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LeBrok
04-03-13, 10:16
I gave the beliefs a little bit more thought and I think I have the answer. The answer actually turned to be more prosaic than I expected, but regardless, here it is.

Beliefs fall into same category of human condition, as Feelings and Trust. To help us make decisions in our lives according to 3 major goals of life: East, Survive, Multiply. Culminating in primary goal of all species to send our genes to next generation, to next generation, next generation, etc
It is the same primary goal for all life on Earth, regardless if it is just for one cell bacteria, or top of food chain Homo Sapience. I know this is not a very exciting proposition, but if it is true, we should at least accept it for understanding of human nature, and life in general.

The 3 major goals, eating, living and procreating already come with wide array of strong feelings guiding us to the right choices. The feelings of hunger, aggression, food enjoyment show us the path to sources of nutrients, energy and building blocks of our bodies. Enjoyment of sex, romanticizing future partners or love and bonding are quite forceful in pushing us to procreation. It is the same story with survival instincts, like fear if bugs, heights and predators; enjoyment of green meadow, attraction to fire, or basking in the warm sun, leads us to the right choices, without a need for a long analytical process of these options. Understanding how food works in our bodies or details about insemination are not needed for this system to work.
Why nature should trust animal logic, or even human kind, if these strong, preprogramed and learned, feelings can make the right choices for us, or any other living creature? Obviously it worked fine, for many millions of years, in our ancestors and their ancestors to prove this system validity, and efficiency.

But enough about role of feelings in our lives. Where do the beliefs fit in this scenario?
Beliefs are part of our Imagination, so let’s imagine following scene. You are alone and hungry in woods and came upon a ravine beyond which you can see a field of blueberries. On your side of ravine the food source is unknown. This ravine is deep enough to get killed when falling in, but narrow enough to jump over when you could give your best shot. Let’s assume that you don’t have crippling fear of heights, because if you do, your nature already made a choice for you. You are also lacking tools to make a bridge. You are a simple, hungry paleolithic human.
What would you do?

Either you jumped or not, you would spend a little time contemplating two scenarios. In first one you jump, you make it to the other side, and you get food. In second one you imagine yourself falling in and possibly killed. Not knowing the outcome (per definition that we don’t know our future), you had to take a leap of faith. You had to believe in one of the scenarios to make your decision. Either you believe that you’re going to make it or you believe that you don’t. In short, you made a decision rather quickly and you moved on.

To understand it deeper, let’s assume that you don’t have this (programed) believe system to make your mind, and that you have only logic to fall back on in decision making. With only logic to work with, you would need to analyze the successful possibility of your jump. First you would break off a big branch of a tree to measure the length of the ravine. Next you would draw width of it on the ground and gave it few jumps to see if you can jump that far. At the time you would be ready to jump, you have other logical thought that the wind is blowing against your jump and you decided to wait for the wind to stop, to make sure you get to the other end. After few hours you would conclude that you are much weaker now, no food and less energy, and started to jump again on simulated ravine to make sure you still can make it. Then you would notice that your jumps become shorter and shorter the more you try the more you exhaust yourself. Being a logical person you would test jumps in different times of a day, and weather condition to figure out when is the best time to jump in ever changing environment. After few days and still not sure if you can make it you wouldn’t have enough strength to find food even on your side of ravine and eventually die from hunger. Not mentioning the fact that we would never consider all the environmental variable of a complicated and always changing natural world, and human body. We could never be 100% scientifically sure that we could make this jump. I’m pretty sure that even a super computer, with best logical programs, when asked to explore all the variables of environment before it jumps, would never jump, calculating odds forever. Even a supercomputer would need to role a dice to make a choice, or at least use algorithms for best probabilities. This is basically what we are doing quickly, in our brains, analyzing possibilities to make choices in our natural environment. The calculation of our brain doesn’t show on a screen with information, but instead answer is manifested as a feeling. The feeling that you act upon, to jump or not, turn left or right, weather to floss your teeth tonight, or even to buy new house, or maybe not, without knowing full future consequences.
This example demonstrates validity of faster choice making based on believe system versus pure logical decision making.

In short our believe system gives us an advantage of making quick decisions to move on with our lives. Perhaps it is not the best system to make choices, but it is a quick and efficient one and when combined with simple logic like memories from our past experiences, our gut feelings (learned or programmed emotions), the people that we trust, it gives more positive benefits than any other tool in this department. It certainly beats the decision making system based on pure logic, which in ever changing and complicated environment of nature, or even human groups, with lack of proper measuring instruments, with time consuming calculations and statistical outcomes, was simply useless and dangerous, therefore not embraced by nature. That’s the main reason why, these days, we have so few scientists and even fewer real geniuses who cause paradigm shifts.


In a nutshell it works like this:
Imagination->Belief->Action
Where imagination is our ability to play with past memories to imagine multiple outcomes, explanations, causes, scenarios, etc. Belief is ability to pick one outcome or explanation as most likely or the right one from multiple choices. Action is acting on our belief, most likely outcome in the future, or to choose a cause, and explanation of past event. We will ignore presence, because it is nothing more than a fleeing moment in time.
The main purpose of beliefs is to lead you, to help you make choices, from young years, to surviving to procreation age, and making sure that your offspring (your genes) are successful, as long as you live.


Do animals believe?
I believe that every animal which hesitates in taking an action is considering multiple outcomes of future actions. Using belief system to make its mind, finding action it believes is the right one.
I can see a wolf having similar dilemma at the ravine scenario. Probably all mammals and birds are capable of using believe system in decision making. Though in simpler forms than people do. The smaller the brain the less capable animals are in this department.


Learned beliefs.


Religious beliefs. Unless we choose religion other than our parents’ one, I wouldn’t call them beliefs. Believing implies making a conscious choice from many available options (at least two). Learned religious beliefs are based on trust to parents, ability of trust which we are born with. A very similar as learning a langue from your parents, and imitating all they do and teach you. With Trust we take parents teachings with value of true, and not as possible or most likely.

Later in life, when we are exposed to different choices, religion is transformed into realm of beliefs. Although aspects as tradition and following/mimicking your group plays a big role here. Tradition and following might fall into Trust type of learning and behavior. I don’t want to get in other human conditions like sense of duty or denial, let’s just say that religious beliefs need some leap of faith and making choices.
One could say the religious beliefs are like believing in someone else’s beliefs.



Scientific beliefs. It has lots of similarities to religious believes. Most of people have no inclination or abilities to understand science. They take science on Trust factor from teachers in schools, role model figures as parents. It still works, because not knowing all the science is inconsequential for most of people. We use smart phones regardless if we understand science behind inner working of it. We watch TV no knowing how to shoot satellite into space. Mostly we believe in science, later in life, because we see products that work based on it, and most people also acknowledge/believe that it works too.


The funny thing is that we can still us these marvelous devices and even if we believe that science doesn’t make sense and scientists are stupid. Same way as our ancestors used stone tools not knowing how rocks were made. It is inconsequential for most of us, that’s why it flies.

FBS
07-03-13, 17:45
What you are presenting is two ways of how do people process the information. Do they process the info quickly and rely on their "blink of an eye" judgment, sometimes called intuition which can be bold and wrong, or they run into the analysis paralysis and by not being able to take a quick decision might starve. This are two extremes since people can mix both by employing two sides of thinking, left brain and right brain hemisphere and make an optimal decision.

I do not see how this has to do anything with beliefs.

LeBrok
08-03-13, 09:31
What you are presenting is two ways of how do people process the information. Do they process the info quickly and rely on their "blink of an eye" judgment, sometimes called intuition which can be bold and wrong, or they run into the analysis paralysis and by not being able to take a quick decision might starve. This are two extremes since people can mix both by employing two sides of thinking, left brain and right brain hemisphere and make an optimal decision. This exercise meant to separate different decision making mechanisms in humans. We are multitasking most of the time, so all the aspects of decision making blends together and are difficult to separate. They had evolved in different times and were based on novel brain developments. I find it fascinating how new abilities came to existence, and what purpose they serve.


I do not see how this has to do anything with beliefs. Because beliefs help us make choices, therefore it is a part of decision making of our brain. Let's say you are looking for a job, and you have two choices. You are going to analyze them the best you can, but you will never be 100% sure if you made the best choice, because you don't know the future. You need to pick one job on belief that you made the best choice. In most life cases we don't have comfort of unlimited time to analyze problem forever. The world is rather fast moving and doesn't wait till me are ready. Without ability to choose on belief you would be stack contemplating your choices forever, or almost. You think to much, and both jobs are gone. What good was over analyzing it? Make a choice and move on. Even not a perfect choice, based on speculation and beliefs, but a choice followed by an action. Real life is not a school test with learned answers, the only valid answers. Real life is a complicated environmental with countless possibilities. You never can't be sure of your choice.

Multiple choices->Analyzing outcomes->Belief in the "best" choice->Action
Belief manifests itself in a pleasant feeling that your choice is right.
Without the built in Believe System in our brain, the Analyzing outcomes would never jump into the Action. Consider the fact the brains of our far ancestors or other mammals are even less skillful in analyzing complex situations. They have to rely on belief system even more than we do.

FBS
08-03-13, 15:42
It is scientifically proved that multitasking does not exist, maybe 1% of population can multitask, we do one thing at a time, some do it faster some slower.

Regarding this sentence: "Belief manifests itself in a pleasant feeling that your choice is right." - what happens when the choice proves devastating?

hope
08-03-13, 16:18
It is scientifically proved that multitasking does not exist, maybe 1% of population can multitask, we do one thing at a time, some do it faster some slower.

Regarding this sentence: "Belief manifests itself in a pleasant feeling that your choice is right." - what happens when the choice proves devastating?


I am aware of the studies which say multitasking is a myth. However, I do not agree completely with this. I agree on some points such as one cannot answer e-mail and browse the net [as only one example] and I agree in many cases we "task shift" and believe we are multitasking, yes.
However I do think there are times when multitasking can be done and the descriptive word is correct. For example I know people who watch television whilst knitting without their speed ever altering and the finished article perfect and not a moment of whatever they are watching on television missed. I think this is one small example that several tasks can be done without quality of either being affected. Also I don`t envy you if attempting telling a parent [ especially a woman..] there is no such thing as multitasking. I understand the reasons given for the multitasking myth and I do not belittle the study by any means, it is just my opinion it is not completely accurate.
However to be accurate I believe the studies did not state multitasking cannot be done, rather the tasks involved cannot be completed to as high a level as they might be if doing one at a time.

Regarding your second point, I believe the OP stated you may be satisfied you personally made a choice you believed was right , you had conviction of belief in..whatever the outcome.

LeBrok
08-03-13, 18:49
It is scientifically proved that multitasking does not exist, maybe 1% of population can multitask, we do one thing at a time, some do it faster some slower.
Can you look, walk, talk and listen at the same time? That's 4 different compartment of your brain in action at same time. Not mentioning that you will evoke many feelings and imagination while talking and listing, that's fifth and sixth function done at same time.
What you referring to is that we can't use prefrontal cortex or other logic/abstract thinking parts of brain, to analyze two different problems at the same time.
And hope is right, that we do everything much better when fully concentrated on one function, but it doesn't defy multitasking.





Regarding this sentence: "Belief manifests itself in a pleasant feeling that your choice is right." - what happens when the choice proves devastating?
We'll make new choices; we can change our minds and adjust our beliefs. We can start believing that killing ourselves is the best solution, even if only to avoid the pain. In this case natural selection is taking care of weeding out this kind of logic.
We can find explanation in power of supernatural, and stop blaming ourselves for this misfortune. Making it easier to live with.
As well one can be successful in analyzing the situation, making new choices allowing complete avoidance of such devastation, to the end of life.
There is no one way, and in complicated environment we all do different choices. Otherwise if there was a way to logically come to one conclusion, our lives would be exactly the same; same choices same lives.

What amazes me is how swift the decision making system is. Put supercomputer in our place, and it would get stuck "forever" few times a day, if it is based on pure analytically skills.

LeBrok
08-03-13, 19:02
Regarding your second point, I believe the OP stated you may be satisfied you personally made a choice you believed was right , you had conviction of belief in..whatever the outcome.

That's right, we have to think in very relativistic terms. One person - one reality. It's hard to agree on what belief, spirituality, love, etc means, because we all perceive world in somewhat different way.
On a happy note, I would like to mention, that we are descendants of best choice making people ever. They've survived, and having their successful genes, most likely we and our kids will too.

Selwyn Greenfrith
14-03-13, 22:00
That's right, we have to think in very relativistic terms. One person - one reality. It's hard to agree on what belief, spirituality, love, etc means, because we all perceive world in somewhat different way.
On a happy note, I would like to mention, that we are descendants of best choice making people ever. They've survived, and having their successful genes, most likely we and our kids will too.

True, but mankind could of also likely been in the wrong place at the wrong time (like the Twin Towers) doesn't mean they made a bad choice - though some (in hindsight) could be shown to of made bad hindsight choices once the buildings were hit. Some of mankind make whopping bad choices all the time but nonetheless somehow muddle onwards to give an early misdeath the roundaround.

LeBrok
15-03-13, 03:28
True, but mankind could of also likely been in the wrong place at the wrong time (like the Twin Towers) doesn't mean they made a bad choice - though some (in hindsight) could be shown to of made bad hindsight choices once the buildings were hit. Some of mankind make whopping bad choices all the time but nonetheless somehow muddle onwards to give an early misdeath the roundaround.
We can't do much about bad luck, and off course luck in general play some part in our lives. It's is part of our complicated and often unpredictable environment. Making choices is based on probabilities of more beneficial outcome, just because nothing is 100% sure in the future. Once evolution gave us bigger brains we are trying to use it making better choices, but is terribly tough in ever changing environment.
My grand point of this discussion was that it is much better to make any choice (on feelings and imperfect logic), even if probability of success is 50/50, than get stuck analyzing, on pure logic with no emotions, what is the best thing to do, and eventually die of hunger from not being able to make a decision.
After all, even Einstein was an emotional creature.
I think it was Paul Dirac who said that he doesn't believe in equations unless they are beautiful. Sort of beauty in simplicity. Computer wouldn't care, people do.