Gods, Monotheism, and Ideologies All Failed. But the Human Brain Could Still Succeed. | Joscha Bach

Gods, Monotheism, and Ideologies All Failed. But the Human Brain Could Still Succeed. | Joscha Bach

JOSCHA BACH: I think that religion probably
got us from the first million individuals—and we had been at a million individuals for a
very long time in history—to the first one hundred million. And then this monotheistic religion, we got
to something like three hundred million. And at the turn of the times at 1 BC we were
about three hundred million individuals. And at the beginning of enlightenment, that
is somewhere around seven hundred AD approximately, we were still four hundred million individuals. And at this point we evolved in our culture
the ability to doubt. We started doubting the religion. And feudalism broke down as a result, and
we started building a modern much more productive society. This society got us two billions of individuals. And then came the next revolution and the
twentieth century. These were systemic societies. Societies that were grown in the lab from
people that created ideologies. Fascism, socialism, communism, market liberalism—These
were all things that people thought of and invented and lapsed [??] and then implanted
them in societies. Incidentally they all failed, and now in something
like a post-systemic age and we don’t really know what works and what doesn’t work. And when we want to describe our society we
sometimes use words like “resilience” or “anti-fragility” and so on, which are
good words for muddling through. Because we don’t really know how to organize
these societies in these days anymore. It’s a very big problem; we need to deal
with this and many countries try to find different answers to their problem. So in a way this ability to program ideologies
and then project them onto people has been a very big breakthrough for our species, and
important it is for mass media. Mass media made the twentieth century possible,
because mass media synchronized the dreams of large numbers of people, the ideas about
the world that they lived in. And now due to social media, mass media has
lost much of their appeal. You know that U.S. in some sense had two realities,
the CNN and the Fox News reality. They were two narratives that were pretty
much incompatible. Two stories that were being told to the people
and that affected their minds. And now due to social media people have stopped
believing these media narratives to a very large extent. People believe random stuff basically. That’s why we are so obsessed with the idea
of fake news, which is incidentally not the propaganda that we are afraid of falling victim
to. It’s a propaganda that we don’t want others
to infect. Right? Random bits of information, viral bits of
information that come from the internet and that get people to disbelieve the same dream
that we are dreaming. It’s actually very dangerous because it’s
going to splinter society into parts that we don’t know how to glue together again. I think that our brain is doing an amazing
thing that we don’t know how to do out there in the real world. Our brain is a self-organizing system that
processes information in a near-optimal way. Sometimes you have defects where the brain
starts lying to itself, but mostly it doesn’t happen. Our nervous system is pretty accurate in the
sense that it doesn’t lie to itself very much. And the way we build our organization in the
world of our governments and so on, which are in some sense the nervous systems of our
societies, they lie to themselves. They are corrupted by local interests and
so on. And we haven’t really found a way to build
information processing networks out in the world that manage to be for the most part
always truthful and relevant. And if we understand how our brain is pulling
this off to self-organize in such a way that many, many small units can link up in a way
that organizes itself to do the best for that particular organism, this is something that
we need to pull up in our societies too. So I do think that insights from understanding
how our minds work and how our nervous systems work are going to be very helpful in understanding
how to build better societies and better organizations.

100 thoughts on “Gods, Monotheism, and Ideologies All Failed. But the Human Brain Could Still Succeed. | Joscha Bach

  1. Neuroethics this is my YouTube channel

    Religion is productive.
    But now let's create an ideology based on self-awareness.

  2. i think this joscha bach guy is the smartest person i've seen on BigThink so far, i havent disagreed with any of his ideas yet.

  3. My brother religions of the West preach hate , the east religions have nothing like that , some religions are around over 2000 years fool , they still exsist and you want to talk about ideology , foolish

  4. "The brain doesnt often lie to itself"
    Sorry, that's fake news. Your brain tells you that your consciousness is more than just a vast computation of 1's and 0's.
    "I think therefore I am" is the biggest lie ever told.

    That being said, recognizing and understanding the brains illusions can definitely provide the self awareness necessary to move forward into healthier ideologies.

  5. A way to help all of humanity is to remove the profit motivation to lie and the profit motivation all together. AKA wealth redistribution Universal basic income resource-based economy. While the same time finding personal fulfillment and becoming a transhumanist. Or just plain personal fulfillment whichever Road you prefer to go down.

  6. Another point related to this is that a social view of humans based on neuroscience would more closely be informed by our needs and limits. Something society doesn't do very well today. Hence it breaking down periodically and causing unnecessary suffering.

  7. The one thing that all cells have in common is our DNA. Every neuron is grown and motivated by the same base information. We currently lack a universal anchor for our society analogous to DNA. Theistic practices served as acceptable, primitive systems for a species with limited communication capability, but the world has changed.
    We are currently trying to learn how to deal with societal disease. Not that we didn't care before, but we lacked the diagnostic capacity that the internet allows us. We are able to not only receive motor impulses, but are only recently able to send sensory information back to the system.
    We now see unregulated profit motive as a cancer, not capitalism. We view police brutality as an autoimmune disease, not as a necessary evil. We view responsible prescription drugs as hormonal regulators, not as foreign assailants.
    But what can our new DNA be?

  8. Spot on. Ideology, religion, politics, all are just the projections of the mind. None are reality. To get to the next step in our civilization we need the Universe to be as much of the deciding factor (science) in what we do as our own humanity (art, philosophy)

  9. I think our external environment is just a mental projection of our internal environment. I think the developing mind had no other point of reference

  10. "if God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him"- Voltaire. Religion is really important in human life, everyone who says it isn't, are wrong. Belief is what makes human a human, it gives faith to us all, it helps to overcome obstacles, it helps to find meaning in life, it helps to understand what is right and what is wrong. If you don't believe in any religion, why do you even live for? Why do you do good? Why you do not steal from other people, why you do not kill? It is because of your beliefs, more or less. Yes, religion can make people kill, but where is good, there is bad. If religion order you to kill or hurt other people in any way, it isn't a religion you should follow. Religion should make people do good, not bad. That is all.

  11. I refer to evolution when I doubt a present day practice. For instance, when we were hunting and gathering how many calories were we burning as compared to today's capitalistic intuitions?
    Do "business leaders" today believe their evaluation of "production" is equivalent to the level of calories we would burn in the African savannah, OR are they just worshipping the social hierarchy?
    Darwin has a quote that goes something like…
    "if poverty be the result of anything other than the weather, it is our own sin to blame."
    …though science always seems to be brushed aside like it's a game, or forgotten by a patriotic guise of "internal security".

  12. The question is what is the organism? If the organism is an ethnostate with physical borders that more or less correspond to genetic similarity, then ethnonationalism coupled with socialism is the most optimal system for THAT organism. But do we define the organism as all of humanity? Then something else is the most optimal arrangement.

  13. The safest way is heuristics. That's what we have been doing for at least 20k years… Maybe we should go back to it.
    Also, I believe the multi celular "system" you are talking about is something that exists conceptually already: anarcho-capitalism… The cells are the individuals…

  14. The brain doesn't lie to itself? Not sure what that means by that, but humans lie to themselves all the time. Our entire identities are mere fabrications and our sense of self-importance equally ridiculous.

  15. Humans have existed for thousands of years.
    Our current Global Economy relies on cheap Diesel to farm and distribute food.
    Easy to get oil will be OVER in 50 years. There are no solar or wind powered tractors.
    There are also no battery powered attack helicopters, tanks and Navy ships.

    What this means is – BEFORE 50 years from now, the largest Militaries WILL confiscate the largest oil fields, and this "end" will justify ANY means. No excuses. a Military without fuel may as well surrender . . . and those guys don't surrender.

    The economy of the future will be Martial Law. With free dental.

  16. So with a majority of the world being religious… has religion failed? In fact, while the different political systems grew and collapsed… religion remained. He establishes a timeline that is not accurate. There is religion all through history, and there is now also. Also his "plan" is no plan at all… he just says that society can be studied as a big brain, or rather that it should perform as a brain. As he clearly has stated (by telling us of the lying mechanisms), it doesn't work as brain. And why should it? Would it make people happier? Or is it just a fantasy of his that he wants to come true?

  17. Religion is out of date. Maybe it had a purpose thousands of years ago but now we dont have to question why it rains, we know the answer to these types of questions thanks to science. Religion is not necessary anymore and actually does quite a bit of harm now a days

  18. The idea that the brain does not lie is false. The reason that it can handle all this information is that is constantly loses information as the time passes and fills in the gap by itself. It is known that memory is not exact, that why false memories exist. If the information it has is lacking, it invent new to fill in the gaps with what comes natural to the system.

    Also as much as the speaker rejects the idea of social systems the brain itself is a system. It is not a computer, it is not exact. It is a non-deterministic dynamical system.

  19. In short if we could understand more about how our brain work and use that as a blueprint then we could make a better society?

    Sound like a plan, now let's change the politician into neuroscientist

  20. Instead of bashing religion/ideology as most liberals seem to think they have to, the answer to the question posed by the end was given by the speaker himself: we're not brain cells, we're individuals with conflicting interests that gunk up our cybernetworks. The solution is in synchronization, rather than homogeneous conformization of the masses: corrupt the corrupted.

  21. if you look at a religion, for example Islam, It was made hundreds of yeara ago when there wasn't half of the stuff humanity has now came up with and developed. All religions have to follow time and the human development and state new things that are relevant in this time and let go of some useless rules that were made up two or three thousand years ago

  22. I would like him to really elaborate on how ideologies fail. It seems that there are great thinkers who produce ideologies and then it's up to society at large to see what works and what doesn't work. There will always be painters, musicians, and other artists who disagree with this left brain thinking.

  23. i too have viewed them as steps on an evolutionary ladder. what was useful before is outdated now. what will the next step be? who knows. my opinion is that if we hold on to the past we will limit our potential.

  24. as long as there are those who wish to instil their ideas of how the world should be organised the way they see fit, we will never be able to evolve to the next step. technology is revolution, not evolution.

  25. The whole history of pyschology (of which neuroscience is a subset) shows us how many different ways we are capable of distorting, fabricating, partitioning, biasing, etc. our "reality." For Joshua Bach to ignore and overlook all this with a new slight-of-hand twist about our brains (as if we haven't been using them for previous self-deception) being a possible solution going forward is naive at best and head in the sand at worst. His "big think" is "small potatoes."

  26. "Brainwashed, diseased, infected" I'm honestly quite tired of hearing this new atheism ideology that religion is hindering or holding us back, that science is "the only way to move forward". Here's the thing, people didn't invent God just to place an answer on the unknown, there is evidence from the unknown that leads to a theistic God. Which "god" out of the many religions is a completely separate issue, however a theistic God is the best evidence for: an objective moral standard, the laws of logic, the cause/fine-tuning of the universe, etc.

    "Religion removes the humanity in our nature. It causes differences, differences cause hate and eventually wars"

    "Spot on. Ideology, religion, politics, all are just the projections of the mind. None are reality. To get to the next step in our civilization we need the Universe to be as much of the deciding factor (science) in what we do as our own humanity (art, philosophy)"

    2 quotes taken straight from this video's comment section and I barely had to scroll.. I pray that people learn to educate themselves more in religion. That goes for both atheists and theists.

  27. If you make our beaurocracy not lie to itself, by making it like our brain, it will involve decentralisation of everything on an extreme level. So much so that an elementary process will seem meaningless and people won't know what their jobs are, just like neurons don't. God exists, by the way.

  28. Free market capitalism and a respect for property rights produces the very self-organizing system the speaker mentions. It can sometimes have hiccups, but it generally produces true information in the form of prices. We know it works, and historically, it produces prosperity wherever it is implemented -to the degree that it is actually implemented.

  29. It's not surprising that most of the comments here focus on religion, and not democracy, or "neuralism."
    Must be people do not listen until the end.

  30. The Hebrews were Polytheists
    until the beginning of the second temple period; when they became monotheists
    and did a fast and furious (but incomplete) rewording of their religious stories, to reflect their new theology.

    That was only about 6 centuries before (what we now call) the first century of our common era.
    Many of the "Old Testament" stories were first circulated while they were still polytheists.

    Jehovah/Yahweh is an evolved concept; taken from older religious myths.
    Before they were monotheists, he had a lover; a goddess named Asherah.
    They were not married. And she was a full figured woman. Baby had back.

    I wish Christians would have mercy and write him in a new love interest.

    Maybe we could introduce him to Aphrodite?

  31. I don't agree with the last part. Our brain is a master of deception. Just see any ideology (science vs religioncaptalism vs socialism). This subjectivity in our ideologies today can lead us to a catastrophe.

  32. The next step is getting past ideology. It isn't much different from religion; it is just as dogmatic and hostile to Reason.

  33. >Gods, Monotheism, and Ideologies All Failed

    why do you think religion failed?
    religion is the best way to put a desperate drunkard/junkie back on a rails and improve his life,
    it offers discipline and sense of meaning of life to individual who lacks it in exchange of worship,
    that's a reasonable tradeoff

    religion didn't failed, but it's purpose changed

  34. How do we truly know that what "Big Think" isn't putting out isn't "fake news" and just found a clever way to imprint ideas on our brain? How do we truly know what's really true? Does it all eternally matter anyway? How could that even be proven?

  35. We are the Borg. Existence, as you know it, is over. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Resistance is futile

  36. The human brain resolves things by being rooted in one environments and effectively having a dominant definition of success or what is important.

    Societies built from different groups of people don't have a common center or direction that everyone could want.

  37. Bold claim to religions failure when 91% of humanity still believes in them. Maybe the failure lies in acknowledging religions..

  38. I know this sounds smart to those building on sand, but this is rubbish. He also VASTLY over simplifies history in a way that meets the narrative that sound so smart in his own head.

  39. In less than 1 minute, this guy makes assertions that simply are not true and he brushes aside history and facts to support his position. This is one of the more ridiculous things offered on Big Think thus far and that is saying something…

  40. What the imagination "imagines" it treats as truth until reason frees the mind from the imagination. The imagination seduces itself through deception to be free from what the mind knows to be true and fears. We simultaneously run toward and away from truth (reason).  The mind often does not know its own insanity

  41. An intelligent mind created this world. The sun and moon come up and go down EVERYDAY. Plants do photosynthesis specifically waiting for that sun. Humans bodies are so advanced that we don't even know our brain to this day. Yet we wanna say a Big Bang randomly set all of this in motion?!?! Personally not dissing science just highlighting that unlike religion when science is wrong so many years later on an issue we say nothing about it.
    Theories = the truth until proven with a lie.
    Christianity doesn't Need a word like "theory", we got Jesus and he won't change.

    Read the Bible, Get to know Jesus, Hmu when you see the truth.

  42. First of all socialism never existed , not to mention communism . Its not the same you moron ! Fascism , feudalism , market – capitalism are not the same concepts as socialism , anarchism or communism. Fuck you , and your fucking capitalist propaganda !

  43. The "Enlightenment" began closer to 1700 CE than to 700 CE. You share some interesting speculations here, but I think you should learn more history. Two sets of books set me to the serious study of history (by which I mean NOT "the history of crime," which is what we usually find in books). They were "A Study of History" by Arnold J.Toynbee (or its accurate condensation by D.C. Somervell) and "The Masks of God" by Joseph Campbell. A much easier book with which to start, if you can find it, is "The Transformations of Man" by Lewis Mumford. Toynbee's model of historical progression (the genesis, growth, decline, and disintegration of civilizations [meaning urban-centered societies, starting as far as we know with Sumer c. 6500 years ago]) is very apt for many of the problems you cite. E.g., the polarization of society: Toynbee says that in a civilization that has broken down–and I believe that ours, which I call European Civilization, has–people tend to retreat into fantasies of futurism, and archaism (a longing for the good old days, with many such groups each having its own notion of what the good old days were like). So we become polarized, indeed multipolar, with each pole believing its own fantasy, however unlikely or absurd, about the glorious past or the glorious future; and with each pole demonizing and in conflict with every other. An overall way to characterize this stage is the loss of common values, followed by projection of our own shadow (evil) selves onto others, mutual demonization, and on all sides an overwhelming need to be right, to win. But this epoch is indeed different from any past breakdown and disintegration–e.g., of the Greco-Roman Civilization–in that modern technology has opened up new possibilities for both good and evil. For the first time we could, by our own determined actions, destroy our species. But also, technology, driven by the pursuit of curiosity, novelty, wealth, and power, is accelerating the speed of change past the point where most people can cope with it. And many of these changes are asymptotic; i.e., if they are graphed over time the curves that describe them become steeper and steeper, and appear to approach infinity more and more rapidly. Examples are the power of weapons, since 1945 or even since the US Civil War, the maximum speed at which an individual human being can travel, the physical power that can be wielded by an individual. But of course they can't reach infinity, and the answers to all these problems, both the old and the unprecedented, will not be found in new technology or even new science; these, largely unchecked by the sorts of values appropriate to human beings (to characterize them would take at least another mini-essay), have brought us to this apocalyptic point in history. We will either break down, or break through; this breakthrough, if it comes, will match in scope and importance the one that brought us from the stone age to agriculture and, soon after, civilization.

  44. God has not failed, we failed. We are now mortal with the same haughtiness, pride fullness, lustfulness, vanity, conceit selfishness, boastfulness,, covetousness, and vileness that got us put here in the first place.

  45. So called free thinker genius seems to forgot that atheist & communism just same technically which was lead to massacre of millions of people as well by stalin n other communist country.
    N yet u preaching about religion is destroying humanity. All religion preach about peace and goodness. The follower is to be blamed to if it failed. When u start to blame the religion, its like u blame your teacher when he failed to teach u because of your damn stupidity.

  46. The brain is an organ that serves as the center of the nervous system in all vertebrate and most invertebrate animals.

    The brain is located in the head, usually close to the sensory organs for senses such as vision.

    The brain is the most complex organ in a vertebrate's body.

    In a human, the cerebral cortex contains approximately 15–33 billion neurons, each connected by synapses to several thousand other neurons.

    These neurons communicate with one another by means of long protoplasmic fibers called axons, which carry trains of signal pulses called action potentials to distant parts of the brain or body targeting specific recipient cells.

    Physiologically, the function of the brain is to exert centralized control over the other organs of the body.

    The brain acts on the rest of the body both by generating patterns of muscle activity and by driving the secretion of chemicals called hormones.

    This centralized control allows rapid and coordinated responses to changes in the environment.

    Some basic types of responsiveness such as reflexes can be mediated by the spinal cord or peripheral ganglia, but sophisticated purposeful control of behavior based on complex sensory input requires the information integrating capabilities of a centralized brain.

    The operations of individual brain cells are now understood in considerable detail but the way they cooperate in ensembles of millions is yet to be solved.

    Recent models in modern neuroscience treat the brain as a biological computer, very different in mechanism from an electronic computer, but similar in the sense that it acquires information from the surrounding world, stores it, and processes it in a variety of ways.

  47. What the fuck is this dipshit blabbing on about?

    He starts off with bullshit statistics then proceeds to shit out a nonsensical word salad trying to sound smart.

    Get the fuck outta here.

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