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abigailgem comments on The Apologist and the Revolutionary - Less Wrong

161 Post author: Yvain 11 March 2009 09:39PM

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Comment author: abigailgem 12 March 2009 10:01:17AM 17 points [-]

A friend of mine recommends writing with the non-dominant hand to access alternative brain functions. I have done this, and found myself disagreeing with myself.

Comment author: ciphergoth 12 March 2009 06:00:09PM 10 points [-]

What subject did you use as a test? I used my non-dominant hand to type this and the only difference is that it took much longer!

Comment author: Kutta 16 July 2009 10:06:51AM 0 points [-]

I've learned to type very fast with my non-dominant hand (through online gaming) and never experienced such effect.

Comment author: abigailgem 28 July 2009 09:10:00AM 4 points [-]

When I tried this technique, I did it very slowly. It was like asking whether a word to write felt right. Then I did a drawing which seemed to contradict what I had been thinking consciously shortly before.

I am not aware of research on the technique.

Comment author: byrnema 28 July 2009 09:55:33AM *  18 points [-]

I'll share this anecdote, on the chance that it is relevant.

At a rate of about once every two years, I am jolted awake in a peculiar mental state in which I feel very convinced that I have discovered something profound, and all experience till then has been an illusion. The next morning I would feel normal and unable to recall what I was thinking. So I resolved to write down my thoughts the next time it happened in order to analyze the experience.

It happened again about 3 months ago. I rushed to my desk and began writing. To my astonishment, what my hand was writing (in this case, my dominant hand) was completely independent of what I was thinking. It looked like gibberish to me.

The next morning I inspected the sheet and found I had scribbled vague tautologies like, {"If A then A" , "Also B. Then A + B"}. (That morning I also remembered what the "profound" realization was: it was that causality was perfectly bi-directional.) These experiences tend to happen when I am deeply involved in a math problem that is foreign.

Later edit I wrote this comment in response to the parent by abigailgem, having not yet read Yvain's post. I just now read the post and find that my anecdote fits Dr. Ramachandran's model in a couple ways:

  • The hypothesis that my right brain is "turning on" to revise models is consistent with the fact that these experiences occur when I am working on a new math problem. Perhaps at night my right brain is sifting through hypothesis, and then my brain (which isn't very discriminating while asleep) wakes me up because it thinks it's discovered a much better model for my whole life.

  • It is consistent that in the morning I have no recollection of what I was thinking.

Obviously, my left brain is working here, trying to fit the data into the theory. I suppose I should symmetrically consider what does not fit.

But I only found another thing that did fit:

  • When I tried to write down what I was thinking, I was unable to do so. This is consistent with my right brain being unable to communicate. When I instructed my hand to write, my left brain took over the task, but, without any context, just babbled some harmless tautologies.

So, for my own use, I add to the theory that I have some evidence that

  • I personally am unable to identify counter-evidence to things. I can only generate reasons on how something would fit, can only confabulate, so I would do better comparing two different models than evaluating one. I've suspected this for a while anyway. The only exception is if I can find a logical inconsistency, which is why I have only ever trusted my reasoning in a mathematical context.

  • The left brain is just a logical computer, based on my right hand scribbles (and the banana observation, below), and the right brain is what generates new but indiscriminately crazy ideas.

At this point, I can accurately be accused of babbling but this is the single moment where I have learned the most on Less Wrong.

The idea of my everyday reasoning and interactions just affording logical reasoning and being unable to decrease confidence in assumptions unless there is a logical inconsistency is extremely powerful. It explains why people rarely update their ideas, even in the face of contradicting evidence, and why upon coming to Less Wrong I felt convinced that I need only ascertain the consistency of a model. I felt (and still feel) that if belief in God is consistent, then there is no reason to update it. I suppose my left brain could suggest at any moment there is no God, and provide an alternate explanation for what God is currently explaining, but presumably it would need a reason to do so? Since theism is off-topic in this post, I've transplanted this question to the open forum here.

Comment author: cousin_it 28 July 2009 10:01:46AM *  20 points [-]

I'm reminded of the story about this junkie who had the Most Profound Idea Ever while stoned and hastily scribbled it down. This is what he read afterwards: "The banana is big, but the banana skin is even bigger."


While working an the material I was reminded of a story George Orwell once told me (I do not recall whether he published it): a friend of his, while living in the Far East, smoked several pipes of opium every night, and every night a single phrase rang in his ear, which contained the whole secret of the universe; but in his euphoria he could not be bothered to write it down and by the morning it was gone. One night he managed to jot down the magic phrase after all, and in the morning he read: "The banana is big, but its skin is even bigger'.

-- Arthur Koestler, "Return Trip to Nirvana"

Comment author: byrnema 28 July 2009 10:16:03AM *  7 points [-]

That's funny. And it rings true, suggesting the story hasn't been significantly altered in the telling. There's something about it which tingles my "that's profound" sensor. It's a straight-forward physical example of a simple logical principle, that happens to be about bananas.

Comment author: Armok_GoB 30 September 2011 06:01:47PM -1 points [-]

That special once-every-few-years state of mind sound suspiciously like my all-the-time default state. (yes, it's incredibly frustrating)

Comment author: byrnema 30 September 2011 07:42:37PM 3 points [-]

Would you further describe what your default state is like?

Comment author: Armok_GoB 30 September 2011 10:11:07PM *  -1 points [-]

Nether can nor want to, really.