Pragma Synesi – interesting bits

Compendium of interesting bits I come across, with an occasional IMHO

I predict (myself), therefore I am

A fascinating view of consciousness. Worth the effort to read all the way to the end.

The Hard Problem of Consciousness

It looks like scientists and philosophers might have made consciousness far more mysterious than it needs to be

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December 14, 2016 Posted by | behaviour, brain, neuroscience, philosophy | | Leave a comment

Before you judge others or claim any absolute truth

I can’t seem to find the origin of this, but it seems to be going viral. Is it by  Seems to fit…

“Before you judge others or claim any absolute truth, consider that…

… you can see less that 1% of the electromagnetic spectrum and hear less than 1% of the acoustic spectrum. As you read this, you are traveling at 220 kilometers per second across the galaxy. 90% of the cells in your body carry their own microbial DNA and are not “you”. The atoms in your body are 99.9999999999999999% empty space and none of them are the ones you were born with, but they all originated in the belly of a star. Human beings have 46 chromosomes, 2 less than the common potato. The existence of the rainbow depends on the conical photoreceptors in your eyes; to animals without cones, the rainbow does not exist. So you don’t just look at a rainbow, you create it. This is pretty amazing, especially considering that all the beautiful colours you see represent less than 1% of the electromagnetic spectrum.”

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May 28, 2012 Posted by | philosophy | , | 2 Comments

Utilatarians should craft legislation

Apparently, utilitarians are psychopathic, Machiavellian misanthropes — and they make great legislators.  From the Sep. 24th, 2011 print edition of The Economist:

Moral philosophy: Goodness has nothing to do with it

Utilitarians are not nice people

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January 30, 2012 Posted by | behaviour, philosophy, politics | , , | Leave a comment

When simplifying reality doesn’t work

Science is just coming up with better and better ways to predict something by simplification of reality — discovering “causations”. Statistics is supposed to help us with this.  But we tend to forget that causations supposedly found this way are not reality, just something we come up with to help our ability to predict better.  The universe is extremely complex, and simplifying assumption can make our predictions wrong.  A fascinating article from Wired magazine, January 2012:

Why Science Is Failing Us



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January 5, 2012 Posted by | behaviour, decision making, philosophy | , , , , | Leave a comment

Thought for the day

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God? — Epicurus, philosopher (c. 341-270 BCE)

That could serve as a proof that there is no god, but then if you consider the definition of evil and realize that what is considered evil by one may not be so considered by another, there goes your proof.  I still like the saying, despite its flaws.

November 9, 2010 Posted by | philosophy | , , | Leave a comment

Keep believing in free will

The question of free will is a subject of debate, but it’s not the focus here.  This article looks at how believing (or not)  in free will affects human behaviour.  The quote below grabs the essence — but the full article below is worth reading.

“…findings demonstrating the antisocial consequences of viewing individual human beings as hapless pin balls trapped in a mechanical system…”

April 19, 2010 Posted by | behaviour, philosophy, psychology | | Leave a comment

Conservatism and cognitive ability are negatively correlated

From the journal Intelligence, Volume 37, Issue 3, May-June 2009, Pages 294-304:

Conservatism and cognitive ability are negatively correlated

Lazar Stankov

Available online 3 February 2009.


Conservatism and cognitive ability are negatively correlated. The evidence is based on 1254 community college students and 1600 foreign students seeking entry to United States’ universities. At the individual level of analysis, conservatism scores correlate negatively with SAT, Vocabulary, and Analogy test scores. At the national level of analysis, conservatism scores correlate negatively with measures of education (e.g., gross enrollment at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels) and performance on mathematics and reading assessments from the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) project. They also correlate with components of the Failed States Index and several other measures of economic and political development of nations. Conservatism scores have higher correlations with economic and political measures than estimated IQ scores.

June 18, 2009 Posted by | philosophy, politics, sociology, Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment

The 10 Videos to Change How You View the World

10 videos to change how you view the world

“TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a huge conference held each year. The best thinkers come together and share their ideas. Their website,, has hundreds of free speeches. Here’s ten that might just change how you view the world”

October 24, 2007 Posted by | philosophy | Leave a comment