The savant, Michael Moore, and the psychology of nihilism

a preface
Right, so our friend Alien Corpuscle Bath gave me the wonderful idea to start up a topic on this phenomenon which has long fascinated me, people born with uber-genius, almost preternatural abilities. The savants, aka, “idiot-savants,” aka the newer, more politically correct term, people afflicted with Savant Syndrome.

a brief ‘natural history’
From a nice site, Savant Academy, this bit of information:

“At their most spectacular level, savants possess abilities that surpass non-disabled prodigies and geniuses. Savants may demonstrate, for example, an ability to recite pages of text on a single hearing, to multiply six-digit numbers in their head, or to memorize and perform any song played for them just once.”

“Prodigious savants are extremely rare, with fewer than one hundred noted in more than a century of literature on the subject. (A prodigious savant is someone whose skill level would qualify him or her as a ‘prodigy,’ or exceptional talent, even in the absence of a cognitive disability.) Fewer than fifty or so such individuals are believed to be alive in the world today. About half of them are prodigious musical

causation, specialized theories, and wait, reincarnation!?
Savant Syndrome as I said has long fascinated me. “HOW can this be,” I have often wondered upon witnessing these child prodigies seemingly born with a knowledge of the musical keyboard, for example. It has been suggested that some of these children had past lives in which they honed these musical abilities, and that what we are witnessing now are these traits being carried over into in their next life.

Of course, you immediately lose part of your audience by melding subjects like reincarnation with strict scientific standards of academia. But part of the great appeal of this site is that we have exceptionally bright minds of all beliefs! Such that I need feel no shame in bouncing these ideas around. :: i love my ILP ::

Right - so look I’m short on time: I would be much interested in hearing any thoughts or theories of causation to help fill out his part of the discussion.

Cheers - have a great day!

You may want to read the article posted in this thread by Skeptic (the full article is a few posts down). I think you’ll enjoy it. :sunglasses:

I have the belief that we are all capable of savant ability, but our brains have been modified to prevent us from having those capabilities on purpose. In the midst of being really smart and creative, the human race has a tendency of being really stupid and destructive. I think that the reason we weren’t just given these abilities to begin with was possibly to see how we behaved without them first. I think part of human evolution will be to gain those abilities, but that evolution will probably not take place until we have evolved ourselves into a productive yet fair race. I also believe in Gaia theory in case no one has noticed.

Im not sure of the numbers so correct me if im wrong, but don’t we see autism and savant in the same place a lot? Again i’m not sure, maybe not to the prodigy level, but those individuals able to multiply huge numbers or memorize a musical piece quickly. maybe it has something to do with being removed mentally from this world and only living in yourself. Its a scientific fact that we only use a really small percentage of our brain. Maybe if we went deep inside of ourselves we could release more, but then that woul dmean there is less of us outside. That we would become dispondant.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation, huh?

Never heard of it. :stuck_out_tongue:

Matthew E. you scared me for a second man. I saw “June 23” on Skeptic’s post and immediately berated myself. “Damn, how could I have missed that!” Then I saw it was one day shy of one year ago. Incredible coincidence. Anyway - looks fascinating, thanks. I’ll have to give it a nice full read.

By whom?

The word genius can be defined as the special or inherent trait in any individual. In my opinion we are all geniuses, but that we may not realise our abilities, for a wide variety of reasons e.g. trauma, lack of support.
With regard to savants, I think that they display abilities that potentially could be available to many people, if it was part of their genius, but that most don’t. Why do they develop the abilities? Perhaps because their minds have developed in that way as a form of compensation for the other abilities they lack. I’ve just started reading ‘An anthropologist on Mars’ by Oliver Sacks, which I think may approach that issue.

MOTHER NATURE! She is the system that operates to keep the planet habitable by balancing organisms with precision. Seriously, you have to find it fascinating that the planet just somehow “knows” how to balance itself out perfectly. We as humans, by messing with some of the species of organisms on this planet have learned just how delicate that balance is. One species’ waste is another species’ food. From micro-organisms and algae to higher plants and animals everything has a specific place, that is, except humans. I think we are the exception, and we are intended to be the thinkers of life, and that I believe is our place. Anyhow, the odds that life could have evolved in such harmony and symbiosis randomly is so astronomical that it is not even worth considering. I know this is off topic, but I am a big supporter of gaia theory and had to add that…

No, no, not at all. Glad you brought it up.

Yeah that’s right. You and that Gaia Theory thing. I saw you talking about it somewhere earlier and had to go look it up, then I remembered––hearkens back to the sixties. Mehh, I don’t buy it.

[An Important Disclaimer: Alien you know I like you a great deal. However, I’m getting ready to let loose in a kind of devil’s advocate tone - please take it as me being an asshole jerk just for its own sake, ok? Thanks! :sunglasses::)8)]

I think it an autonomous ecological balance. No less, but no more.

I cannot get myself to assign this ‘consciousness’ thing espoused by Gaia. “Mother Earth” to me is just an expression.

You mean… to take another example, like global warming? Please. So far it’s just an unproven theory that humankind could possibly have an impact on the greenhouse effect signicantly greater than would otherwise occur were we not here at all.

Bam! That, sir, makes you an environmentalist wacko. To use a Rush-Limbaugh decree [and I don’t even like the man!] :stuck_out_tongue:

(You mean astronomically small.) Yeah, that’s a common mistake in thinking. See actually, the odds are 100%, simply because it happened.

Further, though it may seem something miraculous, the fact is that in an “astronomically large” universe, it is only logical that something of astronomically minute odds like Earth would form.

Autonomous: adj. Not controlled by others or outside forces; independant.
Okay, I agree and disagree. I agree that Gaia is probably a self regulating force as far as evolution and natural balance go. I also believe that nature and the universe are in league with one another. Scientists now know that life has it’s roots in the physical laws of the universe. That means that the universe, through physical laws is a force acting upon nature, thus nature is not independant.

If you remember in another thread I mentioned that I have the belief that unconsciousness is a form of consciousness. Well I consider mother nature to be an unconscious force. Most species on this planet operate in an unconscious manner. They still operate, however, and make decisions, communicate, etc. In order to make decisions one must have at least a minimal amount of intelligence. So to say that Gaia is a conscious force does not agree with me either. To say that Gaia is an unconscious force with great intelligence more defines my belief. You have to admit that there must be some intelligence operating the planet. If there weren’t then everything would be random, and there would be chaos. The global ecosystem is unbelieveably orderly. Also take into account that most of your brain is unconscious, which makes most of your intelligence unconscious as well.

Well, actually I was more referring to bullfrogs in Australia, but global warming has officially been proven. The pentagon recently informed Bush that it was in fact a problem, and an exponentially increasing problem at that. We’re not talking some bullshit left wing organisation here, this is the pentagon. My main point was that by removing one species you can kill off a whole slew of others all the way up the food chain. Every species has a certain way that it balances other species.

Oh my god! I can’t believe you quoted Rush Rimjob! Put me in my place… How dare I stand in the way of decadent industry practices. I’m depriving all those poor rich people of their extra money. :sunglasses:

Good point… HA! I bet you didn’t think I’d say that!

I do believe that the universe has a will of it’s own though, and nature is part of that will. Also consider the odds that it would take for Earth, or for the sake of discussion let’s say if mars were to evolve correctly, and precisely like the earth has . The universe may be big, but it’s only been around for fourteen billion years, and the further you go back in time, the smaller the universe is. The smaller the universe, the hotter it is. The hotter it is, the less likely that life as we know it could’ve evolved.


He’s the antithesis of Michael Moore.

I just saw Bowling for Columbine and thought it was an outstanding indictment of our culture juxtaposed with an honest, almost mournful questioning of why we are so afraid … of everything.

Can’t wait to see Fahrenheit 9/11.

Moore’s a social activist who makes some eccentric, over-the-top decisions (hounding Dick Clark on a sociopolitical issue like welfare-to-work wasn’t the smartest, most germane thing he could have done for this movie) that get him pegged by many as a flake.

Including me for a while. I have admired him going back to his TV series TV Nation; however, of late, he’s taken to pulling some stunts like making the political overture “shame on you, President Bush” at the academy awards that had me looking a little sideways at him. That was, until I sat down and actually saw this movie through, as well as the other features on the DVD. Sure, he makes some mistakes and slants some issues; takes liberties with numbers and plays loose with certain facts. But the man’s doing something positive and he’s authentic. I cannot help but admire him.

Rush Limbaugh? :unamused: Oh God. Flush is a hate-mongering clown I’m forced to listen to several times a week because a guy I know has him on. Unlike Moore, he’s hardly a social activist, and pretty much does no actual good unless you define good as polarizing the country. I do respect Rush on many issues - but I loathe him for vigorously propagating a spirit of divisiveness in our country and our times. Every week day this guy is there beating out a relentless drum of intolerance and dichotomous thinking: To him –and consequently for his audience of millions– the country is not as one, but is comprised of ‘LIBERALS’ versus the good guys. We must always be on guard for ‘THEIR’ pernicious agenda. He openly scoffs at John Lennon’s song “Imagine,” suggesting it espouses Communism. What a fool.

Hehehe! This now belongs in our PoliSci forum. Derailed m’own thread! That is why I’m going to start a forum of my own, where such impassioned ramblings might be more easily corralled.

MWAH-haha. mad look :evilfun::evilfun:


Never really heard much about the Gaia idea, so I’ll ask you Alien if you have thought about this prospect (I’d assume you would have). Seeing humans are spouting large amounts of toxins and pollutants into the air, causing damage to nature and the earth in general, are you of the opinion that sooner or later, Gaia will respond by spawning viruses to kill us, so things can balance out? Is AIDS perhaps one of these responses? It does attack us in the act of reproducing after all.

Just a silly friday afternoon thought, but I thought I would bring it up, just for kicks.

Actually, I don’t think Gaia will have to lift a finger. Human beings are plenty efficient at killing themselves. Gaia will live no matter what we do to the planet. It’s us people that are going to die. The rest of life will adapt to the environment that devolves from our wrong doings. We won’t. Even if we were to nuke the whole planet , or block out the sun with pollution, still cockroaches would have a good chance, extremaphiles (micro-organisms that can survive by digesting oil, and live underground in incredible heat) will live no matter what.

As for the viruses, I think people are probably responsible for a lot of those. If you will notice, they have been massively on the rise since biotechnology has improved enough. Some of them are probably results of genetic engineering of produce and things which is very dangerous in and of itself. In order to genetically engineer produce scientists insert viruses that splice genes. Some of these viruses can be harmful to people or animals in unexpected ways. Geneticists were never sure what any particular virus did until they actually tested it. It is now known today that genetics have little to do with the development of traits, the whole genome must be taken into consideration, thus the incredibly low success rate of genetic alterings. Aids is an obvious example of a probable human created virus. It came from monkies, as scientists are sure of. Monkies are the number one test subject for such expirimental viruses. Seems like an awfully large coicidence to me. As I said humans are good enough at destroying themselves. I don’t believe that gaia would destroy humans herself. I believe gaia to be an entity of boundless compassion for all of her creations. If humans want to wreck the fine tuned balance of nature that ensures survival, let them. They are the ones that depend on that precarious balance.

Smallpox, bubonic plague, whooping cough, measles, mumps, polio, diphtheria, and let us not forget the influenza pandemic of the early 20th century, which in the span of just five brief years killed upwards of 100 million people planetwide. Oh yeah Gaia loves us, all right. It’s just a good thing that modern day scientific advances have given us some protection against all that love.

Sarcasm aside Alien, I think we should keep in mind that life used to be heck of a lot shorter, less pleasant, and more treacherous than many of us have ever known it. We need to keep things in perspective and understand that the civilized world of Gameboys, free time, and Internet which we know now wasn’t always. Many of us of lose this perspective; this reference to the whole. We forget and in forgetting, fail to be thankful for all that we have.

I truly believe this is part of the reason we have a thread bobbing about in here right now started by some poor soul who wants to off himself because he “just doesn’t see the point.” Shitfire man, there was a day not so long ago in human history when people were too busy literally surviving to have enough free time to get bored, read up on Nietzsche, become a nihilist, and sit around contemplating whether to be or not to be.

For crying out loud.

Just because life was harder long ago doesn’t mean that it was any less rewarding. You look back on those times and wonder how you could live without your modern convieniences, but back then those convieniences did not exist and were considered impossible. People suffer no less today then they did long ago. Everyone has the same fate essentially, and that fate is death. Pathology is impossible to prevent because life itself is a process of evolution, but ultimately devolution. We as humans begin that process of devolvong back into earth from the day we are born.

Also I hold the belief that many diseases may be the outcome of social oppression. If you notice, most diseases orignated from western cultures. Native Americans, before the arrival of Europeans had little to no diseases, and therefore had no immunity to the diseases brought over by Europeans. We brought every disease from the common cold and small pox, to alchoholism and drug addictions. According to archealogists, it was very rare for Native Americans to be stricken with anything of this nature. So I think that your assumption that mother nature manufactures such illnesses are unfair. The production of vascicles that encode viruses can just have easily been caused by some actions of humanity that deviated from the relatively safe patterns of organization of nature, or some other more random event beyond the control of nature. I believe that at the separation of humanity from the process of nature the viruses and illnesses began to evolve that specifically target them. Look at the disease rate in human beings vs. most animals. It is quite considerably higher. Animals, for the most part, still follow the cycles of nature that they were designed to perform. Humans have modified some of those functions, but those functions are not nearly as deviant as those of man.

John Stossel may have something to say about that, given that he has done a couple of primetime specials now, which debunk myths rooted in the “good old days” mentality. These are specials in which he likes to point out the technological advances (tied to modern-day societal improvements) that have INDEED reduced human suffering a great deal over older times, and improved quality of life for many.

However, that much said, I fully concede your pointing out that life in earlier times may well have been just as “rewarding” for those people given the context of the times in which they lived.

I concede (agree) again. I am especially intrigued by your claim that Native Americans had no such
thing as the common freaking cold! Is this true, or are you just including that as a constituent example to your overall assertion? Either way, good points.

Well I don’t know who John Stossel is, but he’s wrong. How does he know what the “good ol’ days” were like? There is nothing in history to suggest that people were any more miserable then we are now (save a few human rights exceptions during specific periods of history). Lives were shorter in some cases, but not all. If you ask me it was probably about the same. There were less medical procedures, but there are more diseases and ailments these days. Hell, just the existance of cars has risen the global death rate considerably. In Okinawa Japan it is not uncommon at all for people to live to be over a hundered years old. It has been that way for centuries. It has nothing to do with medical improvements. People just get sick less, and are more healthy.

If you ask me the whole look how much our quality of life has improved thanks to convienience thing is just a ploy to get you to buy into the whole American mode of fast food culture. If you ask me modern convieniences have began to make us unhealthy. Look at Mc Donald’s, they are the modern day symbol of convienience, and are also one of the worst things you can do for your health. Cancer rates have soared just this past century alone, along with general decreases in health in vitality. This is probably due to our social institutions (namely corporations) insistance that all these extra chemicals be put in our food. Did you know that oreos have 17 different appetite stimulants in them? They don’t tell you that on the package though. Just go to the supermarket and look at a few packages of food and write down every chemical that you aren’t familiar with. Only doit with a few foods. Then think about how many chemicals there are that are listed on all the other packages that you don’t know about, and add them all up. How many of those chemicals do you think have been sufficiently tested? How many of them are just put in there for unknown purposes. Try eating nothing but foods that have only natural ingredients in them and see how much your grocery bill goes up. Furthermore, there have been all sorts of genetic mutations forced upon plants by humans medling with nature. They do gene splicing by creating viruses specifically for the purpose. Less then 1% of all gene splicing expiriments performed have been successful. The viruses created to perform the modifications can potentially be very dangerous. Certain foods modified by genetic engineers can be quite dangerous, and some of them have been removed from the market because they have been found to be unsafe. GM (genetically modified) produce has also been found to sometimes even cause our own genes to mutate. Scientists have no idea how these mutations may effect us.

As for Native Americans, yes it is true that there was not even the common cold in North America before Europeans came over. In fact it is historically documented that when early Native Americans contracted the common cold at first, they were quite likely to die from it. It may seems like a harmless pathogen these days, but that is only because it is so common that our immune systems have become quite efficient in dealing with it.

Feh. :evilfun: “Harmless pathogen” or no, I could definitely live without that irritating little buggard. :angry:

Sounds a bit sensationalist, Alien. Source, please.

Wait a minute. Now you’re implying the U.S. government implements mind-control via food-additives!? C’mon, man give me a break here. I’m trying to take you seriously, but damn! :wink:

I thought you resided here in the states? :confused: How can ya live here and not know of John Stossel’s infamous “Give Me a Break” specials. He works for 20/20. … os0203.htm

No, I only said that there were chemicals put in our food for unknown purposes which is a fact. But look what the first thing that came to your mind was.

I try not to watch the garbage on T.V. and preserve my individuality.

Click your heels together three times, and repeat after me: there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home. Good, now sit down, turn on the tube, and watch the Bush-Kerry debates. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! There’s no place like home.

Sounds a bit sensationalist, Alien. Source, please.
[/quote] … os0203.htm

thanks for the link, now i know.