Online reading group and book discussion forum
  HOME ENTER FORUMS OUR BOOKS LINKS DONATE ADVERTISE CONTACT  
View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Thu Feb 25, 2021 2:47 pm





Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 5 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average. 
What was your favorite part of the book? 
Author Message
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

BookTalk.org Owner
Diamond Contributor 3

Joined: May 2002
Posts: 16346
Location: Florida
Thanks: 3602
Thanked: 1382 times in 1082 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post What was your favorite part of the book?
We have heard plenty of disagreement over the mechanisms for competition between superorganisms, so lets take a moment to look at the book from a different angle. What were some things that you really enjoyed or found interesting?

Chris

Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 10/30/05 4:04 pm



Mon Dec 23, 2002 12:10 am
Profile Email WWW
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Wearing Out Library Card


Joined: May 2002
Posts: 237
Thanks: 0
Thanked: 1 time in 1 post
Gender: Female

Post The nude pictures... erm nevermind, wrong book.
Chris,

Overall I have thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's really given me a new perspective on things. There really is only one thing that I completely disagree with so far and that is Bloom's view of the medical profession and medical doctors. I'll type up a post with more detail on that later because I would like to specifically state what I disagree with. But there have been several things that I have particularly enjoyed and that have really made me think.

I'm only on page 200 so I still have a lot to read. I do intend to finish this book within the next couple weeks. The chapter that has been the most interesting to me so far was "The Connectionist Explanation of the Mass Mind's Dreams." Therein Bloom describes an individual's belief system as a "neural network." He says:

"If we believe that life is a battle between Satan and God, some small event can seem proof positive that Satan is out to snare us. If we believe, as the Chinese and the Romans did, that the heavens are filled with messages about our fate, the sight of a shooting star may trigger a sense of imminent calamity. If our belief system says absolutely nothing about a relationship between the stars and life on earth, that same blazing meteorite will seem like a passing curiosity of no lasting significance and may never make it into the brain's circuitry at all. In the case of the person who believes that the heavens portend events on earth, the sight of the shooting star is patched into an outstretched web of neural connections and takes its place in the greater whole. We hunt, over the next days or weeks, for the event it forecasts.

A neural network like this takes a lifetime to build. Without a web of cell assemblies, it would be impossible to recall the myriad events that parade past our eyes and ears, much less to make sense of them. It's easy to see why humans are willing to fight to the death to defend the memes that constitute their belief systems. To allow a faith or ideology to be overthrown would be to abandon a massive neural fabric into which you've invested an entire life, a network that cannot easily be replaced, perhaps that cannot be replaced at all."

Wow. I think this says so much. People often interpret various events in their life based on what they already believe and it's nearly impossible to convince them any differently. And they look for connections in events to confirm their beliefs and reaffirm that what they believe is right. Whether the belief is Satan, a psychic, or a superstition, if you do this (insert particular bad action) something bad will happen to you. Then when something bad happens it's the result of that which you originally attributed the bad event to, and that reaffirms the belief in the perpetrator (Satan, fate, a bad omen) of the bad event.

I've thought about this many times with my own experience but I've never been able to state it this succinctly. Chris, I know that you and Steve and others would get so irritated when you would make a perfectly rational argument on a particular subject, such as the Flood or evolution, and I would understand the argument but not accept it. It's because those individual arguments did not fit into my neural network. They made no sense within the context of my belief system. It was only after I was presented with enough arguments that made sense together that I could do a complete overhaul and entirely change the way I looked at everything, my entire worldview, a new neural network with all new circuitry.

Bloom makes the point that this cannot be easily done because it has taken a lifetime to build what you have. And likely that's why few people ever change what they believe to this extent. They will fight to the death for their belief system in many cases. And it truly makes sense to them. Even if it doesn't make sense to others, it all works together in their mind and they will continue to only take in information that fits with their current neural network while rejecting other information that doesn't fit.

I think this is an excellent observation that Bloom has made. I've had this concept in my mind but he articulated it in this chapter so that it makes perfect sense. It fits exactly with what I've seen and experienced. And perhaps that's why I accept it as a valid argument. ;)

Cheryl

Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 10/30/05 4:04 pm



Tue Dec 24, 2002 2:46 am
Profile


Post Favorite parts
I liked so much of the book the first time I read it, I must have underlined on half the pages. I'll read all the stuff I underlined and try to come up with some good questions for the chat.

I'm not going to get into discussions about whether Bloom's ideas are "hard science" or not, because to me the ideas are just explorations of something that is true (that the transition from genes to memes makes cultures in some ways analogous to organisms) and whether any one branch of the idea turns out to be "hard science" or not doesn't change much of the basic idea. It's an intriguing one, it sets off my "reality meter" and it gets my attention for being "more true than how we normally think".

The question isn't "are cultures like organisms", it's "how much, and in what ways, are cultures like organisms". Given the immense amount of information in both an individual life form and a society of humans, and that the nonlinear dynamics of both systems share certain basic properties (feedback, sorting, cascades of changes along pathways, transforms of basic architectural patterns, etc) it seems not only likely but inevitable that the analogy between clusters of cells cooperating to form an organism and clusters of humans organizing themselves with memetic templates and variations on templates to form semi-stable social systems will be explored for years to come, with fruitful results. Seeing society as a mass of disconnected individuals doesn't work. Seeing society as a type of feedback network, selection and sifting algorithm, or recursive formula with expanding boundaries, is closer to reality. It fits what we know of physics and nature. And it breaks the several thousand year old idea that human beings are unlike nature and unrelated to it. Recognizing that we are nature, that we obey the same laws as any recursive system, is not only not sinful, but it frees us from the misconceptions that really DO keep us from achieving our moral potential as a species. We alone have the ability to deliberately accelerate our understanding of ourselves and each other...and when we choose not to, it's invariably because we know that it's still a kind of "heresy" relative to the religious/academic/political/economic grid left to us by previous generations.

That's the general picture I get (probably too broad to make any real sense but like I said it's a big idea and will take a while to explore) but I'll go back and reread sections of the book to see if I notice anything I missed.

Michael




Wed Dec 25, 2002 12:15 am
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Kindle Fanatic

Bronze Contributor 2

Joined: Oct 2002
Posts: 546
Location: Saint Louis
Thanks: 0
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: What was your favorite part of the book?
I know I've been one of the "negative sounders", but in fact, I did get a lot out of the book. Lucifer Principle has become a great anchor for discussing cultural issues. From another forum:
Quote:
Bloom points out that charity is such an insult to some cultures, that in some it requires the beneficiary of your kindness to try to kill you



Sat Dec 28, 2002 11:50 am
Profile Email
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Kindle Fanatic

Bronze Contributor 2

Joined: Oct 2002
Posts: 546
Location: Saint Louis
Thanks: 0
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Favorite parts
Quote:
I'm not going to get into discussions about whether Bloom's ideas are "hard science" or not, because to me the ideas are just explorations of something that is true (that the transition from genes to memes makes cultures in some ways analogous to organisms) and whether any one branch of the idea turns out to be "hard science" or not doesn't change much of the basic idea.
I've given this comment considerable thought since you posted it a week or so ago. I think I've made it clear that Lucifer's claim to be science, when it clearly is not, bothers me a lot. You forced me to examine that prejudice, and I think I have the reason: scientific ideas are predictive. If someone establishes a real scientific principle in the arena of sociology, then we will be able to make useful predictions. "If we don't stomp the Muslims now, science tells us they are going to kick our butts later". On the other hand, a collection of enlightening anecdotes are not predictive. They are simply food for thought. "Barbarians overran the Romans and the Chinese; is someone getting ready to overrun us?" The appropriate responses to interesting ideas and to scientific principles are dramatically different, and this is why it matters very much to me when we call something science, that is not.




Sun Dec 29, 2002 2:02 pm
Profile Email
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 5 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average. 



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:



Site Resources 
HELPFUL INFO:
Community Rules & Tips
Frequently Asked Questions
BBCode Explained
Author Interview Transcripts
Book Discussion Leaders

IDEAS FOR WHAT TO READ:
Bestsellers
Book Awards
Banned Books
• Book Reviews
• Online Books
• Team Picks
Newspaper Book Sections

WHERE TO BUY BOOKS:
• Coming Soon!

BEHIND THE BOOKS:
• Coming Soon!

PROMOTE YOUR BOOK!
Advertise on BookTalk.org
Promote your FICTION book
Promote your NON-FICTION book





BookTalk.org is a thriving book discussion forum, online reading group or book club. We read and talk about both fiction and non-fiction books as a community. Our forums are open to anyone in the world. While discussing books is our passion we also have active forums for talking about poetry, short stories, writing and authors. Our general discussion forum section includes forums for discussing science, religion, philosophy, politics, history, current events, arts, entertainment and more. We hope you join us!


Navigation 
MAIN NAVIGATION

HOMEFORUMSOUR BOOKSAUTHOR INTERVIEWSADVERTISELINKSFAQDONATETERMS OF USEPRIVACY POLICYSITEMAP

OTHER PAGES WORTH EXPLORING
Banned Book ListOnline Reading GroupTop 10 Atheism Books

Copyright © BookTalk.org 2002-2021. All rights reserved.

Display Pagerank