Sunday, July 09, 2017

A Biostatic View on Humans

As part of our Continuous Medical Education (CME), I had to take a biostatistic class. A teacher, who is professor at Harvard, made an interesting and strong comment. I was unable to agree with him, as agreeing with the following, I don't know where to put human conscious, values, good and evil and as many say the day of judgement. But yes, I pondered on this for many hours.

"If you keep all biases away, minimize all confounding factors, chance at zero and every imaginable variable at constant - all humans will behave same in the given equation (situation)"!

Andekhi quwwatoN ke ghere main
Insaan phir bhi  ,   - kathere main

(Shackled by unseen forces, but human is still to be judged) 


Anony said...

Scientists and poets have developed different vocabularies to describe the 'same' universe. One talks in terms of the "atoms, interaction, theory, chances, variables" while other side speaks in terms of the "feelings, values, purpose, justice," etc.

I read somewhere that one of the philosopher's task is to bridge the gap between these two viewpoints, though on the face of it, there is not much in common. "The universe is made of stories, not of atoms," as put by one of the poets.

Personally I think, it's best to entertain both these pictures. To have the soul of a poet with the scientifically disposed brain, which keeps one sane at the cost of (little?) discomfort in embracing incompatibility.

Anony said...

(Pata nahin yeh sh'er yahaN kitna fit hota hai. Khair main ise sirf is mudde se joRkar dekh raha huN, isliye please ghalat na sochna)

Mai bhi hotel meyN piyo chanda bhi do masjid meyN,
Sheikh bhi khush raheN, shaitaan bhi bey-zaar na ho ..

Anony said...

... just wanted to add that in my opinion there is danger in observing at human mind through scientific lens.

(Please let me know if I am oversimplifying things) but my understanding is that in Scientific terms, we are nothing more than an automaton (albeit a complicated one). Consciousness is emergent phenomenon and all religious talk is nothing but vain attempt of our pattern-seeking brain to make sense of otherwise meaningless universe. One fears that such thoughts can lead one to toward either nihilistic or hedonistic lifestyles.

That's why I feel that a bit dishonesty is necessary in assuming that our choices are really our choices.

Anyways sorry for the long posts, but I had thought a lot about such questions and couldn't resist from blabbering (guftaar ka ghazi) :D

mystic-soul said...

Anony: Triangle of religion, Science and Philosophy/Literature continue to intrigue humans since their inception. Many of them, tried to find common grounds.

We all are in quest of finding meaning of our relationship with this universe. This was a very strong statement:

"That's why I feel that a bit dishonesty is necessary in assuming that our choices are really our choices"

Anony said...

>> This was a very strong statement:

@Mystic-Soul: I just meant that even if Science tells us that there is no free will, we should still behave as if it does. Like this article said:

But yes, I need moderation in thoughts :-)

Have not read really anything about either literature or religion. People say one must read non-fiction more, as it makes one more empathetic. That's why your blog is treasure trove for me (+ many more, I'm sure) as it has meaningful stories and that too in Roman Hindi/Urdu (really miss reading in Hindi and can't read Nastaliq script) :-)

bsc said...

Like Mystic I have spent hours on this and thought I will let it go but Mystic is aware of my "neurologic tendencies" that resulted in my writing of The Human Will and its neurologic background. Mystic was not impressed but I know why because It is difficult for me to translate into words that I am thinking somewhat philosophically/religiously.
I have a book "The Self and its Brain" written by a well-known Neurologist in collaboration with a well-known Philosopher
And that is why it is difficult for me to understand the discussions in that book. I was searching for that self (would be equivalent to that will). I do not believe in what he said about "all humans will behave in the same"
That actually reminds me of an aya from Sura 17, (Aya #84), "Say, everyone acts according to his own disposition,. . . . . "
The disposition here means on which God the creator has created him on that. That means everyone cannot have the same disposition and therefore has the capacity to act differently given the same circumstances/situation but of course this is because i spend more time now in reading/understanding Qur'an. So my views are colored with that reading. On the other hand there is that well-known Hadeeth "Every child is born a Muslim and then his parents make him Jew or Christian or Majoosi"
Well I just wanted to share this with you I cant put forward anything solid

mystic-soul said...

Anony:: When I start blogging, many many emails came to not proliferate Roman Hindi/Urdu - but - I am very convinced that generation growing in west needs a bridge - and we like it or not like it - Roman Hindi/Urdu is the future.

Uncle and I are connected via this blog for years - and even before I put my comments - he can read my brain. We differ many times on many issues but we always agree to disagree!!

"Free will" is enigma - we all trying to overcome!

Anony said...

Sorry, there is one typo in my previous post. I meant fiction (inspired by reality) here:
"People say one must read literary fiction more, as it makes one more empathetic."

@bsc: Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I agree, in topics as complicated as these, there is bound to be disagreement between different fields of inquiries. Personally I think we should be careful about letting only Scientific facts/theories to influence our judgment or conception of nature, lest it leads to horror like "Social Darwinism."

@mystic-soul: Yes, many care about the 'purity' of language. But I agree with your point that preserving purity at the cost of accessibility will defeat the very purpose of language -- that is to communicate with others.

Thank you so much for your replies (to both you and uncle)!! :-)

mystic-soul said...

Anony: I am always a big fan of fiction. It keeps concept alive, give various colors and let imagination run wild

Anony said...

:-) I remember seeing your post about gardener being great people (because nurturing nature leads to nurturing personality?). I guess -- in similar fashion -- reading about different people's lives and whatnot would make one less judgmental and understanding of others!!