terça-feira, 4 de dezembro de 2012


No Parque de Château Noir, por Cézanne

"O neurologista Oliver Sacks teve em tempos um paciente, o Dr. P, que vivia num mundo que parecia uma tela de Cézanne. Devido a uma lesão cortical, os olhos do Dr. P não recebiam virtualmente qualquer informação do cérebro. Ele via o mundo apenas na sua forma não processada, como labirintos de luz e massas de cor. Por outras palavras via a realidade como ela, na realidade, é. Infelizmente isso significava que as suas sensações eram completamente surrealistas."
Jonah Lehrer, in Proust Era Um Neurocientista

segunda-feira, 14 de março de 2011

Compaixão: Uns têm, outros não

Tópicos e excertos da palestra de Paul Ekman:

How can we explain that some people have resonance and others don’t?

Some people resonate to others, and others do not.

Many people respond to the suffering of other with disgust o ranger:
— Why can’t you take care of yourself?
— Why do you think it’s my burden to relieve your suffering?

And others respond with indifference:
— You’re suffering? Well, it’s not my problem! Just get out of the way!

Don’t you know that it’s religions that divide the world!? What unites the world is our emotions. We all have the same emotions.
Dalai Lama

He [the Dalai Lama] loves debate. He loves taking every side of any issue, to see where it will lead. He debates with passion, without rancor. I said to him in one of our meetings: — You know, when I talk with you I can completely relax because I don’t have to worry about being forceful. People usually interpret the force of my speech as a sign of anger, and it isn’t. It’s passion. And he [the Dalai Lama] said, “What’s the use of talking about something if you don’t care about it!”. And he argues with as much passion as I do, and we switch sides continuously, to see where it will go. What we’ll discover that we didn’t know before.

How emotions divide us. They don’t just unite us.

Darwin wrote only one book about human emotions (in 1871).

Emotion recognition and emotion resonance.

Recognizing that you are suffering doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m going to help you. In fact, a good torturer has to have good emotion recognition so that he can ajust just how much pain you can bear.

If you don’t resonate it’s not too likely you’re going to responde with compassion.

Emotional (identical) resonance: means that you feel, that you experience, in your body, the same feelings of the person you are observing. Physiologically. I feel exactly the same emotion you feel.

Emotional (reactive) resonance: I see your anger. I feel concerned that you’re so angry. What can I do to help you deal with your anger?
I’m not feeling your anger. I’m feeling an emotion about your anger. If I see you suffering I feel concern. It saddens me. I worry.

The origin of compassion, as to Charles Darwin:

“We are impelled to relieve a suffering of another in order that our own painful feelings may be, at the same time, relieved.”

If you don’t suffer so much, I don’t suffer so much [...] Now this sounds like the Budhist idea of interdependence.

“In the human mind, seeing someone bleeding and dying, makes you uncomfortable. That is the seed of compassion. We’re, thus, impelled to relieve the sufferings of another in order that our own painful feelings may be, at the same time, relieved”
Dalai Lama

Types of compassion:
– Familial compassion
– Global or Stranger compassion
– Sentiente compassion
– Heroic compassion

Anger, fear, sadness, disgust, surprise, enjoyment and contempt own their own unique signal, not compassion.

According to the Dalai Lama, your perception is more vivid in compassion.

Emotions can be out of control. Compassion isn’t out of control. Emotions are momentary. Compassion isn’t a momentary state.

Why does compassion occur without training, in some people?
Is it genetic?
Is it a previous encarnation [as buddhists believe] — you work your way towards this through your several lives?

What can we do to cultivate these forms of compassion?

segunda-feira, 25 de outubro de 2010

Theory of Mind and False Belief / Aquilo que parece, será aquilo que é?

A ideia de que a nossa concepção de outras mentes é uma estratégia ou postura para predizer e explicar as acções e ditos que testemunhamos pode ser pensada como uma espécie de solução céptica para o problema das outras mentes. Toma como dado adquirido, desde o início, que tudo o que nos é disponibilizado é o mero comportamento do outro; toma como dado adquirido que a mente é algo escondido e privado. Também toma como dado adquirido que as mentes dos outros são reais, para nós, apenas como uma espécie de dispositivo teórico que nos ajuda a gerir o nosso relacionamento com eles. Tal como assumimos a existência de um planeta não percepcionado para justificar perturbações na órbita de um planeta que conseguimos percepcionar, assim explicamos porque é que o seu corpo viaja ao longo do percurso espaço-tempo, conforme viaja, recorrendo a um domínio de causas não percepcionadas meramente hipotéticas.
Por outras palavras, nós abrimos a gaveta porque queremos chocolate e temos a falsa crença que é aí que o chocolate se encontra.
(proposta de tradução da zona assinalada na página 30)

segunda-feira, 18 de outubro de 2010

A consciência é uma ilusão?


Ou aqui.

Ou aqui.

Ned, I think consciousness is really important. What do I do with some very smart philosophers who tell me that consciousness is an illusion?

Well. The recommendation is to realize, first of all, that there are some casts of mind that want to regard anything that they don’t know how to understand, in their favourite way, as an illusion.
I think the thing to realize about consciousness is thst there are some very difficult problems.
One, is what is often called the “hard problem of consciousness”. That’s David Chalmers’ term (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Chalmers) . Earlier than Chalmers it was called the “Explanatory Gap”, by Joe Levine. That is the problem of how i tis that the neural basis of a conscieous experience is the neural basis of that experience as opposed to some other experience or no experience at all.
There’s another problem I call the “harder problem”, which is the problem of other minds, basically, and that’s a problem of how we could tell, what would make it the case, that a creature made of very different material from us, made in a different way, like the famous commander Data of the Star Trek series. How we would know whether that creature is conscious. These are very tough problems, but they’re not problems that should make you think that consciousness doesn’t exist (1:28), that it’s an illusion!
Dan Dennett (ou aqui) wants to say that there’s nothing to consciousness other that a certain kind of function, but I that what’s important in understanding a hard phenomenon like consciousness is understanding what you know and what you don’t know and nos regarding what  you don’t know how to explain as, therefore, illusiory.

RLK (1:54):
Well, he would say that we have these, so called, multiple drafts; that conscious is, sort of, “fame in the brain”, that whatever aspect of our sensory or thought processes gains priority for the moment, has the illusion of consciousness, but you really have all the paralel things going on that is all quite natural and normal and that we have imbued this activity with mystical consciousness idea as a kind of a cultural construct.

So what he calls “fame in the brain” is what I call “access consciousness”, which is jus tone kind of consciousness... It’s the aspecto f consciousness that plays a role in one’s cognitive life: thinking, noticing, etc. What he leaves ou tis what I call phenomenal consciousness: what it’s like to experience red as opposed to experience green. A familiar conundrum might be useful to explain the inverted spectrum, the possibility that things we both agree are green, look to you the way things we both agree are red look to me. We can all understand that. Children can understand it. My daughter at age seven, when I first mentioned this to her said (3:13), ‘Ah! That explains why some people don’t have the favourite colour purple!’ Really everybody’s favourite colour was purple, but for some people they just call it some other name because their spectra are inverted. So we all understand this idea. There’s no way it’s an illusion. What we have to do is we have to just clearly distinguish the cognitive aspects of consciousness from the basic biological phenomenal aspects.

The argument to your argument says that what you’re doing is artificially inflating the concept of consciousness. Inflating a difference in degree, so that you now imagine a difference in kind.

NB (3:59):
Right. Well, if you look at differences in degree we can think about people, for example, who see, to one degree or another, on one extreme where people see perfectly and another extreme where people who are, so called, legally blind, that is, that they can just distinguish a few shades of light and dark. But that difference of decree is very different from what’s phenomenal and a good example to illustrate that is the phenomenon of blind sight (4:29). This ia a completely unconscious kind of visual detection. Someone who has the very back of the brain visual área, parto f ir destroyed, it’s called the área V1, in the back of the head, the first cortical área. Some people who had those áreas destroyed can, nonetheless, distinguish an “X” from an “O” or “up” from “sideways” in their blind field. If you ask them what they see, they say, ‘I don’t see anything’, and if you ask them to guess whether it’s an “X” or  an “O”, they can guess almost perfectly!

But they still think it’s a guess?

They still think it’s a guess. One of those patients had far better discrimination in His blind field, where there was no consciousness, than in His sighted field which was on the order of legally blind. So the difference of degree is the difference in phenomenology. Not a difference in detection or acuity. So I think Dennett is just wrong. The difference of degree in phenomenology is one that is quite orthogonal, different from the difference in accuracy which doesn’t go together with phenomenology.

RLK (5:41):
But wouldn’t that same discription of these differences show that, as we see different kinds of brain injury and radically different kinds of efects on consciousness and perception, indeed give credence to this multiple draft thing, idea, because you have all these different kinds of systems and inputs and if one or two get destroyed you see odd results, so doesn’t that actually support that view?

NB (6:10):
Well, the interesting thing is that some of those systems that you describe, some of them are conscious and some of them are unconscious. A dramatic example is the fact that all humans (6:21) and all higher primates have two different visual systems. This was basically discovered in this form by two neuroscientists, Mel Goodale (ou aqui) and David Milner (ou aqui) . What they were able to show is that there’s a system they call dorsal system at the top of the head that is oriented around action, towards planning, towards controlling your visually guided actions. But it’s unconscious! And another system, the ventral system (6:53), in the lower part, it goes from the back of the head into the side of your head. That is a conscious system that doesn’t have a direct controlo f action. So we have two different systems that do two different things. Maybe a way to see the systems is to notice that there are different brain injuries that have different effects. Somebody who has the top axial (?) oriented system destroyed can see things perfectly, in the sense of conscious vision but can’t act towards them. For example, if you have a male slot that can be tilted, the person can’t insert the card into the male slot, they’re completely at chance with that, whereas the other injury, which is a sad injury, and there’s a famous patient known as a “DF”, it’s called a visual form agnosia, she can post that card perfectly in the slot, but if you ask her what angle the slot is she doesn’t even see it. She doesn’t know! But she can act towards it perfectly. Some of those systems Dennett is talking about in multiple drafts, some of those systems are conscious and some are unconscious, which shows that the idea of multiple drafts doesn’t capture the essence of consciousness.

RLK (8:08):
So what, then, can we say about consciousness being an illusion? And what are the implications in either direction, if i tis an illusion or if it’s nota n illusion? What follows?

Well, if i tis an illusion in the way that Dennett thinks, then there is no hard problem of consciousness, there’s no harder problem of consciousness that I described. No problem whether how we would tell comander Data is conscious, we just look at the behaviour and the cognitive processes that produce it (8:40). Dennett is basically a behaviourist. He was taught by the famous philosopher Gilbert Ryle, who is an... Behaviourist. Dennett, sometimes, allows that he is. If consciousness is an illusion in that way, then there is no difficult problem with consciousness. It’s just a matter of doing what Chalmers calls the easy problem for just studying the function consciousness. On the other hand, if consciousness is nota n illusion, as I think, and some other philosophers and scientists think, then it’s really a matter of trying to work on those functions with an eye towards on how we might solve these very difficult problems. If... my advice to any scientist who wants to win the Nobel Prize, thinking about consciousness, is it’s better to recognize what you don’t know and not call consciousness an illusion.

domingo, 10 de outubro de 2010

Melhor do que a grande cartada

Na linguagem técnica dá-se o nome de realimentação (feedback) a essa constante adaptação ao ambiente. Já nos deparámos várias vezes com este princípio. Frequentemente, a realimentação desencadeia comportamentos imprevisíveis, pois pode contribuir para que um efeito se autopotencie. Nesse caso, trata-se de uma realimentação positiva. Um exemplo para um desses efeitos "bola de neve" é uma crise de histeria na Bolsa: os investidores compram um título só porque outros também o compram, até que a bolha rebenta.
   Mas também pode acontecer o contrário: realimentações negativas estabilizam um sistema. Nesse caso, um acontecimento não contribui para o seu próprio fortalecimento, mas desencadeia efeitos de reacção contrária, tal como um condutor vira o volante para a esquerda, assim que o carro começa a puxar demasiado para a direita. É também segundo esse princípio que funciona o termóstato de um radiador: assim que uma determinada temperatura é atingida, o termostato desliga o aquecedor e só volta a ligá-lo quando a temperatura desce para um determinado nível. A realimentação negativa opõe-se, portanto, à imprevisibilidade, vencendo o acaso com as suas próprias armas.
   [...] No entanto, numa situação insegura, na maior parte das vezes não é possível prever se uma intervenção tem o efeito desejado de uma realimentação negativa, ou se, pelo contrário, vai tornar a situação ainda mais instável. É precisamente por isso que se devem tomar muitas pequenas decisões e observar com toda a atenção os seus efeitos, de modo a poder intervir imediatamente, assim que uma evolução desfavorável começar a desenhar-se.
   Frequentemente esta é a única via para superar situações complexas. Se no início não dispusermos da informação necessária para planear a longo prazo, então só nos resta alcançá-la a pouco e pouco, recorrendo a um método de tentativa e erro. Ao tomar decisões contínuas, mas com um alcance restrito, restringimos também, a cada escolha que fazemos, as possíveis consequências indesejáveis. Com isso, o princípio dos pequenos passos e da realimentação negativa segue os conselhos da Teoria do Jogo: age de modo a restringir o mais possível os maiores danos que possas vir a sofrer. Quem actua segundo esse lema pode dar-se ao luxo de dar passos em falso, à medida que vai avançando em terreno desconhecido. [...] Para quem quiser ou tiver de mudar a sua vida, a táctica dos pequenos passos é, quase sempre, a única estratégia possível. [...] "O que é que me impede de ser mais esperto a cada dia que passa?", replicou Konrad Adenauer, quando um orador o acusou na Assembleia de andar continuamente a mudar de opinião.
   [...] Particularmente em situações em que reina a maior das incertezas, convém confiarmos no acaso. Sob um ponto de vista estritamente matemático é possível provar que, com frequência, essa é até a melhor estratégia. E isso porque quem entrega a decisão à deusa da fortuna livra-se, pelo menos, de um erro: todos os preconceitos são, automaticamente, eliminados.

Do livro, Como o Acaso Comanda as Nossas Vidas, Stefan Klein

There was a child went forth every day

We make our objects and our objects make us.

This great Walt Whitman poem where he says: a child goes forth everyday and the first object he looks upon, that object he became...

From the earliest age I’ve been very fascinated with peoples connection to objects as a way of creating and constructing your identity.

I remember reading a book, when I was a little girl, from a silly career advice book, but I remember a sentence in it that said: “If you find yourself always going to a paper store and always wanting to buy beautiful papers and pens and different kinds of ink, you might be good as a writer, because being a writer, in some way, depends on the texture of the objects in that writing life. And some piece of me has been deeply influenced by that very profound thought that loving the materials of your work, that is part of the construction of your identity.

My name is Sherry Turkle and I’m a professor of The Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT and, additionaly, I’m the director and, very proudly, the founder of a new initiative at MIT called The Initiative on Technology and Self. And the point of this initiative is to really ask the questions of how our increasingly intimate relationships with technology, everything from computation to psychofarmacology, to personal digital assistance, to robotics, how that changes the way we see ourselves as people.
So it’s not so much what the technology is for us but what the technology is doing to us. My background is as an ethnographically trained sociologist, anthropologist and psychologist, and I believe that the kinds of social issues that I’m interested in, issues of how we think about ourselves and deal with eachother require a kind of observation and a kind of listening for the meaning of the social world that clinical training, and in my case, psychoanalytic training has helped me refine.
Listening with the third ear, that people talk about when they talk about psychoanalysis.

And so when I got to MIT and saw the profundity of peoples connections to the objects of their lives, since MIT was so much about making objects, building objects. It kind of all came together for me that what I wanted to do was to study how objects change the ay we think. How technology changes the way we think. And so for me the computer is kind of a great example of what really is a much larger question of how the objects of our lives, of how we bring them inside us to construct our identity.

The first week that I taught at MIT, which was my first academic job, I was teaching a course on Freudian slips and I was talking about how Freud, in his essence, slips... begins by telling a story that the chairman of parliamentary session began the meeting by declaring the meeting closed and then he goes on to talk about all the possible meanings that that might have: the chairman’s wife is sick, he’s nervous about what’s going to happen at the session, and so forth.
And the computer science student, at the back of the room, I’ll never forget it was a woman, said: “Prof. Turkle, if the mind is a computer, “closed” equals minus open (closed = – open), and in the computer dictionary substituting”closed” for “open”, just means that a bit has been dropped, there’s been a power search, no problem. Obviously a completely different way of thinking about the mind. And that has always been funny when people say: I’ve changed my life (because it takes a prepared mind to have your life changed), but I really think that at that moment I saw that my interest in how sciences of mind hit the street and had become part of how people see their inner life and their relationships in their world, which I had studied in the psychoanalytical context, that now, teaching at MIT I have the opportunity to study it in the computer context and it was a moving from the psychoanalytic to a computer culture. We were moving from a world in which the first thing to look for was “meaning” to a world where the first thing to look for was “mechanism”.
Because that’s really the difference between Freudian Slip and information processing error. It’s not “meaning”, it’s “mechanism”.

So many people want me to say that we’ve moved from psychoanalytical culture to a computer culture, that we’ve moved from thinking about freudian slips to thinking about information processing errors and that somehow that’s good that we’ve made progress, and I think that reality is so much more complex.
I think that we need more than ever to look at issues like ambivalence, ambiguity, language, relationships. We need to live in a kind of joined citizenship in the computer and psychoanalitical culture. It’s a very out of favour idea but, hey! I think our times demand it.

The computer is a mind machine, a psychological machine. It is about presenting us with alternatives to sociability and interactivity at this point and that’s not the same as the instrumental use of the telephone to send a message. This is not to say that the use of telephone for communication didn’t have profound effect on the way people saw their worlds, saw themselves, saw the possibilities for communication, friendship... But this is different. We use the computer really as a medium of communication, where the computer becomes transparent and its impact is on new form of communication people can have with eachother, on new forms of social life. Everything from the chat rooms, the MUDs, to the news groups, to the virtual reallity, as to the online virtual gaming. All of these things are profoundly touched by the computer presence. But really what changes is our relationships with eachother and the new kinds of relationships made posible by computation. And there, the most important things of depth psychology, in my view, have to do with differences between “acting out” and “working through”, differences between coming to these new social worlds with a problem or issue and using that to just express and re-express who you are and find ways to express who you are versus, for many people being able to use these new social worlds as really privileged environments to work through, to explore and work through some aspect of the self that it’s harder to do in physical reallity.
One of the first kind of virtual communities where that was possible, the virtual communities called MUDs (Multiuser Domains). A good example is a woman; she’d been in a terrible accident and her legs were prosthetic and she practiced having love affairs online where she talked about it and took it off in the context of the online relationship. And speaking with her was so moving because of her practice in approaching that problem in the physical world.
To me, that’s the most appropriate and happiest use of the experience of the virtual reallity. To use the virtual to increase our quality of life in physical reality. And I think that we’re going to get better at it. Now there are a lot of communities like that, where you can go online and, kind of, live online life. You go online with lots of other people over the world and you inhabit a virtual space where you get to play out all different kinds of things. When American Online came out with their service and said, hey, “take five handles”, they thought that each member of the family would take a handle and you would get a kind of family membership for the price of one but, in fact, what happened was that people took five handles: they were Armani-Boy in one chat group and they were Motorcycle Man in another and they were JR in the third and they were... (?) in the fourth. People began to have an experience of not just gender crossing but reallity of persona crossing. And, on one level, oh hey! It’s just fun, but on another level the process of naming oneself and going out there, into the virtual world, which is a world, with other real people in it, adds different aspects to yourself. Putting different aspects of yourself out there is a very profound experience.

I once went online and there was a character online in this virtual community I was studying that was called Dr. Sherry! And this virtual character interviewed people online about their experiences in virtual space, and most people thought I was Dr. Sherry! I wasn’t! I didn’t create this therapist! I was really upset! And Dr. Sherry was always there! She’d be there at 3 o’clock in the morning and she was there... and finally a friend of mine said, you know, Dr. Sherry could also be a “bot”. Bots are not robots. They are computer programs that are written to live in online spaces and present themselves as people. So there I was in cyberspace confronting the fact that I had had identity theft, that could be a person or that could be a program. My alter ego could be a person or could be a program. That was a profound experience for me and I think it augurs the future in which I will be alone in having that kind of question.

It’s not new to be giving computer objects to children. That started in the late 70s. Merlin, Simon Speak and Spell... These were all the first generation of computer toys that played tic-tac-toe with you, that taught you spelling, taught you maths, interacted with you in new sorts of ways. From late 70s on I studied children and these new kinds of toys and saw that children began to discuss whether or not they [the toys] were alive by talking about, not whether the machines could move which is how earlier children decide whether objects were alive or not on the basis of whether they can move by themselves. These objects, children tried to figure out whether they were alive or not on the basis of, could they think by themselves. And the solution that children came up with as they saw that there were some things that machines could do and some things that they couldn’t, was that the machines were “sort of” alive.
And over the past 20 years I’ve seen the gradual enlargement, enhancement to complexification of this category because increasingly children are being presented with objects that they know aren’t alive in the biological sense and they try to “tag” that when they say “sort of”. They know it’s not like a dog, but, you know, it’s not like a building block either.
These technologies where robot makers and program makers are trying to create, the robotic pets for children are not just machines that are neutral for us to project ourselves on to. These machines are talking back, these machines are reacting out at us and asking us to, at least, [pay] a tribute to them, a... (?) a presence, to perform relations with them. We are vulnerable to creatures. Our vulnerability is that when we are asked to nurture another creature, we bond, we connect. With these new computational toys, the Furby, the iboo, the My Real Baby, the holding power, the cement in the relationship with the person is from the nurturance. It’s from being able to do something that enhances the “life” of the robotic creature. And when children do this, when children clean up the Tamagotchi’s poop, or when they teach iboo a trick, or they play with the My Real Baby, so it’s not in a bad mood, we are toast!
I study children because no one has taught them, yet, the way you’re “supposed” to feel about a machine. They don’t know the official language. They’re developing a language and the kinds of interactions and expectations and the feelings that the next generation of adults is going to be very familiar with.

First it was the computer really there as a partner, the one-on-one with technology. I think, right now, people have made the computer their own in their own way, a 13 year-old said, you take a piece of your mind, you put it in the computer’s mind and you come to see yourself differently. The important point is that these technologies become active dynamic players in how we construct our sense of human identity and our sense of personal identity.

Clearly I’m somebody who worries about the intensity of relationship that we form with the objects of our world, the objects of our lives and that it’s not just that we use them just as “tools”. Sometimes I talk to my class and I show a slide and I say, technology is just a tool and then I have a slide that comes on. “NOT”.

At MIT, the physicists were the most resistant to using computers in education. They felt that people should be getting their hands dirty. feeling the concrete messy physicality. That reality doesn’t go right, that the chore is never perfect, that it’s always a mess, that it has a granularity, that it has a texture, it has resistance. And I think of that very often when I see kids learning so much of how they think the world looks by playing with simulations. One physicist said to me, you should learn Newton’s Law by playing baseball and, of course, there are limitations to that, but it has a certain power. We have to get used to the fact that what we do in the simulator, what we do in the virtual, has a lot of impact on the “real”.
That there’s a physical real and a virtual real and the two of them are going to make up our experience of the real. Now, when the line in the sand is, is where the point where we’re looking at two shifting lines are changing the relationship with the world of machines and are changing relationship to biology, and I did this study of people and their attitude towards having chips implanted and people were very happy to have chips if they had Parkinson’s, if they had Tourette’s syndrome, but they said things like, I wouldn’t mind a chip for calculus, to kind of know calculus over night, but I wouldn’t want a chip for Dostoyevsky, I wouldn’t want a Shakespeare chip, I wouldn’t want a chip for the kinds of reading where it’s the process of reading that matters, not knowing it. As I think that people want to sustain in that sense that as human beings we have a process of immersing ourselves in new knowledge, in new experiences that we’d rather not have implanted, we want to have it. We want to do it.

sexta-feira, 1 de outubro de 2010

People hate losing, more than they like winning

Por vezes, a maior parte das perdas é um ganho que nos escapou. Quem tem de escolher entre um serão agradável em casa, e passar umas horas não menos agradáveis numa festa, onde poderá vir a conhecer uma bela mulher, arrisca apenas perder essa oportunidade. Para a maioria dos homens esse risco é suportável.

Mas imagine agora que podia escolher entre passar uma noite em casa, com a sua nova namorada, e passá-la, juntamente com ela, numa festa. Entre os convidados encontra-se no entanto, um sujeito que lhe pode "roubar" a beldade. Por certo que estará muito menos disposto a correr esse risco.

Mas, no fundo, as suas avaliações até nem são completamente lógicas. Afinal de contas, em ambos os casos, o pior que lhe pode acontecer é ficar outra vez sozinho. No entanto, a nossa avaliação subjectiva é distinta: perder algo é pior que não alcançar algo. Uma vez que o cérebro está preparado para responder mais às emoções negativas do que às positivas, apercebemo-nos da irritação e da tristeza de uma forma bem mais intensa do que nos apercebemos da alegria e da felicidade.

É por isso que nos empenhamos mais em minimizar o mal do que em procurar a felicidade. Essa é também uma das razões que explicam a nossa dificuldade em lidar com os acasos: eles põem em perigo o status quo. E nós consideramos um possível agravamento da nossa situação mais ameaçador do que uma inesperada mudança para melhor nos pode parecer aliciante.

É claro que contra o exemplo do solteiro se pode argumentar que o sofrimento amoroso e os ciúmes são particularmente difíceis de suportar. O psicólogo Daniel Kahneman, decidiu, por isso, apresentar o problema de outra maneira: imagine que pagou 50€ por um bilhete para um concerto. À entrada apercebe-se de que perdeu o bilhete. Ainda há lugares, mas será que está disposto a pagar mais 50€? A maioria das pessoas questionadas respondeu "não".

E qual seria a sua decisão se estivesse na fila da bilheteira, para ir ao espectáculo dessa noite, e se apercebesse de que tinha desaparecido uma nota de 50€ da sua carteira? Neste caso quase 90% das pessoas interrogadas por Kahneman responderam que não deixariam de comprar o bilhete. É como registássemos o dinheiro já pago, nas nossas cabeças, numa outra conta como uma quantia que ainda temos de gastar: no primeiro exemplo imaginamos que, devido ao azar, o concerto não iria custar 50€, mas sim o dobro. E não queremos pagar tanto dinheiro por duas horas de música. No segundo exemplo, pelo contrário, aparentemente a perda não parece ter nada a ver com o espectáculo. E no entanto, o resultado é idêntico em ambos os casos: perderam-se 50€. Como na questão da ida à festa, o que conta, neste exemplo, não é só o resultado final, mas, também, como é que chegámos àquela situação. Sobre essas armadilhas do pensamento, Kahnemen desenvolveu toda uma teoria das falsas expectativas, a chamada "Prospect Theory".
do livro, Como o Acaso comanda as nossas Vidas, de Stefan Klein 

O próprio Kahneman a falar sobre o assunto:

"The emotional tail wags the rational dog"

quinta-feira, 30 de setembro de 2010

Os genes e as emoções

Diz António Damásio:

[...] The desire of the genes to remain and to be passed on. What would the genes do to create an organism that would be the most effective to pass on themselves? And the answer is that EMOTIONS become very very high with all of these things like reward and punishment mechanisms and drives and motivations because emotions are that sort of automatic intelligence that would guide an organism to do the most conveniente thing for that organism to survive during the time that its genoma (?) would allow it to survive.

So very early on, emotion must have been one of the very first things to develop. So we are really dealing with something that is now part and parcel (?) of our lives but has been here for a long long time.

[...] And then we have to deal with this very old system [...] and then we have to layer on top of it this new thing that we have evolved: cultures and civilizations that will allow us to be more pointed (?) and create the best possible behaviour.

[...] I think that what evolution gave us, very rapidly, was different kinds of processes, that were all of the "emotion" flavour and they made life more possible for a longer period...

quarta-feira, 22 de setembro de 2010

Como o corpo paga pela sua relutância em aceitar a incerteza

   Entre nós, humanos, há ainda a acrescentar a consciência, ou a confiança, de que também podemos influenciar uma situação perigosa e suavizar o stress da insegurança. Isso explica a razão pela qual alguns amantes da velocidade, que adoram conduzir uma potente mota na auto-estrada a 200 km/h, temem o risco, bem menor, de morrerem num desastre de avião: a moto são eles próprios que conduzem, enquanto no assento do piloto se encontra um estranho.
   Mas o modo como sentimos as surpresas também tem muito a ver com as circunstâncias: durante as férias, por exemplo, estamos muito mais predispostos a aceitar algo de inesperado do que durante o dia-a-dia. Mesmo uma mudança de pneu, que em casa nos faria "ir aos arames", pode transformar-se numa experiência excitante, que anos depois ainda gostamos de recordar.
   E, finalmente, cada indivíduo suporta os riscos de maneira diferente. Muitos nem sequer se atreveriam a subir para o assento de uma moto. Provavelmente, as razões pelas quais tendemos a evitar as incertezas ou, pelo contrário, apreciamos um certo confronto com o perigo são, sobretudo genéticas. Em todo o caso, estudos realizados por psicólogos do desenvolvimento revelam que as crianças que evitam, de forma manifesta, o desconhecido, ou que, pelo contrário, o procuram, se comportam também depois, na idade adulta, da mesma maneira: o temor perante o risco e a curiosidade parecem ser das características mais estáveis da personalidade humana.
   Não obstante, em caso de dúvida, a reacção perante um perigo imaginado é sempre de mal-estar, não só porque a nossa percepção dos ganhos e dos riscos é, muitas vezes, deformada, como já vimos, mas também porque as emoções negativas tendem sempre a sobrepor-se às positivas. O receio perante tudo o que é incerto, com o qual a Evolução nos equipou, explica os duvidosos compromissos que as pessoas, dia após dia, não se cansam de assumir. Assim, muitos continuam a viver com parceiros que não amam, só pelo medo de não virem a encontrar um novo, ou uma nova companheira. Outros mantêm-se décadas num emprego que não os satisfaz, sem sequer ter experimentado, pelo menos uma vez, responder a um anúncio para um outro trabalho.
   E isso nem sequer são as maiores perdas que o medo programado nos pode infligir. Se esse medo toma conta de nós, passamos a viver num stress constante. E se um organismo estiver demasiado tempo, ou com demasiada frequência, sob o efeito das hormonas do stress, estas acabam por enfraquecer o sistema imunitário, prejudicar o cérebro e fomentar o surgimento de doenças do foro cardiovascular, as mais frequentes causas de morte nos países industrializados.
   Coube à psicóloga Sonia Cavigelli, da Universidade de Chicago, o mérito de nos mostrar que, de facto, o medo nos pode conduzir à morte, e que isso até nem acontece assim tão raramente. [...] podemos presumir que também nós não faríamos mal em desenvolver uma certa disponibilidade para o risco. Mesmo que uma pessoa por natureza assustadiça nunca se possa tornar temerária [...] nós sempre podemos abdicar, com o tempo, de uma boa parte do medo desnecessário. Cuidados excessivos prejudicam a saúde.
do livro, Como o Acaso comanda as nossas Vidas, de Stefan Klein