Paul's Here

The Trust Molecule

53 posts in this topic

Could a single molecule—one chemical substance—lie at the very center of our moral lives?

Research that I have done over the past decade suggests that a chemical messenger called oxytocin accounts for why some people give freely of themselves and others are coldhearted louts, why some people cheat and steal and others you can trust with your life, why some husbands are more faithful than others, and why women tend to be nicer and more generous than men. In our blood and in the brain, oxytocin appears to be the chemical elixir that creates bonds of trust not just in our intimate relationships but also in our business dealings, in politics and in society at large.

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More strikingly, we found that you don't need to shoot a chemical up someone's nose, or have sex with them, or even give them a hug in order to create the surge in oxytocin that leads to more generous behavior. To trigger this "moral molecule," all you have to do is give someone a sign of trust. When one person extends himself to another in a trusting way—by, say, giving money—the person being trusted experiences a surge in oxytocin that makes her less likely to hold back and less likely to cheat. Which is another way of saying that the feeling of being trusted makes a person more…trustworthy. Which, over time, makes other people more inclined to trust, which in turn…

If you detect the makings of an endless loop that can feed back onto itself, creating what might be called a virtuous circle—and ultimately a more virtuous society—you are getting the idea.

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In our studies, we found that a small percentage of subjects never shared any money; analysis of their blood indicated that their oxytocin receptors were malfunctioning.

I feel much better after posting this. My oxytocin must be high.

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To quote a Facebook friend of mine: "Why is this not from The Onion?"

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I think "Trust Me" can become a new pick-up line at bars. What do you think?

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What if it is true? Could humans be a fortuitous stew pot of chemicals. We are made of atoms so why not? There is nothing about is that is not physical.

ruveyn

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What if it is true? Could humans be a fortuitous stew pot of chemicals. We are made of atoms so why not? There is nothing about is that is not physical.

ruveyn

An alien intelligence could study the physical manifestation of Morse code. Nothing but dots and dashes would be observed. The entire body of human knowledge can be transmitted by these dots and dashes. Information emerges from the physical, but it, itself, is not physical or the alien would be able to see it.

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What if it is true? Could humans be a fortuitous stew pot of chemicals. We are made of atoms so why not? There is nothing about is that is not physical.

ruveyn

An alien intelligence could study the physical manifestation of Morse code. Nothing but dots and dashes would be observed. The entire body of human knowledge can be transmitted by these dots and dashes. Information emerges from the physical, but it, itself, is not physical or the alien would be able to see it.

Every last bit of the human is physical. Down to the atomic level. What are we made of? Nothing that does not appear on the Periodic Table.

ruveynb

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What if it is true? Could humans be a fortuitous stew pot of chemicals. We are made of atoms so why not? There is nothing about is that is not physical.

ruveyn

An alien intelligence could study the physical manifestation of Morse code. Nothing but dots and dashes would be observed. The entire body of human knowledge can be transmitted by these dots and dashes. Information emerges from the physical, but it, itself, is not physical or the alien would be able to see it.

Every last bit of the human is physical. Down to the atomic level. What are we made of? Nothing that does not appear on the Periodic Table.

ruveynb

This is false and logically fallacious. Conceptual thought is not physical, among other things. What is the gravitational force on the meaning of this sentence?

(Ryveyn, I really don't want to get into any rationalist arguments with you, as we've done many times in the past. So please check your premises if you want to discuss this.)

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What if it is true? Could humans be a fortuitous stew pot of chemicals. We are made of atoms so why not? There is nothing about is that is not physical.

ruveyn

You mean what if a host of logical fallacies were true? Now that would be an interesting discovery!!

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What if it is true? Could humans be a fortuitous stew pot of chemicals. We are made of atoms so why not? There is nothing about is that is not physical.

ruveyn

An alien intelligence could study the physical manifestation of Morse code. Nothing but dots and dashes would be observed. The entire body of human knowledge can be transmitted by these dots and dashes. Information emerges from the physical, but it, itself, is not physical or the alien would be able to see it.

Every last bit of the human is physical. Down to the atomic level. What are we made of? Nothing that does not appear on the Periodic Table.

ruveynb

A Lamborghini is also made of no elements that cannot be found in a mountain. But a Lamborghini is obviously much more than a mountain...

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What if it is true? Could humans be a fortuitous stew pot of chemicals. We are made of atoms so why not? There is nothing about is that is not physical.

ruveyn

An alien intelligence could study the physical manifestation of Morse code. Nothing but dots and dashes would be observed. The entire body of human knowledge can be transmitted by these dots and dashes. Information emerges from the physical, but it, itself, is not physical or the alien would be able to see it.

Every last bit of the human is physical. Down to the atomic level. What are we made of? Nothing that does not appear on the Periodic Table.

ruveynb

A Lamborghini is also made of no elements that cannot be found in a mountain. But a Lamborghini is obviously much more than a mountain...

True. But both are completely physical. There is no "spiritual" stuff in either. It is all atoms, howbeit differently arranged and interacting somewhat differently. All that exists is matter and energy in space and time. There is nought else.

ruveyn

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There is no "spiritual" stuff in either. It is all atoms, howbeit differently arranged and interacting somewhat differently. All that exists is matter and energy in space and time. There is nought else.

But it is a FACT that matter and energy can combine in ways that create things with emergent properties -- an entity that has characteristics the components do not. That is how two gases like hydrogen and oxygen can combine to create a liquid like water, non-living chemical elements can combine to create a living entity, and living entities can evolve into entities that have the faculty of consciousness.

When Ayn Rand uses the word "spiritual," she doesn't mean anything mystical but simply man's consciousness -- an emergent property of his physical nature.

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What if it is true? Could humans be a fortuitous stew pot of chemicals. We are made of atoms so why not? There is nothing about is that is not physical.

ruveyn

An alien intelligence could study the physical manifestation of Morse code. Nothing but dots and dashes would be observed. The entire body of human knowledge can be transmitted by these dots and dashes. Information emerges from the physical, but it, itself, is not physical or the alien would be able to see it.

Every last bit of the human is physical. Down to the atomic level. What are we made of? Nothing that does not appear on the Periodic Table.

ruveynb

A Lamborghini is also made of no elements that cannot be found in a mountain. But a Lamborghini is obviously much more than a mountain...

True. But both are completely physical. There is no "spiritual" stuff in either. It is all atoms, howbeit differently arranged and interacting somewhat differently. All that exists is matter and energy in space and time. There is nought else.

ruveyn

I disagree. There is spiritual "stuff" in a car. "Cars" do not spontaneously propagate, like volcanos, from physical objects according to the laws of physics. Human purpose and creativity is required for a car to come into existence. Man-made objects are spiritual to a large extent. To identify the object as a car presupposes a consciousness capable of conceptual identification, which is not physical.

An error you make is substituting physics for all entities and attributes.

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I disagree. There is spiritual "stuff" in a car. "Cars" do not spontaneously propagate, like volcanos, from physical objects according to the laws of physics. Human purpose and creativity is required for a car to come into existence. Man-made objects are spiritual to a large extent. To identify the object as a car presupposes a consciousness capable of conceptual identification, which is not physical.

An error you make is substituting physics for all entities and attributes.

Cars are made by people with material that obeys physical laws. Every one of you beloved cars are made of stuff that appears in the Periodic Table of Elements and nothing but. How the atoms got together is one thing. That it is the conjunction of atoms is the main point.

There is nothing spiritual in nature. Not a damned thing. It is all material every last bit of it.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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ruveyn, with regard to consciousness and volition: so what? Do you see the fact that everything is made of matter as a reason to advocate determinism?

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ruveyn, with regard to consciousness and volition: so what? Do you see the fact that everything is made of matter as a reason to advocate determinism?

No. If you accept quantum theory then you know the world is not deterministic at the atomic and sub-atomic level.

ruveyn

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ruveyn, with regard to consciousness and volition: so what? Do you see the fact that everything is made of matter as a reason to advocate determinism?

If the world consists of something more than matter and energy in space and time, what do you suppose it could be?

ruveyn

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ruveyn, with regard to consciousness and volition: so what? Do you see the fact that everything is made of matter as a reason to advocate determinism?

No. If you accept quantum theory then you know the world is not deterministic at the atomic and sub-atomic level.

ruveyn

Quantum Theory doesn't mean the world is not deterministic. Quantum Theory is about predicting probabilities and the probabilities it predicts are exact. I'm not sure how to correctly phrase this, but the probabilities involved in Quantum Theory are an epistemological issue, not metaphysical. They reflect the way measurement works on those length/time scales and how our current theoretical understanding with physics can deal with that.

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I disagree. There is spiritual "stuff" in a car. "Cars" do not spontaneously propagate, like volcanos, from physical objects according to the laws of physics. Human purpose and creativity is required for a car to come into existence. Man-made objects are spiritual to a large extent. To identify the object as a car presupposes a consciousness capable of conceptual identification, which is not physical.

An error you make is substituting physics for all entities and attributes.

Cars are made by people with material that obeys physical laws. Every one of you beloved cars are made of stuff that appears in the Periodic Table of Elements and nothing but. How the atoms got together is one thing. That it is the conjunction of atoms is the main point.

There is nothing spiritual in nature. Not a damned thing. It is all material every last bit of it.

Ba'al Chatzaf

How did you form the concept "car" based solely on the Periodic Table of Elements? Where does the concept come from? A car is just a lump of metal, plastic and other elements without a driver and his purpose in making it move. Without that spiritual purpose, you have no basis for referring to the object as a car.

There is nothing spiritual in nature, you say. Yet you keep arguing as if it makes a difference to you. If you're just elements, then why do you persist in this argument? Nothing I say will make a difference to you and nothing you say will make a difference to me. We're "all just elements," right? You need to learn to introspect to find the "non-elemental" aspect of nature.

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ruveyn, with regard to consciousness and volition: so what? Do you see the fact that everything is made of matter as a reason to advocate determinism?

If the world consists of something more than matter and energy in space and time, what do you suppose it could be?

ruveyn

Introspect and let me know what you find.

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ruveyn, with regard to consciousness and volition: so what? Do you see the fact that everything is made of matter as a reason to advocate determinism?

If the world consists of something more than matter and energy in space and time, what do you suppose it could be?

ruveyn

I do not perceive matter and energy. Those are abstract concepts. What I perceive are precepts integrated by my senses. There is nothing physical about percepts (qua percept). They are the human method of apprehending the world. Everything else is conceptual, spiritual knowledge.

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]I do not perceive matter and energy. Those are abstract concepts. What I perceive are precepts integrated by my senses. There is nothing physical about percepts (qua percept). They are the human method of apprehending the world. Everything else is conceptual, spiritual knowledge.

Various kinds of energy are perceptible, detectable and measurable. Have you ever been burned? You perceived heat. Have you ever been in motion? You perceived kinetic energy. And just what, pray tell, is spiritual anything? What is it made of and what laws govern it.

ruveyn

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ruveyn, with regard to consciousness and volition: so what? Do you see the fact that everything is made of matter as a reason to advocate determinism?

No. If you accept quantum theory then you know the world is not deterministic at the atomic and sub-atomic level.

ruveyn

Even if the world were deterministic (in the sense that our lives are preselected and determined) the falsely claimed randomness at the sub-atomic level would not liberate anyone, as the uncontrollable randomness would just be a new kind of determinism when it comes to deciding our lives. If you hold the premises which lead you to determinism, then no discoveries or revelations from quantum theory are going to rescue you from that.

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]I do not perceive matter and energy. Those are abstract concepts. What I perceive are precepts integrated by my senses. There is nothing physical about percepts (qua percept). They are the human method of apprehending the world. Everything else is conceptual, spiritual knowledge.

Various kinds of energy are perceptible, detectable and measurable. Have you ever been burned? You perceived heat. Have you ever been in motion? You perceived kinetic energy. And just what, pray tell, is spiritual anything? What is it made of and what laws govern it.

ruveyn

You perceive the phenomena, not the concept. Your mind processes the phenomena and then conceptual processes happen from there.

When my cat experiences pain from extreme cold vs extreme heat, it doesn't know or understand it's experiencing pain from perceiving a lack of thermal energy vs an excess of thermal energy.

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ruveyn, with regard to consciousness and volition: so what? Do you see the fact that everything is made of matter as a reason to advocate determinism?

If the world consists of something more than matter and energy in space and time, what do you suppose it could be?

ruveyn

I have two sealed boxes in an empty room. One box contains a living man, while the other box contains all the unassembled raw elements of carbon, nitrogen etc which make a man. If the laws of physics (combined with ginormous computers) can allow me to predict exactly the future of the unassembled contents in one box, then (by your premises) shouldn't I be able to predict the future of the "assembled contents" (man) in the other box? Therefore free will is an illusion, right?

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]I do not perceive matter and energy. Those are abstract concepts. What I perceive are precepts integrated by my senses. There is nothing physical about percepts (qua percept). They are the human method of apprehending the world. Everything else is conceptual, spiritual knowledge.

Various kinds of energy are perceptible, detectable and measurable. Have you ever been burned? You perceived heat. Have you ever been in motion? You perceived kinetic energy. And just what, pray tell, is spiritual anything? What is it made of and what laws govern it.

ruveyn

Once again, you're incorrect. Those are not what I perceive. If you want to know what the laws that govern spirituality, I'd suggest reading ITOE and any of the many works on Aristotle's Logic. You're implication that reason is a mythology is somewhat worn thin by your attempts at argumentation.

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