Panpsychism, pansignaling, and Buddhism

Panpsychism means “all mind” or mind in all things, with an emphasis on cognition being a fundamental aspect or part of nature.

Pansignaling means “all signaling” or signaling in all things, with an emphasis on signaling being a fundamental aspect or part of nature.

I like the term pansignaling because it gets us to look at the signals, without which there is nothing.

Another word that is close to these two is panexperientialism, which connotes that “the fundamental elements of the universe are ‘occasions of experience’ which can together create something as complex as a human being.”

These ideas or similar can be found in the Huayan and Tiantai schools of Buddhism.

Highly recommend giving these ideas some thought and reading the links provided above.

I  tend to favor thinking of this stuff from the signaling point of view. A signal can be found, defined, analyzed, and so on. A signal is a fairly objective thing. When we consider signals and consciousness, it is very natural to consider that signals are parts of networks and that networks can be parts of bigger networks.

As I understand it, panexperientialism holds the view that atoms have experience, and that molecules have experience as do the atoms that make them up… and so on till we get to cells, organs, brains, human consciousness. Human consciousness, which is fundamentally experiential, is what humans mainly think of as experience. At all levels, the “parts” of human consciousness also are conscious or cognizant and thus capable of experience. Thus, there is no mind-body problem. Cognition or awareness is part of nature from the very bottom up. For example, a single bacterium can know to move toward something or away from it.

Life is “anti-entropic signaling networks” that organize, self-organize, combine, cooperate, compete, eat, and change constantly. From this, we can see where impermanence and delusion as described in Buddhism come from.

The signal may be wrong and it cannot but change, as must you.

People suck at judging others

A new study indicates that “it is incredibly easy to be mistaken” about another human being’s intentions.

Dr Warren Mansell, lead author of the study, said:

We think we know what someone is doing just by observing them… But our study shows that it is incredibly easy to be mistaken… In psychological research, for example, this study suggests that some behaviour studied may be no more than a side effect of participants’ true intentions. (Source)

Dr Mansell says that if you want to know people’s true intentions, you need to ask them. His study is designed to help psychologists and others be better at changing people’s unwanted behaviors, but it really applies to all of us because none of us is good at inferring the true intentions of others without asking them.

The study is here: Control blindness: Why people can make incorrect inferences about the intentions of others.

The abstract:

There is limited evidence regarding the accuracy of inferences about intention. The research described in this article shows how perceptual control theory (PCT) can provide a “ground truth” for these judgments. In a series of 3 studies, participants were asked to identify a person’s intention in a tracking task where the person’s true intention was to control the position of a knot connecting a pair of rubber bands. Most participants failed to correctly infer the person’s intention, instead inferring complex but nonexistent goals (such as “tracing out two kangaroos boxing”) based on the actions taken to keep the knot under control. Therefore, most of our participants experienced what we call “control blindness.” The effect persisted with many participants even when their awareness was successfully directed at the knot whose position was under control. Beyond exploring the control blindness phenomenon in the context of our studies, we discuss its implications for psychological research and public policy.

I would maintain that all people very often “fail to correctly infer” the intentions of people interacting with them and that this effect snowballs, thus causing either confusion or retreat to easily shared social norms (which may themselves also be misunderstood).

FIML practice is designed to overcome this problem for all forms of communication that occur between FIML partners.

Consciousness as signal interpretation

Consciousness can be defined as “that which interprets signals” or “that which can discriminate and choose between signals.”

A single cell that can distinguish light and darkness and choose one or the other is conscious in this respect.

(I wonder if the choice needs to be “better” in some way, evolutionarily or even subjectively even if wrong. Seems that if most choices are bad, the chooser will not survive for long, yet in the interim could still be conscious.)

A dog that smells food has a more complex interpretation of many more signals than the single cell above. Additionally, the dog can choose between these signals, though not without confusion sometimes, just like us.

As humans we experience our consciousness in many ways. Few of us doubt its importance.

This makes sense based on the definition of consciousness as “that which interprets signals” or “that which can discriminate and choose between signals.”

It is emotional to be conscious in the sense that we must care about our decisions, our choices.

Surely that is much of the reason we have emotions. They are the chemistry that accompanies choices. Chemicals in the body are most definitely signals, very strong ones.

For more on this topic: Life is self-organizing signals.

Life is self-organizing signals

Life signals can be biological and unconscious or biological and conscious.*

If conscious, signals can be variously interpreted by the sender, the receiver, or both.

If unconscious, signals are interpreted in only one way or in a limited number of ways.

Consciously organized signals make up such things as psychology and sociology, both of which have many variations.

Human beings generate, learn, send, receive, and interpret signals.

All signals have valence. If conscious, valences (like signals themselves) can be variously interpreted.

It is very beneficial when thinking about any complex matter to pay attention to the valences of its individual signals and signal networks.

For example, if you want to buy or rent a home the various factors that you may consider can all be thought of as signals with valences.

A “small place” is a signal that may have positive valences because it is cozy and easy to keep clean. And it may have negative valences because it is cramped and has no room to store stuff.

With some degree of rationality, we can asses these valences and decide which ones are important to us. If you are going to share the place with another person, you can both do assessments and compare.

Your conclusions won’t be perfectly rational but they will be clearer to you than if you did not do assessments like that.

Besides the size of the place, you will also want to analyze in a similar fashion its location, floor plan, cost, what’s nearby and so on.

The same is true for how to asses your own psychology or the sociology of your group, company, or nation.

If you do this often enough, you may decide to replace the idea of having a personality or identity with the idea of having an operating system that generates, learns, sends, receives, and interprets signals.

Notice that interpreting yourself (the signal of self) as an operating system that employs these few rules is a kind of self-organization. As such, it is concise (Occam’s razor), accounts for all data, has clearly identified parts, has explanatory power (you can use it as we did above), can be applied to all life including human psychology.

This is not the only explanation or description of life, but it is a good one with many uses.

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A few notes:

*Surely there are other bases for consciousness than biology as we know it.

Life self-organization is “anti-entropic.”

Politics runs on simple signals because they are readily grasped by large numbers of people. Importing simple political signals into your operating system and keeping their strong public valences is not a good idea.

Politics teeters between left and right and there is no good middle. The middle is no good because the true middle needs to be a middle of complexity against two extremes.

Reason and rational thought are in many respects organizing principles, maybe that’s all they are. Same can be said for logic.

Personality and identity are also organizing principles, here applied to self and others.  Seeing yourself as “an operating system that generates, learns, sends, receives, and interprets signals” is also an organizing principle, but the data is clearer and more useful than that which goes into identity and personality.

White people and ethno-masochism

In the video below Black Pigeon reveals that he lives in Japan and has wide experience in East Asia. John Derbyshire, who writes on white identity, similarly spent years living in China.

I see a pattern when I add myself to this list. I spent many years in China and Japan. I’m pretty sure BP and JD came to conclusions similar to mine—East Asian nations are unabashedly ethnocentric.

The feeling is overwhelming when you spend enough time there to get what people really think.

One example is I have never seen on a white face a type of smile that is somewhat common in China and Japan (also common with Jews). That smile occurs when the person’s ethnic group is mentioned or when they speak from that point of view.

It doesn’t always show but if you are friends it will almost certainly appear during deep discussions of history or culture. It’s a smile of deep love, pride, and tenderness. I have never seen a white person display this smile.

After many years of being around people like that I started to question myself. I wondered why I didn’t feel love, pride, and tenderness toward my (white) people. Eventually, I realized that I was sort of programmed to despise patriotism, whiteness, my own ethnicity.

Another example happened when I was with some Japanese friends in Japan. They brought up the subject of David Duke to ask me what I thought of white identity politics. I hit the roof. Cussed out Duke and angrily insisted that people like him should never be allowed to even have a public voice since his views were so reprehensible.

My friends were taken aback, “But he is on your side,” they said. I remained adamant.

That happened over twenty years ago. I continued to be confident of my opinion for many years after that.

Eventually my mind cooled on the subject of Duke. I do try to be open minded so I decided to look into what he was really saying. I am not a huge fan of his, but his views are pretty tame, to be honest. He speaks and writes in ways that greatly resemble normal Japanese or Chinese thinking.

In 1950 whites comprised 28 percent of world population. Today we are fast approaching ten percent. If you live in a European or European derived country it may seem that white people are all-powerful and that “whiteness” is something to be destroyed. I think that is a bad way to think for anyone, and especially white people.

Most whites come from peasant stock and if you have Eastern European ancestry, you come from serf stock which is the same as slavery. Serfs were partially freed in Russia in 1861 but it took many decades for full freedom to arrive (only to be destroyed again by Bolsheviks).

In this context, I have been and will continue to post stuff on American nationalism, civic nationalism, economic nationalism, white identity and so forth. We live in a tribal world. If you put down your own tribe and help other tribes destroy it, you are not a good person. You are a fool.

Politics is always changing. In the din of many tribes vying for power, you can’t be holier-than-thou and leave your tribe voiceless. I support a strong, clear white voice similar to the Chinese, Japanese, or Zionist voice. Similar to voices all over the world.

Ultimately, I suppose, the world will be one. Maybe genetic research will give us so many choices for gene splicing, race and ethnicity will no longer matter. But until then it does.

Using truthful statements to lie

A recent paper explored the effects of using truthful statements to deceive others.

The authors of the paper call this behavior paltering and define it as “the active use of truthful statements to convey a misleading impression.”

The paper, Artful Paltering: The Risks and Rewards of Using Truthful Statements to Mislead Others, says:

…we identify paltering as a distinct form of deception. Paltering differs from lying by omission (the passive omission of relevant information) and lying by commission (the active use of false statements). Our findings reveal that paltering is common in negotiations and that many negotiators prefer to palter than to lie by commission.

The paper tests the effects of paltering during business negotiations, but paltering can happen in many other contexts. Examples of paltering by public figures can be found in the news every day.

The concept of paltering is also interesting psychologically. I am going to speculate that individuals often palter to themselves concerning their own internalized autobiographies and reasons for doing many actions.

If we use our inner voices to palter to ourselves—that is use the best “truthful” description of our actions that also just happens to place those actions in their best light—then we are not living with full integrity even in the privacy of our own thoughts.

At the same time, we have to be careful about how we assess our own paltering. We might be right to use the best version of events because that really is the correct version.

The problem is there is no good standard for an individual alone to decide what is objectively right or wrong.

For example, if someone smokes pot in a state where it is illegal are they paltering by telling themselves the law is stupid so why follow  it?

FIML partners will want to avoid paltering at all times but especially in the midst of a FIML query. Properly done, FIML can help with internalized paltering because this sort of subject matter lends itself well to FIML discussions.

As with all moral questions, where we draw the line is not always easy. The more tools we have the better. Awareness of paltering and its effects on others is good tool to have.

Life lives on meaning

Biosemiotics is the study of signs and their interpretations by living organisms.

The interpretation of a sign is generally synonymous with its “meaning” for the entity that interprets it.

From Wikipedia:

Biosemiotics (from the Greek bios meaning “life” and semeion meaning “sign”) is a growing field of semiotics and biology that studies the production and interpretation of signs and codes in the biological realm. Biosemiotics attempts to integrate the findings of biology and semiotics and proposes a paradigmatic shift in the scientific view of life, demonstrating that semiosis (sign process, including meaning and interpretation) is one of its immanent and intrinsic feature. (Source)

Here is a short video on the subject: A Biosemiotic Perspective.

The importance of meaning (sign interpretation) in human life is so great, many humans will die, or want to, if they lose an overall sense of it.

Just because we crave meaning does not mean we have to have good meaning, valid meaning, right meaning. Almost all cultures almost all of the time are filled with bogus meaning. They thrive on it.

If you find something in a culture, you will find it in individuals. Almost all human psychology almost all the time is rife with bogus meaning.

Some of that comes from culture, some is the interpretation of the individual, all of it is mixed together.

This is why memes are so powerful. They are meaning-signs that for many different reasons are interpreted as being true. A meme can be picture or a few words. An example is “Diversity is Strength.”

That meme is probably not scientifically valid. There are many studies that show it is false.

Whatever the case, “Diversity is Strength” (or one of its derivatives “stronger together”) has become a significant public meaning, whose main interpretation is rarely questioned.

There are scores of memes (cultural signs or signals) circulating within American culture at all times.

Some cultural signs and signals are “organic” in the sense that they have grassroots origins, springing from the “ground” of culture itself.

Others are formed and manipulated by powerful forces who want to influence culture or change it. “Diversity is Strength” is an example of this.

America’s elite subculture has been pushing this meme for many years. The following video contains many examples of this meme being used by public figures as well as a refutation of it: Diversity DESTROYS Social Cohesion in the West.

Most people do not analyze signs, symbols, memes, or semiotics. They do not ask for the source of a cultural sign, its uses, or even if it is true.

Once a cultural sign is established, it will tend to remain unquestioned until some other force (money, media) or meme replaces it.

The best thing for individuals to do is replace crappy, manipulative memes with your own analysis and understanding. Replace them with Right Meaning, in the Buddhist sense.

The Buddha is often described as mainly “an analyst” who gave us many ways to free ourselves from delusion.

Ingredient in magic mushrooms is shown to ease anxiety and depression in cancer patients in one dose

…Of 29 cancer patients who got psilocybin in a trial conducted at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, 20 rated it as “among the most meaningful” events of their life. (Source)

So sad we have had to wait all these years to do some pretty easy science on something many people were fairly certain would turn out this way.

Obviously, psilocybin and LSD should also be tested on other people with other conditions as well as people with no conditions who just want to try it. It is well-known that psychedelics are used in small doses to enhance creativity among tech workers in Silicon Valley.

LSD therapy was quite successful in treating alcoholism when it was briefly allowed to be used for this purpose in the 1960s. ABN

Small lies matter

A new study shows that even small lies can weaken our self control, causing us to tell bigger lies and more of them.

Lead author of the study, Neil Garrett, says of it:

“It is likely the brain’s blunted response to repeated acts of dishonesty reflects a reduced emotional response to these acts. This is in line with suggestions that our signals aversion to acts that we consider wrong or immoral. We only tested dishonesty in this experiment, but the same principle may also apply to escalations in other actions such as risk taking or violent behaviour.” [emphasis added] (How lying takes our brains down a ‘slippery slope’)

The study itself can be found here: The brain adapts to dishonesty.

Here is the abstract:

Dishonesty is an integral part of our social world, influencing domains ranging from finance and politics to personal relationships. Anecdotally, digressions from a moral code are often described as a series of small breaches that grow over time. Here we provide empirical evidence for a gradual escalation of self-serving dishonesty and reveal a neural mechanism supporting it. Behaviorally, we show that the extent to which participants engage in self-serving dishonesty increases with repetition. Using functional MRI, we show that signal reduction in the amygdala is sensitive to the history of dishonest behavior, consistent with adaptation. Critically, the extent of reduced amygdala sensitivity to dishonesty on a present decision relative to the previous one predicts the magnitude of escalation of self-serving dishonesty on the next decision. The findings uncover a biological mechanism that supports a ‘slippery slope’: what begins as small acts of dishonesty can escalate into larger transgressions. [emphasis added]

Though this is only one study based on results from only 80 people, I find it very credible.

In Buddhism we learn that even the smallest of thoughts can have enormous consequences.

An important aspect of Buddhist mindfulness is watching how our thoughts develop and how they affect us and others. FIML practice is based on sharing the fruits of real-time mindfulness with a partner.

Done correctly, FIML allows us to observe small transitions in our minds and correct them in real-time if they are wrong.

FIML does not deal all that much with lies per se because partners are expected to be beyond that and FIML won’t work if partners lie.

Nonetheless, FIML does deal with small misunderstandings that can lead to slippery slopes similar to what is described in the study.

For example, if you think your partner’s tone is dismissive and it isn’t and you don’t do a FIML query, the next time you hear that tone you will experience confirmation bias and be on your way down the slope. It’s very hard to trace that sort of thing back to its origin after a few occasions. Your misunderstanding of your partner’s tone could be construed as an unconscious lie that you are telling yourself.

This is why FIML is so important and why it is very helpful to start doing it early in your relationship when all is well and there are no misunderstandings.

FIML can be described as detailed, shared, real-time moral and existential awareness. It demands integrity and mindfulness from both partners and rewards them with greatly enhance shared integrity and mindfulness.

A major purpose of FIML is to prevent the sort of thing that happened in the study. To prevent partners from sliding down a slippery slope that sometimes cannot be regained.

Medicinal Cannabis: In Vitro Validation of Vaporizers for the Smoke-Free Inhalation of Cannabis

Abstract

Inhalation by vaporization is a promising application mode for cannabis in medicine. An in vitro validation of 5 commercial vaporizers was performed with THC-type and CBD-type cannabis. Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry was used to determine recoveries of total THC (THCtot) and total CBD (CBDtot) in the vapor. High-performance liquid chromatography with photodiode array detection was used for the quantitation of acidic cannabinoids in the residue and to calculate decarboxylation efficiencies. Recoveries of THCtot and CBDtot in the vapor of 4 electrically-driven vaporizers were 58.4 and 51.4%, 66.8 and 56.1%, 82.7 and 70.0% and 54.6 and 56.7% for Volcano Medic®, Plenty Vaporizer®, Arizer Solo® and DaVinci Vaporizer®, respectively. Decarboxylation efficiency was excellent for THC (≥ 97.3%) and CBD (≥ 94.6%). The gas-powered Vape-or-Smoke showed recoveries of THCtot and CBDtot in the vapor of 55.9 and 45.9%, respectively, and a decarboxylation efficiency of ≥ 87.7 for both cannabinoids. However, combustion of cannabis was observed with this device. Temperature-controlled, electrically-driven vaporizers efficiently decarboxylate inactive acidic cannabinoids and reliably release their corresponding neutral, active cannabinoids. Thus, they offer a promising application mode for the safe and efficient administration of medicinal cannabis. (Source)

Seeking novel perceptions

Here is an interesting exercise. Do something small to give your brain a novel (new) perception.

Look at something from a new angle, make a new sound, pinch an unusual part of your body. The idea is to do something small but get a big result.

For example, take a glass and look through it as through a telescope. While doing this, deeply appreciate the newness of the perception. Just give it five or ten seconds.

It is your conscious perception of the newness that gets your brain to respond. Once it does, you can nurse the feeling of newness and have the effect last a long time. Can be repeated as often as you like with any sort of novel perception.

You can also just use any new perception that appears in your world and milk it for the extra stimulation it provides. See example below.

For this exercise, sought novel perceptions should be small and wholesome.

You don’t need to take drugs or jump off a cliff to get very good results. By doing small and wholesome, you teach yourself how to energize your brain quickly and in any situation.

The key to success is to do it consciously and with the intention of stimulating your brain by opening its novel experience mode.

Seeking novel perceptions is wonderful in and of itself and also it may be a good way for people to better understand FIML practice.

FIML practice is designed to disrupt normal autonomous thought processes.

Once they have been disrupted, a new thought process will replace the old—thus providing a novel psychological perception.

Frequent use of FIML remakes individual psychology for the better while also greatly improving relations with your FIML partner.

Evidence Rebuts Chomsky’s Theory of Language Learning

The idea that we have brains hardwired with a mental template for learning grammar—famously espoused by Noam Chomsky of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—has dominated linguistics for almost half a century. Recently, though, cognitive scientists and linguists have abandoned Chomsky’s “universal grammar” theory in droves because of new research examining many different languages—and the way young children learn to understand and speak the tongues of their communities. That work fails to support Chomsky’s assertions.

The research suggests a radically different view, in which learning of a child’s first language does not rely on an innate grammar module. Instead the new research shows that young children use various types of thinking that may not be specific to language at all—such as the ability to classify the world into categories (people or objects, for instance) and to understand the relations among things. These capabilities, coupled with a unique hu­­­man ability to grasp what others intend to communicate, allow language to happen. The new findings indicate that if researchers truly want to understand how children, and others, learn languages, they need to look outside of Chomsky’s theory for guidance. (link)

The notion that Chomsky is wrong is not new, but the linked article still a good read.

See this for a rebuttal of the above: Don’t believe the rumours. Universal Grammar is alive and well.

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The following is only tangentially related to the above articles.

The key point in FIML is that messages (language, semiotics, etc.) are often misunderstood and that these misunderstandings can have large psychological effects.

Messages can be misunderstood on many levels, but the level that is least appreciated today and thus has the greatest unacknowledged implications for human psychology is the micro-level.

The micro-level is the level of the short-term memory (time component) and the psychological morpheme (emotional component). Psychological morphemes arise as brief (short-term memory) associations are made with other semiotic and thought systems in real-time.

If errors at this level are not corrected, large effects can ensue. Errors at this level are best corrected in real-time as quickly as possible (while the contents of the short-term memory are still fresh). This is why the FIML technique is done the way it is and why it works as well as it does.

A psychological morpheme is:

The smallest meaningful unit of a psychological response. It is the smallest unit of communication that can give rise to an emotional, psychological, or cognitive reaction.

Google and FIML

Google has helped all of us upgrade our info about the world around us, whatever we are interested in, etc.

In the past, people had brains as complex as ours and a love of good information as great as ours, but they had to make do with less.

Somewhat resembling Google, FIML practice upgrades interpersonal information shared by (usually) two people.

Rather than guess and fill our minds with superstitions about the people we care about most, FIML allows us to “look up” the info we need when we need it.

This has a dramatic and beneficial effect on both the self and other(s). The foundations of human psychology are exposed in FIML practice.

Once you see how FIML works and what it does, you will be doing it as often as you jump on the computer to look up something you want to know.

FIML is advanced interpersonal technology that makes first-rate psychological information as readily available as a computer search. It does take some practice, but is emotionally even more valuable than Google.

When a sign becomes a (wrong) symbol

Signs become symbols all the time. What you want to be careful about is wrongly making signs into symbols.

A sign is a simple element of thought or communication. Symbols are signs with extra meaning.

Here’s an example. My partner spends a lot of time at her job working outside. She works hard and sometimes it bothers me. This morning I noticed that a sign in my mind had become a symbol.

The symbol was an imaginary image of her at her job with rain falling, wind blowing, and her in a panic to finish. It was one of several images I have of her at work.

As it floated into the foreground of my mind, I simply asked her, “Tell me this image is not true.”

I described it and she said, “No, that’s not true. Sometimes it happens, but generally I enjoy what I am doing.”

My imaginary sign (her in the rain) became a symbol (her being worked too hard) that she corrected with a few words (“no that’s not true”).

Our years of FIML practice allowed me to allow the symbol to lose all meaning and the simple sign to become a sign again. My bad feeling about her going to work and the conditions of her work changed immediately.

To become symbols, signs must be invested with meaning and feeling. Sometimes signs are symbols and sometimes not.

We all turn signs into wrong symbols all the time. Observing how that happens in you with the help of a trusted partner will do more to clear your head than anything else I can think of.

In this respect, FIML is a form of analytical psychotherapy that removes wrong symbols from the brain’s semiotic networks.

Since humans are fundamentally semiotic animals who react instinctively to symbols, it is essential that we have a way to clear out wrong ones. FIML, or something similar, is an absolute must for clear thinking and rational psychology.

You cannot clean up most wrong symbols (or signs) by yourself. You absolutely must have a trusted partner to help you because signs and symbols function as tools of communication.

Since they are also the building blocks of human psychology, clearing up wrong signs and symbols also clears up human psychology.