Tag Archives: Evolution

Find Magic Everywhere

Build Relationships From Scratch

We are instinctively programmed to recognize a good leader.

And we are similarly turned off by false “eaders.”

A leader, of course, is somebody who LEADS.

Somebody who goes first.

Somebody we WANT to follow.

On the other hand, false leaders have figured out a way to FORCE us to follow them.

Throughout human history, there has been a mix of both.

This comes across conversationally as well.

Some people make us feel comfortable, open, safe.

Others either force us on the spot, or force us to listen to them blather on and on.

If you can make people feel comfortable, relaxed and open, they’ll tell you anything.

What they want, how they want it, and what they want to do with it.

This, of course, gives you a lot of leverage.

If you can creatively figure out a way to show them they can get what they want by helping you get what you want, you can create some pretty good relationships.

And if there’s one skill that will help in nearly every area of life, it’s the ability to create relationships.

Most people kind of drift around, HOPING relationships will just “happen.”

And by pure probability, you will get a few relationships that just kind of organically pop up.

But if you can consciously build the skill of creating relationships, you’ll have an advantage over nearly everybody else.

How, exactly, do you create relationships?

It’s much easier than folks realize.

Create rapport, and ask the right questions.

Hold back on the judgment, and learn to appreciate other people’s ideas.

If you can do this, people will LOVE you.

Whether you’re building romantic relationships, friendships or potential business partnerships, the strategy is the same.

Ask the right questions in the right order, and let them be the star.

Learn How:

Secret Agent Persuasion

Beware Of Ancient Fears Infecting Modern Language

Pistols At Dawn

I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday, and I noticed something interesting about her speech. She had always spoken like that, but I hadn’t talked to her in quite a while. Last time we spoke was before I had become interested in language, having read several books on linguistics and other interesting tricks of language, most notably books by Pinker, Lakoff, and Grinder/Bandler.

The thing I noticed now, that I didn’t notice before was her heavy use of indirect speech. For example, I would say “A,” and she would then think “Because of A, then B,” with “B” being something that didn’t sound like such a good thing. But because she didn’t want to (either consciously or unconsciously) blurt right out “B!” She would always hide it behind layers of presuppositions and vague references.

For example, she would mention wanting more money at work, and I would suggest asking her boss for a raise. Instead of saying the obvious “If I ask for a raise, he’ll say no, and think less of me for asking.”

Which is a common enough fear, and generally the immediate reaction of most people when thinking about asking for a raise. But instead of blurting that right out, she’d say something like:

“I’m not sure if I have the presence of mind right now to think of what would happen if I were to do that.”

Which sounds innocent enough, until you unpack that seemingly simple statement and see what she’s really saying:

She is assuming that “presence of mind,” (whatever that is) is something that is difficult to identify, as she’s not sure if she has it or not.

Something called “presence of mind,” is required to understand the result of a request for more money.

“If I were to do that,” is stated as a second conditional. A first conditional is an “if..then” statement using the present tense, which presumes it is something that is likely to occur.

If it rains, I will get wet.
If I spend my money, I won’t have any.
If I drive too fast, I may get a ticket.

While the second conditional, with the past tense, is used for things that we don’t expect will happen, or are impossible.

If I asked my boss for a raise, he would say no.
If I saw a UFO, I would run.

So in response to a suggestion to ask for more money, she hides her “no, I’m too afraid” behind about three layers of linguistic protection.

If you’ve ever listened to a politician speak, you can tell right away that there speech is usually filled with layers and layers of vague ambiguity, so nobody can ever pin them down on what they said, if things go wrong, and if things go right, they can claim they had something to do with it.

It’s no wonder the joke, “how do you tell a politician is lying – when his lips are moving,” is so funny.

In one of the aforementioned books, Pinker was talking about how in societies where they have a history of class distinction, where upper class people could legally kill lower class people, (or other upper class people if they situation warranted it) they have developed a very polite level of speech, which can exist hundreds of years after the threat of violence.

If you were talking to some guy that was carrying weapons, and by offending him you risked getting your head slice off, you’d quickly learn to speak politely. It doesn’t take long for such a society to develop polite language. The American South is one such example. If you said the wrong thing to the wrong person, he would demand “Satisfaction,” and you’d have a gunfight at twenty paces on your hands.

Those that study linguistics on a much deeper evolutionary level suggest that all indirect speech has its roots in ancient fears of immediate reprisals. It doesn’t sound dangerous in the least to ask your boss for a raise, at least not from the standpoint of physical violence, but nevertheless, those feelings of fear cause us to hide our real feelings beneath several layers of “politeness” and vague ambiguity.

There is a fascinating book called “Mean Genes,” which illustrates all the ways that our automatic impulses that helped us immensely in our evolutionary past can be a real pain in the you-know-what in modern society. Stuffing our face until we can’t move when we are in the presence of food is one example that you can see everywhere you look in modern western society.

In the past, the several thousand year ago past, that impulse was beneficial. People would go several days without food, and when they finally got some, all other concerns were put on the back burner, and it was time to eat until the food was gone.

Not so helpful when you pass by three McDonalds, two Dunkin Donuts and a Bakery on the way to work every morning.

Of course, the great hope of modern humankind is to rise above our evolutionary based fears, and the ability to use our rational, conscious minds to think our ways around those pesky impulses to plan our future, instead of letting our impulses plan it for us.

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Success with NLP

Success with NLP

Are You A Lover Or A Fighter?

Which Strategy Do You Prefer?

Last week I was wandering around downtown, and I came across an interesting situation. There was a vending machine and next to the vending machine was a trash can overflowing with vending machine food and wrappers. On top of the machine was a crow, and next to the trashcan was a black cat.

I decided to approach slowly, to see which would run away first. I was surprised at what happened.

I was reading this interesting article about crows the other day. Not really an article, more like a section of a book that was about biology, and evolution, and sexual selection. It was talking about how crows are one of the more timid birds out there.

This seems to be completely false, if you’ve ever come across a crow picking through your garbage, as they can be pretty resourceful scavengers, and when they find a decent hidden cache of food, they tend to want to protect it.

But in normal, everyday life, when they’re just hanging out, they’re pretty easy to startle. This book was saying that one way to measure the aggressiveness in any animal is the proportion between the weight of the male’s testicles and the males body weight.

Some animals are surprisingly timid. Silverback gorillas, for example, have pretty small testicles compared to its body size. Now most people will tell you that silverback gorillas are pretty aggressive, and you should probably steer clear of one should you happen to run across one at the supermarket. And if you know anything about those people that went to live among them for a while in the wild, then you know that you’re supposed to never, ever make eye contact with them, or else you’ll get a severe thrashing.

However, when you consider the size difference, then they turn out to be not so tough after all. People are much smaller than silverback gorillas, and from a silverback gorilla’s standpoint, beating up even the toughest, meanest cage fighter would be a walk in the park. It would be like some middle-aged out shape blogger trying to feel powerful by kicking somebody’s poodle.

Which is why you’ll never, ever see two silverback gorillas in the same place, unless they are in the same troop, and one is growing up to replace the older one. (Kind of like in Star Wars, where there is always one Sith Lord, and one apprentice. I wonder that if that correlation was on purpose.)

Many people understand that some silverback gorillas, or mountain gorillas are endangered. The reason for this is had they their druthers, silverbacks would spend their whole lives without running into each other. Because it always leads to a fight to the death.

And since they happen to have a short supply of testosterone, (e.g. their small relative testicle size) their best strategy is to simply avoid confrontation. They’ve developed a system; or rather Mother Nature has developed a system for them, where each troop, with its one silverback, lives far far apart from the next troop. So a population of gorillas needs and extraordinarily large area to survive.

Chimps, on the other hand, have pretty huge testicles for their body weight. And they are always fighting, and going to war with other troops of chimps. One of the main things that male animals fight over (if not the only thing, in some species) is females. Chimps have developed a completely different strategy than the silverbacks.

Instead of living far apart, so they avoid confrontation over who gets the females (if two silverbacks fight, the winner gets all the girls), chimps have developed a completely different strategy. Every male in the troop will mate with every female in the group. They’ve no reason to fight over women, since the women make themselves available to everybody.

While that may sound like a better solution that living seclusion like their silverback cousins, they have one rule that they live by which seems pretty ghastly.

If a chimp is out and about, and he runs across a female he doesn’t recognize (one he hasn’t had sex with) and she has a kid with her, he’ll immediately kill them both. The underlying theory is that in the chimp community, every male assumes that every kid could potentially be his, so they avoid conflict. But when he sees a kid with a female he hasn’t mated with, he knows the kid isn’t his and he kills it.

Judging by the testicle size of humans, we fall someplace in between.

As I got closer to the vending machine, the crow make a “CAW” and took off, while the cat just looked at me, as if she were waiting for me to introduce myself or something. Then she simply went back to scavenging, apparently offended at my rudeness.

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The Secret Behind Human Intelligence

Captain, That Is Illogical

Here’s an interesting mind experiment. Ready? Here is the situation; you have four cards, with the following faces showing. D, 7, 3, F. You are told that each card has a number on one side, and a letter on the other. Now you are given a statement:

On every card that shows a “D” on one side, there is a “3” on the other side.

Here is the challenge: How many cards do you need to turn over, and which cards, to conclusively prove or disprove the following statement, and which cards do you turn over?

While you may find this easy (I didn’t I had to cheat and read the logic behind the explanation to get it,) most people don’t. In face, when this study was first concocted by a couple of professors at Stanford (where you’d think there’s be some smart people) only about one out of four got the answer right.

Now here’s the same question, presented another way:

You are a bouncer at a bar. The rules are that you can’t drink unless you are twenty-one. Now the cards are “drinking coke, drinking beer, 16 years old, 25 years old.” Or if you prefer, there are four people sitting at the bar. One is drinking beer (you don’t know how old they are) one is drinking coke (you don’t know how old they are) one is 25 (you don’t know what they are drinking) and one is sixteen (you don’t know what they are drinking).

From a logical standpoint, the problem is identical, yet when presented the second way, most people quickly realize that in order to figure out if anybody is breaking any laws, all you do is card the person drinking beer, and quickly check what the sixteen year old is drinking. In effect, turning over two cards to see what is on the other side.

As in the case above, you turn over the “D” to verify it if has a three on the other side, and you turn over the “7” to make sure it doesn’t have a “D” on the other side. If the D has a 3, and the 7 doesn’t have a D, then the statement is correct. If the D doesn’t have a three, and the 7 has a D, then the statement is incorrect.

The underlying problem is why, when the logic is identical, do so many people have a hard time (as I did) with the first question, and a much easier time (as I did) with the second question?

One answer could be that we aren’t as logically thinking as we’d like to believe. It may be that our brains aren’t designed to think in terms of Vulcan logic like Mr. Spock, but to think only in terms of social interactions, specifically to uncover social “cheats,” those that would break unwritten social contracts.

The thinking behind this idea goes like this. Humans lived in small groups for a couple hundred thousand years. That’s when we developed our “humanness” so to speak. One thing that evolutionary biologists think is one of the major driving forces behind the massive growth of the human brain during our history was social pressure from within the group. Our brains, our language, our thinking was all developed to outsmart each other within that small group of wandering nomads all those years ago.

Numerous studies of chimps and various apes have shown this to be a major portion for the need for their large brains as well. Most of them have plenty of food where they live, don’t need to organize sophisticated hunting parties, or come with complex methods of evading predators. Most of their thinking power, many believe, is so they can outsmart each other and rise as high in the social order as possible.

When humans developed language many, many years ago, we just took it a couple notches higher (to say the least) and developed all kinds of conscious and unconscious social skills. We learned to read facial expressions and body language, learned how to tell when somebody is cheating or lying, and be able to cheat and lie ourselves.

Many species have a specific feature, which is there solely for sexual competition within the species. The most often given example is the peacock’s tail. When peahens get together to choose their mate, they choose the male with the most flamboyant tail. Interestingly, the more flamboyant the tail, the dangerous it is for the peacock, as he is a much easier prey for predators, as well as having to lug that huge thing around should he have to run away.

In other species, they have other aspects. Bull seals have their size and strength, gorilla’s have their silver stripe of hair on their back, different birds have various ways to strut their stuff, from colored feathers to singing ability.

In humans, it is our brains, more specifically our verbal and social skills that became the driving force of sexual selection. Those that were the most eloquent, and the most persuasive, were the most prolific, and left the most offspring. Those offspring, having inherited slightly higher skills for eloquence and social prowess, in turn competed with each other. Continue that process for a few hundred thousand years, and you’ve got these big-brained humans walking around.

Us.

Something to think about yet next time you’re at a bar or club or other social gathering, and watching the vast throng trying to talk their genes into eternity.

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The Mystery Behind Cause And Effect

What’s The Meaning Behind That?

I remember several years ago I was driving down the freeway, in a hurry to get someplace. I forget where, so obviously it couldn’t have been very important. I was zipping in and out of traffic, checking for cops behind me every few minutes. Just as I was about to shift over to the lane to my left, a car on the other side of my destination lane merged in, without a signal, without checking, without any obvious sign of recognition that there were other cars on the road.

Furious, I waited until he (at this point I was assuming it was a he) was ahead of me enough so that I could pull in behind him. My plan was to tailgate him for a while, and then pull up along side of him and give him the finger. I tailgated for a couple of minutes, but my rising blood pressure and anger didn’t allow me the patience to torment him long enough, so I pulled quickly up along side to tell him/show him what was what.

Things suddenly changed when I saw who it was.

I remember reading about a strange legal case that happened a while ago. This guy was sitting at one of those Japanese restaurants where they cook in front of you Teppan style. The chef was doing his culinary acrobatics, and one thing led to another, and he tossed a piece of something to the patron sitting there, who was supposed to catch it in his mouth. They had had some dialogue going on, so it wasn’t an out of the blue toss to an unsuspecting customer. The guy snapped his head bad to catch the food, but damaged his neck, due to some extremely strange combination of angles and such. Something that would be nearly impossible to reproduce.

Nevertheless, the poor guy had to be taken to the hospital, and required a couple of surgeries to fix what had happened. The first surgery went OK, they sent him home, but later on he had to go back for another surgery. During his hospital stay after the second surgery, he contracted some kind of infection, and died.

The family tried (unsuccessfully) to sue the restaurant, as they started the whole chain of events that caused his ultimate death. The courts didn’t agree, because there were so many things that happened in between the first event, and his death, that it wouldn’t be reasonable to hold the restaurant responsible.

Then there was that guy who assassinated President Garfield, at least according to the courts. Garfield was getting on a train, and this guy Guiteau shot him a couple times in the back. They weren’t fatal shots; they didn’t hit any major organs. They took him home and his goofball doctors went to work. I say goofball because if in those days (1881) there medical methods were a bit out there. Had they treated him according to standard medical procedures in the day, he may have lived. Instead they did things like check his wounds with dirty hands (despite other doctors having already learned the necessity of antiseptics), they fed him through a rectal tube rather than through his mouth. Almost three months later he died.

At the trial, Guiteau said, “I didn’t kill him, I only shot him. His doctors killed him.” But they hanged him anyway.

Scientists tell us that our brains have evolved a very simple method for determining cause and effect. There are usually several intermediate steps that we overlook when we assume A causes B. It’s usually more like A causes A1, which has an effect on A2, which when combined with A3, has a reinforcing effect on A1, which in turn makes B possible, but not until C has been notified and called into action.

But all we humans see is A, and then B, and assume that A causes B.

They’ve done plenty of experiments on monkeys and babies to see what kind of assumptions we make about cause and effect. The results indicate that we seem to have a pre wired circuitry to assume cause and effect between certain objects. They’ll take a knife, and an apple, and show them to a baby (or a monkey), and then move them behind a screen. Then they’ll show some movement behind the screen, and lift up the screen to show the apple cut in half. This doesn’t get much of a reaction, as it seems to be expected.

Then they’ll take a knife and an apple, but when they lift the screen, they’ll be a balloon or something else completely unexpected. Usually the babies (or the monkeys) stare at this for much longer, as if they are trying to figure out what in the heck just happened.

There’s a whole branch of psychology dedicated to train people to uncouple unhelpful assumptions about cause and effect. We see somebody, they do something, we get angry. We then say that they “caused” our anger. But did they really? Or was it our reaction to our assumption about the meaning of the situation? We say “hi,” and somebody doesn’t return the “hi.” An event. We must give meaning to the event. Their not saying “hi” means they don’t like us. So we must react to that event. Our reaction to them not liking us is hurt feelings. So we react to that. We get angry, how dare they treat us like that. We may utter “asshole!” under our breath.

But what if they just didn’t hear us? What if they were in the middle of some complicated thought, and returning the “hi” would have ruined everything? What if they really thought they said “hi” but their throat was stuck or something?

Our brains are pre wired to survive in an environment that didn’t allow for second-guessing and various alternatives. We had to read the environment, and react quickly, or die. But we don’t have to do that any longer. Since we live in a modern society where we don’t have to hunt for our food, and their aren’t tigers roaming around trying to kill us, we can relax and choose our responses, instead of mindlessly reacting as if we were still cave people. It may take some time, but once you start to practice responding instead of reacting, you’ll notice you have a lot more power and control over your emotions, and it will soon be impossible for anybody to “push your buttons.”

So just as I was about to extend my finger, I saw that it was an old priest at my church that I attended at the time. This guy was about 80 years old, and couldn’t hurt a fly. He was such a gentle old man, that he was guy I went to whenever I used to go to confession. He was always so sympathetic understanding, no matter how horrible I thought my sins were.

Thoroughly ashamed that I had such vicious anger for such a gentle old man, I slowed down, and drove more carefully, and more like a normal human, after that.

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Goal Achieving Machine

You Are Hunter

I was sorting through this old stack of books I have, in order to see which ones I want to keep, and which ones I want to get rid of. I’m getting ready to move in a few days, and I don’t want to bring too much extra junk with me.

I found this interesting book I bought a couple years ago called “Why Men Don’t Listen And Why Women Can’t Read Maps,” by Barbara And Allan Pease. I remembered reading it and was amazed at some of the cool things I learned. It was basically the differences that exist between men and women, differences that go far beyond basic plumbing.

It all stems from our evolutionary past. While men would be out hunting every day, women would take care of the cave. And taking of the cave meant keeping all the kids together, protecting them from predators, and finding whatever edible roots and other foods they could find.

Humans existed this way for hundreds of thousands of years. We’ve only been living in agricultural based societies for about ten thousand years or so, so we are still carrying around our basic programming and wiring.

One of the ways that manifests itself today is how we communicate. Women had to learn to communicate on many different levels at the same time, while men never evolved such a skill. Since women were taking care of kids, they developed an ability to read facial expressions much better than men. An interesting study, which was cited in the above book, showed this pretty convincingly. They showed a bunch of women a bunch of kids’ faces, and then had them guess at their mood. The women came up with several different descriptions, and combinations thereof. The men, on the other hand, either said “happy,” “sad,” or “angry.”

Another interesting thing was how our respective vision evolved. Since men were out hanging all the time, males developed vision that was really good at seeing things far off in the distance, but crappy at seeing things up close in our peripheral vision. Women, on the other hand, have much better peripheral vision, but not such great vision for looking at things off in the distance. That’s why sometimes men can’t see things that are literally right in front of them, to the exasperation of their partners or spouses.

That’s another reason why men rubber neck so much when we’re at the mall, and we see something in our peripheral vision that may or may not be an attractive female. We actually have to turn our heads in her direction to see. Women, on the other hand, are capable of checking out every guy in the place, including evaluating their fashion sense, without even moving their eyeballs.

There are tons of other really interesting and eye opening (get it?) revelations in that book. If you are at all interested in scientifically recognized differences between men and women (many of them politically incorrect), I highly recommend that book.

One thing that struck me was that in our evolutionary past, it seems that humans spent their days in two different “modes” of operation. Hunting, and resting. The whole day, if you were a man, was spent out hunting and finding food. Once the sun started to set, you’d head back to the cave and stare into the fire for a few hours, and then sleep. If you were a woman, the day was spent foraging around looking for things to eat, and watching over the kids. When it became dark, and nocturnal predators came out, it was time to head back to the cave, and keep everybody safe for the night.

It seems that even in our modern society, we can break down our activities along those lines. We are either hunting, or trying to achieve some goal, or resting, or recovering, or taking a break until we can get back in the game and go after the prize, whatever that may be.

It seems that humans were built specifically to hunt, or seek. Resting isn’t nearly as rewarding unless it’s after we’ve achieved some goal. If you’ve read Psycho Cybernetics, then you know that Dr. Maltz compares the human mind to a self-correcting missile. Choose a target, fire away, and correct your course based on the feedback you get.

The interesting thing is that no matter what you do, it will always be directed at some goal. For many people, that goal is chosen by somebody else. Your boss, your company, your commanding officer if you are in the military.

Of course, as in the cave example, these goals can frequently overlap. Many times our main goal is to get enough resources so that we can effectively rest and recuperate when we need to, so that we can get out and achieve more goals.

If you are going after a goal that’s not really your choice, this can quickly seem like a vicious circle. You go to work go make money to pay for your house and your necessities so you can get enough rest every night in order to go to work so you an make money to pay for your house etc etc.

These can seem like a relentless treadmill if you are always making money for somebody else. But when you take the time to choose a goal that is really important to you, and you make consistent progress, there’s not much that feels better.

It would seem that the human mind was designed to feel enormous pleasure to see a goal on the horizon, chase after it, track it down, and kill it. We were built to hunt, built to achieve.

Of course, it can be difficult to hunt completely for yourself. Even in our past we had to form groups and alliances and sometimes give our efforts to the achievements of others. Getting to the point in life where most of your efforts are toward your own personal goals and choices can take a lifetime of effort. But if you only start small, choose small goals that are important to you, and only you, you can slowly build on your successes. And once you get a taste of the kill, there’s no going back.

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Are You Really Paying Attention?

Instant Partner

The other day I was hanging out with a friend of mine on this lake. Not really on the lake, next to it. There was this restaurant with an outdoor bar near one of the shores, or edges, or whatever you all the border between the lake the land.

We were watching all the people that were jet skiing, water-skiing, and boating. There seemed to be quite a few recreationists using motorized assistance in their recreational endeavors. There wasn’t much wind, so we didn’t see any wind surfers. There were a few swimmers, but for the most part, everybody had some kind of mechanized tool to assist them in their recreation. Then we saw something particularly strange. Something that both my friend and I had to do a double take, stop mid way through our conversation, and ask each other to verify what we’d just seen, to make we hadn’t slipped into some shared hallucination.

It’s kind of like when your brain is on autopilot, and starts to use your stored memories of what is going on around you to create the representation of reality, and then something completely upsets the system. They’ve done plenty of high level studies, using brain scans and cat scans and all kinds of other scans and when we are awake and conscious, up to fifty percent of everything we see, feel, hear, taste, and smell (all the data coming in through our five senses) is generated internally. Like when you go back to a web page without refreshing your browsers. You’re really looking at the website as it really is, only the way it was when you first surfed there five or ten minutes ago.

Like if you have a Yahoo! Email account, and you go to the Yahoo! Homepage, you’ll see so many messages in your inbox. Then if you surf someplace else, and then come back to Yahoo, you might not see any increase in mail, even though your buddy just sent you an email. Once you refresh your browser, you’ll see the new mail.

Scientists believe the brain works in the same way. If you are in a familiar environment, and the things around you aren’t changing all that much, your brain will start to rely on your stored memories to create what you think you see around you, rather than what is actually going on. So when something strange or out of the ordinary happens, your brain has to refresh it’s browser, and that can be a weird feeling.

Especially if that strange thing happens quickly, before your brain can refresh itself to catch up on what is really going on. Your brain doesn’t like to work very hard (or maybe that’s just me) so it will usually defer to stored memories whenever possible. It doesn’t like to continually “see” what is really going on unless it has to.

Many experiments bear this out. This is a reason why eyewitness testimony is the weakest link in any criminal case. One example of this is an experiment where they had a “criminal” come in and steal a professor’s briefcase during a lecture. Later, when they interviewed the students, the description of the “criminal” was all over the place. Some said tall, some said short, there wasn’t even any agreement on what ethnicity he was or even what color clothes he was wearing. Everybody seemed to base what they “saw” on their own experience with criminals, be it in real life or from watching criminals on TV.

There are all kinds of cool optical illusions that make use of this seeming limit on the brain. But is it really a limitation? What the brain in accuracy and detail, it more than makes up in speed. Our brains have evolved over hundreds of millions of years to deliver split second life and death decisions based on quickly changing data. Those that had slower brains, that sat around to contemplate things, didn’t last very long.

Those that had quick brains that decided when to run and when to fight, lived long enough to pass on those genes. So today we are left with a brain that is incredibly fast, but sometimes makes errors in reality detection. Sometimes we have to force ourselves to “refresh our browsers” to see what is really going on around us, rather then relying on assumptions and guesses.

Which is kind of what my friend and I did at the lake. It only happened because there was a momentary lull in our conversation, and we happened to be looking out over the lake at the same time, and toward the same spot. There was this guy on this Jet Ski that would jump out of the water, and then dive back in. He would dive completely under the water, Jet Ski and all, and then come back up a few meters later. Not such a big deal, as I’ve seen this in Jet Ski shows before.

But what we both saw was that this guy a was on a jet ski, by himself, and jumped up in the air, and then dove into the water, like normal, but when he came out there was a girl on the jet ski with him. As soon as we both saw that, we completely lost track of our conversation, and then asked each other if we both saw what we think we saw. After we verified that we both saw the same thing, we then focused intently on the water, specifically the area of this strange occurrence.

We weren’t exactly sure, but this “couple” did a few more tricks, and then both rode to the side of the lake, and as they did so a bunch of people were clapping and taking photos. It appeared to be some kind of show that was sponsored by a liquor company, who was hosting a big lakeside party that evening.

Had we been watching the whole show, it might not have been impressive as it was. But to watch one guy go under water, and come up with some girl on his jet ski is pretty cool thing to just happen to notice in the middle of some conversation about something that I can’t even remember.

Don’t Keep Your Intuition On Ice

False Feedback Loop

The other day I was waiting in line at the ice cream shop down the street from my apartment. I don’t usually buy ice cream, especially during winter, but something told me that buying ice cream might be a good idea today. I can’t exactly put my finger on what it was, or what caused me to think of ice cream, let alone evaluate whether it would be a good choice or not, but there I was.

I noticed the girl standing in line behind me was wearing a shirt that said
“San Diego,” on it, and nothing else. San Diego is popular for a couple of tourist attractions, the San Diego Zoo, and Sea World, to name a couple, but her shirt only said “San Diego,” and nothing else. Since the ice cream shop we were standing in line in was a long way from San Diego, I was curious.

I asked her if she was from San Diego, and she said no, that she got the shirt from a friend. The friend had gone there on a trip and had brought it back as a souvenir. She kind of gave off vibe that she wanted me to follow up on the conversation, despite not giving any obvious openings, so I pressed on.

I asked her what her friend did it San Diego, and she told me that it’s actual her husband, but at he time they hadn’t started dating yet. He was involved in the Navy and some secret nuclear submarine program down there. I asked her if her husband was in the navy, and she said that she couldn’t say. So much for my intuition about her desire for further conversation. I tried one last time, and asked her where she was originally from, and what she told me next was completely unexpected.

I remember once I was taking this seminar on intuition. Or rather it was on hypnosis, but there was on section that was specific to intuition. A good hypnotist can develop an intuition about his client, as many times the session will depend on feedback given by the client that isn’t altogether obvious or blatant. Hypnotists that can develop a good sense of intuition can have much more success with their clients.

There are a few different schools of thought on intuition. One is highly esoteric and metaphysical, and says that there is some higher “super conscious organism” that everybody is connected into. All dreams, psychic abilities, and intuitions depend on being able to “tap into” this superconscious realm of knowledge. It is widely believed that this is a huge storehouse of information, of everything that has happened, and everything that will happen. And it is completely accessible to anyone, so long as they know how to open themselves up to it.

Another school of thought is purely based on biology and evolution. Intuition is a highly developed aspect of communication that is just as unique to humans as spoken language. Most people are aware that human communication goes way beyond the verbal. Studies have shown that as much as 90 percent of communication is non-verbal. This is where intuition kicks in. Because the amount of voice tone, facial expression and subtle cues given off by body language extremely numerous and complex, being able to process them all consciously would be impossible. So the brain developed a way, over thousands of generations of evolution, to interpret them all subconsciously, and then deliver a final “feeling” to the conscious mind. Since feelings can only give us a directional “push,” and not any specific guidance, they can be difficult to interpret.

Hunger, fear, lust, nervousness are all general feelings that generally point us in the right direction, but don’t give us specifics on how to get there. That is left to our conscious, thinking brains. The same goes with intuition. Our subconscious reads the vast amount of information about any particular situation, and then presents a vague “feeling” to our conscious brains. This can be difficult to interpret, especially if you are someone who has been brought up to believe that “feelings” are too wishy washy to be paid any attention to.

But taken in light of the massive computational abilities of the subconscious mind, these feelings can be very valuable, when interpreted correctly. Sometimes it really is a good idea to “trust your gut.”

She told me that she was originally from Jordan, and that she had a PhD in nuclear engineering, which is where she met her husband. She had come to the United States on a student visa, and had met her husband in school, where they both studied nuclear engineering.

She then apologized, and told me that she mad mistakenly took me for one of her classmates. But when she started speaking to me, she realized I wasn’t him, because I spoke with the wrong accent.

So it turns out that her intuition about me was completely incorrect, which in turn gave me an incorrect intuition about her. Kind of a false intuition feedback loop. But the good thing was our false intuition feed back loop had self corrected by the time it was our turn to order our ice cream cone. Actually, I got an ice cream cone, and she got a sundae, but that’s another story.

What Is The Best Strategy?

Tit For Tat? Or Screw Your Buddy?

The other day I was riding my bike downtown, not going anywhere in particular. The weather was particularly nice, so I was just riding around. I had brought a couple of books in case I found a decent place to hang out. There wasn’t anything good playing at the movies, so I wasn’t in any hurry to be anywhere at any specific time.

I found this really strange bookstore. I hadn’t noticed it before. There were all these stacks of books that looked like they weren’t in any discernable order. Just slightly more organized than random. Like they just unloaded them from the used book truck and put them in stacks wherever there was space.

I went inside and started looking around. A sort of pattern emerged. The non-fiction books were over there, and the novels were up here in the front. And in the non fiction section, the how to books were kind of off to the side, the general non fiction books, like books about sociology, and the history and evolution of the sewing machine, and books about baseball were over there. And then the used textbooks were kind of off to the side next to up there.

As I started poking around, I was astounded by how cheap these books were. This one for twenty-five cents. That one for a dollar. The most expensive book I found was one titled “Step-by-Step Guide to Alchemy: How To Turn Any Object Into Pure Gold,” was three dollars. I turns out that it was a textbook that was used over at the university in an undergraduate course in metaphysics. I would have bought it, being able to turn anything into gold would seem to be quite a handy skill to have, but it was a really huge book, and even if it did fit into my backpack, there was no way I was going to haul this thing around the rest of the day.

So I continued to look, and I find this book about computer simulated game theory. It was written back in the seventies, and was about different programs that were developed to play a game called “The Prisoners Dilemma.” This is a classic puzzle from game theory. Here’s how it goes:

You have to people. Each has two cards. One card says “altruism,” the other card says “selfish.” Each player chooses which card to play. There are two players per game. If both players play the “altruism” card, they each get 500 points. If one player plays the “selfish card” and the other player plays the “altruism card” the selfish card player gets 900 points, while the altruism player gets nothing. If they both play the “selfish” card, each is penalized 100 points.

The game is called “prisoners dilemma” because if you have to supposed criminals, in separate rooms, they basically have the same choice. If they both claim innocence, the cops got nothing. If one guy rats out his buddy, while his buddy claims innocence, the first guy goes free (or gets a special deal) while his buddy is sent up the river. If they both rat out each other, then they both get penalized. This of course assumes that they both got caught unexpectedly, and didn’t have time beforehand to strategize.

So what they did, back in the seventies, was they had this round robin tournament. They invited whoever wanted to play to come up with a strategy that they thought would work best. Each player would play every other player (all computer simulated) and they would see who had the most points at the end. They would play a certain number of rounds per player, and then switch.

What they were most interested is what kind of strategy would work best, in the long run, with many different opponents. A selfish strategy, or an altruistic one.
I believe there is a game show in the UK that follows these same rules, but I don’t think it is as statistically relevant as this computer simulated tournament.

So which strategy do you think won? Selfish or altruistic? Which is better, look out for number one, or screw the other guy as often as possible?

The strategy that won, hands down, every single time, was a strategy called “tit for tat.” This strategy simply copied the last play made by your opponent. So if you met up with an opponent that played the altruism card last time, you’d play the altruism card in the current round. The reason this worked was that all the strategies that were based more on altruism, whenever they met a similar based strategy, they would quickly rack up points, as they would both play the altruism card most of the time. The tit for tat would just copy what it’s opponent did the last play, so it would play the altruism card most of the time with an altruistic opponent.

When the tit for tat strategy came up with a purely selfish opponent, neither of them would get any points, because the tit for tat would always copy the previous move of it’s opponent, which was always selfish.

The points accrued by two altruistic strategies when they met each other far out weighted the points lost when an altruistic strategy met a selfish strategy. Needless to say, whenever a selfish strategy met another selfish strategy, they didn’t get any points.

This computer simulated tournament was originally designed by evolutionists who wanted to see how altruistic strategies spring up in nature by organisms that are primarily selfish in nature. Like honey bees pollinating flowers in exchange for nectar, and monkeys that groom each other for no apparent reason. Somewhere, somehow, there is a payoff. And based on the computer simulation, you seem to get the most pay off with a “help the other guy out” mentality. While you might run into a few selfish people, you’ll more than make it up when you run into another like-minded “help the other guy out” strategist.

So anyway, I picked up that little book, which only cost fifty cents, and fit snugly into my backpack, and went pedaling off down the street, wondering what I would stumble upon next.

How Long Can You Hold It?

Eye to Eye

I went to see this movie the other night. I didn’t even realize it was coming out. I was just walking down the arcade downtown, and I saw a movie poster. I recognized the actor right away, but I had no idea he had a movie coming out. So naturally, I went and checked the times, so I could come back and see it within the next couple of days. It was already pretty late, and there weren’t any more shows that evening.

So the next day come around and I go down to see this movie. While I was waiting in line, I saw somebody that I sort of recognized, but wasn’t sure where I knew her from. I could tell she felt he same way. We were waiting in one of those lines that snakes around, kind of like an amusement park. You are always standing next to different people as the line moves around.

So we had just turned our opposite corners, and started moving closer to each other. This was really weird, because both of us were trying to study each other, but only through our respective peripheral visions. I was kind of afraid that if our eyes, met and she showed recognition for who I was, and I hadn’t figured out who she was yet, it would be embarrassing. I suspect that she was doing the same thing.

It’s kind of hard to describe. We were both looking kind of in each other’s direction, but not quite at each other. But we kept moving closer and closer to each other. I started to panic, what if she said my name, but I didn’t know hers? What if she knew who I was, and I ignored her, but then saw her again the next day somewhere, like at the cleaners, or some place I shop every day?

I remember once when I was in college, I was taking this class in anthropology. It was cool because of the class; we got in free to the local zoo anytime we wanted. All we had to do was show our student ID, and mention the professor’s name. And the zoo wasn’t any small town zoo with a bunch of animals that were kicked out of other zoos for bad behavior. This was actually a world-renowned zoo, with high profile animals like special pandas and stuff.

So anyway, one lecture, this professor was telling us how intricate the facial expressions of chimpanzees are. And also how similar they are to humans. He was explaining that the human tendency to smile is somehow related, to chimps baring of their teeth to both show aggression, and to show passive submission. I don’t remember exactly how it works, but the facial expressions, at least in chimps, for aggression are only slightly different from happy submission.

He told us if we wanted to have some fun with the chimps, to get as close as we can to the cage possible, and pick one, and just stare at it. After a while he or she will realize that some goofball human is staring at it, and see what’s up. After a while, they will take it as a sign of aggression, and start staring back. If you are lucky, you can get into a staring contest with a chimp. If that happens, wait a few minutes of staring, and then bare your teeth. The chimp will most likely get super angry and jump around like he wants to kill you or something.

So after I heard that, I went straight to the zoo, and went right to the chimps. I found a couple and stared at them, but I couldn’t get anybody to stare back. I tired for a while, and did get a bunch of glances, but no takers for a deadly stare down contest. Maybe they weren’t in the mood, or maybe somebody tipped them off that the professor of anthropology was sending troublemakers to mess with them.

When I reported my findings, he said that’s not unusual. Chimps have to be ready to stare somebody down, and there are plenty of factors that go into it. Generally speaking, if they don’t feel like they are in competition for anything, like food or girl chimps or something, they won’t likely get angry very easily. I guess in the zoo they try to keep the chimps happy.

But he went on to explain that eye contact is a touch thing. Even human it evokes some deeply subconscious and long evolved fears of conflict. In the wild, eye contact meant one thing, and one thing only:

Let’s rumble.

He also mentioned some psychological study that showed if two humans are looking at each other eye to eye for more than thirty seconds, they are either fighting, or thinking about fighting, (or at the very least feeling some kind of aggressive competition), or the opposite either engaged in sex, thinking about sex, or at the very least having sexual feelings.

I’ve read from other sources, that if a guy locks eyes with a woman, and she holds eye contact for more than a few seconds, she is a highly sexual individual. I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but if you’re a guy, try and see if you can hold eye contact with a female stranger for more than a few seconds. It can be interesting, to say the least.

And this is the weird part, or the cool part. Just as moved up so we were both next to each other line, we both did our best to shift our gazes so we were looking at each other, and throw our best “Oh, hey! How’s it going,” but right when we did so, we both realized who each other was at the same time. It turned out to be more like “Oh Hey! (fake) how’s it…OH! Hey! (real) How’s it going!” Turns out we don’t know each other by name, just that she’ s a waitress at a coffee shop that I go to sometimes.

Once we got that out of the way, I was able to enjoy the movie. Which turned out to be pretty good.