Talking to ourselves

Language and self-awareness | Science & Consciousness Review

  • …we most often need to talk to ourselves in order to understand who we are. That is, inner speech is frequently required to access self-information and to gradually build a self-concept. To illustrate, let’s imagine that you want to reflect on an abdominal pain you are currently experiencing. It is very likely that you will engage in an internal monologue, thinking “Why is it that my belly hurts? I feel cramps… Ha! I get it-I skipped breakfast…” You could go on and also notice: “I’ve been missing breakfast often lately… I tend to sleep in, I don’t eat breakfast, and by noon I’m starving… And I don’t go to the gym as often as I should… This is bad-I’m getting lazy…” Here the adjective “lazy” constitutes the conclusion that you have drawn from your inner monologue; it may then become a more or less permanent part of your self-concept. So inner speech, and thus language, would play an important role in self-referential activities. Said differently: inner speech would represent an important cognitive process underlying self-awareness. Note that this view does not implicate that there is no self-awareness without language. We can be aware of a pain without having to talk to ourselves about it. However, I argue that the sensation will be fully brought to consciousness only if we verbally label it. –

The Bureaucratic Response

How Societies Commit Suicide by Theodore Dalrymple 

"In an effort to ensure that no Muslim doctors ever again try to bomb Glasgow Airport, bureaucrats at Glasgow’s public hospitals have decreed that henceforth no staff may eat lunch at their desks or in their offices during the holy month of Ramadan, so that fasting Muslims shall not be offended by the sight or smell of their food. Vending machines will also disappear from the premises during that period .Apparently the bureaucrats believe that the would-be bombers were demanding sandwich-free offices in Glasgow hospitals during Ramadan. "

This seems to be a familiar pattern everywhere.The bureaucratic response is exactly the same at all the places .As though there is an unseen bond between the bureaucrats’  communities  of all countries. Whatever may be the merit of the underlying action by a group of people which necessitated such a response there is a ridiculous non-application of mind in formulating the response which is a feature cutting across all national borders.

Humor comprehension in older adults


"The goal of this study was to understand factors related to humor comprehension in old age. This study proposes that, in contrast to younger adults, older adults have greater difficulty with humor comprehension due to age-related cognitive decline. Tests of verbal and nonverbal humor comprehension and tests of cognitive flexibility, abstract reasoning, and short-term memory were administered to 40 younger and 41 older adults. In general, older adults scored lower than younger adults on tests of humor and cognitive abilities. Regression analyses support the idea that cognition affects humor comprehension, but the relative contribution of each specific mechanism remains unclear. The results of this study suggest that there may be age-related deficits in humor comprehension, but more importantly, that a more sophisticated model is needed to clarify the role of cognition in humor comprehension. Humor comprehension warrants further study because of the potential physical and psychological benefits of humor.

 By Mak W, Carpenter BD

What are the dangerous ideas ? The Edge question

“Ideas have had their impact for good… But one of these days, one of those nice ideas is likely to have the unintended consequence of destroying everything we know.(Seth Lloyd)

One never knows whether the same genetic predisposition which gives the homo sapiens the the power to think up ideas as against the other species has an inherent tendency towards self-destruction. Going by the 20th century history this does not seem to be a far-fetched idea because some times everything seems headed for the origination of such an idea.

The ‘dangerous ideas’ are not about harmful technologies and WMDs, but about statements of fact or policy evidenced by science, which are ‘felt to challenge the collective decency of an age.(The Edge)

We have religious fundamentalism which has spawned a commitment to an ideology based upon religion which goes counter to the sum total of what is good for all groups of people.We have Maoism based upon  an armed peasant struggle committed to overthrow the political system.
“Time and again people have invested factual claims with ethical implications that today look ludicrous.” There are a few mercies, however. “Punishments have changed from torture and mutilation to cancelling of grants and the writing of vituperative reviews.
Rodney Brooks, author of ‘Flesh and Machines’, wonders if we might find ourselves to be alone, not just in the solar system, but in the galaxy. The shock could ‘drive us to despair and back toward religion as our salve,’
“The fact that our existence has no purpose for the universe – whatever that means – in no way means that it has no purpose for us,” he declares.
The only dangerous idea is, ‘the idea that ideas can be dangerous’. We live in a world in which people are beheaded, imprisoned, demoted, and censured simply because they have opened their mouths, flapped their lips, and vibrated some air, he rues. “Hateful, blasphemous, prejudiced, vulgar, rude, or ignorant remarks are the music of a free society, and the relentless patter of idiots is how we know we’re in one.”
A major disconnect between the ways our brains are wired to connect and the interface offered in online communications, he cautions. “The Internet may harbour social perils that our inhibitory circuitry was not evolutionarily designed to handle.

Panda poop is gold

Panda poop may be a tad smelly but there is nothing like a finely framed photo-frame made of panda poop which says “I love You”.The Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Centre has come up with this novel idea of turning panda droppings into profit by selling photo-frames made of panda poop as souvenirs to the Olympics visitors to Beizing.

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Photographing silence

Tate: Photographing Britain on Flickr – Photo Sharing! 

What is interesting in this picture is the body postures of the lady and gentleman whose silhouettes form the focus in the foreground.Their shadows are not clearly delineated in the pool of light but definitely convey some sort of an attempt to lose themselves and become real and three-dimensional. Both seem to be going separate ways but between them is a common objective and a destination. May be they are attending the same meeting or something. Apparently there is a bunch of people in the darkness of the background ,perhaps around the registration desk. The quiet efficiency of the atmosphere is revealed in the way silence comes through in the softness of the light.

Ticket insurance in Mumbai

Insurance markets in everything, getting caught edition
Tyler Cowen

“My favourite ticketing system was in Mumbai, India,” Kim enthuses. “No one actually buys a ticket, but you can buy ‘ticket insurance’ from private entrepreneurs who work at the entrance of the station. The ‘ticket insurance’ is about half the price of a regular rail ticket. It gives you a guarantee that, in the extraordinary event that you are booked by a railways inspector for taking a free ride, your fine will be paid. A relative was once booked and the ticket insurer paid the fine exactly as promised.”

An active actuarial as well as reinsurance market can actually develop as a unique enterpreneurial invention of the Mumbai city out of this business opportunity.

Via Marginal Revolution