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  • OK, so

  • the last time we were here we got maybe a third of the way through this story

  • the story of Pinokio and the transformation of a marionette into something hypothetically real

  • I'm gonna backtrack a few slides and it'll get us into it again

  • so you remember that the blue fairy, so I would say that the benevolent element of mother nature

  • in the schemata that we are going to use to investigate mythology

  • was more or less allowed her entrance because Gepetto was a good guy and he wished for the right thing

  • and so in some sense... here's a way of thinking about that... you know

  • genetic / environmental studies on children's temperament have revealed something quite interesting

  • which is that the shared environment that children have within a family

  • so that would be what's the same about your environment and your brother's environment, the same

  • doesn't have that much effect on your temperament or his temperament

  • 'cause the presumption always was that within a family there is a shared environment, right?

  • and something was common about the environment to every child within that environment

  • but there isn't much of a shared environmental effect on temperament

  • so then you can say, well that makes it appear as though isn't that relevant in relationship to the development of temperament

  • but you could also suggest something else

  • you could suggest that if parenting is occurring properly, the effect of the shared environment should be very close to zero

  • and the reason for that is that you establish an individual relationship with each child

  • and the environment is actually a microenvironment that's composed of your observations of this child and that specific child's interaction with you

  • like to some degree, if there is a shared environment, that means that you're forcing the same principles on every child

  • so my suspicions are, although I don't know this, and the research hasn't been done

  • that in bad families there's a shared environmental effect, but in good families that minimizes

  • so that lets the child's biological predisposition, roughly, manifest itself with support and in some positive manner

  • well, I don't want to extend the analogy too far, but you can imagine

  • that, and this is what this film proposes, if you aim properly in relationship to your child

  • what you're trying to do is to establish an individual relationship and to allow them to move towards

  • whatever their particular expression of individuality happens to be

  • and that's... that would be the same as allowing nature to take its course in some sense

  • at least nature in its positive guise, and that's exactly what happens here

  • the other thing that happens, of course, is that the cricket, for reasons that aren't clear, precisely

  • is knighted by the blue fairy and serves as Pinokio's conscience

  • although he isn't very good at it, which is a very peculiar thing, and quite a marked point that the film is making

  • that that conscience actually has something to learn, too

  • and there's actually a Freudian element to that, you know, because Freud thought of the superego

  • as the internalization, roughly speaking, of the father,

  • and it could be very severe, the superego, so like a really strict father, really tyrannical father inside your head

  • although I think it's better to think about the superego as the internalized representation of society at large

  • mediated to some degree through your parents, 'cause it's not as if your father, even assuming he's tyrannical

  • is the inventor of all those tyrannical rules, he's the propagator of them

  • but he's actually a proxy voice, even if it's just for the harsh side of society, he's the proxy voice for society

  • and because we're social creatures, the utility of having an internal social voice to guide you

  • although, again, you seem to be able to follow it or not follow it, which I also find spectacularly interesting

  • because, obviously if it was an unerring guide, you could just follow it

  • and if it was an unerring guide, you wouldn't need free will either, because you could just act out the dictates of this internal representation

  • that isn't what you do

  • so anyways, the proposition here is that the conscience exists, but it's a relatively flawed entity

  • it needs to be modified as well by nature

  • which is quite interesting, 'cause the blue fairy knights him, 'cause you also might think of the conscience as only something that's socially constructed

  • right, which is the more typical viewpoint, but I don't buy that for a second

  • because I believe firmly, and I believe the Piagetian interpretation of child development

  • more or less bears this out, is that there are parameters within which conscience has to operate

  • and it's sort of like this, it's like, it's the same parameters that govern fair play, we'll say that

  • and so you can say there's fair play within a game, and there's fair play across sets of games

  • and the set of games is pretty much indistinguishable from the actual environment

  • if you think all the things you do as nested games, at some point the spread of that is large enough so that it encompasses everything you do

  • which includes the environment, and so I believe that you're adapted to the set of all possible games, roughly speaking

  • all possible playable games, something like that

  • and that you know the rules for that, which is why, we talked about this a little bit, why you're so good at identifying cheaters

  • we have a module for that, according to the evolutionary psychologists

  • and not only you identify them, but you remember them, it really sticks in your mind

  • and there's other evidence, too, one piece of evidence that I love, well, there's a couple

  • one I would derive from Frans de Waal, who's a famous primatologis, and he studied the prototype morality that emerges in chimpanzees

  • and it's very much nested in their dominance structures

  • you know, because you could think of morality in some sense as the understanding of the rules by which the dominance hierarchy operates, right

  • and so you could say, well, the biggest, ugliest, meanest chimp...

  • and the male dominance hierarchies in chimps seem to be the predominant ones, although the females also have a dominance hierarchy

  • it's not quite so clear in bonobos, which seem to be more female-dominated

  • but in any case, the primary chimp dominance structure is male

  • and you could think, well it's like the caveman chimp who's biggest and toughest who necessarily rules, and who rules longest

  • but that isn't what de Waal found; see, the problem with being... mean, lets say

  • and not negotiating your social landscape, and not trading reciprocal favors

  • is that no matter how powerful you are as an individual, two individuals three quarters your power could do you in

  • and that happens with the chimps fairly regularly; if the guy on top is too tyrannical

  • and doesn't make social connections, then weaker chimps, males, make good social connections

  • and when he's not in such good shape, they take him down, and viciously too

  • de Waal has documented some unbelievably horrendous acts of, let's call it, regicide

  • among the chimpanzee troupes that he studied, mostly in the Arnhem zoo

  • the big troupe there, that's been there a long time

  • but he's very interested in prototypical morality, and here's some other examples of prototypical morality

  • emerging among animals, there's many of them, but one is

  • you know, if two wolves have a dominance dispute, again that would be more likely among the male wolves

  • but it doesn't really matter, they basically display their size, and they growl ferociously

  • and they puff up their hair so they look bigger, and you can see cats do that when they go into fight or flight

  • not only do they puff up, including their tail, but they stand sideways

  • and the reason they do that is because they look bigger

  • right, 'cause they're trying to put up the most intimidating possible front

  • so anyways, if two wolves are going at it, what they're really trying to do is to size each other up

  • and they're trying to scare each other into backing off, fundamentally

  • because, see, the worst-case scenario is like, you're wolf number one, and I'm wolf number two

  • and we tear each other to shreds, but I win, but I'm so damaged after that wolf number three comes in and takes me out

  • so, like, there's a big cost to be paid even for victory in a dominance dispute, if it degenerates into violence

  • and animals, and human beings, but animals in particular, have evolved very, very specific mechanisms

  • to escalate dominance disputes towards violence step by step

  • so that they don't... so that the victor doesn't risk incapacitating himself by winning

  • so what happens with the wolves is that, you know, they growl at each other and posture display, and maybe they even snap at each other

  • but the probability that they're gonna get into a full-fledged fight is pretty low

  • and what happens is, one of the wolves backs off, and flips over and shows his neck

  • and that basically means: "all right, tear it out," and the other wolf says:

  • though of course he doesn't, "well, you're kind of an idiot, and you're not that strong, but we might need you to take down a moose in the future

  • and, you know, despite your patheticness, I won't tear out your throat"

  • and then they've established their dominance position, and then, from then on, at least for some substantial period of time

  • the subordinate wolf gives way to the dominant wolf

  • but at least the subordinate wolf is alive, and, you know, he might be dominant over other wolves

  • and so, everyone in the whole hierarchy has sorted that out either through mock combat or through combat itself

  • and, you know, the low-ranking members aren't in the best possible position, but at least they're not getting their heads torn off every second of their existence

  • so there's even some utility in the stability of the dominance hierarchy for the low-ranking members

  • 'cause at least they're not getting pounded, getting threatened, which is way better

  • I mean it's not good, but it's way better than actual combat

  • and then there's the example of rats, which I love, this is Jaak Panksepp's work

  • and he wrote a book called affective neuroscience, which I highly, highly recommend

  • I have a list of readings, recommended readings on my website

  • it's a brilliant book, and he's a brilliant psychologist, really, one of the top psychologists as far as I'm concerned

  • both theoretically and experimentally, a real genius, he's the guy who discovered that rats laugh when you tickle them

  • they laugh ultrasonically, so you can't actually hear them, but if you record it and slow it down

  • then you can hear them giggling away when you tickle them with an erase, which is sort of like their mother's tongue

  • it's often what lab people use as a substitute for the licking of the little rat by the mother

  • so, and he discovered the paly circuit in mammals, which is like a major deal, right

  • he should get a Nobel prize for that, that's a big deal to discover an entire motivational circuit

  • whose existence no one had really predicted, you know, apart from the fact that obviously mammals play

  • and even lizards maybe, some of them are social lizards, seem to play

  • so, anyhow, what Panksepp observed, and I think this is a brilliant piece of science

  • is that, first of all, juvenile male rats in particular like to rough and tubmle play

  • like to wrestle, and they actually pin each other like little kids do, or like adult wrestlers do

  • they pin their shoulders down, and that basically means you win, and so, OK, so that's pretty cool

  • but what's even cooler, I think, well there's three things, one is:

  • the rats will work for an opportunity to get into an arena where they know that play might occur

  • and so that's one of the scientific ways of testing an animal's motivation, right

  • so imagine you have a starving rat and it knows that it's got food down in the end of a corridoor

  • you can put a little spring on its tail and measure how hard it pulls, and that gives you and idication of its motivational force

  • now, imagine the starving rat that's trying to get to some food, and you have a little spring on its tail, and you waft in some cat odor

  • so now that rat is starving and wants to get out of there, he's going to pull even farther towards the food

  • so getting away plus getting forward are separate motivational systems, and if you can add them together it's real potent

  • and part of the reason why in the future authoring exercise that you guys are gonna do as the class progresses

  • you're asked to outline the place you'd like to end up, which is your desired future

  • and also the place that you could end up if you let everything fall apart

  • so that your anxiety chases you and your approach systems pull you forward

  • you're maximally motivated then, and it's important, because otherwise you can be afraid of pursuing the things you wanna pursue

  • right, and that's very common, and so then the fear inhibits you as the promise pulls you forward

  • but it makes you weak, because you're afraid; you wanna get your fear behind you, pushing you

  • and so what you wanna be is more afraid of not pursuing your goals than you are of pursuing them

  • it's very, very helpful; and lots of times in life, and this is something really worth knowing

  • you know, and this is one of the advantages to being an autonomous adult

  • you don't get to pick the best thing, you get to pick your poison

  • you have two bad choices, and you get to pick which one you're willing to suffer through

  • and every choice has a bit of that element in it, and so, if you know that it's really freeing

  • because otherwise you torture yourself by thinking: "well, maybe there's a good solution to this, compared to the bad solution"

  • it's like, no, no, sometime's there's just risky solution 1, and risky solution 2

  • and sometimes both of them are really bad, but you at least get to pick which one you're willing to suffer through

  • and that's... that actually makes quite a bit of difference, because you're also facing it voluntarily then

  • instead of it chasing you, and that is an entirely different psychophysiological response

  • challenge vs threat, it's not the same, even if the magnitude of the problem is the same

  • and so putting yourself in a challenging, let's call it, mindframe, you can't just do that by magic

  • putting yourself in a challenging mindframe is much easier on you psychophysiologically

  • 'cause you don't produce... you don't go into the generalized stress response to the same degree

  • and you're activating your exploratory and seeking systems, which are dopaminergically mediated, and that involve positive emotion

  • so if you can face something voluntarily, rather than having it chase you, it's way better for you psychophysiologically

  • so, that's partly why, well, it's worthwhile to go find the dragon in its lair instead of waiting for it to come and eat you

  • so, and especially if you also add the idea that if you go find the dragon in its lair

  • you might find it when it's a baby, instead of a full-fledged bloody monster that is definitely gonna take you down

  • and so that's part of the reason why... well there's a whole bunch of things that emerge out of that observation

  • like: don't avoid small problems that you know are there

  • face them, because they'll grow into big problems all by themselves

  • and you can think about... imagine the tax department sends you a notification, you owe them, like, 300 dollars

  • well it's, you know, that's annoying, maybe you don't even wanna open the letter

  • or maybe if you do, you just put it on the shelf, but that damn thing doesn't just sit there like a piece of paper on the shelf

  • right, you ignore that for 5 or 6 years, it's gonna become attached to all sorts of horrible things

  • and if you ignore it long enough... you get the idea, it's gonna turn into something that's completely unlike the little piece of paper that it's written on

  • and many, many problems in life are like that, you'll see that they pop their ugly little head up, and you know

  • and you might wanna turn away, you might not want to think about it

  • which is the easiest way of turning away, right, you just don't attend to it

  • it's not like you repress it or anything like that, you just fail to attend to it

  • and that's a... really, as a long-term strategy it's dismal

  • it's also something, I think, that's more characteristic of people who are high in neuroticism and high in agreeableness

  • 'cause agreeable people don't like conflict

  • and people who are high in neuroticism, or high in negative emotion, are hit harder per unit of uncertainty or threat

  • and so, you know, and that's partly why in psychotherapy a lot of times the people you see need assertiveness training

  • so that would be the opposite of agreeableness, or they need help to get their anxiety and emotional pain under control

  • those are not the only reasons, there's antisocial behavior, but you can't fix that in therapy in all likelyhood

  • there's alcoholism, there's lotsa, lotsa other reasons, but those are two major reasons

  • so anyways, there is a... that was all to telly you that... oh yes, back to the rats

  • so okay, the rats are pulling on... you can measure rat motivation by how hard they pull on the spring, let's say

  • and they're more motivated if they're running away and they're running towards, but let's go back to play

  • so, you can take juvenile rats who haven't been able to play for a while, maybe they've been isolated

  • or maybe they just haven't been able to engage in physical activity, like many schoolchildren that you might be thinking about

  • neither allowed to play nor engage in physical activity, and there's a reason I'm telling you that

  • so anyways, you get one of these little rats, and you can measure how hard he'll pull to go out and play

  • or how many buttons he'll push, you know, and that gives you an indication of his motivation

  • so anyways, you can see that the play-deprived juvenile rat will fight harder to play than a non-play deprived juvenile rat

  • and so you can infer that the rat wants to go play

  • and, you know, you do that... you do the same measurement with everyone around you

  • if they wanna do something, you're gonna poke and prod at them to see what sort of things they're willing to overcome

  • in order to go and do that, you'll object even if you don't really object

  • it's like... it's a measurement device, and if they're willing to overcome a bunch of your objections

  • then you think: "oh, well, maybe they really want to"

  • and that's another thing to really know: if there's something you want, you need about five arguments about why you want it

  • because the probability that the person who's opposing you will have five arguments about why you should't have it is very low

  • they just won't have thought it through enough; so the other thing that happens in the future authoring exercise

  • is that you're asked to articulate the reasons for all the goals that come out of your vision of the future

  • so you're asked like: "why would it be good for you? why would it be good for your family? why would it be good for broader society?"

  • so that gives you three levels of argumentation right there

  • and if you have it articulated down into detail, and it's related to other important goals

  • they you're a hell of a thing to argue with, because people just aren't that deep

  • by which I mean that they just don't have that many levels of explanation or objection

  • and it's also really useful in relationship to your own mind, because if you want to do something that's difficult

  • and that requires energy, a lot of different subsystems in your mind are gonna throw up objections

  • it's like, "well, maybe that isn't what you should be doing right now, maybe you should be doing the dishes

  • or vacuuming, or watching TV, or looking at YouTube"

  • if you're really sneaky, when you're trying to do something hard, what your brain does

  • is give you something else hard to do that 's not quite as hard, so that you can feel justified in not doing the thing you're supposed to

  • 'cause you're doing somethig else useful, and if