Sunday, 30 August 2015

Boy Genius: Childhood signs of high intelligence related to the Endogenous personality

I have long been intrigued by the fact that I can sometimes tell that a child is of very high intelligence, even when I do not know the age of that child, and therefore have no basis for age-adjusted comparisons - and this sometimes happens when the child is not a prodigy, and has no exceptional ability. There is something about them that lets me know that they are of exceptional intelligence.

If intelligence is conceptualized as merely the upper range of a normal distribution curve of intellectual ability, then this should not be possible (except when the child's current ability is prodigious).

I have always assumed that being able to detect an intelligent child meant that what was truly being detected was not intellectual ability but personality; and I now think that what is being detected, what is detectable from early childhood, is the Endogenous personality.

The Endogenous personality is a package of high intelligence and a type of personality designed (by evolution) for creativity; in effect what is being detected is that the child has a brain specialized for a genius type role. What is being detected is not really the high intelligence so much as the other two aspects of the Creative Triad of high intelligence, inner-motivation and intuitive personality

In most children with high intelligence, their intelligence is only observable by making age-adjusted comparisons of their cognitive abilities because they have all different kinds of personality types.

But in the minority of children who are Endogenous personality types, the intelligence is part of a cluster of traits, and can be recognized from an early age - indeed, people with experience of a range of children (e.g. astute good school teachers) can recognize the Endogenous personality in young children at, say, six or seven years old.

In a sensible world, such children would be noticed, and treated as the different kind of people they are: people with some kind of creative destiny that, if discovered and allowed to develop, could benefit the rest of society.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Two ways of being highly intelligent - Good Genes or Endogenous personality

The usual way is that someone is intelligent (I mean within a population - I am not talking about the evolution of population differences) is by what is termed Good Genes: that is, having few faults or errors - the person has a normal brain but with nothing (or nothing much) wrong with it: in other words he has a low load of deleterious mutations (or, conversely, he is not suffering from mutation accumulation).

But there is another way - which is by having an Endogenous personality - which means that his brain is purposely designed (by group selection) to be creative, to make breakthroughs - he is, in sum, a genius (albeit very probably not a world historical genius; but a tribal or local genius). My assumption is that - if we could know this - we would see a brain wired-up to be intelligent.

Therefore the brain of an Endogenous personality has high intelligence not so much negatively from lack of mutations; as positively - because it is a brain specialized to be highly efficient for the purpose of creative discovery.

And this is why the genius has a special (Endogenous) personality. Usually personality and intelligence are almost distinct and little-correlated; but the brain of a genius is differently wired from a normal brain: it is a specialized and purposive brain, a lop-sided brain, a brain in which circuits usually used for social intelligence and reproductive success are co-opted to this purpose.

In sum, the brain of a genius is one that is specialized for creative discovery and both high intelligence and an 'inner-oriented' personality are features of this specialization.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Do you (really) understand intelligence? (Hardly anybody does)

I have recently been reading the likes of Owen Barfield, Rudolf Steiner and (excerpts from) Goethe on the nature of scientific thinking as it should be - and this has clarified for me that real science requires real understanding which requires bringing the subject to life in your mind so that your mind is actually thinking-it (thinking the entity, the object or more usually the process).

Therefore science requires understanding ,and understanding is qualitative not quantitative - understanding is not about description and measurement.

(These are possible when scientific understanding is utterly lacking; - they can even be done mechanically even, by a machine - although there must first be some-thing to draw-a-line-around that which is described or measured.)

Before science can be done, there must be this qualitative understanding of the phenomenon as an irreducible entity - not in terms of other things, but in terms of itself.

This kind of understanding is more lacking from intelligence research, even from the best of intelligence research, than in almost any field I have encountered (although Epidemiology runs it close) - indeed the lack of understanding of intelligence is often celebrated, and a 'theory-free' activity of intelligence description, measurement and correlation is put forward as - not merely an expedient or temporary necessity, but - the ideal.

People therefore misunderstand the IQ score as the reality, and intelligence as merely mathematically-derived from IQ scores.

But to understand intelligence requires understanding that a person may be of high intelligence and not have a high IQ score (no matter how validly, often and carefully the IQ is measured and calculated); and another person may have high IQ scores (measured in the best ways and by the best methods) yet not be of high intelligence ^.

This is a simple consequence of the fact that intelligence is not reducible to IQ score or any other measurement: it is an indivisible, qualitative entity.

Intelligence can be 'thought' hence understood - but understanding intelligence is like knowing a person (as compared with describing a person, their hair colour, height etc); getting to know intelligence is therefore like getting to know a person - it is a result of experience.

^ Highly intelligent people who do not score highly on IQ tests are easy to understand - because anything which reduces test performance could lead to this outcome: illness, pain, impaired consciousness and concentration from sleepiness, drugs, drug-withdrawal, mental illness... there are multiple causes, and some are chronic (long-lasting, perhaps life-long).

People with high IQ scores who are not of similarly high intelligence are familiar to anyone who has attended a highly-selective college or educational programme or who are members of intellectually 'elite' professions; since they make-up the majority of participants.  

Note added: The 'Flynn effect' - of rising average IQ scores in a context of reducing average real-intelligence - is an historical record of the emergence of more and more people with high IQ scores who do not have similarly high real intelligence - until now it seems likely that many or most people with among high IQ scorers do not have similarly high real-intelligence - and this applies especially at highly-educationally-selective institutions where Endogenous personalities are substantially selected-out. The correlation between IQ score and 'g' was much higher in the past (a century plus ago) than it is now. 

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

If humans are recapitulating mouse utopia, what is the approximate timescale for extinction?

In the Mouse Utopia experiment, an optimal environment with ample food, space, temperature, no predation etc. was created for 8 pairs of healthy breeding mice - but eventually the entire colony died, every single mouse - because after about two and a half years there were no more conceptions. The colony became sterile.

Before they died there were several phases

Phase A - 104 days - establishment of the mice in their new environment, then the first litters were born.

Phase B - up to day 315 - exponential population growth doubling every 55 days.

Phase C - from day 315-560 population growth abruptly slowed to a doubling time of 145 days.

Phase D - days 560-920; population stagnant with births just matching deaths. Emergence of many pathological behaviours.

Terminal Phase - population declining to zero. The last conception was about day 920, after which there were no more births, all females were menopausal, the colony aged and all of them died.

This is interpreted as a consequence of mutation accumulation leading to extinction from mutational meltdown:


As far as I can gather, mice are fully ready to reproduce at about 4 months, so the average generation time is probably about 5 months which is about 150 days.

So, starting with 104 days as zero - when reproduction began; we can convert the above timings into mouse generations

Phase B exponential growth doubling every 55 days lasted 201 days, = 1.3 mouse generations.

Phase C exponential growth doubling every 145 days lasted a further 245 days = 1.6 mouse generations.

So population growth phase in utopian conditions lasted only 3 mouse generations. 

Phase D of population stagnation phase lasted a further 360 days = 2.4 mouse generations

Therefore, the last conception (and de facto inevitable extinction) was 816 days after breeding commenced = 5.4 mouse generations.


Human generations are conventionally 25 years, although these have slowed to about 30 years in Western countries in the past several decades - but let us therefore give two values - one for 25 year, and the other for 30 year human generations.

If we start at 1850 as the date when the Industrial Revolution seems to have become certainly established and child mortality rates began to drop rapidly, and start counting generations from that point, and if humans were made like mice (which they are not!)...

We would then predict that human population growth phase (B & C) would last three generations up to 1925-1940 

And the stagnation phase (D) for another 2.4 generations - with 5.4 human generations taking us up to 1985-2012.


Well, clearly English people did not stop conceiving three years ago, because babies are still being born to native English - albeit not at a high rate!

I have previously guesstimated that the English situation  was that the slower growth phase c began in about 1920 (not about 1880) and the plateau phase began in about 1970) not 1930-ish

So maybe England is lagged about 40 years, because 1. we are not mice, and 2. our mouse utopia emerged only incrementally and was probably not complete until about 1950.

So we do not need to worry about mutational meltdown and de facto extinction (i.e. the final English child of English parents and ancestry being conceived) for, oh, another thirty or forty years...


Nonetheless, I draw the following lessons.

1. Assuming the decline and extinction of mouse utopia was due to mutation accumulation leading to mutational meltdown - then it happened very quickly indeed: only mouse 5.4 generations to the final conception, with half of that being stagnation.

2. The decline in rate of population increase after only 1.3m mouse generations suggests that the effect of relaxed natural selection and mutation accumulation leads to genetic damage immediately, in the very first generation.

3. Although humans (maturing over 14 years and with a natural life expectancy about 70 years) are built to last longer than mice (maturing over 4 months and living about 2 years) - this may mean that humans are more vulnerable to mutation accumulation - because we have a more prolonged and multi-phasic development and depend on extremely-complex brains which use many genes make and to function, and constitution large mutational targets.

4. In mouse utopia, the mouse environment, shelter, food, hygiene etc were all managed by humans - and did not depend on the mice doing anything much for themselves except east, sleep, fight, groom and reproduce (until they altogether lost interest in sex)- but humans depend on other humans for survival.

When the human population is damaged from mutation accumulation, this will destroy the 'utopian' environment. If this destruction is severe enough and comes early enough- then mutational meltdown will be avoided.

But if there is a generational lag - and utopia is maintained sufficiently that further mutational damage to younger generations continues to accumulate - then this will hasten the meltdown and extinction; because by the time utopia comes to an end, the younger generations will be unfit to survive the harsher conditions.

Have a nice day!

Monday, 20 July 2015

Mutation accumulation and modern Western sexuality

If the sexual revolution can briefly be defined as the long-term and strategic legalization, toleration, equalization, and now official advocacy and approval of sexuality outwith the context of traditional and permanent marriage - then one extraordinary and neglected aspect is: that it has been able to happen.

In The West, we find ourselves in an extraordinary situation with respect to sexuality - and the single most extraordinary aspect is that a critical mass of people do not find it extraordinary at all!

Plenty of Westerners apparently regard the current situation of moral inversion with bland equanimity - a situation in which the goods and bads, rewards and punishments, official supports and persecutions of sexuality have been turned on their heads... and yet this unprecedented ethos elicits little more than a shrug or a grin from the masses.

It looks very much as if the sexual revolution has been pushing at an open door - and yet, in world historical terms we are in uncharted territory: there never has been a society like ours, now, in which sexual transgression (according to world historical consensus) has been so actively-endorsed at every level from mass media and the arts, to government policy and the workplace.

This is utterly remarkable - yet clearly it is not viscerally regarded as remarkable - it is, more or less, accepted.


Why is the extraordinary situation of the sexual revolution accepted so placidly, when it is so extraordinary? Clearly there must be unprecedented factors at work, things that have never before been operative.

I think there are two main plausible candidates: Irreligion and genetic damage.

1. Irrelegion

Irreligion refers to the unprecedented state of incremental mass apostasy from Christianity. We live in a world where religion is not just absent from, but excluded from , the public sphere - and this is something new in human history. Irreligion means that there is no reason - except personal preference, which is labile and malleable - not to do anything.

This means that instinctive feelings of approval or disapproval cannot be ordered; cannot even be rationally discussed - people feel unsure, unconfident; modern people therefore are demotivated, lack the courage of their convictions, and seem unable coherently to oppose anything being imposed from above.

2. Mutation accumulation.

But the lack of resistance to the sexual revolution seems even more profound than this. The impression is not one of a mass of passive people whose instinctive valuations are being violated but lack the clarity and courage to respond; but instead of people whose sexual instincts are absent, weak or disordered - and therefore see no reason not to go along with whatever sexual innovation is being advocated.

The impression is therefore that the mass of people are suffering from a mass of sexual pathologies - such that sexuality is - in multiple ways - weakened, labile, misdirected, futile.

Is this plausible? Yes. There are powerful theoretical grounds for assuming that since the industrial revolution, the extreme reduction in natural selection on humans (mainly, but not entirely, due to reduction of child mortality rates from more-than-half to almost none) must have led to a generation-by-generation accumulation of deleterious genetic mutations - which would be expected to damage social and sexual adaptations before anything else.


Why sexuality?

Because the development of adaptive sexuality is an extremely complex and multi-step linear sequence, with many things that can (and do) go wrong at every step - and only if every step in the sequence has gone well, will sexuality be optimally adaptive.

There is genetics; then (controlled by the genes) multiple waves of multiple hormone-induced changes - primarily in the womb during the earliest and most fundamental development, and secondarily at adolescence and the development of fertility; there are calibrations to the early environment ('life history'), critical learning experiences and adaptations to the socio-political system and others... all of which must successfully be negotiated for sexuality to be 'normal'.

This complex sequentiality of development is why sexuality is a function where genetic damage first and most sensitively shows-up.


It might be asked how sexual development could possible be so fragile, considering that - until now - the human species has not died out but has indeed grown in numbers!

The answer is that the errors in sexual development were weeded-out generation upon generation - by mortality rates being heaviest, and near total, among the most genetically damaged in the first place; then by sexual selection and assortative mating as a kind of back-stop - whereby the most genetically-healthy would choose each other and reproduce to yield (mostly) viable offspring - and the least genetically-healthy would be left-out; or mate to yield (mostly) non-viable offspring.

The harshnness and rigour of this historical selection process is hard to exaggerate. It used to be near universal, yet in the past 200 years it has been incrementally all-but eliminated from ever-more of the world.

Thereby the failures of normal sexual development would continuously be being-'purged' from the gene pool - and this was necessary because they were continually incident (mostly due to genetics, but also due to the environment).


Our current situation is merely the lag phase in which genetic damage is relatively subtle and apparent mainly in sexual and social behaviour; and it will be followed by more and more obvious and severe dysfunctionalities.

The seeming slowness of sexual and social change - operating over a decades timescale - is merely an artefact of the slow generation time of the human species. There have been only about eight generations since the industrial revolution, even in England where it began; and the increasing longevity of humans further buffers apparent change.


So it is plausible that the modern lack of concern at the sexual revolution was enabled, was facilitated, and is more-or-less accepted due to the high prevalence of greater-or-lesser types and quantities of disordered sexuality in the population at large.

In sum, it seems probable that almost everybody in the modern West, and indeed most of the rest of the world (the rapidity of change is likely to vary by population and location) is suffering from genetically-disordered sexuality of varying degrees and types; caused by the unique conditions of the post-industrial revolution on ameliorating the harshness of human selection.

And this would explain how it is that the truly extraordinary and unprecedented modern situation with respect to Western sexuality has met with so little response or resistance.

Note: these ideas were developed in conversation and collaboration with Michael A Woodley of Menie. 

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Personality is buffered against dysgenic change, compared with average population intelligence


In sum: Although both intelligence and personality differences (within a population) are highly heritable - general intelligence is a highly sensitive fitness marker (perhaps the most sensitive); therefore absolute (not differential) intelligence declines with dysgenic change.

In other words average intelligence tracks population average population fitness.

But, since it is highly heritable but not sensitive to fitness, personality should be much more robust to population fitness change.


The work of Geoffrey Miller made clear that general intelligence is a sensitive fitness marker - in other words, high intelligence is a marker (or honest advertisement) of low mutational load.

(Because the brain is a large mutational target, therefore any deleterious mutation has a high probability of affecting brain function - and intelligence is the main summary measure of overall brain function.)

So as the mutational load of a population declines, we would also expect to observe a decline in intelligence - and this is indeed what we find. So average population intelligence (expressed on an absolute scale and measured - for example - by simple reaction times) has been declining for the same period as mutational accumulation has become significant - i.e. since the industrial revolution began sharply to reduce child mortality rates, and the differential mortality rates between the more-intelligent (lower mutational load) and less-intelligent (higher mutational load) went into reverse (with low intelligence becoming associated with higher reproductive success to relatively sustained fertility rates among the less intelligent, ion a context of greatly reduced/ nearly abolished mortality rates).


BUT, although personality differences is approximately as heritable as intelligence, personality is not a sensitive marker of mutational load - although eventually personality would inevitably be affected by the cumulative dysfunctionalities of increasing mutation load.

Thus, personality is relatively buffered against dysgenics.

Therefore, when deleterious genetic mutations are accumulating in a population, we would not expect national personality to change as rapidly as national intelligence will change.

And indeed that seems to be what we observe! English national characteristics seem to have remained similar for several generations - indeed until about the middle of the twentieth century; despite the reduction in English intelligence and the collapse and near-disappearance of English genius.

But nowadays, at last - after several generations of buffering, we are seeing the consequences of mutation accumulation on personality, and on national character; with the English population - on average and en masse - showing many signs of change, and indeed decline into dysfunctionality and overt pathology.


Tuesday, 7 July 2015

The Endogenous Personality... What does it mean? What its importance?

Simply, the inner man - the man whose outlook is inward.

And his importance? That this is the type of a genius -- whether a large sclae, world historical genius - a Shakespeare, a Beethoven or Einstein -- or a local, tribal, town genius whose name is unrecorded (yet who might be the originator of some great anonymous ballad, folk song -- or a technological breakthrough such as the spade, spear-thrower, arch or stirrup).

Such creativity is so rare, so difficult (far more difficult than commonly imagined) that it requires a special kind of mind -- a mind especially designed for this kind of work (inner work).

There need not be many such men -- indeed, there should not be too many, since the necessary mind is relatively unfit for the primary, day-to-day, activities of survival and reproduction of the species. But such men are needed -- sooner or later, from time to time.

When the Endogenous Personality is combined with a special ability we get a genius - of greatness in proportion to the ability.

But even on its own, even with near-average special ability - and although less-powerfully useful, the Endogenous Personality brings - provides - a special angle, a perspective, to the problems of group living.

The EP will stay focused on a problem longer than most men -- he will look at the problem in a different way -- he will deploy different (more inward) procedures of understanding -- more detached, more abstracting. Hence he is more likely to see something new -- useful in a new and different way.

His stance is less personal -- he stands back somewhat -- he sees the problme in a wide scope exactly because he sees the problem detached from his personal concerns (for instance with status, sex, wealth) - which is how most men see problems: just a a means to that end.

The inner man gets the greatest satisfaction from inner work - it is what he most wants to do.


Further reading:

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Intelligence should be expressed as IQ Age (in children), because IQ scores expressed on a percentile basis *will* confuse a stupid person (and many people who need to interpret IQ scores are inevitably going to be stupid)

I recently heard an actual example of the way that IQ scores, expressed as they currently are - in terms of percentiles, will confuse a stupid person.

The percentile expression is simply too complex, mathematical and abstract for general usage; and too incomprehensible to serve their proper function. Instead, intelligence (in children) should be expressed as IQ Age

In my real life example; a headmistress assumed that an eight year old child with an IQ of 120 should be moved up two classes to be taught with ten year olds; then the Head could not understand why the eight year old child was struggling to keep up in the new class.

Having previously been at the top of the class among 8 year olds, the moved-child was now scoring below average in class tests compared with ten year olds. Since the child's class position had plummeted, the Head thought that the fault must lie with the class teacher.


It emerged that the headmistress believed that children of all ages that had a measured IQ of 120 were of the same cognitive ability, and should be taught together.

When an attempt was made to explain the true meaning of IQ 120, the Head simply could not understand, and dismissed the objection.

Now, clearly this was an unintelligent head teacher, but the fact is that some head teachers are unintelligent - and they simply cannot understand the true explanation of how IQ scores are generated, and what they mean.


But, all is not lost, because even unintelligent head teachers can understand 'Reading Age' because it is much easier to understand. If the Reading Age of an 8 year old is 9, then it means that the 8 year old can read as well as the average 9 year old.

So, if such an 8 year old child was put up one class to be taught with 9 year olds, then their reading performance would be average for that class; but if the child was put up two classes to be taught among 10 year olds, their reading performance would be below average for that class.

So if an 8 year old with an IQ of about 120 instead had their intelligence expressed as IQ Age equivalent to the Reading Age; then the head teacher would have been told:

"This eight year old has an IQ Age of (about) nine-and-a-half."

The Head would then have understood that when the IQ 120 child was moved to a class of ten year olds, that child would be expected to perform at a lower than average level (because an IQ Age of about 9.5 is obviously less than the class age of 10).


Note: Of course this IQ Age method of expressing IQ is not possible among adults, or for older children substantially above average intelligence, because IQ scores level out at about age 16 for women and 18 for men.

This means that there is an age and intelligence ceiling on the IQ Age measure.

But the main and most important use of IQ testing is among younger children - so this would not be much of a problem in practice.

And, if necessary, a combination method could be used - so a 16 year old girl with an IQ of 125, could be said to have an IQ Age of 'Plus 25%' or something like that.

But among children up to about 13-14, and not of super-high intelligence, IQ Age would be a superior expression. The advantages of clarity and comprehensibility surely outweigh the limitations.


Tuesday, 30 June 2015

How to tell if someone has the Endogenous personality type - autonomy, motivation and intelligence

The Endogenous Personality refers to someone who is inner-orientated: inner-directed, inner-driven, inner-motivated; one who uses inner modes of thinking, inner evaluations; one who is to a high degree autonomous, self-sufficient; one who is relatively indifferent to social pressures, influences and inducements.

The suggestion is that this personality complex is associated with genuine creativity and - in rare instances, with creative genius.

But how can you tell if someone has the Endogenous personality type, rather than just being socially-impaired for some reason?


1. Motivation

The Endogenous person has a strong inner motivation. He does not avoid groups and social responsibilities simply from lack of interest, because he wants to do nothing; but because hewants to 'do his own thing', because he is powerfully interested in some thing, driven to do something. His mind is often full with plans and aims and aspirations.

These may or may come come to fruition - some people with an Endogenous personality are late-developers, and may superficially seem to be adrift, or to change direction too frequently to become successful; but they are actually trying to find their subject, trying to find their destiny.

For example Francis Crick started and gave-up two PhDs, and worked on naval research before he found what he 'should' have been doing in his mid-thirties, and co-discovered the structure of DNA.

2. Intelligence

The Endogenous personality has high intelligence. This may be apparent through good exam results in a 'g'-loaded evaluation - but may require formal intelligence testing to detect, if the individual has either suffered from poor or absent education, or else has lacks the conscientiousness to apply himself to studies.

High intelligence is a sign of having an overall efficient, fast-processing brain - with (as Geoffrey Miller has pointed-out) a minimal load of deleterious mutations, and indicates that the individual's lack of interest in social or sexual matters is not simply part of having a damaged brain, but a matter of having developmentally a differently-and-inner-orientated focus.

The idea is that the Endogenous personality evolved indirectly to benefit the reproductive success of a group - so the Endogenous personality type should not be regarded as a pathology or a defect state, but as being evolutionarily optimized for creative innovation and problem-solving; therefore he would be expected to have the necessary enhanced abilities for this purpose.


So, the Endogenous personality may be recognized not just by their relative autonomy - that is, their lack of need for social validation and consequent uninterest in social and sexual matters -  but also by their high intelligence and positive motivation to do (or to find) ... whatever it is that they are equipped by their nature to do.

In sum, the Endogenous personality is (at minimum) a triad of autonomous self-sufficiency, inner-motivation and intelligence.


Wednesday, 17 June 2015

A critique of functional brain imaging (1995)

This is extracted from an un-published essay I wrote in 1995 named A manifesto for research in cognitive neuropsychiatry, with additional commentary from 1996.

I have corrected a few phrases and added a few sub-heading, but made no substantive changes.

19 years later, I can only observe "I was right".


A Critique of Functional Brain Imaging, 1995
by Bruce G Charlton
School of Psychology, Newcastle University, England 

Structure-Function correlations
One of the most fruitful constraints in biology has been the assumption of correlations between structure and function. This assumption is valid only when structure is examined at the appropriate level; and may be obscured by inter-subject differences in developmental history, age, coincident disease etc. Furthermore, the necessary scale of analysis to reveal an association is not always obvious.

Nonetheless, a useful degree of functional localization has been described for many neuroanatomical scales in the brain ranging from the basic divisions between primitive fore-, mid-, and hind-brain to the tendency of individual cells to respond to specific classes of visual information (Zeki, 1993).

The existence of structure-function correlations is not surprising given an understanding of natural selection. Newly-evolved functions usually require appropriately-modified structures: so that a cognitive adaptation usually needs a specifically constructed neural circuitry to perform novel computations.

And because natural selection must produce a reproductive advantage for each evolutionary change (Dawkins, 1987) , this limits evolution to an incremental, stepwise modification of the parameters of existing neural circuitry. Redesigning the brain from scratch is not an option, and ‘rewiring’ of the brain is therefore piecemeal and additive, rather than radical and substitutive.  

Hence the neocortex has evolved many additional stages of complexity to its hierarchy of processing throughout evolutionary history. New structural/ functional specializations have typically been accommodated by lateral expansion of the surface of the cortex (Barton & Dunbar, 1997). Each distinct intermediate cognitive process tends to be functionally localized to a cortical area; the integrity of which area is necessary for performance of a particular class of inferential reasoning tasks; and disruption to which area is sufficient to impair performance of this class of tasks.  

The proper purpose of functional brain imaging
The purpose of imaging in cognitive research is therefore to fractionate function by displaying the location and sequence of activation in he brain structures which are necessary for performance of specific stages in cognitive processing (Jacobs & Carr, 1995). A method is therefore required that discriminates neural activity at an adequately precise level of both spatial and temporal resolution (Kosslyn, 1994).

Such an imaging technology could potentially demonstrate both the modularity of intermediate level processes, and the number of steps of cognitive processing within each of these pathways.

Functional imaging might then constrain theories of cognitive functioning, yielding a template of the number of modules, the number of discrete processing steps within modules and the nature of the temporal inter-relationship between these processes.

Brain imaging would, in a sense, provide a flow diagram comprising ‘boxes’ with ‘arrows’ between them: it would remain for cognitive psychology to fill the boxes by defining the nature of processing at each locus.

Inadequate spatial and temporal resolution of functional brain imaging
It is uncertain exactly what level of spatial resolution is required of an imaging technique to accomplish such fractionation, because the necessary size of neural structures needed for intermediate processing is not yet properly established (probably, the more complex the computational task, the larger the necessary size of neural circuitry).

However, many specialized cortical areas are some millimetres in diameter, so a resolution of at least tenths of a millimetre would seem to be necessary.

And temporal recording of neural activity would need millisecond resolution in order to discriminate the steps of neural activation involved in cognitive processing.

Unfortunately, none of the currently available techniques for functional imaging of the brain are able to provide the minimum necessary structural and functional discrimination of neural activation.

Magneto-encephalography (MEG) can so far attain this temporal resolution only for restricted cortical regions, and in situations where (probably) thousands of orientated neurons are operating synchronously (Naatanen et al, 1994).

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) has low spatial resolution and very low temporal resolution, and visualizes bllod flow changes – which are a crude, and probably unreliable, proxy measure of neural activation (Posner & Raichle, 1994).

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) probably has adequate spatial resolution, but cannot form images rapidly enough to resolve cognitive processes; and also uses proxy measures of neural activaty (Kosslyn, 1994).

PET and fMRI should, therefore, be considered as yielding proxy measures of brain anatomy averaged over time, rather than revealing sequences of neural activity corresponding to cognitive function.

Electroencephalography (EEG), by contrast, can demonstrate brain activation events in real-time; but even in its modern ‘high resolution’ form, the technique provides only a very blurred, two-dimensional structural image with a centimetre level of spatial resolution (Gevins at al, 1995).

Functional Brain Imaging - an enumeration of misleading artefacts
The present practice of disregarding the systematic limitations of existing functional imaging, and using techniques such as PET to explore cognitive functioning, is a dubious practice.

The intrinsic tendency of low-resolution techniques of imaging to mislead is exacerbated by the practice of constructing images using ‘subtraction’ techniques, averaging of repeated trials, and the pooling of patients in (often diagnostic) group studies (Posner & Raichle, 1994). Presumably, investigators believe (but without evidence or testing the assumption) that such procedures simply remove ‘noise’ and thereby enhance precision and sensitivity.

However, given the complexity and dynamic, non-repeating nature of brain states, it is almost certain that investigators are pooling systematically-different instances. A comparison of single case, real time data from MEG with averaged images from groups reveals highly significant averaging effects with time and across groups (personal communication, Andreas A Ioannides, 6. 12. 95).

Despite the proliferation of high status publications in the field of functional brain imaging; it therefore remains entirely possible that the results reported so far represent little more than an enumeration of artefacts.


  • Excerpt from note added in 1996:
[Functional brain] imaging has not ‘yet’ contributed anything of significance to the understanding of human psychology – despite the billions of pounds pent on it and the numbers of papers published into journals.

And I mean nothing at all.

Under the hype, the published work is merely fourth-rate, stamp-collecting, pre-science; pumped-up to high prestige by the cost of the technology and the attractiveness of its pictures.

  • Further note added today, 18 years later:
Nothing to add to, or subtract from, the above. Functional brain imaging was a successful scam for extracting funding; a quarter century  of which contributed nothing substantive to science, and grossly misallocated prestige away from real science and into an assortment of deluded and dishonest careerist confidence tricksters.



Barton R& Dunbar R. (1997). Evolution of the social brain. In RW Byrne, A Whiten (Editors) Machiavellian Intelligence II. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK.

Dawkins R. (1986) The Blind Watchmaker. Logmans: London.

Gevins A et al. (1995). Mapping brain function with modern high-resolution electroencephalography. Trends in Neurosciences (TINS). 18: 429-436.

Kosslyn SM. (1994). Image and Brain. MIT Press: Cambridge, MA, USA.

Naatanen R et al. (1994). Magnetoencephalography in studies of human cognitive brain function. Trends in Neurosciences (TINS). 17: 389-395.

Posner MI. (1994). Images of Mind. Scientific American Library: New York.

Zeki S. (1993). A Vision of the Brain. Blackwell: Oxford.

Monday, 15 June 2015

The Endogenous personality - its definition, paradox and evolutionary roots in group selection

Endogenous = Inner-generated, arising from within (in contrast to be externally-caused or 'Exogenous')

The Endogenous Personality is a term I have devised for the type of personality characteristic of a genius: the personality of one who is inner-orientated: inner-directed, inner-driven, inner-motivated; one who uses inner modes of thinking, inner evaluations; one who is to a high degree autonomous, self-sufficient; one who is relatively indifferent to social pressures, influences and inducements.

The Endogenous personality is always rare and exceptional, and much more often a man than a woman (but there certainly are women with the Endogenous personality).

The contrast is with the Exogenous personality - who are most people. These are orientated toward the environment, particularly the social environment; people who want more than anything else social (including sexual) status, success; people who perceptions are directed outwards - and who try to align their behaviour with group norms.


The Paradox

The Paradox of the Endogenous personality is that despite their relative indifference to socio-sexual imperatives; they are (in evolutionary terms) evolved to serve the group.

The Paradox is that only an inner-orientated personality can be sufficiently independent of the social consensus so as to be able to change the social consensus - when that is needed.


Group selection of the Endogenous personality.

In effect, and on average, the Endogenous personality sacrifices their own differential reproductive success (including their inclusive fitness, the reproductive success of their closer kin), to favour the reproductive success of the group.

The group are - in broad terms - an extended family; and the growth of the group may indeed favour the kin of the Endogenous personality - but this expansion would not necessarily benefit close kin more than remote relations - and the close kin typically have to bear the costs of supporting the Endogenous personality.

The function of the Endogenous personality is to solve problems which arise from group conflict.

Group conflict includes situations in which the individual is dependent on the group, and when the group is under extreme pressure from the 'environment'. A situation in which only the group as a group (and not individual - extended - families), can survive a harsh environment.

The environment includes both natural and social environments. Natural environmental pressure could be extreme temperatures (hot or cold), marked seasonality of food availability, predation from large animals... Social environmental pressure could include group versus group conflicts ('warfare') driven by factors like competition for land or other finite resources.


The Endogenous personality offers the possibility (but there is no guarantee) of a 'breakthrough' - a novel solution to a potentially-fatal social problem - e.g. the prospect of annihilation by the environment or another group unless there is a breakthrough; some new technology, some unifying art or religion, some way of extracting more resources per unit area, some new weapon or defense...

The proper social role of the Endogenous personality is not as leader (indeed, the Endogenous personality should be excluded from leadership); but a type of intuitive/ inspired 'adviser' of rulers.

Adviser-of-rulers is a term which should be taken to include various types of prophet, shaman, genius, wizard, hermit, and holy fool - the Socrates of the early Platonic dialogues is an historical example as is Diogenes the Cynic and the Fools for Christ who rebuked and shamed the Tsars; Merlin the Wizard is a legendary example; Gandalf the Grey is a 'fictional' example.

These are extremes; but the description Endogenous personality and of an 'inner orientation' also applies to most historical examples of creative genius.


The Endogenous personality - therefore - does not (as most Men) seek primarily for social, sexual or economic success; instead the Endogenous personality wants to live by his inner imperatives.

The way it is supposed-to-work, the 'deal', the 'social contract'; is that the Endogenous personality, by his non-social orientation, is working for the benefit of society.

His 'reward' is simply to be allowed, or - better - actively enabled, to have the minimal necessary sustenance, psychological support (principally being 'left alone' and not harassed or molested; but ideally sustained by his family, spouse, patron or the like)... the be somehow provided-with the time and space and wherewithal to do his work and communicate the outcome.

For the endogenous personality, this is its own reward.


In return, the Endogenous personality should not expect (although he might, by chance, get) social esteem, wealth, sexual success... Often he may need to be highly solitary, ascetic, celibate. He should not seek, and should try not to accept, leadership positions, or administrative responsibilities.  


One final thing remains to be said. The Endogenous personality can be regarded as the psychological environment which allows, and perhaps encourages, visitation by genius.

But - if the genius-visited person becomes corrupted by status, power, sex, dishonesty etc; then this creates an environment hostile to the continued occupancy of genius; and usually the genius will leave.

History is littered with examples of those who were visited by genius, for a while; only for them to betray that genius. And then the genius departs, to leave an ex-genius, an apostate genius, a spoilt genius - who might become a malign and antisocial influence.


Teen genius is mentor-orientated rather than peer-orientated; befriending parents and teachers and authors - rather than having same-age friends

That's it, really...

Monday, 11 May 2015

Visual hallucinations imply 'whole brain' dysfunction; auditory hallucinations not so much

It is well known that 'hearing voices' (when nobody is there) is a common sign of the 'functional psychoses' of schizophrenia, mania and psychotic depression - when patients may appear to be alert and orientated; but that true visual hallucinations are rare except when there is delirium, acute confusional state, 'clouded consciousness' - when the patient is distractible, perplexed, either hyper-excited or drowsy, and disorientated  (does not know where they are, the time or who are the people in their environment).

I suggest that the reason may be related to the necessity for 'global', multi-system brain dysfunction before visual illusions become real and convincing - and this is because humans are highly visual animals such that about half of the brain seems to be involved - in some way or another - with the visual system.

This massive input from the visual system has bee posited as a major driver in the evolution of sleep - a state when eyes are closed and the brain largely cut-off from the environment, presumably to allow internal processing - since an animal's sleep needs seem to correlate with the volume and complexity of its visual input:

This implies that for a person to become convinced that an internally-generated visual illusion is actually real, would require that a great deal of the brain be functioning abnormally, and this would imply a global brain dysfunction with multiple deficits, such as delirium or widespread dementia - which probably is itself exacerbated by delirium:

When only a part of the brain is involved in generating a visual illusion, as happens with some instances of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy, the experience is of a visual illusion which is known to be false, not really happening in the environment - i.e. a 'vision', rather than a visual hallucination which is experienced as real.

So a temporal lobe seizure may create a stereotyped 'vision' (probably an activated memory) of small human figures performing actions, rather like a video replay; but this is not experienced as really happening in the environment so it is not a true hallucination.

In other words, when the input from the various parts of the visual system is inconsistent - so that one input contradicts another - then the experience is of an illusion, not an hallucination.

By contrast, the auditory system involves, as I understand, a much smaller proportion of the brain than the visual system. We may infer that in the functional psychoses, a much more localized and partial brain abnormality, involving the totality of auditory regions, may generate auditory material such as voices that are experienced as real because the auditory information in self-consistent, un-contradicted.

The results is that people suffering only from auditory hallucination are more partially impaired, and therefore less globally impaired, than those who suffer from visual hallucinations.


Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Creativity and Christianity

I have recently come to regard creativity as second only to love in God's scale of values; perhaps the second-most-important attribute of God; after love. This implies that creativity is perhaps also the second-most-important human value, after love.

The relationship can be clarified by thinking of love as primarily directed towards persons (which is the normal kind of love) or towards values (which is creativity).

This creativity is a consequence of love of non-personal positive values: truth, beauty, virtue, Goodness, harmony - and their subdivisions. So a primarily creative person can be regarded as one whose love is directed at values, rather than persons - in that sense they are devoted primarily to abstractions.

(Creative people are seldom 'good with people', indeed being on average much less interested or influenced by 'other people' than is usual. The opposite also applies as a generality. So, as creative scientists are seldom good with people, scientists who are adept a networking, management and who are interested by groups and committees are seldom creative. The psychological relationship of creativity and sociality is antagonistic.)


Creativity can then be seen as a consequence of loving abstract Goods. Just as love of persons points towards fecundity of persons (family, marriage, friendship) - love of Goods points-towards fecundity of Goods.

(The good creativity of a genius is positive behaviour as a consequence of a love of God's values; the creativity of an evil genius is destructive of The Good: it is a consequence of rejection, often hatred, of God's values.)


Someone who loves literature will want to add to the possibilities of literature; the scientist will want to add to science, the painter to painting; a concert pianist who loves music or  an actor who loves acting will want each and every performance to be a re-creation of music; a teacher who loves teaching will want each lecture to be an unique event growing from that love.

The positive creative impulse or impetus (which may be very variously expressed, and only partially recognized as such) is therefore a natural overflowing of the creative person's love of God's values as expressed in an abstract subject matter.


Most people are relatively uncreative; only a few people are highly creative, and even fewer are primarily creative. This may suggest that God makes most people in hope they will choose to live by love of persons (including Himself) above all (to be "people-persons"); but that God also makes a few people who love God's own values above all (therefore, they are destined not to be people-persons): this creative minority would include most of the real geniuses, whose main life efforts and energies are directed non-socially.

Creativity seems to be (perhaps) the only valid positive spiritual path or 'way' to be solitary, or to 'neglect' fellow Men.

In effect, the dedicated creative person loves God before Man (as is commanded) but this creative love is expressed primarily via love of God's values rather than God's person.


Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Women geniuses - have there been any new ones discovered in the past fifty years?

It is a tenet of feminist 'scholarship' that there were women geniuses who were neglected; and a large part of feminist scholarship has been dedicated to raising awareness of women geniuses.

That there are women geniuses is clear - examples abound especially in literature; but I do not think feminist scholarship of the past fifty years has come up with a single 'neglected' example of a woman genius.

Instead there has been a combination of the pretence that real women geniuses were 'previously neglected' until feminism came along; plus the hyping of women non-geniuses (such as Hildegard of Bingen as a composer and spiritual writer, the DNA scientist Rosalind Franklin, and playwright Aphra Benn).

But I ask - are there any examples of

1. real women geniuses, who were

2. indeed neglected or unknown, and were

3. re-discovered by feminist scholarship of he past half century?

"I ask merely for information" - as Algernon said in The Importance of Being Earnest; when enquiring why his butler, Lane, had been drinking so much of his master's champagne. Having acted both Lane and Algy, this is a line I recall well.


Thursday, 16 April 2015

What kind of genius for England? (If we could choose.)

For me, it would be a spiritual leader - in essence a religious leader - who could awaken the true spirits of the English people that are now enslaved and confined by the nihilistic mass choice to live according to mass media-enforced secular Leftism.

I don't think any kind of genius scientist, mathematician, engineer, artist, poet, economist, lawyer, politician (etc)- would (even if recognized and taken notice of, which seems unlikely) do more than perpetuate (and probably exacerbate - by their work being misapplied) current problems.

So what kind of person? Ideally some multi-faceted genius who is also a patriotic leader; someone like King Alfred the Great (849-899 AD). That is probably way too much to ask, since there are few if any other men in history who combine political, military, legal and scholarly ability as he did.

But that is the kind of person we need; and it is not clear to me that anybody much less wide-ranging than Alfred would suffice to inspire, encourage and mobilize a crushed and craven people with the right spirit, and get them aiming in the right direction.


Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Be careful before you wish for more geniuses: you might get what you ask for!

What makes you think you want more geniuses in the West; what makes you think they would improve matters?


Of course, only geniuses could save us from where we are now.

But reflect:

1. We do not want to be saved.

2. We will fight against anyone who offers credible hope of salvation.

3. We will try to corrupt and invert creative genius into destruction.


The genius is a person with a massively amplified and manifold impact - and this also applies to evil geniuses, and to the evil products of genius and the evil misapplication of genius. Thus one single person may generate vast misery, annihilation, demotivation and despair.

Geniuses led to the distinctively great achievements of Western Civilization - also to the bad stuff on a colossal scale: individuals like Rousseau, Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao unleashed unprecedented wholesale horror.

And except for Hitler, all these are revered figures among our current ruling elites.


Outside of the politically neutral areas of mathematics and theoretical physics; modern geniuses (and near geniuses) mostly have been and are being systematically ignored (they are the lucky ones) or persecuted, tormented, crushed and corrupted - especially by mass media-generated celebrity culture, mob frenzies and hate-fests.


What makes you think a generous crop of future geniuses (assuming such things were possible; which seems doubtful) would fare any better, or yield any better results?

Are modern conditions better than those which led to the evil and destructive geniuses of the past couple of centuries?

Does our social treatment of recent and current genius lead you to be optimistic?


I do not want more recognized and empowered geniuses - indeed I fear the consequences if there were more high-impact geniuses.

Under prevailing conditions the only high-impact geniuses will be bad geniuses; or geniuses from whom the bad is abstracted and amplified.

First must come repentance - and only somewhere in the far-side of a Christian revival, might there come to exist a situation where genius might reasonably be expected to do more good than harm.


Monday, 23 March 2015

Genius as a perfect storm of synergystic causal factors; golden ages triggered by a coincidence of synergystic geniuses triggering populaton growth

It is possible that genius may be a consequence of a 'perfect storm' of several independent causes coming together rarely. For example high ability (especially general intelligence), high creativity, and strong motivation directed in-line with ability and creativity - these are each relatively rare, and in combination very rare in indeed.

(Plus, there may need to be other factors.)

But the average sub-replacement fertility of geniuses (due to their relatively low interest in social and sexual gratification which is both the reciprocal of their high interest in 'their subject' and also the need to tolerate/ welcome considerable solitude and independence); means that the lineage of a one-off genius will most likely go extinct.


The existence of a single genius therefore probably (usually) does not create any greater chance of a genius to follow - since the number of copies of the causative genes (whatever they are) is no greater after the genius has died than before he was born.

However, when there are several geniuses that happen to be born at the same time, and in the same field - and when this field is one that increases the efficiency or effectiveness of the essentials of human survival and reproduction - e.g. breakthroughs in food production, industrial production, transport, weaponry, social organization... then these several geniuses may enable the total population to grow in such a way that there are more and more copies of the genes which (in rare combinations) lead to genius.


In these circumstances, the existence of several geniuses in a single generation number one may lead to even more geniuses in generation number two; and this amplification could continue if the population continues to expand (and if other factors remained constant).

It is possible that something of this kind happened through the 1700s and the early 1800s in the populations of Western and Central Europe - for example, several or many geniuses emerged in the domain of agriculture and food production from the 1700s in England; and in combination led to an increased productivity per worker and more than doubling the output of food by the mid 1800s - these changes freeing labour for industry and both enabling and kick-starting the industrial revolution.

The result was that the population of England doubled from about 1700 to 1820, which would mean that - all else being equal, there would be twice as many genes for genius in 1820 as there had been in 1700. This would tend to sustain the production of English geniuses, and maintain the 'golden age' of English high achievement.


However. we know that other factors were operating from about 1800 which would tend to reduce the proportion of geniuses in the English population; notably the decline of general intelligence ('g' which is implied by the slowing in reaction times measurable through the twentieth century). These adverse trends were probably due to a combination of differential reproduction against intelligence (an inverse correlation between intelligence and fertility) plus, and probably more importantly, a dysgenic accumulation of deleterious mutations caused by the relation of mutation filtering mostly caused by the sharp decline in child mortality rates.

So, the first effect of the perfect storm of English geniuses was to expand the population and thereby increase the number of English geniuses; but as the generations went by, the adverse selection factors and mutation accumulation would have 'sabotaged' the expansion of geniuses by reducing the average intelligence in the population - and firstly the proportion and then the actual number of people of very high intelligence, so that the number of new geniuses occurring dwindled into again being extremely rare and 'one off'.


Friday, 20 March 2015

What can we, should we, do without geniuses?

World historical geniuses have all-but disappeared from Western civilization - that is is simply a factual observation.

Either we can consider the disappearance due to a decline in intelligence and or creativity and or motivation; or we can consider that the deity has withdrawn genius from the West (because we have so often corrupted and misused it); or both.

But what could we, what should we, do about it?


The problem is that the problems of Western civilization are large, yet we have not enough geniuses to solve them (or else the geniuses are still there; but now unknown, un-empowered, ignored and/or suppressed).

In other words: the problems are significant and multiple, the problems need to be solved - but they cannot be solved at a large scale because we lack the people to do it.

Therefore it seems that the problems can only be solved partially, for instance, melioration and damage limitation rather than cure; or genuine solutions but only on a local and restricted scale.  

In a major-genius-free world, then those who are put forward (hyped and trumpeted), or put themselves forward, as world historical geniuses will be fakes of one sort or another.


The lesson may be analogous or akin to the Small is Beautiful, or 'intermediate technology' message of EF Schumacher: awareness of the need for a smaller scale, a more human scale: more local, more understandable... a preference for the partial and piecemeal.

And a rejection of gigantism and always-growing institutions; the massiveness of media; the world of master narratives, international panaceas, globalization of attitudes; the winner-take-all economy of cash, fame and kudos; and the strategic interconnection, interdependence and mutual subordination of everything.

In a world without genius; either we cultivate our gardens, or else nobody will cultivate any gardens; hence gardens will not be cultivated.


Thursday, 19 March 2015

The incidence of genius from a Christian perspective - when geniuses are just too dangerous to be risked

Since God is good and mortal life has a purpose, it seems reasonable to assume that the disposition of souls into bodies is not a random process; but that on the contrary part of some divine plan.

Therefore, the occurrence of genius is purposive - and this accounts for the destiny of each genius (the direction or path through life he ought to follow - whether or not he chooses to do so, or is prevented by circumstances and the choices of others).

Genius is not hereditary - or hardly-ever so. Rather, genius tends to be born into a family environment of high intelligence and abilities; presumably to provide sufficient nurturance of the necessary type.

The type of genius which God might be presumed to concern himself with, would be those Philosophical or Theological geniuses whose contribution is concerned with ultimate questions of the Human Condition:

In other words, the genius philosophers, theologians, prophets, mystics and saints: those who are intended (by God) to influence Man to (try to) work and live in accordance with God's hopes.

Yet all geniuses are also agents with free will and the capacity to choose; therefore they may (like Saruman) be sent to do a job which they themselves had volunteered and sworn to do - yet (like Saruman) become corrupted away from that job, and instead employ their great gifts against that job.

Thus, there is always the possibility of producing an evil genius instead of what was intended to be a good genius: the philosopher or theologian, the prophet or mystic gone-bad.

Such men are extremely dangerous - since the genius has manifold greater influence than ordinary men; and so we get the likes of Rousseau, Marx, Hitler, Lenin and Mao.


Or, a corrupt society may tend to take the output of a genius whose work included both good and bad - and may select and amplify the bad while neglecting the good.

And so we get the likes of Nietzsche, Heidegger, Wittgenstein; and also the pioneer 'liberal' biblical scholars and theologians over the past couple of centuries (but I am unsure of who are the major names in this field that are likely geniuses; probably Schleiermacher, David Friedrich Strauss, WE Channing; Charles Gore...).

Much the same applies to geniuses of the arts and sciences whose general cultural influence is (or is made) malign; the likes of James Joyce, Picasso, Schoenberg, Samuel Beckett...


It may well be that the rapid decline, and almost complete disappearance, of genius from the second half of the twentieth century was ultimately due to Western society becoming too hazardous a place for geniuses; a place where geniuses are too likely to go bad, to run off the rails.

What applies to geniuses of philosophy and theology applies even more powerfully to geniuses of art, science, politics and the rest of it - because when Man is aiming in the wrong direction then he cannot help but misuse his tools - and the more powerful the tools, the greater the potential for misuse.

So our civilisation stopped being allocated souls of genius.

For our own good.


Where is memory located? Not (just) in our brains

For Christians and some other religious people, memory cannot be in the brain - or more precisely, not primarily so.


The brain dies and rots along with the rest of the body; but the self endures until after death; indeed for Christians the self is restored in eternal union with its now-perfected body (i.e. resurrected).

Memory cannot therefore be lost at death. At least, important memories - those essential to the eternal self - are not lost at death.

Therefore memory must be elsewhere than the brain - or, at least backed-up elsewhere.


Indeed, it would be truer to say that those memories 'in our brain' are at most merely an incomplete and fragile back-up for the real, enduring memories which are elsewhere.

It could be, it is perhaps even likely, that memories are stored elsewhere and the brain only accesses them. And therefore that the memory losses of ageing, trauma and disease are therefore primarily a loss of access to memories, rather than a destruction of memories.


Where might memories therefore be?

One constraining fact may be that our memories are our memories, that is our private memories - that is, they are not (or not typically) accessible to others.

This suggests that memories are stored in some part of us, some extension of our-selves, some place not in our mortal bodies - presumably in that which survives death, variously called the soul or spirit.

Since the soul is not detectable, then neither are our memories. e can, it seems, only detect the machinery which gives our mortal bodies temporary access to these permanent soul-stored memories.


When we 'forget, or when memories are 'destroyed' by age, trauma, disease then this is because the method for access has been damaged.

This is significant, even tragic, from the perspective of mortal life; however, in terms of our life in eternity we need not be so worried, need not despair: memories are indelible, permanent, as eternal as we are.

This also highlights the real problem about memory - which is not the forgetting of good things but the never-forgetting of bad things; and when the reality of what this means has sunk-in; then this fact points us at the necessity for the atonement of Jesus Christ in the time-frame of eternity.


Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Peeling-off the layers of genius

There are many layers to genius - although typically only those nearest the surface are considered.Some of the main layers are:

1. Sociological - Impact on history
2. Biological - differential - Reproductive Success
3. Biological - ideal - Fitness
4. Philosophical - Fitness for what?
5. Theological - in relation to Ultimate Purpose


1. Sociological - this is the usual level of analysis, the usual definition of a genius.

A genius is seen as a person who has made a disproportionately large impact on human history. This can be measured more-or-less objectively.


2. Biological - Differential. A genius is seen in biological terms as one who makes an disproportionately large impact on human reproduction.This is measured in terms of reproductive success, which is measured in terms of the number of descendants of a genius and/or the group to which he he belongs.

By this measure, a genius is one who causes a measurable increase in the number or proportion of his society (by some measure) - such geniuses would be those who created the technical breakthroughs leading to the agrarian and industrial revolutions.

(And an anti-genius would be one who did the opposite: caused a decline in the number or proportion of descendants. These would include those who invented or promoted liberal Christianity, atheism, socialism, feminism and the sexual revolution.)


3. Biological - Ideal. This takes account of the objective, not differential, effect of fitness (as best this may be estimated) by estimating organismal functionality.

For example, a lineage may increase in its numbers or proportion of the population; even though there is an accumulation of deleterious mutations which damage basic functionality.

So reproductive success(absolute or relative) can increase even as the underlying functionality or fitness declines. 

This can happen when the environment is less harsh, inflicts a lower mortality rate (as with animals in a zoo, or human in modern society).


4. Philosophical - Fitness for what? If an ideal, not actual, concept of fitness is to be used, then it is not clear what is the environment against which fitness/ functionality should be measured.

This creates a need for, opens space for, a philosophical discourse about what Man's fitness ought to be.

By this account, a genius is one who enhances his group's fitness for (or functionality-in) the kind of environment which Man is aiming-for, or wants to have. One version of this would be a genius tending to create Men fitted for utopia.

This definition would include philosophers in the broad sense of the word; artists, painters, poets, literary authors etc.


5. Theological. Finally, and ultimately, this relates to the idea of a genius being one who promotes the ultimate purpose of Life, of divinity.

This definition would include prophets and saints; and also some artists, poets, and thinkers.


It can be seen that these various definitions of genius dissociate. For example, a genius who promotes theological ultimate purpose may damage reproductive success (if a good new religious group is exterminated). A genius who promotes reproductive success, may damage ideal fitness (i.e. population increases but so does the deleterious mutation load).


Tuesday, 17 March 2015

The altruism of genius - from an evolutionary perspective

In biological, that is evolutionary, terms; genius is an altruistic trait.

This means that - on average, in the environment where and when genius evolved, being a genius will tend to reduce the genius's own personal reproductive success, while substantially enhancing the reproductive success of the group of which the genius is a member.

Biological altruism does not (or not necessarily) correspond with social altruism, or an altruistic personality- i.e. 'helping people' - because the genius's contribution to his community is via his work.

Indeed, it is characteristic of the behaviour of a genius that he will protect the conditions necessary for his work, even when this goes against usual and expected socially altruistic behaviour.

The genius may therefore be solitary - may indeed be selfish, may not marry or have a family, may not be a good neighbour. But selfish not really for his own benefit - not for money or status - but primarily for the work: selfish to enable him better to do (or to do at all) what it is he does.

Some geniuses are nice, some are nasty - that is not the point; the point is that the genius feels his first (or a very high) responsibility is to do his utmost to create and sustain the best conditions he needs for his work.

Thus it is quite possible, quite normal, for biological altruism at the group level to go with personal selfishness; and for personal un-selfishness to be anti-altruistic, and to damage the reporductive interests of the group.

Altruism and being nice: two very different things.


Thursday, 12 March 2015

Where is there hope for England?

It is an interesting question.

Although there is no obvious place or cause for hope in any place of power or prestige, and no realistic cause for optimism with respect to Christianity of any type; it is not acceptable for us simply to say "nowhere" - because there is always hope, did we but know its location.

One source may be in the kind of educational experience of primary school (up to age 11) - where I think many children have had considerable exposure to good imaginative 'fantasy' literature (of the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson type, as well as older classics) and movies (of the Pixar and DreamWorks type).

My feeling is that this exposure to imaginative fantasy may have considerable long term significance - even if its effects tend to get buried and go-underground during the teenage and early adult years - at least, that was how it was for me with respect to Tolkien.


The fundamental nature of creativity - creativity as the operation of free will and the true self

It is hard to define creativity; indeed I have never seen a satisfactory definition. We recognise exceptional creativity, and exceptionally creative people - but nonetheless it is hard to say what creativity might be.

That suggests to me that creativity is a very fundamental attribute. My understanding is that creativity is the action of free will.

In other words, there is a backdrop of events that follow a cause and effect logic - but creativity is when these chains and webs of quasi-mechanical unfolding are qualitatively changed by the operation of autonomous choice from a being with free will.

As further clarification, many or most or perhaps sometimes all f a person's choices are not made by their true self using free will; but are automatic, conditioned, quasi-mechanical responses due to 'false selves' such as the public personality. The real self in an adult is typically a hidden and enfeebled thing; buried under habits, socialisation, instincts and much else.

I think that this may be a relatively rare occurrence in the lives of most people, and that high levels of creativity are therefore rare. Geniuses are among the rare people who seem to have a greater access to their true selves, are in frequent communication with their true selves: this is the integrity of genius, which shines out from so many biographies of geniuses.

Good or bad, nice or nasty; a genius is an integrated personality; highly autonomous from other people is his views and motivations; one aware-of and dominated-by inner drives; one whose decisions, evaluations, choices are distinctive and highly independent.

Geniuses are 'inner' people; and this innerness is, I suggest, the source of their creativity. It could be said that geniuses are made (are born) such that they are connected with inner sources of thinking, including being connected with the real self.

Of course, geniuses have free will just like everybody else - and the born genius may choose to reject his destiny, and not to use his special abilities. But in this respect the genius is just an extreme of the universal situation.

If creativity happens when free will intervenes in reality, then geniuses are simply those who combine a high awareness of the operations of their free will, with exceptional ability. Presumably anybody and everybody can and sometimes does 'tap-into' and use their real self in making autonomous choices; but the non-genus does this seldom and easily ignores or rejects the consequences - also the non-genius may have merely average (or below average) abilities; so that the fruits of their creativity is of little interest to other people.

But, whether or not it is impressive or influential, actual creativity is simply this process of using free will of the real self to choose. Creativity 'has happened' if this has happened - whether or not we know about it, whether or not it has a measurable effect on human affairs.

(Conversely, what may appear to be a 'creative act', impressive, influential, widely admired or useful, is not truly creativity if it is not a product of free will, if it does not eventuate from free will; if it is merely the product of quasi-mechanical unfolding of cause-and-effect processes.)


Friday, 6 March 2015

It was "Agintrans" geniuses of enhanced productivity that made the industrial revolution

My thesis here is that English (and some Scottish) geniuses specifically in Agriculture, Industrial production and Transport (for which I have coined the word Agintrans) - but primarily in agriculture - were the crucial factor in driving the industrial revolution.

And that the people who make this type of breakthrough should be assumed to be geniuses - even when they have traditionally a lower status than other types of genius (in science, philosophy, literature, art, architecture, music etc), and despite that some of the names of the people who made some of the breakthroughs seem to have been lost.


The two most significant transitions in the history of mankind were the invention of agriculture - which happened before history, independently in several times and places and spread rather gradually; and the industrial revolution - which was lavishly documented, happened in England and spread very rapidly.

My understanding is that such revolutions are made from breakthroughs that are the product of creative geniuses, of individual and specially gifted men. Without the geniuses, there is only incremental improvement of existing methods.

But geniuses come in many types. Clearly, genius in painting and literature does not make an industrial revolution. So, the question is what kind of geniuses made the industrial revolution?


Before the industrial revolution, nations could only rapidly increase production (and grow population) by conquest (and to a lesser extent by trade) - so growth of a nation was at the expense of decline of another nation.

For instance, Empires were built on military innovations which led to conquest, looting, enslavement etc. Or there were cohesion innovations (religion, ideologies, forms of job specialisation and hierarchical organisation, even the arts and literature) which kept the population motivated and cooperating.

What made the industrial revolution different was geniuses who enabled increased productivity - specifically, whose breakthroughs increased the extraction of useful resources from a unit area.


So the relevant English geniuses were probably those in areas such as agriculture, transport, energy, industrial machinery, building and human organisation.

In particular, the industrial revolution was made possible by the preceding agrarian (or agricultural) revolution from about 1700. That increase in agricultural productivity without which the population could not have increased. By about 1700 the English population seems to have risen to near the Malthusian limit of traditional agriculture and technology - yet by 1850 the population had trebled.


The agrarian revolution in England was characterised by a multitude of major and swiftly cumulative breakthroughs, such as selective animal breeding for more desirable traits; improved understanding of crop rotation, manuring and liming; and a many improved tools.

The result was an increased extraction of food per unit area - and an increase in the amount of area usable for food (e.g. by drainage of wet areas).


Following rapidly on, and necessary for food distribution, were improvements in transportation such as much better road surfaces allowing wheeled vehicles in all weathers, new canals and the invention of railways - first with horse power, then later coal powered.

All this required new technologies and forms of organisation for coal and other forms of mining, and production of iron, steel and so on. Industrial production entailed invention of factory production and many new types of manufacture.

The end result was to increase greatly the amount of useful stuff that could be extracted or otherwise produced per man-hour.


My point is that it is easy to be distracted away from this type of Agintrans innovation, when at the same time there was an efflorescence of English genius in so many other areas such as philosophy, science, literature, art, architecture, religion and all the rest - and when the geniuses in these areas are so much better known than the Agintrans geniuses.

Especially neglected are the (presumed) geniuses of the agrarian revolution upon whom everything which came later depended: the likes of Robert Bakewell, Jethro Tull, Coke of Norfolk, Turnip Townsend... these men probably ought to be honoured as the primary enablers of the modern world and of the second great transformative transition of the human species. 



Wednesday, 4 March 2015

WD Hamilton describes the rise and demise of creative genius as first a group selected, then individually-selected, phenomenon - 1975

From WD Hamilton, Innate social aptitudes of man. In Robin Fox (ed.). ASA Studies 4 : Biosocial Anthropology. Malaby Press: London, 1975. pp133-53.


The incursions of barbaric pastoralists seem to do civilisations less harmin the long run than one might expect...

It may even be suggested that certain genes or traditions of the pastoralists revitalize the conquered people with an ingredient of progress that tends to die-out in a large panmictic [randomly mating - i.e. not restrictive or assortative] population...

I have in mind altruism itself, or the part of altruism which is perhaps better described as self-sacrificial daring. By the time of the Renaissance it may be that the mixing of genes and culture (...) has continued long enough to bring the old mercantile thoughtfulness and the infused daring into conjunction in a few individuals when then find courage for all kinds of inventive innovation against the resistance of established thought and practice. 

Often, however, the cost in fitness of such altruism and sublimated pugnacity to the individuals concerned is by no means metaphorical, and the benefits to fitness,such as they are, go to a mass of individuals whose genetic correlation with the innovator must be slight indeed. 

Thus civilization probably slowly reduces its altruism of all kinds, including the kinds needed for cultural creativity.