be enjoying ourselves in other ways.

For me, there was less despair than I thought. Mainly, because the course is far more structured than I imagined (although perhaps that it initial naivity), and there is a textbook for guidance. But I still can’t imagine it easy. Plus point: Spectrums. I love a good spectrum.

For me, when I was reading Chapter 1, it was the thought of lies that was most concerning. It made me question things that I have been told, and questions things which I have been told are right.

With the Fake News headings, the most prevalent thought I had was that gullibility (alongside being a spectrum) is such a hard skill. A higher order skill that you would like to think you have, and take pity on others for not. But how do you know you have that skill?

But ultimately it is all a game of ignorance. We have not been here long, and quite frankly it is ridiculous to think that we know anything at all. But for day to day life, we shall continue to carry on in our ways of bliss.

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