Jul 21 2010

Music and Brain Plasticity

A recent review of the literature on music and brain plasticity was recently published in Nature Neuroscience Reviews. The authors address a very interesting question that I have been writing about now for years – how widespread are the effects of mental training on overall cognitive function?

We know that the vertebrate brain displays considerable plasticity – it learns and remembers. When you train at a task, you get better at it. For example, I can type pretty fast. I don’t have to think about where the keys are, and I don’t even have to look at the keyboard. I just think of the words I want to type and my fingers fly effortless over the keyboard. This is a product of decades of typing.

Anyone who has learned to play a musical instrument is also familiar with brain plasticity. After years of playing, the complexity and subtlety with which you can perform on an instrument becomes impressive. You don’t have to think consciously about every move – you just feel it. Further, your ear is more sensitive to subtle aspects of pitch, tone, timing, and timbre. You notice things other people don’t notice.

That much is very clear from the research and not controversial. This new paper reviews the evidence which establishes that these changes in ability that accrue with music training result in changes to the brain itself – the relevant areas of the brain that involve auditory processing and motor control are larger and more active in musicians than non-musicians, and this correlates with age of onset of training and duration of training.

In addition, the brain changes associated with musical training occur at cortical and sub-cortical levels – meaning in the parts of the brain that involve auditory processing prior to conscious awareness. And again, this applies to music and language.

But when we move beyond this basic fact of neural plasticity, we start to get into some controversy. The next question is – do increases in auditory function that directly relate to music training extend to auditory processing in general? Would they apply, for example, to the auditory processing of language?

There is also a further question beyond that – does musical training improve brain function in areas not related directly to auditory processing or motor control? Does musical training make people “smarter” by improving their memory, attention, or other generalizable mental skills?

I have gone back and forth on this question over the years, as conflicting evidence comes in. Recently I have been leaning toward a negative conclusion – that training in one area does not significantly affect other cognitive areas. Last month, for example, I reported on a Nature study that showed no such effect. “Brain training” improves the task that is being trained, but does not appear to transfer to other tasks.

What does this latest review have to say about music? They report:

Below, we describe data that support the view that the fine-grained auditory skills of musicians, which are acquired through years of training, percolate to other domains, such as speech, language, emotion and auditory processing. Thus, music training improves auditory skills that are not exclusively related to music.

They go on to discuss the fact that the processing of language involves many of the same cognitive skills as music: discriminating changes in pitch, deriving information from sound, and directing attention toward the details of sound. This makes perfect sense. In fact I would go beyond that to speculate that our appreciation for music may in fact be an evolutionary outgrowth of language itself. From an evolutionary point of view, music may be a side consequence of our adaptation for spoken language.

An excellent example presented in the paper is that of processing regularities in auditory sensory input. When trying to separate the sound of a person speaking from background noise, auditory processing in the brain looks for statistical regularities in the sound, distinct from the randomness of background noise. So the processing is there to appreciate regularities. This same processing gives us an appreciation for the regular timing in music. It is an excellent example of how evolutionary adaptation can result in “unintended consequences.”

But further it creates the potential to improve the ability to distinguish speech from background noise through musical training, since the same underlying neurological processing is involved.

But what about the final question – does music training percolate to other areas of cognition not related to auditory processing or the motor skills required to play an instrument? (This is the alleged “Mozart” effect, which has not been supported by research.) The paper does not discuss this question, or review any evidence that directly bears on it.

Conclusion

This is a very interesting review, and is an excellent overview of the research on the effects of music training on the brain and its implications for language ability. But the review does not present any evidence to suggest that music training has neurological benefits that extend beyond the brain processing involved in music (which overlaps with language). The “Mozart effect” remains dead.

This review also does not alter my opinion regarding brain training in general – mental training improves the tasks that are trained, and the underlying neurological processing, but not cognitive areas that are not directly related to the tasks that are being trained.

At the end of the article the authors advocate for increased music training as part of basic education. I think they make a reasonable argument for this. Language function is a core cognitive skill, and music training does seem to enhance the auditory processing of language. But I caution against extrapolating beyond the limited implications of the research.

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108 responses so far

108 Responses to “Music and Brain Plasticity”

  1. ccbowerson 21 Jul 2010 at 11:54 am

    I find brain training studies difficult to interpret, because I always wonder if we are just testing the training. I guess that is part of what we are trying to find out, but in terms of understanding the brain it seems a bit limited. The training itself may be inadequate for many reasons such as duration, design, etc. People spend hours a day for years playing instruments, and I’m not sure that training used in studies can be a good surrogate marker for this.

    Of course I find a belief in the “Mozart effect” a bit naive. People should seek intellectual stimulation from the multiple angles that they enjoy, and explore new ones. It reminds me of how some people view health: there are many who look for the one supplement to help with everything instead of having a healthy diet, exercise, and getting adequate rest (among other things). Not that I do those things myself (even though I should), but I know that a supplement isnt going to help

  2. mdcatonon 21 Jul 2010 at 12:22 pm

    So the next question is what exactly are the differences between tone-language-trained brains (like Mandarin or Twa-speakers) and non-tone-language-trained brains (like most of us reading this) that correlate with music. There was a paper a couple years ago showing that tone language speakers are *nine times* more likely to have perfect pitch, even matching for education and training. Not surprising in light of this review. So how does the anatomy differ? Has there been culturally-driven selection in any genes in tone-language speakers?

  3. RichWilsonon 21 Jul 2010 at 12:39 pm

    Christopher Hitchens thinks there’s a correlation between the ability to write fiction and an ability to at least write about music.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thXnNVOrri8

    He’s a little vague, and it’s all anecdotal of course, but his thoughts are, as always, interesting.

  4. SARAon 21 Jul 2010 at 1:26 pm

    I always wonder if the mozart effect is due to use of different cognitive skills than are studied. For example if some people imagine fairy tales while listening they may develop non expected skills. If other people don’t fantasize they don’t develop the skills.

  5. deevybeeon 21 Jul 2010 at 1:39 pm

    to mdcaton
    Yes, there has been a paper claiming genetic differences between tone language and other languages, though it is controversial stuff.
    Dediu, D., & Ladd, D. R. (2007). Linguistic tone is related to the population frequency of the adaptive haplogroups of two brain size genes, ASPM and Microcephalin. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104, 10944-10949.
    commentary
    Nettle, D. (2007). Language and genes: A new perspective on the origins of human cultural diversity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104, 10755-10756.

  6. ccbowerson 21 Jul 2010 at 3:43 pm

    “There was a paper a couple years ago showing that tone language speakers are *nine times* more likely to have perfect pitch, even matching for education and training.”

    I am curious to read this study. I have never thought about a relationship between absolute pitch and native language. I would think that the relationship has to do with the process of learning the language itself, rather than genetic- although you never know.

  7. bartWon 21 Jul 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Steve, you write: “I would go beyond that to speculate that our appreciation for music may in fact be an evolutionary outgrowth of language itself. From an evolutionary point of view, music may be a side consequence of our adaptation for spoken language.”

    I’m not sure this is correct for multiple reasons. One, the perception of music is not limited to auditory channel, there is also a physical aspect, especially in the case of low frequency waves, that the whole body reacts to. Two, the music is extremely capable of inducing/invoking emotions, and even slightly altered states of consciousness – something that language is not as good at. Interestingly, it does it in ways that is opposite to language – there is no encoded meaning in music. Of course, in time can be associated with memories etc., but music does influence your mood regardless of whether you are familiar with it or not.

    If at all, music seems to be a result of us having evolved ears to listen to the sounds that surround us, and then evolution of imitation of nature for hunting/protection purposes. I am quite certain that language came much, much later.

  8. bindleon 21 Jul 2010 at 5:02 pm

    bartW is correct. In addition, the tones that we call musical were (and still are) evolved for use as communicative signals – and additionally as coded language. Mimicry of tonality seems to have evolved accordingly.

  9. skidooon 21 Jul 2010 at 5:16 pm

    In the same vein as SARA, I wonder how testing for the MozE can effectively isolate sseemingly necessary corollations, such as the benefits of consciousness isolation, the stimulation of self-directed imagination, or the fruits of “unintentional” meditation?

    Music is input; sure. Listening to music always connects consciousness to some presumed external intentionality. But like losing oneself in a crowd, music can provide a potent introspective experience; an experience that is a rabbit hole leading to potentially wild lands that have little to do with tone and rythm.

    Anecdotally, if I listen to certain music, the combination of affect and poetry definitely aligns some gates, relaxes some inhibitions, and helps me direct my mind down creative paths otherwise seemingly inaccessible. And I can’t stand Mozart’s prissy little melodies.

    Interestingly, these same creative dispositions are not uncommonly achieved without any conscious attempt. Often through reading. Sometimes it’s a medium as banal as billboard advertising.

    Still language though.

    Premise: Because novel and uncommon sensory input stimulates concommitant uncommonly employed brain centers, it is easier and more common to experience novel auditory input versus other sensory stimuli.

    Hypothesis: Unfamiliar or sufficiently complex music stimulates uncommonly employed brain centers, and the possiblility that at least a subset of the affected centers could augment certain language skills is reasonably plausible.

    Note: The anecdotal prevalence of a supposed MozE is likely aatributable to 1) Unscrupulous marketing introducing strong observer bias; and 2) The conflation of slight linguistic precociousness with skills from unrelated domains (i.e. skills augmented not by the music, but rather an “ear” with a more granular dynamic tonal range, or perhaps enhanced phonetical reading; either of which could improve information uptake and retention, which would be in evidence most obviously when the associated skills were exercised, leading to a misassignment of effect.)

    Off to crank up the Foo Fighters; maybe some Feelies. Off to bathe in some existential ennui. Mozart’s about as metaphysically and musically interesting as a Saltine. Magic flute indeed. LOL

    * JS Bach was an automaton (excepting that one awesome Toccata and Fugue); Moooozart was a derivitive little lilting hormone; and Beethoven was a creative Vesuvius, cruelly strapped inside an unfortunately mortal man of men.

    Now go bittorrent wisely, you the unwashed anonymouseseses!

    :-*

  10. BillyJoe7on 21 Jul 2010 at 5:39 pm

    bart,

    bartW: “If at all, music seems to be a result of us having evolved ears to listen to the sounds that surround us, and then evolution of imitation of nature for hunting/protection purposes. I am quite certain that language came much, much later.”

    bindle: “bartW is correct.

    I think bindle means that he agrees with you. ;)
    So do I. :D

    Certainly there were “tones” long before there was language. And it seems more likely that language evolved out of “music”.

    Maybe Steve could comment further.

  11. bindleon 21 Jul 2010 at 5:52 pm

    No I meant that he was correct as to the degree of certainty involved, and that music served an evolutionary purpose. “Correct” implies an understanding that simply choosing to agree may not.

  12. ccbowerson 21 Jul 2010 at 5:53 pm

    “the music is extremely capable of inducing/invoking emotions, and even slightly altered states of consciousness – something that language is not as good at”

    I’m not sure it is true that language is not good at evoking emotions. Certainly spoken language can be very effective at this.

    “Interestingly, it does it in ways that is opposite to language – there is no encoded meaning in music.”

    Again, I don’t agree. There appears to be meaning in music – certain combinations/sequences of notes or rhthms can invoke certain emotions. Sounds can be described as sounding angry, sad, happy, etc. I don’t think this effect is strictly cultural.

    “If at all, music seems to be a result of us having evolved ears to listen to the sounds that surround us, and then evolution of imitation of nature for hunting/protection purposes. I am quite certain that language came much, much later”

    I agree with this idea, but I’m not sure that its accurate to imply that language evolved out of music, but they both evolved from something else that is not exactly language or music.

  13. kijibajion 21 Jul 2010 at 7:06 pm

    When it comes to questions about language, Language Log is a good place to check for answers! Mark Liberman has a very interesting post about absolute pitch, native language, musical ability, genetics, and much more.

    http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=1450

    I also recommend reading through the comments as there’s some interesting discussion and links to a bunch of other research.

  14. theshortearedowlon 21 Jul 2010 at 7:18 pm

    I’ve always been told there was a link between musical and mathematical ability – although it was never clear to me whether the people doing the telling meant that studying or playing music would make you stronger at maths, or that people who are good at one tend to be good at the other.

    But I’ve more recently come across the suggestion that music and language are closely linked – both in terms of aural processing and information processing. For one thing, (I was told, and have not checked up on this; please tell me if it is entirely or partially wrong) for the part of the brain in one hemisphere that tends to process music, the corresponding part in the other hemisphere processes spoken language. I know that, for me personally, an effective piece of music can communicate certain concepts or feelings better than spoken language (at least the day-to-day form).

  15. HHCon 21 Jul 2010 at 7:58 pm

    I think musical training has helped create more successes in education/ rehabilitation by empowering a person to create rhythmic speech and non-speech sounds, i.e. self-expression. Memory and perceptual capacities work in tandem. Ever hear of music agnosia?

  16. skidooon 21 Jul 2010 at 9:02 pm

    This discussion’s just climbing higher and higher up Mount Sloppy.

    Define “language.” Define “music.” Are they related on a continuum of “discreetness?” Non-contextual entropy? What about the role of time and auditory stops? What musical distinctions can be made between a Westboro Baptist chant and a Gregorian chant, beyond superficial precision and harmony?

    Are music and language just two words denoting two vaguely-defined categories of structured audio?

    Is language confined to auditory facillitation? Of course not. American Signers would have a laugh at that notion.

    Is music confined to auditory facilitation? By definition.

    The semantics of language developed along a path of convenience, audio being one of many possible targets for implementation. Music is ultimately delimited by the transmission of vibration through some medium.

    Spoken language processing as distinguished by cognitive proocesses from audible Morse Code processing. Then move on to second (spoken) language processing as distinguished from primary (spoken) language processing, across all the sets of acquisition age, instruction method, immersion paramaters, social pressures, etc.

    Finally, consider logic, cognitive symbolism, and the difference between translation, shifting symbol sets, and semantically complete logic facilities.

    And a bunch of other stuff. Then have a drink. Then have a nap.

    Oh, and what ccbowers said, for the most part. What the hell was that other guy talking about?

  17. tiberiouson 21 Jul 2010 at 9:07 pm

    I’m with Steve on this one…expect little skill transfer to other domains.

    But I wonder about high level skills like…diagnosis. Would a highly skilled programmer (symbolic debugging) or automotive mechanic (mechanical troubleshooting) or a physician find that they have a usable skill set in common?

  18. BillyJoe7on 22 Jul 2010 at 12:26 am

    skidoo,

    “What the hell was that other guy talking about?”

    You really don’t want to know.
    No, I mean, you REALLY don’t want to know.

  19. bindleon 22 Jul 2010 at 1:05 am

    BillyJoe7, who are you trying to pick a fight with, and how does that help this blog post?

  20. bartWon 22 Jul 2010 at 3:06 am

    It occurred to me that we should indeed distinguish between sound, melody, music, and language. In this order they are from most basic to more complex, music and language being interrelated, but mostly existing in different domains.

    Let me explain.

    A sound is basically short for accoustinc wave.

    A melody is a semi-continous pattern of various sounds that has some kind of rhythm, not necessarily repeatibility, and is not necessarily made on purpose.

    Music is a purposeful semi-continous pattern of emitted or mimicked sounds that has melody, rhythm and so on.

    Language is a purposeful semi-continous pattern of sounds that has syntax, grammar, and meaning that is encoded in sounds in a separate layer, so to speak. Language devoid of meaning is just a melody.

    There are cases where the two overlap (singing), and create synergetic effect, but generally they are separate “entities”.

    I think the main difference is that we perceive music with the “lower” brain, and for language we need “higher” brain to process the encoded message.

    So perhaps my initial post was not exact – melody certainly was present before both music and language, music implies some kind of agency, and perhaps implies self-awareness, which in turn might need some kind of language, even if for just realizing that what I’m doing is pleasant. And in this sense Steve might be correct.

    And then, it might be just a byproduct of us being wired to notice and enjoy patterns in nature. And that the language itself is a byproduct of this pattern awareness. While I do believe that evolving a language was a seminal event, I am kind of wary about putting too much significance on it.

    Just wondering.

  21. bartWon 22 Jul 2010 at 3:12 am

    Ah, skidoo is right. Language is NOT only expressed in sounds. But inventing writing was another seminal step, and from then on we can think about language as an abstract pattern. Before that time though, it was intertwined with sound, and it evolved from sound.

  22. bindleon 22 Jul 2010 at 4:23 am

    I will continue to add that In addition, the tones that we call musical evolved for use by earlier forms of life as communicative signals – and additionally as coded language. Mimicry of tonality seems to have evolved accordingly. And musical or music-like communication evolved long before we or our ancestors evolved ears to better hear surrounding sounds. Sea creatures without ears nevertheless communicate by sonic tones as one example. So do varieties of insects. Maybe even plants and paramecium.
    http://www.viewingspace.com/genetics_culture/pages_genetics_culture/gc_w03/davis_audio_scope.htm

  23. mazeedton 22 Jul 2010 at 5:51 am

    Bindle, the way I see it you misunderstand the issue. I do not think that anyone doubts that human language developed from simpler communicative sound patterns such as tones. But such sounds would basically be a form of primitive language. Music can thus reasonably be argued to be a by product of the development of complex language in that its main purpose is not communication yet our ability to appreciate it depends on the systems we developed for communication purposes (or which were selected for for that reason).
    Besides, like ccbowers pointed out language is very good at invoking emotions and in fact it is the right brain that gives speech its emotional colouring. Just think of all the different meanings that the phrase “you idiot” can take on depending on how it is said.

  24. mazeedton 22 Jul 2010 at 5:55 am

    Of course written language lacks all of that emotional coloring. (which often leads to problems since our language evolved to include it) Perhaps that is why it id so easy to forget it?

  25. bindleon 22 Jul 2010 at 12:46 pm

    mazeedt, can you be more clear about what it was then that I got wrong, especially to the extent that I was an idiot to do so? Because otherwise I see no need to make that reference. Are you saying that music in general is a byproduct of the development of complex language rather than that complex language owes its development to the musical languages that preceded it? Birdsong is a musical language and much has been written about its close connection to both our music and our language.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bird_vocalization.
    What ccbowers didn’t point out (yet I didn’t jump in to call him on it, nor refer to him as idiotic) is that language would not be all that good at “invoking” emotions if it hadn’t been for music “teaching” us earlier how to do so.
    BartW was right on that score and ccbowers was wrong to say he wasn’t. And you were wrong in turn to take that opportunity to insult me. Birds call each other idiots all the time if you listen carefully to the tone and observe the circumstances. Unless you’re too much of a right brain idiot to bother.

  26. bartWon 22 Jul 2010 at 3:12 pm

    I think that the difference between music and language in terms of inducing/invoking emotions is that for language you need to decode the message – and you already noticed how hard it can be when there are no other clues present like tone, volume, speed, melody and body language – while music does it directly. You don’t need higher brain functions for “receiving” music, and you certainly do for language.

  27. bindleon 22 Jul 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Good point.

  28. mazeedton 22 Jul 2010 at 3:49 pm

    I’m srry but I never meant to imply that you were an idiot…
    I was thinking of something entirely different when I picked that example, srry if I offended you it was not intentional

  29. mazeedton 22 Jul 2010 at 3:52 pm

    That is where I disagree. Spoken language can contain tone and an emotional imprint apart from the message encoded in syntax. Exactly like music

  30. mazeedton 22 Jul 2010 at 6:36 pm

    By the way:
    “BartW was right on that score and ccbowers was wrong to say he wasn’t.”
    ehm… excuse me, but I beg to differ. Who are you to so authoritatively state what is “right” and what is “wrong” in evolutionary history? You may of course argue that it can reasonably be assumed that “this evolved into that” but unless you have some magical DNA evidence or can show that people were singing before they started to “speak”* (which for the purpose of this discussion I would call communicate via sound) you can not claim that BartW was “right” on the score that language would not be all that good at “invoking” emotions if it hadn’t been for music “teaching” us earlier how to do so.
    Where is the evidence to unequivocally support such a statement?

    *or to be precise that the speech did not convey any emotional information before man learned to appreciate music

  31. mazeedton 22 Jul 2010 at 6:38 pm

    on the whole I think that this discussion is becoming terribly confused, it seems to me that we are using different definitions of “speech” and “music”

  32. bindleon 22 Jul 2010 at 6:53 pm

    “Where is the evidence to unequivocally support such a statement?”

    I’m confident that the evidence can be produced by those familiar with the science, some of whom I’ve had a close association with. From that association I have deduced that bartW knows his stuff, and has been consistent in his presentations of it.
    Is the evidence as of itself unequivocal? No, and likely never will be. But comparatively speaking, bartW has the evidence on his side and ccbowers had none to offer that contradicted it.

  33. bindleon 22 Jul 2010 at 7:41 pm

    *or to be precise that the speech did not convey any emotional information before man learned to appreciate music”

    The assumption that ‘man learned to appreciate music’ is a premise that I don’t happen to agree with. The presumption that I’ve found to prevail among evolutions is that it was man’s appreciation of his musical facility that contributed to the evolution of his language. Feel free to disagree but don’t assume that I assumed the opposite.

  34. bindleon 22 Jul 2010 at 8:31 pm

    “prevail among evolutionists” is what I meant to write. And here’s a bit of “evidence” that musical appreciation runs in the primate family:
    Chimps Born to Appreciate Music
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_8174000/8174534.stm

  35. ccbowerson 23 Jul 2010 at 1:36 am

    “bartW has the evidence on his side and ccbowers had none to offer that contradicted it.”

    Bindle, so you agree that there is not encoded meaning in music? Where is the evidence for this? You agree that language is not good at evoking emotions? What is the evidence for this? These were the things I stated that I disagreed with. I’m not sure that references are needed to disagree with these ideas. I think that you are trying a bit too hard to disagree with me.

    “I think that the difference between music and language in terms of inducing/invoking emotions is that for language you need to decode the message – and you already noticed how hard it can be when there are no other clues present like tone, volume, speed, melody and body language”

    Language can carry more to decode, but you do not need to decode the ‘words’ to get the message. When it comes to emotional responses it is often how something is said, not the words that are spoken. Removing volume, tone, speed, etc is removing an aspect of the language so of course you lose a lot.

  36. bindleon 23 Jul 2010 at 2:10 am

    Music was our emotional language before we developed the symbolic forms of language we use at present. And much of that language has retained musical tones specifically to denote feelings that the emotional brain produces. Musical languages are coded, and one reason we find music so powerful is that by retaining some of its feeling, we have retained some awareness of what that coding meant instinctively. So both instinctively and culturally we have retained the emotional effects, and added to them consciously, while essentially letting our words replace the meanings that our various cultures used to carry forward as musically coded phrases.
    Note that whales still use musical phrases for communication, and learn new ones as circumstances require. So do dolphins. So do some birds. So it seems do elephants.

    So there was encoded meaning in music before we developed our less musical language of today, which is contrary to what you had stated as the case. And we still feel the emotional aspects of that code more intensely than our spoken or written language causes us to feel. Note for example how actors and poets take advantage of the tones and rhythms for the maximum emotional effect.

  37. mazeedton 23 Jul 2010 at 4:15 am

    See, just like I said this argument largely arose because we used different definitions of music
    I would not call the “music like” (although whether or not it is in fact particularly much like music could be questioned) “language” that you speak of music but a primitive form of speech.
    I agree with ccbowers we do not actually seem to disagree about anything but semantics

  38. wilktoneon 23 Jul 2010 at 11:05 am

    Thanks for posting about this. Unfortunately, my music educator colleagues are all too willing to suspend disbelief and make somewhat misleading claims about the benefits of musical training:

    http://www.childrensmusicworkshop.com/advocacy/12benefits.html

    I prefer to think of music as important for its own sake. No need to make misleading claims about the benefits of studying it.

  39. bindleon 23 Jul 2010 at 2:19 pm

    semantics |səˈmantiks|
    plural noun [usu. treated as sing. ]
    the branch of linguistics and logic concerned with meaning

    To paraphrase an old legal saw, when you can’t question the evidence, question the semantics.

  40. ccbowerson 23 Jul 2010 at 2:53 pm

    “So there was encoded meaning in music before we developed our less musical language of today, which is contrary to what you had stated as the case.”

    I never said that there wasn’t meaning encoded in music, in fact I argued this very point myself. The only point I was making is that it is not clear that music came first. I am not stating that language came first either, but it may be that there were ways of making sounds used for communication that are not exactly what we now call music or language.

  41. mazeedton 23 Jul 2010 at 3:03 pm

    To paraphrase ccbowers you are trying very hard to be antagonistic for no reason.
    I raise a legitimate concern about the common ground that this argument is based on and you reply by insulting me!
    Why is it so important for you to be right at every cost? Perhaps you are not looking for a discussion at all?

  42. bindleon 23 Jul 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Modulated fish farting perhaps?

  43. mazeedton 23 Jul 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Oh very mature

  44. bindleon 23 Jul 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Hey mazeedt, questioning your logic is an insult? I’m not the first to do it since you started papering the blog with non-evidential claptrap.
    Try presenting some supporting facts with those off the wall opinions or get used to what you’re wont to call insulting.

  45. mazeedton 23 Jul 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Non evidential ey?

    How about we turn it around, how about you present some hard facts to support your view. Because, you know, apart from: I have this friend and he “knows his stuff” I haven’t heard much from you either.
    If in fact you can even identify exactly how our views differ, because you know what? It is difficult when we disagree about the most basic foundations of the argument, what we are arguing about. I agree with you that language developed out of simpler, if you will, music. Simple as that. Did it ever occur to you that I did not attack your well construed argument because you were attacking a straw man?

  46. mazeedton 23 Jul 2010 at 3:36 pm

    And NO questioning “my logic” is not an insult. But that is NOT what you were doing. I said that basically the only thing that we disagree about is semantics. How much more difficult than that can it get? Can you get that logic into your brain?

  47. mazeedton 23 Jul 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Because yes, it is an insult and not an argument to insinuate that all I was trying to do with my remark about the semantics of this discussion was to avoid admitting that you were right

  48. bindleon 23 Jul 2010 at 3:42 pm

    You mean that semantics is not concerned with logic? Alert the dictionaries!

    As to fish farting as a language, check this out:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcwCYIfm6eA

  49. mazeedton 23 Jul 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Have you made any splendid arguments why all that we agree about is not semantics?

  50. mazeedton 23 Jul 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Because if so I missed it

  51. mazeedton 23 Jul 2010 at 3:46 pm

    amazing…
    kind of creepy though

  52. mazeedton 23 Jul 2010 at 4:24 pm

    Let us look at an example

    “The assumption that ‘man learned to appreciate music’ is a premise that I don’t happen to agree with. The presumption that I’ve found to prevail among evolutions is that it was man’s appreciation of his musical facility that contributed to the evolution of his language. Feel free to disagree but don’t assume that I assumed the opposite.”

    I did not mean that man literally “learned” to appreciate music. What I meant was that one would have to show that “what developed into man” first communicated via sound without that communication conveying any emotional information and that once “man” “was able to appreciate music” the communication did convey emotional information for the sentence:

    “… language would not be all that good at “invoking” emotions if it hadn’t been for music “teaching” us earlier how to do so.

    to be definitely right

    of course it does not make sense with the way that you defined music and language

    see what I am talking about?

  53. bindleon 23 Jul 2010 at 4:37 pm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bOmUQEFu1k

  54. BillyJoe7on 23 Jul 2010 at 5:45 pm

    It is about semantics.
    This is why in my first post supporting bartW I used scare quotes around “tones” and “music”.
    Mazeedt is onto that.
    Bindle is still avoiding catching up.

  55. bindleon 23 Jul 2010 at 6:49 pm

    Semantics is about logic. Your scare quotes represent a meaningless equivocation.

  56. bindleon 23 Jul 2010 at 6:52 pm

    “Bindle is still avoiding catching up.” Sounds like a personal insult to me. You want to get it on again, you duplicitous SOB?

  57. bindleon 23 Jul 2010 at 8:30 pm

    @mazeedt
    “What I meant was that one would have to show that “what developed into man” first communicated via sound without that communication conveying any emotional information”
    If that’s what you meant, then that’s what you should have said, because you’ve changed the logical structure as well as how emotional information should be defined.
    As Damaso explains, animal emotions involve instinctive reasoning that gives rise to feelings. And as I noted earlier, our “language has retained musical tones specifically to denote feelings that the emotional brain produces.” Yet if you refer instead to “what developed into man,” you can go back to where there were no emotional brains extant – yet the equivalent of musical tones had already become the sonic means that communicative organisms had at their disposal.
    Look it up if you don’t believe me, but if you want to say I’m wrong without that, be my guest.
    My only motive in posting here is to offer information that I’ve found to be correct. I have no hidden agenda, no prescient dogma that requires the avoidance of reality.
    But when some fool like BillyJoe7 tries to pick a fight to avenge some litany of past defeats, then attempts at any further rational discussion become pointless.

  58. bindleon 23 Jul 2010 at 9:12 pm

    That should have been Damasio, as in Antonio Damasio, author of The Feeling of What Happens.

  59. ccbowerson 24 Jul 2010 at 1:50 am

    “Semantics is about logic. Your scare quotes represent a meaningless equivocation.”

    Actually semantics is about meaning. I’m sure that you know what he meant – that we are arguing more about the meanings of words than actual ideas. You are just picking a fight as usual, which you will lose and declare yourself a winner. I’ve seen this one before. *Yawn*

  60. bindleon 24 Jul 2010 at 2:39 am

    semantics |səˈmantiks|
    plural noun [usu. treated as sing. ]
    the branch of linguistics and logic concerned with meaning. There are a number of branches and subbranches of semantics, including formal semantics, which studies the logical aspects of meaning, such as sense, reference, implication, and logical form, lexical semantics, which studies word meanings and word relations, and conceptual semantics, which studies the cognitive structure of meaning.

    Can you read and understand that, Bowers? “Logic concerned with meaning.” “The logical aspects of meaning.” “Logical form.”
    You’re another one that’s turned to personal insults on this thread when no-one insulted you.
    Want to make this personal? Here’s my favorite ccbowersism:
    “Purpose is a quality that you attribute to an entity or idea by looking at the outcome, and is not something intrinsic to that entity or idea.” ccbowers.
    And I’ve got much much more if that’s how you want to play it.
    Your comments here have met your usual standards of banality and simple mindedness. Which I did not intend to mention until you joined your fellow fool here with the usual insults that substitute for logic, evidence or even common sense.
    You and BJ have picked this fight together, so let’s see how it goes.

  61. mazeedton 24 Jul 2010 at 6:16 am

    BJ? I have no wish to fight you bindle
    Your last post adressed to me was quite reasonable
    It also shows what we disagreed about. The specific meaning of music and language/speech in the context of this discussion

  62. bindleon 24 Jul 2010 at 11:15 am

    mazeedt, BJ referred to BillyJoe7, who teams up with ccbowers as fellow determinists who don’t believe that we or any other biological entity can find some purposes in their lives independent from those that nature predetermined for them. They believe that although we have choice making functions, it’s merely an illusion that we are making them independently of the purposes of nature, as all such choices, logical as they may seem to us, were made by some universal mind when time began, or when, in their all seeing yet illusionary views, something magically emerged from nothing and was immediately non-chaotic, except as chaos fit the initial purpose of the “something maker.” That maker having set in motion the inexorable course of all creation, even to the point of allowing quantum indeterminacy to pop up here and there in obeisance of an absolutely predetermined plan of course. Because none of us have a choice to disobey or concern ourselves with consequences.
    The same BillyJoe7 who accused you of scuttling like a crab and having impure thoughts on another thread here. The self-appointed leader of the thought police with ccbowers as his unconsequential acolyte.

  63. ccbowerson 24 Jul 2010 at 5:43 pm

    bindle-

    I started to yawn again at your insults until you started lumping me in with others in an attempt to create an “us” versus “them” senario. Sorry, but leave your ideas on the table and your nonsense to the side. BJ and I are not the same person. If our ideas overlap – so be it, but you cannot conclude that they are the same. I don’t know his or your background and there is no collusion taking place. Your post is not necessarily representative of what i believe.

    Even Massimo Pigluicci dismissed your “purposive evolution” nonsense in the comments section of his blog. I assume you are Artie… either that or you have a long lost twin.

  64. bindleon 24 Jul 2010 at 6:36 pm

    Where are the ideas not the same, since you invariably defend whatever BillyJoe7 has to say? (He doesn’t defend yours of course because you never have any, just the occasional simplistic platitude.)
    I don’t really know what your Massimo thinks, but I have never used the “purposive evolution” term anywhere but on this blog But is he a determinist as well? I doubt it. The last thing I remember seeing that he’s written was that he does accept that sentient beings acquire purposes – so you must be out there cherry picking some ambiguities to cover your ass as usual, just in case (like BJ) you’ve guessed wrong again about the science.
    And since you always need to add gratuitous insults to somehow strengthen your positions, have you been doing the same on that other site? I’ll bet you have, you sneaky little twerp.

    Just for that, here’s some more evidence of your banality and your complicity with BillyJoe7:

    “Choices are acts made by entities. They don’t “do” anything, such as find a purpose. Purpose is a quality that you attribute to an entity or idea by looking at the outcome, and is not something intrinsic to that entity or idea.”ccbowers

    “Natural selection alone may not be able to explain which traits contribute to fitness, but so what?”ccbowers
    “The theory of natural selection does not need to explain everything; it is what it is.”ccbowers
    “There are other components to the theory of evolution and that is fine.”ccbowers

    BillyJoe7 says:
    “Whether a coin falls heads or tails, or even on its side, is the result of deterministic cause and effect.
Yet the outcome of a coin toss is random. Every time you toss a coin (eliminating the rare side landing) there is an even chance of head or tails. The more coins you toss the more closely the ratio approaches 1/2.
Therefore deterministic cause and effect can cause random events.”

    So then I asked, “what’s wrong with that syllogism?”
    Ccbowers said nothing’s wrong. When even BillyJoe would not defend it

    And only the determinists hold that there’s no real purpose in the universe, since of course no purposes can arise independent of those predetermined. But you knew that.

  65. ccbowerson 25 Jul 2010 at 12:16 am

    “And since you always need to add gratuitous insults to somehow strengthen your positions, have you been doing the same on that other site? I’ll bet you have, you sneaky little twerp.”

    I enjoy the juxtaposition of those sentences. Project much? I also enjoyed when Massimo called your use of purpose as “mumbo jumbo.” Of course you stayed vague with what you meant, and he acknowledge that beings with consciousness can create their own purposes. I agree with that, but that is very limited and does not include all types of awareness as you would like it to.

    I also enjoyed that he kept repeating that he didn’t know what you were talking about, and that you were speaking different languages. Sounds very familiar to discussions we have had here. Why are you not willing to accept that the one with the problem is you?

  66. ccbowerson 25 Jul 2010 at 12:17 am

    BTW I stand by those quotes within the context of those discussions. Of course you like to take things out of context to suit your “purpose.”

  67. bindleon 25 Jul 2010 at 1:39 am

    ccbowers,
    Those quotes from you are meaningless in any context. And do you still stand by BillyJoe’s use of logic?
    And whoever that was that you equate with me, Massimo seemed much more forthcoming in debate with him than the blog owner here has been with anyone.
    Plus both Massimo and Novella are neo-Darwinists, and we’re not.
    What the hell did you think the debate was otherwise all about? Do you think a neo-Darwinist is going to change his mind on his own blog?
    So why would that be a problem for me here when the majority of new biologists are on my side? People I have referenced numerous times, while you and BillyJoe have nada nada references in defense of your beliefs – which, as BillyJoe just proved on the other thread, are now an idiotic mixture of old and new.
    A purposeless universe that is “basically deterministic” so that people who essentially have no choices, have the options to veto any choices that they didn’t make? What happens then if choice is still determinative? How really dumb can you two get?

    I checked that other blog out and here’s what Massimo actually said: “If by “purpose” one means some sort of conscious agency (i.e., the everyday meaning of the term), then it’s mumbo jumbo.” Which was an “if” response and not some direct denial of this other guy’s position – the only one there (except for Paisley) he took time to debate with by the way. Certainly not the likes of you – he doesn’t even know you’re there. And this misquote is further evidence that you are, just like BillyJoe, a liar.

    And these are the concessions that the other guy (coincidentally named Artie) got from Massimo:
    “Okay, let me clarify: organisms with no consciousness do not have purpose. Organisms with consciousness usually make up their purpose as they go. Better?”
    “Right, all functions have a purpose.”

    So it seems he did know what the guy was talking about after all.
    (And I heard that same pretense of not understanding the question when he debated with Fodor – that’s his style, for whatever good it does him.)

    So you see, what I and those like Paisley try to do is make an honest argument about an honest and legitimate scientific disagreement. And the only arguments that you and BillyJoe can make are to use flat out denials, lies and insults. No substantive counters, objections, references, or other legitimate argumentative tactics. Just prevaricative misquotes, lies and insults.

    In short you are both know-nothings eager to defend your ignorance, and unable to come up with any cogent understandings of your own. Not even swimming in the mainstream but in some never-never land of the “basically deterministic.” What a pair of dunces you two make. Which I will continue to reflect on at every opportunity.

  68. bindleon 25 Jul 2010 at 5:37 am

    Hey folks, look what I found on that other blog ccbowers referred to! It’s that sneaky little twerp making a gratuitous insult as I suspected when Paisley and Artie are trying to have an honest exchange of opinion with Massimo Pigliucci at Rationally Speaking.

    “ccbowers said…
    I have had these nonsense discussions with Artie and Paisley before on the Neurologica website. I’m glad to see Massimo learned pretty quickly that it is a fruitless endeavour. Using vague terminology incorrectly, and inserting their own ideology while trying to hide that fact.
    July 20, 2010 1:40 AM”
    http://rationallyspeaking.blogspot.com/2010/07/should-non-experts-shut-up-skeptics_14.html

    See what a dishonorable little turd he is? Thinks he has a duty to warn Massimo there is heresy afoot here. People hiding some ideology from Massimo that he’s not smart enough to notice? Therefore he should try hard not to be persuaded by what has to be dishonestly hidden from his view. But why doesn’t that rat-fink bastard tell us what that is then and be done with it?

    This is the real ccbowers so be careful what you say around him. He’ll use any sleazy and unsavory means to prevent your dangerous ideas from getting out. Lies and slander his weapons of preference.

    Remember that type of weasel that we all had to deal with in school? Remember what we did to him off campus?

  69. BillyJoe7on 25 Jul 2010 at 8:11 am

    You have no idea what an artless Dodge you are bindle. :D

  70. thepinkyandthebrainon 25 Jul 2010 at 8:31 am

    first at all, hello folks.
    second, my english isnt the best, so please dont bash me for wrong grammatics or other failures. i hope you will get the message besides the wrong spellings.

    to come to the topic:
    as guitar player this thread gets my interrest, the article and the first 2/3 of the comments where very interesting, a lot of argumenting and links, it doesnt matter what i personnaly think im not an graduetet student at these disciplines(neurologic, languege etc) im just an interested amateur.

    but i have to say i am really, really disapponted where this discussion end up. it ended as personel fight betwen 3 diffrent peopels. the arguments gets replaced with your egos. everybody got their oppinion, everybody got the right to stand for this oppinions, and also everybody got the right to say that they dont agree (with at least a minimum of respect for the other!)
    you may be perhaps very intelligent peopel but you forgott what respect is, discussing is good, its important but when it ends up with a “holy war” you absolutlly missed the point.

    thats my opinion, i have to say that because im really dissapointed where this thread is going. and im shure a lot of peopel who had interesting arguments and sights on these thread stay away and dont post it becaus of your childish behavour. and i miss this perhaps got posts because of that.
    thats sad

    to finish this comment, i dont come back to this thread so logiclly i dont respond to further comments. i will use my time for something productiv, reading other articles etc.

    besides al this matters:
    i wish you all a nice day, have fun and enjoy the time you get
    in love the pinky (thats no sarcasm)

  71. ccbowerson 25 Jul 2010 at 12:09 pm

    Bindle, you are one angry deluded dude. There was nothing sneaky about posting a comment on his website. You were free to see it like anyone else. I enjoyed the parallel the conversation he had with discussions on this blog.

    “Plus both Massimo and Novella are neo-Darwinists, and we’re not.”

    Neo Darwanism is a 100+ year old theory which has been expanded upon significantly. The term is inaccurate. You keep using it however to attemp to undermine the argument. Massimo can school you on the history of evolution:

    http://vimeo.com/8870291

    Here you will see that at the time of Neo Darwinism there wasn’t even a theory of heredity.

    Bindle, I will refrain from commenting on your nonsense to the best of my ability. As much as I don’t want to feed the trolls, its hard to let nonsense go unchallenged. Its my weakness.

  72. bindleon 25 Jul 2010 at 1:41 pm

    Sneaky writes: “Here you will see that at the time of Neo Darwinism there wasn’t even a theory of heredity.”

    What the hell does that mean, oh challenger of nonsense? Neo Darwinism’s time is now. You’re a neo-Dawinist spouting nonsense on a neo-Darwinist blog.

    And at the time of Darwin (in case that’s what you thought you meant) there was more than one theory of heredity, commonly known as the inheritance of acquired characteristics or traits. One such hypothesis concerned a mechanism of heredity by which changes in physiology acquired over the life of an organism could be transmitted to offspring. It turned out to be wrong as to the nature of the mechanism but right about the fact that such things happened. As we see more clearly now with microbial life. Which your new idol Massimo has written about elsewhere but you failed to understand. You read stuff only to confirm your biases, not to learn, as this citation was a clear example.
    Lamarckism was another such theory that Darwin accepted at the time, and has turned out also to be more right than you seem both unable and unwilling to understand.
    Clearly why you see the need to tell lies on another blog where you also have no understanding of the owner’s message.
    You’re making a fool of yourself there accordingly, and it seems you’re inviting me to help. You say it’s perfectly OK to put comments from one blog on another, even if the purpose is to slander? Would you like me to post the list of ccbowerisms there? Ask me nicely not to, or prepare yourself for that eventuality.

  73. ccbowerson 25 Jul 2010 at 2:17 pm

    “What the hell does that mean, oh challenger of nonsense? Neo Darwinism’s time is now. You’re a neo-Dawinist spouting nonsense on a neo-Darwinist blog.”

    I guess you didn’t watch his lecture to see that you are incorrect. An established mechanism for heredity did not occur until later, the beginnings of the modern synthesis.

    “You say it’s perfectly OK to put comments from one blog on another, even if the purpose is to slander?”

    Umm actually I did not do this because I didn’t think it was appropriate to do so. You are the one who posted direct quotes from another website. You do a lot of projecting don’t you?

    Just to clarify – I have no ‘heroes.’ I follow this blog and the rationally speaking blog because Massimo and Steve are people I feel think clearly, and have very similar approach to understanding the world as I do. Not that I don’t like a challenge every now and then, but sometimes its nice to not have to sort through BS.

  74. BillyJoe7on 25 Jul 2010 at 5:38 pm

    The most hilarious part of bindle is that he accuses us of not posting links but the fact is that we don’t need to because his own links almost always support our point of view. Apart from which, most are actually just opinion pieces.

  75. bindleon 25 Jul 2010 at 6:25 pm

    BillyJoe7, does Mae-Wan Ho support your point of view?
    Did all or any of these support your point of view: Shapiro, Jablonka, Margulis, Lamb, Ben Jacob, Agutter and Wheatley?
    Whatever that point of view is, or was, or ever could be in the context of supportable.
    Or do you really feel there has been confirmation for the concept of, as I noted earlier, of:
    “A purposeless universe that is basically deterministic so that people who essentially have no choices, have the options to veto any choices that they didn’t make? What happens then if choice is still determinative?”
    For which you have no answer, and won’t find it in any of the points of view expressed by those references named above.
    Keep on being dumb. I like it when your supporters here start cringing at the prospects of continuing your support. After all, ccbowers finds it “hard to let nonsense go unchallenged.” It’s supposed to be his weakness. Yeah, right. Talk about hilarity. Bwahahaha.

  76. bindleon 25 Jul 2010 at 6:36 pm

    ccbowers, so now it’s an “established” mechanism for heredity that did not occur until later, the beginnings of the modern synthesis?
    But did you not say earlier “you will see that at the time of Neo Darwinism there wasn’t even a theory of heredity.”
    Not only did you say Neo-Darwinism instead of Darwinism, you said theory, not mechanism.

    And if you see no distinction in the difference, Lamarckism was considered an established theory at the time and since the failure of the Weismann Barrier, is fast becoming re-established.
    So you’re basically full of shit on all counts.

  77. bindleon 25 Jul 2010 at 7:01 pm

    ccbowers responds to my question:“You say it’s perfectly OK to put comments from one blog on another, even if the purpose is to slander?”

    He says, “Umm actually I did not do this because I didn’t think it was appropriate to do so. You are the one who posted direct quotes from another website. You do a lot of projecting don’t you?”

    Oh, so he refers on this blog to his criticism of the person he thinks was me, and to the place he made the comment, and denies that it was slanderous. So I show him his own comment to prove that he’s a liar and he accuses me of being out of line by posting the actual content of his own remarks. Projecting? Jesus Christ, if ccbowers is not the king of crap, who is! (OK, it’s BillyJoe, but Bowers is the queen.)

    What’s more appropriate by the way, to present some actual remarks as evidence, or just the self-serving opinion that they were nonsense and were hiding an agenda? Give us a break Bowers with your excuses for your cowardly behavior. You’re pathetic.

    Or should I just monitor the Massimo blog and whenever you write anything, just comment that it can’t be true because you’re in the habit of posting pernicious nonsense elsewhere.
    Wouldn’t you rather I just posted the pernicious nonsense and let them be the judge? Just say the word.

  78. bindleon 25 Jul 2010 at 7:35 pm

    Yo, BillyJoe7 and ccbowers, since you like challenges, here’s one you might like:
    Invite BillyJoe7 to join you in the comments section of Massimo’s blog, and see what Massimo has to say, if anything, about his point of view (which will coincide I’m sure with yours so what’s the harm). Should be fun.
    Maybe I’ll join in.

    And both of you should also add your substantive commentary to Eric Thomson’s site and see how long he tolerates it.
    (I won’t join in because it’s moderated.)

  79. BillyJoe7on 26 Jul 2010 at 7:50 am

    Here’s a perfect example of bindle’s comprehension fail:

    BillyJoe: “The most hilarious part of bindle is that he accuses us of not posting links but the fact is that we don’t need to because his own links almost always support our point of view. Apart from which, most are actually just opinion pieces.”

    bindle: “BillyJoe7, does Mae-Wan Ho support your point of view?”

    I specifically added “almost always” because of that link to Mae-Wan Ho. That, as I said before, was a heapin help of pure pseudophysics. I was also “just an opinion piece”. And we specifically asked you for experimental support for quantum consciousness.

    ————-

    bindle: “Did all or any of these support your point of view: Shapiro, Jablonka, Margulis, Lamb, Ben Jacob, Agutter and Wheatley?”

    You will never know will you. I tackled the first of your links to demonstrate how it did not support your view. You gave no meaningful response picking out only my last sentence of my extensive rebuttal to deliver a snide remark. Therefore I did not bother to post my opinion of the remaining links.

    So, I’m afraid, you will now just have to remain ignorant. ;)

  80. bindleon 26 Jul 2010 at 2:54 pm

    BillyJoe7, So the links that you won’t admit to reading, and that were most of my links, almost always supported your point of view? Is that what you are saying?
    The fact is, is it not, that you can’t admit to reading them because you found none of them to be supportive, and everyone else that reads them knows that. And knows that they’re not “just opinion pieces.”

    So “his own links almost always support our point of view” is a flat out lie, anyway you twist and turn it. Extensive rebuttal that.

  81. bindleon 26 Jul 2010 at 3:01 pm

    And why no comment about the invitation to join me on that other blog? I’m beginning to think you actually have some trepidation that those rebuttals may be extensive on the other foot.

  82. BillyJoe7on 26 Jul 2010 at 5:50 pm

    I pretty well read all your links, believe it or not. Even that 24 page article on probablility that definitely did not say what you thought it said. I certainly didn’t read any of your book references though. I would have discussed your links as well, but it takes two to tango and your response to the first link I dissected was a single line remark about my last sentence. All I will say about your links now is that there was very little in them that conflicted with my point of view – except of course that quantum mind bullshit.

  83. bindleon 26 Jul 2010 at 6:42 pm

    BillyJoe7
    My links were about biological independent choice and decision making purposes and processes, and their evolutionary consequences. All of which conflict with your recently elucidated deterministic point of view that all choices and decisions are predetermined and there are no purposeful behaviors in biology, and anything that appears to contradict this observation is illusory.

    As Paisley pointed out, your self delusion is to somehow find a meaning in a reference that seems to fit a deterministic theory, regardless of the fact that you understood nothing else that’s written. You especially see determinism in probabilities, where the very existence of the probable is antithetical to and incompatible with the certainty required by any predetermination of the future.

    If you’re such an advocate and proponent of the benefits of discussion, why is it that Paisley couldn’t get a straight answer to any of his questions, yet took great pains to answer all of yours?
    Why did he conclude that you were self deceptive and intellectually dishonest? Why do you and your supporters continue to prove that he was right?

    If my links said what you think they said, which was the same as what you’ve recently pronounced as true, let’s take it to a different forum and see what happens.

    Just say the word.

  84. BillyJoe7on 27 Jul 2010 at 12:23 am

    Yet, at the time, you were singularly unable to point that out in response to my post commenting on the contents of your link where I demonstrated that there was nothing in there that was inconsistent with my POV.
    Funny that.

  85. bindleon 27 Jul 2010 at 3:42 am

    Say again? Singularly unable to point out what? That I could have even accidentally found some reputable reference that unbeknownst to me agreed with your bizarre perceptions of reality? Not a chance in hell.

  86. BillyJoe7on 27 Jul 2010 at 6:42 am

    Well, you had your chance and you blew it. ;)

  87. bindleon 27 Jul 2010 at 4:51 pm

    No, you had your chance and blew it. You’ve insulted me again gratuitously on a new thread, which has nothing to do with legitimate scientific disagreement. That thread is about pseudoscientific quackery and since you seem to think you’re qualified to put my positions in that category, let’s take a look at yours again and let the audience decide.

    But I’m going to put your stuff before a different audience that you haven’t yet successfully bullied into silence. I’ve asked for your permission and you’ve not said yes, but on the other hand you’ve not said no, so it’s a go as far as I’m concerned.

  88. bindleon 27 Jul 2010 at 5:04 pm

    To recap what I’ve requested permission to post elsewhere:

    “Can I quote you on the following as well?
“BillyJoe7on 17 May 2010 at 7:52 am
enjay111,
“Can surrendering our logic to another person, a group or even an idea, be a survival mechanism? ”
You have to think in terms of genes. A gene wants to survive into the next generation. It is an advantage for a gene to group with other genes in the form of a cell and help each other into the next generation. Similarly it is advantageous for a cell to group together with other cells in the form of animals. Finally, it is advantageous for animals to group together with other animals in order to enhance their chances of survival into the next generation.
For this last group this is especially true if the groups consist of animals that are genetically related. In pre-industrial times, such groups were quite small and hence most members were genetically related. If the individuals in the group contained genes that result in them surrendering themselves to the group, the group would have a survival advantage over one where all the individuals rated self interest above the group.” ”

    # BillyJoe7on 26 Jul 2010 at 5:41 pm
    bindle,
    I’m impressed that you took the trouble to hunt down that post of mine you quoted. Or did you save it somewhere? Pity you didn’t take the trouble to understand it. But then that’s not exactly your strong point is it?
    Oh well…”

    So if I didn’t understand it, and you still support it, and you haven’t refused permission to repost it, I’ll give you a real opportunity to explain it. I’ll parse it as carefully as I can, and then you’ll tell me where I’m wrong. After all, your purpose has always been to educate, has it not?

  89. BillyJoe7on 28 Jul 2010 at 7:04 am

    Why would I have any reason to think that you will act any differently there than you have acted here? And why would I think that I will be any the wiser from my interactions with you there than I have been from interacting with you here.
    In other words, why should I waste any more of my time?

  90. Fifion 28 Jul 2010 at 10:40 am

    Music is essentially about spacial relationships (on a formal level) – rhythm is about space (and where notes/sounds are located in relationship to each other) and dimensional relationships. It’s obviously also about emotion and the meaning of sounds but on a formal level – and when you’re learning an instrument or to sing – it’s all about spacial relationships and patterns. Colloquially, we tend to think of music as being “flat” and like a painting when it’s actually multidimensional (it requires time and space to exist and be experienced, even if it can be stored two dimensionally and we tend to think of it more as painting than sculpture).

    Learning a second language when young also enhances intelligence and intellectual flexibility (it’s not bad to do when older either but it’s not quite the same it seems…of course, learning a second language also opens people up to a deeper understanding, even if intuitive, of how different languages can express quite different concepts so there’s an opening to a multiplicity of perspectives that I suspect isn’t there for people who only learn one language…and there’s the obvious need to learn different sounds and how to make that sound).

    The other thing learning an instrument teaches is concentration, it refines and augments the ability to concentrate (aka discipline). The better one’s concentration and ability to focus, and to delay gratification, the better one will learn and the more ability one has to apply their intelligence.

  91. Fifion 28 Jul 2010 at 10:55 am

    BartW – “the music is extremely capable of inducing/invoking emotions, and even slightly altered states of consciousness – something that language is not as good at. Interestingly, it does it in ways that is opposite to language – there is no encoded meaning in music.”

    That’s not at all true! Mantras are language designed specifically to create altered states of consciousness (though I’d suspect the repetition and concentration are what really trigger the state, even if certain sounds do have intrinsic “meaning” for us). To try to detach language from sound is a bit weird, even written language is associated with sound and is merely a symbolic representation of spoken language. (Just think about how rhythm and cadence influence how we experience the written word. As others have pointed out, sound IS physical and certain sounds trigger certain biological (and emotional) responses. This is why sound is being used as a weapon by police forces and the military. When we speak a great deal of information is communicated by sound (it’s why we can discern that someone means something different than they say :-)

  92. Fifion 28 Jul 2010 at 11:36 am

    mazeedt – “Of course written language lacks all of that emotional coloring. (which often leads to problems since our language evolved to include it) Perhaps that is why it id so easy to forget it?”

    What a strange thing to say! We learn written language after we learn to speak so we carry (and project) this emotional colouring when we read and write. Novels and poetry are examples of how written language can transmit emotion. Certainly there’s more room to project meaning onto written language (not that this stops people from projecting meaning onto what others say or write…the internet is a fine example of that). And things people say are just as easy to forget, it’s just that there’s no “proof” that we got it wrong in the same way that there is with a written text. That said, there’s a reason why we teach children using songs (combining words and music into a pattern/rhythm that makes it easier to remember both…but then memory is always enhanced by association and having set triggers :-)

  93. Fifion 28 Jul 2010 at 11:43 am

    bindle – Of course, the best ever monkey appreciation of music study conducted is this one…

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2009/sep/23/monkey-music-tamarins

    As usual, we can learn a lot about ourselves and human culture by studying our primate cousins and their cultures.

  94. bindleon 28 Jul 2010 at 1:01 pm

    BillyJoe7 asks, in reference to exposing his arguments to the audience on another blog, “why would I think that I will be any the wiser from my interactions with you there than I have been from interacting with you here.”

    Because, BillyJoe7, the interaction will not just be with me, but with a moderator that actually did biology and actually does philosophy, and actually will get involved with the discussion, and actually show you, if you’re wrong, where you are wrong. And actually teach you something if you are capable of learning it.

    And you will not have the audience there that you have here that you can bully, which is of course what you are most afraid of. And it’s not that you don’t think you’d be the wiser for the experience. It’s that you’d be put wise about the full extent of your abysmal ignorance.

    So was that a no, because if it was, why can’t you spit it out?

  95. bindleon 28 Jul 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Fifi, thanks for that reference. Note also how the tamarin monkeys seem different from the chimps as to the types of music they appreciate.

  96. Fifion 28 Jul 2010 at 1:43 pm

    bindle – Yes. Different species of monkeys have quite distinct cultures – the most obvious example is bonobos and chimps. This is perhaps one of my favorite music experiments (and not just because it involves Metallica…I wonder if they also like Slayer…;-)

    It’s also interesting to note how the kinds of music humans make and enjoy is very much influenced by environment and exposure – industrial music is very much a reflection of the surrounding environment. (And if you listen to a lot of experimental music you may notice that environmental sounds start to take on a narrative or musicality…after all, narrative is just as present in music as it is in writing….meaning is something we project onto something, even if emotions are innate the narratives we tell about them are constructs…)

  97. Fifion 28 Jul 2010 at 2:22 pm

    And glad you appreciated it bindle, there’s a lot of neuroscience and study going on around music at the moment. And some excellent and very accessible books about it out – Oliver Sacks’ Musicophilia and Daniel Levitin’s This Is Your Brain On Music spring to mind. Sometimes we can understand more about how the brain functions when something goes wrong with it, as Sacks so brilliantly reveals. (Now there’s a man who knows how to weave a narrative – which may or may not support Hitch’s theory about music and fiction since Sacks isn’t writing fiction but he is writing stories :-)

  98. mazeedton 28 Jul 2010 at 2:41 pm

    Fifi, you misunderstand
    What I mean is that it lacks the emotional colouring that the speakers tone of voice gives. That doesn’t mean that people don’t try to infer it from wording etc. But that is exactly the problem, they often get it wrong.

  99. Fifion 28 Jul 2010 at 3:51 pm

    mazeedt – While that’s true, I think you may also misunderstand my point. People project emotional content onto others all the time when listening (or not listening, which is probably more accurate) as well as when it’s written. We all interpret what others say according to our own frames of reference. It’s often just more obvious in written communication (just as it’s often more obvious that one has incorrectly remembered or understood something if it’s written down because one can refer back to the original instead of one’s already biased memory). My point was we project/contribute much of the emotional content of what others say as well as what they write because communication involves reception as well as broadcasting – it’s not a one way street, even at it’s most didactic level the reader’s context will influence their understanding. Communication is a two way street and language is very context specific – that includes the context of the listener. People often get it wrong when someone is speaking too, listening is not a neutral act and it generally takes a lot of practice to be able to listen in a truly receptive way (and to detach from and avoid projecting onto others…or to be aware of our projections more accurately…therapists learn how to do this if they’re trained properly so they can see transference and countertransference).

  100. Fifion 28 Jul 2010 at 3:56 pm

    That said, I’m in no way denigrating or minimizing the power of sound to evoke and express emotion. I’m just pointing out that the idea that the written word is neutral and doesn’t or can’t convey tone is erroneous. (Both music and words, together and apart, are powerful tools used for propagandistic purposes.) It’s not all projection, novels and poetry are fine examples of how words and how they’re structured (and their history/context) carry emotional weight.

  101. bindleon 28 Jul 2010 at 7:48 pm

    Fifi, Diana Deutsch has an article, Speaking in Tones, about how music and language are partners in the brain, in the new issue of Scientific American Mind that you should find interesting.
    It’s also found here:
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=speaking-in-tones-jul10

  102. BillyJoe7on 29 Jul 2010 at 7:06 am

    If you give me a link, and promise to let the others speak without interference from you, I might check it out.

  103. BillyJoe7on 29 Jul 2010 at 7:08 am

    “Because, BillyJoe7, the interaction will not just be with me, but with a moderator that actually did biology and actually does philosophy, and actually will get involved with the discussion, and actually show you, if you’re wrong, where you are wrong. ”

    That will certainly be a change.

  104. mazeedton 30 Jul 2010 at 5:32 am

    Fifi
    I disagree I think that there is a genuine difference in the amount of emotional information that you can accurately convey with written and spoken communication and I think that this is quite obvious. If I had said this sentence to you it would have been immediately obvious to you that I was annoyed (unless you were autistik) because of the way I said it. On the other hand there is no way of unambiguously tell that from the first paragraph

  105. mazeedton 30 Jul 2010 at 5:36 am

    Besides it was you who commented on my post not the other way around, I did not comment on any points that you were trying to make but on that I thought that you had misinterpreted my comment

  106. mazeedton 30 Jul 2010 at 5:46 am

    The rest of what you said was a long boring speech of “captain obvious approves this message”
    No offense intended by the way, just feeling a little grumpy

  107. mazeedton 30 Jul 2010 at 6:06 am

    And I know that you basically concede the point made in the first new response, then again I never disagreed with what you said either…
    Except possibly your first comment about my comment XD
    Mostly because I think that it is a pretty strange objection…., to that point though, tone of voice does not carry over to written communication unless you specificly point it out. However, I never said that this means that written speech has no emotional colouring.

  108. mazeedton 30 Jul 2010 at 6:20 am

    Actually, looking back I understand where you think that I am saying that, however the emotional colouring that we were talking about was the content/syntax independent emotional colouring in speech that is similar to music, i.e. tone of voice

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