I recently composed a piece on my first year in the Partners for Healthier Weight program. The full post is here:
Don't sing love sounds, you'll wake my mother,Also, on this page of the pretty excellent audioblog Broken Silence, have a listen to Starfucker's cool interpretation of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. It's… fun!
She's sleeping here, right by my side,
And in her right hand, a silver dagger.
She says I can't be your bride.
All men are false, says my mother,
They'll tell you wicked, loving lies.
The very next day, they'll court another,
Leave you alone to pine and sigh.
My daddy is a handsome devil,
He's got a chain five miles long,
And on every link a heart does dangle
Of another maid he's loved and wronged.
Go court another tender maiden,
And hope that she will be your wife,
For I've been warned, and I've decided
To sleep alone all of my life.
Interestingly, amongst the participants, those who had lower BMIs and were not trying to lose weight had significantly higher levels of dislike of overweight individuals following exposure to The Biggest Loser compared to similar participants in the control condition.
These results clearly indicate that anti-fat attitudes increase after brief exposure to weight-loss reality television, especially perhaps in people with lower BMI.
Gazzaniga (with his teacher, Nobel laureate Roger Sperry) discovered the split in human consciousness that results from splitting the human brain into right and left hemispheres, a split that consciousness itself doesn't even notice. We have accepted our internal divisions long, long ago, and have, over the millennia, used them to explain our capacity for good and for evil. But whereas we can actually feel ourselves being influenced by Mars or Satan or our combative instinct, no amount of soul-searching can reveal to split-brain patients the resulting rent in their very selves.I'm deeply drawn towards scientific research which reveals what I find to be essential truths about the nature of consciousness and self: namely, that we possess no particular, identifiable self as such, and that the myriad thoughts and insights that we attribute to a seemingly separate entity called "our self" are simply a collection of evolution-serving, neurochemical, electrical and biological processes that are in place solely to continue the species, and not for any particularly meaningful purpose higher than that.
The explanation for this is quite simple. The left brain, where language processing occurs, is the mechanism of the soul searching itself, and cannot, in split brains, access or report the activity of the right brain and its input into the brain-as-a-whole.
The brain, split or unsplit, has no centre of control, no centre of consciousness, no centre period: no self. Gazzaniga marshals countless scientific studies of the brain that reveal it to be a rag-bag collection of specialized modules for everything from facial recognition and counting through to distinguishing self from other.
It's quite amazing how these modules make us identify the thoughts and actions of our brain as our own, even when the cause is known to be external control of our brain via transcranial magnetic stimulation. It's quite amazing, that is, to think that our sense of self is achieved by some dozens of such modules working in loose formation with one another -- in the absence of any real self at all.
So, as Gazzaniga and the many scientists of his sort see it, they, you and I are but the imaginary focuses created by our nervous systems in order to better serve the evolutionary demand of our trillions of component cells to survive and reproduce.
• Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain, by David Eagleman (2011)
• Freedom and Belief, by Galen Strawson (2010)
• Freedom Evolves, by Daniel Dennett (2003)
• How the Mind Works, by Steven Pinker (1997)
• The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation, by Matt Ridley (1996)