Monday, April 27, 2015


It's important that we, as a species, try out new diets. We are naturally learning what keeps us alive longer. Technology, medicine, diets, research into cellular apoptosis, cancer research, food sources.

We have completely eliminated the sicknesses associated with eating uncooked meat. Any young child will immediately get taught the value of cooking food through daily actions dealing with uncooked meat. As that child grows up, some fear will be instilled by social health warnings in restaurant menus.

Nobody would ever allow any other human, to eat uncooked chicken. The cleanliness required for beef tartar is well-known. And whenever somebody orders it, the discussion following the questions regarding eating uncooked beef and the level of cleanliness required, is an evolutionary response to uncooked meat.

Whenever we notice a certain subset of humans living longer (e.g. the Inuits), we study their diet (e.g. high in nut fats) and their health statistics (fewer percentage have heart disease). Our curiosity and our fear of death immediately get piqued.

We send sociology studies off into what sort of communal setting lowers the risk of heart disease because we are curious if they've figured out some trick. Something to delay our impending sense of mortality and death. We pour millions of dollars into cancer research and healthcare debates. Because we, as a species, need to decide the best way to stay alive and remove our fear of death/extinction.

That's why fad diets are so important. We need new random people trying out different diets, some succeeding in health, and some failing in health. We need to keep trying different things, and we need fads and viral information. That's why we need yogis from the East to try relaxation techniques into keeping a healthy metabolism and teach it to the Westerners, and why we start to study it with MRI machines in the West.

Because we, as a species, are joining together to figure out how to defeat death and extinction.

We might get to a point where people eating raw sugar are immediately swatted away, the same way that people eating uncooked meat are disuaded.

With uncooked meat, we've overcome the random percentage that bacterial infections from uncooked chicken would affect the species. If uncooked meat would have a 50% chance of death by 3 years old, it would have been eradicated quickly in the evolutionary series (which is why we've eliminated that before other diseases). Once our average age of death ("life expectancy") is 110 years old, we may find, through research into cellular aging, that sugar makes one have a 50% chance to die by 115. Eventually, for the average age of death to be 140 years old, one may have had to eliminate raw sugar in the diets of everybody .

This isn't about raw sugar, because I have no idea if that will stop us from living longer. But for us to overcome our fear of death, and pushing our average ages up well past 100, there will have been things we socially condition into our species from an early age.

A species who has learned, through many generations of trial and error, to live to 1000, expand to other planets, and work together, will eat raw sugar like our current society eats raw meat. Dying by 10% of our potential life expectancy would be a child in the eyes of an elder of this hypothetical society.

Our fear of death makes us greedy as a species and also makes us divert resources and attention into endeavors which allow us to survive longer. If we don't kill ourselves off before then, we'll be able to experience these incredible feats of evolution or learning.

As an aside, I call this form of abstract thinking "Evolutionary Thinking".

Monday, April 20, 2015

Emotions: Awareness of Hormones

As an exercise to understand ourselves better, the formula is: we ask ourselves what else is a subjective experience. We can then ask ourselves what piece of the universe is that experience simply an awareness of.

This blog post will cover the subjective experience of feelings. But what a horribly ambiguous term. How are we supposed to know what property of the universe “feelings” represent, unless we delve into some specific feelings? There are physical sensations as well as emotional sensations, although they really are the same thing. Physical sensations may include hunger and lust. But lust could also be considered emotional. Emotional sensations include anger, sadness, joy, anxiety, fear. But anger could be also considered physical. If you really think about it, each of these can be considered either physical or emotional, and that’s because there’s no functional difference as a sense. Chemicals flowing through time yields feelings.

Dopamine levels over time cause feelings of joy. Cortisol levels over time cause feelings of anxiety. Which brings us to our sixth sense: feelings are an awareness of our hormone levels over time.

In my post about consciousness, I discussed the senses as awareness of different properties of the universe, such as photons. If we think about emotions, they are really nothing more than a subjective experience based on hormone levels, and as such are simply awareness of hormones.

Our list now looks like the following:

SenseAwareness of...
SoundEnergy Waves
TouchNuclear Force
TasteChemical Structure
SmellChemical Structure
EmotionsHormone Levels

This was the first attempt to categorize a new experience within our definition of a sense, and it seems to fit well. That leads us to ask: which other subjective experiences could fit into this model? What other properties of the universe are we aware of?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Life's Lens: Ingroups vs. Outgroups

How can some people's mentality, always pushing others to get ahead, looking at life like a game, figuring out how to become exciting and successful, mesh with others' mentality? Those who are more loving and embracing, always seeing the best in people. Homely. Not caring about material things such as money so much as good relationships and spirituality.

These two views might seem contradictory. "Surely one must be the correct way to live one's life?", an astute observer might ask.

People look at the world in one of several ways, and I just described two ends of the spectrum. These ways have to deal with in-group vs out-group biases.

Solo: You are the only member of your in-group. You're tough and you'll make life what you want. Or perhaps you're a victim, and bad shit always happens to you. In either sense, you are viewing life through the lens of imagining yourself as the only member of your in-group.

Paired: Same as the Solo lens, but with a partner as part of your in-group. The rest of the world is your out-group. Perhaps with a wife, mother, husband, friend.

Tribal: You have your family and close friends, and they are in your corner, but nobody else is. Or at least it takes a while for them to enter your group. Together the group of you is going out into the world together. Part of a small community, perhaps. In this view of the world, you have an in-group of maybe 3-20 members. They are your tribe. The rest of the world is your out-group. You're fiercely loyal to those you respect and love.

Global: You're a dirty hippie. Okay, maybe not. But you have an all-encompassing view of the entire world as your in-group. You love animals and it takes a lot for somebody to be on your out-group. We're all just human, going through life together, aren't we? Think spiritual leaders, loving (perhaps naïve from the perspective of the Solo viewer), kind, people. They have chosen (or were conditioned) to see life as positively loving as they can.

There is a spectrum, but this is the lens through which each of us see life, and it colors our interpretations of events, our emotions, our "logical thoughts" (quotes because if they were actually objectively logical, then these thoughts wouldn't be changed by one's perspective on life).

Are you aware of where you fit on this spectrum? Or perhaps you have changed your perspective throughout your life? And more importantly, and can you empathize with others' perspective, and perhaps even change your own?

Or, did you change your lens without your choice? It's possible that you may have changed to a different outlook on life after a traumatic experience as a defense mechanism. Perhaps always bitter at your job or spouse, using the Solo outlook as a defense mechanism. Or perhaps after a death, you adopted a more spiritual Global outlook because you were afraid to face the harsh realities put in front of you.

Your outlook should be your choice. The minute your outlook becomes the result of some external factor and use a lens as a defense mechanism, you are no longer in control of your thoughts or your life. You should be consciously choosing your outlook every minute of the day or you are weak against your circumstances.

Self-awareness gives possibility to choice. Use it.

Monday, April 6, 2015


What is consciousness? I touched briefly upon the idea of consciousness in my blog post about image analysis, a subject close to my heart.

Consciousness, or our subjective everyday experience, is really only defined by our senses. Consciousness is an awareness of a sense.

Think of sight. According to the movie The Matrix, sight is simply “electrical signals interpreted by your brain.” But that’s not quite correct. Rather, it’s an awareness of photons through time. Not the process of how we see (electrical signals interpreted by our brain), but rather the subjective experience of me seeing something in front of me, is an awareness of photons hitting my eyes over time. It’s an awareness of photons through time.

There’s no instantaneous consciousness. Rather consciousness is dynamic, like a wave washing through us. Our worlds in front of us are smoothly changing as photons hit our eyes. Our hearing ebbs and flows. Senses don’t spontaneously appear. There is always a buildup. Since time is always divisible (well not technically, but that’s the subject of a future post) by definition a buildup must occur, no matter how seemingly acute it would appear.

Imagine taking a little symbolic man, and pushing him forward through those different photons hitting his eyes, as he is constantly being aware of those photons. He moves and acts and makes decisions based on his rudimentary awareness of those photons. I say rudimentary because our sight is of a limited range. Other animals may have different ranges of photons’ wavelengths in their visible spectrum, and therefore it would be reasonable to assume that their experience of sight may be different than ours.

This brings us to our definitions:
  1. Consciousness is an awareness of a sense.
  2. A sense is an awareness of some property of the universe through time.

This definition will be an important axiom for future blog posts. But for now, we can define our experience of sound as an awareness of sound waves, or rather energy waves through time. Our touch is an awareness of the nuclear force preventing two particles from overlapping and containing the same space. Modern science understands taste and smell as simply receptors for specific chemicals, and as such our taste and smell can simply be categorized as an awareness of chemical structures. The awareness of chemical structures is really an awareness of chemical bonds existing in a specific shape. One might say that it’s an awareness of geometry.

Sense Awareness of...
Sight Photons
Sound Energy Waves
Touch Nuclear Force
Taste Chemical Structure
Smell Chemical Structure

Evolution is biology’s attempt to figure out the universe. Life can be seen as a optimized development of senses to become more aware of different pieces of the universe. Life is here to survive. It is resilient and expands and grows greedily. Life is really, though, at the end of the day, an evolution of senses. It’s an evolution of an awareness of the universe. It needs to survive so that it can be aware of all pieces of the universe.

Trace evolution over time. The evolution of sight over time started as a single receptor and evolved into our beautiful array of colors we see today. It’s simply an increased awareness. Life has evolved the ability to be aware of photons in the universe, and use that information to allow us to make better choices. This is going to be an important point when we discuss the concept of choice more deeply in a future post.

For now, it is sufficient for us to cover the five senses in this bog post, and future blog posts will cover several additional senses given our definition. Stay tuned.