top of page

Survival, fear and conformity.

fear is extremely useful, has kept us alive. But the nature of fear has changed, even though the part of our brain processing fear has largely remained the same.  Instead of sabretooth tigers, today most of us live in large societies. The amygdala processing fear also processes anxiety and aggression. it has a direct link with the thalamus. We fear failure because if there is a chance of failure, i is something we are weak at. Did you have some fear the first time you went on the internet or the first time you drove on the road? probably. But after 100 times, you no longer fear this because we are confident of the outcome.
We fear failure because of uncertaitny. Awfulising. It is easier and nautral for you to think of why you shoudl be fearful than why you should not be fearful.

We also fear failure because of conformity. If someone else has done it before, surely they have put thought into it. What odes it mean if i went against society or what others are doing? And conforming is not always a bad thing. we follow everyone else by brushing our teeth before and after we go to sleep. There's no need for us to re-figure out a path because this works. The problem though is that sometimes we conform even if it doesnt make sense

Video 1
Asch experiment
Miligram experiemnt 


 

Stories and associative networks.

we are made to tell stories. Eveyrthing that happens, we give it a story so we understand it.
 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wp8ebj_yRI4. Check out this video (1 min long). It's just 3 random shapes moving about, and yet we have written a story. 


Now recall the incident of the judges. Or the attractive face. Do they really knew it was pupil dilation or a lack of brain glucose that affects heir deciison? No, but they come up with a story to explain it.
Think of everything you know and every piece of information you processed today - eveyrthig has a story to it.
Festenburg - Cognitive dissonance. 

We want thing to fit together. We want a common consistent narrative. We find it difficult to process contradictions and complexity (This war criminal actually loved the children in his village, no just want to condemn him to evil. Nelson Mandela and Gandhi had no impure thoughts)

In fact, reality does not come from your sense, but it is a combi of both inward proessing and what comes from your 5 senses. Only 10% of your picture of the world comes from what you actually see. Don't believe me?

Bandura experiment 
Kahneman's colonscopy experiment
Monet painting?
Robert Kleck Scar experiment 
Paul Rozin sugar solution vs sodium cyanide


We thik we have beliefs because of arguments, but in reality it's the other way around - we believe in arguments because we believe their conclusions. Beliefs and opinions comes first, and then we believe in arguments that are psychologically coherent or cohesive with the conclusions we believe in. 
All roses are flowers

some flowers fade quickly
therefore some roses fade quickly

Is this a valid argument? It's not. The conclusion is true but the argument isn't. It's possible that all flowers that fade quickly are not roses, but we go with the inuitive anwerr. 

 

HOW DO YOU BECOME MORE CREATIVE? ASSOSCIATIVE NETWORKS 
CONTEXT - INGOCNITIO EXAMPLE FROM EAGLEMAN

In associative, coherent netowrks, he way you describe problems and outcomes plays a large role in affecting your thinking.  10% mortality vs 90% survival - the former is scarier than the latter. 
cash discount vs card surcharge - we can forego the discount but we hate an additional charge - gaining means less than losing someting. and the worst thing is you dont recognise this. 

Opt -in vs opt-out.

Anything suggested to us we have a higher chance of accpeting. We are highly suggestible. - power of defaut options. 

We jump to conclusions by answering the simpler queston than the mre difficult question. 

What is the size of the figures on the screen? the 3-dimensional interpretation is simpler than the 2-dimensional one, and that's the one we go with. THis happens for fear - it's easier to answer why you should be fearful than why you should not be fearful. 
A bat and ball cost $1.10. The bat costs one dollar more than the ball. How much does the ball cost? {PUT THIS INTO HABIT/CATERGORISATION
A number came to your mind. The number, of course, is 10: 10¢. The distinctive mark of this easy puzzle is that it evokes an answer that is intuitive, appealing, and wrong. Do the math, and you will see. If the ball costs 10¢, then the total cost will be $1.20 (10¢ for the ball and $1.10 for the bat), not $1.10. The correct answer is 5¢. It%">5¢. is safe to assume that the intuitive answer also came to the mind of those who ended up with the correct number—they somehow managed to resist the intuition.

 

50-80% of university students, even those from the top ranking universities in the world, get this wrong. 
The belief in the conclusion governs the beliefs in the argument. people generally reason backwards - when we belief in the conclusion, we believe in the argument. We are much less reasonable than we feel we are. We have beliefs and we have reasons. But we do not believe what we believe rpimarily because of the reasons that come to our mind. We believe what we believe because we have been told to believe this things by people we believe and trust. But subjectively that is not how we feel. We feel it is because  of he reasons, and that other people who do not accept our beliefs are unreasonable. Inside all of us in a machinery that works to remove doubt, that we know things even when we don't. 

let's try a simple example:
the 2 colour model

Let's try another example:

the voice reocridng.

let's try a 3rd example:
turning in a circle.

 

Your reality is parially shaped by your brain. You can shape what your brain thinsk about, and if you don't the brain simply does so unconsiously based on what mostly goes on in your thougths. 

 

Kiki and bubu effect

Ca  y u  rea  t is?

y u  a e  not rea  ng  t is

w at  ar    ou  rea in ?
why do you fill the "h" in "what"? because your past experience told you to do so. 
even when the information is incomplete, or not useful, your brain makes it useful.

Again, this is often very useful, but how can you be sure?
You read it as What are you reading?
Why can't it be what are you dreaming?

Most of your life happened without you there.
Your mind is constantly redefiing it's normal. But a lot of this defining depends onthe history of our ancestors and 

 

Your fears, your critics, your heroes, your villains: They are fictions you perceive as reality. Choose to see through them. Choose to let them go. – Isaac Lidsky


 

Chanel no 5 example?

Categorisation and selecive attention

Try this
30cm

Try this
Opera singer

Try this
recall the last restaurant you went to: how many tables and chairs were there. Recall what you last ate. Why can you rememebr one but not the other.
try this

Your brain is automatically making connections  
Michael Jordan, Dentist
Katy Perry, nuclear scientist
Do you just read the words, o do you automatically attribute meaning - not likely? We evaluate familiarity and surprise. Look at this lady's face? You immediately associate her to be angry - you dont need to think about it. I thappens automatically and constantly. We are always evalauting emotion in the world around us. 

You compute some things automatically and quickly. A and C looks alike. You don't compute some things : Same no. of blocks in 2A as in 2B. 

You are automatically compute the average length. But what is the total length? Now that's weird. How do we norally compute average? we take the sum divide by the parts. Assessments that are natural and assessments that are not natural. Fear is natural. Assessing why you are fearful is not natural and requires effort. 

the brain processes a lot fo shit. It's goal is to automate it, so that you can consciously decide on things which are new. If you had to evaluate every peice of information, you willg o crazy. The eyes import 2 billion peices of info per second. Imagie processing that!

 

But categorisation and selective attention comes at a price
Do you recall crowded room - party. soeone calls out your name. why? becase your brain is wired to hear things you are interested in.

Us vs them 

Hand experiment 

We get very fast answers to complicated questions - we are a machine for jumping into conclusions. 
vomit - you can't help reading the word. You have no control, you just read.
There were images and memories that came into your mind. your pupils dilated and your heart rate went up by a notch, you were more likely to sweat. These happens for everybody - they increased only slightly, it was weak, but it happens for everyone. Your facial expression changed at least  a little. You recoiled, just a little.  You are more alert and more vigilant than previously. You are now more sensitive to words like nausea, sick, smells, stink... The power of just one word - leads to not only unconscious reactions within a second or two - but a network of associative reactions., and it is coherent set of reactions. It's not accidental. Your mind works in a network. 
similarly, think of what fear has on you. It's a similar network of associative. DOUBT AND AMBIGUITY ARE reduced by the machinery of conclusion. what is needed for the acquisition of skill is feedback that is immediate and unequivocal. if feedback is delayed or ambigious, learning is retarded. Sometimes learing is not essentail (e.g. umping off a building). but skills need feedback. 

 

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes. Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

And int he same way it starts noticing what it thinks is importatn to you. After you buy a Tesla, you start notcing more tesla cars. f you are looking for opportuntiies, you see more opportunities. Tony Hsieh.

And this extends to your whole frame of thinking. When Hery Ford build new cars - people wondered, what is wrong with the horse? we want faster horses. 

Habits

AA
why does it work?
Dispenza
New connections form. Experiment of the synapses formed even thinking about playing the piano. 
What wires together firs together. ANd eventually it gets stored in the basal ganglia. 

Once you do something long enough, even what is unnatural becomes natural. Anyone who has been in the army for some time will recongise how life has changed.  It becomes "effortless" - in reality your brain is actually still working very hard, but you are no longer conscious of it. 

What you don't do often, what does not come naturally is effortful. Why is this signficiant? Your brain only has a limited ability to do effortful things. We can force ourselves to do 2 things that are effortful but performance will suffer. But once you are familiar enough with it, you can drive even if the driver's wheel is on the left instead of the right and converse in a new language.
However, if you are  trying to memorise many pages of facts for a presentation tomorrow, and having to interact with new people, you are more likely to be politically incorrect. 

 

“The question you should be asking isn’t, “What do I want?” or “What are my goals?” but “What would excite me?”

6. “If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is, too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.”
The fishing is best where the fewest go and the collective insecurity of the world makes it easy for people to hit home runs while everyone is aiming for base hits.
 


 


 

Tim Wilson University of Virginia conducted a study to tst the following claim: "I don't know a thing about art but I do know what I like." Partcipants were asked to choose a poster to display in their homes. They had 5 options: a Monet, a Van Gogh, and 3 pictures of aniamls. Most people instintively preferred the fine art, but when asked to descrie their reactions, found it much easier to articulate reasons for liking the animal pictures. (Unless one has sme formal eudcation in art, it can be quite difficult to discuss Impressionist work. Talking about a smiling cow, on the other hand, is a breeze.) As a result, they began to favor the critters ad chose them over the impressionists. After a few months, however, their original peferences resurfaced: 3/4s of those who put up the animal poster on the wall regretted seeing it every day; none of the partcipants who folowed their orginal impulses and chose the Monet or the van Gogh felt bad about the decision

Neurogenesis

How do you become more creative?
 

Looking Out of a Skyscaper
Boxer
Guy on SUP
Sleeping Dogs
Space Supernova

Habits
Make yourself cues. Find small rewards.
Understand dopamine. 
Develop routines

Dispenza video

Friends positivty cylces and mirror neurons.
Moran Cerf article
Vs Ramachandran
FInd the right people to give advice. The people living the life you think you might be itnerestd in. Bill Burnnett

 

Neuroplasticity}wires together fires together
Math vs geography teacher
Myelin and white matter
Not just connections and synapses, but the size of different parts of your brain, e.g. your amygdala and pre-frontal cortex can atrophy with stress.
How do you deal with stress?

Do you ever surprise yourself, finding that you have done something without thinking about it? Do you ever notice that you feel sad or happy, but aren't sure why?

In 1990, physician and neuroscientist Paul MacLean provided one possible explanation of this phenomenon in his book, The Triune Brain in Evolution. Although scientists now know that some of the details may be wrong, it remains a useful concept. The idea is that our human brains are really composed of three parts:

1. The reptilian brain, composed of the basal ganglia (striatum) and brainstem, is involved with primitive drives related to thirst, hungersexuality, and territoriality, as well as habits and procedural memory (like putting your keys in the same place every day without thinking about it or riding a bike).

2. The paleomammalian (old mammal) brain, including the hypothalamus, hippocampus, amygdala, and cingulate cortex, is the center of our motivation, emotions, and memory, including behavior such as parenting.

3. The neomammalian (new mammal) brain, consisting of the neocortex, enables language, abstraction, reasoning, and planning.

Automatic routines which, over time, we have learned do without thinking about them, such as playing tennis and even driving, are largely performed by our reptilian brain. So when we are driving and, at the same time, engrossed in a conversation with a friend, we may find that we have driven somewhere with no memory of how we did it — that’s because the reptilian brain was doing most of the driving.

Sometimes, something that we are not conscious of, such as a particular smell, can trigger a complex emotion for reasons that our conscious mind cannot understand. That can occur because the paleomammalian brain has processed the smell, retrieved a memory related to the smell, and triggered the emotion relevant to that experience. It is only once our neomammalian brain becomes conscious of the smell and the memory that we understand our emotion. For example, you may find that you are at a restaurant and suddenly feel an overwhelming sense of sadness that you cannot understand. It is only upon reflection that you realize that the woman at the next table is wearing the same perfume as your best friend, who died last year.

In my work as a cognitive behavioral neurologist and researcher, the concept of the triune brain often helps me understand what is happening to my patients. Most of my patients’ brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, affect the paleomammalian and neomammalian brains, leaving the reptilian brain relatively intact. This pattern of brain damage helps explain many situations:

  • “I know grandma has Alzheimer’s, but how can she remember how to play the piano when she cannot remember my name?”

    • Conscious memory and naming occur in the paleomammalian and neomammalian brains, whereas procedural activities, such as playing a musical instrument, occur in the reptilian brain.

  • “My father was always a polite, gentle man, but since he developed dementia, he will take other people’s food and may hit someone to get his way.”

    • Our neomammalian brains — and, in particular, our frontal lobes — govern our behavior, inhibiting the primitive drives from our reptilian brain when they are not socially appropriate. When Alzheimer’s dementia is in the moderate or severe stage, the neomammalian brain deteriorates to the point that it can no longer regulate the reptilian brain, such that primitive urges and drives are acted upon.

  • Because the neomammalian frontal lobes are the main governors of the reptilian brain, when a patient comes into my office and the family tells me that the very first problems which occurred were socially inappropriate behaviors, such as asking one’s daughter-in-law for sexual acts (a real example), I worry that a disease affecting the frontal lobes is present, such as frontotemporal dementia.

article continues after advertisement

Given that there have been 10 million years of evolution developing our neocortex — our neomammalian brain — why does it seem to fail so often in normal individuals? Why do we so often hear about politicians and celebrities acting on their primitive drives and urges and committing horrendous acts?

The answer is one that any small child can give you: We all can make a choice, a choice as to whether we are going to give in to the primitive urges and desires of our reptilian brain or, instead, use our neocortex to control them.

Emotions vs rationality.
Frankly, one is not better than the other. You need both.
Even your rationa mind is prone to biases. And even if you knew these biases most cannot preven the biases from taking place.

- checklist (e.g. munger)

- More important is working through the decision you are goin to make. Fear setting is great for this. 
- mindset - focus on a growth mindset
- seek disconforming evidence

 

  • You depend on your senses to receive information about the world

  • But it is the brain that interprets the information : I met Person X; he had a warm smile and a firm handshake

  • For more important things, your brain automatically formulates a story: 

  • How you formulate these stories in turn depends on the assumptions and biases that you carry from previous stories you have chosen to believe / formulated: 

  • In turn, the stories that you have previously formulated or chosen to believe affects how you interpret new pieces of information.  

I have no time. I am scared. I can't do this, I have family responsibilities.

We learnt in "how our brain works" that the natural reaction to any change in life is always resistance. 

Khaled Hosseni wrote the "The Kite Runner", a NYT bestseller for over 2 years, despite being a full-time doctor.  Elon Musk manages 6 massive companies, and yet spends time with his 5 kids. If something important enough, you will prioritise and make time for it. Laura Vanderkam's excellent Ted Talk will help with your prioritisation

Fearful of taking action, even after fear-setting? Courage is like a muscle, it can be built up. In this podcast, Caroline Paul, a firefighter speaks about how through the accumulation of micro-bravery, you can build up your courage.

Family responsibilities bugging you? Jesse Itzler speaks about how he builds his Life Resume. He sets aside 365 hour a year (1hr/day) to create memories he treasures, including living with monks and training with a Navy Seal. He encourages his wife, Sara Blakely to do the same, so they can make arrangements to cover each other in parental duties to their 4 kids. Both are owners of multi-million dollar companies.

bottom of page