Archive for the ‘Cognitive Biases’ Category

Admirable Clarity


How many cells are there in our body? This simple question deserves a simple answer. Some types of cells are easy to spot, while others–such as tangled neurons–weave themselves up into obscurity. Even if you could count ten cells each second, it would take you tens of thousands of years to finish counting. Plus, there would be certain logistical problems you would encounter along the way to counting all the cells in your body; for example, chopping your own body up into tiny patches for microscopic viewing.

If scientists can’t count all the cells in a human body, how can they estimate it? The mean weight of a cell is 1 nanogram. For an adult man weighing 70 kilograms, simple arithmetic would lead us to conclude that man has 70 trillion cells. Cells are the building blocks of the human body, but what is the total number of cells in a human body remains still a riddle. It is estimated that the body of an average person contains around 30 to 40 trillion cells, but scientists do not yet know the exact number and it also depends on whether or not one include the bacteria that are present in and on our bodies. The majority of the cells in our bodies are red blood cells. They make up over 80 percent of our body in number and comprise only around 4 percent of total body mass. This is because red blood cells only measure on average 8 micrometers in diameter, which is 10 times small in diameter than an average human hair.

The average size of a fat cell is 100 micrometers. The fat cells make up nearly 19 percent of our body mass. They contribute only under 0.2 percent to the total cell number. Calculating the actual cell number of the five most common cell types in an average adult male, which account for 97 percent of the cells in the body, the estimation is about 30 trillion cells, of which red blood cells make up 84 percent.

The human cells are not the only cells in our bodies. There are 10 times as many bacteria in our bodies than human cells and scientists estimate this number to be around 38 trillion. Although, large in number, bacteria are much smaller than human cells, and they actually make up only 200 grams of our total body mass. We are as much bacteria as we are human, bringing the total number up to around 70 trillion. The bacteria present in our body counts more in number than human cell, except these measure 200 gm only and that is really amazing.

This is not a final number, but it is a very good start. While it is true that people may vary in size and thus vary in their number of cells; adult humans do not vary by orders of magnitude except in the movies.

Each of our cells has over a hundred thousand machines within it, including DNA, which is a molecular machine that is not alive. DNA is composed of molecules that are not alive which are composed of atoms that are also not alive. In actual fact, our body is a type of cybernetic organism made of both organic and biomechatronic body parts.

By Deceiving Others, We Deceive Ourselves

We mislead ourselves all day long. Such self-serving biases we undertake to cheat ourselves in order to mislead others and construct social advantage. Psychologists have identified several ways of fooling ourselves like biased information-gathering, biased reasoning and biased recollections. We seek information only that supports what we want to believe and avoid that which we do not.

One of the most common types of self-deception is self-enhancement. We overestimate our good qualities because it makes us feel good. Self-enhancement boosts motivation, leading to greater accomplishment. If getting motivated is our goal, then we could do that without reality distortion. Self-deception has evolved for the purpose of other deception.

Overconfidence about one’s self intelligence neither leads to better mental health or academic performance, but self-deception begets social advantage. Most of us see good self-esteem and enhanced motivation is a reason enough for self-enhancement to evolve. In the long run overconfidence may backfire.

It is not that there is one part of us deliberately fooling another part of us that is the “self.” If you need to convince somebody of something, if your career or social success depends on persuasion, then the first person who needs to be convinced is yourself. On the defensive side, whenever anyone tries to convince you of something, think about what might be motivating that person. Even if he is not lying to you, he may be deceiving both you and himself.

Posted April 5, 2017 by dranilj1 in Cognitive Biases

Secrecy, In Fact, Is Our Only Salvation

Don’t whine about life. Accept where you are, the people around you, and the events of your life as divine gifts. You are where you should be, in the era and society that is best for you, chosen by the Divine. The spiritual part of a human being is like tuning fork; it vibrates to truth as a tuning fork vibrates when its pitch is played close to it. Trust that God put you where you are, when you are, and with whom you are, for a reason. Believe that there is a plan, that your life is not random, that it matters where you are, when you are, and with whom you are. Recognize that because it was God who decided these things for you, you have a purpose to fulfill or a special accomplishment to achieve that can be done only because you are where you are when you are, and with whom you are. I am a very religious man and believe in predetermination; that our lives are guided by the God who has a plan for every human. Trust your first instinct, do not try to change who you are, do not try to change the people around you, and accept your fate. There exists one’s true self, buried beneath the false image we try to convey to other people. Peel that false image away, and we are all the same at the core. Society is always moving forward against chaos and darkness. You cannot just expect to learn self-reliance in one day and without self-reliance, you will not get very far. Any work done in God’s name does the greatest good. No work can be accomplished without the help of others. Believe in your work and ignore the criticism of others. Every heart vibrates as its own guidance, not the direction of others.

We can talk about our troubles to those who can give us direct help, but even in this case, we must come to a carefully thought out conclusion before the consultation. We have to be perfectly clear to ourselves about our own limitations. Most of us have a foolish trick of applying for help before they have done anything whatever to aid themselves. We try to talk to our self into clearness of insight and intelligibility. The only way such people can think is by talking and their speech consequently is not the expression of an opinion clearly thought and formed, but a manufacture of it. One should be very careful when we speak about our pained emotions. The expression is apt to carry with it exaggeration. By being reserved, we are able to attach less importance to that which is not worthwhile to mention to others; therefore, secrecy, in fact, is our only salvation. Keeping one’s problem to oneself will lessen the severity of its impact on us.

Good People, With Good Causes, Suck You In

Believe in your own thought. You do as you feel when you feel it is right. If you believe in yourself you do not have to depend on others to think for you. State aloud your sleeping conviction that is inside you waiting to come out so that they could be universally accepted; for in due time, the inmost becomes the outermost and our first thought will come back to us at the end when it is too late to do anything about it. Speak not what others want you to speak but what you think. Learn to identify and observe that non-directional light that is feeble and unsteady which flashes across your mind from within, more than the stars light of all the poets and philosophers. Our own thoughts are more important for ourselves at least more than all the thoughts of poets and philosophers. We dismiss our thoughts only to recognize it when it comes back to us with a certain alienated majesty from others. We should pay attention to our own thoughts, impressions, observations, and insights. There is one big difference between great poets and thinkers of the past and ourselves and that is they are all dead and we are alive. Stand by your spontaneous impression with a cool detachment to the whole cry of voices on the other side. Else, tomorrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what you have thought and felt all the time, and you shall be forced to take with shame your own opinion from another. It is so easy to fall in line and do all the things that the society associates with a perfect life. It is the good people, with good causes, who can really suck you in.

Live Life as Life

Despite the fact that we latch on to our ideas of being or non being, we can demolish all concepts set up in our minds and without fixing on reality as any particular thing, open the hand of life and live life as life by letting life to be life.

Posted February 9, 2017 by dranilj1 in Cognitive Biases

Observe With Care and Sincerity

All images, ideas, and sensations formed by our mind without direct input from the senses, such as seeing or hearing together with our erroneous mental representation distort all of our observation with care and sincerity.

Posted February 9, 2017 by dranilj1 in Cognitive Biases

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Neuroscience Skepticism

Neurology and psychiatry are related fields, because neurological disorders often manifest as, and get misdiagnosed as, psychiatric disease. What is the borderline between neurology and psychiatry? What makes one disease neurological and another mental? Are some psychiatric disorders more neurological than others?

This is a philosophical question and you could discuss it for as long as you wanted. Rather than doing that, try to see which disorders are, at the moment, considered to fall into each category.

To mention a few, schizophrenia is considered the most neurological psychiatric disorder and is in fact the least talked about in Neurology. Depression is top amongst the psychiatric disease. Autism occupies a middle ground, discussed by psychiatrists and neurologists, but ADHD is almost as neurological as autism. Mental retardation is also intermediate, though it is 30:70 in favour of neurology. Whether autism is really less neurological than mental retardation, is a good question.

Out of the disorders with a known neuropathology, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease and dementia overlap with Alzheimer’s are a bit psychiatric while headache and epilepsy is almost one hundred percent neurological. Why this is, is not entirely clear, since both dementia and epilepsy are caused by neurological damage, and they can both cause psychiatric symptoms.

I think the difference is that it is just much harder to treat Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and dementia. With epilepsy or meningitis, neurologists have a very good chance of controlling the symptoms and few patients will be left with ongoing psychiatric problems, but with the neurodegenerative disorders, neurologists can’t really do much, leaving a large pool of people for psychiatrists to study it.

Someone once said that neurologists take all of the curable diseases and leave psychiatrists with the ones they cannot help. These observations suggest that there may be truth in this.

Posted January 22, 2017 by dranilj1 in Cognitive Biases

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