News and Announcements

Love All, the final set...

E-mail sent by Ray Miller, Friday, 24th February 2012 @ 7:00pm


Hi All,

Monday 27 February - 8.00 pm
Spoon Cafe Bistro, 6a Nicolson Street, EH8 9DH, 0131 557 4567
Upstairs cafe opposite the Festival Theatre

Attending?
  


Is It True Love?: Romantic fantasy? Lust? Hormonal aberration? What is Love? How do we know if it's 'the real thing'?


As usual there is a topic booklet to help stimulate your thoughts, if they need stimulating. It can be read or downloaded from the site Home page or directly from:


Do try to get there in good time please, as it will help sort out the seating and make sure everyone is able to take part fully.

I shall be aiming to be at The Spoon Cafe Bistro around 7.00-7.30 pm to have a bite to eat before the Meeting starts. So feel free to join me early for some food. The Meeting notice will be on display on the tables.

Newcomers who don't immediately recognise me from my handsome photo can look out for Ed, the phrenology head, sitting on the table. He enjoys these nights out and is immediately recognisable as no-one else has writing all over their skull (usually!).
 

Do also remember the Discussion Forum . This is your opportunity to continue the debates between meetings or to air the topics you'd like to discuss that never quite make it in the Poll.


It's good to see that some of you have added Photos to your profiles but we'd all like to be able to recognise each other at meetings and it would be great to see a few more of you give us the benefit of your portrait. You can add it here:

 

True beats Free...

E-mail sent by Ray Miller, Tuesday, 21st February 2012 @ 6:29pm

Hi All,

Monday 27 February - 8.00 pm
Spoon Cafe Bistro, 6a Nicolson Street, EH8 9DH, 0131 557 4567
Upstairs cafe opposite the Festival Theatre

Attending?
  


After a flurry of votes in both directions, 'True Love' narrowly beat 'Free Love' as the February topic with a 68% popularity. So the subject for discussion at the meeting on Monday 27 February at 8.00 pm will be:

Is It True Love?: Romantic fantasy? Lust? Hormonal aberration? What is Love? How do we know if it's 'the real thing'?

Even in months that don't include Valentine's Day, the topic of Love is never far from most people's minds. It makes the world go round, can't be bought, is a many splendoured thing and yet often seems fickle, fragile and hard to find.

It has many facets. We often think first of romantic love or carnal love but we also love our parents, our children, our pets and that particularly delicious ice cream with all the calories. So perhaps there are different varieties or degrees of Love? Can we distinguish clearly among them? When does the love of a pet become as powerful as the love of a spouse or partner (It's me or the dog!). And when does it become obsession or addiction, such as stalking or 'bunny boilers'?

What is going on with this emotion? Let's stick, for the moment, to what is sometimes described as 'True Love'.

Are we struck at random by Cupid's arrow or is Love more systematic and predictable? Are we 'programmed' to love certain physical types, personalities, attitudes? Is love more than skin deep? Is it simply a fashion or trend that changes over time?

And what is the Psychology and Biology? It has been argues that Love is simply a lust for procreation and we choose, and fall in love with, a potentially suitable mate. The strengthening of the relationship bond provides a more secure environment for raising offspring and also enhances social stability within a group. Of course, in a society where social bonds and constraints are less well defined, Love can simply be an expression of temporary sexual desire. Perhaps the 'Free Love' topic might have touched on this.

It has been argued that Love is simply a short lived fluctuation in hormonal levels that may only last a number of days or weeks. Yet some Love seems lasting. The couple who have been together for 60 years or more and say they are still in love: John Anderson, my jo... Or is that simply the attraction of habit and familiarity?

Even if we remain convinced that 'True Love' exists and is attainable, how do we find it? Most of us will have experienced a broken heart, the loss of someone we believed we loved or loved us. But they say, 'Tis better to have loved and lost than never loved'. Is it? Or is there some way of knowing when love is 'True' or 'Real'? And, if we find it, are there ways of ensuring that we keep it? Or does love sometimes mean letting someone go? Is love altruistic or, ultimately, selfish?

As usual, so many issues to ponder when we meet.


Do also remember the Discussion Forum . This is your opportunity to continue the debates between meetings or to air the topics you'd like to discuss that never quite make it in the Poll.


It's good to see that some of you have added Photos to your profiles but we'd all like to be able to recognise each other at meetings and it would be great to see a few more of you give us the benefit of your portrait. You can add it here:

 

A leap of faith...

E-mail sent by Ray Miller, Friday, 17th February 2012 @ 6:46pm

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Hi All,

Monday 27 February - 8.00 pm
Spoon Cafe Bistro, 6a Nicolson Street, EH8 9DH, 0131 557 4567
Upstairs cafe opposite the Festival Theatre

Attending?
  


What will you do with your extra day this year? Does the extra day actually make any difference and do we even notice? Still, extra day or not, there are just three days left to get your Vote in for the February topic Poll.

A change in the voting from last week with the current leader:

Free Love: In a modern society, has sexual fidelity become outmoded, unnatural and reactionary?

There's still time for some of the other close contenders to win through. So, your Vote can still make the difference for the 
February meeting on Monday 27 February at 8.00 pm.

Get your
Votes in! Plenty of topics to choose from including some that almost made it in January as well as a more topical choice for the month of romance.

New suggestions welcome!.

Especially welcome are ideas from the newer members who have joined over the last few months. It's one way to make sure the group stays relevant and interesting for you.

Further Suggestions can be included until Sunday 19 February and you can Vote or change your Vote right up to late on Monday 20 February.

To make a Suggestion or Vote  just click on the appropriate link below.

     


Do also remember the Discussion Forum . This is your opportunity to continue the debates between meetings or to air the topics you'd like to discuss that never quite make it in the Poll.


It's good to see that some of you have added Photos to your profiles but we'd all like to be able to recognise each other at meetings and it would be great to see a few more of you give us the benefit of your portrait. You can add it here:

 

Surely Valentine...

E-mail sent by Ray Miller, Sunday, 12th February 2012 @ 2:21pm

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Hi All,

Monday 27 February - 8.00 pm
Spoon Cafe Bistro, 6a Nicolson Street, EH8 9DH, 0131 557 4567
Upstairs cafe opposite the Festival Theatre

Attending?
  


Hope you all guys have your roses ordered for your loved ones before Tuesday - after all, I want you alive for the next meeting. 

Equally urgent is your Vote in the February topic Poll. Currently leading is the appropriate Valentine topic:

Is It True Love?: Romantic fantasy? Lust? Hormonal aberration? What is Love? How do we know if it's 'the real thing'?

With just a week to go before the Poll closes, there's still time for some of the other close contenders to win through. So, time to be thinking about the 
February meeting topic. Voting is well under way for the meeting on Monday 27 February at 8.00 pm.

Get your
Votes in! Plenty of topics to choose from including some that almost made it in January as well as a more topical choice for the month of romance.

New suggestions welcome!.

Especially welcome are ideas from the newer members who have joined over the last few months. It's one way to make sure the group stays relevant and interesting for you.

Further Suggestions can be included until Sunday 19 February and you can Vote or change your Vote right up to late on Monday 20 February.

To make a Suggestion or Vote  just click on the appropriate link below.

     


Do also remember the Discussion Forum . This is your opportunity to continue the debates between meetings or to air the topics you'd like to discuss that never quite make it in the Poll.


It's good to see that some of you have added Photos to your profiles but we'd all like to be able to recognise each other at meetings and it would be great to see a few more of you give us the benefit of your portrait. You can add it here:

 

One giant leap...

E-mail sent by Ray Miller, Friday, 3rd February 2012 @ 11:02pm

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Hi All,

Monday 27 February - 8.00 pm
Spoon Cafe Bistro, 6a Nicolson Street, EH8 9DH, 0131 557 4567
Upstairs cafe opposite the Festival Theatre

Attending?
  


So it's a Leap Year and women are allowed (!) to propose to the man they admire. Dangerous times! But too late, I'm already spoken for and my partner, Rui, settled that some time ago!

Talking of Danger, there is to be a Dangerous Ideas Festival in Edinburgh from 11 to 16 June this year. In conjunction with that I am talking to the organizers about the possibility of an extra group event, as Dangerous Ideas are the meat and drink of Philosophy and Psychology. Watch this space and there will be more information in due course. In the meantime you can see their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/dangerousideas

Anyway, time to be thinking about the February meeting topic. Voting is already under way for the meeting on Monday 27 February at 8.00 pm.

So get your
Votes in! Plenty of topics to choose from including some that almost made it in January as well as a more topical choice for the month of romance.

New suggestions welcome!.

Especially welcome are ideas from the newer members who have joined over the last few months. It's one way to make sure the group stays relevant and interesting for you.

Further Suggestions can be included until Sunday 19 February and you can Vote or change your Vote right up to late on Monday 20 February.

To make a Suggestion or Vote  just click on the appropriate link below.

     


Do also remember the Discussion Forum . This is your opportunity to continue the debates between meetings or to air the topics you'd like to discuss that never quite make it in the Poll.


It's good to see that some of you have added Photos to your profiles but we'd all like to be able to recognise each other at meetings and it would be great to see a few more of you give us the benefit of your portrait. You can add it here:

 

My love is like a red, red rose...

E-mail sent by Ray Miller, Friday, 27th January 2012 @ 9:38pm

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Hi All,

Monday 27 February - 7.30 pm
Spoon Cafe Bistro, 6a Nicolson Street, EH8 9DH, 0131 557 4567
Upstairs cafe opposite the Festival Theatre

Attending?
  


Burn's Night is behind us and Valentine's Day is not too far ahead. The Romance of Scotland comes in all shapes and forms. My heart's in the Highlands a chasing the deer - or should that be dear if we are Valentine minded...

Time to be thinking about the February meeting topic. Voting is already under way for the meeting on Monday 27 February at 7.30 pm.

So get your Votes in! Plenty of topics to choose from including some that almost made it in January as well as a more topical choice for the month of romance.

New suggestions welcome!.

Especially welcome are ideas from the newer members who have joined over the last few months. It's one way to make sure the group stays relevant and interesting for you.

Further Suggestions can be included until Sunday 19 February and you can Vote or change your Vote right up to late on Monday 20 February.

To make a Suggestion or Vote  just click on the appropriate link below.

     


Do also remember the Discussion Forum . This is your opportunity to continue the debates between meetings or to air the topics you'd like to discuss that never quite make it in the Poll.


It's good to see that some of you have added Photos to your profiles but we'd all like to be able to recognise each other at meetings and it would be great to see a few more of you give us the benefit of your portrait. You can add it here:

 

Swimming or drowning...

E-mail sent by Ray Miller, Friday, 20th January 2012 @ 5:54pm

Hi All,

Monday 23 January - 8.00pm
Spoon Cafe Bistro, 6a Nicolson Street, EH8 9DH, 0131 557 4567
Upstairs cafe opposite the Festival Theatre

Attending?
  


All In The Mind: How much of our experience of life is down to what we believe, how we think and our language?


As usual there is a topic booklet to help stimulate your thoughts, if they need stimulating. It can be read or downloaded from the site Home page or directly from:


Do try to get there in good time please, as it will help sort out the seating and make sure everyone is able to take part fully.

I shall be aiming to be at The Spoon Cafe Bistro around 7.00-7.30 pm to have a bite to eat before the Meeting starts. So feel free to join me early for some food. The Meeting notice will be on display on the tables.

Newcomers who don't immediately recognise me from my handsome photo can look out for Ed, the phrenology head, sitting on the table. He enjoys these nights out and is immediately recognisable as no-one else has writing all over their skull (usually!).
 

Do also remember the Discussion Forum . This is your opportunity to continue the debates between meetings or to air the topics you'd like to discuss that never quite make it in the Poll.


It's good to see that some of you have added Photos to your profiles but we'd all like to be able to recognise each other at meetings and it would be great to see a few more of you give us the benefit of your portrait. You can add it here:

 

Swimming or drowning...

E-mail sent by Ray Miller, Tuesday, 17th January 2012 @ 12:58am

Hi All,

Monday 23 January - 8.00pm
Spoon Cafe Bistro, 6a Nicolson Street, EH8 9DH, 0131 557 4567
Upstairs cafe opposite the Festival Theatre

Attending?
  


With 80% popularity, we have a topic for the meeting on Monday 23 January at 8.00 pm.

All In The Mind: How much of our experience of life is down to what we believe, how we think and our language?


We all agree to disagree... or sometimes we don't. The fact is that even when it comes to the most fundamental understanding and interpretation of life we find people with strong, contradictory and mutually exclusive views. How can that be? Surely Reality is whatever Reality is?  Surely people should not try to tell us we can't trust the evidence of our own senses; our eyes, our ears, smell, touch, etc. 

Our individual experience of life is very real. We know what is good and what is bad, right and wrong, true and false. We know it because we can draw on the deep well of experience in our minds. Experience that has taught us how to deal with the nuts and bolts of our existence, how to make judgements and interpret the evidence we find. We know what we believe and anyone who believes differently must be wrong!

Except they think they are right too and would use the very same justifications for their position. Oh dear!

Maybe they are all fools or charlatans? Maybe they are stupid and deceived? Maybe only we can see things the way they really are..... oops, that begins to sound a bit arrogant, elitist, even megalomaniac...

So how do we explain the disagreements?

It can be argued that, actually, none of us ever sees 'Reality'. At best we perceive a proportion of stimuli that may be related to Reality and even those are seived through a whole set of filters before they enter the realm of consciousness. Some of the filters are organic, biological or neurological. The world as seen by a bat is a very different place to the world we see. Even with the aids of science and technology, our perception will always be limited.

Some of the filters are psychological. We perceive selectively depending on what we judge to be important. Remember to ask about the 'Cocktail Party Effect' or the 'Gorilla on the Pitch'. We see and hear what we expect, or wish, to perceive. That has real world consequences - ask Rick Santorum, or the God Squad who hear incantations to the Devil in Led Zeppelin lyrics played backwards.

We tend to seek out those pieces of evidence that reinforce or are consistent with our pre-existing beliefs. We are preached to as the converted and the unconverted have gone off to listen to someone else.

Illusions illustrate how easily our senses can be misled; whether it is Dynamo the Magician or just some of the standard visual illusions. The evidence of our own senses is not always as reliable as we might assume.

And, last but not least, there is the impact of language itself. How much does our ability to to express a concept linguistically affect our ability to comprehend it? What's in a name? How much of the concern for 'Politically Correct' language is justified because the words we use shape the way we think; the Reality we perceive? Racism? Sectarianism? Fanaticism?

And what is our sense of experience anyway? Is all our sense of self, and consequently our view of the world, just the last output stage of a complex biological computer program? How sure can we be of the reality and validity of our 'Experience'?

As usual, so much to discuss!



It's good to see that some of you have added Photos to your profiles but we'd all like to be able to recognise each other at meetings and it would be great to see a few more of you give us the benefit of your portrait. You can add it here:

 

Haggis before you know it...

E-mail sent by Ray Miller, Friday, 13th January 2012 @ 6:47pm

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Hi All,

Monday 23 January - 8.00pm
Spoon Cafe Bistro, 6a Nicolson Street, EH8 9DH, 0131 557 4567
Upstairs cafe opposite the Festival Theatre

Attending?
  


Gosh! Burns night isn't far off now and neither is the January meeting! That means that there is just three days to go to get in your votes for the January topic.

Voting is already under way for the meeting on Monday 23 January at 8.00 pm.

Current leading topic is still:

All In The Mind: How much of our experience of life is down to what we believe, how we think and our language?

But that could all change, so get your Votes in!

New suggestions welcome!.

Especially welcome are ideas from the newer members who have joined over the last few months. It's one way to make sure the group stays relevant and interesting for you.

Further Suggestions can be included until Sunday 15 January and you can Vote or change your Vote right up to late on Monday 16 January.

To make a Suggestion or Vote  just click on the appropriate link below.

     



Do remember the Discussion Forum. This is your opportunity to continue the debates between meetings or to air the topics you'd like to discuss that never quite make it in the Poll.

It's good to see that some of you have added Photos to your profiles but we'd all like to be able to recognise each other at meetings and it would be great to see a few more of you give us the benefit of your portrait. You can add it here:

 

This year we are 6...

E-mail sent by Ray Miller, Saturday, 7th January 2012 @ 4:27pm

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Hi All,

Monday 23 January - 8.00pm
Spoon Cafe Bistro, 6a Nicolson Street, EH8 9DH, 0131 557 4567
Upstairs cafe opposite the Festival Theatre

Attending?
  


Nearly 100 members now registered at the Groupspaces website! Looks like the group will continue to flourish during the current year. January marks the start of our 6th year of meetings - not a bad record.

Time then to be thinking about the January meeting topic. Voting is already under way for the meeting on Monday 23 January at 8.00 pm.

Current leading topic is:

All In The Mind: How much of our experience of life is down to what we believe, how we think and our language?

So get your Votes in!

New suggestions welcome!.

Especially welcome are ideas from the newer members who have joined over the last few months. It's one way to make sure the group stays relevant and interesting for you.

Further Suggestions can be included until Sunday 15 January and you can Vote or change your Vote right up to late on Monday 16 January.

To make a Suggestion or Vote  just click on the appropriate link below.

     



Do remember the Discussion Forum. This is your opportunity to continue the debates between meetings or to air the topics you'd like to discuss that never quite make it in the Poll.

It's good to see that some of you have added Photos to your profiles but we'd all like to be able to recognise each other at meetings and it would be great to see a few more of you give us the benefit of your portrait. You can add it here:

 

A guid New Year tae yin an a'...

E-mail sent by Ray Miller, Friday, 30th December 2011 @ 5:38pm

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Hi All,

Monday 23 January - 8.00pm
Spoon Cafe Bistro, 6a Nicolson Street, EH8 9DH, 0131 557 4567
Upstairs cafe opposite the Festival Theatre

Attending?
  


Another year over and a new one just about to begin. What will 2012 bring? Could we have predicted the events of 2011 at this time last year? Fortunately, these are not among the potential topics in the all new Poll. Gone are the topics from 2011 (although they can come back if the demand is there) to be replaced by some fresh ideas drawn from members suggestions that were not included last year.

Time then to be thinking about the January meeting topic. Voting is already under way for the meeting on Monday 23 January at 8.00 pm.

So get your Votes in! And a Good New Year to you all when it comes.


New suggestions welcome!.

Especially welcome are ideas from the newer members who have joined over the last few months. It's one way to make sure the group stays relevant and interesting for you.

Further Suggestions can be included until Sunday 15 January and you can Vote or change your Vote right up to late on Monday 16 January.

To make a Suggestion or Vote  just click on the appropriate link below.

     



Do remember the Discussion Forum. This is your opportunity to continue the debates between meetings or to air the topics you'd like to discuss that never quite make it in the Poll.

It's good to see that some of you have added Photos to your profiles but we'd all like to be able to recognise each other at meetings and it would be great to see a few more of you give us the benefit of your portrait. You can add it here:

 

A year of goodwill to all...

E-mail sent by Ray Miller, Friday, 23rd December 2011 @ 2:33pm

Hi All,

Monday 23 January - 8.00pm
Spoon Cafe Bistro, 6a Nicolson Street, EH8 9DH, 0131 557 4567
Upstairs cafe opposite the Festival Theatre

Attending?
  


Sometimes the sheer commercialism of the Festive Season overwhelms me and I'm tempted to join the Bah Humbug camp. But maybe we should take the same attitude as some have taken to other forms of excessive commerce. Let's Occupy the calendar and camp out in the Season of Goodwill,  not just for twelve days but for a whole year until we have a chance to re-occupy it in 2012.

Positive thoughts and acts are not just for Christmas and, even without the bribery and inducements of Santa Claus, it is better to be nice than naughty to all those we meet and share our lives with. With that in mind, Season's Greetings to you all and I hope we meet up regularly in the New Year.
 

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Do remember the Discussion Forum. This is your opportunity to continue the debates between meetings or to air the topics you'd like to discuss that never quite make it in the Poll.


It's good to see that some of you have added Photos to your profiles but we'd all like to be able to recognise each other at meetings and it would be great to see a few more of you give us the benefit of your portrait. You can add it here:

 

To see ourselves...

E-mail sent by Ray Miller, Saturday, 17th December 2011 @ 10:32am

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Hi All,

Monday 23 January - 8.00pm
Spoon Cafe Bistro, 6a Nicolson Street, EH8 9DH, 0131 557 4567
Upstairs cafe opposite the Festival Theatre

Attending?
  


By the time we meet again in the New Year we will be about to celebrate Burns Night! Amongst the many memorable epithets from the Scottish National Poet was the desire "O wad some pow'r the giftie gie us, to see oursel's as others see us". 

So, in the interests of improving ourselves over the Festive period, here is a short article from Psychology Today that may provide some useful advice.

Self-Knowledge: Problems and Potential Solutions
Some types of self-knowledge are difficult to acquire.
Published on December 12, 2011 by Michael W. Austin in Ethics for Everyone

In a previous post, I discussed the significance of self-knowledge. Now I would like to focus on some of the forms of self-knowledge that may be especially difficult to acquire, and a few practical tips for gaining the sometimes elusive truth about ourselves.

Psychology professor Timothy Wilson notes that one area we are prone to be mistaken about has to do with our future. For example, middle-aged people predict that when they retire they will prefer novelty to familiarity regarding where they choose to live. Yet retired adults in familiar locations were happier than those who chose to retire and live in novel locations. They stated that living in a familiar place was more important to them than novelty. This shows that we may have trouble anticipating how our preferences will change in the future. People also tend to think that future losses will be more devastating than they in fact are when they occur.

I think these difficulties are to be expected. It is hard to know how certain dimensions of our personalities and preferences will change over time. It can also be challenging to predict how we will cope with the inevitable losses that will come to our lives.

Another area in which I believe we can find self-knowledge difficult to acquire has to do with our character. That is, many of us tend to overestimate or underestimate the goodness of our characters. We have a lot invested in this, if we care about morality and being a good person. It can be difficult to accept our weaknesses, and tempting to rationalize them away. Others rationalize away their strengths. In the next post in this series on self-knowledge, I will discuss some helpful insights from Aristotle about this, and his prescriptions for moral development.

Here, I will conclude with three tips from Timothy Wilson on how it is that we may come to know ourselves better.

•First, he suggests that we try to be objective observers of our own behavior. For example, I may believe that I'm a financially generous person, but if my charitable giving at the end of the year is small, perhaps I need a reality check in this area.
•Second, and similarly, Wilson counsels us to attempt to see ourselves through the eyes of other people. They may have a better perspective on who we are than we ourselves do, especially in cases where we are motivated to rationalize our behavior or dispositions.
•Third, we can make use of the relevant findings of psychological science in our quest for self-knowledge. Perhaps there are biases of which we are unaware, or prejudices that we don't realize we have. Wilson suggests taking some of the implicit measures of such attitudes that can be found on the internet. We take into account the data from medical science and its counsels about diet, exercise, and the like. Similarly, a bit of familiarity with psychological research can be beneficial as well.

Do remember the Discussion Forum . This is your opportunity to continue the debates between meetings or to air the topics you'd like to discuss that never quite make it in the Poll.


It's good to see that some of you have added Photos to your profiles but we'd all like to be able to recognise each other at meetings and it would be great to see a few more of you give us the benefit of your portrait. You can add it here:

 

The Edinburgh Philosophy and Psychology Group March Meeting (RSVP)

  • Monday, 26th March 2012 at 8pm - 9:30pm
    Location: Spoon Cafe Bistro, 6a Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9DH

    Does Truth Matter?: Faced with irrational beliefs and rejection of scientific evidence, should…

    • 10 people attended

The Edinburgh Philosophy and Psychology Group February Meeting (RSVP)

  • Monday, 27th February 2012 at 8pm - 9:30pm
    Location: Spoon Cafe Bistro, 6a Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9DH

    After a flurry of votes in both directions, 'True Love' narrowly beat 'Free Love' as the…

    • 15 people attended

January: be there, make no mistake...

E-mail sent by Ray Miller, Saturday, 10th December 2011 @ 5:50pm

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Hi All,

Monday 23 January - 8.00pm
Spoon Cafe Bistro, 6a Nicolson Street, EH8 9DH, 0131 557 4567
Upstairs cafe opposite the Festival Theatre

Attending?
  


Snow, wind, rain... it could almost be summer! I trust you are all surviving that unique gift that Scotland brings to your lives - weather!

During the long dark nights it is important to keep your mind active. It seems a long time to look forward to our next meeting in January so I thought I better post you some interesting information to keep those little grey cells exercised.

Here's a rather optimistic article from Psychology Today that I thought might interest and encourage you.

How Mistakes Can Make You Smarter
There are 2 typical responses to mistakes: paying attention & shutting down.
Published on December 6, 2011 by Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D. in The Science of Willpower

OK, nobody wants to make mistakes -- but how you react to them makes a big difference in whether you learn from them.

Two new studies looked at what happens in people's brains as they make mistakes. One used college students performing a computer task; the other used doctors making decisions about which medications to prescribe. In both studies, participants received immediate feedback about whether they had made the right decision, and they were given opportunities to try again, using what they had learned.

It turns out that there are two typical brain responses to mistakes. One looks like a "wake up call." The brain hones in on the negative outcome, and treats it like a problem that needs solving. What happened, and why? The brain also increases its attention during the next decision, as if it is trying to prevent a repeat of the mistake. When this happens, people are much more likely to improve their performance and learn from the mistake.

The second brain response looks more like a shutting down. The brain reacts to the negative feedback itself as a threat. To escape feeling bad, or doubting one's abilities, the brain chooses to not think about the mistake. Interesting, people whose brains show this shutting down response pay much more attention to positive feedback.

The researchers think this is evidence of a confirmation bias - we want to feel good about ourselves, so we pay more attention to feedback that is consistent with our self-image. When this happens, people's performance does not improve, and they fail to learn from the mistake.

Each study found an interesting predictor of whose brains paid more attention, and whose brains shut down, in the face of a mistake:

1. People who think that intelligence is malleable -- that we get really good at something by dedicated practicing, not innate brilliance -- pay more attention to mistakes. People who think that intelligence is fixed -- you're either good at something or you're not - pay less attention to, and are less likely to learn from, mistakes.

2. The doctors who were most experienced were least likely to pay attention to and learn from mistakes, and more likely to show a confirmation bias. They trusted their judgment. Had the simulation been real, this would have had disastrous consequence for their patients. Because they didn't learn from errors, the most experienced doctors ended up using the wrong criteria to make prescription choices.

The lesson of these studies? When you make a mistake or receive critical feedback, don't panic. Think of it as an opportunity for learning, and remember that the process of "failing" -- when you're willing to pay attention -- is often what leads to the greatest successes.

Kelly McGonigal is a psychologist at Stanford University. Her latest book, which provides a tour of the biggest willpower mistakes we all make (and how to learn from them), is The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It.

Studies referenced:

1. Moser JS, Schroder HS, Heeter C, Moran TP, Lee YH (2011). Mind your errors: Evidence for a neural mechanism linking growth mindset to adaptive post-error adjustments. Psychological Science, 2011, [Epub ahead of print]. DOI: 10.1002/mnfr.201100262
2. Downar J, Bhatt M, Montague PR (2011). Neural correlates of effective learning in experienced medical decision-makers. PLoS ONE, 6 (11): e27768. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0027768.



Do remember the Discussion Forum . This is your opportunity to continue the debates between meetings or to air the topics you'd like to discuss that never quite make it in the Poll.


It's good to see that some of you have added Photos to your profiles but we'd all like to be able to recognise each other at meetings and it would be great to see a few more of you give us the benefit of your portrait. You can add it here:

 

David Hume and Adam Smith at the Traverse

Posted by Ray Miller, Friday, 2nd December 2011 @ 11:47am

  • Need something interesting to do while eagerly awaiting our next meeting in the New Year?

    The Traverse Theatre have sent us a notification of a fun production that pits the wits of David Hume and Adam Smith together in a lighthearted look at what they would make of Edinburgh today.

    Why not go along and enjoy!
     

     

David Hume and Adam Smith at the Traverse

E-mail sent by Ray Miller, Friday, 2nd December 2011 @ 11:33am

Logo

Hi All,

Need something interesting to do while eagerly awaiting our next meeting in the New Year?

The Traverse Theatre have sent us a notification of a fun production that pits the wits of David Hume and Adam Smith together in a lighthearted look at what they would make of Edinburgh today.

Why not go along and enjoy!
 

 

Beauty or the Beast...

E-mail sent by Ray Miller, Friday, 25th November 2011 @ 11:22pm

Hi All,

Monday 28 November - 7.30 pm
PLEASE NOTE EARLIER START TIME

Spoon Cafe Bistro, 6a Nicolson Street, EH8 9DH, 0131 557 4567

Upstairs cafe opposite the Festival Theatre

Attending?
  

Time to get ready for the November meeting.

Eye of the Beholder?: What makes something (or someone) beautiful? Is there any objective standard?

There is a topic booklet that can be read or downloaded from the site Home page or directly from:


Do try to get there in good time please, as it will help sort out the seating and make sure everyone is able to take part fully.

I shall be aiming to be at The Spoon Cafe Bistro around 6.30-7.00 pm to have a bite to eat before the Meeting starts. So feel free to join me early for some food. The Meeting notice will be on display on the tables.

Newcomers who don't immediately recognise me from my handsome photo can look out for Ed, the phrenology head, sitting on the table. He enjoys these nights out and is immediately recognisable as no-one else has writing all over their skull (usually!).
 

Please note the earlier starting time for the November meeting. This will also be the last meeting this year as our December date falls on Boxing Day and is thus not really viable.

Do also remember the Discussion Forum . This is your opportunity to continue the debates between meetings or to air the topics you'd like to discuss that never quite make it in the Poll.


It's good to see that some of you have added Photos to your profiles but we'd all like to be able to recognise each other at meetings and it would be great to see a few more of you give us the benefit of your portrait. You can add it here:

 

Launch 1000 ships... or a small rowing boat...

E-mail sent by Ray Miller, Tuesday, 22nd November 2011 @ 7:11pm

Logo

Hi All,

Monday 28 November - 7.30 pm
PLEASE NOTE EARLIER START TIME

Spoon Cafe Bistro, 6a Nicolson Street, EH8 9DH, 0131 557 4567

Upstairs cafe opposite the Festival Theatre

Attending?
  


After something of a battle, we have a winning topic for November.

Eye of the Beholder?: What makes something (or someone) beautiful? Is there any objective standard?

What is Beauty?
This has been a subject of heated debate for centuries.

Beauty in things exists in the mind which contemplates them.
- David Hume

On the one hand there are those who would contend that there are absolute standards of Beauty, whether in people, animals, objects or scenery. These may depend at least partly on a common neuropsychology or physical concepts such as symmetry, proportion (such as the so called 'golden section'), colour perception, contrast or even indicators of health and fitness (survivabilty and the ability to reproduce successfully). Despite the range of cultural and historical variation, they would argue, there is a considerable consistency in how Beauty is attributed and the differences are smaller than people tend to think.

On the other hand there are those who would point to those same variations as indicative of how culture and fashion can emphasise radical differences in the attribution of Beauty; giraffe necked women, lip extension plates or even just the changing shapes and patterns of body and form in art over the years (Reubenesque body shape or impressionism and cubism versus pictorially representational art).

At an individual level, there are clearly differences of opinion. These may be due to the effects of norms and culture but may also be to do with familiarity. You like what you know and you know what you like. Sometimes it may be a matter of context. That which seems beautiful in one situation might seem less so in a different environment. Or perhaps it is dependent on emotional state and influences on our personal perceptions and information processing. Cynics point out that often Beauty may be in the eye of the beer holder and be seen in quite another light when sober! Are all babies beautiful to their mother? Does the person you love become more attractive?

In people, what is the relationship of facial attractiveness or an attractive personality to overall physical form and attributions of beauty. When we see athletes in action, a ballet dancer or a cheetah run, we may attribute Beauty to movement and grace rather than simply image and form. And what is it about a landscape or architecture that leads to the designation of Beauty? And then there is music. At one moment a haunting, classic, romantic melody may seem the peak of Beauty while on another occasion a distorted guitar solo from a heavy metal band may induce raptures.

What makes something beautiful for you? Will there be any agreement in the group?
 

Beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity that we should like to stretch out over the whole of time.
- Albert Camus

 

As usual, so much to discuss!

Please note the earlier starting time for the November meeting. This will also be the last meeting this year as our December date falls on Boxing Day and is thus not really viable.

It's good to see that some of you have added Photos to your profiles but we'd all like to be able to recognise each other at meetings and it would be great to see a few more of you give us the benefit of your portrait. You can add it here:

 


The Edinburgh Philosophy and Psychology Group

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