Archive for the ‘humans’ Category

Isn’t clapping an odd thing we humans do?

March 15, 2008

We bang our open hands together which produces a sound.  We call it “clapping.”  We repeat it over and over. We perform this action when we want to express enthusiasm.

I got to thinking about this today.  “What an odd thing to do,” I thought.  “Why would people swiftly, almost violently slam their hands together?  Why is the sound that is produced in any way indicative of support? (It’s just a noise)  When did this clapping custom begin?  Is it a recent thing, or have peopled been doing this for a long time?”

Anyone know the history of clapping?

Have you ever wondered why other people are so unreasonable and hard to convince?

October 25, 2007

“A man with a conviction is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point.” [Leon Festinger, et al., When Prophecy Fails (1956)]

Have you ever wondered why other people are so unreasonable and hard to convince? Why is it that they disregard hard facts that prove you’re right and they’re wrong? The fact is, we humans aren’t wired to think very rationally. That’s been confirmed recently by brain scans.

Psychological experiments have shown that humans tend to seek out even weak evidence to support their existing beliefs, and to ignore evidence that undercuts those beliefs. In the process, we apply stringent tests to evidence we don’t want to hear, while letting slide uncritically into our minds any information that suits our needs.

The Wisdom of Crowds by Brooks Jackson and Kathleen Hall Jamieson

From protoplasmic soup to humans … from today’s machines to _____ in 500 years?

October 11, 2007

It seems to me that the word “machine” is getting to be a bit out of date. For centuries, words like “mechanical” made us think of simple devices like pulleys, levers, locomotives, and typewriters. The word “computerlike” inherited a similar sense of pettiness, of doing dull arithmetic by little steps. But we ought to recognize that we’re still in an early era of machines, with virtually no idea of what they may become. What if some visitor from Mars had come a billion years ago to judge the fate of earthly life from watching clumps of cells that hadn’t even learned to crawl? In the same way, we cannot grasp the range of what machines may do in the future from seeing what’s on view right now.

The Society of Mind by Marvin Minsky