Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Can "I" be someone else? (thought experiment)

A thought experiment... is it possible that the perception of "I" in a person can be warped to be someone else in such a way that I believe that I am the other person. And, if I were to suddenly be aware of my actual senses, it was seem unbelievable or even as if it was someone else. I imagine it would almost seem like an out-of-body experience.

Part of this thought experiment is to determine if our belief in what is true primarily due to the weight of certain information. We have our perception of "I" because of all the senses that we have with us all the time. It clearly overrides any other information as true by this hypothesis.

Thus this is how we deem what is true and false, even though we do not really know what is true or what is false. Our brain is like a natural scientific experiment. We believe in the patterns that we can perceive and understand.

This is why it is harder to gain trust than to lose it. It takes information and (in our current mode of information input) time to confirm that the pattern of information from a certain source is trust worthy. The trust of that information is compounded by the source. Thus as the source becomes more trusted, the more trusted the information is (whether that information is true or not). Thus it is possible that a false information can be trusted merely by the trust coefficient of the source. On the other hand, once the trust of the source is broken, all information will lose all the trust bonus. This does not mean the information is false but rather it requires other values like repetition of information from multiple sources or repetition of experiments (science).


So my experiment is to wonder if I am able to block all sensory information from a person. The person would be "bound" or perhaps in weight-less environment like space. Then have a monitor or even a VR headset that displays another life like a TV show from a single point of view. Would all that new sensory change the person's idea of self?

Interestingly after this thought, I was watching the TV show Person Of Interest (POI) where Samaritan was attempting to brainwash her. Although fictional, it is kind of in-line to the experiment except from the very beginning.

Possible Repercussions

I wonder if this could potentially explain brainwashing. By overriding the sensory input with overwhelming information, a threshold could be met to essentially override existing beliefs. Another trust coefficient is probably introduced for survival purposes. Basically, the weight of trust level is increased by the urgency for surviving. This could also explain Stockholm syndrome.

On a lesser level, this could also explain religion. On the same level, a similar argument could also made about science.

Then on the white-lie level, repeating a lie could even convince ourselves of something not only of little basis but something even knowingly false.

Perhaps this is why I always have some sort of self-doubt.


Just to reiterate, this is just a though-experiment as it is impossible (at least morally/ethically) to actually do. Second, I have little knowledge about brainwashing, illnesses, etc., except what is known through pop-culture. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Greek Yogurt (dislike)

Sorry, Greek yogurt. I still do not like the taste or texture of a simple Greek yogurt. Maybe if you bury it in a bunch of fruits then maybe. The smell alone is enough to scare me away. I can tolerate Yoplait Greek yogurt but then that makes me wonder if that is real.

I do not know why I don't like Greek yogurt. I used to not like plain yogurt but I am now fine with it. But then again, plain yogurt was more tolerable after I tried Greek yogurt. Which is almost the same way that I learned (ie acquired the taste of) to drink beer. I just did not like beer. Then at some social gathering they had some really strong (ie not light) beer, and ever since, light beer is perfectly fine for me. Although my taste for beer has improved since then, I still cannot pretend to enjoy the foulest tastes of some beers... perhaps they just need to make one even worse.

Anyways, I still try it every so often because it is a healthier alternative. So far, it is only healthier for me because I do not have much appetite after smelling it.


Review: Yogurt, Yoplait vs La Yogurt vs FoodTown vs Others (not a nutritional review)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Did you ask a good question today?

Some times I wish I spent more time reading but I just love figuring things out. The little details bore me, and I do not have the patience to trudge through all those words to find the golden nugget of information.

Although people say I am smart, but in comparison to most people... I really am not. I am good at asking questions: questioning the status quo, questioning thoughts, questioning answers, and even questioning questions. Perhaps that is why I can be very dumb at times.

They say there are no stupid questions, but there are. The internet has resoundingly proved that with a lot of anger and a lot of hate. But when we say that there are no stupid questions, we really mean that I would rather that you asked and learned than not ask and remain stupid... with some reservation.

But... there is a time and place for questions. If the question is a low level question (i.e. a very general question) and the audience is a high level group, then save the question for later (i.e. a smaller group). If the audience is a low level (e.g. introduction course) group, then ask away. If you are not sure, wait till you are in a respectable sized group. Bottom line... although you should ask questions, be mindful of other people's time. It is better to take up 1-3 people's time than 10s, 100s, or an internet-worthy number of people. Time and place is more about respect to those around you.

Unlike Chelsea Handler (article below), my parents didn't have a lot of impact on that front of my life. For me, they couldn't figure a lot of things out so I suppose I got my inquisitiveness from need rather than encouragement. So fear not if you didn't come from a more curiosity-nurturing background, there is still hope for you. Lucky for you, the lesson is quite simple. Question anything, everything, or "nothing."

But we wary not to be stuck with asking "why" about everything. "Why is the sky blue?" "Why is the world round?" "Why am I here?" Although "why" is a good place to start, it does not easily lead us to the answers. The reason is that asking that question does not lead us to consider new ideas because the question does not bring us new information that we didn't already know. If we knew, then we wouldn't be asking why.

"What if" is my method of curiosity. What if I took part of A and a part of B, what will happen? What if I wore the brown shirt with the purple pants? What if I mixed Teriyaki with horseradish? Unlike asking why, we can begin to create new ideas even with a set knowledge base by re-ordering certain information. And if we cannot figure it out, we then can attempt to try.

Even questioning existing knowledge can be fascinating. To pick a sensitive topic, the existence of god. There is nothing wrong with questioning your belief to see if the new idea enforces or deters your original thoughts. If it deters, don't let a single idea threaten your belief. On a indifferent topic, the workings of a door. How does the hinge carry the weight? If the top hinge carries more weight, why are both hinges on most doors the same? Isn't it amazing how 2-3 pieces of metal can hold up the door for several years without any physical wear-and-tear to the naked eye? What if one of the hinges broke? What if we keep adding layers of paint? What if we hung on it?

Ultimately, questioning is not really about how things work but how we think things work.


This blog was inspired by this article:

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Body weight exercises

Sometimes, I wish sites would just provide a list at the end of their articles (and would it kill them to add dates to the articles?).
  1. Lunges
  2. Double Leg Lifts
  3. Lying Hip Raise
  4. Push up
  5. Sit up
  6. Plank, Squat
  7. Superman
  8. Reverse Crunch


Monday, May 2, 2016

Writing for those who hate writing or are afraid of writing... say it out loud in writing

There are times when I wondered if I was blood related to my family because everyone in my family was art-inclined. They liked music, singing, and can draw with ease (in my opinion). While... I became an engineer and been blamed for being too logical. All the notes seem the same to me, drawing out of the line was blasphemous, and I cannot sing (still can't). Although there are a billion stories, I think we get the gist of my difference in the family.

But I suppose good is relative, like how some of my college classmates felt inadequate compared to the other students in a top tiered university. Yet I would hire any of them in a heartbeat in place of some of the coworkers I have had to deal with in the past.

I do occasionally sketch-draw cards for people. Primarily because it has a greater personal impact in relation to the cost of the card (free versus $5 at a store). Later in life, I found it to be good practice for the artistic side of me. Everyone says that I am good. At first, I thought they were just being nice. But after some time, you can tell when they seem to be saying it genuinely. So like my drawing, I also picked up writing because I wanted to share my ideas. And as I continued to write, I found different ways to write. And now when I read, I can see some of the structure of how other people write.

Although I cannot change your hatred towards writing or fear of writing, I can only suggest that you should start (or continue) writing even if you are the only reader like this blog of mine. Even just learning the difficulties of writing is worth the experience in understanding other people from a different perspective.

What should you start writing about? It does not need to be a book, a short-story, or even a blog. Even writing a review is good enough or even a tweet. Write how your day was, what you think is right or what was wrong. Write why your favorite color is your favorite color. Write that the food at A is better than B, or that it was comparable or it depends on certain factors.

Do not be afraid to write even if there is no reason or have no answer. Like, I do not know why my favorite colors keep shifting between blue, green, and black... yet blue and orange has a special meaning for me (the repressed school pride that I claim that I don't have?). I don't know why I enjoy being sarcastic all the time. They say it is because I am trying to hide something. It could be true, or it may not. I really don't know. And if you don't want to publish it, don't publish it. But try not to delete it, although there is nothing wrong with that either. Write on little scraps of paper. I wrote in a tiny notepad while I was on the plane. I wrote why the flight attendant was not smiling.

Once you have written a few things (this could be days, weeks, months, or even years), you should review what you have written. Try to figure out what you are trying to convey. Write about writing, write why your writing is so random, but pick up tidbits of what worked for you and if you are ambitious, what did not work for you?

Why write? I think we all succumb to our own beliefs and take for granted that others should know exactly how we are thinking or feeling without considering that they really do not. Even if we think that we are open-minded, we may not be as open-minded as we think we are. Even when I thought that I was open-minded, it embarrasses me to admit that positive-reinforcements (especially from my mom) has made my ego greater than it should be... no matter how hard I try to see through it. And the same goes with negative-reinforcements where my self-worth is lower than it should be at.

Writing is the mirror of communication. You can see how your ideas are delivered, how they fit together, how there is always a flaw and room for improvements. And like a mirror, we still need to be careful on our perception of the reflection. The flaw is like the blemish that you think everyone sees, but what everyone really sees is something else.

And to take this one more level, don't be afraid to try something that you are not good at. Although you may never be as good as your circle or even the majority of people, it is a good exercise to empathize, understand others, and really appreciate their talents.