Over the last 20 years, neuroscience research has fundamentally changed our understanding of decision making.
Lehrer, a critically acclaimed science writer and the popular blogger behind "The Frontal Cortex," explains what the latest in cutting-edge research can tell us about how our minds work. How do we make decisions? And how can we make decisions...better?
Jonah Lehrer is an author and journalist who writes often about neuroscience and psychology. He has published two books, "Proust Was a Neuroscientist," about the connections between science and the humanities, and "How We Decide," about the brain and decision-making. He has written for The New Yorker about the science of insight and about the psychology of delayed gratification.
Author Jonah Lehrer offers insight into the chemical process
in the brain that forms the root of gambling addiction. Lehrer explains that when a gambler wins, he receives a "surprising squirt of dopamine" that stimulates the brain more intensely than a predictable victory.
Interdisciplinary study that attempts to explain the cognitive processes of humans and some higher animals in terms of the manipulation of symbols using computational rules. The field draws particularly on the disciplines of artificial intelligence, psychology (seecognitive psychology), linguistics, neuroscience, and philosophy. Some chief areas of research in cognitive science have been vision, thinking and reasoning, memory, attention, learning, and language processing. Early theories of cognitive function attempted to explain the evident compositionality of human thought (thoughts are built up of smaller units put together in a certain way), as well as its productivity (the process of putting together a thought from smaller units can be repeated indefinitely to produce an infinite number of new thoughts), by assuming the existence of discrete mental representations that can be put together or taken apart according to rules that are sensitive to the representations' syntactic, or structural, properties. This language of thought hypothesis was later challenged by an approach, variously referred to as connectionism, parallel-distributed processing, or neural-network modeling, according to which cognitive processes (such as pattern recognition) consist of adjustments in the activation strengths of neuronlike processing units arranged in a network.
Excellent video, thanks FORA.tv. Jonah is an amazing speaker (What, no teleprompter?), and manages to seemingly effortlessly share a great deal of information on complex subjects while remaining incredibly interesting.
He summarized and tied togather some of the fascinating findings in the field of behavioral sciences and neuroscience. However, as someone who is not trained as a behavioral clinician, e.g., who is not a psychiatrist, he should first acknowledge this fact when answering questions about phobias, ADHD, etc... He gave inaccurate or even blatantly wrong answers to some of those questions, for example, he claimed the vast the majoirty of the children caught up in brain development and symptoms of ADHD disappeared by late teens. This is what we thought 20 years ago. Now we know, in at least 40-50% of the cases ADHD persists into adulthood. His answers about phobias were also very weak and meak, and not effective. He said exposure therapy was somewhat effective, whereas a more accurate statement would be that cognitive-behavioral therapy (which includes a dimension of exposure therapy) is HIGHLY effective.
I like the way the Brits are brought in special to fail to find proof of the inspiring but ultimately elusive shaft of light on the heroic US battleship that MUST have shone at the critical moment while the US psychologist can of course find it using logical method (we need to look at past data here guys) - unless there are pictures I think this trivial. I am suprised, with all the money spent, logical methods can't be used to distinguish between friendly jets and enemy missiles - errr, all the time rather than just some of the time. Or maybe I shouldn't be surprised about the absence of this particular lubricant.
Dots on a screen aren't EVER really a very good metaphor - pink, red, blue or otherwise - CMON!
Kinship prohibitions around sexual relations with a sibling are universal, are incest, not just because progeny are more likely to be malformed but BECAUSE if these are non-existent then there can be no continuous kinship pattern discerned by definition and hence no human society, tribal or otherwise, discerned. This is what Claude Levi-Strauss was concerned with and is the enitre basis for subsequent deconstructionism - as there needs to be some convention in the first place to be deconstrued from! We can't all be nihilists, sorry.
I like the previous respondents post about the footbridge and the question of committing suicide - ethically you should take the big guy with ya! The big guy would by definition be difficult to push off the bridge AND footbridges have also evolved to meet high H&S standards (we aren't all nihilists) so there are high guard rails. Ethical situations are never so clear cut otherwise we'd have a clearly delineated ant-like society and would have methods to find and value genuinely good people - we don't.
Timing IS a factor, but not only. If you are a guy then making spatial judgements about how much force is required to get the big guy over the rail is going to be quicker for us because of our evolutionary background - we are evolved to make to make such judgements. We need to look at Kohlberg and surrounding arguments here because, actually, ethical decisions are the most complicated and require very high utility with conventions because that much more is at stake - general long term benefience. See the clown suit defence also.
So, for example, high facility with convention is required in making space and time judgements about you, the big guy and the trolley, about whether the big guy looks like he might react (this would be based on cultural estimations of who this realy guy is - gangster rapper or drippy sap) and whether you can psychologically deal with this very f****d up situation in seconds.
Not only that but you must weigh up whether your family could handle the loss of you (emotionally, financially), whether the world can handle the loss of you (you are not going to come up with a cure for cancer if you killed yourself to save five jay walkers ten years earlier). For example if you are a father and your wife is unattractive would she be able to find another husband and father to your kids - realistically cmon. And all this in seconds, otherwise (LOL) aren't you just contributing to societies ills and the general degradation of society by abandoning your children or unfairly discriminating on a poor innocent fat guy, playing god, don't you have a certain obligation to yourself, aren't you spitting in the face of evolution, on and on.......
Re: The Trolley Dilemna
The trolley driver should jump of the trolley and commit suicide so that 1) he is not responsible for what happens, and 2) to cause reflection to the survivors that standing on tracks is irresponsible.
If you were on the bridge you should throw the fat man off but then follow by jumping yourself.
The problem with this question is that the subject values life but not enough to self-sacrifice. The ponderer is subject to his own cowardness in the face of risk to his moral standing.