Friday, September 30, 2011

Mind...what a waste

I want to make clear a couple of points I raised in Wednesday class; they have to do with my intellectual orientation to the study of human behavior.

First and foremost, I am a behaviorist. This means that I observe everything that humans do in terms of behavior. This includes thinking, feeling, etc. As such, the purpose of a human science is to explain or account for behavior. I do this by using the evidence generated by research conducted by behavior analysts. Why? Because after years of consideration, I have concluded that they have the best empirical evidence to support their claims. In addition, many claims made by behaviorists have been confirmed through other research.

Second...please don't think that because I reject the notion of "mind" that you have to as you don't. Your acceptance or rejection of this claim has no bearing on how well you do in the course. The reason I reject it is because I believe that the issue is explaining behavior (see above) and I think the addition of something called, "mind" to do that is unnecessary and misleading.

In addition, if we posit that people act because of mind, we have a problem...mind is an immaterial object...this means that it has no empirically identifiable properties (you can't touch, taste, hear, see, nor smell it). As such it is similar to a "ghost" or "spirit" and these notions are rejected by scientists because we cannot verify the existence of them. Put simply, based on what science has demonstrated after hundreds of years of application is that an immaterial object (mind) cannot control a material object (body). If we accept this premise, we have no reason to use the scientific method anymore because it is rendered useless since it is based on empirical observations.

So, what does work to control human behavior? This is still not well understood, but we know that the brain plays a part (if not THE part). Notice how a brain is not the same as the "mind." The brain has an empirical reality, whereas mind does not. So, if we want to find out the role that brain plays in human behavior, we have something to work with. Many people will say, "mind" when they are really referring to brain; I prefer to just say, "brain" if that is what I am being referring to.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Not me

I realized today that I am not the source of my own life. I don't animate myself. I did not create my life. I am something that's been created. Consequently, I am a fiction. BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Recent rant on a list-serv...

RE: students not being able to pass the citizenship test and/or not being aware of current events...
I, too think that this is disconcerting, however, I am not that surprised. Given that our economy is one of consumption, it makes sense that students (and others) are busy consuming...entertainment, food, time through the ubiquitous use of social media, etc., at the expense of "school." School inevitably loses in the competition for attention, if for no other reason, our marketing budget is far, far less than that of the entertainment (read "product sales of any kind") industry. Let's be realistic, they out-spend us annually by billions of dollars. Who can compete against Xbox? Facebook? iPhones? Chili's? American Apparel? Consider that students are exposed to thousands of ads on a daily basis for these "products" and weigh that consideration against paying attention to stuff that is decidedly NOT entertaining...politics? social unrest in other parts of the world? genocide? nuclear meltdowns? "Nah, pass the chips and salsa, the remote for the Tivo, and the Corona...I got better things to do (like entertain myself) than watch this depressing crap."
Don't forget, we are also dealing with the leftover (now reheating) "culture wars" which equated being educated with being an elitist or, God forbid, a liberal (several years ago I had a student in class state that, "Science was a liberal endeavor"). And many states are cutting funding for education in a hopeless attempt to balance budgets, AND the unemployment rate is still high, AND the feds are cutting education funding...makes sense to me that more kids are opting for entertainment VS reality -- hell, reality sucks. Entertainment is...entertaining!!!
Last time I heard about "job creation" it was the creation of lower-paying (i.e., not much education required) jobs, so who needs to "waste time" getting an education when it isn't going to pay off? I have seen articles in various mediums discussing how getting a college education isn't worth the money! Plus, most of my students work AND go to school, so when they are not busy with family, school, entertainment, they are working (consequently "entertainment" is most appealing).
In sum, I think we are fighting the proverbial uphill battle; I don't know how we are faring in the war, but it sure seems like we ain't winning.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Email to some friends...

Mother Nature is awesome...I think she does these things to remind us humans that despite all of the BS we tell ourselves, we ain't runnin' shit, SHE is in charge.

For better or for worse (worse in this case), nuclear power IS the best solution (currently) to the massive energy needs that we, China, India, Japan, et al have right now. If you set aside the dangers (hard to, I agree), it IS the cleanest form of energy production that we have on the scale that we need (and we ARE going to run out of oil someday). Sure, passive is great, but it is not at the capacity to replace traditional forms of energy just yet. I wouldn't be surprised if the reason solar and other sources are not more available is BECAUSE of oil companies, nuclear energy companies, etc. But unless we want to return to a pre-industrialized form of society (i.e., no electricity), then this is what we are stuck with. At Dharma Farm (our place), we are try to live with the least amount of energy, but not easy to do.

War...I have come to respect the people in the military -- they are all brave people (far braver than I). What pisses me off is how American Presidents use these people in such a cavalier fashion -- doesn't matter what President. I also think that our choice of wars reveals the duplicity of our government. There are "humanitarian" crises in many places around the globe (Darfur, Ivory Coast, etc.), but we don't give enough of a shit about them to enact a no-fly zone. Here we come back to the energy issue again -- sure seems to me that we only decide that a conflict requires military intervention when our "national interests" (read: access to energy resources) are threatened. I would have far more respect for leaders if they were at least honest with populations -- "We really don't give a rat's ass about the Libyan people, we are kicking the shit out of Gaddhafi because we need the oil underneath Libyan soil." And the reason for increasing gas prices around the world is NOT due to a lack of oil from Libya (Saudi is making up for any reduction), it is ONLY because of speculators -- the same assholes who brought us the financial meltdown that we are still reeling from. Of course, THEY get the bailouts while we get the shaft. BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop