How we describe things
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19-05-2012, 11:06 AM
How we describe things
I have reached a point where I find it incredibly annoying when people use modern terms, concepts, and definitions to describe something. For example, whenever someone describes our brains as having hardware or software or that we have a processor and download information, I cringe. Or when someone tries to discuss reality and uses the example of something like the matrix as an argument for being uncertain that we do in fact actually exist. These are modern words, terms, ideas, and inventions of the human mind and do not apply to nature. Our brain is not a computer and does not work like one, it is the direct opposite, computers operate like brains. And when someone uses the reality argument and a matrix-like example, it is stupid. That concept wasn't around until man invented it, so how does it have any bearing on reality? I am well aware of the fact that sometimes these terms are used because they make it easier to describe certain ideas/concepts, but that doesn't make them accurate.

Any other examples or ways you get around these descriptions?

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19-05-2012, 11:21 AM
RE: How we describe things
No disrespect meant, BD, but it seems a silly thing to me to be annoyed by this. We do with modern terms what the ancients did when they tried to describe the sun as riding a chariot across the sky, when they thought the seat of emotions was in the intestines, when bizarre behavior was ascribed to the stars or demons, and so on. Language evolves right along with society and the species.

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19-05-2012, 11:32 AM
RE: How we describe things
I get that much Eroxami, but when someone describes a brain as a computer for instance, they get it backwards. I'm not advocating for using more primitive terms to describe evolution or organs or thought or reality, but using terms correctly. So, instead of saying "our brains are like computers" or "Our brain processes information like a computer does" what they should be saying is that a computer works like a brain. Flip the script. I think a lot of confusion and argument about ID, irreducible complexity, etc feed upon the descriptions being used backwards by describing biology using the definitions of human modern inventions. I guess it might seem like a mute point, but I am not like a computer, a computer is like me.

No disrespect had.

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19-05-2012, 11:37 AM
RE: How we describe things
Doesn't this belong in the ranting corner, BD? Shit in nature just exists. Describing it in natural terms... well, it's like me staring at my Gwynnies. I love my Gwynnies! Heart Heart Heart Heart

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19-05-2012, 11:43 AM
RE: How we describe things
(19-05-2012 11:32 AM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  I get that much Eroxami, but when someone describes a brain as a computer for instance, they get it backwards. I'm not advocating for using more primitive terms to describe evolution or organs or thought or reality, but using terms correctly. So, instead of saying "our brains are like computers" or "Our brain processes information like a computer does" what they should be saying is that a computer works like a brain. Flip the script. I think a lot of confusion and argument about ID, irreducible complexity, etc feed upon the descriptions being used backwards by describing biology using the definitions of human modern inventions. I guess it might seem like a mute point, but I am not like a computer, a computer is like me.

No disrespect had.
After further review, I'm getting what you're getting at. To use an analogy from my Christian past, as a student of Koine Greek, we were taught to be careful of modern bias when interpreting words. The best example is the word "dunamis" (δύναμις) which later became the root word for dynamite. It's original meaning has to do with strength, power, exertion. Modern day preachers like to use it in sermons by saying things like, "The Bible says the power of the Holy Spirit is like Dynamite!" Uh...no it doesn't.

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19-05-2012, 11:47 AM
RE: How we describe things
(19-05-2012 11:37 AM)houseofcantor Wrote:  Doesn't this belong in the ranting corner, BD? Shit in nature just exists. Describing it in natural terms... well, it's like me staring at my Gwynnies. I love my Gwynnies! Heart Heart Heart Heart

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Probably. In my mind, everything I say is scientific Wink




Eroxami
That's what I'm talking about. People use the terms incorrectly and then other people latch onto them thinking they mean something completely different. If confuses the matters at hand rather than shedding light on them.

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20-05-2012, 09:43 AM
RE: How we describe things
At first I was going to counter what you were saying "TheBeardedDude" but then I began to think that the real problem is our language. If the English language, for example, is supposed to be so rich then why do we insist on creating confusions and misunderstandings by constantly comparing two like objects as if they were one?

For all intents and purposes, the brain is very much like a computer with the millions of processes it undergoes just so I can type out this post; but you are correct that the two are not the same thing and trying to describe it as if it were manufactured by Dell or Apple would just create more roadblocks to dialogue.
But then again, just how would one describe or identify the brain as?

Anyway, I agree that trying to use newer inventions like "The Matrix" to try and understand reality is just as misleading as ancient cultures describing, say, a display of the aurora borealis as a battle in the sky between various gods.

Interesting thoughts you have presented.

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20-05-2012, 03:01 PM (This post was last modified: 20-05-2012 03:06 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: How we describe things
(19-05-2012 11:06 AM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  Our brain is not a computer and does not work like one, it is the direct opposite, computers operate like brains. ... but when someone describes a brain as a computer for instance, they get it backwards.

Computers currently operate nothing like brains. If they did AI would be a much more achievable goal. There's currently no chemistry in a computer (well I mean other than the fact that silicon is a chemical element Wink ), it's all electrical. There are those looking to change this, though. Wink

(19-05-2012 11:06 AM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  For example, whenever someone describes our brains as having hardware or software or that we have a processor and download information, I cringe. Or when someone tries to discuss reality and uses the example of something like the matrix as an argument for being uncertain that we do in fact actually exist.

They're called metaphors. We use them all the time to try to understand things. We can't avoid them. Hell, you just used one when you said "computers operate like brains". ... Don't feel like anything worth getting my panties in a bunch over. Big Grin

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21-05-2012, 07:26 AM
RE: How we describe things
Fascinating discussion/thread ya smart peeps. Tongue

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21-05-2012, 12:02 PM
RE: How we describe things
(20-05-2012 03:01 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  
(19-05-2012 11:06 AM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  Our brain is not a computer and does not work like one, it is the direct opposite, computers operate like brains. ... but when someone describes a brain as a computer for instance, they get it backwards.

Computers currently operate nothing like brains. If they did AI would be a much more achievable goal. There's currently no chemistry in a computer (well I mean other than the fact that silicon is a chemical element Wink ), it's all electrical. There are those looking to change this, though. Wink

(19-05-2012 11:06 AM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  For example, whenever someone describes our brains as having hardware or software or that we have a processor and download information, I cringe. Or when someone tries to discuss reality and uses the example of something like the matrix as an argument for being uncertain that we do in fact actually exist.

They're called metaphors. We use them all the time to try to understand things. We can't avoid them. Hell, you just used one when you said "computers operate like brains". ... Don't feel like anything worth getting my panties in a bunch over. Big Grin
I understand that they are metaphors and are intended to simplify explanations of what/how/why. As Einstein said "Things should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler." I think some of these metaphors simplify too much and confuse the issue.

It is not accurate to say that a computer is exactly like a brain, but I think it is more accurate to say that it is similar to a brain as opposed to a brain being similar to a computer. The first metaphor implies that a computer performs some tasks in similar ways to how our brain processes external stimuli. The metaphor the other way around implies that the brain is similar to the computer and that the brain does things in a similar way to how the computer does it. That isn't the case. We aren't trying to make our brains more like computers, we are trying to make our computers more like brains.

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