Saturday, March 31, 2007



Biological information

Readers interested in epigenetics should, for sure, read the two following texts, one called A Toxic Hand-Me-Down and the other called Epigenetics. The idea presented there is that biological information can be altered by toxic material and can trigger changes in phenotypic appearance of living creatures.

There is also evidence that this change of causes and effects may work the other way round. That means that some kind of behavior is “translated” as biological information, then stored in DNA, and then influencing the phenotypic appearance of the individual. This was observed by a C. G. Weaver and his team and published in his paper called Epigenetic programming by maternal behavior.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


Concrete and generalized ideas


Concrete situation and generalization

A time ago I argued that the term „island“and „kitchen-island“are similar in the general idea of „something being surrounded by something else“. The same general idea is hidden in the terms “language island”, “political island” or “economical island”.

I had to mention this to be able to continue with the next idea. In this paper neuroeconomics it is written that many subjects have problems solving the problem of four cards, where the cards show sign “X”, “Y”, “1” and “2”, and being asked which cards will have to be turned over to test the rule: ”If there is “X” on one side there is “1“on the other side.” Funny, some cannot make this out, but if this is given as a task of two schools and two counties, then basically everybody understands that it is necessary to check the child address. This is commented as that they can understand the problem better when set into “cheating-defecting” frame; meaning that people feel that somebody who is in one county and going to the other county school is cheating.

Well, this might be correct but I suggest that this assumption of “cheating-defecting” frame is wrong. I think that it is not the “cheating-defecting” frame that makes people to understand the problem easier and give fast and proper solution but the fact that it is concrete case from lived reality, whereas the “X”, “Y”, “1” and “2” system is highly generalized and many people cannot compare the concrete situation with the generalized situation, spite the fact they are logically absolutely the same.

And now let’s get back to my argument about “islands”. Most probably we did not realize that island is in fact “something surrounded by something else” but we knew that island is a piece of land surrounded by water. That means we could see only real facts and not the generalized rule; most probably we had not been able to see this for many millennia; now we already understand the “substance” of the word “island” as “something being surrounded by something else” and therefore we can make “new” meanings to the term “island”. “Language island” is a piece of land where certain language is used and people living around speak some other language etc. So the general idea of “something being surrounded by something else” is true. One specific language is surrounded by some other language.

So the problem is not the cheating-defecting frame but the difference between “touchable” facts strictly correlated to reality, lived and experienced reality and “untouchable” highly generalized symbols.

Actually, there is another example from my tutoring experience. Students have mostly problems to understand if their teacher tells them some kind of theory in its highly generalized wording. If, on the other hand, teacher knows that and explains the new stuff based on something real, students usually get that immediately, which again shows that the problem is not cheating-defecting frame but the difference in the ability of grasping highly generalized rules. Mostly people cannot do that, mostly people need something real they can “touch”, then they understand even the most difficult stuff.

In some other words this idea was written by Comenius some 350 years ago, in his work “Didactica Magna”, where he teaches the teachers to proceed from “known and easy” to unknown and difficult”.

And “known and easy” is always concrete, and it is obviously easier to understand by all people. Only few human brains are capable of thinking in new and highly generalized terms, mostly we need to “translate” the generalized idea into a representation of real touchable and old known system. Then we can even understand Einstein. The more real and “normal” the representation is the easier it is to understand it and via this known representation we can easily understand whatever complex and highly generalized idea.

This goes hand in hand with the idea I described in my previous paper on neuroeconomics about relatively closed groups of people being a good subject to genetic as well as memetic research. The fewer changes in real life the smaller the ability to understand generalized ideas and so relatively isolated groups of people (Czechs and Chods among Czechs, e.g.) perform worse on generalized tasks, as their brain have had no or only few chances to develop this system of generalizations. This is valid not only for Czechs but all people living life with only few changes, like country people compared to city people who are subject to many changes every day and so have also developed higher level of understanding of generalized ideas.


Concrete and generalized ideas

Here I post my ideas on several ideas of three professors in their paper on Neuroeconomics, I really think that specifically these two posts are worth reading. Think when you read it.


Relative isolation of group of humans

Information, genetic information, memetic information, information processing, homeostasis, tolerance, genetic island, language island, political island, economic island, neuroeconomics,

In this paper neuroeconomics (this PDF file has 56 pages and is written in English) several extremely interesting topics joining psychology, neurology and economics can be found. One of such topic, at least for me, is the evidence that there is a huge difference between emotionally and cognitively triggered responses. There also seem to be strong evidence for the fact that cognitively driven actions appear later in the whole process of brain data processing, where at the beginning it seems to be just only the pleasure, which in turn might be the simple product of homeostasis. How this works can be explained easily:

Consider following situation: A friend of yours has bought a new SUV and you would like to have it too, in order to be like him spite the fact that you really do not need such a huge car, you only transport yourself because you work as a professor and your friend needs that SUV as a strong car for pulling cars damaged in accidents as he lives on repairing such cars.

So what happens first is emotional, as a part of homeostasis; emotions guided to protect you and your social position in the hierarchy in the groups of humans around you. Much later when you slowly realize that you do not need this car, you slowly begin to define your exact requirements your have on your car. That is the cognitive, logical part of our brain logic. The first one, the illogical, the emotional part, was the one to force you to get the same or even bigger car as your friend has.

Actually, I believe that envy might be a product of homeostasis, the process which strives for stability and functions as corrective system if it finds too severe differences, and tries to get rid of these differences.

I believe that people living for relatively long time in relatively severely closed groups, like those on islands, or in “language-islands”; or even political- or economical-islands, might perceive envy more severely when somebody from outside the group comes and “destroys” their homeostatic equilibrium. People living in more differentiated society with many different inputs will have developed more “tolerant” homeostatic system and do not envy so severely.

Here I would like to explain my terms “language-island”, “political-island” and “economical-island”, and also compare these a bit with population really living on an island like Icelanders, who are being used for tracing down “bad” genes; as it is easier to do such genetic project in population relatively isolated from the influences from the outside world.

Experts in genetics are involved only with biological, genetical information, but humans developed the second way of evolution, the mental or as I call it, memetic evolution. There is already evidence that even such memetical, mental information gets written into DNA, specifically to that part of DNA that does not code for proteins, formerly called “junk DNA” and today being subject to great scientific efforts, under the name epigenetics

So it seems that also this mental, memetic information is extremely important for evolution, and it might reveal itself as the second stage of evolution, leaving the sexually selective stage of evolution behind. If this really is so, and I strongly believe it is, then, of course, mental, memetic information “behaves” the same way as genetical information. In this case, when tracing down the beginning of some genetic disease is easier in population living on an island, then, tracing down beginnings of some mental, memetic disorders, or just only differences between groups of people, it must be much easier to search for the differences in populations that are relatively isolated.

Relatively isolated groups of people, from memetic point of view, are people who put barriers around their groups. Such barrier can be language. Why some languages are perceived as barriers and some are not, depends on the context in which the language exists. English e.g. poses no barriers; actually everybody tries to learn English as much as possible nowadays. Some other languages can act as barriers - Czech e.g. - there is little sense in learning Czech for people from other nations, but some do, but only really few. So Czech language works as a barrier around the nation and so relatively it is isolating the nation from the memetic information. Mostly, languages that are extremely difficult or languages spoken only by few individuals, or languages spoken by a nation that seems not to contribute to the wealth of mankind may be perceived as barriers, not worth the effort to learn them. Therefore such nations live in “language islands”, the memetic, cognitive information is not passed over to them and their development slows down and remains at lower level, or there might be some memetic information passes over to them, but it is in low quantity, maybe even low quality due to miserable translation or it is processed in improper way. Language islands so isolate the group of people in the same way as water isolates the people on an island in the sea.

Similarly, political island or economic island are terms describing the relative isolation of group of people, they do not get certain type of cognitive, memetic information, for the reason, of being politically prevented from getting such information; examples might be all nations under the reign of communists in recent history, or nation or groups so poor that they cannot afford any kind of books or other reasonable media carriers. Another example can be any group of people living relatively far away from towns, taking care only of their cow herds, having no books, no schools, no TV etc. There are stages of such isolation, the language-, political- or economic islands are never as absolutely isolated as a real island in a sea. There is always a possibility of getting “some” information, but mostly too little and not good enough and the processing of such information is also full of mistakes.

Sometimes there are country people who can afford to visit their capital only once in their lives. Such people of course, also suffer relative isolation and are subject to slower mental, memetic or cognitive evolution. This would be then the example of economic island, or group of people living on such an “economic island”, being economically deprived of or cut off information stream, and thus being slowed down in their individual as well as in their group development.

Sunday, March 25, 2007



Repetition in science, in philosophy and in life, in evolution and in evolutionary psychology

Some days are boring, and some other days are extremely fruitful. Today it is such a fruitful day. This morning I have read two things, a book DNA by Watson, and article in New York Times called “Compassionate Commercialism” by Daniel Gilbert, a professor of psychology at Harvard, is the author of “Stumbling on Happiness.”

Watson describes how HD gene was found, and the today’s results of knowledge on so called Huntington disease. The result may be shocking for some people, for me, it is the evidence for extra-importance of repetition in evolution. In specific region of DNA called IT15 repeating sequence of CAG was found, in people who acquired HD as adults, this sequence repeats more than 40 times, those with fewer than 35 CAG sequences in this region of DNA will no get the disease.

This might be a good evidence for the role of repetition in evolution in general, if there will be more of such cases where suffering from a disease will be a consequence of a number of repetitions of a certain sequence in our DNA. I suppose this will and must be the case, as repetition is the basis of evolution.

This simple fact can be observed even today with our limited possibilities as far as time is concerned. We do not live ten thousand years to be eye-witnesses of a change in DNA caused by some adaptive change. Today we can see how important repetition is when we learn some foreign language or we practice some sport. The more we get involved in certain activity, i.e. the more we repeat the activity, the better we get, because we get adapted to the challenge. Another example is driving a car. It takes many thousands of kilometers driven to make a good driver. When somebody sits in a car for the first time, his actions will not to good, with kilometers driven the person gets better thanks to repetition of the task.

So this was one thing that stroked me few hours ago, as it is, for me, strong evidence that repetition is the stuff that caused evolution and is still working. The second thing was that exactly on the contrary sometimes it is enough to experience something only once and the change occurs immediately, as described in the article by Daniel Gilbert. How does this go together?

Gilbert says in his article that people are made to help. I believe that the problem is a bit tougher. I suggest that people are originally not good and not helpful. The reason is pretty easy: we lived in dangerous and heavily competitive environment described by only two facts: eat or be eaten. There were always enough predators, and so during all the evolution everybody has learnt this fact. The situation described by “eat or be eaten” has repeated during the eons of evolution really many times. How come then, that we usually help other people? The explanation is just as simple: it is again only repetition. When some ancestors of humans and humans themselves started to live in groups they found out it makes sense to help each other. This again repeated so many times that we have this evolutionary information of helping stored in us, we must only find where and how it is stored. But how is it possible that it took such a long time in evolution to establish a firm evolutionary adaptation, and then it can be broken by a single event as described in Gilbert’s article?

We have stored both types of evolutionary information; it seems to me that under normal life condition, when we experience mostly only cooperation in our human environment, then we are also helpful, because evolution and repetition have programmed us so. But we have also stored the previous evolutionary information about the danger of being eaten up. It is only necessary to “initiate” or to trigger the program stored. Sometimes a certain activity must be repeated very often to show any impact, sometimes only one occurrence is enough to trigger the stored information, when only strong enough.

Exactly the severeness of information is the point. If we have two contradictory pieces of evolutionary information stored, then, one can prevail in certain environment, if the environment changes the second evolutionary information is activated and we respond accordingly. This is the case David Gilbert describes, first he was helpful as most of us, then, when noticed that he was cheated by pretended signals, he learnt his lesson and will behave differently.

As I have experienced this too, my solution is at first check if the signals are proper or pretended. Similarity can be found in the case of marriage swindler. Such a man pretends signals that women expect to get from a man who loves them, and therefore they misinterpret the signals and get caught of guard.

So we can see ho important repetition is in evolution. Actually, evolution is nothing else than getting used to manifold repetition of some environmental signal. And to see such two nice pieces of evidence for my ideas on evolution on one single morning is really inspiring and confirming.

Friday, March 23, 2007


Amygdala and Neocortex in solving adaptive problems

After I have written the previous posts I found next link being as interesting as the other ones, so I cannot resist posting this link too, there is too much truth in that information to stay hidden.

I do not want to retype or repost the post from other blogs, and so I only post the link and you can read for yourself and maybe this will even help you understand yourself as a human being, having problems with the two parts of our brain; one, amygdala, being responsible for fast emotional reaction, and the other, called neocortex, being responsible for logic type of thinking.

Usually, when you will be confronted with a problem you have never met before, it might take really long, long time before you get some reasonable results out of your neocortex. If you will be exposed to similar problems several times, then, each next time the time needed for finding solution will be shorter. Finally, after several repetitions of the same or similar problem and your successful solution of it, this information will be placed from neocortex to amygdala and you will get the solution of the problem, when exposed again to it, immediately.

Think of it, it has huge impact on everything that we repeat many times, like speaking, car driving, any sports, like goal keeper getting the puck, he must train a lot, to get good, and training is repeating. Take reading in your mother tongue, the more you read the better word-power you have. People who read only little or only simple text, usually cannot express themselves properly. The same is also valid for studying foreign languages, you must practice to maintain or even develop your foreign language skills further.

It is possible to write a book on this topic, so important it is, so click on the link and read the text.



There are days when Google including its Alerts, delivers tremendous amounts of “MEGA”-interesting information. Today is such a day, and below you may try to use the links and read the text in order to enrich your cognitive knowledge. The steps uncovering new facts that have been made in really the most recent times are huge and to my opinion of extreme importance and strongly inspiring.

Here just only a small list of my today’s choice links to such information in the World Wide Web. I will write no comments to these links. Just read the information and think for yourself. It’s fun too.


The Rape of Dr. Willis

Film that brought me to write this short remark on differences between groups of humans on differenmt level of evolution.

The film The Rape of Dr. Willis

In this ironic drama, a hard working, devoted doctor finds herself accused of murder after the man who raped her dies under her care.

This is the original text, synopsis of the film. I will try to describe the story in a bit more detailed way.

Dr. Willis was raped by a man. This man was later on delivered to hospital and was operated by Dr. Willis. She did her best but the man died. Layer-assholes tried to find evidence that Dr. Willis “murdered” the man because she recognized him as the man who raped her, and therefore she operated him with the aim to let him die as a sort of revenge for having been raped by him. The chief Doctor also a woman who seemed not to like Dr. Willis too much showed up as a fair person a defended her. Nevertheless, Dr. Willis was fired by the director of the hospital. The chief doctor and all the medical staff submitted their notices, upon which the director had no choice but let Dr. Willis do her job as a doctor in this hospital.

Well, there is some difference among groups of people. In some groups of humans this is considered normal and proper behavior. Some other groups might understand that this type of behavior is the proper one, spite that they cannot display this type of behavior because they are used to put their own wealth above the truth and fairness. Some human groups even cannot properly recognize what fairness really means.

Typically in the group of humans called Czechs the second type of reaction prevails heavily. Unfortunately, as it is a way of slowing down memetic evolution, or socialization of humans. Some other groups of humans, at higher level of evolutionary development display the first of the two possible behavioral reactions.

Actually, we may see that when quality is changing through evolution, the first signal to it is the change in number of demonstrations of a certain behavior. So, it is quantity that suggests the change in quality, and one of the first people to mention this was, Marx, Karl Marx, German philosopher whose ideas were misinterpreted and misused for communistic totalitarian social system.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Morality in animals

This is my answer to the text that you can find here.

Morality in primates and other animals

It is nice that scientists have found beginnings of morality in apes. I, on the contrary, believe, that based on real evolution, morality can be traced much further back. Vampires have a system of reimbursing favors, which in their case means they offer information on source of blood to somebody who “told” them before. Dogs have a certain hierarchy, expressed in position of sleeping, therefore dogs like to sleep on sofa (who sleeps high is the boss).

Morality is a set of rules valid in certain society, so it is a rule among vampires to help each other if the help is reimbursed. Among dogs it is the right of the boss to sleep on a higher place than the others, well, a king has a throne, basically every boss in human society when addressing others does so from a higher place. It is a rule that the offices of CEOs are in higher floors.

So we have pretty much the same basis of morality as dogs and not only primates. Of course, we have developed morality further, but that is evolution. So we may find even other basic demonstrations of morality among other animals, if we only look properly.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007



I have found text to this topic here and I could not resist writing a comment to it, as I am also interested in the differences among nations, i.e. relatively closed groups of humans.

National character

After many years of studies it is for me the absolute truth that every nation has its own character, it is as well absolute truth that it is extremely difficult to name the differences of one nation’s character compared to the other nations.

In evolutionary biology it is said that on an island the species developed in a different way. Well, language is a barrier that functions in such a way as if individuals using one language lived on an island and therefore there this is a parallel to evolutionary biology, and therefore this is a reason for the fact that nations do have different characters.

The difficulty to describe the differences might come from the lack of precise terms, and inability to differentiate properly, and inability to track down the basis of such character differences. The reason for this might be the mix of what is typical for all humans and what is typical for a specific group of humans and what we have inherited from our non-human ancestors. Also the forms of how we demonstrate our typical character features might be the same in many groups even if the origin of such demonstration is different. The reason for this might be the lack of possibilities to demonstrate own character. Therefore two different characters might display the same way of demonstration, which, of course, is pretty misleading.

The relatively separated groups DO develop slightly differently, that means that different nations DO have different characters, even though this is extremely difficult to describe.

Friday, March 09, 2007


Evolutionar psychology

Evolutionary psychology, David Buss, jealousy, fear and other emotions

Right now I am reading an article about David Buss and his books and opinions on jealousy, and about his views on evolutionary psychology, (J Is for Jealousy). One thing shocks me severely; not only David Buss but many other scientists on this field take the phrase evolved emotion too easy in their mouth. It is really too easy to use this word.

If e.g. jealousy is evolved emotion, then I miss the statement from which it has evolved. Jealousy is, of course, evolved emotion, but somebody should say from which it has evolved, and because if somebody says it has evolved then he must also say from what, until we come to the origin of all emotions, or at least to the mechanism that might be responsible for creating new emotions.

I believe that jealousy has evolved from the emotion of fear of loss, this in turn is a branch of emotion of fear, and emotion of fear evolved based on several features, one is the size, second is the speed and third is the mechanism of trying to survive, including constant comparing of coded signals by each organism. Let’s explain this a bit more in detail.

Every organism compares all the signals perceived, and it does that constantly, even we do it and very often we even do not realize that we are doing it. It is a system of guarding, system of protection. One such emotion is emotion of fear. The very first emotion of fear may have evolved when organism started to compare factors size and speed of an object that was approaching the organism. If the size was bigger than the size of organism itself, and the speed of approaching was higher than the speed that the organism was able to develop, then this organism started to feel fear, because all the organism live in predator governed environment. Eat or you will be eaten. If some organism notices another organism approaching and compares its size with its own size, and the result is that the other organism is bigger, then this result triggers two actions, one an attempt to flee and the other comparing the speed of approaching of the bigger organism. If even the speed is higher than the smaller organism can develop – the organism knows how fast it can move and compares its maximal speed with the speed of the other organism – then the organism knows that “there is no way out” and it will be eaten. This kind of feeling is the emotion of fear.

It is not absolutely necessary that the approaching object is another organism, it might be a rolling stone, falling tree, big wave of water, it might also be perceived radiation of light, pressure etc.

There are many different emotions of fear, I believe that the emotion of fear based upon comparing size and speed was the first one. Other type of emotion of fear is caused by sensory deprivation. A typical case is e.g. walking through a dark place or tunnel with no light. If we do not perceive enough sensory input our nervous system reacts by fear as it cannot provide for safety. Later on when organisms lived some time in groups, also social fears have developed. But all of these types of fear can be tracked down to the basic fear, and it is the fear of not surviving, the fear of the end of the existence of organism, whatever the way of not-surviving may occur: being eaten up by a predator or killed by a falling rock.

Actually, I believe it is possible to follow the beginnings of fear even further back in time and evolution. Light might be one of the causes for fear. Some chemical when given energy in the form of light do react and some do not, the difference may have evolved into “fear” of “not-surviving” or “not-further-developing”. Of course it did not have to be only light but any phenomenon of physics or chemistry during the whole time of evolution.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Something to think about

Actually, this is a joke, but somehow there is so much in it that it should not be place among other jokes. The basic idea is excellent, about the difference in logic and feelings, young and older generations etc...really good, and for sure worthwhile reading and thinking about it.

here it is:

Father-Daughter Talk

A young woman was about to finish her first year of college. Like so many others her age, she considered herself to be a very liberal Democrat, and among other liberal ideals, was very much in favor of higher taxes to support more government programs, in other words redistribution of wealth.

She was deeply ashamed that her father was a rather staunch Republican, a feeling she openly expressed. Based on the lectures that she had participated in, and the occasional chat with a professor, she felt that her father had for years harbored an evil, selfish desire to keep what he thought should be his.

One day she was challenging her father on his opposition to higher taxes on the rich and the need for more government programs. The self-professed objectivity proclaimed by her professors had to be the truth and she indicated so to her father. He responded by asking how she was doing in school.

Taken aback, she answered rather haughtily that she had a 4.0 GPA, and let him know that it was tough to maintain, insisting that she was taking a very difficult course load and was constantly studying, which left her no time to go out and party like other people she knew. She didn't even have time for a boyfriend, and didn't really have many college friends because she spent all her time studying.

Her father listened and then asked, "How is your friend Audrey doing?"

She replied, "Audrey is barely getting by. All she takes are easy classes, she never studies, and she barely has a 2.0 GPA. She is so popular on campus; college for her is a blast. She's always invited to all the parties, and lots of times she doesn't even show up for classes because she's too hung over."

Her wise father asked his daughter, "Why don't you go to the Dean's office and ask him to deduct a 1.0 off your GPA and give it to your friend who only has a 2.0. That way you will both have a 3.0 GPA and certainly that would be a fair and equal distribution of GPA."

The daughter, visibly shocked by her father's suggestion, angrily fired back, "That's a crazy idea, how would that be fair! I've worked really hard for my grades! I've invested a lot of time, and a lot of hard work! Audrey has done next to nothing toward her degree. She played while I worked my tail off!"

The father slowly smiled, winked and said gently, "Welcome to the Republican party."

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