Brain Failures

Optical illusions, as astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson once said, should be called “brain failures.” This is because what is really happening is not so much an optical trick as it is our brain screwing up. Now, in defense of our brain, we do get fairly imperfect information from our eyes. But our brain has “solved” the problems of our eyes with some ingenious “software”. When this software breaks down is when the optical illusion is seen.

For example, our eyes have a blind spot, a function of our very stupid eye assembly that has all the “wires” running in front of the “cameras”, necessitating there be a hole somewhere for all the wires to head back to the brain. Because of the wire hole, there are no “cameras” at this spot on your retina, creating a blind spot. Now, we have two eyes, so the brain has developed the ability to stitch together the views to create a solid picture, and this usually works. But sometimes it doesn’t. This is what creates the optical illusion of the disappearing pencil tip.

Okay, this one doesn’t seem all that drastic to our everyday life. But I started easy. Because of optical illusions, some people run the risk of miscalculating distance while driving. Eh, still not all that huge of a deal. What other brain failures are not very good for us? Well, how about our inability to see ultraviolet light? About 3 million Americans get diagnosed with some form of skin cancer every year, a situation that would be a lot easier to avoid if we could see ultraviolet. But probably the most dangerous and insidious optical illusion has to be that stupid dress that went around on social media! Amirite!?

Brain failure that caused Americans to go crazy for about 3 months.

What about our other senses? Did you know that when you begin to asphyxiate (like when you try and hold your breath for a long time), that violent reaction in your body is not caused by the body detecting a low oxygen level. Instead, it is detecting a high carbon dioxide level. This means that if a different gas is replacing the oxygen, but not creating high carbon dioxide in your blood, your body doesn’t even notice it until you pass out. This is how people die from carbon monoxide poisoning, and why people can die in feed silos (nitrogen dioxide). In both of these cases, the senses and the brain have failed.

And wouldn’t it be nice if we had the eyes of an eagle (which has the “wires” running behind the “cameras”, eliminating the blind spot, plus they are way better anyway), or the nose of a dog? We could avoid a lot of issues if we could smell some of the things that harm us…. or for that matter help you avoid someone you don’t like. LOL! And did you know that your taste buds don’t do most of the tasting, but that your brain combines your taste buds and olfactory inputs to create the taste? Here’s a brain failure- hand someone a glass of orange juice and tell them it is milk. There is a high chance that they spit it out, until they realize it’s actually juice. Your brain is expecting creamy, but the tangy juice triggers a “holy shit, this is sour!” reaction.

Anyway, I digress. Have you ever put your hand into a covered box and tried to guess what was inside? They are somewhat common at education centers, or can be designed for party games. But the idea is the same. Stick your hand in something and try to figure out what it is by feel alone. And the most fun (for the devious party host) is to suggest something. If you tell the “toucher” that there are brains in the box, that steamed cauliflower head is gonna feel really like brains!! Yikes! Once again, your brain failed to correctly interpret the information it was receiving, leading you to the wrong answer.

Our ears are conveniently on opposite sides of our heads, which helps in locating the source of sound. But ears have failures as well. Like our eyes, we have a limited hearing range, and thus are unable to hear potential threats outside of that range. Once again, even dogs get the better equipment. And just like optical illusions, there are indeed audio illusions, or failures of the ears and brain to get the right answer.

And naturally, our senses have limitations since they adapted to life at our scale in our universe on this planet on our terra firma. We have no sense at all for the very small or very large, themselves just arbitrary points that use our sense as the middle ground. How many times has the media attempted to help us process something like a billion dollars, let alone a trillion? We don’t actually have the capacity to process numbers that large, but by using some models we can get a sense. Models are how we can bring things down, or up, to our level of understanding. The universe and DNA are well outside our ability to accurately process, so our models help us to understand. Models help us correct our brain failures.

So, I’ve already spent 800+ words talking about how our senses and brains can fail us. I could definitely go on, but I think that since I’ve covered not only the 5 senses, but discussed the link between the senses and the imperfect brain “software”, it should be enough to move on.

Moving on

About 160 years ago, some dumbass by the name of Samuel Rowbotham decided that, (maybe in the spirit of Descartes?), he would try not to rely on any information that he had not personally been able to experience. He would trust only the information he received from his own senses. He wrote a whole book on it. And if you think this methodology went poorly for him, you would be right because he is the original modern flat earther. Yes, his method of only relying on his own senses and nothing else led him to believe in an idea that is so bat-shit crazy that only a flat earther could believe it. (Yes, flat earthers are their own category, and therefore the standard bearers for believing in nonsense.)

And I suppose I get it. Each one of us is trying to sort out the bullshit from reality. That is noble, but as it turns out, believing only in yourself leads to the wrong answer an awful lot. It literally leads to the flat earth society. It also literally leads to religion.

Religious people like to think they are appealing to a higher authority, which in theory would eliminate all the brain failures, as well as personal bias and all the other potential issues I could talk about. But really, they are actually just relying on their brain failures. And this is quite easy to tease out. Let’s do this thought experiment. Remember the cauliflower “brains” in a box? If I reach into the box, and I expect brains, it might feel like brains. Now remember, we know it’s actually cauliflower. And when we open the box, the person usually is surprised and reacts with a laugh or something. But what the person does not do is yell at you that they have faith that it is actually brains, and that despite the fact that it seems like warm cauliflower, they were told by a higher authority that it was brains and they therefore can NOT be wrong.

Of course, it could also be a brain in the box, and they would at least be right. But here is where the experiment get’s real. 10 people put their hand in the box, and each one says that something different is in the box. One says brains, one says wet noodles, one says broccoli, another says cauliflower, one says a wet textured rubber ball, etc. In this case, only one out of the 10 is actually right. Which means the other 9 are wrong. They did not, in fact, get unbiased, perfect information from anywhere, and instead were subject to their own brain failure. If people really were able to appeal to a higher authority, they wouldn’t be wrong, and they would all get the same answer.

We can do the same thing with religions. Each person puts their eyes in the bible, or goes to church, or seminary, or prays a lot, or “talks with god”, or “speaks in tongues”, or any number of things. Then, we compare with reality. We “open the box.” And listen up, everyone, because here are the real contents of the box.

1) Evolution is why we have the diversity of life on this planet, and humans are an evolved species.
2) The earth is about 4 1/2 billion years old.
3) Donald Trump did not win the 2020 election.
4) Stars can not fall to the earth.
5) The earth is not flat, it is a ball in space.
6) Languages evolved over thousands and thousands of years.
7) The earth did not end in 2020. Or 2019. Or 2018. Or 2017. Or 2015, 2013, or 2012. Or any of the hundreds of times it was predicted. If you predicted the end of the word in 2020 or earlier, you are a fucking hack.
8) Lightning is an electrostatic discharge caused by friction, thunder is the noise generated by that discharge.
9) Earthquakes are caused as tectonic plates shift against one another.
10) Human consumption of carbon emitting energies is causing rapid global warming.
11) The brain controls what it is to be you, including your bodily functions, thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, ethics, morality, memory, learning, and personality. There is no soul, or any such goofy thing, controlling your body.
12) There is no such place as a physical heaven or physical hell.
13) Infectious diseases act the same no matter what a person is thinking, who they are thinking about, or if they are thinking about asking for a favor, and can only be combated by hygiene and immunization.
14) Gay people can not be changed into straight people.
15) Praying for someone does not work. The results are exactly the same as random chance.
16) A new human embryo is literally a fish. It has pending software that will transition it to a reptile, then mammal, then ape, then human. But at first it is a fish. It has developed exactly the same structures as a fish, and is indistinguishable from a fish. This is vestigial development, and a product of evolution from fish. Saying a new human embryo is a full human is the same as saying that a light switch laying next to a CAD drawing of a building is an entire building.
17) God is not real.

Well, there you are. Check your work. If you or your preacher got any of the above answers wrong, you are not getting information from a reliable source. You are getting it from your own brain failures.

The Spartan Atheist

28 thoughts on “Brain Failures

  1. 1) Evolution is why we have the diversity of life on this planet, and humans are an evolved species.- this requires further scientific explanations with evidence
    2) The earth is about 4 1/2 billion years old.- agreed to some extent.
    3) Donald Trump did not win the 2020 election.- this is not related to God this is related to individual astrological chart of trump. Sometimes predictions made by astrologer can become wrong.
    4) Stars can not fall to the earth?.- Stars in the scriptures denotes different meaning. It can also be angels.
    5) The earth is not flat, it is a ball in space.- some wrong interpretation in the bible made by spiritually unqualified persons statement. Bible doesn’t deal with astrophysics and cosmology. It deals with Omnipotent nature of God and his loving reciprocation with people.
    6) Languages evolved over thousands and thousands of years.- languages do not evolve. It eternally exist.
    7) The earth did not end in 2020. Or 2019. Or 2018. Or 2017. Or 2015, 2013, or 2012. Or any of the
    hundreds of times
    it was predicted. If you predicted the end of the word in 2020 or earlier, you are a fucking hack.- end doesn’t means in an absolute sense , it is the end of moral values, spiritual knowledge and increase in disturbances caused by natural disasterlike, war, pestilent, famines, pollutions, global warming, effect of pollution and global warming, change in seasonal patern etc. this also can be understood as ending.
    8) Lightning is an electrostatic discharge caused by friction, thunder is the noise generated by that discharge.- agreed to some extent but the laws of electrostatic arrangement is not random. You need specific mass of matter, in specific density in a specific arrangement and specific force to produce electricity.
    9) Earthquakes are caused as tectonic plates shift against one another. Agreed to some extent but the shifting of such plates is not happening every day.
    10) Human consumption of carbon emitting energies is causing rapid global warming.- agreed.
    11) The brain controls what it is to be you, including your bodily functions, thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, ethics, morality, memory, learning, and personality.
    There is no soul, or any such goofy thing, controlling your body.- this needs further scientific explanation.
    12) There is no such place as a physical heaven or physical hell.- Needs other evidence to conclusively declare to be non existing.
    13) Infectious diseases act the same no matter what a person is thinking, who they are thinking about, or if they are thinking about asking for a favor,
    and can only be combated by hygiene and immunization. – this is nothing to do with God. Religion also speaks about hygiene, internal and external cleanliness.
    14) Gay people can not be changed into straight people.- They can be changed if they eat foods in the mode of goodness and live in an atmosphere which is in the mode of goodness.
    15) Praying for someone does not work. The results are exactly the same as random chance.- That depends upon what kind of prayer and in which attitude he or she prays. .
    16) A new human embryo is literally a fish. It has pending software that will transition it to a reptile, then mammal, then ape, then human. But at first
    it is a fish. It has developed exactly the same structures as a fish, and is indistinguishable from a fish. This is vestigial development, and a product
    of evolution from fish. Saying a new human embryo is a full human is the same as saying that a light switch laying next to a CAD drawing of a building
    is an entire building.- This has been proven wrong for many many years in the scientific community.
    17) God is not real.- Well, for the atheist’s who believe in random chance theory.

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    1. Thanks, Timesgup. You got, what, one correct answer, you tried to qualify a few more, and you completely jacked up a bunch.

      YOU, my friend, are not getting your information from a higher power. You are relying on your own brain failures. Thanks for playing.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Re: TSA’s point #7 —

      To make this kind of statement — end doesn’t means (sic) in an absolute sense … it is the end of moral values, spiritual knowledge and increase in disturbances caused by natural disasterlike, war, pestilent, famines, pollutions, … etc. is so ridiculous, it shouldn’t even be in print.

      End means END. FINI. NO MORE. CONCLUSION. THE BUTT-END of EVERYTHING. To try and put a biblical spin on what TSA wrote is so typical of Christian reasoning, it makes my head spin.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Elaborate

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    1. Sure. Where should I start? Let’s go with the easy pickings first, so we all understand what’s going on.

      Quite a few preachers claimed that god told them Trump would stay in office. They were wrong. They are not being given higher information. They were relying on their own brain failures.

      You, specifically, bothered to try and defend literally the other easy failure- end of the world predictions. No, the prediction was not that some people would have epiphanies. The prediction was not that some groups would have a spiritual time. The prediction was the literal end of the world, literal bodies being lifted upwards into the sky, literal magnificent changes of the sky, etc. They failed. They clearly were not getting higher information, but were fooled by their own brain failures.

      That you even attempted to justify a clear and obvious failure means you are following cheats and liars, or may be one yourself. Not sure yet.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “Quite a few preachers claimed that god told them Trump would stay in office”. do you investigated whether they are bonafide preachers? or whether it is mentioned in scriptures?

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    1. I could care less. They said Trump would stay in office. They were wrong. They are not getting special information. They are not getting their information from a god. So we can definitely say that those preachers are unreliable.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It is simple as easy to understand if it is not mentioned in the scriptures they are false propaganda’s made by bogus preachers. Moreover you are totally ignorant about bible. Anyone who claims that the Bible says it is ending in 2020 does not know what they are talking about. The Bible does not give any date for when the Rapture* will take place.

    Christ’s disciples asked Him for the sign of His coming and the end of the world. Christ’s answer is recorded in Matthew 24, Luke 21, and Mark 13. Christ
    mentioned that we would see:

    • Wars
    • Rumor of wars
    • Disease
    • Earthquakes
    • Pestilence
    • Commotions (Political Instability)
    • False Christs

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    1. Timesgup, I am agreeing with you. They are false prophets.

      Anyone that says any of the things I mentioned are false prophets. They can not be trusted.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. chris schilling April 24, 2021 — 9:36 pm

      “The Bible does not give any date for when the Rapture* [sic] will take place.”

      Very convenient. Keep it as general and imprecise as possible.

      This is why the Bible fails as “prophecy” in any real sense.

      Like

      1. I like that scene in Life of Brian where the row of prophets are speaking, and the one guy says something like “and at some time there will be a general sense of uneasiness, and one person will not like it much.” Lol!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. “Very convenient. Keep it as general and imprecise as possible”. this is the proof of an false interpreter of the Bible who has a brain failure.

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    1. chris schilling April 25, 2021 — 8:06 pm

      “this [sic] is the proof of an [sic] false interpreter of the Bible who has a brain failure.”

      Since you seem only vaguely familiar with written English, I wonder if the brain failure is yours?

      Anyway, self-appointed “true” interpreters of the Bible, as opposed to “false” ones, is hardly persuasive.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Lol, I did not expect this from author of this blog being easily mislead by some brain failures like chris. The point in issue is about the validity of 2020 prediction of ending of This world and not about whether conversation between Christ and his disciples is about general or specific events in future.

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    1. Yeah, so if you or your preacher predicted Trump would be president, the world would end, or that the bible is inerrant, then that preacher is a false prophet and should not be believed. We agree thus far.

      Like

  7. Sorry spartan i did not see.

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  8. You are right. i am not a preacher. I am a skeptic who will not believe in any false propaganda’s.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Spartan, Apart from this discussion. I want to clarify from you. I believe in random chance theory, but when this theory is applied to anatomy of our body. I Feel it seems gibberish and illogical.

    Doubt 1: if everything is happening by random chance then why we have specific organs in our body which is specifically built to do its job?
    Doubt 2: each organs has its specific function for example:- an heart is meant to pump blood, liver is meant to metabolize and remove toxins from blood, kidney is meant to throw excess water and restore certain salts to maintain electrol balance, pancreas is meant to produce insulin of two kinds. So, from this biological observation it seems random chance is not working here.
    Doubt 3: If random chance is real in human’s then everybody shouldn’t be having the similar set of organ’s with similar size and functions with a purpose. Right?.

    I know that you are the most intelligent person who can able to clarify my doubts.

    Like

    1. Well, that’s pretty damned easy to answer. We didn’t grow organs by means of random chance. We grew organs by means of evolution.

      And by the way, I’m not going to spend a lot of time discussing evolution with you. I’m not an evolutionary biologist, and this blog is about the failure of our senses.

      Like

  10. Friend, it is regarding first point of your article. Reply which you made is odd for me. I believe that random mutation and selection is the basis of evolution. If you say evolution is not based on random mutation and selection then it could be directed, guided intelligence behind the evolution process. Right?.

    I trust your words as you are purely naturalistic person without any religious implications. Further I don’t want to bother you in this regard. Good bye , be safe from corona and have a nice day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, mutations are random. Selection, however, is not random at all. It is this selection that makes evolution so powerful.

      Look, it is obvious you don’t even understand what scientists say about evolution. So I would suggest, if you wish to go down this path, that you read up first before you try and discuss.

      Imagine if I said “Christians are wrong because they believe wood has more tensile strength than steel!”

      I’d be wrong. No Christian doctrine says this. And I could rattle on about how they made wooden boats means they chose it over steel, but then that makes me even more wrong. They chose wood because steel had not been invented, nor would it be invented for thousands of years. Wood was the go-to medium.

      Anyway, this is what you sound like when you discuss evolution. So please, at least read something that defends evolution before you try and tell everyone that they are wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Hey, Spartan I am totally confused about this. Random mutation doesn’t produce new traits in gene’s rather it degrades its original information?.Oh! my head is spinning.

    What they are telling is-Just as we cannot produce an intelligent coherent book just by randomly changing its letters. Oh! Oh!.

    Please tell me how to refute this example.

    Like

    1. No, mutations can and do produce new information. Read up on evolution, please. I suggest “Why evolution is true” by Jerry Coyne, but it doesn’t really matter what source you pick as long as it is someone that is explaining evolution. It could be a biology textbook (above high school level).

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  12. No. After studying richard lenski’s e coli experiment it was observed that e coli which was grown in culture for 65,000 mutations actually breaks down its genes. One of the sugar ribose is thrown away. Therefore, scientifically it is proven that random mutation doesn’t create a novel phenotype species. Being a science lover I accept this scientific finding.

    Like

    1. Until you find an example of gene mutations creating something new, I’m blocking all of your future posts. If you don’t care to educate yourself, I won’t be able to.

      Like

  13. Sorry, I tried but I cannot find such novel Phenotype mutations. I;m embarrassed by your closed mindedness of not trying to admit scientific findings of richard lenski who conducted this experiment for about 24 years. I did what you told but I humbly request you friend that please be open minded in accepting any scientific findings which is proven to be right. Believing in evolution is not the same as what you actually see in the results of experiments.

    Therefore cosmic intelligence can be definitely observed in a molecular level. I was an atheist but I respect scientific findings. Good bye.

    Like

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