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Is your brain filled with garbage?


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#26 stumpy

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Posted 24 April 2017 - 11:09 PM

I always find it strange when people complain about friends playing games on computers and consoles, but you can always find the complainer glued to a game on their mobile/cell phone, to them its a phone with extras and not a computer you can also use as a phone.



#27 Destined

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 02:30 AM

I completely agree. It is not only people who play themselves on phone, it is also often people who spend a lot of time in front of the TV (in my generation my parents are a good example). I believe, it is simply how you grew up. My parents always saw computer games as just another toy. And just like other toys they thought that at some point you are too old for using it. For me games are just another medium for conveying a story. Of course, some games are less story oriented than others, but to be honest, the story in many action movies can also be summarised in two sentences, so there is not such a big difference.

Mobile games, on the other hand, are, as far as I heard of them (I mostly play Sudoku and Go on my phone), very dumbed down and require to more or less randomly tap on your screen, so the story is even more negligible than for even the stupidest action game. And these at least require quick reflexes or something similar, so the moblie games are really just for wasting time. But as I said, I don't play much on my phone, so I might underestimate the complexity of most games.

Anyway, I can also not understand people complaining about gamers, as gaming is just another hobby. It might not be as productive as building something on a workbench, but it helps people to relax. So, as long as it is not the only thing you do all day, I don't see any harm in it (even if it might "spam" a part of your brain). If you lack exercise and contact to other people or other more important activities suffer because of it, you might consider playing less.



#28 Anderson

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 09:08 AM

Tell them why they read belletristic books. It's not even literature. "Fifty shades of gray" and other excrements of poor writing, one step from being rendered as softcore pornography.

That is a waste of everyone's goddamn time.


 "I really perceive that vanity about which most men merely prate — the vanity of the human or temporal life. I live continually in a reverie of the future. I have no faith in human perfectibility. I think that human exertion will have no appreciable effect upon humanity. Man is now only more active — not more happy — nor more wise, than he was 6000 years ago. The result will never vary — and to suppose that it will, is to suppose that the foregone man has lived in vain — that the foregone time is but the rudiment of the future — that the myriads who have perished have not been upon equal footing with ourselves — nor are we with our posterity. I cannot agree to lose sight of man the individual, in man the mass."...

 

 

- 2 July 1844 letter to James Russell Lowell from Edgar Allan Poe.

 


#29 V-Man339

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 09:50 AM

I am not going to say why or how my brain is filled with garbage, but the answer is yes.

I am ashamed to admit I still remember bizarre details from the Star Wars universe that are of complete and utter pointlessness, as well as names of caricatures from old stealth games from 2002, so the answer is an absolute yes.


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#30 Destined

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 10:41 AM

Tell them why they read belletristic books. It's not even literature. "Fifty shades of gray" and other excrements of poor writing, one step from being rendered as softcore pornography.

That is a waste of everyone's goddamn time.

Well, regardless of quality and difficulty reading is always more demanding than TV or games, as you actually train your imagination, while in the other media more impressions are given. And one point of the original post was that the concentration span is reduced by spamming your brain.

 

I think it is quite difficult, where the line between spam and useful knowledge is to be drawn. Memorising stuff is in general good keep your brain active and for this it should not matter if you memorise Star Wars facts, stats from you favourite RPG or rather poems or scientific facts. I would naroow the range of entertainment of the original post to the shallow crap on the level of reality TV (in Germany called "Hartz IV"-TV after the social paiments long-time unemployed people get). Anything that does not stimulate your brain to critical or problem-solving thinking. It is true that most of the knowledge about games is not relevant in the real world, but the problem solving skills are often applicable as long as a person can transfer the knowledge to the real world problem.



#31 Anderson

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 01:09 PM

Well, regardless of quality and difficulty reading is always more demanding than TV or games, as you actually train your imagination, while in the other media more impressions are given. And one point of the original post was that the concentration span is reduced by spamming your brain.

 

I think it is quite difficult, where the line between spam and useful knowledge is to be drawn. Memorising stuff is in general good keep your brain active and for this it should not matter if you memorise Star Wars facts, stats from you favourite RPG or rather poems or scientific facts. I would naroow the range of entertainment of the original post to the shallow crap on the level of reality TV (in Germany called "Hartz IV"-TV after the social paiments long-time unemployed people get). Anything that does not stimulate your brain to critical or problem-solving thinking. It is true that most of the knowledge about games is not relevant in the real world, but the problem solving skills are often applicable as long as a person can transfer the knowledge to the real world problem.

 

True but really, any sort of media in excess is bad. Everything should be in moderation.

It's a thing that should be taught in school - critical thinking and taking everything with a grain of salt. Raising aesthetical standards. 

​I don't believe motion pictures or video games are inherently worse than books. It's just that many movies and video games are mediocre when it comes to comparing them to masterpieces like Dostoyevski's books or a Robinson Crusoe. It's why it will take a while for people to take video games more seriously.

When it comes to movies we don't really watch The Godfather each time. But good cinema is specifically that which doesn't use those trendy things in excess like FX. Michael Bay in a nutshell.

That's why Tarkovsky is underrated or why 1 out of 10 people will know who Ingmar Bergmann is. But that is good cinema. One that respects you and through which you can objectively have a good, damn time (if those movies are your thing). Alternatively there's nothing wrong with Tarantino or Scorsese. But not fall into postmodernist, shallowness and mediocrity to  "Fifty shades of gray" as a good movie. That's horrible.


 "I really perceive that vanity about which most men merely prate — the vanity of the human or temporal life. I live continually in a reverie of the future. I have no faith in human perfectibility. I think that human exertion will have no appreciable effect upon humanity. Man is now only more active — not more happy — nor more wise, than he was 6000 years ago. The result will never vary — and to suppose that it will, is to suppose that the foregone man has lived in vain — that the foregone time is but the rudiment of the future — that the myriads who have perished have not been upon equal footing with ourselves — nor are we with our posterity. I cannot agree to lose sight of man the individual, in man the mass."...

 

 

- 2 July 1844 letter to James Russell Lowell from Edgar Allan Poe.

 


#32 Destined

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 01:55 PM

 

Raising aesthetical standards.

I assume, you meant ethical standards. You could argue that the aesthetical standards are some part the problem in modern society: Everything has to look good, regardless of what's behind it (or if it's in any way useful).

 

I think films and video games are inherently worse than books only in regard of how much you have to use your brain, when you experience them. The former take over some of the input, whereas the contents of a book are experienced completely in your mind. This has the consequence that your brain has to work harder. But I don't think that it is generally worse. For example, the experience you get from a book is strongly limited by your own experience. This is why many children don't mind fairytales, which are at some points extremely gruesome, as they cannot imagine what it really means that e.g. the witch has to dance to her death in blazing shoes, but get nightmares, when they watch a horror movie. So, while a film maker can exactly convey what he imagined, when he made the movie (or regarding restrictions through technical possibilities, available actors etc at least the closest he could get), an author can not really predict how you expereince a book, because much of what you imagine requires experience in that field. At the same time, you can "learn" more from films, if they are about a field you have less experience. A dance, for example, might be described in all detail, but if you don't know the dance itself, you will still not know how it looks like. If I wrote: "They danced a sensual Tango" (or more detailed, which movements this involves) only people who dance themselves or have seen people dance a Tango will know how exactly it looks like. In a movie you can see the people dance a Tango and will actually know what it looks like afterwards.

 

All in all I would say that each medium has its own merits and drawbacks. I enjoy a good book just as much as a good movie or an interesting video game. They are just different media to convey content. However, as I said before, books are most demanding for your brain, which is why more and more people tend to avoid them as they have more convenient ways of experiencing stories. And in this lazyness lies a danger that the original post wanted to point out (I assume). People get tired of using their brains and rather use a convenient alternative for everything they can, to a point where they are no longer able to use the "hard way". If they then get into a situation, where they don't have access to the easy they will be in trouble...



#33 Anderson

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 02:08 PM

I don't know if people really don't read as they used to. To me the people who used to like reading still do.

They just don't use printed books that much anymore.

Libraries aren't used that much anymore. They are just another place to organize events - good for lectures, seminaries, round tables and so on. Very often even for purposes unrelated to literature such as doing Rubic's cube events (I once went to one just for the heck of it even though I barely learned the basic formula).

 

The point is people today acknowledge that it's easier to download the Kindle or Kobo app and read stuff from there. On the contrary - it makes good literature even more accessible to the common man. That is a good thing.

 

The point is that printed books are also objectively more expensive too. A good book on a narrow subject of academic study can cost easily a few dozens of dollars or even a hundred or two. I'm not even mentioning periodicals with monthly pay.


Edited by Anderson, 25 April 2017 - 02:10 PM.

 "I really perceive that vanity about which most men merely prate — the vanity of the human or temporal life. I live continually in a reverie of the future. I have no faith in human perfectibility. I think that human exertion will have no appreciable effect upon humanity. Man is now only more active — not more happy — nor more wise, than he was 6000 years ago. The result will never vary — and to suppose that it will, is to suppose that the foregone man has lived in vain — that the foregone time is but the rudiment of the future — that the myriads who have perished have not been upon equal footing with ourselves — nor are we with our posterity. I cannot agree to lose sight of man the individual, in man the mass."...

 

 

- 2 July 1844 letter to James Russell Lowell from Edgar Allan Poe.

 


#34 Destined

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 03:43 PM

It is true that literature is currently more acessible than ever before. Many classic books like the Sherlock Holmes books are commonly available for free. However, when I get a glance of the phone of people in public transportation, especially younger ones, you usually do not see them reading, but rather playing some "Clash of Clans" etc mobile game. And that is the sad thing: Books (in whichever form) and other knowledge about anything is available to anyone anytime, but many people rather waste their time with nonsense. And with nonsense I mean games that do not require you to think. You tap on your screen and get rewarded for this tap and that. I believe we had a thread some time ago about games offering some small time rewards for not effort but simply time spent. And many people prefer these games above something challenging.

 

Regarding printed books: The price very much depends on which books you are looking at. Common fiction is usually not too expensive, espcially as paperback, as long as it is not out of print (how I cursed, when I once missed one book of the "Malazan Book of the Fallen" series). Scientific texts, on the other hand, are inappropriately high. Especially scientific magazines. You pay a lot of money that a publisher publishes your work and then other people pay almost as much money so they are allowed to read it, although basically everyone payed for most of the research in form of taxes anyway. If you are not currently a student (in which case the univeristiy usually pays for a couple of subscriptions), it is simply not worth to pay for a subscription to a magazine. In case of books the main problem is the low number of copies. For the editor to cover the costs, it is unforunately necessary to demand a higher price, so this makes sense to me, at least.



#35 Anderson

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Posted 26 April 2017 - 12:24 AM

https://mobile.nytim...l?_r=0&referer=

 "I really perceive that vanity about which most men merely prate — the vanity of the human or temporal life. I live continually in a reverie of the future. I have no faith in human perfectibility. I think that human exertion will have no appreciable effect upon humanity. Man is now only more active — not more happy — nor more wise, than he was 6000 years ago. The result will never vary — and to suppose that it will, is to suppose that the foregone man has lived in vain — that the foregone time is but the rudiment of the future — that the myriads who have perished have not been upon equal footing with ourselves — nor are we with our posterity. I cannot agree to lose sight of man the individual, in man the mass."...

 

 

- 2 July 1844 letter to James Russell Lowell from Edgar Allan Poe.

 


#36 Destined

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Posted 26 April 2017 - 03:42 AM

I have heard of the Foldit predecessor. Did not know that there are other similar projects. Yes, they are a nice combination between "stupid" clicking games and science, which shows that even these can have their merits ;)



#37 Anderson

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Posted 26 April 2017 - 03:38 PM

Btw another interesting game with awesome gothic writing here: http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com

​These people also made the more renowned Sunless Sea.


 "I really perceive that vanity about which most men merely prate — the vanity of the human or temporal life. I live continually in a reverie of the future. I have no faith in human perfectibility. I think that human exertion will have no appreciable effect upon humanity. Man is now only more active — not more happy — nor more wise, than he was 6000 years ago. The result will never vary — and to suppose that it will, is to suppose that the foregone man has lived in vain — that the foregone time is but the rudiment of the future — that the myriads who have perished have not been upon equal footing with ourselves — nor are we with our posterity. I cannot agree to lose sight of man the individual, in man the mass."...

 

 

- 2 July 1844 letter to James Russell Lowell from Edgar Allan Poe.

 


#38 AluminumHaste

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Posted 26 April 2017 - 08:49 PM

This holds true for about 90% of the population - what we may call "Elites", on the other hand,do not let that happen to themselves - they are healthier, live longer and are cognitively more competent than ever, mostly because they avoid overeating, laziness and entertainment religiously:

 

 

While I would like to believe that's true, I have found that rich Elites are just as dumb and lazy as everyone else.

At my job, I have to sign people up for services and I've found that rich, poor and middle class are all like this.

 

The big difference is that the rich people are entitled morons, while the poor are mostly just morons.

 

I mean, people who've lived at an address for years, and still don't know what their Postal Code is.


I always assumed I'd taste like boot leather.

 

#39 Sotha

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Posted 27 April 2017 - 01:43 AM

One thing to note is that people have more free time than ever. 100-200 years (just a few generations) ago people worked most of their time. Also, before electricity, daylight was so scarce in northern countries, people were sleeping if they weren't working to survive. Working in darkness was perilous.

Technology improved the productivity so much that now people have spare time, and the filling of spare time a whole 'new' industry.

What people consider 'garbage' is subjective. Some people waste their time playing games (mobile or PC), others watch movies, othes read books (high-culture or low-culture) and some discuss in the social media. Discussions can get really easily get down to "my garbage is less garbage than yours." In a social media bubble it is easy to agree that "their garbage is less garbage than ours."

With what justification can we label something as garbage? Some kind of objective "usefulness metric" should be devised. But that is subjective, too: for example, following stock exchange news is far more useful than reading high-culture books, if you are inclined to make money by investing. Culture people are bound to disagree, because to them high-culture books have some intrinsic culture value, the investor does not see or understand.

I wonder if this, in the end, is just fundamental questions of
1) what is good life?
2) what is happiness?

Modern people are quite free to examine these questions and pursue them according to their own desires. Clearly in the above example culture people valued culture more than making money. When a World of Warcraft player dies, does he consider their high-level character as one of the main achievements that gave their life meaning and fulfillment? What about the person who read everything Hemingway or Dostojevski or Hawking wrote?

Remember the electrical outage I mentioned some time ago? I challenged myself with one week of offline-life recently. When I returned to my normal life afterwards, I realized that actually the offline week was slightly more valuable and happy than the normal life. Reasons for this increased value may be, but not limited to novelty, more sleep, less being busy and more perceived time. It is difficult to exactly pinpoint all contributing reasons for a general good feeling.

I am starting to think people have certain needs which -when fullfilled- generate happiness. It is difficult to get to know one self well enough to know what one really needs.

Entertainment (or garbage or alcohol and drugs for some) is sort of a substitute that distracts people from noticing what they really need or want (or are fated) to do in life. It is easier and more obvious to get the instant gratification from entertainment, rather than experiment and work to find ones true needs.

What do you think is "good life" or "time well spent?" Are you aware what makes you intrinsically happy (not being entertained by the entertainment industry, but rather the happiness that arises from seeing meaning and fulfillment of one's life.)
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#40 Judith

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Posted 27 April 2017 - 03:16 AM

Remember the electrical outage I mentioned some time ago? I challenged myself with one week of offline-life recently. When I returned to my normal life afterwards, I realized that actually the offline week was slightly more valuable and happy than the normal life. Reasons for this increased value may be, but not limited to novelty, more sleep, less being busy and more perceived time. It is difficult to exactly pinpoint all contributing reasons for a general good feeling.

 

I think it's not that difficult to identify those things. In a very short period of time, something around 10 years maybe, people have been exposed to gradually increasing stream of information. We are being bombarded with data, and our brains have not yet adjusted to that, in terms of biology and evolution. Maybe that will change in next generations. What is worse, even in our spare time, we seem to be addicted to processing (mostly irrelevant) information, just for the sake of it. That's why we visit "infinite scroll" websites like soup.io, tumblr, or facebook, even after a hard day at work. No wonder people have serious sleep problems, when their brains are constantly working. What you did was getting back to more natural conditions for a human body, with less information to process, more sleep, and more getting around your environment.

 

As for a good life, that's a very uncomfortable question for most people, because if you ask them, "are you happy with your life?", most of them will say "no" (at least if they're honest). Getting distracted with entertainment moves that question, and the scary bigger picture, away from us.


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#41 Sotha

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Posted 27 April 2017 - 05:23 AM

@Judith,
Interesting view that you think most people honestly are not happy. Any particular reason why you think so?

I was thinking that people are, in general, happy with their lives.

I mean, if they were unhappy, surely they would do something about it, and thus unhappiness would be a temporary matter that would eventually be resolved. But sure, there is always room for improvement and people could be even more happier, and the question could be interpreted that way as well.

I'm thinking happiness is more like a skill you can train, and not like candy that you buy, consume and need more. This, provided of course, that the basic life needs are satisfied, there is enough food, shelter, etc.

It is sort of interesting that recent studies indicate repetitive negative thinking (a great obstacle preventing happiness) is linked to insufficient/problematic sleep, yet still people choose to sleep too few hours. Less entertainment (or work) and more sleep could make it easier to be happy. Are we being entertained so heavily (games, movies, books, social media) we lose sleep and get more unhappy because of that?

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#42 Judith

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Posted 27 April 2017 - 06:06 AM

Yeah, it's mostly because a lot people devalue themselves, they act like they don't deserve happiness, settling for jobs, partners, and relationships below their true potential. Starting basically anything that you could file under "...of my dreams" category is scary, because you can always fail. And because of that, people don't try it and settle for less. Happiness is definitely a skill and you have to actively practice it.

 

I see a lot of potential in my friends for example, but they often settle for less, because they don't see that they're that awesome, and with some courage they could be anyone and do anything. A lot of my relationships are actually based on helping other people improve, and this one of the biggest pleasures in life for me. But, you have to be careful, since not everyone actually wants that kind of help ;)


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#43 Sotha

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Posted 27 April 2017 - 07:07 AM

Hmm.. I do not fully agree with you. I think settling for less might be a totally viable strategy for happiness.

Striving for better [insert thingy here] is not necessarily a good strategy, because that results in a happiness treadmill: "I would be happier if I had a big house" -> you get a big house -> "I would be happier if I had a big house with a sea view!" That way you are always discontent because you already want the Next Best Thing, right?

That way, it is better to stick to the stuff you already have and get the most out of them. Sure, there are always exceptions: if your spouse beat the crap out of you, it is definitely good idea to strive for better.

But carefully choosing the matters what to strive for is a really good idea.

I, for example, was once interested in boss-level positions because of the responsibilities and high salary. Then I read a newspaper story where the journalist followed some bosses through their work day (or "work eternity", more like). No thanks, I'll gladly settle for less. I am perfectly satisfied with my current position and I got happiness from knowing I am in the right place, and I do not feel discontent when the bosses rush around in their Porsches.
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#44 Destined

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Posted 27 April 2017 - 07:08 AM

Very interesting statements! I agree, that disconnecting from technology for a time can be very soothing. A couple of years ago, I went hiking and camping in Scotland with a couple of friends and although it was physically tiring (especially the first days, when you are not used to walking large distances), it was fun and to some extent very calming. I was also surprised how little we actually talked while hiking, but somehow we rather hung after our own thoughts than talking to each other. I think this was one part why it was calming, as it gave us the opportunity to self reflect and order your thoughts instead of being subject to the steady stream of information common in our society. And the hiking also gave a sense of success, when we finished the day's section of the hike or scaled Ben Nevis.

 

Defining one's happyness is really difficult. It is something that can change momentarily and, at least for me, strongly depends on the part of my life. In my private life, I would say that I am happy. I have a great girlfriend, I have no permanent quarrels with my family and have not very much to complain, in general. With my work life, on the other hand, I am quite unhappy. I have no job, am just about to finish my PhD, which took way longer than the regular time and in turn reduces my chances to get a job, and to top it off, I don't really know which kind of job I actually want. But at some point, I know that I will find a job and maybe I will discover that this actually is the job I was looking for...

The "... of my dreams" might in some cases be something worth striving for, but I think it more often than not is what makes people unhappy. Not just the fear of not achieving it, but rather the feeling that you could have (or even deserve) something more or better. Let's say, for example, my girlfriend is not the woman of my dreams. Still, I love her and am happy with her. Would it be better to continue searching for a woman that is perfect in my mind, but most likely simply does not exist, or is it better to be content with what I have? In my opinion, being content with what you have is the most basic requirement for being happy. This does not mean that you should not improve yourself or that you should accept each and every situation. But if your situation is good enough (or even a bit better than that), you will never be happy if you continue looking for something better.


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#45 Judith

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Posted 27 April 2017 - 07:38 AM

I think we're mixing a bit too many factors here, and in essence we all agree. By happiness and fulfilling our personal potential I meant, somewhat idealistically, what we know and discover, that is good for us, from a purely intimate perspective. Not what your mum thinks is best for you, or what society perceives as a success in life. That's relative and redundant (although it is very present in culture and comes with a certain social pressure, no doubt about it).

 

Possessions and money become, either with age or when you're financially stable, less and less important. Being a part of certain community, being respected, making this planet a better place, making at least one person on Earth happy, those things start to occur to you if you pursue money as a goal for too long, and realise it's irrelevant.



#46 Springheel

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Posted 27 April 2017 - 11:41 AM

What do you think is "good life" or "time well spent?"

 

 

 

There is also the problem that there are essentially two "you"s.  One is the "experiencing self" that is an agent of action; it is the you that makes decisions and is in the moment.  And there is the "remembering self" that thinks back on things, processes them and assigns them meaning.  This is a theory, anyway, put forward by Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman.  He claims that the psychological present is only about 3 seconds long, and that everything in your head that goes back further than that point is, essentially, a fabrication put together by your brain to tell a story.  You can get very different results when you ask someone about their experiences in the moment (how hungry are you, how much pain are you in, how happy are you) and when you ask them about the same moment a few hours later.

 

That's why it's possible for something to be very compelling in the moment, but seem like it was a waste of time when you look back on it later.  Two entirely different parts of your brain are analyzing the activity.

 

Anyone interested in this, and in how modern devices are being designed to appeal to the "experiencing self", should listen to this recent podcast on the subject:  https://www.samharri...ogy-doing-to-us


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#47 Sotha

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Posted 28 April 2017 - 09:55 AM

@Spring, thanks for sharing! That listening to that certainly was time well spent.

Now, where is the "I gained insight" -button? ;)
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#48 jaxa

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Posted 28 April 2017 - 01:07 PM

@Spring, thanks for sharing! That listening to that certainly was time well spent.

Now, where is the "I gained insight" -button? ;)

 

Right next to the "Panic" button.






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