Saturday, October 15, 2005


Math trauma: Suppressing logic rather than data

Some psychologists believe people suppress data they find too upsetting to retain. What if some brain somewhere categorized the entire logical process that way, and suppressed it, rendering the brain’s owner bad at things like math?

I’m not saying I know anyone I think this happened to. It’s just a hypothetical.

Could such suppression of logic happen? It seems like it might work, from an upset brain’s point of view. Upsetting data is only upsetting to the extent that it can be processed. Suppressing the logic that enables one to become upset at a memory would be as effective as suppressing the memory itself.

It would be more costly, so it seems unlikely that a brain would “choose” logic suppression over data suppression without a reason. However, there might be something preventing the brain from suppressing the offending data itself. For instance, the data might be that someone is going to try to kill you.

I concede that a brain probably could not disable “the entire logical process” without basically disabling itself. But maybe it would be possible for that brain to merely introduce a high level of error into its logical processes, rather than disabling them entirely, so that the simple operations that might bear on one’s chances of survival would not be too greatly impacted, but the complicated ruminations that might lead one to become upset would be no longer possible.

This took me an hour to write. I’m unimpressed.

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