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Series: Mind Field
The Cognitive Tradeoff Hypothesis
Join us on a journey into the mysterious depths of the human psyche as we investigate the strange and surprising terrain of the Mind Field.
Chimps and Humans can be traced biologically back to a common ancestor. The Cognitive Tradeoff Hypothesis theorizes about the two different paths of development - particularly cognitive development - that occurred in these two species after the split. Chimps stayed in the trees and developed some extraordinary cognitive capabilities which are shown by the research work of Japanese scientists, while humans came down into the savanna and developed social capabilities and language.
The hypothesis is that humans 'traded' some aspects of cognitive capabilities by re-purposing areas of the brain that had evolved in the context of other uses. Those capabilities are kept in chimps and are far surpassing that of normal humans. This is shown by the research work of scientists at the Primate Research Center connected with Kyoto University.
Moral psychology isn't always an easy thing to study. Experiments that actually puts people in what feels like a real scenario may get realistic results, but researchers must always balance the benefits of what we could learn with the safety and well-being of the people they study. Often what we learn from moral psychology experiments doesn't make humans look good.
We are imperfect creatures. But the more we learn about why and how we make the moral choices that we do, the better we'll be able to tackle difficult questions in the future.
The Stilwell Brain
A single microscopic brain cell cannot think, is not conscious, but if you bring in a few more brain cells, and a few more, and connect them all, at a certain point, the group itself will be able to think and experience emotions and have opinions and a personality and know that it exists. How can such astonishing things be made from such simple ingredients? Well, answering that question means learning not only who we are but, more importantly, how we are.
Today, using what neuroscientists know so far, we are going to make a town function like a brain, using people as neurons.
The Stanford Prison Experiment
It all begins as a study on the psychology of prison life led by Stanford psychology professor Dr. Philip Zimbardo. 24 volunteers - 12 guards and 12 prisoners - have agreed to spend the next two weeks recreating life in a correctional facility. Normal people can become monsters, given the right situation, that's the standard narrative of the Stanford Prison Experiment, one of the most famous psychological experiments of all time.
But what if the cause of its participants' cruel behavior wasn't what we've always been told?
Should I Die
Someday, I will die. But should I? If I was offered a longer life, I would take that in a second. But how long is too long? Is death something I should deny forever, or is death and the role it plays in the universe something I am better off accepting?
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