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Author Topic: What is the brain basis of blame?  (Read 3193 times)

Offline Martin J Sallberg

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What is the brain basis of blame?
« on: 29/04/2013 06:19:14 »
As shown in the Libet experiment, conscious decisions appears to be an illusion and an afterconstruct. But if that is the case, then the distinction between "voluntary" and "autonomical" cannot be real either, but must also be due to afterconstructs. This gives an explanation for some interesting facts. One is that, although directed alteration of "autonomical" functions are virtually unheard of in cultures of abrahamitic faith (judaism, christianity, islam) or similar cultural influence especially from the film industry (cultures that believes in pure good and pure evil), it is common in cultures that do not believe in pure good or pure evil (including hindus and buddhists among others). This should not be a surprise, considering that belief in pure good and pure evil creates more pressure to justify oneself, and justifications are afterconstructs. It also explains the fact documented in "Mind, Brain and Education" by Kurt Fischer and Christina Hinton, and in "The brain that changes itself", that extreme recoveries from brain damage and other severe mental conditions are linked to tolerant environments. Those tolerant environments frees people from the false dichotomy between giving up on one hand and being blamed on the other. And considering how stupid habits are driving the global destruction, a world without justification appears necessary to prevent total disaster.

The real damage of blaming is that it leads to justifications. Trying to prevent blaming by saying "he/she/I cannot help it" is the same kind of absurdity as breaking things to prevent others from sabotaging them. The absurdity, in both cases, is to do the damage in order to prevent others from doing it. The solution is to stop blaming without any justifications.
« Last Edit: 01/05/2013 08:29:20 by chris »


 

Offline Pmb

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Re: Poisonous justification
« Reply #1 on: 29/04/2013 15:27:37 »
Quote from: Martin J Sallberg
As shown in the Libet experiment, conscious decisions appears to be an illusion and an afterconstruct.
I've never heard of this. Can you point me to some information about it? I'll do an internet search in the meantime.

You seem to be talking about morals and determinism.It is my understanding that our morals can be attributed to an evolutionary trend which maximizes survival by having members of a group work together. In a sense our morals are "written on our hearts" as it were. A physicist would say that quantum mechanics proves that the world does not operate according to deterministic laws. In this sense we have free will. However it can also be argued that our minds are just neural networks operating according to classical laws of physics and that our minds do not operate according to deterministic laws like a computer's output is not undetermined by its construction and programming. However the mind is not a computer. I doubt that we even know how the mind works yet. But it seems to me that we're constrained by birth to operate within limits set by the construction of our brains. I think we all do the best that we can, even those people who have brain damage. There will always be people who try to justify their actions a we all have reasons for everything that we do. But I myself choose to believe that I can freely choose to be the best person that I can be. That's a goal. It's a direction, one that I stear towards but know that I'll never get there. It's the dirction that is important to me.
 

Offline Martin J Sallberg

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Re: Poisonous justification
« Reply #2 on: 29/04/2013 16:57:36 »
Yes, the Libet experiment shows that conscious decisions appears to be illusions and afterconstructs. It is just to google "Libet experiment", it is all over the Internet.

There is evidence that evolution can go very fast. Natural selection theory explains it by saying that already existing individual variation can be quickly selected on to create group differences. And since there is, and have historically been even greater, differences in living conditions across the world, this means that the whole evolutionary psychology theory of innate morality is inevitably bound to be racist. The evidence that supposedly racial differences in intelligence and behavior can be ruled out if enough sociological factors are taken into account thus falsifies all nativistic psychology. Well, except for "graphite only slate" theories such as epigenetics, the point is that it falsifies hardwirng.

I also did not properly explain really how extreme recoveries from brain damage there are. In fact, there are even cases where people who shows absolutely no symptoms of brain damage have turned out to have no cerebral cortex at all. That is more extreme than a kangaroo learning to think like you, and almost as extreme as a lizard learning to think like you. This is yet another falsification of hardwiring.

I was not really talking about determinism, at least not in its usual sense. What I was talking about is that justifications self-evidently paralyzes self-correction. If you justify yourself, you deny the whole point in correcting yourself, and thus prevent yourself from correcting yourself. That is why stupid habits are going on in the world and destroying it. The world is being destroyed so fast, that claiming that "there will always be people who try to justify their actions" is the same as saying "the world will with absolute certainty be totally destroyed and lifeless before year 2100, and really, really nasty much earlier than that". The only hope is to eradicate justification. The most efficient way is to never ever demand justifications of each other. That works, as those symptom-free people with no cerebral cortex is living proof of.
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: Poisonous justification
« Reply #3 on: 29/04/2013 21:00:18 »
In 1966 a man named Charles Whitman took an elevator to the top floor of a tower on the campus of the University of Texas. He killed a university receptionist with the butt of his rifle, shot two families of tourists in the tower, and fired on pedestrians down below. Earlier that day he shot his mother and stabbed his wife. In a suicide note he described how he had always been a reasonable and average person but recently started having irrational thoughts and overwhelming violent impulses. He requested an autopsy after his death. He killed 13 people including ambulance drivers that arrived, and wounded 33 others that day.

The autopsy did in fact find a large tumor in Whitman's brain, in a region called the amygdala which is responisble for emotional regulation, fear and aggression.

More and more, science discovers relationships between violent behavior and brain dysfunction. There are also genetic links which by themselves do not predict criminal behavior but when combined with an abuse or neglect in childhood, vastly increase the risk. 

None of this makes violent behavior somehow acceptable or excusable. It merely says that perhaps blame-worthiness is the wrong question. Regardless of the cause, until people who commit violent acts can be cured or rehabilitated, they have to be separated from society, for the safety of others. Until parole boards can predict accurately who will reoffend, great caution has to be exercised in deciding who can be released back into society. It really has little to do with either punishment or justification.

I do agree with you, though, that a society that only views behavior in terms of "good" and "evil" has no hope of ever solving this human problem.

« Last Edit: 29/04/2013 21:12:46 by cheryl j »
 

Offline Martin J Sallberg

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Re: Poisonous justification
« Reply #4 on: 30/04/2013 14:16:22 »
In 1966 a man named Charles Whitman took an elevator to the top floor of a tower on the campus of the University of Texas. He killed a university receptionist with the butt of his rifle, shot two families of tourists in the tower, and fired on pedestrians down below. Earlier that day he shot his mother and stabbed his wife. In a suicide note he described how he had always been a reasonable and average person but recently started having irrational thoughts and overwhelming violent impulses. He requested an autopsy after his death. He killed 13 people including ambulance drivers that arrived, and wounded 33 others that day.

The autopsy did in fact find a large tumor in Whitman's brain, in a region called the amygdala which is responisble for emotional regulation, fear and aggression.

More and more, science discovers relationships between violent behavior and brain dysfunction. There are also genetic links which by themselves do not predict criminal behavior but when combined with an abuse or neglect in childhood, vastly increase the risk. 

None of this makes violent behavior somehow acceptable or excusable. It merely says that perhaps blame-worthiness is the wrong question. Regardless of the cause, until people who commit violent acts can be cured or rehabilitated, they have to be separated from society, for the safety of others. Until parole boards can predict accurately who will reoffend, great caution has to be exercised in deciding who can be released back into society. It really has little to do with either punishment or justification.

I do agree with you, though, that a society that only views behavior in terms of "good" and "evil" has no hope of ever solving this human problem.

Your picked example(s) failed to rule out the error source that the involved individuals may have been under social pressure to justify their everyday actions, which paralyzes self-correction in a general sense. In other words, justification of seemingly inoffensive everyday actions paves the way for murder. And that he claimed himself to have been reasonable is of no evidence value, since it does not tell whether he really was reasonable or "rationalized" (i.e. justified) his actions.

And the evidence for rapid evolution (which means that ANY theory of hardwiring of behavior makes racist predictions as inevitably as the theory of a lumniferous aether makes predictions of annual changes of light speed in different directions) and of extreme recoveries from brain damage (including symptom-free people with no cerebral cortex) remains undeniable. The rapid evolution part also means that anyone advocating isolation of "dangerous" individuals must also advocate isolation of all individuals descended from "dangerous" ethnic groups. The existence of rapid evolution just leaves zero room for explanatively distinguishing individual psychology/psychiatry from ethnic differences. So let everybody free or be a racist.

Furthermore, if the "isolate dangerous individuals" dogma had been applied throughout history, then everybody would have isolated themselves from everybody, and no culture would have existed. I actually suspect that the "control and isolate" paradigm may be a strong historical factor in the fall of civilizations, that cultures deem more and more individuals "dangerous" until they collapse under their own absurdly high security costs.
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: Poisonous justification
« Reply #5 on: 01/05/2013 06:02:38 »
I don't know if Whitman ever was "reasonable," only that he seemed to be reporting that he felt something had drastically changed in his thinking and that the uncontrollable violent impulses were new to him.

To be honest, I don't really understand your argument or theory, especially it's connection to racism. I have never seen any studies suggesting that violent or antisocial behavior is more common in any racial group. There is no reason to believe that genes coding for things like melanin in the skin or its absence are linked to genes that regulate impulse control or mental illness. In fact, I would argue that it is unlikely for two reasons: 1) human beings have a vastly greater shared evolutionary history despite the time period of separation on different continents. 2) There has been constant evolutionary pressure for both aggression and cooperation, regardless of where racial groups migrated to. I think both individuals and groups may shift their behavior from being more warlike to more cooperative, or vice versa, depending on the circumstances, and it is not necessarily "fixed."

I do realize that the current prison system is not the answer, and may even increase anti-social and criminal behavior in those it warehouses, and it is as you point out, it is hugely expensive. But until science figures out how to help these people change, I don't see a realistic alternative.
« Last Edit: 01/05/2013 06:10:22 by cheryl j »
 

Offline Martin J Sallberg

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Re: Poisonous justification
« Reply #6 on: 01/05/2013 07:27:08 »
I agree that there is absolutely no scientific evidence that some racial groups should be violent "by nature". But, and this is the point, the evidence for rapid evolution shows that ALL biologistic psychology predicts that it should be (just like the theory of a lumniferous aether predicts annual changes in the speed of light in different directions which is also nonexistent).

The argument of "a much longer shared evolutionary history than separation on different continents" is irrelevant. According to natural selection theory, already present individual variation can very quickly be converted into group differences. So the inseparability of biologistic individual psychiatry and racism remains. And there was, and is, vast differences in the frequency of famine and other natural disasters between different parts of the world (different pressures for and against "tough decisions"), as well as differences in general food supply (affecting group sizes dramatically, especially between farmers and hunter-gatherers). For a scale, consider that the difference in disaster situations are as vast as those between dog breeds' histories, and that the difference in possible group size, by primate standards, is on the scale of species differences! So the non-raciality really is a fatal flaw in all biologistic psychology.

There is a statistical correlation between ethnic belonging and violence in society, although it can be ruled out by taking enough social factors into account. And in the same way, extreme recoveries from brain damage happens if the environment is tolerant (as shown in my first post on this thread). So science HAVE discovered ways to treat even extreme brain damage, and that is tolerant environments. The connection between the two becomes obvious by the fact that racist discrimination is also a form of intolerance. So stop repeating the false claim that there should be brain damage that cannot be effectively treated, for those symptom-free people with no cerebral cortex and other extreme recoveries shows that such is not the case!
 

Offline Martin J Sallberg

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Re: What is the brain basis of blame?
« Reply #7 on: 01/05/2013 09:46:09 »
Furthermore, there are also the possibility of genetic drift and population bottlenecks. Mainstream geneticists claim to have solid evidence for it. Did it miraculously avoid affecting behavior? And also for interbreeding between Homo sapiens and other Homo species, and in different proportions in different regions. That should, according to biologistic psychiatry, have produced presence of mental illnesses in some ethnic groups that are absent in others. Unless, of course, the very unlikely sorting of evolution eliminating the "foreign" disorders (which, according to the evopsych use of the term "species", could have been normal to the other species) while retaining the sapiens variation at an unchanged frequency (when Neanderthal immune systems appears to have been positively selected in non-African sapiens? Are you promoting body/mind dualism or what?). And for recorded history, what about the countries where certain crimes were punished by execution of the whole family of the offender? Should that not have produced differences in "moral sense" depending on the whims of the rulers who ordered the effectively selective breeding collective death penalty? Especially in cultures where immediate understanding is valued highly, which prevents learned adaptation (just watch an American romantic drama, and see that such values are embraced even by Western culture).

And remember, each and every more or less isolated group constitutes a separate spin of the roulette. Even if some group miraculously avoided all of these possibilities (along with those outlined in my earlier posts) it does not mean that other groups avoided them. So the saving of biologistic psychiatry from making racist predictions requires such an extremely improbable series of coincidences that, compared to it, Luna (the Moon) colliding with Earth tomorrow seems relatively plausible.

And again, since racist discrimination is a form of intolerance, and extreme recoveries from brain damage and other severe mental disorders are linked to tolerant environments by irrefutable metastudies, the theory that the same social factors that can rule out racism also can cure every concievable mental illness must be considered well-established by evidence.
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: What is the brain basis of blame?
« Reply #8 on: 02/05/2013 05:09:11 »
I don't think natural selection occurs at the same "speed" for all traits. From what I've read, things like pigmentation in skin, fur, or the colour of a moth's wings can sometimes be selected for in several  generations. Traits that are single factor (like pigment) and are response to a single environmental challenge (like UV light damage or need for camouflage) probably change much faster than traits that are multi-factorial, involving many genes, and which are a response to environmental challenges with many complex variables.  Natural selection that alters behavior in a way that is an advantage in one situation may be at odds with evolutionary pressures that make that same behavior a disadvantage in other ways.

Different environments do provide different evolutionary forces (Africa has malaria, we don't, for example) but there are very few environments in which intelligence is not an advantage for humans, in which language is not an advantage, and in which some degree of cooperation among people in the group is not an advantage, so I think it is unlikely that you would find a group of people who were markedly deficient in these ways. The basic needs - food, shelter, protection from the elements, avoiding some kind of physical hazzard, not dieing in a fight with your neighbor - are the same, whether you live in the Arctic or the South Pacific. Most racial genetic differences have to do with climate (a stocky heat conserving body build versus tall and lean, tolerance to high altitudes) or diet (the ability to digest lactose in cow's milk or susceptibility to diabetes) or disease (immunity to certain organisms like influenza or malaria) To my knowledge there is no data showing racial genetic differences that code for general traits like intelligence, aggression or mental illness. If that data does appear, I guess I would have to change my opinion, but regardless, with traits like intelligence or behavior - the differences between individuals within a group are far greater than differences between groups, and I think that is a critical point.

I was not arguing for mind-body duality in my last post. But I think it is possible that like a computer, the brain may have many different behavioral programs, so to speak, that it can access and use, or disregard in favor of a more beneficial one. Whether we switch from one program to another as a conscious choice (i.e. free will ) or because of some sensory cue, is another question, but there is nothing in conventional genetics that says a person or group is restricted to one form of behavior because of natural selection. I heard one primate researcher describe a group of baboons that switched from highly aggressive behavior to cooperative, supportive behavior in response to a catastrophic event that threatened the survival of the group. This suggests that the baboons had both behavioral patterns at their disposal.

I don't know if I believe that a person with no neocortex would be completely normal, but I do agree the brain has an amazing plasticity. Examples of this include people who have an arm amputated. Brain imaging shows that the area of the brain that used to manage sensory input and motor control of that arm, is eventually recruited for other areas, like the face. Stroke victims some times lose certain abilities but regain them after a period of time if other areas of the brain can take over that function. Major league pitchers and violinists have more area in their brains devoted to sensory and motor control of their hands than other people, and this increases over time - that is, they weren't born that way.  That's pretty impressive when you think about it, and none of these changes directly involve natural selection, but occur as an individual response.

But there are biological limits. Huntington's Disease is a progressive neurological disease, affecting both motor control, thinking and mood. It is caused, if I'm not mistaken, by the deletion of a single nucleotide base. As far as I know, there is nothing the brain itself can do to stop, reverse, or compensate for the damage, and I don't think a tolerant or intolerant environment would change the outcome.





« Last Edit: 04/05/2013 14:04:39 by cheryl j »
 

Offline Martin J Sallberg

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Re: What is the brain basis of blame?
« Reply #9 on: 02/05/2013 08:59:05 »
@cheryl j

You are conflating "needed to some extent" with "needed to the same extent". That is two completely different claims. I did not deny that intelligence and cooperation were useful to some extent on all continents, but you cannot seriously be claiming that they were useful to the same extent. And several types of animals have been domesticated in far fewer generations than humans have evidently lived separately (fox experiments in Siberia, rabbit domestication began in the late medieval), as well as feralization (stray dogs, stray cats, North American mustang horses). And if your argument about multiple genes hampering change was taken face value, there would have been no way of noticing mental conditions running in families. And you cannot seriously be denying that certain events may regionally have killed off families without members with a certain condition and spared families with said condition.

When you use the lack of evidence for racial mind differences as an argument to claim that evolutionary psychology does not predict such differences, you are conflating empirical outcome with prediction of theory. That a prediction fails to empirically pan out does NOT mean that it did not follow logically from the theory. The prediction still follows logically from the theory, and the mismatch means that the theory is wrong. If your conflation between prediction and observation was used in physics, the theory of a lumiferous aether would have been defended by claiming that "there is no evidence for annual changes in the speed of light in different directions, therefore the theory of a lumniferous aether does not predict such changes". Exactly the same form of conflation of theoretical prediction with empirical evidence.

And why did you ignore the examples of Homo sapiens/ archaic Homo admixture?

Furthermore, if the de facto selective breeding by capital punishment of whole families took place in recent centuries (and some countries have applied such punishment in recent centuries), your theory of natural selection "restoring the balance" would be inadequate for explaining non-raciality today even if there was no other problems with it.

And yes, there is empirical evidence for completely symptom-free people with no cerebral cortex at all. If you find that hard to believe, then the theory that makes you find it hard to believe is falsified. When a theory predicts that a confirmed empirical outcome should be impossible, then the theory is wrong.

Yes, the newly peaceful baboon case is genuine, but it is also one of the many examples of behavioral change that computerist brain theory is unable to explain. Their acquired drop in stress hormone levels was greater than the difference between a wild wolf and a bordercollie dog, a degree of drop that computerist brain theory considers to be impossible.

And as for the example of Huntington's disease, there is evidence that the bulk of the heredity shown by twin studies cannot be correlated with what neo-Darwinists accept as functionally active DNA (they believe that most DNA must be junk or else there would be too many deletirious mutations). This confirms the ENCODE discovery that most DNA is indeed functionally active (and of course large amounts of meaningless DNA activity is rendered highly unlikely by its energy consumption). This proves mathematically that we are all born with several mutations that should, by any reductionistic rights, be lethal. So mathematically speaking, simply being alive is proof of having undergone multiple spontaneous remissions from mutations that, according to all mainstream medicine, should have been lethal. But since belief in genetic determinism and physician authority is widespread in society, diagnosis may create a nocebo (destructive version of placebo) effect that paralyzes the self-correction (just like having to read racist articles makes black students perform poorer on tests). I think enzymes processing DNA does the practical job of self-correction.
« Last Edit: 02/05/2013 09:04:28 by Martin J Sallberg »
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: What is the brain basis of blame?
« Reply #10 on: 04/05/2013 13:58:04 »
So what are you really saying here? That genes don't matter at all? That they can be overcome by will power or effort or tolerance under any circumstance? That sounds more like mind body duality to me.

Twin studies are useful for distinguishing between environmental and genetic causes. But they can also demonstrate mathematically the contributions of both. A twin study does not exclude a genetic link unless an identical twin has no statistically increased or decreased chance of developing a disorder than two unrelated individuals. What studies find when there is a both a genetic and environmental trigger is that an identical twin will have a significantly increased chance even if it doesn't happen every time. In general, the higher the probability of both twins developing the disease, the larger the contribution from a genetic cause.

Many diseases have a genetic and environmental cause. Alcoholism is associated with certain genes, but obviously if a person never comes in contact with alcohol, they can't become an alcoholic. Diabetes runs in families and is more prevalent in certain ethnic groups, but weight loss, diet, and exercise can stop or even reverse the damage, to the point where a physician may not be able to diagnosis the person as diabetic  if he did not know his medical history. None of this contradicts "genetic determinism." You can't bake a cake if you don't turn the oven on (environment), but you can't pull a cake out of an empty oven (genetics), either. I think the example of Huntington's disease as an example of "biological limits" still holds.

In regards to "conflating needed to some extent" to "needed to the same extent" I didn't mean to imply that the intensity of an evolutionary pressure was irrelevant. For example, a disease that kills off 90% of people before or at reproductive age will have a much stronger evolutionary pressure than one that is just some what debilitating or affects people in their late 30's.

That said, with general abilities like, say, walking upright, I doubt two groups would evolve to be much better, or much worse, at walking, simply because one had to walk six miles to find food and water, and the other only had to walk half a mile. Walking is still "necessary enough" to be conserved in the genetic blueprint. I would make the same argument about general human abilities like intelligence and cooperation, despite groups living in different geographical climates.

Here's a hypothetical situation to consider. Lets say we take a group of people and play natural selection. With one group we select for height. We kill off the 10% of that group who are the shortest. Allow them to reproduce and do this again, and again. I think you could fairly quickly increase the average height of your test population. I also think after a while, there would much less variation in height in your group.

In the second group we try to select for "intelligence." The obvious question is how? You could use an IQ test, but you might just end up with a group who is very good at IQ tests. It may not select for innovative problem solving, or creativity, or social intelligence (the ability to read subtle social cues or imagine the world from another's perspective) or all sorts of abilities we lump together as intelligence. To be honest, the problem may be in the definition of intelligence - we are using this term to describe way too many things. But I'm guessing that if you conducted this experiment like the height experiment, you would might end up with slight boost in intelligence in your population, but with significantly more deviation from the average or mean, compared to the height experiment. The results would be "sloppier" and less predictable when you repeated it. (But of course I don't know this for a fact.)

I wasnt ignoring the mention of Neanderthal genes in non-Africans. But I haven't read very much about what these genes code for, or if they are expressed. A lot would depend on what they actually do. Let's say hypothetically, (since I have no idea,) that one genes causes a prominent brow ridge. That would be a variation on an existing structure. A prominent brow ridge protects the eyeball from injury. Perhaps it also shades the eye from the glare of the sun. But it is not really a new or unique structure. If a trait also exists to varying degrees in people, coded for by genes that weren't inherited from Neanderthals, then the only really interesting thing about these genes would be their origin and the fact that it shows the two groups had social contact. And of course, if I did happen to have the Neanderthal eye ridge gene, it wouldn't necessarily make the rest of me more "Neanderthally."
« Last Edit: 04/05/2013 15:12:58 by cheryl j »
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: What is the brain basis of blame?
« Reply #11 on: 04/05/2013 14:47:07 »
PS. When there is a  mismatch between what a theory predicts and empirical results, theories are sometimes adjusted or "tweaked" a bit to explain new data. This probably happens way too much in the social sciences, political science or economics, to the point where a theory means whatever they say it does at the time. But this tweaking even happens in well defined sciences like physics. It takes quite a bit of contradictory evidence, or some major defect, before a theory is completely abandoned as useless, not that it hasn't happened.
 

Offline Martin J Sallberg

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Re: What is the brain basis of blame?
« Reply #12 on: 05/05/2013 09:30:06 »
No, that genes can be changed by the organisms themselves is NOT "body/mind duality" at all. It is a combination of enzymes building and decomposing DNA, cells learning to predict things by associating, and signals between cells. Emergent, but not dualistic. Since thoughts are based on material processes too, it is just logical that they can affect their constituent particles.

You completely ignored the mathematical evidence for too many lethal mutations to be manageable by natural selection. That means that actual remaking of the genome to solve problems created by mutations is necessary to explain how anybody can be alive.

You also ignored the evidence for rapid domestication and feralization in various animals. And I was not talking about something as sloppily defined as "intelligence" at all. I was talking about noticeable, definable traits. Rapid domestication/feralization effects should, if genetic limit theory was correct, have produced racial differences in moral values and violence.

The only theory I know that can explain all the facts is that genetics is simply a set of hereditary habits that may matter if the environment is hostile to plasticity. There is no such thing as a "fixed genetic limit". British Journal of Psychiatry have shown that increased autism rate in children of immigrants disappear if the parents immigrated many years ago, falsifying the vitamin D hypothesis and supporting the theory that it is culture modifying genetics which is passed on. The explanation of stress fails to explain why other similarily stressing events besides migration does not cause autism in children to anywhere near the same extent.

See the study "Aneuploid neurons are functionally active and integrated into brain circuitry" which shows the presence of genetic variation between neurons within the same brain. Given the existence of exosomes transferring DNA between cells, neurons can pick whatever genetics they need from their neighbours, just like adaptive gene transfer within bacterial colonies. The study "Got fetal DNA on the brain?" explicitly mentions empirical evidence for the presence of partial elements of foreign DNA in neurons dominated by the mother's own DNA, evidence for DNA transfer between neurons.

There is also evidence for adaptive molecular change in response to toxic environments that is far too rapid to be explainable by random mutations and natural selection. For instance, arsenic worms changed genetically more than the difference between humans and mice in at most 170 years possibly less, see "DNA sequence variation and methylation in an arsenic tolerant earthworm population". This is evidence for organisms actively creating adaptive mutations in themselves to solve problems.

Considering all of this, the whole assumption that there should be genetic defects that the organism could not correct itself becomes absurd. A far more likely explanation is that diagnosing becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy by the nocebo (destructive placebo) effect. This may explain why people have became more and more ill in recent years. Just like believing firmly that headache pills do not work prevents them from working, so does belief in genetic determinism paralyze the genetic correction by means of enzymes that hyperdeletirity math proves the survival necessity of. While statistics today shows a positive correlation between lifespan and religiosity, early non-believing sceptics like Karl Popper and the Weibull brothers (prior to the genetic diagnosing hype) did not suffer from such shortened lifespans. And studies based on medical testing for genes are biased by the fact that people who strongly disbelieve genetic determinism are very unlikely to bother send their DNA to a lab, so the studies only shows people with at least some belief in genetic determinism. This could, in the future, be addressed by sampling, say, people with a family history of Huntington without any symptoms, at a high enough age (well over 50), who have never been screened for it and strongly disbelieving genetic determinism. The tricky part is to convince such people to send their samples, but maybe it can be done by telling them how badly the world needs the refutation of genetic determinism to be publicly known. I predict that if such a study is done, many of them will be tested positive.

I also predict that if a study on behavioral differences between identical twins taking the environment into account is done, it will show the highest similarity between identical twins raised in quasi-tolerant environments demanding and accepting excuses (they will probably turn out to share even hobbies and everyday habits), greater differences between those raised in extremely strict environments not accepting excuses, and the most difference (as much behavioral differences as between non-relatives) for those raised in very tolerant environments never demanding any excuses.
« Last Edit: 05/05/2013 12:14:21 by Martin J Sallberg »
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: What is the brain basis of blame?
« Reply #13 on: 05/05/2013 15:22:17 »
No, that genes can be changed by the organisms themselves is NOT "body/mind duality" at all. It is a combination of enzymes building and decomposing DNA, cells learning to predict things by associating, and signals between cells. Emergent, but not dualistic. Since thoughts are based on material processes too, it is just logical that they can affect their constituent particles.

You completely ignored the mathematical evidence for too many lethal mutations to be manageable by natural selection. That means that actual remaking of the genome to solve problems created by mutations is necessary to explain how anybody can be alive.

You also ignored the evidence for rapid domestication and feralization in various animals. And I was not talking about something as sloppily defined as "intelligence" at all. I was talking about noticeable, definable traits. Rapid domestication/feralization effects should, if genetic limit theory was correct, have produced racial differences in moral values and violence.



Well, yes, that was exactly my point - you were talking about specific single factor traits in these domesticated animals, specifically selected for. I was talking about multi-factoral traits, coded for by large combinations of genes. And to make matters worse, they are qualities for which there is often not a clear definition, criteria or system of measurement. That was what my hypothetical experiment was supposed to illustrate. Which you completely ignored :).

I wasn't completely ignoring what you said about lethal mutations, I just don't happen to believe it.

But later you say, "The only theory I know that can explain all the facts is that genetics is simply a set of hereditary habits that may matter if the environment is hostile to plasticity." Ok, I'll buy that. In the end I would say you feel environment has a bigger effect than I do, but we are not, at least based on the statement above, in complete disagreement.

You know, the strange thing is, when I go back and read your very first post, you were talking about how the brain comes up with explanations for actions after the fact. I have also read about imaging experiments that show people are not conscious of making a decision until a second or so after the brain actually appears to have done so. The next thing you said, if I understood correctly, was that since people justify their actions afterwards, their reasons are not the true cause.  And you proposed that people have more difficulty changing their behavior if a hostile punitive society reinforces this illusionary justification process.

Martin, that is an interesting idea. And it's a theory of psychology I have not come across. You don't really have to launch an attack on the entire field of genetics to propose or support this idea, which I think is an original concept worth pursuing. Just my two cents.
« Last Edit: 06/05/2013 03:16:42 by cheryl j »
 

Offline Martin J Sallberg

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Re: What is the brain basis of blame?
« Reply #14 on: 05/05/2013 15:58:46 »
General cognition could be negatively selected by food poverty (favoring energy-saving such as cutting brain activity). There have been, and are, huge differences across the world in food poverty. That is an example of how genetic limitationism makes racist predictions. Differences in child mortality could also select for differences in maturation rate, which according to evolutionary psychology should change "learning windows" and thus lots of cognition and emotion. And the domestication/feralization examples are strongly enough linked to violence and "morality" (the latter insofar animals can even be said to have morality, which is hotly debated) for it to make genetic limitationism racist in its predictions. Or are you saying that the belief that some ethnic groups are hardwired for violence and amorality isn't racist?

Although genetic limitationism predicts that "multi-factoriality" may slow down evolution a bit, the slow down is not dramatic enough to absolve genetic limitationism from its racist predictions. It may take ten thousand years instead of a few hundred, but not hundreds of thousands of years. The gap just isn't as extremely dramatic as you purported it to be. And there are different forms of multifactoriality. The slowing down only applies if many mutations have to be present to have any effect. Addition multifactoriality, on the other hand, can budge bell curves so fast it is scarcely any slower than single-factoriality at all.

You said that you "just don't believe" in the mathematical evidence for too many lethal genetic defects for natural selection to clean up, but you provided no examples of any flaws in the evidence. I have checked and double-checked it, it holds. Are you disbelieving it just because you do not like it? And the enzymes, genetic diversity between cells in the same body, gene transfer between cells, provides mechanisms for the correction. The immune system mass-replicates the antibody it notices can do the job, which is an example of function sensitivity feedbacking into something molecular. Why should not something similar apply to horizontal gene transfer between cells in the same body? And medical studies of genetic diseases clearly are biased by the fact that only people with some belief in genetic determinism bother be screened for genetic diseases, and the nocebo (destructive placebo) effect undeniably exists.

The sheer extremeness of some of the recoveries after brain damage shows that the idea of "indispensible modules" for mental tasks is flawed. This, among other things I have already mentioned, shows that radical remaking is necessary to explain it. And the example of arsenic worms, along with the other examples of natural genetic engineering I have mentioned, is also genuine. Why deny the connection when it makes logical sense that the gene-tweaking within all organisms is a key part of the plasticity? I was not attacking the whole field of genetics, I just considered modern evidence in genetics that conventional theories cannot explain and that supports the correction theory.

Another interesting example is that of language. No language uses all or even most of the grammatical structures that exist in the world. Also, the same holds true for phonemes. Some languages, including Polynesian languages, are very poor in phonemes. This shows that language does not need a wide range of phonemes and grammatical structures, which undercuts the assumption that natural selection should have favored a wide language ability spanning everything from Swedish to Chinese. The theory that it evolved to make languages different from each other to keep groups apart falls on the fact that a tribe can, geographically, only have a limied number of neighbouring tribes. Contact with more tribes beyond that requires peaceful relationships, and that favors understanding over difference. So no matter where in the "xenophobic versus peaceful" debate on the stone age you are, there never was a need for a wide language ability. I am proposing that learning new languages involves neurons gene-tweaking themselves. That theory can be tested by studying levels of DNA processing enzymes, reverse transcriptase, exosomes, harmless symbiotic viruses and so on in the cerebrospinal fluid of adopted children to see if it correlates with linguistic differences between biological and adoptive parents. By the way, the giant tortoise Mzee and the hippopotamus George spontaneously created a common system of rumbling communicative sounds neither typical of hippopotamuses nor of giant tortoises, this despite the fact that, according to evolutionary psychology, neither hippopotamuses nor giant tortoises should be capable of vocal learning. Evolutionary psychology claims that vocal learning only exists in five groups: humans, parrots, songbirds, cetaceans and hummingbirds. Hippopotamuses and giant tortoises belong to neither.

But on one point you are right: some of my digressions into genetics would be more appropriate on other threads. I suggest that we close and archive this particular thread (which have already made the point of its topic), and I start posting about new genetics research on other threads.
« Last Edit: 05/05/2013 19:20:34 by Martin J Sallberg »
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: What is the brain basis of blame?
« Reply #15 on: 05/05/2013 23:10:50 »
Yes, you are right. In your last post alone there are probably about 15 topics that would have to be considered separately!

Given the time we have spent on this discussion, I would like you to at least clearly understand my position, even if you don't agree, and if I could leave you with one closing thought of mine, it would be this: Just because a trait or disorder has a strong proven environmental factor, that doesn't exclude or disprove a genetic component as well. It's not always either/or. That is precisely why researchers use tools like twin studies to "tweeze out" mixed causes, and calculate the influence of both.   I've cited several examples of traits and disorders that seem to require both a genetic and environmental factor. Sometimes it takes two keys to unlock a single door, so to speak. (And that thought occurred to me today when I was fumbling around for both keys to open the door to my cottage to do spring cleaning!)
« Last Edit: 06/05/2013 02:23:08 by cheryl j »
 

Offline Martin J Sallberg

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Re: What is the brain basis of blame?
« Reply #16 on: 06/05/2013 04:50:41 »
Yes, you are right. In your last post alone there are probably about 15 topics that would have to be considered separately!

Given the time we have spent on this discussion, I would like you to at least clearly understand my position, even if you don't agree, and if I could leave you with one closing thought of mine, it would be this: Just because a trait or disorder has a strong proven environmental factor, that doesn't exclude or disprove a genetic component as well. It's not always either/or. That is precisely why researchers use tools like twin studies to "tweeze out" mixed causes, and calculate the influence of both.   I've cited several examples of traits and disorders that seem to require both a genetic and environmental factor. Sometimes it takes two keys to unlock a single door, so to speak. (And that thought occurred to me today when I was fumbling around for both keys to open the door to my cottage to do spring cleaning!)

And the point I was making is that even genetics is not fixed. The environment can change genetics. I have listed loads of examples of mechanisms for it. This makes the whole idea of a "genetic factor" separate from an "environmental factor" pointless. But I will discuss that more on other threads.
 

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Re: What is the brain basis of blame?
« Reply #16 on: 06/05/2013 04:50:41 »

 

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