Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Reflection #5 - The Process of Elimination - Part A "The Method"

Originally, I had intended on publishing this post as a one single - very long post that would have included what are now Reflections #5, #6 and #7.  I was on a writer's roll and had the ideas all down and much of the grammar and flow just where I liked it, BUT it was too long, so I broke them into the three posts that you see now.  However, I will/did publish them in quick succession for anyone with the interest or stamina to read all of this crap in one go.
I often cry when watching movies.  For those of you that know me, this is not a great personal revelation, it is a fact that I am as comfortable sharing as it is embarrassing to my children.

Why and How do I cry when watching a film?

The short answer is that my brain allows me to disengage my sense of what is "Real" from what is "Imagined" and if the acting and cinematography are good enough, I begin to live in that imagined moment as if it was real.  So, when the sad thing happens near the end (it always does, except in Up when I cried at the start) I cry.  I cry because I am sad and I empathize with a character or characters that the rational part of my brain knows are not real, but since I've turned it off, the same physiology that makes me cry when my favorite pet dies also allows me to cry at that moment in the movie.

So, if I can turn off the rational part of my brain and trick my physical being into acting off of nothing other than my emotional brain, then why can't I also turn off the emotional part of my brain and become super rational?  Well, it turns out that I can. Sometimes I can do it with full intent, purpose and on demand (like when watching a movie or pretending to be angry with a customer service representative on the phone) and sometimes it just happens (like in an adrenaline filled, emergency situation when my emotions shut down and my rational brain gets going full tilt).

I am not saying that I can ALWAYS choose to turn one or the other of my brain functions on or off, I am saying that with practice and effort I can do it and under some circumstances it is easier to do (a dark theatre with a big screen and loud surround sound or when helping car crash victims on the highway) then at other times.

By using the technique of high and low emotional and high and low rational thought at various intensity levels, I have spent many hours alone, often in dark and quiet places, thinking about the Universe, its origin, its purpose and which theories of why were are here and what the future might hold seem to best fit the results of my seemingly endless pondering.

At some point in time, fairly recently, but not within the last 5 years, I came across a method of reasoning that included both using the process of elimination (something that I have been familiar with for most of my life) and pondering questions both on a fully emotional and then later a fully rational level to arrive at "the best/right answers".

If someone had approached me years ago with a four quadrant model and said pick one and only one quadrant, I would have struggled with two things.  The first thing would have been my "confidence" in identifying myself as Atheist vs Theist.  As an Agnostic for most of my life I would have had to be honest and claim "Theist".  Secondly, I would have DEFINITELY picked the "Free Will" side of the box, regardless of how I handled the 50/50 aspect of the god thing.  While my move from Christian to Agnostic to Atheist was relatively steady and consistent over many years, it has only been recently that I have accepted the idea that Free Will is an illusion and that our Universe must be one of predetermined fates.  That change of thought was more of a cliff event than a gradual shift.

In the end, things changed for me in a big way, once I organized my thoughts and committed to the conclusion regarding the lack of a higher power and the idea of determinism. 

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