Saturday, August 11, 2007

thoughts are real

I am reading a book: WHO SWITCHED OFF MY BRAIN? by Caroline Leaf. The subtitle of her book is "controlling toxic thoughts and emotions."

Something that is getting through to me is that thoughts are real. I.e., they make measurable, actual changes in the chemistry and electronics in our brains. Dendrons (dendrites) grow. Peptides flow. Connections are made.

In the past, I have observed that, when reading a book multiple times, we get more out of it in each successive reading. All I have said before is that "we have been changed by what we read, so that the person viewing it the next time is not the same person who read it the previous time."

Leaf's book has added some quantitative information to my model, by describing the biochemical changes that take place when we experience events, and when we think thoughts.

Thoughts are real. When we think, connections are made in our brain and other organs. Along with the physical growth of neural connections, the stress-related chemicals (peptides, etc.) are stored and associated with the memory of the event.

A memory consists of both the information content and the emotional content of the event, and both sets of associated information are stored together in our brains. I.e., the thought is something real.

When we remember (have a thought about--retrace the neurons that make up the memory of) the event, we remember (and re-experience) the emotion, as well.

Sometimes, the emotional content is so strong that we repress the memory, to avoid re-experiencing the negative emotions mixed in with the thought.

This is how we cope with bad experiences.

Leaf's book ends with a list of things we can do to eliminate the toxic parts of the thoughts.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


There was a recent video blog about abortions and the penalty for them if they are illegal.

It pointed out the inconsistency of the thought patterns of people "on the right."

The question asker is asking the right question pair. Should abortion be illegal? and If so, what punishment should be appropriate for the crime of abortion?

There are a pair of meta-questions that should also be asked. Who should determine whether abortion should be legal? and Who should determine what punishment is suitable for the crime?

There are three possible answers, which are really two.

First, we can say, I should determine it. Then we can say, WE (society) should determine it. Finally, we can say, GOD should determine it.

The first two are equivalent to saying a person or group of persons should determine laws. Having a person or people make the determination is simply Humanism. The alternative is Theism.

Unfortunately, right-wing conservatives are largely humanists. At least, those who were interviewed in the blog, above are humanists. They are probably not self-conscious humanists, and they would probably be offended if you called them humanists, but they are not consistent Christians.

A consistent, Christian, theistic point of view is that only God can determine what should be legal, and only God can determine what punishment is suitable for which crimes.

In this case, the crime is murder. The punishment is life given for life taken. It fits the crime.

Fortunately for us, God allows mitigating circumstances to mitigate the punishment. Those who unintentionally take a life have an opportunity for mercy.

But how many right-wing conservatives know their Biblical Law?