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I've always wondered why labeling something as "idiotic" or "very very bad" makes people happy. In rational thinking, labeling is considered fundamentally flawed because it simply shows how the labeler positions an object/event on his/her internal value map without explaining the reasoning why s/he does so. As John R. Searle would say, something is good or bad in virtue of something else, not because its intrinsic goodness or badness.

Yesterday, I found a review paper* that describes multiple psychological experiments on Schadenfreude. For example,
In the context of a real-world sports rivalry, Red Sox and Yankees fans report feeling pleasure, and show activity in reward- related brain regions (i.e., right ventral striatum including nucleus accumbens) when they watch their rival fail to score against their favored baseball team, and also against a less competitive team in the same league (i.e., the Orioles). Attaching positive value to outgroup members' suffering may provide motivation for inflicting suffering: People who show more reward-related activity when watching the rival team fail also report being more likely to actively harm the rival team’s fans (Cikara, Botvinick, & Fiske, in press). These findings extend to situations in which the rival fans themselves are in physical pain: Soccer fans exhibited reward-related activity (again, the right ventral striatum) when watching a rival team’s fan receive a painful electric shock; the magnitude of this activity predicted participants’ later unwillingness to relieve the rival’s pain by receiving half of the electric shock themselves (Hein, Silani, Preuschoff, Batson, & Singer, 2010).

It looks like, labeling facilitates Schadenfreude-based pleasure. In other words, a social activity that looks irrational from a purely logical perspective, has significant psychological advantages because it creates positive in-group empathy.

* Cikara, M., E. G. Bruneau, and R. R. Saxe. “Us and Them: Intergroup Failures of Empathy.” Current Directions in Psychological Science 20.3 (2011): 149–153. Web. 13 Apr. 2012.
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395. There is a lack of clarity about the role of imaginability in our investigation. Namely, about the extent to which it ensures that a sentence makes sense.

-- Investigations.

I wonder whether AI is going to have a big advantage over humans in imagining things. Furthermore, two (or more) AI agents equipped with superior imagination can come up with a productive agreement/disagreement much faster than humans. All this comes on top of superior data access, processing, communications, and memory capabilities.
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It just occurred to me that our perception is necessarily a process of splitting the world into parts and then combining them into various wholes. Biologically, we are made up of cells, which have their own preceptors. Therefore, different cells perceive different aspects of the world and then communicate to assemble them according to behavioral scenarios. I can probably say that we are biological expressions of the world.
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Cognition early in training is fundamentally different from cognition late in training.

...information in an expert’s long-term memory...is organized differently from the information in a novice’s long-term memory. Experts don’t think in terms of surface features, as novices do; they think in terms of functions, or deep structure.

The novices ...[generate]... categories based on the objects in the problems.

...transfer [using known info to apply to new problems] is so difficult because novices tend to focus on surface features and are not very good at seeing the abstract, functional relationships among problems that are key to solving them.

...experts are able to ignore unimportant details and home in on useful information; thinking functionally makes it obvious what’s important.

--- Willingham. Why students don't like school? 2009.

Here's the teaching/learning dilemma:
- On the one hand, you want to teach "objects", i.e surface features, so that novices can learn.
- On the other hand, you want to teach functional relationships, i.e. abstract, deep structures, so that learners acquire useful skills.

In other words, if you are an expert you can't teach novices "the real thing" and must dumb down the material, so that it becomes learnable.

As a side note, Category Theory can be a good teaching/learning tool for experts because it focuses on functional relationships, instead of objects.
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— counterfactual reasoning for past and future: ‘what if’ questions and mental scenarios in the context of preparation; ‘what if’ questions that seem to serve fantasizing; ‘what if’ questions that pertain to the past versus the future; and ‘what if’ questions that relate to self versus others. Are they all different? Perhaps not as much as it would seem,
with all promoting simulations and imagery, possibly creating ‘memories’ that can be applied in future situations.

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Motivation. Willingham 2009

There must be a better way to present this information.
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Contrary to popular belief, the brain is not designed for thinking. It’s designed to save you from having to think, because the brain is actually not very good at thinking.Thinking is slow and unreliable. Nevertheless, people enjoy mental work if it is successful. People like to solve problems, but not to work on unsolvable problems.
For problems to be solved, the thinker needs adequate information from the environment, room in working memory, and the required facts and proce- dures in long-term memory.

-- Daniel T. Willingham. Why Don't Students Like School. 2009.
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An interesting piece of research on developmental cognition:
In a monumental study involving 709 children, Alloway et al. tested the development of working memory capacity with a number of tasks.48 They documented a linear increase in working memory capacity from age four to age eleven.
An increase of only one chunk in working memory could herald the emergence of an entire range of qualitatively distinct cognitive operations.
doi: 10.1111/nyas.12189

First, I wanted to write that a good pre- and elementary school would be essential for development. Then, I thought that we don't quite know what "good" means in this context. Maybe the Finnish education model works because they expose kids to a broad variety of tasks from an early age.


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