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So, can I check to see if I am getting this?

Our religious impulse, along with our technological, social and other impulses may be buried in the unconscious (as a consequence/effect of our genes?) but they are then brought to light by our conscious mind, interacting with the environment, as an emergent behaviour?
That is to say, we need to be optimistic to function, or we need to be social to breed, or we need to make tools to survive. So, these interactions with the environment act on our unconscious and results in the behaviour we all know and love.
If we didn't have a buried technological impulse, then we wouldn't have iPads, or be able to crack open nuts. We wouldn't have gained an evolutionary advantage and we'd still be living in trees.

Nothing is learned, it's all there to be brought to the surface. If nothing is learned, then nothing can change.

If it's all due to our genes then everything is down to randomly joined base pairs. Which it is, of course.

I don't find this depressing, I find this liberating, if anything.

Dave Cohen


No! Various instincts are not "brought to light by our conscious mind interacting with the environment."

Just the opposite -- the dominance of these instincts is opaque to the conscious mind.

Was that unclear??? How could that be unclear???

I added another note (see #3).

-- Dave


I like it. Do you think that other human species had more awareness? Of course homo sapiens killed them off (after interbreeding). So the people that seem more integrated/aware/3-D aren't pure homo sapien. Please, anything to not be 100% of such a stupid, stupid species.

Dave Cohen

Re: Do you think that other human species had more awareness?

No, of course not. Familiarity with the paleoanthropology and the fossil record helps you here.

To quote a movie title, Homo sapiens is as good as it gets.

-- Dave


I haven't come to a full (or as full as I can achieve) understanding of the deterministic nature of mind function yet, so I don't stand firm on this one. It'll take a lot more study on my part, but as of now I generally agree with what you have here.

But on the falsifiable part, while the vast majority obviously won't do the things in step 6 (and so we won't as a whole), individuals CAN do those things. I know several people who consciously don't have children and/or adjust their consumption patterns - both because they are concerned about the future. In the whole of humanity, these people are such a minority as to be a non-factor, of course.

I agree that those drives in the subconscious flow from our programming (biology), but the conscious mind can reject them - with incredible effort, of course, and with the high likelihood of other elements in the subconscious influencing that rejection.

Where we get confused, perhaps, is that these examples of rejecting or deflecting our impulses becomes justification for believing the conscious mind is complete master of the subconscious, or even that the subconscious doesn't matter, that it's just the stuff that creates dreams. In this belief system (which I think is what you mean by Flatland), man is in charge and can easily change whenever he wants to - all it takes is the will to do so. This form of delusion allows one to wholeheartedly embrace the various -isms and never suspect that there are deeper drives influencing their behavior and beliefs.

step back


Before you keep going down this philosophical-neuroscience pathway of yours, I strongly suggest "you" pick up (and read) Restak's "The Naked Brain" book:


That's only a start, but better than doing science with no tools at all.

This talk about "conscious" and "unconscious" mind is major alchemy.

It turns out that "you" are not you at all.

Rather it is a part of your brain that talks to itself (I mean, to yourself) and deludes itself into believing it is in control when it can be scientifically proven that such is not the case.

That part does receive communications from other parts of the brain and does communicate with the other parts. Continuously. But at the same time it deludes itself into believing the other parts are not there.

Here is an example:

(1) You walk into an empty church chapel (or synagogue) and begin praying (well, maybe not you personally Dave, but many people experience this ...)

(2) You get the spiritual feeling that God is listening to you, that He has nothing better to do in this vast enormous Universe but to shine in his countenance upon the precious "you" and listen to every word of your prayers.

(3) Then you get this feeling of inner peace and relaxation. You're prayers (meaning the part of you that is deluded into believing it is you) have been been heard and have been answered by virtue of this "inner" peace "you" begin to feel!

But hold on one F***ing moment.

We said the chapel was empty.
"You" and the rest of your brain were the only ones there.

So whom do you think was listening to "You"'s prayers?
That's right.
The other parts of your brain.

And who sent "You" those messages of inner peace?
That's right.
The other parts of your brain.

They are there and they are sending messages to "you" and you to them all the time. To say that you are unaware of them (that they are the "unconscious") is mere delusion. :-)

Did you see that?
The whole world just blacked out (more below)

step back

People don't like to read long rants.

So this is a short Part II.

The whole world just blacked out.
Did the "you" part of your brain notice?

Try this then ...
Send a message to the "unconscious" eye blinking part of your brain to slow down and hold that next blink a little longer.

"You" are talking to an "unconscious" part of your brain and it is talking back. It's probably saying, This is getting a little uncomfortable for me to get off my usual routine of blinking "our" eye X times per hour. Please leave me alone and let me get back to my routine.

So much for the division between "conscious" and "unconscious" ... and also for the theory of the unitary "mind".

Next stop ... Ever have a time when "you" can't make up your mind?

Dave Cohen

Well, step back,

When I wrote this post, I considered closing it to comment because of flaming assholes like you.

No, make that incoherent flaming assholes like you.

That said, I thank my lucky stars that I will only have to put up with the likes of you for 10 more days.

Reading your bullshit, I know in my heart that humanity has a very bright future indeed.

very best to you,

-- Dave

step back


I'm confused.
Why the negativity?
I was only trying to provide a more technical viewpoint for how the human brain works. BTW, I am no expert in this field and merely one who is trying to learn more. Best wishes anyway.

Dave Cohen

step back,

You said This talk about "conscious" and "unconscious" mind is major alchemy.

So you just labeled me an alchemist. And things go downhill from there.

You see, and this is really the point, you are so unconscious that you have no idea how offensive what you said was.

And re-read my point #5 until you understand it. That might take you a while, so be patient.

And since we are near the end of DOTE, and I get the last word here, you are now banned from making further comments.

-- Dave


@step back: 'This talk about "conscious" and "unconscious" mind is major alchemy.'

That's a pretty inflammatory statement. You're saying Dave is practicing witchcraft, when those terms are long established and considered in psychology. You mention one book, and then say, "That's only a start, but better than doing science with no tools at all."

So, you're saying that Dave hasn't read anything on the subject - he's unqualified to discuss it. Who could possibly be offended by that?

The rest of your comment is basically a repeating of the theory of the conscious mind grappling with inputs of the unconscious mind. You seem to be saying the same thing as Dave, but claiming that Dave's version is alchemy - although this is unclear.

I read a bit of Restak's book - he addresses the "cognitive unconscious" - basically the unconscious states leading to direct action without conscious thought. For instance, a woman gets amnesia but can still speak in her language, or she still knows how to ride a bike. It's learned behavior that doesn't require upper-level consciousness. This level of the unconscious mind can be influenced by the conscious mind.

Dave is really more addressing the deeper parts of the brain - those parts that form our core. Why do we have the need to procreate? Why do we seek status? Why believe the optimistic take on life? These aren't learned or rote behaviors - they're deeper than that. Dave is saying a lot of this is hardwired into us, and even though I also am only partially aware of the field, I know he's far from alone in doing so.

Alexander Ač


its realy desperate. Even of those few people who care to comment, many are ignorant/stupid/unconscious... sometimes me as well! The only thing I DON'T understand (yet) is how we managed to build such an great empire (if for a while...) with so many usefull devices (satellites, computers, radars ...).

Did those few "brightest minds" of James Watt, Nicola Tesla, Albert Einstein, Max Planck, Richard Feynman, Alexander Flemming, Alexander Bell, etc., enabled those unconscious and ignorant 99% of population to screw up the whole biosphere? And stupidly denying that??

Is this evolution experiment really that simple and unsustainable, so that almost nobody really cares why are we screwed?

All the best,



Dave, you saw it coming and you said so..."here goes nothing"..."so and so lives in Flatland". Your replies are fitting - I don't see them as negative. Scientism rules in Flatland - it's a centuries old project. Evangelists like Restak advance The Indoctrination and Flatlanders feel no need for escape to some non-existent third dimensional space. America's Got Talent will do just fine.

I find your theory (and presentation) beyond "good enough". It's exceptional - the model and metaphor harmonize beautifully with my own understandings of human mentality. I've been "chewing" hard this week and remain deeply appreciative.



Aloha --

Dave here in Honolulu we are presently having our annual Hawaii Con-Con {Conservation-Convention}. The opening keynote was given by a Dr. Doug McKenize-Mohr enviornmental psychologist founder of community-based social social marketing see: http://www.cbsm.com/public/world.lasso and http: and www.cbsm.com/public/world.lasso. Oh, the Delicious irony of it all was lost on most everyone else there. This guy is in the business of making money off the behavioral changes humans would need to make to survive -- not that he really asked all that much from any of us. Well, he did talk about chocolate which is also delicious. Also the chanting Hawaiians at the "opening protocol" did give the whole event a wonderful "Hawaiian sense of place". If they had instead flown you out we would have instead got the unvarnished truth.

Wish I could afford to fly you out and had the the space to put you up. You would hate Honolulu but the rest of the state is very beautiful. We could go hiking, snorkeling and do some swimming. I do not surf or scuba -- tho I guess I could give it the old college try. Hardly a week goes by out here that someone or the other {usually what we refer to politely as "visitors"} kills themselves "having fun".

This the Cohen "good enough" theory of human cognition helps explains, for me, the so-called "mystery" of our dear, late and much lamented cousins the Neandertals. Because of their magnificent robustness their technological instinct -- not their "intelligence" -- was rather underdeveloped.

I think, I read somewhere or the other, that if Neanderals were "de-extincted" {by the way the TED-talk on "de-extinction" -- a number of the presenters at the the con-con loved it.} and started playing NFL football, they could grab a Sapien player, from the opposing team with ball he was holding and drop-kick them both through -- what I hope -- are called the goalposts. A hug from a Neandertal would be as deadly to a human as a bear hug. This fact brings up some interesting questions, about well the time when, we were you know -- intimate.

Perhaps that explains the point of origin of our insufferable arrogance. I can imagine one of our primeval "playaz" coming back to his homies and saying: "Yah I was all-up in that! Those Neandertal bitches are da bomb!" Of course, the shoe would be on the other foot {that is if anyone was wearing shoes back then} when lady Neandertal showed-up with keiki in tow.

By the way if any of you out there have, like I do, very, very wide feet with strong griping toes you got yourself a genuine pair of "Neandertal feet". Read about their feet in Erik Trinkaus' and Pat Shipman's "The Neandertals: Changing the Image of Mankind".

A hui hou ....


Good enough for me. Pretty much everyone is living in flatland.
Too bad you're quitting.

Fred C. Dobbs

As you are of course aware, all the unconscious impulses you have described - technological, survival, and social instincts, growth impulses, optimism, etc. - have all been produced by the evolutionary mechanism for the purpose of survival and reproduction. The result has been the unprecented proliferation of the species homo sapiens across the earth, which, as Ambrose Bierce put it, "multiplies with such insistent rapidity as to infest the whole habitable earth and Canada."

As you are also aware, these same unconscious impulses now threaten catastrophe, as they continue to drive unlimited proliferation in a limited world. As Oswald Spengler wrote in his "Man and Technics" of 1931 (note the date!):

"The mechanization of the world has entered on a phase of highly dangerous over-tension. The picture of the earth, with its plants, animals, and men, has altered. In a few decades most of the great forests have gone, to be turned into news-print, and climatic changes have been thereby set afoot which imperil the land-economy of whole populations. Innumerable animal species have been extinguished, or nearly so, like the bison; while races of humanity have been brought almost to vanishing-point, like the North American Indian and the Australian."

So I look upon the human race as a tragedy: the same qualities which raised it up now cast it down. Again, Spengler put it much better than I can (his term "Faustian" referring to the worldview of western civilization):

"Today we stand on the summit, at the point when the fifth act is beginning. The last decisions are taking place, the tragedy is closing.
Every high Culture is a tragedy. The history of mankind as a whole is tragic. But the sacrilege and the catastrophe of the Faustian are greater than all others, greater than anything Aeschylus or Shakespeare ever imagined."

Mike Roberts

Sorry to be so thick, Dave, but what sort of information/control is passing from the unconscious mind to the conscious mind. is it simply what is necessary to exhibit behaviours which must be done consciously? I can see that information which the conscious mind receives from its environment doesn't make it down to the unconscious to modify those impulses but I'm not entirely clear what goes the other way.

Thanks for the continuing final analysis.


Dave, I can see that the unconscious is opaque to the conscious from your explanation, in the same way that our genes are not apparent to the environment. The environment, by interacting with the body, can determine which dormant genes get switched on and are used/become apparent.
Is there no pathway, at all, by which information gets to the unconscious?

Please be gentle, I have no psychological education and am only trying to grasp your meanings.

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