Literal ‘Maps of Meaning’

I’m currently listening to Sam Harris talking to Barbara Tversky. They are dealing with the roots (or maybe routes?) of human cognition. Very interesting stuff! I’d come across the concept of Grid and Place cells before, probably during a stint of random, omnivorous, browsing. Listening, it occurred to me that if the brain uses the same neural architecture to map concepts and meanings as it does locations and routes in physical space—which is what they are discussing in the podcast, hence the poor pun above—then perhaps this is why language fails so often to dissuade people of their existing misconceptions?

If the brain’s architecture treats ideas and physical space the same way… then once a ‘Map’ is internalized it may be very difficult to re-write?

You would have a hard time persuading me that a familiar river or mountain no-longer exists.

Things in the physical world do change, but slowly – or catastrophically for big important solid things. When these go, it tends to be in very tangible significant ways; like flood, fire, or eruption.

If this conjecture holds, it would explain why people are so reluctant to give up ideas which have become central, familiar cognitive landmarks in their lives.

Words are puny ammunition when used against solid real things like mountains.

Perhaps people need to see—or touch—their fallacies before they can learn?

On the bright side, rising waters and burning forests are both compellingly palpable events, so may prove very effective at disabusing people of their misconceptions.

See! It all turns out all right in the end! 🙂

 

If you enjoyed this short essay, please go over to Medium and give me a ‘clap’ or two…

More on Grid and Place cells:
“The two parts of the brain’s navigational system are roughly analogous to the split functionality of modern GPS units. Grid cells help to fix the individual’s coordinates, while place cells are believed to organize memories about specific locations. Ongoing research is probing the details of how grid cells and place cells work together.”

https://www.quantamagazine.org/brains-positioning-system-linked-to-memory-20141007/

Sam Harris Podcast:
https://samharris.org/podcasts/168-mind-space-motion

Teenage Dolphins Get High on Puffer Fish Toxin



I’m not in anyway surprised!

Like us, they are conscious animals facing down a stark, brutal, universe… whatever works to take the edge off.

https://kottke.org/18/10/teenage-dolphins-get-high-on-puffer-fish-toxin

Bottom line these creatures are people; Singularity’s Children like us
…which happens to be one of the key themes in my books.

Also reminds me of this: “Parrot tells rescuer to [email protected]&K Off!”

Human Origins

The narrative of the transition from Ape to Man is contained within one astonishing cut in the film 2001…

…but 4 Million years of history contains a lot of potential stories. I am thinking about setting my next novel (after the Singularity’s Children series) back at the Dawn of Man.

It looks like we coexisted and even bred with many other species of Hominid and some of those seem to have been pretty smart. Recent discoveries show that Neanderthals were making cave art hundreds of thousands of years ago.

Neanderthal cave art, spain.

Haplo Groups‘ markers allow us to trace humanities deep ancestry. We (Homo Sapiens) left Africa 70K years ago to spread our seed across the world, mingling and mating with the local—as we tend to do.

We eventually replaced the ‘other‘ and history started…

But I love the gaps—into which stories can be inserted!

Maybe I will set it 12,800 Years Ago at the onset of the Younger Dryas, the fall of Eden and the interment of  Goebekli Tepe.

Anyway, I think there is plenty of material for a book set at the Dawn of Man…
…what do you think? Would you read it? Or shall I go 12,000 years the other way?

 

(image: Neanderthal with face paint – Viktor Deak)