A weird thought just hit me

•August 5, 2010 • 6 Comments

Teleportation, a machine de-constructs our molecules and re-constructs them somewhere else. You teleported to that somewhere else.

So what if the machine delays the de-construction but still re-constructs somewhere else. Or even doesn’t de-construct at all. Will you be two people at the same time?

Or what if that machine does de-construct you, but re-constructs you in two different places, would you be two people?

Let’s say that you are about to be teleported in an hour. You will be re-constructed in heaven and in hell. Should you be excited or sad?

How do you define yourself?

Are you defined as the actual atoms in your body? But then teleportations means you are dead. Plus, atoms flow in and out of your body all the time.

Rather are you defined as the formation of atoms in your body, but not the actual atoms themselves? But this poses another serious problem. Who is to say that you are the same person each day? Every moment and second there are chemical reactions and molecules moving around in your body. If you are not defined as the actual atoms in your body, but the formation of them, aren’t you a different person every moment of your life? Because the molecules in your body keep shifting.

After thinking about this for some time, the most enlightening, yet un-reassuring thought occurred to me:

Evolution made us think of ourselves as the same person all throughout our lives so that it can protect the same genes all throughout our lives.

… the definition of self is an illusion…

After this thought, all I could think of was… What The Fuck

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Illusory Superiority

•August 4, 2010 • 1 Comment

“The data does suggest that those with a positive self view are more likely to display the above-average effect, as opposed to those with a negative self appraisal. Similarly, those with low self-esteem appear to engage in far less illusory superiority, showing more realism in their self rating” Wikipedia

“Psychology has traditionally assumed that generally accurate self-perceptions are essential to good mental health.[2] This was challenged by a 1988 paper by Taylor and Brown, who argued that mentally healthy individuals typically manifest three cognitive illusions, namely illusory superiority, illusion of control and optimism bias.[2] This idea rapidly became very influential, with some authorities concluding that it would be therapeutic to deliberately induce these biases.[30] Since then, further research has both undermined that conclusion and offered new evidence associating superiority bias with negative effects on the individual.[2]

One line of argument was that in the Taylor and Brown paper, the classification of people as mentally healthy or unhealthy was based on self-reports rather than objective criteria.[30] Hence it was not surprising that people prone to self-enhancement would exaggerate how well-adjusted they are. One study claimed that “mentally normal” groups were contaminated by defensive deniers who are the most subject to positive illusions.[30] A longitudinal study found that self-enhancement biases were associated with poor social skills and psychological maladjustment.[2] In a separate experiment where videotaped conversations between men and women were rated by independent observers, self-enhancing individuals were more likely to show socially problematic behaviors such as hostility or irritability.[2] A 2007 study found that self-enhancement biases were associated with psychological benefits (such as subjective well-being) but also inter- and intra-personal costs (such as anti-social behavior).”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illusory_superiority#Intelligence

“Subjects describe themselves in positive terms compared to other people, and this includes describing themselves as less susceptible to bias than other people. This effect is called the Bias blind spot and has been demonstrated independently.”

The irony…

I just realized that I am an eliminative materialist

•August 3, 2010 • 2 Comments

Eliminative Materialism

I happen to stumble on this term while I was browsing the internet. And now I am a eliminative materialist, and I have been for a long while now but I’ve never found a term for this belief until now.

Don’t know what it is? Look it up.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eliminative_materialism

My stats for the past month

•August 2, 2010 • 2 Comments

My stats for this webpage exploded today. Interesting huh?

Mathematical Truths

•August 1, 2010 • 4 Comments

What amazes me most about mathematical theorems is that these truths existed before humans discovered them. Through human reasoning we were able to discover these pre-existing truths that govern the universe. The reason why these mathematical truths are the way they are is borderline mysterious.

It makes me wonder how much out there we don’t know, and how many truths pure reasoning may never be able to discover.

The Ultimate Experiment on Human Trust

•July 27, 2010 • 2 Comments

I just thought of this experiment all last night, and I couldn’t get it out of my head because it was such an interesting experiment to think about. And I now feel like I must share this to the world. This idea came out of the original idea of the prisoner’s dilemma in game theory, and also one of Joker’s little experiment in the movie The Dark Knight.

Now imagine gathering up two people. These can be any two people, but it would be interesting if they knew each other, or were in some other kinds of relationships.

Day 1:

Have a basement, or some kind of underground house. Wire the underground house with hidden cameras. Tie these two people up in the houses, tie them up very tightly and make sure to not let them loose. Tie them to a pole, and tape their mouths shut so they cannot talk. But let one of their hands free. We only need one free hand for this experiment to work. Tie them up in the same room with only a foot of distance between them.

Explain to them that they are playing a game. Hand them a piece of paper that only has two words on it: cooperate and defect; with check boxes next to each word. And explain to them this is how the game works: They can either choose to cooperate or defect (by checking one of the boxes). If they both cooperate, nothing happens and they get to live another day and continue with the game. If one of them defects he gets to be free, but the other person dies. If they both defect, both of them die.

Now what makes this interesting is that their lives are in the hands of someone else. They cannot control whether they get to live or die, but they get to control whether the other person gets to live or die.

After explaining the rules of the game to them, give them a white board with two permanent markers (permanent because it will be interesting to look at their conversations when you get back). Tell them you will be back the next morning to collect the papers. (Maybe also tell them that if they refuse to play the game by tearing up the papers or something, they both die). Now you can go back to your station or whatever and quietly watch them try to communicate with each other and make alliances through your hidden cameras.

Make sure to hire a maid or someone to feed them three times a day and give them water and all that.

Day 2-3:

The next morning go and collect their papers. They will both choose to cooperate, because not only can they communicate with each other, they can show each other what box they checked to ensure trust. Give them new pieces of papers with the same two words on them. Collect their white boards and give them new ones. Explain to them that this game will be played everyday, and each morning you come back to collect the papers. Do this for two days. Let this be the time where they build their trusts on each other.

Day 4:

After you collect the papers this morning, now you will mix up the game a little bit. Have a wall between them. Either take them to a new place with a wall, or somehow make some physical object between them so they can no longer physically interact. Make them a few feet apart. But make them able to still see each other through a window. With the new wall between them, tape the papers on the wall firmly so it cannot be taken off (and tell them they cannot take it off or else that would violate the game and they will both die). Give them each a white board and a permanent marker, and tell them this is the last day they get to communicate to each other.

I would imagine many people would secretly defect at this point, because the papers are now taped firmly on the wall on one side so they can no longer show each other their own papers, so they can no longer know for certain that the other person will cooperate. This may cause doubt, because one can act all trustworthy but secretly defect. A break of trust may or may not form.

This is also the last day they can communicate, and the last day they can promise each other that they will not defect no matter what through communication. This is the last day they can use their white boards, after today take them away and do not give them new white boards.

Day 5:

If they both survive day 4, you know they are serious about being loyal to one another. Take their white boards away. They can no longer communicate, they can only look at each other through a window.

Day 6-8:

Take away the windows.

At this point you can just continue the game with only one person if you want, as the existence of the other person does not matter at this point. You could literally kill one of them just for fun and continue the game with the other person because you could just pretend that both of them are alive and are both cooperating, they would never know that the other person is actually dead. Continue this for 3 days.

So my advice for whoever is running this experiment: after this point, if one of them defects, instead of killing the other person, kill the person who defected and continue the game (with the person that cooperated) pretending that no one has defected yet.

Day 9:

Give them advice. Tell them that defecting is better than cooperating no matter what. Show them this picture:

Basically convey to them that defecting will only do good. That they will lose nothing from defecting.

Day 10:

If after day 9 they have not defected, then you know you have very honest and caring people. I would guess that less than 5% of all the experiments done like this, both people would have not defected all this time. It would be cool to gather all the people who do not defect on day 1-9 and put them on some deserted island and make them populate the place. You will have a society of very sympathetic people. It would be like selective breeding applied to humans (eugenics). But we cannot do that now, we must continue the experiment.

Day 11-12:

Remember that it is very easy to spread misinformation when these two people do not have any communication. You can invent your own way of doing so, but this is what I have thought up with:

Tell each of them that you heard the other person is planning to defect in two days (they were muttering to themselves and you happen to got it on camera). Make it sound as sincere and honest as possible.

The plan is to make them try to save themselves by defecting the next morning before the other person can defect.

Day 13:

If they still choose not to defect, tell each of them that the other person just choose to defect. But you feel so sympathetic with him, because he never defected even though his partner did, that you are willing to kill the other person instead if he chooses to defect the next morning. Give him time to think about it.

Day 14:

Use your imagination to continue this experiment

Other ways to spread misinformation:

Give them each a piece of paper to write a message to the other person and give them a day to think about their message. The next day instead of giving them the messages the other person sent them, write down a fake message to each person and pretend it’s from the other person. See how they react and what they do.

My Quest for Physical Immortality

•July 26, 2010 • 2 Comments

Immortality, or living indefinitely without aging.

I’ve had many people tell me that they wouldn’t want to live forever even if they could. They say it would be boring, and it would be horrible to watch everyone around you die. But I think that is because people have developed a sour grapes view of immortality. (The fox could not reach the grapes so it assumes they are sour). But what would it mean if immortality was discovered?

How about all the people living before us? They are so unfortunate not to live at the time when it was discovered. If immortality is possible, then your potential lifespan would be infinitely times more than the normal lifespan. It would then be infinitely more valuable in that sense. What if immortality became the norm? Then not living indefinitely would seem like suicide. In fact, I could imagine that one day we will look back at this time, when people were mortal, and think “those ancient mortals lived so primitively, they were so backwards”. Not that we are primitive or backwards, but I’m saying that the norm changes every century, what is regarded as unusual at one time could be normal in another.

This is my view of immortality. Right now, in the context of the whole universe we are practically nonexistent. People are often afraid to look at the universe as a whole because it seems scary to think of ourselves as so insignificant. But no one should be afraid of truth. So who are we in this universe, where is our place? When viewed in the grand scale of our evolution, we are nothing more than a building block, a building block that is not even useful, not even needed. Without you, without any one individual, the evolution of mankind will continue. You are like a cell out of billions of cell living a lifespan of only a second in the grand evolution of the species. You will be here and gone in a blink of an eye. The truth is, we are not programmed to live a long and happy life, we are programmed to live just long enough to ensure the survival of our offspring. To ensure the survival of our genes. But for what? So our offspring can pass on our genes to their offspring and so on? This on-going, never ending process is just a result of natural laws functioning in the universe, it doesn’t have to be this way.

With immortality and other potential genetic or biological breakthroughs, we will no longer be like peasants obeying our very nature-given behaviors. Obeying our genetic functions that we did not even choose. We will no longer be part of this pointless process of death and birth. We will no longer be the universe’s play-toy. To me, immortality is a pleading, a pleading to be something more than just an object or product of natural evolution and the universe, immortality would be a freeing of the chains of evolution. It would be a true sign of advancement and complexity of the human species, if only we can achieve it. But I admit that I do not know how realistic this desire is at this point of human history. One can only hope, because we only live once.