I haven't listened to WPR's, "To The Best of Our Knowledge", for a few years, as my radio habits changed. The "thought magazine" rivals NPR's, "RadioLab". However, I left it when it was somewhat becoming another collection of Democratic party interests, which I can get anywhere. But it still carries on much of the tradition of being more widely academic. I heard an episode yesterday which fits right into my posts on "Manic Depression", (bipolar).
This segment of 'TTBOOK' nicely and concisely lists characteristics of depression versus optimism, primarily in the cognitive biases involved, or lack thereof. This analysis, and my own thought, mainly follow from the work of the great cognitive behaviouralists, Martin Seligman, and Aaron T. Beck.
I will probably do yet another post on the topic of how manics and depressive process information, (as this was the inspiration for these posts), meant also to discuss the 'onus of control'. However, the TTBOOK segment will suffice as PART TWO in the series. The main things to remember are that about 80% of the population is normal/optimistic, and tends to, in general, make more incorrect assessments about reality. The other 20% is depressed - perhaps 3% severely, and so about 17% mildly/moderately. The severely depressed tend to make pessimistic and perhaps even 'masochistic' conclusions about reality, which tend to be incorrect. So, that means the other, more moderate depressives, make conclusions which are normatively not biased one way or another. That is, they, ~17% of the population, are basically correct when it comes to interpretting reality.
(If such a group had sufficient political power, the nature of our world would be very different. It would be less filled with jingoism, religious crusades, careening capitalists, the bastard class, and so on).
Also, the major population, the 80% various optimists, from private hobbyists to nationalistic, narcissistic psychopaths, and what I am just going to lump together to call, "The (psycho)Positivists", make their assumptions about reality which often involve an attribution of values or successes to SELF. And this is often a kind of superstition, which I should be discussing later.
In addition, the positivist 80% also tend to make their conclusions of reality based on an idea that they are in control of situations, if not in successful outcomes. They can range from quiet people who pray in grotto's, to maniacal control freaks, all of whom we do encountre in our lives. On the other hand, moderate depressives do not make this often false assumption of control, which is often true to reality, whereas the 3% extreme depressives may conclude that something exterior is rather in control of their own fate, depriving them of any will whatsoever. And this assumption tends to be vague or abstract, rather than specific. This comports to the fact that severe depressives do not tend to be cognitively dynamic.
So, here is the very nice little 12 minute audio from TTBOOK:
How neuroscientist Tali Sharot accidentally stumbled on what’s known as “the optimism bias” — our hard-wired belief that our future will be better than our past or present.
And, on a positive note, here is the whole episode, containing several segments relevant to the concept of HOPE.
Hope: Where Does It Come From?
After you have scaled this territory, I would like you to glance at a comment I made recently, in response to the question below. (Very possibly you have seen it already, as I did do a link to it about a week ago).
The relevance, here, of this comment, is that it mentions what I call, the 'existential bias'. This bias is inherent in all beings, and even is a physics, involving the nature of time, inherent in all matter/energy.
The existential bias is not only at the root of all 'existing', but so also at the root of all positivistic cognitive and emotional biases. The, "grounds for hope", so to speak. Therefore, it gets mutated into the same psychologies above, from hopefulness, to disappointment and despair; from mania to crashes of depression; from arrogant control, to feeling impotent and controlled; from altruism to narcissism, and so on. All animals tend to show similar psychological and emotional manifestations of these variations.
(However, you could say that something like an octopus 'computes things out' in a different way than Portuguese Man-of-War, or than a wasp, etc. There are mechanical/electrical differences which will result in each species being a little different lens in displaying these dynamics).
QUESTION: "Do you think that each living organism is it's own individual organism, or rather, one with the earth itself, like the Earth's 'Cells', unconsciously working in tandem to support the whole planet's 'Health'?"
MY COMMENT: You offer a great question, which I think I can answer simply.
Every organism has a will to survive and prevail. If you throw a lot of money at that, you get the Republican party. I call this selfish quality, also called the 'will-to-power' somewhat broadly, the 'existential bias'. Every thing has to have this. And this should be understood and accepted.
On the other hand, no organism would have evolved if there was not a perpetual interplay of all other organisms. Therefore, every organism must sit in accordance with a balance of nature. And, so, every organism has some idea of fair play in this sense, versus selfishness. Forever, you get this variation of predominance between selfishness and cooperation, and that's what keeps us all evolving.
I do think that 'either-or' questions, all-be-they genuine and exploratory, are premised upon a fractive view of nature. However, I think they are good, beyond the norm, and somewhat validated in reality. The selfishness of nature's organisms is what creates the either/or dichotomy, which is fine. But the bigger picture shows that there is something more organic, wholistic, going on, beyond black-vs-white.
I think the wider picture will be the one that you will like the most. It is absolutely true that all seemingly selfish individuals mainly unwittingly work towards wholistic ends beyond their imaginations. Sometimes, apparently, like a multitude of automatons. BUT getting it right, by a swarm of selfish individuals, is a hard road to hoe - it results in a lot of strife.
One might think that the rush to selfishness would just destroy us all, right? Well, the thing is, all organisms mean to survive and prevail. So, they are not going to go that far. I n fact, when individuals seek to go that far, there are so many things holding them back, like social censure.
More than that, there are psychic forces at play. These get riverred into religious terminologies and rituals. But they still can stand alone in their power.
If you look at it, no species can keep persisting, based on the will to selfishness, if it did not also include some psychic sense of bigger and bigger pictures. The need to cooperate. The need for balance and rhythm. And this is why religions that point out 'guilt' can be so successful.
Gotta say - I don't like guilt as a motivator. But, it just seems to be one of the major motivators of people. So, e.g., that is why action on global warming takes so long. Selfish people just do not want to own up to the professed guilt. But the god thing is, once they do, they push forward in groups to make changes.
I am of the personal opinion that these human, social responses are, per se, too slow to address coming emergencies. That's just how it is. That does not mean that a few rich people cannot profit from all the contest. Genetic selfishness, when afforded the comfort and insulation of wealth, will always press forward, against the will of the majority.
ANOTHER GOOD COMMENT: No one organism can exist without other organisms. Every single being needs to consume another being or obtain energy from the sun in order to live. The Earth provides the conditions for organisms that serve as the food for others to exist, and several of the different life theories support this notion. We have seen and will continue to see what happens when whole species are removed from the food web. I personally think everything is connected.
ANOTHER GOOD COMMENT: We would die without the bacteria in us. Breastfeeding transfers my cells to my baby which are used to form neurons. Cells from my baby will be in me forever. Some will be located in my knees, where I bruised and scraped during pregnancy, Some people are chimeras: two twins that fused together in the early stages of life, with two distinct sets of genes forming one individual.
Lichens are made of cells containing both a fungus and an algae. Our mitochondria resemble the simplest bacteria, and they contain their own set of genes, which are passed down via asexual reproduction: no recombination. It is suspected that somewhere back in evolutionary history, a larger cell engulfed a simpler bacterium, and that became a symbiotic relationship so intertwined that they can no longer even be considered two separate species.
We have yet to discover spontaneous creation of DNA. However, DNA has the strongest or one of the strongest bonds in existence: pulling it apart is futile. So it is conceivable that it could have arisen somewhere other than Earth and came here. However, the simplest organisms are found surrounding deep sea vents. How little we know about this part of the world! It is possible that the ingredients for life are created in conditions that we are unaware even exist.
Therefore, it is conceivable that all of life came from the earth at its core. The primordial soup theory is the most widely accepted theory.
I am of the opinion that life itself, while precious and rare, is probably not unique to Earth. I suspect that almost all life forms are simple, single-celled organisms. I think consciousness is the thing that is truly rare to the point of being unique as far as we can tell.
NOTE: This post is just too rich for me to do the whole 'tag' listing right now. However, you can go to my tags page and read more posts mentioning concepts above, like the existential bias, etc. Most will be preceded by a category word, such as "psychology - ", "environ - ", etc. (Also note: I do not agree w/ that final comment above - I do believe consciousness is ubiquitous, and yet paradoxically not).