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Global Brain: Chapter 13 - 14 - 15 Discussion 
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Post Global Brain: Chapter 13 - 14 - 15 Discussion
Global Brain consists of 21 chapters total, so I'm creating 7 seperate threads breaking the book into 3 chapter segments. Hopefully this format will keep the discussion somewhat organized and on track. You do not need to keep your discussions within these 7 threads.

Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 10/30/05 4:31 pm



Mon Jan 13, 2003 1:27 pm
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Post Athens vs. Sparta
Athens and Sparta were allies, but also enemies vying for control of the Greek state. The two cities were vastly different, pitting "authoritarianism versus libertarianism, internationalism versus isolationism, and totalitarianism versus democracy". (p. 141) Sparta was a militaristic boot camp, where unfit children were left to die, sex was tightly controlled, and punishments were severe. In contrast, Athens was much more open, where every social outcast could find a subculture of similar members to join. Bloom doesn't say much about the outcome of this competition between The Conformity Police and The Diversity Generator, but if Athens was the birthplace of many modern ideas, Sparta is merely an interesting aberration.




Sun Feb 16, 2003 8:24 pm
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Post Re: Athens vs. Sparta
At first I thought Bloom was going to pronounce a winner between the two different cultures of Athens and Sparta.

Quote:
Athens put her chips on pluralism. She was a breeder of a cross-cultural diversity. Sparta bet on the one-size-fits all hypothesis - a cradle-to-grave, cookie-cutter conformity. ... Which hypothesis, the courting of many voices or the push for only one, would prove the brightest of them all? The answer would emerge through trials of circumstance whose tide continually rise and fall. (p.164)


Reading further, it appears Bloom uses this proverbial tale of two cities as a metaphor for an eternal struggle.

Quote:
Today's cyber-era Spartans are bone crushers of conformity. They are the fundamentalists of both the left and the right. ... Brooking no tolerance of those who disagree, they invoke a golden past and a higher power, both of which demand submission ot authority. ... Their opposites are Athenian, Socratic, Aristotelian, diversity-generating, pluralistic, and democratic. ...

The Athenian strategy moves to the top when things are going well, Spartanism grabs the throne when the world is going to hell. (p. 192)


Clearly Bloom is referring to the current phase of the struggle between these two styles detailed in The Lucifer Principle, the battle between the relatively open West and Muslim fundamentalists.

Edited by: LanDroid at: 2/21/03 9:52:27 pm



Fri Feb 21, 2003 10:50 pm
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Post Psychobiology of subcultures
In Chapter 15, Bloom describes how humans are hard wired differently from each other much more than most realize.

Quote:
Our brains differ as much as our bodies. Indeed, they may differ more. One part of the brain, the anterior commissure...varies seven fold in area between one person and the next. Another part, the massa intermedia..., is not found at all in one in four people. The primary visual cortex can vary three-fold in area. Something called our amygdala (it is responsible for our fears and loves) can vary two-fold in volume - as can something called our hippocampus (involved in memory). Most surprisingly, our cerebral cortex varies in non-learning impaired people nearly two-fold in volume. (p. 143)

Dr. John Robert Skoyles


This has a lot of implications, that people are wired to respond wildly differently to the same environment, that we may perceive the world in very different ways, etc. One interesting detail is the interaction of parents and children.

Quote:
Because human infants react differently to the same potentially stressful events, several children growing up in the same household will each perceive a vastly different environment. What's more, a baby wailing unstoppably at three a.m. trips a different frame of mind in parents than a cuddly infant who sleeps through the night and whose tears can be turned to smiles almost instantly. Other researchers agree with Kagan that an infant partially shapes its parents' behavior, molding the contours of what it and it alone perceives as the nature of its family. (p. 149)


This is also about the only section in the book where Bloom describes in detail the "Inner Judges" function of the five part learning system. These are interior processes that determine how we feel and interact with the culture, involving everything from chemical changes at the cellular level to changes in personality.

In one shocking example, Bloom mentions how inner judges are at work even in the womb. Twins in utero may behave differently, with one dominant and one introverted, with this interaction continuing after birth.

Quote:
Now here's the rub. Many of us are conceived as twins. Roughly 150 million people alive today are victors in a competition with a brother or sister who never made it past the early embryonic stage. We helped kill them off well before birth. (p. 147)

:eek :( :eek

At the end of the book, Bloom describes the inner judges as part of the learning system's sorting function, in a sense part of natural selection. "For referees are sorters...sorters of three kinds: inner-judges planted in the tissues of our bodies and our minds; resource shifters couched in mass psychology; and intergroup tournaments determining which tribe or species wins the contests between social teams." (p. 221)

Edited by: LanDroid at: 2/21/03 10:57:47 pm



Fri Feb 21, 2003 11:26 pm
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Post Re: Psychobiology of subcultures
I'm not to 15 yet! Give me a few more days. :\

Chris

Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 10/30/05 4:31 pm



Sat Feb 22, 2003 1:45 am
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Post Re: Psychobiology of subcultures
LanDroid
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This [physical differences in human brains] has a lot of implications, that people are wired to respond wildly differently to the same environment, that we may perceive the world in very different ways, etc. One interesting detail is the interaction of parents and children.
Wildly implausible. Our arms are different, but the basic functioning is always the same. If shape-differences reflected function-differences, the thing simply wouldn't work. It is waaaay to complex to allow for random gross variation
Quote:
In one shocking example, Bloom mentions how inner judges are at work even in the womb. Twins in utero may behave differently, with one dominant and one introverted, with this interaction continuing after birth. " Now here's the rub. Many of us are conceived as twins. Roughly 150 million people alive today are victors in a competition with a brother or sister who never made it past the early embryonic stage. We helped kill them off well before birth. (p. 147) "
And what does any of this have to do with either "shock" or "judges"? These are biological processes. The neurons you use in your brain are the ones that won the contest against all the other neurons, that died to build you. Siblings compete with each other and with their parents for resources. Male genes compete against female genes. It is the logical, expected outcome of the mechanics of gene reproduction.




Sat Feb 22, 2003 8:34 pm
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Post Re: Psychobiology of subcultures
I think it's also wildly implausible to claim that the large differences in brain structure have zero effect on how one interacts with the world, so I guess we're just arguing over a matter of degree. "If shape-differences reflected function-differences, the thing simply wouldn't work." That's not necessarily true - they can cause different behavior or reactions to stimuli and still function properly. Here's one passage that describes the range of differences.

Quote:
Some of us are born with inner-judges whose verdicts are perpeutually harsh. The result is depression, shyness, and heightened susceptibility to pain. Others arrive from the womb with inner-judges preset to treat us generously, endowing us with energy, few inhibitions, a deep sense of security, and little sense of guilt or shame. But most of us are in the middle - our inner-judges sentence us sternly or magnanimously depending on the smugness with which we fit our social network's needs. (p.145)


As to what the 150 million people who were conceived as twins has to do with inner-judges, I think Bloom is saying that since most twins in utero are a dominant/submissive pair, it is unlikely that the submissive twin with harsh inner-judges was born. As to "shock", well that scenario is rather shocking to me, perhaps to no one else. :o




Mon Feb 24, 2003 1:50 pm
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