The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Lost And Found In Thought

Once again I am faced with the empty page and an empty mind. Only the empty page is new, the mind is often empty. But I plod on anyway. I got my hair cut yesterday. And the barber went "Hmmm..." at the start. I asked why and he told me I had a thinning patch just past my left ear that was not mirrored on the right side.A "gift", I suppose, from Mom. My father, like his father before him, had no thinning at all. My mother, on the other hand, had wispy fine hair that eventually barely concealed her scalp. And that was the legacy handed down to me... along with low blood pressure and acrophobia. I am convinced now that there is a genetic component to acrophobia. We already are aware of the genetic component for baldness.

I often wonder just how much is passed through genes and whether we can learn to overcome these things. B. F. Skinner was a pioneer in the field of behaviorism. Wiki says this about him:

He was a firm believer of the idea that human free will was actually an illusion and any human action was the result of the consequences of that same action. If the consequences were bad, there was a high chance that the action would not be repeated; however if the consequences were good, the actions that led to it would be reinforced. He called this the principle of reinforcement.

Obviously, I disagree with him... to a point. I think we are born with a genetic based "filter" which defines how we process the the data we receive from our senses. This is what defines how we view those consequences Skinner talked about. You see, I think "good" and "bad" results are subjective things.

I inherited my father's physical features (darkish skin, brown eyes, Patrician nose) and his stubborness. With the latter, I tend to ignore the "bad" results if the goal of the behavior is deemed (by me, of course) to be "good."

Skinner, I think, was close to obsessed with the "nature vs nurture" controversy. I go with "nature" as the ruling factor whereas Skinner seemed to believe that "nurture" was more important. It is difficult to prove which is the controlling factor because few people are unaffected by their upbringing, which is mostly familial. Studies of twins separated at birth is helpful but it's important to note that these are limited situations.

I suspect we will not learn which is the dominant influence in my lifetime and maybe never. I agree with Skinner on one thing: free will doesn't really exist.

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