Jennifer Simon (nomis-refinnej) Thu 25 Sep 08 10:53
More paradox than contradiction there.
Alan Fletcher (af) Thu 25 Sep 08 13:18
Ah, but the sentence without the framing "but" would have been off-topic!
Jennifer Simon (nomis-refinnej) Thu 25 Sep 08 13:46
I thought one wasn't supposed to begin sentences with conjunctions. Going off-topic would be a minor offense by comparison, if you had gone off-topic, but the Paulson plan (such as it is) was relevant. Any port for wedging in a good link will do in a storm, however, so thanks!
Alan Fletcher (af) Thu 25 Sep 08 15:01
*BUT* Anatole Kaletsky of The Times .... *BUT* as the cross-examination rolled on ... If it's good enough for The Times it's good enough for me!
Jennifer Simon (nomis-refinnej) Thu 25 Sep 08 15:10
*AND* that means I can do it without compunction, too. *BUT* I've traded that for being guilty of going off-topic. I'll shut up now.
What is going to amuse our bouches now? (bumbaugh) Sat 27 Sep 08 13:12
Topic? We're expected to stay on topic? Here's another topic you take on in the book, Gary: mental illness. How is it that the "disorders [of the mentally ill] may well have their beginnings in neural vulnerabilities that we all share?" (Topical aside: I've seen references to research that denial is necessary for happiness--that people who see the world most "realistically" are more likely to be depressed. That seems to run counter to the "kluginess-leads- to-mental-illness" idea.)
Gary Marcus (gary-marcus) Sun 28 Sep 08 20:30
Interesting questions. I should warn you at the outset that I'm not trained as a clinical psychologist, so I'm speaking a bit outside my expertise here. But here's my take. 1. The literature on so-called depressive realism is actually pretty mixed. Wikipedia actually has a nice, balanced summary here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depressive_realism. 2. My own best guess is that relative to happy people, people who are depressed are more realistic about some things (e.g., risks, dangers, and negative occurrence) but less realistic about others (e.g. their own personal successes, likely future prospects, etc). 3. Which leads to the broader point I was trying to make in "Things Fall Apart" (the chapter in Kluge to which you refer): our basic mental architecture often leads into unfortunate feedback loops. Because of the way our memory works, negative thoughts tend to breed more negative thoughts. Have a fight with your boss, and you start to think about why people in general can't be trusted, and why your neighbor annoys you. Next thing you know, you're drinking whisky and listening to breakup songs. Negativity dredges up negative memories, and those dredge up still further negativity. 4. In this way, at leastpart of mental illness comes from not being able to reason systematically and objectively about the world, and that's a weakness in the human mind in general, but one that gets exacerbated in cases of mental illness. 5. It's no accident that many forms of therapy (e.g cognitive therapy) aim at getting people to overcome bad mental habits, such as overgeneralization from small sample sizes. Kluginess doesn't explain the entirety of mental illness, but it may well be a major contributor, that predisposes the species as a whole.
Jennifer Simon (nomis-refinnej) Sun 28 Sep 08 20:58
Very interesting, thanks.
Maria Rosales (rosmar) Mon 29 Sep 08 08:08
"Next thing you know, you're drinking whisky and listening to breakup songs." Sound right to me.
What is going to amuse our bouches now? (bumbaugh) Mon 29 Sep 08 08:31
Sounds like a great way to pass an evening. As long as one knows when/how to call it a night. Better with the right company, too, now that I think about it. Gary, that business about "getting people to overcome bad mental habits" is an important theme of your book, but we haven't said all that much about it here. What are some of the concrete things you talk about in the book that you can suggest to people here on the Well or following along on the Web?
Gail Williams (gail) Tue 30 Sep 08 13:36
I noticed that the Amazon page for the book cited "Make contingency plans" as one of the practical lessons of the book. I sometimes think that the problem with being upbeat, positive and not prone to depression while also running negative scenarios is that it is a little bit crazy holding those two worldviews at the same time. Be paranoid and be confident, simultaneously. That seems to the the instruction for many life situations, and it has a hhigh likelihood of making one feel a little bit inauthentic, at the least.
Dana Reeves (dana) Wed 1 Oct 08 16:54
Thank you, Gary and Bruce. It's time to focus on another discussion, but please feel free to continue here as long as you like.
Cogito? (robertflink) Thu 2 Oct 08 06:48
Since the uncertain world offers both opportunity and hazards, it is interesting that a mind that reflected this might feel inauthentic. A statement like: "I feel most authentic when I am seeing what I want to see" suggests that I feel real when my ego feels satisfied. Can we go beyond this and should we?
Gary Marcus (gary-marcus) Thu 2 Oct 08 07:06
Addressing both Bruce and Gail, the idea behind "making contingency plans" (one of my own favorite suggestions in the final section of Kluge) was the following: There's a (klugey!) split in our brains between ancestral mechanisms that work primarily by reflex, and modern deliberative systems that allow us to make long-term plans. The trouble is that the older system, perhaps simply in virtue of being older, holds the steering wheel. So the human condition is to form long term plans ("lose weight", "get good grades", "be nice to my parents") and then fail in the heat of the moment -- when the reflexive system often takes over -- to follow those long term plans. We end up eating milkshakes instead of dieting, playing video games instead of studying, and snapping at (and overreacting) to those we love -- and regretting it later. A contingency plan, as I use the term (based on research by my NYU colleague Peter Gollwitzer) is a specific "if I am in X situation, take Y action" plan -- and a tool for outwitting your inner kluge. Rather than saying "I need to eat better", which is vague and easy to forget, say "when I see a chocolate cake, I will sit on my hands." The beauty of this seemingly simple change is that it allows the modern deliberative systems to *speak the language* of the older reflexive systems. So even if the impetuous reflexive systems aren't listening to the more-thought-through plans of the deliberative systems, you can still achieve your goals.
What is going to amuse our bouches now? (bumbaugh) Thu 2 Oct 08 08:30
That's great, Gary. Thanks so much for joining us for this conversation!
Gail Williams (gail) Thu 2 Oct 08 10:52
Interesting ideas. Thanks! My impetuous reflexive systems still think my thought-through approach is inauthentic, (each aspect probably sees the other as the monkey-mind), but now I understand why that conflict leaves me unanchored.
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