He’s Seen the Movie Too Many Times

The movie being Cat Peo­ple.

I don’t know how else to explain a judge announc­ing from the bench that

The cat is a liv­ing human ani­mal and does­n’t deserve to be basi­cal­ly mur­dered, which is what hap­pened in this case.

The judge was sen­tenc­ing a man for bru­tal­ly killing a stray cat that had dam­aged the man’s rental unit. The man should not have killed the cat. I think six months in jail might be a bit exces­sive, but pre­sum­ably he will not serve all of that.

It seems noth­ing will hap­pen to the judge for mak­ing his ridicu­lous “cat is a liv­ing human ani­mal” state­ment. This stands as anoth­er exam­ple of our inabil­i­ty to prop­er­ly dis­tin­guish peo­ple from animals.

As I have said before, under­stand­ing the phe­nom­e­non of con­scious­ness will go a long way to clar­i­fy­ing the difference.

Hat tip: Ann Alt­house

More or Less Than Human

The oth­er day NPR’s Talk of the Nation did a seg­ment on David Liv­ing­stone Smith’s book Less Than Human. The book

argues that it’s impor­tant to define and describe dehu­man­iza­tion, because it’s what opens the door for cru­el­ty and genocide.

There have been plen­ty of such episodes.

While lis­ten­ing to the dis­cus­sion, it occurred to me that there is a flip side here. There are mil­lions of peo­ple who human­ize their pet and so treat the ani­mal as a human (or better!).

I won­der if these two phe­nom­e­na occur because we con­tin­ue to be unable to nail down just what it is that makes us human.

In my opin­ion, we will not deter­mine what makes us human until we fig­ure out consciousness.

Déjà Vu

Déjà vu is the oth­er phe­nom­e­non that to me is eas­i­ly explain­able. Déjà vu is the expe­ri­ence of sud­den­ly feel­ing like you have been here before, like every event that hap­pens has hap­pened before. You remem­ber it in incred­i­ble detail. If there is somethere talk­ing, you remem­ber every word he or she says…just as they say it. You can nev­er quite pre­dict what will hap­pen next, but it feels like you should be able to.

This is not caused by any mys­ti­cal force, it is not because you dreamed the events pri­or to the time they take place. It is a result of the sub­con­scious mind pro­cess­ing things at a much high­er rate of speed than the con­scious mind. I think, once in awhile, a “fil­ing” error occurs and what is hap­pen­ing now is get­ting filed as an old mem­o­ry. So when the con­scious mind becomes aware of the glass falling off the table, the uncon­scious mind is ready with the “long ago mem­o­ry” that was cre­at­ed mil­lisec­onds before.

And déjà vu.

Slow Motion

Two days ago, I men­tioned how the event of slip­ping while car­ry­ing the buck­et of sauce took place in “slow motion”. I assume most have expe­ri­enced this phe­nom­e­non, but for any­one who has not…

Some­times in a moment of “cri­sis” events seem to take place very slow­ly in rela­tion to one’s thought process. The result is that in what is a frac­tion of a sec­ond, one can ana­lyze what is hap­pen­ing, go through a hand­ful of pos­si­ble respons­es, choose one, and still react quick­ly (not move quick­ly, just react quickly).

I have a the­o­ry on how this hap­pens and it has to do with yes­ter­day’s top­ic, con­scious­ness.

Nor­mal­ly, the con­scious mind has some­what lim­it­ed access to the sub­con­scious. Yes, infor­ma­tion read­i­ly moves from the uncon­scious to the con­scious, but the con­scious mind plays the pas­sive role of accept­ing the info with out hav­ing any role in its pro­duc­tion or any insight into how it is produced.

But some­times, in a “cri­sis” sit­u­a­tion, that rela­tion­ship changes and the con­scious mind is allowed access to the sub­con­scious work­ings. I sus­pect that the sub­con­scious process­es infor­ma­tion at a much faster rate than the con­scious mind can. When this faster pro­cess­ing is avail­able to the con­scious mind’s purview it seems like time moves more slow­ly than otherwise.

It is noth­ing more than “see­ing” the sen­so­ry infor­ma­tion processed at a much high­er rate of speed than the con­scious mind nor­mal­ly “sees”.

Tomor­row: déjà vu


Con­scious­ness is one of my favorite topics.

Con­scious­ness is inter­est­ing because so lit­tle is known of it (noth­ing for all intents and pur­pos­es) and because we all have the same access to it. We have our own and that oth­ers have it we real­ly can only accept on faith.

It is my expe­ri­ence that many peo­ple are not clear what is being dis­cussed when con­scious­ness is the sub­ject, so this post is my attempt to define consciousness.

If you would please indulge me, I ask that you close your eyes (not yet) and count to ten. Do this with­out mov­ing your lips and be sure that each num­ber is “enun­ci­at­ed” in your mind. Then be sure to open your eyes.

Go ahead and do that. I’ll wait.

Now, I would like you to point to the loca­tion where you count­ed to ten.

As I under­stand it, most peo­ple will point to right between their eyes. But some peo­ple will point to oth­er part of the body, par­tic­u­lar­ly the chest. A rare indi­vid­ual might point away from their body to a cor­ner of the room perhaps.

That loca­tion, that space, is your con­scious­ness. When I talk of con­scious­ness, that is what I’m talk­ing about.

I point right between my eyes. Where do you point?