Adult ADHD

I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was young, in first grade, and it mostly manifested as distractibility and boredom. It didn’t affect me academically until studies grew more demanding, such as late middle school and high school.

It was something that really affected me, really frustrated me, and affected my self esteem.

I hated the label, and I hated being treated differently, so I denied it. But it didn’t help anything.

You grow up feeling different, and isolated, like there’s something wrong with you. The easiest tasks for others, seemed monumental for me, and impossible.

Usually there were large discrepancies in my grades. Didn’t matter the subject or the difficulty. It all revolved around my ability to become engaged with the subject. Even if it were easy, if it wasn’t stimulating or challenging, because of the material or the teacher, earning easy grades wasn’t so easy.

It wasn’t until I began college did I learn about coping strategies and study habits that were absolutely necessary to overcome it.

The other thing is that, when you have it, you’re totally unaware of how and when it manifests until someone points it out. Or until life abruptly reminds you that you aren’t doin it right.

The inability to focus and become highjacked with random, lateral thoughts is something that’s normal, for ADHD. It’s the operating process that’s governs every moment of your life. So there’s no alarm or indication something is wrong until you’re reprimanded or criticized by others. This is the part that slowly begins to wear on your self esteem.

I found that once I understood the way my mind/ attention worked, I could implement these strategies toward any undertaking and domain and succeed.

There are still some domains where I know I’m not suited, such as repetitive, detail oriented task work, clocking in at a 9-5 and sitting still all day. I become depressed and under-stimulated and work becomes hell on earth as I’m left to cope in a figurative straight jacket.

Jobs such as sales, management, entrepreneurship, project management, etc require more multitasking and are more stimulating in general.

The other area it manifests is relationships. The inability to provide sustained, reliable attention to a person can be frustrating and confusing. It’s something that’s maddeningly difficult to be aware of when it’s happening, and control, and requires immense energy to manage, which becomes exhausting. The other partner often feels uncared for, not listened to, and often unloved by the inconsistent attention and feedback.

For all its downsides, the upside is an uncanny ability to hyper-focus on specific tasks or subjects, which allows for incredible absorption of information, at the expense of everything else going on around you. Absorbing information and learning in this state is almost effortless, as you become entranced into a deep meditative state of engagement.

Coping strategies help facilitate this hyper focus, but they can’t guarantee it on call, or necessarily at will. Which is why deadlines can be troublesome, if the strategies are not practiced and implemented daily.

The other benefit is lateral thinking. Because the ADHD baseline lacks a basic stimulus filter, which most people use to easily ignore mundane or seemingly irrelevant information to the task at hand, it can be immensely helpful when problem solving. The ability to capture or register excess information leads to out of the box or lateral thinking that can be leveraged for problem solving or creativity.

I believe ADHD is vastly over diagnosed, but there is scientific consensus that there are neurological differences in these brains, which brain scans reveal.

I think that our current education systems caters to a very specific type of learning, which is very formalized, passive, and emphasizes rote memorization, and lack of any meaningful engagement. There are teachers who are amazing, and buck this trend, and for those I am forever thankful. They reminded me that I’m capable of learning and excelling, despite past experiences.

Whenever I listen to anyone saying anything interesting or stimulating, my brain just starts convulsing with ideas and tangents and thoughts, which is overwhelming when you have to focus and listen and reflect at the same time.

I think meditation is crucial, and I also think exercise has a lot of parallels, and provides the same or similar benefits.

I think “will power” or “self control” plays a role in both, even though there’s a ironicism to that, when speaking of meditation, which appeals to “losing the self”. But I think someone that can do that has the most self control of all, which is what I’m pointing to.

I would like to explore mindful meditation as much as I’ve explored the role of focusing and using will power to exercise intensely.

I imagine any serious athlete can relate to the meditative mental state that is achieved when exercising. It’s something that you must practice. It’s not just going through the motions in the gym, or running, just like it’s not going through the motions and sitting still with your eyes closed for 30 minutes a day.

To become great, you must learn how to control the mind, control the attention, choose your thoughts, narrow your focus, and let all distractions pass through you.

Pain, distractions, stress—- they are all irrelevant states of being that hinder self actualization. Unless you can actively bypass the impulse to yield to them, that hijack your state of being, you will not achieve your desired state of being—- or goal or feeling or whatever.

I do think there are parallels.

The mind is a muscle, I believe. The same principles apply to training both for maximization.

Ironically, I feel that the people who have the most self control, are best at giving up all control. They don’t try to control. They simply manifest intentions, which seems like a higher level “drive”, which produces less “resistance”, in the form of emotional stress or mental anxiety.

Intention is almost passive, like the unconscious mind takes the wheel, and just manifests the desired “state of being”
Exercise and diet has been the best mood and mental stabilizer.

Intense exercise that challenges the limits of the body, and a high protein, high veggie diet with carbs when needed had historically manifested my best self, my most stable self, whatever the hell that means.

Personal Investments 

So, years ago this is what I began realizing, and rationalizing.

I began to take stock of how I spent my time on any given day, throughout my life.

There are things I spend a lot of time doing.

I consider my time valuable.

However I spend that time I consider an investment. In my life. In my quality of life. And my overall well being.

I spend a huge majority of my life doing the following:

On my computer/ work
On my phone/ personal/ work
Working out
Listening to music
Enjoying my alone time/ reflection

I examined the factors involved with each of these, and decided that anything related to any of these activities is an important investment.

I decided to not hesitate when spending my money on these activities. And spend less on other bullshit.

As a result, I chose to invest in the following:

-Quality clothes suited for my work life
-A quality bed that improved my sleep
-Buying quality food, even if it means cooking daily
-Buying the best computer so I can do my work efficiently, without lag or malware, or other shitty bs
-Buying the best phone whenever I need it, whenever the time calls for it, since I spend probably 6 hours a day at least on my phone, texting calling emailing or surfing the web
-Buying supplements or gym gear that will help with quality exercise
-Buying a sound system that is easy to use and produces quality/ pleasing sound
-Buying a nice couch, because I spend hours a day reading and reflecting and relaxing there, and also art that inspires reflection and thought

Most people these days spend more time on your phone than any other device. It should be one of the number one investments, or purchases.

I email. Pay bills. Tracking investments. Banking. Take pictures. Videos. Do work. Message. Call. Etc etc etc.

No one should hold back on Buying a fast, functional phone, even if it means buying a new one every 1-2 years
I’ve also found that when you pay more upfront for a good phone, it’ll last longer.

The more memory and faster processor will accommodate any future upgrades than a base model, so you may end up saving in the long run by buying less frequently

What Is Life

I’m in my little room, located on the co-op property owned by Scott’s family, laying on a large gray memory foam bean bag, overflowing with this weeks clean laundry, which act as my pillow, and blankets.

The autumn air seeps into this crannied space, through the cracks and thin paned widows; its cold steely bite hangs in the air, and nips at my skin.

I breathe. And catch my breath. I listen to myself. The air feels anxious; tension constrains a steady inhale and exhale, giving rise to the slightest hesitations in my breath, that scribble the empty silence.

Planes soar overhead, cutting through the distant atmosphere, and echo through the redwoods outside this space, throughout the room.

My life. What is life?

A 31 year old man, who has come to Palo Alto, to work with his college friend on a business, a toy business. I toil day in and out, building this business, with little idea of the outcome. Only goals and visions drive me forward. Hallucinations and delusions and fantasies that I yearn to make real, for myself, for others.

I work. I eat. I sleep. I drive to the city to see my girlfriend. Hours a day. I picked up smoking cigarettes. Sometimes 5 or 6 or 7 a day. I hate it, but the fixation never left. It was only substituted by other fixations.

I am happy, no?

I feel old. Worn. Played out. I contemplate next steps, in life, in visions, in fulfillment. Balancing patience and urgency, feeling the weight of time, the rush of time, as it moves around me, through me, faster and faster. Must I move as fast? I will die soon, and this life will be a memory, a fading recall of disappointment or content, however I decide to rationalize my failures, and commensurate my attempts at living a life worthwhile.

There is life in these bones, somewhere. In this head, sometimes.

My family is far, in body and spirit.

I am alone. I was born alone and I will die alone. There is no comfort in between, knowing this is just a waking dream.

Where must I go to find solace? Where can I escape the dark shadows lurking behind every illuminating joy?

Am I the master? Where has my imagination gone? Where are the possibilities that pave my path, that forge my resolve to tread onward, through the darkness?

Cathedrals by day turn to mausoleums by night, and my liberation becomes the heavy burden which chains me to myself.

Only you have the power, my conscience whispers.

What is thy name? How can I call it forth? I need to conjure these spirits. Speak to me now.

Scaling Laws: Thermodynamics and Evolution 

This podcast (Waking Up #86 From Cells to Cities) relates to the thermodynamics of evolution, and Jeremy England’s work.

Geoffrey is discussing scaling. And how Energy consumption decreases the more complex an organism. If a cell requires x amount of energy, then a larger biological system, in proportion, requires 75% of the amount of energy to function.

This lends itself to biological systems as being efficient energy diffusers. And explains (in my mind) the driving force of evolution.

There are these power laws that occur when you scale things, like biological organisms and companies and cities. These power laws revolve around the power of 4: for every order of magnitude increase (or double in size), 3/4 or 75% of the energy is needed.

Some things are linear, like heartbeats, the length of aorta, circulatory system, etc.
Metabolism is one of these things that follows a scaling law i.e. Energy consumption.

“Network systems” is what they are referred to when applying the power laws of scaling.

Increased complexity allows for more efficient energy capture and diffusion of organisms.

Evolution is driven in this way. Biological systems evolve in ways that make them more energy efficient.

He examines not only biological systems, but all network systems, such as sociological systems like small businesses vs large corporations, etc.

These scaling laws hold true.

The larger the organism, the slower the metabolism, and the longer it will live, is one of the conclusions.

The evidence indicates that biological systems evolve to become more energy efficient and that evolution is dictated by this demand.

The organisms that don’t follow these scaling laws, for instance, when the environment becomes unstable, die out, as per natural selection. But the ones that continue surviving, and adapting and evolving, do so in a way that captures energy and diffuses it most efficiently.

Obviously when the environment changes, and energy demands shift, and adaptations can’t occur fast enough, the organism dies and the larger the organism, the less adaptable, from a genetic evolution perspective but the smaller the organism, the faster it can adapt to those changes just like small vs large organizations when market forces shift and change.

Larger organisms typically cannot evolve and adapt fast enough to keep up with changing demands, whereas smaller companies are more flexible and adaptable But, larger systems are much more efficient, when there is stability If you look at the genetic timeline, organisms always trend toward more complexity, not less Evolution tends toward more complexity.

That’s what the evidence indicates.

So there is a “driving force”, because it would be such a obvious tendency, the evidence wouldn’t be so conclusive and Geoffrey’s research looks into complexity, and what happens when things are scaled. From the physics perspective, this complexity always leads to more energy efficiency.

You can listen to the podcast and hear his discuss the research when looking at mice and elephants, or bacteria and larger organisms. And the mechanistic evolution is linear, but the metabolism is not. The larger the organism, the less energy it is needed, proportionally, to fuel it. The metabolism is slower.

This further illustrates, to me, that the driver behind all evolution is thermodynamics, i.e. energy driven.

Life is the only “material matter” than increases in complexity, rather than decreases due to entropy, over time.

How is this explained? Energy/ thermodynamics is the primary driver.

That’s the only way this phenomena makes sense. There is no obvious “cosmic” purpose. It only necessitates evolution, as a natural law.

Fractals play an important role.

Archetypes and Truth: Jordan Peterson and Sam Harris

Jordan Peterson is more an anthropologist studying the historical development of consciousness through culture, by examining stories, and the universal archetypes— themes, motifs, symbolism— found throughout.

As a professional, clinical psychologist, this is very useful, especially from a therapeutic perspective.

You cannot discount his analysis, which is hardly his own (Jung, Campbell, Nietzsche and many others laid the foundations of this study), from a scientific research perspective, because there is ample evidence supporting these conclusions.

But his conclusions lead him to believe in a moral superiority of certain belief systems, that appeal to the highest demonstration of their efficacy.

As in, the metaphysical archetypes he identifies as transcending culture, as being universal across time and space throughout the development of mankind and civilization, leads him to conclude that Christianity provides one of the most useful embodiments of these prevailing structures that allow for maximum human flourishing, as forming the basis for a stable psychological disposition which translates into functional social structures.

This poses problems in his analysis of realism, or scientific materialism, which seems to be secondary to his “psychological metaphysics”, for lack of a better word.

Which is why the whole disagreement between Peterson and Sam Harris of “What is true?” appeared to be such a clusterfuck.

The archetypes Peterson (Jung and Campbell and others) are referencing are metaphysical structures governing the collective unconscious, i.e. they structure our conscious experience in a meaningful way, that allows us to act and make sense of the world and our relation to it and other “minds”.

Because they are universal in all mankind (based on textual analysis of stories throughout history and cultures) they provide a basis of truth, in Peterson’s claim, because they operate a priori as mediating our experience with the world.

According to Peterson, if I’m not mistaken, there are systems (cultural stories and the worldview they create) that are better than others at leveraging these archetypes, which allow for better engagement with the world, leading to our self preservation as individuals and society, which refers to his “Darwinian” framework.

I really appreciate Sam Harris’s criticisms, and I think he’s right to challenge Peterson on some of these points, such as, what is grounding this analysis, which seems much like a hermeneutic exercise of interpretation, which leaves the door open to some… baseless or imaginative conclusions

I think Peterson’s appeal to archetypes “as truth” resides in the fact that these archetypes are so enduring…. they are constantly relevant, and map onto the human experience regardless of time and place. But this notion of truth has less basis in realism, which appeals to an objective reality outside ourselves, and more basis in wisdom, which appeals to the subjective reality within ourselves.

So there’s some endurance to archetypes, some persistence to these structures, that would seem to indicates their necessity as inescapable “truths” which govern man’s conscious experience— as it relates to man’s experience with himself, others, and the “world” or “chaos” outside him.

Archetypes are metaphysical because they exist a priori, as apart of our subjective consciousness which we bring to the world, but they don’t exist in the world concretely.

Archetypes are just descriptions of relationships between man, himself, others and the world. These archetypes are not paradigms; they are more fundamental.

Good and evil, order vs chaos, protagonist vs antagonist, sacrifice vs gain— I believe these are more representative of archetypes.

Archetypes are elements constituting the unconscious experience, as “primitive mental images” representing experience.

Archetypes are unconscious: they manifest themselves through our actions. They are like an imperative governing our unconscious behaviors.

Basically, across time and culture and history, man has acted… he has developed and he has explained his experience through stories…that explain and justify his life and experience. Bible. Gilgamesh. Koran. Vedas.

What emerges are themes and patterns in these stories… no one was conscious of these themes and patterns, yet they emerge throughout mankind regardless of geography and culture and time.

These are archetypes, and they are not something easily dismissed, because they appear to be so universal and enduring.

Man is mostly unconscious. We do things we are not aware of all the time: why we are attracted to certain things, why we feel certain things, etc.

These are a primitive response. Fundamental to our makeup.

Through reflection we can gain insight into our unconscious drives.

But the point is, they are fundamental to the human experience, and apart of the “collective unconscious” experience of mankind

Imagine you are studying tribes. These primitive people have stories, common narratives they retain and exchange. The content of these stories of disparate tribes in Africa and South America and Australia are all different.

But when you examine these stories, common patterns emerge, universal forms that shape these stories in a common way.

The relationships within these stories overlap.

These tribesman are totally unaware of why they have these stories. It’s simply their experience.

What Peterson and Jung and Campbell and Nietzsche (and many others etc) look at is what is significant about these enduring patterns?

These patterns are archetypes. Studying history and stories gives the researcher awareness of these archetypes, which can get extremely useful in our own life (hence the therapeutic value from a psychological perspective).

Have you ever been to psychotherapist? You tell them your life. Your tell them stories. As you objectify these life experiences, and tell your stories, you become aware of things you never considered. You realize why you have certain feelings. Trauma or pain or certain associations imprinted on the mind while you’re developing lead to unconscious behaviors that operate throughout your life, sometimes positively, sometimes negatively.

In order to gain self mastery, or self awareness, you need to make yourself aware of these unconscious behaviors.

These unconscious behaviors have universal roots in the human experience… these are archetypes. Apart of the universal human condition.

We find these relationships throughout history in every culture and all literature.

There are common patterns of engaging and reacting with the world and others and ourselves.

Peterson and others are attempting or are building a case that grounds this neuroscience. That’s their aim.

Archetypes manifest themselves, and only retroactively do we gain awareness of these patterns, mostly because we’re embedded within them.

Primitive man, the unreflective “man” is not aware. He acts out of instinct. You can observe his actions. You can examine his culture and society. And patterns emerge— Archetypes.

Whether man is aware of them or not has no bearing on how they manifest.

It’s only when you can step outside of yourself, outside of your culture, outside of time, and examine all these actions and patterns within a historical perspective that archetypes become obvious.

Why are they so consistent and enduring? There is something to them, some evolutionary component, which aids in our survival as a species.

I don’t pretend to be an expert, but I’m sympathetic to Peterson, even though I think he has some fundamental errors when reconciling “truth”, which he seems to use interchangeably with moral evaluations, rather than strictly material realism representations.

This seems precarious, because, as Sam Harris noted in the first podcast, there is nothing anchoring experience if your “truth” is simply this relative moral construct that “aids in self-preservation”, because we will never know the “truth” value until we die and go extinct, which would mean truth is unknowable until the very end, which makes it impossible to justify anything, or build any case in any meaningful direction, because it’s all relative to whatever works in the end, rather than anchoring in a common material reality which remains constant, regardless of our interpretation or its utility.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and it’s Efficacy

Psychology’s Power Tools by David A Sbarra

Fascinating little article on the efficacy of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT).

Research in clinical psychology suggests that a key aspect of maintaining our emotional health is not deepening our connection to painful thoughts – that is, not getting ‘sucked into’ thoughts about inferiority, impossibility, or seeing the potential for bad outcomes around every corner. ‘It is what it is’ reflects the decision not to go down this road and, when we use it, we’re practising one of the best therapies around. Although there are many routes to emotional equanimity, it is the thoughts in our heads, and the words we choose to express them, that are the gatekeepers of our psychological wellbeing.

This notion is at the heart of cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT, a proven collection of techniques that help us realign our thoughts so our emotions stay in balance and we successfully navigate life.

Role of social support:

A more surprising finding emerged in 2008, when psychologist Simone Schnall, director of the Mind, Body, and Behaviour Laboratory at the University of Cambridge, found that people perceive hills to be less steep when they’re with other people or when they imagine a supportive significant other alongside them. Schnall reasoned that the availability of social resources might keep people from ‘being depleted’ when they donned the heavy backpack. It is hard to overstate the significance of these findings: social support alters how we perceive the demands of the physical world.

In fact, the hill-slant study illustrates one of the most important topics in contemporary psychological science: our evaluations of situations, events and people shape how we perceive, or appraise, the world around us. These psychological evaluations are often referred to as cognitive appraisals. When we’re with others we appraise the slant of the hill differently; we evaluate that mound of dirt as less foreboding.

Perception is reality:

This fact is a foundational element of CBT: change how you view your circumstance, and you can change how you feel.

Why is Philosophy Important to Science Education?

The essence of philosophy is to examine assumptions.

This is done by asking questions about what we believe we know, and how we know it. Our assumptions shape our experience, and how we engage with the natural world.

It seems (to me) that the word philosophy in contemporary usage refers to three main things:
1. The institutions and canons of philosophical thought, representing past and present ideas and their development.
2. The philosophical attitude, or the process of asking questions, or inquiring about our basic assumptions and the nature of our perceptions and values and beliefs.
3. A framework of assumptions that guide our perceptions, processes, and behaviors, such as an ideology.

The practice of philosophy laid the foundations of all academic disciplines (Plato’s Academy being the first formal institution of learning, and where we derive the word “academic”). Every academic institution and every field of study today has its origins in philosophical thought, even if the thinkers were not formally trained philosophers. Their contributions were the genesis of philosophical inquiry for every subject, from mathematics, to physics and astronomy, to biology and chemistry, and psychology and sociology, etc. Even science is a formalized branch of the philosophy known as epistemology (knowledge), which just has formalized methods and practices of inquiry.

In modern times, the practice of philosophy is relegated to experts in their developed respected fields, such as physics and chemistry and biology etc, also known as PhDs, which (not coincidentally) stands for Doctorate of Philosophy.

Unfortunately, modern philosophers, inhabiting academic institutions and departments of philosophy, fail to make their contributions relevant to world, leading to esoteric discussions and theoretical abstractions inaccessible to the public. These modern philosophers only appeal to their peers, and the problems they wrestle with typically fail to solve any pressing problem that would advance humanity (there are exceptions for those philosophers specializing in consciousness, philosophy of science, intelligence, etc). The problems many modern philosophers devote their attention to are problems generated by a philosophical practice with no clear end game or purpose, and so the discipline is reduced to non-sensical word games.

Every scientist who wishes to make a significant contribution needs to possess and practice a philosophical attitude; this is critical thinking. Challenging assumptions, thinking outside the box, being comfortable with uncertainty.

Philosophy is more important than ever. Why? Because people in these modern academic fields have fallen prey to pride: thinking that that the assumptions that brought us here are sufficient to take us there. This is a grave mistake.

As this article points out, our modern schools teach facts are truth, which is a dangerous. Any reading of Locke, Hume, or Kant will point out the nature of how it is we know anything about the world: through the collection of a posteriori sense data, which is then interpreted via a priori reason. It is the a priori that allows us to interpret effectively, to organize our sense data into meaningful knowledge, using induction or inference. Reason is not some inherent faculty, and humans are not some perfectly rational creature. Reason is cultivated through reflection and education: reason informs our assumptions, which in turn allow us to make meaningful conclusions about our experiences, i.e. our sense data derived from the world.

Facts are not truth. And they should never be taught as such.

Facts are hypothetical statements about the world that have been justified by data and evidence. Facts become facts only after substantial data is collected. As anyone who has taken statistics knows, the margin of error is dictated by the sample size of data. Unless you can collect all the data in the world, at all times, a fact will only exist in probabilistic terms. If a factual claim is tested and remains unfalsifiable (Popper) in every test, it may then become law, depending on its predictive ability.

Facts are the best probable answer we have for the evidence given and weighed. (for example, the statement, “All swans are white” may be a fact, considering that all the swans documented in the world are white at that given time, but as soon as a black swan is born, that statement ceases to be a fact.)

The world is in constant change, and our statements about the world as only as good as the quality of the evidence available today.

Regarding science, one only needs to read Thomas Kuhn to discover how powerful assumptions are in guiding our perceptions, and enlarging our phenomenal experience with the world, which makes acquiring new evidence possible. Paradigms are stories embedded with assumptions and beliefs about how the world works. Being aware of these (often) unconscious paradigms allows us to appreciate their inherent limitations.

If we never challenge the current paradigm, we will become trapped in erroneous thinking.

This is where philosophy steps in.

Einstein famously said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

The task of philosophy, specifically as it relates to science, is to question assumptions, and develop new ways of thinking about the world, so that the fundamental frameworks or paradigms with which we approach and engage the world provide us with as much utility and explanatory power as possible, in order to yield new insights and access new knowledge and understanding.

(In response to this Aeon article)

Cholesterol and Good Health

Fascinating podcast about roles of fats in the American diet, and how they contribute to health or disease, specially looking at saturated fats typically found in meats and natural food, and unsaturated fats common in out contemporary diets, found in vegetable oils…. and how these impact cholesterol, and how their impact on mortality.

Essentially: lower cholesterol = increased mortality

Linoleic acid found in high concentrations of vegetable oils is toxic.

Linoleic acid is an omega-6 fatty acid

Cholesterol is the fundamental building block of all hormone production in the body

More cholesterol ends up increasing longevity

More thoughts later…


Social Activity and the Emergence of Consciousness 

Human consciousness and its relationship to social neuroscience: A novel hypothesis By Michael S. A. Graziano and Sabine Kastner

“A common modern view of consciousness is that it is an emergent property of the brain, perhaps caused by neuronal complexity, and perhaps with no adaptive value. Exactly what emerges, how it emerges, and from what specific neuronal process, is in debate. One possible explanation of consciousness, proposed here, is that it is a construct of the social perceptual machinery. Humans have specialized neuronal machinery that allows us to be socially intelligent. The primary role for this machinery is to construct models of other people’s minds thereby gaining some ability to predict the behavior of other individuals. In the present hypothesis, awareness is a perceptual reconstruction of attentional state; and the machinery that computes information about other people’s awareness is the same machinery that computes information about our own awareness. The present article brings together a variety of lines of evidence including experiments on the neural basis of social perception, on hemispatial neglect, on the out-of-body experience, on mirror neurons, and on the mechanisms of decision-making, to explore the possibility that awareness is a construct of the social machinery in the brain.

“Men ought to know that from the brain, and from the brain only, arise our pleasures, joys, laughter and jests, as well as our sorrows, pains, griefs and tears. Through it, in particular, we think, see, hear, and distinguish the ugly from the beautiful, the bad from the good, the pleasant from the unpleasant…”
Hippocrates, Fifth Century, BC.”

God is Language is “Truth”, Conventionally Speaking

In the beginning God created (bara) the heavens and the earth.
Bereshit bara Elohim et hashamayim ve’et ha’aretz.
[Genesis 1:1]

The word bara in Hebrew means “create”, but more accurately , it means to “name”, or “separate” and “differentiate” and “allocate roles”.

In the beginning, god “names” things, and created distinctions among things.

Not coincidentally, the word barbarian is derived from this root word bara, and is an adjective used depreciatively to denote a person with different speech and customs. And so, it denotes “stranger” or “foreigner”, as someone with another “speech”, or “language”.

In the beginning was the Word (logos), and the Word (logos) was with God, and the Word (logos) was God.
En archē ēn ho Lógos, kaì ho Lógos ēn pròs tòn Theón, kaì Theòs ēn ho Lógos
[John 1:1]

The word logos in Greek means “word” or “reason”.

When you examine these passages, you begin to see how crucial language is to the genesis and development of consciousness, and worldview.

God is language. Language is god. Language creates the world as we know it, by giving names to our phenomenal experiences and perceptions.

The beginning of man, the genesis of mankind, his first waking conscious moments, originated with the advent of language, the beginning of words, the ability to create distinctions with our perceptions through the use of words. The acknowledgment of language as the greatest utility mankind possesses is the pen-ultimate realization.

The ultimate realization is that our language is not reality; our thoughts are not real. 

Objective reality has no inherent value, possesses no inherent sense.

Our perceptions and judgements of it assign value, according to the context we ascribe, through the language we’ve been encultuerated or habituated into, with no conscious effort of our own. 

I specifically think of my previous post: Stories Manifest Reality

Iso-Evolution of Language and Genetics

Words as alleles: connecting language evolution with Bayesian learners to models of genetic drift by Florencia Reali, Thomas L. Griffiths

This publication demonstrates that the transmission of frequency distributions over variants of linguistic forms by Bayesian learners is equivalent to the Wright–Fisher model of genetic drift.

Meaning that, even though there are different “mechanisms” for language evolution and genetic evolution, the abstract processes governing the transmission of frequency distributions is the same.

To me, this has profound implications. There are “physical” forces at work, driving the evolution of this “information”.

Language is information. Genetics is information. The analogy being words are alleles. Language is a complex arrangement and organization of words to render meaningful information, that is then used to guide the actions (behavior) of biological organisms. Genetics is a complex arrangement and organization of alleles to render meaningful information, that is then used to guide the action (behavior) of biological organisms.

This discovery is fascinating, because it reveals that there are “physical” forces at work. And by physical, I’m referring to energy, and the operational principles guiding that energy through matter, specifically biological organisms, on different levels– psychological and biological.

Information is patterns. Patterns result from energy, or heat. Vibrations.

The same physical force driving genetic evolution is driving language evolution.

This indicates an isometric thermodynamic process guiding information formation and evolution processes.

Here I am

Most of my time I spend musing about abstract realities I can escape in, little dilemmas and conflicts I can devote time to reconciling.

This is how I remain preoccupied.

After my ex, I dated, as usual. But this time I decided not to waste my time. I would be myself, and nothing less, as best as I could.

This is a challenging task if you don’t have a sense of self, as I do, when you don’t have a stable center, when you can be anything to anyone, and the unconscious drives me to emulate the reflection of another.

But after the rupture with my ex, I decided to commit to this end, no matter how lonely and uncomfortable. I will not compromise my boundaries, and boundaries define my sense of self, and the value of that self. I cannot depend on others to figure out those boundaries, and I can’t select people I know that don’t mesh with the values I strive to possess.

So I dated.

And I met a 19 year year old. She’s an amazing soul. A damaged soul, but with profound perspective and wisdom. I can’t even get into her trauma and the life she’s lived, but I don’t think I’ve ever met someone with the trauma she’s endured. I don’t know how you recover, but she has, and relatively well. The lifetime of therapy has helped,  and having highly educated foster parents certainly served her well for the eight years she lived with them.

So this girl and I dated for two months. I wanted our relationship to consist of more than sex. I wanted to encourage her to live up to the potential she carried within her. And so, I tried to be a voice of reason, of wisdom.

But she was emotionally invested in another guy, who is, by all objective accounts, a loser. Who treated her poorly, and had nothing going for himself. But she was enamored. So I knew this wasn’t a long term situation.

I continued dating, frugally. And met my current girlfriend, who is a very accomplished… artist? For lack of a better word, without being outright specific. With her, I decided to be my full self, to the best of my ability, and to my delight, she liked me.

I would say it was love at first sight, but I’d be wrong. It was lust. We’re developing the love. Things moved very quickly, and we’ve been together for two months now. I spend about 4 days a week at her place in the city. Her schedule is very busy, and I work in Palo Alto.

I work from 9 until 5, give or take, then head to the gym, on most days. I come home, shower, and drive to see my girl. She doesn’t have a TV, or much else in her little studio. But we talk, and cook, and I read while she works on her projects.

What is life?

Most days my mental energy is divided into three parts: the big questions of life, the business, and my romantic life.

Whenever I’m not thinking of work, my mental and emotional energy is spent day dreaming, reflecting, contemplating… big questions. I hold these concepts in my mind, and let them marinate and meld. I let my brain do the work, by simply holding them together.

If I have a problem, I hold it up in my mind, like a gemologist inspecting a ruby in the sun, letting the rays of intellect reflect and refract off the gem, so I can examine the quality of the idea, its inclusions, clarity, color, and such.

This process is more like meditation. It isn’t rushed. It isn’t hurried. Its relaxed. It’s patient. It’s curious. It is skeptical of emotional tugs and inclinations of bias. It wants logic to reign supreme, with sound justification and plenty of evidence pulled from the unconscious trove of a lifetime of memories.

I am happy.

Am I happy?

It’s not the point.

The point is the process. I am building. I am creating. I am contributing. Time will make thee.

What more can I ask for?

I can ruminate more, ask for more clarity, devote my attention to the questions that scratch my awareness when I’m alone, these empty vessels begging to be filled, like hungry animals.

I’m still working out, for the most part. 223lbs. 12% bf. I suppose that’s okay. I could lose 20lbs.

I don’t feel stable. I am Airbnb’ing my place in Nashville, with all my belongings. Relying on someone to manage this affair, which allows me to pay the rent, and will allow me to store my stuff there for another year.

At any moment I run the risk of having to move, and evacuate. It’s unsetting.

I live in a co-op of 10 other Stanford students. My room is small, but I pay about $500 to live there. They’re mostly harmless intellectuals and hippy types. But all stuck in this weird purgatory, a permanent transition stage, between being a child and an adult, that many don’t seem eager to escape. Perhaps out of feel, perhaps out of laziness.

The Physics of Sociobiological Evolution

I’m always thinking about the big questions, while trying to build this business into something great, so I can have money, so I can devote myself to the big questions full time.

Ive read a lot of EO Wilson this year, though not as much as I’d like. I have most of his books, but only read a handful. He’s been an integral part of my intellectual growth.

His ideas are outside the box. I picked up his book on Sociobiology (1977) earlier this year. It’s mostly a text book, but it was the precursor to evolutionary psychology, a very non-PC topic, especially in our current culture, i.e. that there are evolutionary behaviors with a genetic basis that aid in a species ability to self-preserve. It’s like duh, but then you start exploring implications for gender and patriarchy etc, and it gets controversial

Sociobiology is fascinating. Evolutionary psychology just looks at how genetically based behaviors aid in our survival

We will always saddle the Nature vs. Nurture debate, but in the end, our hardware will determine which software (culture, stories) we ultimately run, due to limitations in complexity and nuance, which is fascinating.

If you examine other mammals, you see some pretty compelling patterns that you can apply to humanity to explain our behaviors, because it’s harder to argue that “culture” explains the behaviors of other animals, like ants.

And ants and bees have culture, but there is a genetic basis.

While many would say these behaviors are not as innate as expected, I think that its just complex… and that’s why its easy to dismiss

But as we gather more data, and have more analytics, this culture, and the universal archetypes and patterns we observe will have more genetic evidence as a basis.

Like, you can abstract patterns across cultures, and there are objective themes that emerge, organizational structures across time and geography and culture.

Examining these “themes” or archetypes, then looking for why these emerge, from a historical evolutionary perspective, and from where they emerge in our biology, and how they manifest in our psychology and sociobiology, and why they emerge as a evolutionary imperative of survival

EO wilson is pretty astute. I think he was ahead of his time

All this is fun to think about, and enlightening.

It answers the question “why”?
Why patriarchy?
Why we do organize as a species this way?
Why institutions?
What is the impact of language? on our psychology and others? On our evolution? on our notion of self? and how does this allow us to fit into society as a valuable member that aids in its preservation?

What is the end game for humanity? AI? super intelligence?

I would love to talk about a specific topic that I’ve been obsessed about for years now, and really haven’t hashed it out a ton, namely: How Biological Evolution and Thermodynamics (conservation of energy) are one in the same

How everything boils down to energy distribution and transfer, and all life is an energy capturing mechanism.

I think once we understand the physics of energy as the driver of life and adaption, we will understand evolution, and be able to even predict it

Thinking of ecologies as energy systems, and organisms as finding ways to inhabit those energy systems, by adapting to become more efficient at capturing and transferring energy.

And human ecology aka economics,i.e. supply and demand, of resources, of energy, of our ability to capture energy.

I’m rambling.

Every organization of matter (organisms, institutions) is an efficient energy system. It wouldn’t arise if it wasn’t. The imperative is that it aids in the survival of its members, of the whole. Patterns of being, patterns of action, patterns of action.

When thinking about evolution, and specifically genetics, I believe it’s important to keep this in mind: energy transfer, resource capture, efficiency, is the imperative driving evolution on a genetic level.

Race is a political construct, and it really isn’t important from an evolutionary biological perspective, unless you are looking for why there is a survival advantage. It’s skin pigment. So, it’s really a useless genetic marker for anything anything deeper about our composition.

Now, humans may organize in a tribal way, a way that allows that pigment to survive, because of breeding, and cultural inclusion, but I think its more important to look at the biological or genetic markers for driving propensities of behavior, the fundamental psychological genetically based hardware that provides the capacity for these behaviors, such as language.

I do think language is a massively important factor in the survival of humans, and certain “groups” of humans and their capacity for language, allows certain Homo Sapien sects to survive better.

Perhaps certain cultures have a greater capacity for language.

Perhaps there is a genetic for this capacity.

What about Jews? Their affinity for memorizing text, the Torah, and their contributions to science, and their Nobel Prize winnings.

Genesis of Consciousness

Consciousness is a byproduct of socialization.

The formation of “Self” only occurs in the presence of “others”. Self is how we distinguish our individual body and mind from others.

It arose due to our ability to modify beliefs after information (propositional knowledge) is acquired from “others”, as a result of communication, a social enterprise, but more specifically, vocal language, which transcends other forms of communication such as pheromones or gestures, and adds infinite complexity to our data capturing ability.

The reflection that arises from consciousness is due to our ability to put ourselves in another person’s shoes, given personal knowledge, which allows us to see ourselves from the “others” perspective, which allows us to update knowledge and beliefs.

This is why consciousness is so valuable.

Consciousness is a habituated form of self-reflection. A computer can be super-intelligent, as it relates to efficiently processing inputs and learning from outputs to produce optimal outcomes, but is decidedly not conscious, because it lacks the ability to reflect on its “self”, the socially constructed concept of internalized identify.

Just as self-awareness increases with the addition of perspective, often a result of education, but not always and not guaranteed, as more options to choose a frame or context for action to produce optimal outcome in that context, or application.

The unconscious reflections operate on our behaviors all the time. We mediate our instinctual impulses for self preservation, with the values and imperatives we’ve been conditioned/ enculturated with.

I think of consciousness and AI, and the concept of “reflection” like the process of “back propagation”, where new data is introduced to update beliefs, or re-weight functions of thought to create more balanced probability processing networks that produce consistent optimal outcomes.

Genesis of Life

Does the flow of heat help us understand the origin of life?

So Jeremy England has caused a splash in the biological life sciences this past decade because of this “physics based” approach to life systems. 

When I was in college I thought a lot about this topic, namely that life arose as a result of thermodynamic forces. 

I didn’t have the vocab or tool kit that England has, being I’m not a physicist or biologist.

But I thought a lot about economics, and how it applies to life and ecological systems.

Everything is supply and demand, namely of energy.
Energy is what sustains life. We consume energy to live. Economies are just efficient systems of transferring energy (goods and services that aid in our self preservation) that allow of the proliferation of life (population growth being the marker)

So this read is compelling and his hypothesis resonates deeply with my intuitions.