Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Truth in the Myth - 10% of the Brain


Brain is an organ that serves as the center of the nervous system in all vertebrate and most invertebrate animals. Its function is to exert centralized control over the other organs of the body both by generating patterns of muscle activity and by driving the secretion of chemicals called hormones.

Mind is that which enables a being to have subjective awareness and intentionality towards their environment, to perceive and respond to stimuli with some kind of agency, and to have consciousness, including thinking and feeling.  It is the set of cognitive faculties that enables consciousness, perception, thinking, judgment, and memory.

 ***************

Jackals Home - There are a couple Sci-Fi movies coming out where Scarlett Johansen wears an unflattering wig, and until recently, I thought they were the somehow the same film, that she was a drug mule who becomes a seductive alien that preys on men, but apparently that's not so.

The just-released trailer for "Lucy" is the one where she's a drug mule, and OD's, and rather than becoming a seductive man-vampire from planet badwig, she becomes a human Wii-fi hotspot with everything Magneto powers. And a shapeshifting bad wig. Which is fine.

I watch a lot of Sci-Fi movies from the 50's, and there's a lot of clowny goofass science in them. Spaceships are insanely roomy and optimistic, Interplanetary speeds are laughably quick, creatures mutate into giants based on their sulfur intake, radiation can do basically anything--stuff's just kinda based on guessy science. "This seems sciencey! Go with it."

But those movies come from a time when we knew a lot less than we do now. Now, it's one thing when a movie like Phantom Menace has a throwaway line about "dioxis" gas--it's not really a Sci-Fi film, it's inherently a fantasy, complete with wizards and noble knights.

But look, people who made Lucy, if you're selling me on something that takes place in a setting resembling the "real' world, then having Morgan Freeman use his gravitas to repeat the bullshit "humans only use 10% of their brain" old wives tale, (while playing a fucking scientist) then you might as well try to sell me a movie where ScarJo's humors were supercharged by contact with specially fed leeches.  It's fucking nonsense, and it sounds stupid. It's never been a real contention, in science, ever. It's certainly not something that people can reasonably believe in 2014. And you should have tried harder for your science fiction premise.

Brendan Howard - Kind of agree. 

Valkyrie Page - I would like to hope that today's science fiction actually has something to do with speculating on what might be possible in the future. When it comes to movies, it seems to have more to do with what sexy person they can put in scanty or skin-tight clothes. *sigh*

Lars DeRuntz - Same thoughts here. Glad my sci-fi bs meter is on target.

Lars DeRuntz - Lets give Morgan Freeman some credit. Maybe he really needs the money?

Karlton Little - Lol @ "humors".

Julia R. - Man that's a shitty gun lol

Valkyrie Page - It does what it says, though. Truth in advertising.

Jackals Home - I don't blame actors for being stuck with dopey writing, and I especially don't blame Morgan Freeman, because he was once a Dracula teaching me how to read: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wp0-yDJAtWQ

Tim M. - That 10% of your brain thing is the easiest way to get me to lose interest in a movie.

Jackals Home - It literally originated through a misunderstanding of something someone said in the 19th century. It's not fresh fodder for a 21st century Sci-Fi story.

Lars DeRuntz - They want viewers that only use 10% of their brains.

Brian Poe - The really shitty thing isn't how bad the premise is.  It's that it's from Luc Besson of 5th Element and Leon the Professional fame.  He can make campy fun scifi (like 5th Element) and he can do gritty modern (Leon) but I don't know what this is trying to be.  I think he should be giving us something better. 

Muhammad Rasheed - Seems like they can correct the problem of the literal inaccuracy, but still retain the fun concept that has intrigued all the sci-fi writers, by simply replacing 'brain' with 'mind.'  

Jackals Home - That 10% number is the problem, but if Morgan Freeman wanted to talk about a vague notion of "untapped human potential," I'd be way more likely to let it slide, even in a movie where a drug can teach you krav maga in ten seconds.

Muhammad Rasheed - In elementary school back in Detroit we learned that the brain itself is just as active when we're asleep as it is during full consciousness.  So I always just interpreted the "10% of the brain" concept as "10% of the mind."  A lot of people tend to coast on basic (similar to your argument as to why people follow the religion they do... because it's what they grew up with), so "10% of the mind" doesn't really seem too farfetched to me. 

Jackals Home - I'm sure 'humors' didn't seem farfetched to people in Ben Franklin's time, either, but if you grew up with the scientific literacy of the average victorian offal sweeper, maybe 'high tech sci-fi thriller' isn't the clearest sea to sail your art boat in.

Muhammad Rasheed - Like, pick a person with a good example of a "full life."  Someone who's accomplished a lot of impressive things, really contributed to society... basically made their mark in history and will be remembered.  Now compare this person to a lazy couch potato type person.  Of course both of their physical brains are 100% active, but how much of their minds are each taking advantage of? 

That's how I interpret that "10% of the brain" concept when it's repeated in fiction.

Jackals Home - Now imagine how many burn centers there would be in Florida if rockets were designed using hypothetical philosophical semantics instead of physics.

Muhammad Rasheed - It’s not just semantics.  The brain itself is a machine that does what it does outside of our conscious thought, that’s what makes “10% of the brain” a myth technically.  The machine functions at 100% capacity unless the owner is disabled.  The mind is the part we actually control:

“…mind is that which enables a being to have subjective awareness and intentionality towards their environment, to perceive and respond to stimuli with some kind of agency, and to have consciousness, including thinking and feeling.  It is the set of cognitive faculties that enables consciousness, perception, thinking, judgment, and memory.”

The mind is the part that the average human often demonstrates the usage of only a small percentage.  We have to apply ourselves to unleash our full potential, to make that rocket function properly.

Jackals Home - "it's not just semantics"

goes on to explain the semantic difference between mind and brain

Muhammad Rasheed - ["Fortunately I always keep mah feathers numbered for just such an emergency."]

Muhammad Rasheed - I said it's not just semantics, meaning it's not using 'brain' and 'mind' interchangeably to ultimately make no difference in the argument.  If they switched it to "10% of the mind" instead, it would fix the problem and no longer be technically wrong, which seems to be the point of the issue in your topic.

Jackals Home - If Morgan Freeman was playing an aw shucks Oprah-ready power of positive thinking bullshit peddler, who happened to encounter someone who OD'ed on self-actualization seminars and became an expert at Wi-Fi Krav maga fighting, that would make for a fertile narrative area to harvest.

If we're talking about chemistry, biology, and physics, having a basis in some science is more appropriate. 

Rather than the brain being this inscrutable thing, we're reaching the point where mental disorders are more likely to be diagnosed and treated with purely biological tools.  The NIMH is moving away from using the DSM, in favor of therapies with testable, predictable, and repeatable results.

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/director/2013/transforming-diagnosis.shtml

TL:DR In the world of facts, the brain is the mind.

Muhammad Rasheed - The mind powers down during sleep, while the brain is still at 100% functionality, so that's not true.  The mind is the conscious you, while the brain is the organ that houses it. 

Jackals Home - That should be the title of your new self-actualization seminar.

the Mind Powers Down during Sleep by Dr. Phil Rasheed.

Explaining how the unconscious you can empower the conscious you!

Appearing wednesday at the Council Bluffs Ramada Inn ballroom

don't park at Stuckeys, they will tow

Muhammad Rasheed - I don't have a self-actualization seminar.  I'm talking about the 10% concept and how it breaks down for the stories to work.

Jackals Home - And if you're still ready to count on a 19th-century misunderstanding as to how the brain functions to move your narrative, then you and Luc Besson will get along fine.

Muhammad Rasheed - Was that the "untapped human potential" reference from earlier?

Jackals Home - I don't understand the question. "Untapped human potiential" is vague but denotative, in that it can describe a panoply of things that human beings, as biological instruments, can be conditioned to do better (develop quicker reflexes, take a punch better, jump higher, be better at math, heal from injuries more easily). It implies a state of address toward a biological whole, addressing a wide spectrum of biological processes in order to effect change.

Replacing the scientifically specific "brain" with the semantically-squishy "mind" or "chakras" or "psyche" or "aura" is fine, narratively, unless the character speaking that line is supposed to be a scientist. Otherwise, it's the language of the charlatan.

If you have tumor that's giving you seizures, you go to a brain surgeon not a mindologist.

but wat if mind means motivation or abilfying successness tho 

Muhammad Rasheed - Jackals Home wrote: "I don't understand the question."

Earlier you said, "...but if Morgan Freeman wanted to talk about a vague notion of "untapped human potential..." and I wondered if that referenced the "19th-century misunderstanding" you mentioned.  What was the 19th-century misunderstanding?

Jackals Home wrote: "Replacing the scientifically specific 'brain' with the semantically-squishy 'mind...'"

I wasn't aware that the word 'mind' was part of mystical/pseudo-science terminology, Jackals Home.  When did that happen?

Jackals Home -  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_percent_of_brain_myth#Origin

Find me a scientist who talks about treating the "mind" then. You're only going to find psychiatrists, and like I said, the winds of change are sweeping across treating mental health as something separate from bodily health. In 50 years, the DSM will be considered as antiquated as Pliny's Natural History.

Muhammad Rasheed -  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_science

“Cognitive science is an interdisciplinary field of researchers from psychology, neuroscience, linguistics, philosophy, computer science, and anthropology that seek to understand the mind.”

"How We Learn: Ask the Cognitive Scientist"
http://www.aft.org/newspubs/periodicals/ae/summer2002/willingham.cfm

Muhammad Rasheed - Jackals Home wrote: "...and like I said, the winds of change are sweeping across treating mental health as something separate from bodily health. In 50 years, the DSM will be considered as antiquated as Pliny's Natural History."

Fifty years from now I would hope all of these disciplines would've made phenomenal leaps & bounds, taking us further in scientific progress, aiding in our understanding of the universe.  The NIMH link you posted described only the tweaking of terminology that they were using, based on still flawed models: "The strength of each of the editions of DSM has been “reliability” – each edition has ensured that clinicians use the same terms in the same ways. The weakness is its lack of validity. Unlike our definitions of ischemic heart disease, lymphoma, or AIDS, the DSM diagnoses are based on a consensus about clusters of clinical symptoms, not any objective laboratory measure."

Muhammad Rasheed - From your Wiki link it would seem that the idea "that people only meet a fraction of their full mental potential," paraphrased from William James and Boris Sidis, turned out to be true indeed based on the success the Sidis family had in using his methods in raising up their child prodigy experiment. 

Jackals Home - Cognitive science is a philosophical grab bag of distinct concepts, and it examines the origins of thought (If you look at the link for Neuroscience, you'll find it to be the study of the nervous system, for example).

It's not a "science" in and of itself, and It certainly doesn't treat "the mind" as an instrumentality separate from the brain. Tediously, you've answered something slightly to the left and south of my question, failing to find me a scientist who treats "the mind" rather than the brain, instead finding me a philosopher's circle of people who seek to establish a baseline for what thought is, then doing a little "ta-daa!"

If Morgan Freeman was playing a philosopher, linguistics expert, or computer programmer who was exploring what constitutes consciousness, again, I wouldn't find the premise annoying. But that character would be more appropriate for a remake of Short Circuit, or that movie where Johnny Depp is playing Evil Max Headroom.

"Unlike our definitions of ischemic heart disease, lymphoma, or AIDS, the DSM diagnoses are based on a consensus about clusters of clinical symptoms, not any objective laboratory measure."

Welcome to planet "the premise." It's almost like scientific data should be rigorously tested.

"William James Boris Sids blah blah"

Sample size of one kid, a claim they never made (10% of brain hur dur), and Dr. Phil Rasheed sees "a success." Yeah, no, I'm not gonna debunk every claim in the universe for you while your contention squirms all over the place like a hot buttered bar of soap on ice.

Muhammad Rasheed - James wrote: “Cognitive science is a philosophical grab bag of distinct concepts…”

Is that how you decided to interpret “interdisciplinary field of researchers?” 

James wrote: “…and it examines the origins of thought…”

Meanwhile the link specifically stated “that seek to understand the mind.”  Remember the part where you said, “Find me a scientist who talks about treating the "mind" then?”

That’s why that is relevant.

James wrote: “(If you look at the link for Neuroscience, you'll find it to be the study of the nervous system, for example).”

Mm.  It turns out if I look at any of the listed disciplines that make up the ‘interdisciplinary field of researchers’ of cognitive science, Behold!  I will discover that each is the study of a specialty item.  

James wrote: “It's not a "science" in and of itself…

Meanwhile that’s exactly what it is, with its own peer reviewed journal.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_Science_%28journal%29

James wrote: “…and It certainly doesn't treat "the mind" as an instrumentality separate from the brain.”

“It brings together researchers from many fields who hold the common goal of understanding the nature of the human mind.”

Neuroscience specifically studies the brain and nervous system, it being a component of the greater interdisciplinary field of researchers that come together to study the higher abstract concept of the mind.  They’re linked in some way as yet not fully understood, but not the same.

James wrote: “Tediously, you've answered something slightly to the left and south of my question, failing to find me a scientist who treats "the mind" rather than the brain…”

Oh?

James wrote: “…instead finding me a philosopher's circle of people who seek to establish a baseline for what thought is…”

‘Thought’ is merely one of the things that the mind does.

James wrote: “…then doing a little ‘ta-daa!’"

You know my ‘ta-daa!’ moment was awesome, stop playing.

James wrote: “If Morgan Freeman was playing a philosopher, linguistics expert, or computer programmer…”

It hasn’t escaped my notice that you keep downplaying the force and scope of the interdisciplinary field of researcher components of cognitive science by leaving out neuroscience, anthropology, and AI… presumably because you consider them “real science” and they throw a monkey wrench into your argument.

INTELLECTUAL DISHONESTY

James wrote: “…who was exploring what constitutes consciousness, again, I wouldn't find the premise annoying. But that character would be more appropriate for a remake of Short Circuit, or that movie where Johnny Depp is playing Evil Max Headroom.”

I get it.  It doesn’t seem like it should be real science to you, so you wish to immediately stop funding and label them heretics or whatever.  Not an unusual reaction; we’ve seen that mindset before. 

James wrote: “"Unlike our definitions of ischemic heart disease, lymphoma, or AIDS, the DSM diagnoses are based on a consensus about clusters of clinical symptoms, not any objective laboratory measure."

Welcome to planet "the premise." It's almost like scientific data should be rigorously tested.”

In this case, by NIMH’s own admission from the link you posted, their data currently lacks both validity and objectivity, which leaves behind the invalid premise, subjective opinion, wishes, faith, and belief.  Interesting.   

James wrote: “"William James Boris Sids blah blah"

Sample size of one kid, a claim they never made (10% of brain hur dur)…”

According to the Wiki link you posted, the claim they DID make is that “people only meet a fraction of their full mental potential,” and using my own example of the accomplished historical figure versus the lazy couch potato, 10% of their MIND is probably being generous.  I agree that “10% of the brain” would be technically inaccurate as I learned back in elementary school.

James wrote: “…and Dr. Phil Rasheed sees ‘a success.’"

[takes a bow]

James wrote: “Yeah, no, I'm not gonna debunk every claim in the universe for you…”

You called that “debunking,” eh?  Seemed more like an intellectually dishonest tantrum. 

James wrote: “…while your contention squirms all over the place like a hot buttered bar of soap on ice.”

Well, you’ve certainly just proven yourself expert in the field of slippery contention.  You would know it when you saw it, so you can have that one.

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