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Wall Street Journal cranks up the Universal DarwinatorTM

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The Perpetual Now by Michael D. Lemonick From Michael D. Lemonick, author of The Perpetual Now: A Story of Amnesia, Memory, and Love (2017), at Wall Street Journal:

Our ‘flashbulb memories’ of shocking events like the Challenger disaster or 9/11 seem sharp but are almost always inaccurate

Scientists have long known that memory is unreliable. It isn’t like a video recorder, storing events faithfully for the future, as the experimental psychologist Elizabeth Loftus of the University of California, Irvine, likes to say. What we remember is usually based on what actually happened—but tainted by related information that we might have acquired days or even years later. We might talk over the event with friends, for example, mingling their own memories with our own. We might read about it. We might see a movie and subtly incorporate parts of the film into what we think we experienced firsthand.

That’s well established and it bears directly on one of the most discreditable episodes in social sciences, the claims made by the “recovered memories” movement, which wrecked lives and relationships based on a science folklore concept of how memory works.

Then we hear the dull thud of the DarwinatorTM at work:

That makes sense in evolutionary terms. Our memory systems weren’t designed by natural selection to help us tell precise stories, which would have had little survival value. They were designed to help us accumulate knowledge to make sense of the world and to navigate it better. The Challenger tragedy reminded the U.S. that space travel is incredibly dangerous. Pearl Harbor jolted Americans out of their isolationist complacency. When our brains update flashbulb memories, they become less accurate, but their essence remains very much intact. More.

Biophysicist Kirk Durston kindly writes to say, in the finely nuanced style characteristic of an outdoorsman,

This is utter drivel … ” Our memory systems weren’t designed by natural selection to help us tell precise stories, which would have had little survival value.”

What a joke! It is conjectured by someone who obviously has precious little experience in wilderness areas. I spend quite a bit of time in remote wilderness forests and navigate to or from camp by things like a ‘small swamp to the left’, an outcrop next to the big tree, and ’the stream that runs in that draw over there’, etc.

If evolving, primitive man couldn’t tell the difference between correct reality and imprecise memories, he’d be lost all the time and could never explain to someone else where camp is, or where the Moose tracks are.

Evolutionary story-telling gets pretty bad sometimes, much worse than an average novel one can buy at the store.

The story deteriorates especially quickly when it touches on the origin of anything that might be relevant to the development of language. Cf Tom Wolfe’s The Kingdom of Speech.

Note: Really, inaccurate memory is a much bigger mystery than accurate memory. A tape recorder’s virtue is that it never thinks. Understanding inaccurate memory might help us understand the mind better, but only if we are not principally interested in  Darwinizing the account.

Philosopher Laszlo Bencze also wrote us, to offer:

So I’m reading the WSJ today. It’s Arts and Opinion section always has interesting stories. One of them is about how our memories of important events are tainted by other memories and are riddled with things that did not actually happen. I encounter this:

We might see a movie and subtly incorporate parts of the film into what we think we experienced firsthand. That makes sense in evolutionary terms. Our memory systems weren’t designed by natural selection to help us tell precise stories, which would have had little survival value. They were designed to help us accumulate knowledge to make sense of the world and to navigate it better.

So twice we encounter the word “design” with the clear implication that natural selection is an active, conscious, decision making agent. Natural Selection, an impersonal and random process, uses design in the normal of sense of “creating with a goal in mind.” The contradiction slips comfortably under the radar. It reinforces the agenda that evolution makes sense and explains everything. So what’s a little contradiction when we’re explaining the Truth? Only nut case Creationists and ID proponents could possibly object and who needs to pay them any mind?

It is not simply the topic at hand—imprecise memory—but rather how thoroughly Darwinian terms and Darwinian thinking have saturated our collective consciousness. The saturation is so complete that no one (other than curmudgeons like me) notices the obvious contradiction between Natural Selection as the sum total of all random events in the biosphere and Natural Selection as a conscious agent.​

No fear, when the DarwinatorTM busts, WSJ will just order another one. Be sure no one will sit down and think about what they are thinking. Bad for the all-natural brain.

See also: Split brain does not lead to split consciousness?

and

Unravelling the recovered memories hysteria

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3 Replies to “Wall Street Journal cranks up the Universal DarwinatorTM

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    Of related interest to real memories vs. fake memories:

    In the following study, materialistic researchers who had a bias against Near Death Experiences (NDEs) being real, set out to prove that NDEs were ‘false memories’ by setting up a clever questionnaire that could differentiate which memories a person had were real and which memories a person had were merely imaginary.

    They did not expect the results they got:

    ‘Afterlife’ feels ‘even more real than real,’ researcher says – Wed April 10, 2013
    Excerpt: “If you use this questionnaire … if the memory is real, it’s richer, and if the memory is recent, it’s richer,” he said.
    The coma scientists weren’t expecting what the tests revealed.
    “To our surprise, NDEs were much richer than any imagined event or any real event of these coma survivors,” Laureys reported.
    The memories of these experiences beat all other memories, hands down, for their vivid sense of reality. “The difference was so vast,” he said with a sense of astonishment.
    Even if the patient had the experience a long time ago, its memory was as rich “as though it was yesterday,” Laureys said.
    http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/09/.....periences/

    Memories of Near Death Experiences (NDEs): More Real Than Reality? – Mar. 27, 2013
    Excerpt: University of Liège
    ,,,researchers,, have looked into the memories of NDE with the hypothesis that if the memories of NDE were pure products of the imagination, their phenomenological characteristics (e.g., sensorial, self referential, emotional, etc. details) should be closer to those of imagined memories. Conversely, if the NDE are experienced in a way similar to that of reality, their characteristics would be closer to the memories of real events.
    The researchers compared the responses provided by three groups of patients, each of which had survived (in a different manner) a coma, and a group of healthy volunteers. They studied the memories of NDE and the memories of real events and imagined events with the help of a questionnaire which evaluated the phenomenological characteristics of the memories. The results were surprising. From the perspective being studied, not only were the NDEs not similar to the memories of imagined events, but the phenomenological characteristics inherent to the memories of real events (e.g. memories of sensorial details) are even more numerous in the memories of NDE than in the memories of real events.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....190359.htm

    Exactly how is it possible for something to become even ‘more real than real’ in a NDE unless this reality really is just a shadow of the heavenly paradise that awaits us after death as is held in Theism and in Christianity in particular?

    Special and General Relativity compared to Heavenly and Hellish Near Death Experiences and The Resurrection of Jesus Christ as the quote unquote “Theory of Everything” – video playlist
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbKELVHcvSI&index=1&list=PLtAP1KN7ahia8hmDlCYEKifQ8n65oNpQ5

    And since Christianity has ALWAYS claimed that the infinite Mind of God sustains all of material reality in its continued existence,,,

    Colossians 1:17
    He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

    ,,, then on Christianity this finding is expected whereas, once again, materialism is found to be at a complete loss to explain this finding.

    A Doctor’s Near Death Experience Inspires a New Life – video
    Quote: “It’s not like a dream. It’s like the world we are living in is a dream and it’s kind of like waking up from that.”
    Dr. Magrisso
    http://www.nbcchicago.com/on-a.....31791.html

    Medical Miracles – Dr. Mary Neal’s Near Death Experience – video (More real than real quote at 37:49 minute mark)
    https://youtu.be/WCNjmWP2JjU?t=2269

    “More real than anything I’ve experienced since. When I came back of course I had 34 operations, and was in the hospital for 13 months. That was real but heaven is more real than that. The emotions and the feelings. The reality of being with people who had preceded me in death.”
    – Don Piper – “90 Minutes in Heaven,” 10 Years Later – video (2:54 minute mark)
    https://youtu.be/3LyZoNlKnMM?t=173

    Verses:

    Matthew 6:19-21
    “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

    2 Corinthians 4:18
    So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

  2. 2
    EvilSnack says:

    I thought the Darwinator was something like this.

  3. 3
    Dionisio says:

    So twice we encounter the word “design” with the clear implication that natural selection is an active, conscious, decision making agent. Natural Selection, an impersonal and random process, uses design in the normal of sense of “creating with a goal in mind.” The contradiction slips comfortably under the radar. It reinforces the agenda that evolution makes sense and explains everything.

    Perhaps this happens because important details and words don’t mean much to many people anymore? Or maybe they never did? Thus describing past events in whatever manner seems fine.
    Sometimes we describe a recent situation so poorly that the person listening our story doesn’t get it. Actually, the endangered species of people who tend to provide accurate details when telling a real story are considered boring folks in modern terms. And this is not only telling stories. I’ve seen people fall sleep when I try to describe some fundamental biological process in easy to understand terms. It’s too boring.
    Definitely we may add some “fioriture” to a story, but only as a filler for the irrelevant parts that don’t change the main substance of the message.
    When I describe where I was and what I was doing when the 2001-09-11 terrorist attack happened, I always tell the same story over and over again. However, some irrelevant details might have never been described accurately even a few hours after those events, depending on how important they were for the person who experienced that given situation.
    Perhaps this somehow relates to what has been said about the meaning of what we experience. Many will have experiences but only few will care about the exact meaning of those experiences.
    Maybe that’s one of the reasons modern social communication on FB or Twitter seems so frivolous and superficial on many occasions? That’s what most people care about anyway.
    Through years, when people asks me about some past event in my personal life, my wife exclaims in desperation “oh, no, don’t ask him that! Now he’s gonna tell that same story over again”. Obviously she reacts that way because she’s heard the same boring thing so many times. Because I repeat what I consider relevant facts as well as I remember them, in order for the story to make sense and be understood correctly, although some irrelevant details might not be so accurate. But to many people exact meaning may not be that important. Who cares about anything being coherent and making sense? Actually, I think it depends on the topic. Maybe we are selective about accuracy? For example, when my wife and I visit some place and later describe it to relatives and friends, my description of what we saw or experienced may not be quite the same as my wife’s. And we were exactly in the same place at the same time. She may describe certain details I didn’t even notice, or don’t recall because they weren’t important to me.
    The word ‘design’ means much, nothing or something in between, depending on the person.
    We are seriously told to test everything and hold what is good. But that request implies that we know what ‘good’ means. When Eve was asked if God really said what she thought He had said, she should have gone back to God and ask Him to repeat what He had said. Instead, she doubted it and eventually believed a lie. We know the rest of the story. We were made to be good, but were given the choice not to. We chose the latter. Too late now.
    BTW, does this I just wrote make any sense? 🙂
    PS. When I was in middle school we used to dance when they played happy sounding songs with very sad lyrics. I didn’t realize that until many years later.

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