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Dreaming Dreams and Changing Change

by Kirsten Sanford, Feb 06 2009

This article piqued my interest today. I hoped it would tell me more about why I am the way I am. Why I like going to the same coffee house, why I enjoy known restaurants. No such luck. Instead I got a fluff piece where there should have been much harder data. It was as if not only the writer, but also the researchers interviewed had fallen into the trap of over-interpreting the results.

The results for the large part suggest that people become increasingly set in their ways or resistant to change after their 20′s. The 20′s are a time of exploration and massive change. Then it is all downhill.

“The fact that an age-dependent pattern of decreasing openness appears around the globe and in all cultures suggests, according to biopsychologists, a genetic basis.”

Why? What about shared social and situational patterns? People are people, remember…

“The brain is always trying to automate things and to create habits, which it imbues with feelings of pleasure. Holding to the tried and true gives us a feeling of security, safety, and competence while at the same time reducing our fear of the future and of failure,” writes brain researcher Gerhard Roth of the University of Bremen in Germany in his 2007 book whose title translates as Personality, Decision, and Behavior.

Why don’t we think about this from another angle: the brain isn’t “trying” to do anything. The brain functions in a manner that makes certain behaviors more rewarding than others. The reward pathway leads to certain behaviors gaining prevalence over others, and to certain patterns of behavior. Anxiety and fear inducing behaviors are not necessarily as rewarding, so those behaviors don’t persevere. However, the fact that many people are rewarded by the adrenaline rush of risk-taking demonstrates that even more negative behaviors can win out. This brain researcher has watered down what is going on so much that it loses its significance.

The writer takes three pages to get to the best idea of the article:

“… set more reasonable goals and recognize that achieving even modest change will be difficult.”

Finally.

I received a like to a strange website today after relating a dream I had to the Twitterverse. Apparently,…

“This morning we traversed from harmonic 21 into 43 just before 4AM Mountain time zone. This would have been a time of active dreaming about lizards, snakes and monsters (harmonic 43).”

Which, according to the blog explains why I awoke from my dream about cobras at 4am. And, the fact that two other individuals on Twitter shared T-rex and monster dreams was not a random occurrence, but actually linked through harmonic timewaves. My dream was the result of timewave 5358438447. Or, so it says.

I will not argue that there are common themes shared in dreams. That in itself is quite interesting.

I will not argue that maybe this universe is the result of vibrations (of what I will make no guess). It is one possibility.

However, I balk at anyone thinking that they have a numerological method of linking the two. Especially, someone who has no basic understanding of probability:

“What are the chances that three posters would have such similar dreams in a strictly random universe?”

Can he tell me the chances that Ruth Bader Ginsberg would have cancer twice during her long and illustrious career? Unfortunately, the chances were quite high. I wish her luck in her recovery as science and medicine do what they can.

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5 Responses to “Dreaming Dreams and Changing Change”

  1. MadScientist says:

    Ugh. That article is such utter bunk I don’t see any point in even mentioning it. An excellent article for illustrating the boundless nature of human stupidity – alternatively, how to imagine causal relationships where there are absolutely none and how to pull “facts” out of the air.

  2. Mastriani says:

    Oh man, scathing refutation. Excellent article Dr. Sanford.

    By even moderate scrutiny, your commentary on this other “article”, if one really wants to stretch to call it that, appears to be spot on. The brain being an insatiable peptide junkie means that your position is far more likely correct, (ahem, and verifiable), than the rabble presented.

    Well done, a perfect piece for the Skeptic to put away as so much tripe.

  3. Mastriani says:

    Yet again, a fine effort goes unnoticed.

    It would appear that the Skeptics are far wiser than first anticipated. You can’t capture the attention of the herd without sensationalism.

    Sad that such effort is wasted.

  4. MadScientist says:

    @Mastriani – why do you say the effort is wasted? Is it because there aren’t many comments? Maybe people read and agree; maybe people attempted to read the article referenced and found it to be such puerile mush and decided they have nothing further to add? Maybe some people read the first few lines of the article mentioned and figure it would be a colossal waste of time to actually attempt to finish reading it? At any rate, I’d like to know how you come to the conclusion that effort is wasted.

  5. Mastriani says:

    At any rate, I’d like to know how you come to the conclusion that effort is wasted.

    http://skepticblog.org/2009/01/29/whats-your-sacred-cow/

    http://skepticblog.org/2009/01/22/the-us-airways-hudson-river-conspiracy/

    Figure it out, it seems rather simple to me.