Conscious thinking is more accurate

What you think about how you think.
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Lance Kennedy
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Conscious thinking is more accurate

Postby Lance Kennedy » Fri Jul 07, 2017 5:59 am

Reference : New Scientist, 1 July 2017, page 8

Imagine you get in your car and start driving down that road that you drive down twice every week. In due course you arrive at your destination, the supermarket. At that moment you wake up and realise that this time, for the first time in a year, you actually intended to drive to the hardware store. But your mind was wandering and your automatic reflexes took over and drove you to your more frequent destination. Has this kind of thing happened to you ?

Now imagine you are going to a totally new destination and you are following directions. Your informant told you to turn left at the fourth left hand turn. What are the chances you will not ? Pretty slim. You will consciously count streets and turn at the fourth left hand turn. No mistake.

This is suggested as the evolutionary value of consciousness. When an animal operates unconsciously, by reflex or by unconscious behaviour patterns, it gets locked into a fixed result. On the other hand, if consciousness rules, the behaviour is both more flexible and more accurate. This is a key to survival.

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ElectricMonk
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Re: Conscious thinking is more accurate

Postby ElectricMonk » Fri Jul 07, 2017 6:06 am

That makes little sense to me: animals do new things all the time. And we can see that they are cautious about it.
So whatever this kind of consciousness is, it is one we have in common with animals.
I've come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:
Spoiler:
1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
2. Anything that's invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
3. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.
- Douglas Adams

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Re: Conscious thinking is more accurate

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Fri Jul 07, 2017 6:51 am

..............as always: OR just the opposite as driving to a new location is not what you do 99% of the time whereas drving to the market is the routine. The brain "economizes" the routine so that consciousness can be used for more important, perhaps even new, things.

Once again.........you take a very complicated nuanced subject and want to discuss only one aspect of it thereby negating any deeper appreciation.

By the way.......this looks like an example of a process issue. Where are your numbers to show one drive is superior to the other drive?.......Number of neurons firing and what not?

You don't have any data............so this must not be science.
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Re: Conscious thinking is more accurate

Postby ElectricMonk » Fri Jul 07, 2017 7:09 am

I would argue that the special flavor of human consciousness lies in the opposite of being accurate: in the ability to imagine and fantasies about things that are obviously not there.
I've come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:
Spoiler:
1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
2. Anything that's invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
3. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.
- Douglas Adams

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Re: Conscious thinking is more accurate

Postby Lance Kennedy » Fri Jul 07, 2017 7:51 am

ElectricMonk wrote:That makes little sense to me: animals do new things all the time. And we can see that they are cautious about it.
So whatever this kind of consciousness is, it is one we have in common with animals.


Definitely in common with animals. All higher animals appear to have consciousness.

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Re: Conscious thinking is more accurate

Postby Dimebag » Fri Jul 07, 2017 11:56 am

Consciousness is a necessary component of learning, I.e. Observing something, and extracting some kind of information which can be used by the body for a desired result. Consciousness as you have described Lance, is involved in non reflexive behaviour. In order for the motor cortex to learn set patterns of movement, it must first be consciously rehearsed.

This is how I view the scenario. In the case you described, you are using the verbal commands as an input to your motor cortex to guide your behaviour, the sounds you hear allow your brain to plot out a path for you to guide the vehicle, using your motor cortex of prelearned driving behaviour. You use the visual feedback to allow you to adjust the trajectory of the vehicle to the desired heading based on your prefrontal cortex's interpretation of the audible commands. Your brain must also have some area allocated to navigation in space (sorry I'm not familiar with this particular brain region involved), with pre-planned routes or paths which your prefrontal cortex must use as inputs to your motor cortex for driving behaviour.

Where should consciousness be necessary in this process? I would suggest in the hearing and confirming of the audible commands as a direction in the visual space, as well as the plotting of an imagined navigation path, and the correction of said path based on visual feedback, and the passing on of motor commands to the cortex, which are already learned and unconsciously executed.

If the passenger could guide the driver through this process several times, the navigation path would become learned, and therefore the process would become seamless, with no need for audible commands to create a navigation path, and with the navigation path now being learned, it can integrate directly with the motor cortex and use the visual feedback as is normally the case, to guide the car on the desired tradgectory, along the learned path, no conscious intervention required, unless of course something unexpected happens, which will become the focus of attention and then require the prefrontal cortex's involvement, as well as other systems depending on the nature of the event.

That is not to say that during execution of a pre learned driving route, there will be no conscious awareness of the events at all, as this is clearly not the case, but the amount of attention required is minimal compared to the previously described directed driving scenario.

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Re: Conscious thinking is more accurate

Postby Dimebag » Fri Jul 07, 2017 12:14 pm

I believe you are correct in asserting that consciousness reduces the chance of making an error due to the execution of pre learned and rehearsed behaviours being reflexively used, and I can relate to this firsthand.

I work in a rather repetitive and tedious physical job, which requires me to follow a set work flow of physical movements. Over the years, these movements, no matter how complicated they may seem to an observer, have become so rehearsed and practiced, that, under most circumstances, little conscious intervention is necessary. This allows me to focus on other thing such as discussion with customers, listening to podcasts, daydreaming etc. sometimes during my work routine, I may become interrupted for some reason, and on occasion, certain steps can be missed, as each step follows from the last in a daisy chain kind of way, with the previous physical movement acting almost like a primer for the next. They tend to be only small things, which I will only pick up on when it comes time for that missed step to be useful. This only ever happens when I am on this autopilot with my attention focussed on another more engaging task. When I am not doing this multitasking, I tend to be more focussed on the chain of physical movements, and therefore never miss a step, although I get bored quite easily when that is the case, which is why I tend to distract myself.

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Re: Conscious thinking is more accurate

Postby Nikki Nyx » Fri Jul 07, 2017 7:49 pm

OTOH, we shouldn't underestimate how bloody amazing it is we can navigate a half hour or more drive completely on autopilot. Clearly, we're able to make the correct decisions regarding where to turn, how to follow the various traffic signals and signs, avoiding other vehicles, etc. All while we're off playing with the fairies in La-La Land.
What are the facts? Again and again and again-what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history”--what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!
—Lazarus Long, from Time Enough for Love, by Robert A. Heinlein

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Re: Conscious thinking is more accurate

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Fri Jul 07, 2017 9:01 pm

"Has this ever happened to you?" Was the direct question. I didn't answer because I had not. but I remember today that I have. Not quite the same thing though. I took off wanting to go to point B which was new but was on the way to point C which I did regularly. I was nearly at point C before remembering that was not where I wanted to go. I laughed, made a U-Turn and got to B. The first half of the trip to B or C was the same..... it was a set-up I tells ya!!
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Re: Conscious thinking is more accurate

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Fri Jul 07, 2017 9:03 pm

Does remind me of a supposedly true story of fire arms training in cop school: cadets are trained to pull the weapon, aim, fire (not by pulling the trigger but by saying bang, bang), and then holstering the gun for the next exercise. This had to be changed when out on the street the newbies would pull their gun, aim, say bang, bang, and reholster their guns.

The training had worked.
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Re: Conscious thinking is more accurate

Postby Lance Kennedy » Fri Jul 07, 2017 11:05 pm

Good story, Bobbo.
Not sure I should believe it, but amusing anyway.


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