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wyattstorch

Topic Suggestion: Koestler's GHOST IN THE MACHINE, r/K selection, and Epignetics

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Good afternoon. I was wondering if Stefan might be interested in taking up the topic of Arthur Koestler's GHOST IN THE MACHINE, as it may relate or dispute the r/K selection theory and the genotype/phenotype distincion, in relation.

In a nutshell: Koestler put forth the thesis of the "triunal brain" (reptilian, mammalian, and neo-cortex), and that the way these evolved together was something like nature "slapping" the neocortex onto the existing structures in such a way as to cause problems in communication and control between the three parts ("flight or flight" response as a result of previous experience, or even inherited experience, "amygdala hijacks", etc.) I'm wondering if this theory may be of more value than an epigenetic explanation, since it explains the problem debating "nature vs. nature" in this competing brain structures, and highlights the problem of conceptual abilty (or lack of, or of a refusal to think, etc) vs. more "primal" involuntary responses (the latter probably resulting from a genetic basis.). Koestler's book is a bit older, and some of the science is in question, by today's standards and findings, but it seems that the triunal brain theory is still accepted, with modifications. Assuming its validity, would this be seen as a competing theory to genetic r/K selection, or complimentary?

Thanks in advance,
Joe

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("flight or flight" response as a result of previous experience, or even inherited experience

Imagine two groups of animals. One has the fight or flight mechanism, the other one doesn't have it. Which group of animals is more likely to survive?

 

Quote

I'm wondering if this theory may be of more value than an epigenetic explanation

Mammals don't pass on epigenetic infromation.

 

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more "primal" involuntary responses (the latter probably resulting from a genetic basis

Later, not so primal responses are also largely genetic. At least in the way that information is processed.

 

Quote

triunal brain theory is still accepted, with modifications.

The current most accepted theory among neuro scientists ist the modular brain hypothesis.

Koestler is an amazing author with a lot of foresight. I enjoyed every one of his books, especially Darkness at Noon.

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17 hours ago, ofd said:

Imagine two groups of animals. One has the fight or flight mechanism, the other one doesn't have it. Which group of animals is more likely to survive?

 

Mammals don't pass on epigenetic infromation.

 

Later, not so primal responses are also largely genetic. At least in the way that information is processed.

 

The current most accepted theory among neuro scientists ist the modular brain hypothesis.

Koestler is an amazing author with a lot of foresight. I enjoyed every one of his books, especially Darkness at Noon.

"Mammals don't pass on epigenetic infromation. "

Forgive me if I suggested it. (I'm not sure if I did or not, actually.) I'm couldn't say for certain, one way or the other. My understanding of genetics is somewhat-educated layman; still learning. I'm aware that evolution is through species, not individuals, but still fuzzy on phenotypes vs genotypes, etc. I'm more aware of the controversies vs the actual science (i.e., tabula rasa vs inherited ideas, changes through birth vs. changes in individuals, etc.), not being a scientist, myself. The controversy surrounding epigenetics is interesting, to me, though.

Relatedly, I'm really interested in the whole controversy because of the idea (that I inherited from Ayn Rand) that ideas are more important drivers of history than physical changes. Because of the claims I've been reading about environmental effects on the individual genetics (like say, child abuse having a genetic effect), and the idea that if individuals don't change their ideas after a certain point, then what is needed is to have more children to affect long-term change, I've been thinking about the ideas vs physical changes even more. So the modal brain, neocortex/ideas vs primal brain and genes seems to be of importance in that discussion.

Edited by wyattstorch
Clarification

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1 hour ago, wyattstorch said:

still fuzzy on phenotypes vs genotypes

Genotype refers to the genetic code, phenotype refers to the appearance of the animal that results from that genetic code. The distinction is necessary because not all creatures that look the same are the same, and not all creatures that look different are different. So for instance, fish don't really exist from a genetic standpoint. Fish are phenotypically similar however their genetic codes are far more different from each other than the genetic codes of mammals. Conversely, a pug and a greyhound don't look like they're part of the same species however from a genetic standpoint they're virtually identical.

 

On 11/16/2017 at 8:11 PM, wyattstorch said:

In a nutshell: Koestler put forth the thesis of the "triunal brain" (reptilian, mammalian, and neo-cortex), and that the way these evolved together was something like nature "slapping" the neocortex onto the existing structures in such a way as to cause problems in communication and control between the three parts ("flight or flight" response as a result of previous experience, or even inherited experience, "amygdala hijacks", etc.)

That's just the theory of evolution. "Theory" as in the scientific use of the word "theory". Colloquially it should be referred to by as the fact of evolution.

Nature does not erase information, it builds on top. We still hold genes in us that date back from when we were worms.

On 11/16/2017 at 8:11 PM, wyattstorch said:

I'm wondering if this theory may be of more value than an epigenetic explanation

These 2 theories are not contradictory nor do they try to explain the same aspect of life. The first one (evolution) explains the process of life, the other (genetics/epigenetics) explains the underlying mechanism. You can have evolution without genes and genes without the pressures of evolution. We live on Earth and every Earth-type lifeform is DNA/RNA-based therefore evolution and genetics are linked.

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9 minutes ago, Wuzzums said:

Genotype refers to the genetic code, phenotype refers to the appearance of the animal that results from that genetic code. The distinction is necessary because not all creatures that look the same are the same, and not all creatures that look different are different. So for instance, fish don't really exist from a genetic standpoint. Fish are phenotypically similar however their genetic codes are far more different from each other than the genetic codes of mammals. Conversely, a pug and a greyhound don't look like they're part of the same species however from a genetic standpoint they're virtually identical.

 

That's just the theory of evolution. "Theory" as in the scientific use of the word "theory". Colloquially it should be referred to by as the fact of evolution.

Nature does not erase information, it builds on top. We still hold genes in us that date back from when we were worms.

These 2 theories are not contradictory nor do they try to explain the same aspect of life. The first one (evolution) explains the process of life, the other (genetics/epigenetics) explains the underlying mechanism. You can have evolution without genes and genes without the pressures of evolution. We live on Earth and every Earth-type lifeform is DNA/RNA-based therefore evolution and genetics are linked.

Thanks for the explanation. Followed it for the most part. Do you have any thoughts as to how this all might relate to the r/K selection topic I've been seeing so much about, lately, as that r/K theory is being applied to current sociological issues?

Thanks,
Joe

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Reminds me of the Ghost in the Machine speech from the movie "I, Robot".

"triunal brain" (reptilian, mammalian, and neo-cortex) - The r/K thing is something I have been thinking about with regards to this very matter. Right wing Conservatives less evolved, (but more selectively evolved) bigger neo-cortex. Liberals more evolved, (earlier births therefore more generations, but less selectively evolved), more reptilian or rat like etc, but with superior instincts in general. Kind of like the book The Time Machine or the movie Idiocracy also featuring a "Time Machine". Many thoughts on the subject, early where I am, tend to get caught up in thoughts, having less impulse control, evidently does have many advantages in modern society. 

Modular Brain - Would be interesting to learn a bit about how the modules interact. I remember from watching a J Peterson lecture, that the reason the eye doesn't have all colour sensitive light cells, including packing them into peripheral vision, is that there physically would not be enough space to "wire" all the cells into the visual cortex. What instead happens is the eye rapidly scans from a relatively small point and constructs an image, economising on space. Also something that if you cut out a Cat's neocortex(?) it retains 99% of it behaviours."You did it. You cut up his brain, you bloody baboon!" - Planet of the Apes

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1 hour ago, RichardY said:

Reminds me of the Ghost in the Machine speech from the movie "I, Robot".

"triunal brain" (reptilian, mammalian, and neo-cortex) - The r/K thing is something I have been thinking about with regards to this very matter. Right wing Conservatives less evolved, (but more selectively evolved) bigger neo-cortex. Liberals more evolved, (earlier births therefore more generations, but less selectively evolved), more reptilian or rat like etc, but with superior instincts in general. Kind of like the book The Time Machine or the movie Idiocracy also featuring a "Time Machine". Many thoughts on the subject, early where I am, tend to get caught up in thoughts, having less impulse control, evidently does have many advantages in modern society. 

Modular Brain - Would be interesting to learn a bit about how the modules interact. I remember from watching a J Peterson lecture, that the reason the eye doesn't have all colour sensitive light cells, including packing them into peripheral vision, is that there physically would not be enough space to "wire" all the cells into the visual cortex. What instead happens is the eye rapidly scans from a relatively small point and constructs an image, economising on space. Also something that if you cut out a Cat's neocortex(?) it retains 99% of it behaviours."You did it. You cut up his brain, you bloody baboon!" - Planet of the Apes

I haven't seen I, ROBOT...is that a speech directly addressed Koestler's GHOST IN THE MACHINE?

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11 hours ago, wyattstorch said:

Thanks for the explanation. Followed it for the most part. Do you have any thoughts as to how this all might relate to the r/K selection topic I've been seeing so much about, lately, as that r/K theory is being applied to current sociological issues?

Thanks,
Joe

In my view whether or not r/K has no genetic basis for it it doesn't mean it's not a valid evolutionary stratagem for humans. Language has no genetic basis to it but it's quintessential for the human experience. Knowing which person is r or K is like knowing which person speaks what language. r and K don't get along because they're speaking two different languages. They might be able to understand each other but once you're K for instance you'll always be K even if you can also speak r. You can't unlearn a language.

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Is r/K a binary (mutually exclusive) or a continuum (more than two languages grouped together by similar origins/branches)?

Is there a point of no return during development that results in the expression of r/K (related to brain plasticity)?

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On 11/28/2017 at 3:24 AM, luxfelix said:

Is r/K a binary (mutually exclusive) or a continuum (more than two languages grouped together by similar origins/branches)?

Is there a point of no return during development that results in the expression of r/K (related to brain plasticity)?

I'm still learning about this concept, myself, but my over-simplified understanding is that humans are considered to be "k" species, but some are more "k" than others. This is crucial for my idea, at the end of this...

Is there a "point of no return?" Well, that's the tricky question, and why I bring up Koestler...my Objectivish leanings, with the emphasis on free will and choice, say that adaption is possible, depending on the context. I do believe in free will. That said, there's something to be said about that Jesuit "Give me the child for his first seven years, and I'll give you the man." ( I think Molyneux has said something about the first 5 years, recently, on the Manson podcast.) Changable, but not infinitely so. That's where, for me, Koestler meets Jung (Jung did influence Koestler, re synchronicity. Here, I'll add that I personally find value in both of them, but reject the more "woo" explanations of Jung, as well as his Kantian influences...again, me being Objectivish...). Psychological complexes develop that shape an outlook, far more than genetics, in my view.

Stanton Samenow talks about this, in regards to criminals, malignant narcissists, etc, in INSIDE THE CRIMINAL MIND, about how certain thought patterns and mindsets become so entrenched that it is not genetics per se, but those defense mechanisms, that make certain people resistant to change. (And they have to WANT to change, to begin with.) Usually, he says, in order for that to happen, they have to become so disgusted with themselves, but that it's also rare, that they would rather fight to the death to protect their view of themselves than change. (Along the lines of the "first 5-7 years" idea, Samenow also urges early intervention for troubled children BEFORE their thought patterns can crystallize to the point of no return...)

But back to the r/K idea, which scientifically is about breeding and such, there's the idea that environmental factors can force change, i.e, resources drying up, etc. But we are more than animals, depending on the chance of nature providing; we are conceptual, and can recreate and guide conditions via farming, agriculture, etc. And it makes us not just a "predator" or "prey" species, but a "trader" species. (Not just being objectivish here, though I certainly am, but also pointing to something like Jane Jacob's so-callled "guardian" and "trader" syndromes (so-called, because she uses syndrome in a different sense than the common negative connotation). But if we are traders,  we can also interfere, for better or for worse, with Darwinian progress via social programs, welfare statism, etc...

That conceptual factor is demonstrated with the idea of the trickster. (To invoke Jung again, who wrote about such characters...) Tricksters often advanced change, often by accident, by emulating different animals, and adapting their traits and behaviors, to various effects. There is where I think the r/K theory, scientifically, interacts with the metaphorical social application of the theory to humans (if we truly are a "k" species, with some being more K than others...) And biologically, women can only have so many children at a time, compared to reptiles, which can birth hundreds, and generally are required to raise them, unlike reptiles, which are born ready-to-go. And yet, in the cases where r/K theory is applied to humans, we have women who have as many children as they can, for various purposes, and sometimes abandon them.  It's not just the genetic component, but the conceptual adaptation of other species behaviors (perhaps based on environmental choices or limitations faced similar to those of "r" species animals, that makes it SEEM as if some people are "r" and some are "K"...And that's where the Koestler "triune" brain idea intercepts, because we do have those more primitive brain structures that all animals share, but with the mammalian and cortex in addition. So the conceptual adaption of "r" behaviors in a "K" species becomes a unique phenomenon, and that's where the metaphor/comparison breaks down and humans, and becomes something more...


That's my theory.

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Hi @wyattstorch

Very interesting thread, lots of things for me to catch up on.

Have you heard about the '5 monkey and the ladder' social experiment? If yes, do you think it might have a role in the creation of epigenetic changes?

Barnsley

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I did a quick google search, thinking it was like the "100th monkey" anecdote (the one where the monkey washes the clams found on a beach in the water, and by the 100th monkey does it, the rest of the monkeys follow suit without having to be taught, or something like that...) This looks kinda, sorta, like that, but different...


 http://www.wisdompills.com/2014/05/28/the-famous-social-experiment-5-monkeys-a-ladder/


I don't know enough about epigenetics, personally, to say if there's a a cause and effect here, or causation-correlation (I'm at the stage of learning the controversy, not the science, myself, and I tend towards "if-then" logic in the absence of full knowledge.)  But it does look like the 5 monkeys story is disputed, however.

 http://message.snopes.com/showthread.php?t=55731


http://www.throwcase.com/2014/12/21/that-five-monkeys-and-a-banana-story-is-rubbish/

(Which is my concern about epigenetic and r/K claims, in general. Not that I think r/K theory itself is a problem, but the applications beyond its original scope call for scrutiny. And I'm always on the lookout for reification. For example, it's my understanding that the person who developed the "alpha male" theory has since debunked that theory, based on faulty observation about wolves. According to a wiki entry:

"Researcher L. David Mech, one of the primary creators of the Alpha male hypothesis for wolves, later found additional evidence that the concept of an Alpha male may have been an erroneous interpretation of incomplete data and formally disavowed this terminology in 1999. He explained that it was heavily based on the behavior of captive packs consisting of unrelated individuals, an error reflecting the once prevailing view that wild pack formation occurred in winter among independent gray wolves. Later research on wild gray wolves revealed that the pack is usually a family consisting of a breeding pair and its offspring of the previous 1–3 years.[16]

Mech, L. David. (1999). "Alpha status, dominance, and division of labor in wolf packs". Canadian Journal of Zoology. 77 (8): 1196–1203. doi:10.1139/z99-099. Archived from the original on 2005-12-14.

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3 hours ago, wyattstorch said:

I did a quick google search, thinking it was like the "100th monkey" anecdote (the one where the monkey washes the clams found on a beach in the water, and by the 100th monkey does it, the rest of the monkeys follow suit without having to be taught,

Huh.

I did not know that. Thanks.

Yes, you found my meaning nevertheless.

Before I proceed, a few caveats.

I'm a little bit more than a complete amateur... by a smidgen = I can ask questions.

I think it is important to frame any human/biologically related argument with the supplement of the 'existence of consciousness'... sorry for 'tossing the wrench in the works' I didn't start it.

Also, paradoxes are (I think) good... eh?! , no... they are necessary, while at the same time structured so there's hope...I, eh... I mean work to do.

3 hours ago, wyattstorch said:

the applications beyond its original scope call for scrutiny. And I'm always on the lookout for reification. For example, it's my understanding that the person who developed the "alpha male" theory has since debunked that theory, based on faulty observation about wolves. According to a wiki entry:

"Researcher L. David Mech, one of the primary creators of the Alpha male hypothesis for wolves, later found additional evidence that the concept of an Alpha male may have been an erroneous interpretation of incomplete data and formally disavowed this terminology in 1999.

I did not know that. Thanks.

Sounds like a guy who's got a spine. Good scientist. He withdrew it, which is not disproving but...

I heard thanks to Jordan B. Peterson about Dr. Jaak Pansepp (and his colleagues), from here I'm clumsily summarising... discovering in rats that if the stronger rat didn't allow the weaker to 'win' at a certain rate the partner in play would not propose in the future again. (until here) (Pass the ball or I won't play with you again.)

Ergo it's easy to conclude that for authority/hierarchy that lasts longer than a quick flame, pure coercion isn't the right path even amongst with lesser intellectual potential... nevermind consciousness or levels/varieties of it(not proven entirely, though no buildings, culture and heritage in the animal kingdom apart from the biological, plus we use our standards... etc.)

Jordan B. Peterson than mentioned monkeys showing parallel dynamics, ...(I laughed so hard at the snarky comment, he really has a way with words)

Tieing things together a bit.

From what I came to understand (low retention, I'm average by I.Q. 'n stuff, occasionally hypocrite) until now listening, reading about evolution of biological and other 'passed down' information :

1. definitely there's r/K selection but it's within social dynamics, especially amongst humans (that, I'd give a 10/10)

2. ideas, as long as humans think do matter more than our biological evolution (4-5 generations ago a large number of currently breathing people would have been dead 7times over and it's a conservative estimate)

3. But! Just as the quality of rest matters when you exert yourself, so than rather something light after moving a mountain you indulge in something that is much more rewarding...

People who have been through hell and back might (I theorise) still find the way to not become inanimate object-like deterministic golems. I doubt any other specie has anything even close to that gift.

What are the limits to our brain plasticity? Would we be able to observe a complete reversal of previously labeled mindsets as 'irreversible' if the incentives were changed or the life-span got extended by a  1000years?

Some of these questions are interesting but take us away from the present. (I know, I started it)

Allow me to ask you why are you seeking answers? Would I be wrong by guessing you are after the boundaries / limitations?

Barnsley

P.S. : You should remind me if I forgot or didn't respond to something you hoped I was going to.

and

rats playing (Dr Jaak Pansepp and his team)

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Oh, going on the idea of Jung, tricksters, and r/K selection theory: Stephan M mentions, in one of his presentations, that he didn't think that "r"'s were all bad, because they can introduce innovations and variations that are sometimes needed. I agree with that sentiment, but here, I'd propose an alternative explanation: that if humans are actually a "K" species, then the Trickster archetype, as a bringer of conceptual paradigm shifts, offers the same desired result, as a result of creative integration, and relies less on a genetic theory and more on a conceptual capability. 

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Hi, Barn. Thanks for sharing that.

I've only a few minutes to respond to all this...but your question: "Allow me to ask you why are you seeking answers? Would I be wrong by guessing you are after the boundaries / limitations?"

I could probably write a book on that topic...

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"P.S. : You should remind me if I forgot or didn't respond to something you hoped I was going to."

Nothing specific, just taking in what insights people have to offer on the topic.

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