Sensations & Perceptions

"That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong."

F. Scott Fitzgerald (via quotestomorals)

(vía aniuxa)

"La vida no posee más que un encanto verdadero: el encanto del juego. Pero, ¿y si nos resulta indiferente ganar o perder?"

Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867)


Strange Case of ‘Hyper Empathy’ after Brain Surgery
In a strange case, a woman developed “hyper empathy” after having a part of her brain called the amygdala removed in an effort to treat her severe epilepsy, according to a report of her case. Empathy is the ability to recognize another person’s emotions.
The case was especially unusual because the amygdala is involved in recognizing emotions, and removing it would be expected to make it harder rather than easier for a person to read others’ emotions, according to the researchers involved in her case.
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"A good story doesn’t feel like an illusion. What it feels like is life. Literally. A recent brain-imaging study … Reveals that the regions of they brain that processes the sights, sounds, tastes, and movement of real life are activated when we’re engrossed in a compelling narrative."

Lisa Cron, Wired For Story (via julieduffy)

"¡Cuántas lagrimas hay detrás de las máscaras! ¡Cuánto más podría el hombre llegar al encuentro con el otro hombre si nos acercáramos los unos a los otros como necesitados que somos, en lugar de figurarnos fuertes! Si dejáramos de mostrarnos autosuficientes y nos atreviéramos a reconocer la gran necesidad del otro que tenemos para seguir viviendo, como muertos de sed que somos en verdad, ¡cuánto mal podría ser evitado!"

La resistencia, de Ernesto Sabato

"Llevar una vida completamente privada significa sobre todo estar privado de cosas esenciales para una vida humana: estar privado de la realidad que viene de ser visto y oído por los demás, ser privado de la relación objetiva con ellos que viene de estar a la vez relacionado y separado de ellos por el intermediario que es un mundo común de cosas, estar privado de la posibilidad de conseguir algo más permanente que la vida misma. La privación de la privacidad consiste en la ausencia de los otros."

La condicion humana, de Hanna Arendt. 



Decoding ‘noisy’ language in daily life
Suppose you hear someone say, “The man gave the ice cream the child.” Does that sentence seem plausible? Or do you assume it is missing a word? Such as: “The man gave the ice cream to the child.”
A new study by MIT researchers indicates that when we process language, we often make these kinds of mental edits. Moreover, it suggests that we seem to use specific strategies for making sense of confusing information — the “noise” interfering with the signal conveyed in language, as researchers think of it.
“Even at the sentence level of language, there is a potential loss of information over a noisy channel,” says Edward Gibson, a professor in MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences (BCS) and Department of Linguistics and Philosophy.
Gibson and two co-authors detail the strategies at work in a new paper, “Rational integration of noisy evidence and prior semantic expectations in sentence interpretation,” published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“As people are perceiving language in everyday life, they’re proofreading, or proof-hearing, what they’re getting,” says Leon Bergen, a PhD student in BCS and a co-author of the study. “What we’re getting is quantitative evidence about how exactly people are doing this proofreading. It’s a well-calibrated process.”
Asymmetrical strategies
The paper is based on a series of experiments the researchers conducted, using the Amazon Mechanical Turk survey system, in which subjects were presented with a series of sentences — some evidently sensible, and others less so — and asked to judge what those sentences meant.
A key finding is that given a sentence with only one apparent problem, people are more likely to think something is amiss than when presented with a sentence where two edits may be needed. In the latter case, people seem to assume instead that the sentence is not more thoroughly flawed, but has an alternate meaning entirely.
“The more deletions and the more insertions you make, the less likely it will be you infer that they meant something else,” Gibson says. When readers have to make one such change to a sentence, as in the ice cream example above, they think the original version was correct about 50 percent of the time. But when people have to make two changes, they think the sentence is correct even more often, about 97 percent of the time.
Thus the sentence, “Onto the cat jumped a table,” which might seem to make no sense, can be made plausible with two changes — one deletion and one insertion — so that it reads, “The cat jumped onto a table.” And yet, almost all the time, people will not infer that those changes are needed, and assume the literal, surreal meaning is the one intended.
This finding interacts with another one from the study, that there is a systematic asymmetry between insertions and deletions on the part of listeners.
“People are much more likely to infer an alternative meaning based on a possible deletion than on a possible insertion,” Gibson says.
Suppose you hear or read a sentence that says, “The businessman benefitted the tax law.” Most people, it seems, will assume that sentence has a word missing from it — “from,” in this case — and fix the sentence so that it now reads, “The businessman benefitted from the tax law.” But people will less often think sentences containing an extra word, such as “The tax law benefitted from the businessman,” are incorrect, implausible as they may seem.
Another strategy people use, the researchers found, is that when presented with an increasing proportion of seemingly nonsensical sentences, they actually infer lower amounts of “noise” in the language. That means people adapt when processing language: If every sentence in a longer sequence seems silly, people are reluctant to think all the statements must be wrong, and hunt for a meaning in those sentences. By contrast, they perceive greater amounts of noise when only the occasional sentence seems obviously wrong, because the mistakes so clearly stand out.
“People seem to be taking into account statistical information about the input that they’re receiving to figure out what kinds of mistakes are most likely in different environments,” Bergen says.
Reverse-engineering the message
Other scholars say the work helps illuminate the strategies people may use when they interpret language.
“I’m excited about the paper,” says Roger Levy, a professor of linguistics at the University of California at San Diego who has done his own studies in the area of noise and language.
According to Levy, the paper posits “an elegant set of principles” explaining how humans edit the language they receive. “People are trying to reverse-engineer what the message is, to make sense of what they’ve heard or read,” Levy says.
“Our sentence-comprehension mechanism is always involved in error correction, and most of the time we don’t even notice it,” he adds. “Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to operate effectively in the world. We’d get messed up every time anybody makes a mistake.”
"No nos convertiremos en personas libres realizándonos como individuos (tal y como se suele decir de manera repugnante), sino saliendo de nosotros mismos, entrando en relación y entregándonos en cierto sentido a ellos."

Th. W. Adorno, Crítica de la cultura y la sociedad II, Akal, p. 653. (via philosomatic)


Dorion Sagan on the spirit of science and its necessary connection to philosophy. 
"Grande es la fuerza de la tergiversación continua; pero la historia de la Ciencia muestra que afortunadamente, esta fuerza no perdura mucho."

Charles Darwin, El origen de las especies por medio de la selección naturalo la preservación de las razas favorecidas en la lucha por la vida. Capítulo XV Recapitulación y conclusión. 


"Un hombre que cree en el bien y hace el mal es más malo que un hombre que está más allá del bien y del mal — es decir, que no ve en sus actos más que productos de su naturaleza y de las circunstancias y no creaciones del yo, cada vez meditadas y deseadas con plena soberanía.
«Para los puros, todo es puro»"

Paul Valéry, Los principios de an-arquia pura y aplicada. (via nereisima)