quest


I am a woman of 65 and my quest is to find a mindmate
to grow old together as a mutually devoted couple
in a relationship based upon the
egalitarian rational commitment paradigm
bonded by intrinsic commitment
as each other's safe haven and secure basis.

The purpose of this blog is to enable the right man
to recognize us as reciprocal mindmates and
to encourage him to contact me:
marulaki@hotmail.com


The entries directly concerning,
who could be my mindmate,
are mainly at the beginning.
If this is your predominant interest,
I suggest to read this blog in the same order
as it was written, following the numbers.

I am German, therefore my English is sometimes faulty.

Maybe you have stumbled upon this blog not as a potential match.
Please wait a short moment before zapping.

Do you know anybody, who could be my mindmate?
Your neighbour, brother, uncle, cousin, colleague, friend?
If so, please tell him to look at this blog.
While you have no reason to do this for me,
a stranger, maybe you can make someone happy, for whom you care.

Do you have your own webpage or blog,
which someone like my mindmate to be found probably reads?
If so, please mention my quest and add a link to this blog.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

515. Responsibility And Liability Without The Myth Of The Free Will

515.  Responsibility And Liability Without The Myth Of The Free Will

Discarding the concept of the free will does not imply to accept, condone or excuse harmful behavior.   It only means a different approach how to protect people from being harmed.    Not harming others is a moral issue, no matter if there is a free will or not.  It requires to redefine the moral quality of behavior from the perception and experience of the target, recipient or victim.   The harm suffered by a victim does not depend on the ability of the transgressor to control his behavior or not.   The need to be protected from harm is independent from how this is done.

People's possibilities to harm others are drastically restricted by legal systems, and subtly also by social norms.     The myth of the free will limits the success of these protective methods for the innocent.   Without the myth of the free will, a person's inability to act responsibly is not a suitable and rational justification to release this person from all liability resulting from his actions.


Responsibility is the cognitive ability to behave deliberately without harming others.   The myth of the free will considers the ability to act responsibly as a part of human sanity.   Harming is legally punished for the purpose to enable the transgressor to learn how to apply his free will for not repeating the harm in the future.  
Only those declared as insane are not punished, as they are considered to have no free will to learn and to control themselves.  

As a consequence of this paradigm, the suffering of victims is considered the unavoidable collateral damage of the learning process of those, who are supposed as having merely strayed but have a free will to decide to change.    The focus is on the transgressors, the victims are considered the objects of their learning.  

The free will myth leading to dealing with a person lacking the ability to act morally by first allowing them to do harm and then punishing them is an inappropriate and cruel mistake.    It burdens too much suffering upon too many innocent victims by being too lenient with the transgressors.    Any person, who for the first time commits a crime causing serious physical or traumatic injuries to the victim, no matter if it is assault, robbery, rape, gets free after a few years.   Only when he has repeated harming innocent victims several times, is he considered as dangerous enough to be locked away for good.   

This is an outrage to the innocent second and further victims of known transgressors.   No punishment can ever undo and heal the damage to the victims.    Punishment may even impede those with lacking morals from changing their behavior.    They experience their time in prison as paying for the benefits of the crime.   Having paid is their reason to feel not or less guilty.  


Without the free will, the concept of universal responsibility has to be replaced by the concept of unrestricted liability.    Liability focuses upon the harm done by someone independent of the reasons for, causes and triggers of any behavior.   The focus is upon protecting the innocent from becoming victims, no matter, how this is accomplished and no matter the consequences for those, who are not able to refrain from harming.  

Responsibility does not require a free will, as it can be motivated by a cognitive calculation of preventing dishomeostasis and of expecting future stimulation of the pleasure center.    Responsible behavior can be the best behavior for the own long-term needs as already explained in entry 514.  

Under the liability paradigm of protecting the innocent, those able to act responsibly are the lucky ones, whose brain allows them to live without being externally restricted.    The others are less lucky, they need to be externally restricted from becoming the cause of harm. 

The ability to behave morally as experienced by the targets, to live without harming is a talent and a disposition, that people are either lucky enough to have wired in their brain or they are unfortunate enough to lack it. 

It is not in any way different from intelligence.    Logically, it should also not be dealt with differently.  
Most people take the benefits of intelligence for granted without even wondering about any injustice, when an intelligent person receives a lot of expensive formal education and reaches high positions of power in a factory.  He earns a lot more for a rewarding job than does the person lacking intelligence, who is given no choice but to do a dull repetitive job at the assembly line.  

Less intelligence is usually accepted as a justification for less quality of life, even though those with less intelligence are only detrimental to themselves.   But the lack of the ability to behave morally is even more detrimental, because suffering is imposed upon innocent victims, and the transgressors often get away with it.   It is time to accept the fact, that the inability to act morally is at least as much a justification if not much more than is intelligence for limiting and restricting the quality of life.   

Intelligence can be at least roughly measured and noticed by limited achievements, thus mistakes by wrong decision can be often prevented.  
Morals are more difficult to assess.  Unfortunately for the victims of first crimes, it is impossible or very difficult to predict the first occurrence of someone seriously harming another.  The first victim cannot be protected.   But after the first crime has been proven beyond doubt, the danger is known.   The second victim of the same criminal is not only a victim of him, but also a victim of a society, which fails to protect the innocent. 

I am not defending or justifying the inequality of chances.   Only when two needs are in conflict, then the needs of the innocent should have priority over the needs of the person known already as a potential danger.    The need to remain unharmed should have priority over the need to have a freedom, which includes the freedom to harm at the next occasion.   

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

514. Morals And Ethics Without The Myth Of The Free Will - 2

514.  Morals And Ethics Without The Myth Of The Free Will - 2

The myth of the free will (discarded in entry (512) is perpetuated as a result of the subjective experience of other people's behavior as moral.   This experience is often independent of the person's real motives.   Whenever another's personal benefits from choosing a specific behavior are not obvious, people are prone to ascribe the behavior to the expression of an apparent free will. 
   
Morals and ethics can instead be explained by the intrinsic and extrinsic cost and benefit calculation for deciding to choose a behavior. 
This calculation is not only using the perception of immediate and present dishomeostasis and the immediate attraction of present stimuli for expected pleasure.  Both can at least partially be visible and recognizable to others including to the target of the behavior.  
This calculation also includes the evaluation, consideration and expectation of emotional, social and legal direct and long-term consequences derived from experiences stored in the memory.   This cognitive part is invisible and mostly unknown to those exposed to the behavior, which is thus not or not fully explicable and comprehensible.  

Not harming others unless there is a morally justified reason to make an exception can be seen as a basic principle of all morals.    As outlined in entry 513, persons with the particles' identity value the species higher than the individuals.  They accept the justification of harm, when it is collateral damage in favor of the survival of the human species.  
For the individualistic identity, there is no justification for harming others.   
Therefore refraining from harming behaviors is at least an important ingredient in what is subjectively experienced as an expression of morals, if it is not the core of it.

Evaluating the morality of behavior implies the interaction between two or more persons.  There are two perspectives.  One focuses upon the target of possible behaviors, the other one upon the acting person's motivation and reasons.
 
The target can judge from direct subjective experience and according to the own concept of morality, if a specific behavior is either moral or not.  The motivation for the behavior is hidden, and can only be assessed as a guess.    The behaving person can either act morally by ethical principles or as the haphazard reaction to a singular situation.   
A monster is not less a monster, when once in a while a possible victim is lucky enough to remain unharmed in spite of being exposed to the hazard.   The non-victim in an ephemeral exposure can remain unaware of having been exposed to a monster and is unable to know, if the apparently moral behavior was only exceptionally and accidentally identical with what the target considers moral.     


There are four varieties of interactions, which are experienced as moral by the target.  None needs the free will as an explanation:  
  1. Moral behavior in the absence of conflicting needs.

    1.1.   The acting person lacks any opportunity, occasion, method, means, tools or weapons to indulge in harmful behavior.

    1.2.   The acting person happens either temporarily or principally not to experience any need, urge or reason to do anything, that would be experienced by the target as harming.
  2. Moral behavior by self-control as a result of expected consequences.

    The acting person anticipates external consequences following the choice of behavior, there is awareness of the pending punishment for harming and/or pending reward for not harming.   This includes acquiring correct knowledge of what is harmful to every individual target as a part of choosing, how to behave.
    Consequences can for example be legal punishment, harmful reactions of the victim or social damage as is the loss of a position of power and influence.   It also includes delusional rewards and punishments by an imaginary deity.  
  3. Consistent moral behavior of apparently ethical persons.

    The acting person anticipates internal consequences following the choice of behavior.   This can be emotional dishomeostasis and/or emotional joy of the pleasure center.
    In a generalized anticipation of these internal consequences, some people follow rules and thus behave consistently in a way, that is experienced by the targets as not only moral but as the apparent expression of an ethical personality.  

    3.1.    Dishomeostasis can be triggered by 
    • suffering as a result of spontaneous empathy with the target
    • experiencing harming others as damaging the self-esteem and self worth.  This is the result of being influenced by social norms and/or a religion, when specific harming behaviors have been associated with despised traits like being weak, foolish, coward, guilty, ashamed.   

    3.2.   Stimulation of the pleasure center can be caused by an innate predisposition of the cognition.
    This innate predisposition is the prevalence of rationality over instinctivity.   Rationality determines a specific choice of an ethical principle.    When focusing decisions not only on self-interest, the interaction with individuals nor on the preference for any ingroup, but on looking at the big picture of the overall balance between giving and taking, then justice, fairness and equal chances are the most logical principle.  
    On this level, the generalized benefits of the golden rule and of tit-for-tat strategies are ethical, because they are logical.    Unjust, unfair and asymmetrical behavior and inequality are unethical, because they are irrational.  
    Rationality causes the pleasure of self-esteem, self-worth and self-confidence, while irrationality causes dishomeostasis.
    People with this predisposition are ethical, because they are rational.  

Saturday, April 21, 2012

513. Morals And Ethics Without The Myth Of The Free Will - 1

513.  Morals And Ethics Without The Myth Of The Free Will - 1

In entry 512 I discarded the myth of the free will.   This has many implication.   

Some aspects of moral behaviors are not universally logical, but they depend upon the extent of how different instincts determine the brain differently and what needs are predominantly experienced by the subjective perception of homeostasis.   

People suffer physical and emotional pain as a consequence of being harmed and hurt.  Suffering is a form of dishomeostasis, and not to suffer is a basic human need.    This need can be in conflict with another person's different needs.   Morals and rules are attempts to solve the conflict of needs.  

Unfortunately, there is no absolute basis for a general moral principle.  There are two competing principles, depending on the view of human beings as either individuals or particles (defined in entry 74).   Both moral principles include a very disparate approach to suffering, which logically leads to an equally disparate approach to the justification of harming others or protecting others from being harmed.  

1.  By the particles' principle, the species is more valuable than the individual.   Thus suffering can be justified whenever it is required for the survival of the species.   Morals serve not only to minimize individual sufferings, but also to force individuals to suffer.

2.  By the individualistic principle, individuals are in conflict with each other for their wellbeing.   The logical method to minimize suffering and maximize the quality of life applies the comparison of the impacts of all behaviors upon others.   Morals are based upon the acceptance of the basic human right of not being harmed. 

The preference for one of the two principles is not an independent choice by a free will.  It is determined by the wiring of a person's brain in combination with modifications by external influences.  This determination is expressed by the the person's subjective identity as either more a particle or more an individual.    What appears naturally and logically as moral is very different for particles from what it is for individuals.    Especially the individually different magnitudes of the procreation instinct, of the ingroup-outgroup instinct and of the gregarious instinct have a decisive impact upon the identity.  


An example:   In the case of a shipwreck, the general rule is to save women and children first.   This is clearly an implicit choice for the survival of the species without considering individual sufferings.

Assuming 240 persons to be rescued, 80 families of a couple with one child each, while there are only 120 places in the life boats.   Theoretically, by weighing the suffering, there are alternatives to the general rule of women and children first.  
Drowning is an agony for every of the 120 persons, no matter who they are.   But when considering also the individual suffering of the survivors, there are huge differences, depending on their selection.    
Option 1 is saving 60 women, each with her child.   The consequence are 60 women suffering for a very long time not only the loss of their partner, but they are also burdened by the necessity of raising the child alone, which is additionally a severe obstacle towards finding a new partner.   
Option 2 is saving 40 families and leaving 40 families behind.  

The choice between option 1 and 2 is the choice between the two moral principles of either the priority of the individual or of the species.    It is a choice between minimizing individual suffering and minimizing the reproductive loss.  
Option 1 causes extreme emotional suffering but biologically it is the least possible loss of reproductive potential.   No children are lost, and 20 wombs.   The saved women can be made pregnant again by any man.  Biologically seen, the husbands left behind are not needed to prevent a loss of reproduction.
Option 2 avoids the emotional suffering of directly bereaved survivors, but to the species, there is the biological loss of 40 children and of 40 wombs.  

By implicit calculation, the moral of society prescribes forcing the agony of losing the beloved partner plus the dreary life as a single mother upon 60 women.   This is implicitly considered to be an acceptable price for preventing the loss of 40 children and 20 wombs.

There is no free will, when instinct driven particles force the priority of the species upon individuals.   The procreation instinct is a determining force, which is stronger than rationality for all those driven by it.  The afflicted persons sacrifice their individual wellbeing in favor of the survival of the genes and this sacrifice is their justification to force sacrifices also upon others.  
Another example:  The woman, who is compelled to change stinking diapers instead of reading a book, does this to restore homeostasis.  By submitting to all the detrimental consequences of the procreation instinct, she is a victim of her biology.   The man, whom she tricks with lies to become the payer of child support is also a victim of instincts.   

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

512. Discarding The Myth Of The Free Will

512.   Discarding The Myth Of The Free Will

While learning about evolutionary biology and evolutionary psychology, I got more and more aware of how much people are determined by subconscious instinctive urges and impulses. As a side effect, already for a long time I have been implicitly and slowly discarding the myth of the free will, but postponing to consciously think this through.   
Implicitly this entire blog is based upon the concept of finding a partner, whose fulfilling my own relationship needs is not a decision by an alleged free will of his.  Instead I am looking for someone sharing with me the same innate inclinations towards the same behaviors and activities, thus enabling both of us to simultaneously fulfill the own and the partner's needs.

But as often, someone else has expressed my implicit idea already much better than I can.   There is an excellent video, in which Sam Harris discards very convincingly the myth of the free will:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=pCofmZlC72g#!

Human behavior is very complex.   It is too complex to be sufficiently logically explained during social interaction.  The mere observable behavior of any human does not reveal all or enough of what contributes to determine it.   This makes the attribution of any behavior to a free will a very tempting fallacy.   But the mere inability to fully understand the complexity is no justification to accept the myth of the free will as a substitute for the lacking full explanations.  
  
Discarding a tempting fallacy is not enough without some rudimentary alternative.   By extreme simplification, all behavior can ultimately and theoretically be explained as serving to either reduce subjectively experienced dishomeostasis or to stimulate the pleasure center of the brain by what is subjectively believed to be appropriate methods. 

The limitations of this simplification are due to the complexity of many variables and influences.   
The following are some, but certainly not all:

1.  Physical Or Cognitive.

Dishomeostasis and stimulated pleasure can either be triggered physically and materially or caused and enabled by faculties of the human cognition.  
 
Examples:
  • Physical dishomeostasis
    Hunger
  • Physical pleasure
    Bubble bath
  • Intellectual dishomeostasis: 
    Boredom; the curiosity to know something.  
  • Intellectual pleasure: 
    Flow experienced during a creative activity; enjoying an art exhibition.  
  • Emotional dishomeostasis. 
    Feeling lonely in need of a mate; feeling betrayed in need of justice. 
  • Emotional pleasure. 
    Feeling happy with a partner or by an achievement.   

2.  Intrinsic Or Extrinsic

Dishomeostasis and stimulated pleasure can be either intrinsically triggered by innate needs originating in the person's brain or extrinsically by influences and impact from the environment.  

Examples:
  • Intrinsic dishomeostasis: 
    Hunger.
  • Extrinsic dishomeostasis: 
    Fear as a reaction to a situation of real danger.
  • Intrinsic source of pleasure stimulation:  
    The joy of finding the solution to a problem or puzzle.
  • Extrinsic sources of pleasure stimulation:  
    The fragrance of a flower; listening to music.

3.  Innate Or Acquired

Dishomeostasis and stimulated pleasure can be either experienced by basic human faculties or only experienced by applying learned skills or previously gathered information. 

Examples:
  • Spontaneous dishomeostasis: 
    Hunger
  • Learned dishomeostasis:  
    Worries about a predicted real hazard, like a flood or a storm.
  • Spontaneous pleasure:  
    Listening to the birds; enjoying the warmth of the sun.
  • Learned pleasure:   
    Reading, swimming.

4.  Immediate, Anticipated Or Delayed

Behavior can be either an immediate homeostation or an immediate reaction to noticing a source of pleasure, or there can be a delay, anticipation and preparation.  This is enabled by the human memory for past experiences and by the cognitive ability to anticipate future experiences.   

Examples:
  • Immediate homeostation: 
    Eating as soon as hunger is felt.
  • Delayed homeostation:  
    Distributing the consumption of limited supplies over a long time in an emergency situation.
  • Anticipated homeostation:  
    Carrying provision on a hike.
  • Immediate pleasure:  
    Entering a cinema at the moment, when the announced movie stimulates the wish to see it.
  • Delayed pleasure:  
    Rewarding oneself only after having finished a task.
  • Anticipated pleasure:  
    Buying a ticket for a theater play in advance.

5.   Reality Or Delusion

Dishomeostasis, anticipation of dishomeostasis, pleasure and anticipation of pleasure are subjective experiences.  The perception and expectation of its magnitude is independent of objective evidence of the existence of its cause or the probability of its occurrence.
The subjective belief is enough to determine people's behavior, even when there is no real source or cause at all.  

The religious delusion of the existence of deities supplies good examples:
  • Delusional dishomeostasis:  
    Feeling guilt of breaking a religious rule, even though nobody is harmed, like a catholic eating meat on Friday.  
  • Delusional anticipation of dishomeostasis: 
    The belief in the purgatory and in hell.
  • Delusional pleasure: 
    Religious experiences.
  • Delusional anticipation of pleasure: 
    The belief in a heaven, where all suffering is allegedly rewarded with pleasure.   

6.   Reality Or Manipulation

Anticipation of improbable dishomeostasis and of slight pleasure can be enhanced and magnified by manipulation to appear significant.  Dishomeostasis of fear, anxiety and worries can be artificially induced to create markets for profit.

Examples: 
  • Artificial dishomeostasis:
    Selling safety equipment.
  • Artificial anticipation of dishomeostasis:
    Selling insurances
  • Artificial anticipation of pleasure:
    Selling products for consumption.

7.   Simultaneous And Competing Triggers

Dishomeostasis from more than one deficit can simultaneously exist and several stimuli can compete to have the strongest impact upon the pleasure center.    

7.1.  When there is full conscious perception of all options, the human cognition allows to choose on a long term basis between possible behaviors as the reaction to the competing urges and the available stimuli.

Examples.  
  • The self-control during a diet, when the phyisical dishomoestasis of being hungry is competing with the mental dishomeostasis of being discontent with being obese.  
  • The self-control of decisions to spend money or to save it for a purpose.  The marshmallow test is a good example.  

7.2.  Strong dishomeostasis can sometimes hide weaker dishomeostasis temporarily from being noticed. 
   
Example:
  • A hungry person with limited money buys food and not a book.   The dishomeostasis of being bored only reaches the awareness after having eaten. 

8.   Attribution Of Causes
 
People often do not understand the real cause of dishomeostasis.  Therefore they fail in their attempt to cope with it. 

8.1.   Own dishomeostasis
Diffuse feelings of dishomeostasis are not understood or attributed to false causes.   Sometimes the attempts to cope replace one dishomeostasis with another.  

Examples:
  • Overeating, physical addiction to drugs and emotional addiction to gambling are two examples of mislead attempts to cope with some other dishomeostasis like stress or unrecognized relationship problems.

8.2.  Other's dishomeostasis
People are often not aware of innate differences.   They project, that what is good for them is also good for others.   They are oblivious, that what stimulates their own pleasure center sometimes causes others' dishomeostasis.

Examples:  
  • People getting pleasure from eating garlic or fish are unaware, that even the smell can cause nausea to others.    
  • People playing their favorite music are unaware, that it can be annoying noise to others.  

8.3.  General expectation of dishomeostasis
External influences like social norms and desensitization modify or destroy the general perception, awareness for and recognition of the real and genuine innate dishomeostasis.   This distorts the expectations about how others are impacted by the own behavior and of how to best deal with the own dishomeostasis.   
 
Examples: 
  • The desensitization by being exposed to too much sex and violence in the media has destroyed the dishomeostasis of feeling empathy and guilt as a deterrent to hurt and abuse others.
  • The dishomeostasis of lonely nice guys in need of finding a companion is modified by the social norm of promiscuity.  They are manipulated to feel instead the artificial dishomeostasis of wanting to be oversexed studs.


As a consequence of discarding the free will, I do not expect anything from anybody, unless I get it either in return or as a side effect of an interaction, during which my behavior contributes to either the other's homeostation or to the stimulation of his pleasure center.  With strangers, this is trial and error based upon the tit-for-tat strategy.   

In a relationship, communication revealing the partner's most urgent dishomeostasis and special susceptibility of his pleasure center is very important.   Know this reciprocally is an important part of knowing the partner and of making a relationship last. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

511. Evolution, The Cassandra Dynamics And Too Much Television

511.  Evolution, The Cassandra Dynamics And Too Much Television

People can close their eyes to end all visual input.  Also daylight is available on average only during half of the life time.  But people can never stop hearing, they can only filter, what they consciously listen to.   
The human brain filters on a subconscious level, which sensory input is allowed into consciousness, and which automatic reactions are elicited.   
On this level, the human brain is still in the evolutionary state of the adaption to when human interactions were limited to a restricted number of personally known people. 
 
I already have mentioned Kanazawa (http://personal.lse.ac.uk/kanazawa/pdfs/ehb2002.pdf), who describes the confounding of virtual and real people by the example of men's reaction to pornography and by the experience of persons on TV as friends.

But the more I ponder over this, the more I can see, that the flooding of the human brain with virtual people has even much more drastic effects than Kanazawa has suggested. 
 
The invention of the radio, of cheap color photography, of color movies and even more of TV and the internet has created, installed and enhanced the ubiquity of virtual humans.  
Virtual humans are all technically preserved and recorded representations of real humans.  This can be anything auditive or visual, which is realistic enough to expose the brain to the same kind of stimulation as does the presence of real persons.  
Until about a hundred years ago, such representations were rare, because only a limited number of artists were able to produce realistic paintings or sculptures and it was a time consuming occupation.  Only few people could afford to get their likeness done. 


I am convinced that the overwhelming of the brain with the stimulation by too many virtual social and psychological contacts has drastic effects upon attention and communication.  Virtual humans are only a recent technological development, the human brain has had not enough time to evolve the ability to subconsciously cope with the difference between real and virtual humans.  
I am even wondering, if ADD (attention deficit disorder) may not be a logical reaction of the brain to an environment, to which it is maladapted.   Maybe it is even more astonishing, that not more people have such problems.

  
The environment of the human evolutionary adaptation was an environment, in which hearing a human voice or seeing a human person meant automatically to be in the presence of a real human.    People lived in small groups, knowing all other group members personally or at least by sight.   Strangers were rare.   This did not change much for the majority of people living in villages until more recent times.

Under such circumstances, every perception of another human's verbal or non-verbal expression is a probable source of important information requiring and warranting attention.   The importance of any dialog with significant persons is obvious, but strangers are possibly dangerous and need to be assessed.   Usually only one person requires attention at the same time, no matter if in a dialog or being listened to as a narrator of a story.   
For people living in small groups or villages, the amount of input from human interaction usually does not exceed the attention span of people. While people's span of attention is limited, real people's ability to monologue without a pause is also limited.    Humans have evolved to be able to pay the necessary amount of attention to other humans, that allows them to thrive under such circumstances only.


There are decisive differences between the environment of evolutionary adaptation and the modern life situation, both having a drastic impact upon focusing attention.  These environmental changes confuse and irritate the brain.  
  • The sensory flooding with virtual humans that are confounded with real humans as already mentioned.
  • The recordings of virtual humans get never tired and can be repeated endlessly, even against the wish of those exposed.   
  • The crowding and mingling with strangers, who are not social contacts but part of the environment.   Everyday life includes being in close proximity with strangers, be it in public transport, restaurants, markets, events. 

The brain gets easily habituated to repeated sensory input, as soon as it does not indicate danger.   Not consciously hearing the singing of birds most of the time is an example.   But any expression from a real human in personal contact is an important stimulus to pay attention to.   

I grew up without TV and only listening to selected programs on the radio.   Whenever I happen to enter a household, where people are talking with the TV or radio in the background transmitting spoken language, I observe a difference.  They have successfully learned to filter out all the information from the TV and focus on the conversation.   I have the problem, that the TV distracts my attention against my wish.

The brain cannot pay adequate attention to several voices at the same time.  In this situation, the brain is forced to filter and to select only the most significant information to be consciously processed. Even by repeatedly switching the attention to and fro, processing information from one source means losing information from the others.   Filtering is learned as a result of the necessity to cope with such an input overflow of information.  
When people learn to selectively listen to some chosen voices and ignore the others, this choice is determined or at least influenced by what interests them most and what is important for their personal needs.    People exposed simultaneously to more virtual and real human voices than their brain can process, their attention is predominantly attracted to what pleases, entertains, amuses, thrills or excites them.  They can afford to discard by filtering, whatever they do not like to hear.    It is the same as with food.   When food is scarce, people eat anything, that fills their stomach.   But when food is plentiful and cheap, they only eat their favorite dishes.  

In entry 507 I described the Cassandra Dynamics including the problem of a partner not listening to the warnings of Cassandra in spite of her efforts to communicate, before it is too late.   I am wondering, if the learned selective filtering by the exposition to too much TV has also destroyed the ability to be a partner in constructive communication, whenever listening to unwelcome but necessary information is unpleasant.  
 
I suspect, that growing up with the TV running all day long, including falling asleep in front of the TV, has a very detrimental effect upon people's ability to decide consciously, what to listen to, even when listening would be beneficial for themselves.  Those people, who have grown up being exposed to too much TV, are at the risk of confounding even their significant other with just another figure on the TV screen.   
On the subconscious level, the brain being generally unable to distinguish between virtual and real humans, filters all pleasant information discarding the rest, indiscriminately of its source.   A dull politician on TV or the partner attempting to communicate about serious matters are both just triggers to mentally zap to something else.  

Unfortunately, such problems are aggravated by people taking too much for granted.   Before someone can learn to listen, he first needs the insight, that listening even to unpleasant feedback is an unavoidable part of making a relationship work.