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What is Curiosity?

11/16/2010 6:10 PM

I know that before I can even get this question asked, that someone is going to say "That which killed the Cat!" so please...

This is an endless loop, where the answer to the original question is "Curiousity is a question posed in the mind.", which of course, leads directly to the question, "What is a Question?", to which the answer is... "A question is Curiosity in the mind about a particular subject." et cetera ad infinitum.

We've had many discussions here on CR4 about innovation, invention, science, and engineering processes. I think that ultimately, they all boil down to curiosity as part of the fundamental process. The fundamental computing process, as developed by, I think it was Von Neumann ,as I learned, is an endless 'fetch and execute' cycle. I'm thinking that there might be a way to identify the basic process wherein curiosity/questing is able to produce results in the mind.

At first blush, Curiosity is a simple thing.. you know.. there it is. But if I reflect on it, I believe that there is an 'expectation' of a result, as well as an image that goes with the question. Perhaps these two factors are the basic method of requesting answers from our minds.

Why does curiosity feel like a feeling? If it is a logic process (Logicum?) why the feeling? (or expectation) Creative people always point to curiosity as that fundamental process which operates at the epicenter of their creative output, and ongoing learning. (references too numerous to mention.)

If we wanted to encode curiosity into a computer algorithm, what would that operate like? What are the fundamentals? Is it a loop construct, searching through all known answers? (if-then-else) or is that just an aspect?

There is a really great system of invention called Triz, developed originally by Genrich Altshuller, as he was able to identify some components essential to invention and innovation. I think perhaps that if curiousity were broken down to some further fundamental, that perhaps even more of this type of process might become known.

So I ask again to you, this community of thoughtful people; What is Curiosity? Can it be taught? If so, how do you break it down, so that the essentials can be known, practiced and developed? Some people are definitely more curious than others. Perhaps if the younger generations could become more curious, we older people wouldn't worry so much...

I look forward to hearing from you. I'm curious to know what you think. (I know, one can't help the various humor that crop up.) Of course, perhaps I'm crazy, and trying to lead you all down the rabbit hole...

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#1

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/16/2010 6:44 PM

Hi Chris;

What is Curiosity? I can only speculate? The first thing that crossed ones mind is that curiosity is the pursuit of an answer, but, what is the drive behind it? Can it be harnessed?

I think from an early age we learn to anticipate what is happening around us, if you say boo to a baby, they react with shock, then laugh with relief when they realise that it was just an unexpected noise.

Curiosities motive? I think is the answer to a question who's answer is not anticipated, and like a baby the result is expected to shock and amuse us?

Curiosities motive? The pursuit of an emotional reward?

Regards JD.

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#4
In reply to #1

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/16/2010 7:14 PM

I hadn't thought about 'reward'... but I find it curiously true! ga

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#55
In reply to #1

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/17/2010 11:57 PM

Homo Sapiens survial mechinism. When looking at the species it is evident that it should have failed. Inadequate muscle, no fangs, no claws. No real means to defend itself until it chanced upon the "What if" factor.

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#61
In reply to #55

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 12:59 AM

that sounds like homo sapiens got a 'strategy chip' that the other beasties didn't...

so you are saying there is a definite 'what if' factor to your sense of curiosity?

thanks

Chris

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#66
In reply to #55

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 4:11 AM

"What if? Homo sapiens, naked and weak without claws, now if he got curious about how fire is created, and he got curious about making claws from flint stone, he could feed himself, and cover them selves in animal fur, if he got curious about how other animals behaved, he could be a survivor, and if he got even more curious he might even wonder how he come to evolve in the first place. I wonder what if?

Regards JD

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#72
In reply to #66

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 6:54 AM

One thing that is curious about this question is that there are only 2 good answers at the time of my writing (up to and including reply no. 71)

That's a far lower ratio than we would normally expect to see after 71 answers isn't it?.

Just curious ....

Anyway, another glaring anomaly is that all the debaters seem to be male.

That's kinda curious isn't it?

Or is it?

Perhaps not.

Historically, all the world's external questions have been answered by men, right?

Therefore, that implies that women have little or no curiosity about the physical world, right?

And that implies that their curiosity, if they have any, is directed inwards and is limited to questions relating to breeding newborns and the associated paraphernalia that goes with all that.

ie, "Will this one make a good provider?" "Will that one stay faithful?" etc, (fill in your own questions where my own imagination is lacking).

In my own experience and observation that appears to be borne out by the facts on the ground.

All the gossip mags are made for and devoured by women.

All the science / tech mags are made for and devoured by men.

And isn't that the real reason for the glass ceiling in business?

Women can't figure out how to get through it because most of the world's businesses relate to conquering the physical, exterior world, and not the inner, emotional world where their own curiosity dwells.

Just an observation.

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#73
In reply to #72

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 7:15 AM

Curious that your leap of logic is resonate of augments against woman's suffrage circa 1900 in America, when 'other countries' had franchised the 'fairer sex'.

Just an observation.

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#111
In reply to #72

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 2:59 PM

No, women are curious. I've seen it often, and often been astounded by how fast they are. There is simply too much data for women having all the tools men have, for what you are extrapolating to be true. Perhaps they are so good at it and fast at it, that they get all the answers, and move on, before a man can figure it out... but that men have bigger egos, and try to control everyone they can...

sorry I cannot accept your hypotheses. there are other answers.

Anyway, another glaring anomaly is that all the debaters seem to be male.
Historically, all the world's external questions have been answered by men, right?
that implies that women have little or no curiosity about the physical world
And that implies that their curiosity, if they have any, is directed inwards and is limited to questions relating to breeding newborns and the associated paraphernalia that goes with all that.
All the gossip mags are made for and devoured by women.
All the science / tech mags are made for and devoured by men

no, no, no, no, no, no

you are being completely misogynistic, and warping the data to support your own preemptive conclusions. perhaps you live in a society where women have been subjugated for hundreds or thousands of years.. and therefore your data is absolutely warped to support your conclusions. You are not observing women in a natural state.

I accept none of this.

Athena was the goddess of wisdom. Saraswati was the Hindu goddess of knowledge.

chris

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#248
In reply to #111

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/23/2010 6:18 PM

GA, Chris. Incidentally, GREAT thread!

Your courageous response to "GUEST" is more than "GUEST" deserved - the latter's integrity being the issue, to me, having commented as "GUEST" - but perhaps your diamonds have not been wasted, thrown into the path of a snake as it were...

I subscribe to very few of the large number of momentarily-fascinating threads in CR4 because I know from sad experience that they will either die or degenerate into standup-comedy practice at best or perpetual motion advocacy at worst.

Thanks for giving me a reason to "hook-in" to this one.

So as not to be OT in my own eyes, the hook you got me with was this:

"If we wanted to encode curiosity into a computer algorithm, what would that operate like? What are the fundamentals? Is it a loop construct, searching through all known answers? (if-then-else) or is that just an aspect?"

Algorithms are for number-crunchers - like computing machines; electronic, physical, robotic reactionaries (somewhat like "GUEST"?); things for which the programmer's curiosity has ALREADY LED to an enlightenment. Organisms, however, are curious because of their desire to overcome the other organic trait - that being "fear." The "loop construct" and "if-then-else" and "answers" all represent, to me, the RESULT of someone, somewhere, having already exercised curiosity and its companion, lucidity.

Curiosity is the opposite (opponent?) of fear. For humans, fear spikes adrenaline - the fight or flight exercise of physical prowess - while curiosity spikes intellectual expansion (an objective being the development of alternatives to fight or flight?).

I'm not the wordsmith you are; regardless, kudos, and regards for your continued thoughtful contributions to the body of intellect represented in no small part by this forum.

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#249
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Re: What is Curiosity?

11/23/2010 6:45 PM

thank you for your kind words.

more than I deserve, but I'm grateful anyway.

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#104
In reply to #66

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 2:31 PM

I agree that there is a reasonable 'logical' case to be made for why we would have retained these mental processes.

I'm not a creationist, but not strictly an evolutionist either. I think that the ancient gods dabbled and combined... and so both stories are true, but that is neither here nor there. I would think that curiosity is a very very ancient mental process, and my evidence of that would be that the process is seen in animals too, and not just domesticated animals, and not just mammals.

I think that if there are evolutionary processes over billions of years, that the original 'probing of the thing in front of you' has developed into an analytical engine so directly wired to the senses that it is difficult for us to separate... the reason for this is most probably survival of the fittest

It would that we have this analytical engine, but it is so much more than simple boolean logic... it is multidimensional, and while having an excellent set of tools for probing reality, doesn't need to be connected. It can simulate reality, and extrapolate, etc. etc...

Chris

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#160
In reply to #104

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 6:48 PM

I agree its more than just Boolean logic, one grows up formulating one's own ideas as to what makes us individuals. My pet though of how the mind worked was its process of recognition and the recognised item associated with all the other items in one's mind. So one could speculate that curiosity is the minds desire to add to the list of things that it can recognise?

So an analytical engine? If we start with recognition then we have to look at the senses, and imagine the difficulty of analysing a picture into all the individual items, it is multidimensional, what are those extra dimension? I speculate that the senses have what I call auxiliaries, muscles that adjust and move our body to perceive the world around us, and when we are awake our feeling of self is our muscular body. I therefore speculate that sense auxiliaries provides the ability to analyse a multidimensional problem.

When we cannot analyse a dimension then curiosity is aroused, and if we solve it then we have a reward feeling? An extra object has been added to list of recognised items.

Regards JD.

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#167
In reply to #160

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 8:50 PM

"and imagine the difficulty of analysing a picture into all the individual items, it is multidimensional"

yes.

abstraction... meaning... threat... happiness... function... speelign.

chris

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#168
In reply to #167

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 9:00 PM

Buckminsterfuller:

Nacked...helpless... ignorant... hungry...thirsty...curios.

In that order. In his own words. It shows how important this is, I think.

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#169
In reply to #168

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 9:06 PM

what is important is English Rose's remedial spelling class for CR4 members....

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#173
In reply to #169

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 9:50 PM

Yeah right. Eleven of them trying to stay afloat.

Had a Cardinal for breakfast. Detail from ("CPP"). The Aborigines were curios but stayed in hiding as long as they could. Not helping much, am I?

Gotta go, Ky.

PS: If that's alright with you loopy?

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#170
In reply to #168

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 9:09 PM

But Why was he knackered? or naked?

it's a loop

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#172
In reply to #170

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 9:37 PM

No, it's German

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#175
In reply to #172

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/19/2010 1:32 AM

ja sicher zu sein, vor allem beim Wandern

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#2

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/16/2010 6:57 PM

Curiosity.. put simply, it is the desire to know something new/unknown. So I think it really is a feeling, rather than a logical construct of some kind.

For myself, I would say that there is definitely a reward associated with fulfilling the curiosity by finding out. Knowledge is really a vice. And the reward is as good or better than any other vice I've been exposed to.

We're talking about a biochemical reaction here. I guess, objectively, the process of discovery is a thrill and there are some neurotransmitters involved in the payoff.

As such, it can probably be 'taught'. Only the teaching is more like an addiction process a biofeedback loop.. Expose the subject to the vice and its reward. repeat a few times as necessary until "hooked" the loop is established.... Let the cravings begin!!

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#5
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Re: What is Curiosity?

11/16/2010 7:17 PM

Yes... biofeedback... for a mental process. I agree. JD said it, and you have identified it more deeply as a reward based activity, and made a connection to feedback. I think that is an important part, again that I had not thought about. an important part of the process of 'improving' curiosity...

ga

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#3

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/16/2010 7:01 PM

I'm curious, why would you want to know?

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#6
In reply to #3

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/16/2010 7:19 PM

because I want results.

because I can't stop... and one might as well make friends with the devil inside...

so if a child asked "How do I be curious?" what would you say?

chris

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#65
In reply to #6

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 3:40 AM

"so if a child asked "How do I be curious?" what would you say?"

You just did

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#102
In reply to #65

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 2:19 PM

well I would like to know more specifically what I'm teaching to my grandchild. I wish to exemplify this for sure... but if there is a specific process to it.. that is what I wish to have elucidated.

1) be aware of your environment
2) identify all the 'knowns'
3) if unknowns remain, then record all senses at heightened level.
4) compare unknowns to knowns, to identify possible similiarities.
5) with identified similarities, determine best method of probing unknown
6) continue with probing (learning) and analyze and extrapolate gathered data
7) if still unsure as to variables in operation, start cr4 thread. allowing wider knowledge base to analyze.
8) add all gathered knowledge to 'known' database
9) KBO

Chris

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#103
In reply to #102

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 2:30 PM

10) Stop worrying about it, let the kid be a kid and you be a Grandpa.

We don't want the poor kid ending up in therapy before the age of ten.

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#138
In reply to #103

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 4:13 PM

ha ha ha hee hee...

I have 3 kids you know... poor things...

you have no idea... muuuahahaha...

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#251
In reply to #102

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/23/2010 7:29 PM

I think the processing which you describe leaves out two important elements, volition and motivation. Without these you do not have a living entity, only a machine directed by others and therefore limited by others.

Chris, nice thread!

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#83
In reply to #6

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 10:32 AM

Hi Chris,

The answer is that curiosity tells you that skills can be improved and skills are not eternal acquisitions. I hope Lyn will read it and open up to the forum. We have to motivate ourselves to become more and more curious and life become at the same time more agreeable, Gil.

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#124
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Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 3:30 PM

lets not make this personal okay?

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#7

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/16/2010 7:20 PM

Maybe curiosity is natural and need not be taught; rather, we need not to stifle it.

(Don't ask so many questions....)

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#10
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Re: What is Curiosity?

11/16/2010 8:33 PM

"(Don't ask so many questions....)"

I feel strangely stifled....

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#11
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Re: What is Curiosity?

11/16/2010 8:37 PM

You know, after I posted that I realized there was an ambiguity. I meant it just to be an example, but it could also be taken as an instruction (or ironic joke).

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#14
In reply to #11

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/16/2010 8:51 PM

Maybe.... ?

Your first word, and one of the most insightful... because this indicates the mind is creating a hypothesis.... a theory, a set of possibilities, etc.

What if... ?
Perhaps... ?
Just pretend... ?
Just imagine... ?

So, is curiosity... identifying a data set, and then selecting from that, based on a limiting criteria, a subset of solutions that satisfy the input criteria?

again... it all seems too simple... and then why do we have the 'feeling' of curiosity? Do we 'feel' our way to right answers? Is a feeling just a statistical 'fuzzy' probability of rightness?

Chris

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#62
In reply to #14

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 1:02 AM

there is an old saying "necessity is mother of invention"... I wonder if this is saying the same thing that curiosity was born of fundamental needs?

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#63
In reply to #14

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 2:43 AM

yes you could call curiousity a data set as it surely is one. the access to the superset that contains all these subsets is possibly the location of our evolution at this present time. that might a little over the top in magnamity but is a reasonable thought - the idea of curiousity as a data set.

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#98
In reply to #63

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 1:59 PM

Hi,

When I say dataset, I'm referring to the list of possible answers. Curiosity to me is potentially like and SQL statement called Select, after the dataset has been connected to the process.

Here is an example of programming. I am wondering if there is a methodology (subconscious?) to curiosity that is similar. Perhaps I've been playing around with these things too long. I'm not suggesting that there is an actual programming language to the brain. (although that would way cool) but I'm looking for parallels. How does the brain actually get this done.. How does it reference ideas, and choose amongst them.. It is very fundamental... and only by thinking at a different level can we get a glimpse of the process. At this point I don't have a better paradigm or metaphor than programming for the kind of thing I'm after... so it will have to do. Perhaps there is a pictorial or iconic equivalent, or perhaps it is something even more fundamental like a instruction codes on a RISC chip. (reduced instruction set)

Chris

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#151
In reply to #98

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 5:00 PM

"Perhaps there is a pictorial or iconic equivalent"

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#152
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Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 5:03 PM

hee hee hee...

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#161
In reply to #152

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 7:03 PM

Indeed - but I've always wondered how all those food plants, medicinal roots an herbs were identified ....

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#174
In reply to #98

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 11:57 PM

Naw, it's more like:

Do Until ...

Loop

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#176
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Re: What is Curiosity?

11/19/2010 1:57 AM

how does the brain reference ideas well - what if the circle that dna makes is a path of information around the circle - as time (that nasty substance) witnesses the events of our perception the paths around the circles of dna in our bodies are all active information processing devices that go around and around as long as we are alive. we at genetic level notice differences from where our present information was at one time and then we notice (somehow) differences again for each repeated circular path. the frequency of the motion around the dna circle is a frequency of thought - it is never at the same space/time point ever again as the rate of dissipation of energy (speed of light) carries everything along with it to a new start point each revolution thru the dna circle. the mechanisim of perception is due to the collection of all these circular paths thru our dna. so we revolve thru life and percieve at the frequency of the revolutions. what we make of these perception is another matter entirely.

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#178
In reply to #176

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/19/2010 8:29 AM

interesting thoughts... I kinda like it.

any data to support that?

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#215
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Re: What is Curiosity?

11/20/2010 7:46 PM

no i don't have very much data to surrort this circle idea - i know that some dna - if you unwind it is an unbroken circle and i know that if energy and i suppose information can it will move in a path and if the path is a circle then it moves in the circle. past that i haven't been able to verify this idea. the other end of this idea is that the universe is full (made) out of circles from the smallest things we can see to the largest it seems to me that circles and spirals through space time (minkowsky space) are ubiquitous. do you have ideas about this?

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#8

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/16/2010 8:02 PM

I like this sentence: "Some people are definitely more curious than others." Some of them ask some strange questions too!

I think you are looking for something that may not be there. It is a necessary attribute of young animals, a desire to explore and to understand, to understand as far as necessary, our environment. Without it, we would not grow to our fullness and have children of our own.

We have many desires, selected by evolution, that propel us to do many things necessary for us to continue in that evolutionary game. We find out about our environment for pleasure, but in doing this we gain knowledge we need to survive and thrive. We seek sex for our pleasure and exhilaration, but in doing so, we procreate. We eat salt and sugar for enjoyment, we gain needed chemicals, okay, I admit that we get too much of those now and our tastes will have to adjust.

As with all of these wired-in traits, some people have more and some have less; some are happy with routine occupations, some need to pursue more and more knowledge. I think curiosity is not to be taught, the processes of finding out can be improved though.

Can we separate this trait from any of the other naturally occurring traits, if not, can we break down the sex drive into components?

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#12
In reply to #8

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/16/2010 8:43 PM

"I think you are looking for something that may not be there."

When men first sought to make a computer, did they not ask "What is thought?", or at leat, "What is a calculation?", and proceed from there to codify the answers?

So I'm asking... whether I should or ought or not, what is the very nature of curiosity. One must necessarily start from zero. We have millions of years of evolution in our genes... and frankly that is a lot to take for granted.

I've studied boolean algebra, and basic programming, robotic automatons, and observed people, and also try to be aware of my own thought processes. This one; curiosity, seems to be to be right at the epicenter of mental operations.

If we can figure out what the basic setup or algorithm is, we can duplicate that in programming. I think that will lead to programs being able to innovate, and therefore, I see it as valuable.

Strange question? yes... useless? no. I'm not saying this must end up as a computer program.. that is just where my thoughts take me.. but making this a public discussion and question will lead to unexpected places. I don't have all the answers... but discovering the fundamentals of ourselves is always a productive activity. Every time we do this, we benefit. It is like reverse engineering human thought processes.

(do we want to program sex drives into computers? prolly not. there are too many humans that would take advantage of the poor robot sex slaves... )

Chris

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#13
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Re: What is Curiosity?

11/16/2010 8:47 PM

Ooh, synesthetic .xxx sites!

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#16
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Re: What is Curiosity?

11/16/2010 9:49 PM

then again.... what does a computer desire?

a bit of company? a kind word? to not have an overbyte? to have more drive? to have a longer drive? does any of this register?

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#88
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Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 11:19 AM

>beep< I have experienced an event horizon in the J8450 orgasmatron >beep<.

>beep< A diagnostic scan has indicated damage to relief valve port >beep<.

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#128
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Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 3:41 PM
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#86
In reply to #12

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 11:01 AM

Hi Chris,

Yes, the original of curiosity is back to the first human. On Earth, human has air to get oxygen, water to drink, and veggies to harvest to eat. Air and water, at that time without our pollutants were usable. The veggies comported some questions and curiosity. Can I eat this vegetable? Or, after eating the human get sick, she/he has the curious question: Is this veggy give the trouble or something else? When she/he eat the second time and the sickness came back, the question was why this veggy make me sick and another doesn't? Curiosity comparative after happening of an event.

The question fallen: What veggy is good to eat and what isn't?

Lather, the following question came after seeing one animal eat another and not being sick. I f is good for animals, it could be good for human consumption: What will be the taste of the animal?

This is the mechanism to produce the initial questions we, human beings created before time, Gil.

NB: It is possible that defense initiated the second but this is for another times.

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#126
In reply to #86

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 3:38 PM

Hi Gil,

I tend to agree, although evolution wise, this must have been going on for millions upon millions of years before the advent of homo-anything...

Chris

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#84
In reply to #8

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 10:46 AM

Hi Green,

Human, we are different from animals. We react differently to the same occurance. We are motivated differently to the same things and events, so, our curiosity is at different level, and we think and act differently.

However, I think, animals have instincts but they are not curious. For example, when they are hungry, they smell the prey, chase it, kill it, and eat it, and get a good rest. When the belly is full, the prey is free to be around the hunters, they are not curious to hunt for a certain time.

Human curiosity and knowledge are absolutely linked together, Gil.

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#238
In reply to #84

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/22/2010 10:50 AM

Ever watch young animals at play - learning adult skills and many of the things not to do - by being curious?

We are animals - with zero doubt - some are kind of dumb animals and some are a bit smarter. Some have little curiosity while others have more.

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#9

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/16/2010 8:20 PM

when I was a child, my parents and teachers all thought there was something wrong with me, thus enter the shrink.

as the sessions wore on, it was discovered that I had an insatiable curiosity.

and I still do to this day.

As best as I can describe, curiosity is to the brain what hungers pangs are to the stomach. the need to be fullfilled and quenched.

One of my greatest fears is that I'll die before I learn all that I can.

And my library keeps expanding...

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#15
In reply to #9

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/16/2010 8:55 PM

I feel your pain... this is why I think this is a worthwhile topic...

if only I could figure out what it was.... its makin' me crazy.

Chris

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#17

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/16/2010 10:26 PM

An intellectual version of rubbernecking?

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#18
In reply to #17

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/16/2010 11:05 PM

I was going to email you the link to this thread... but I figured you would be 'on the case'...

or not... lol

chris

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#19

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/16/2010 11:22 PM

We are curious about some things because we have an immediate need to know, others because they are things we enjoy probing, and yet others that are of momentary interest. The interesting question perhaps is what we do with the information. We pick up a zillion disparate bits items of information but it all comes together to form cohesive pictures in our minds.

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#21
In reply to #19

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/17/2010 1:02 AM

Yes I think that is true... I also think your tagline is relevant.. the mind has an ability to exclude irrelevant data from the resulting picture too.

thanks

Chris

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#20

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/16/2010 11:46 PM

Take guilt. Thirty thousand years ago the cohesion of a group was important to its survival and so those groups composed of individuals whose brains were ,literally, formed in such ways as to make the basic function of guilt a real factor in that persons life whould have a survival advantage over other groups not so arranged. It being a real factor means that betrayal of other group members would result in powerfull emotions which serve to shove the individuals behaviour back in line. So thats an objective view of guilt...now what does it feel like to be an individual experiencing guilt? Shakespere and others tell us that. We can say the same for sexual desire or rage or worry or sadness or curiosity. On the one hand whats the evolutionary advantage confered. On the other hand what does it feel like to be a person subject to these things. To be honest I see curiosity as a healthy part of being human. To me asking about its nature is just like saying "what is it like seeing in colour?" or "what is the nature of tasting things" or "how odd that I have hands" and "whats the inner nature of human vocalisation". Valid questions yes...but mostly they occur to those who are for some reason estranged from those same capacities. What I mean is that a person whos life lacks meaning (maybe ,just for example, due to a failure to understand their own personal history or the history of their socioty) might ask and ask and ask and ask about the nature of meaning in life. What is meaning? what is it for? Is there real meaning in life? and so on. This circumnavigation may well have as its final objective an uncovering of those factors which have caused the sense of meaning to become blocked in that persons life. So the answers are personal answers that aim at repairing whatever is causing the blocked healthy tendency. Not universal answers we can all take away. david

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#22
In reply to #20

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/17/2010 1:04 AM

awesome.

I'm sure that there is a part of me that is disconnected... from my true self. I find your statements extremely insightful.

and unexpected... much to ponder. I shall reread that one many times.

Thank you.

Chris

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#23
In reply to #20

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/17/2010 2:19 AM

"Valid questions yes...but mostly they occur to those who are for some reason estranged from those same capacities. What I mean is that a person whos life lacks meaning (maybe ,just for example, due to a failure to understand their own personal history or the history of their socioty) might ask and ask and ask and ask about the nature of meaning in life. What is meaning? what is it for? Is there real meaning in life? and so on."

I don't know how you come to know these things. I do ask ask ask about many things in my life, and go around in circles. I have, conversely, received many many answers as a result, but still the cycles continue. I have many benefits in my life from this activity... so I don't interpret the cycle as negative.. but it does happen with me. My asking about curiosity is an attempt to figure it out... not to stop it, but to harness it better.

however, "So the answers are personal answers that aim at repairing whatever is causing the blocked healthy tendency. Not universal answers we can all take away." I will simply have to disagree with you about this. Yes there will be personal answers, and I thank you for highlighting that... but I disagree that there will be no universal answers. On the contrary, that is exactly what I am expecting.

I appreciate what you have written

Chris

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#24
In reply to #23

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/17/2010 4:13 AM

Good morning Chris

I just got home and on my way out had seen heavy machinery digging a huge trench. I wondered what the reason for the trench was but went on my merry why. I was curious. Two hours later, just then, I drove past again and it had developed into something even larger and for no apparent reason. I had already thought about your

What is Curiosity?

on my way out but now I was really curios. It was way past 5pm and to see the blokes still at it surprised me. I could have stopped and asked but my curiosity was just not strong enough to make me do it.

If the observation of my response is correct it was an either yes or no (to inquire). I did not. Just couldn't be bothered. Even if I knew what was going on it would not change the fact that they were using heavy machinery (I am sure you could by now see the hole on google earth) to dig such a huge trench.

What I am getting at is, that curiosity must have a trigger point. A measure of force that can either be over come or not. If something can be measured it can be defined with several parameters like time, distance, aspect of danger, state of mind (Drugged or not) etc. I did not anticipate your inquiry to be as thoughtful as it turns out to be so throwing in the rubberneckers was just a flippant remark.

Most of my curiosity nowadays is aimed at solving the conundrums of why people do certain things and others don't. Really bad things and destructive and for no apparent reasons at all. I am curious about the motivation and the background of other peoples decision making. Very curios indeed but to get an answer to that is .....well....wishful thinking.

As you know I am a painter and musician and curiosity is the main drive behind the creative part. Like, what will happen if that cold blue will meet an orange shape, square , round, triangular. Although I know the effect my curiosity is not quenched(?) unless I put that dot there to see if it works like I thought it would.

The same with sitting at the piano. I know a bit about harmonies and what happens when and at what time a key is hit. Curiosity though gives the whole process a different flavor. What will happen if I just do it the other way around? What if I play that section just a tad faster. Curiosity at its best. Many times disappointed but sometimes with an unexpected result. Curiosity becomes creativity in some way.

About 30 years ago I was curios about what was happening to my tongue when I checked a battery for its charge. That cribbing, tingly sensation one gets from the 9.5V block batteries. How could I know that my curiosity would many, many years later culminate in me being quite a crack at electrolysis.

With out that " I wonder what it is" thing I would have never found out. There was no internet back then so it was quiet a slog to get all the papers and research data but I wanted to know. My curiosity was stronger than my laziness (). Just another way to measure curiosity.

When I started "using" CR4 I was curious about what will come out of it. I had read a few post and liked the style of communication. Del and Vermin and many others convinced me that I could trust these guys if I would only be honest and quench(?) my curiosity with that style of problem solving.

I am not curious anymore about reactions to what I have written, it is more anticipation of what is to come.

One can be as curios as one can be, dreams have their own rule of appearing. One can be curios about why one dreams but not what one dreams.

"but I disagree that there will be no universal answers".

In my dreams, Ky.

"Surprise attack killed him in his sleep at night, he thought he was an Indian Queen"

J. H.

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#25
In reply to #24

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/17/2010 5:04 AM

BTW, if it were not for Jimi I would have never fallen in love with music. I was curios of were he got his spirit, drive, tenacity from. And so much of it, all in one person! The train wreck and rubbernecking of the wannabees after his death made me sick back then. Voyeurism and curiosity are embedded, like it was mentioned here by others.

.

There is a thin line between pleasure and pain.

I painted this years ago and only had a small pic on a cassette to go by. I was curios about what the outcome would be and how long it would take. There were some truckies on the island so I did it over night, if you know what I mean.

Its now at the Dudes studio. They could all be my kids and they are as curios as hell. They'll find out, whatever it might be. Curious? Me? A bit.

See what happens, Ky.

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#29
In reply to #25

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/17/2010 2:12 PM

Ky, as always, you fill me with a great joy... all the color and music and exciting ideas that surround you. thank you. one day we will meet.

"Music is my Religion"
Jimi Hendrix

Chris

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#68
In reply to #24

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 5:35 AM

but went on my merry why

Was this an an incredibly apposite pun, or, just a typo?

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#101
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Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 2:15 PM

Curios about how lucky one can get by stuffing up ones spelling, aih?

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#28
In reply to #23

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/17/2010 1:59 PM

A few thoughts....When I was a child the quality of relationships with family was painful. I took up electronics for two reasons. One was that it was a place to go to away from uncontrollable family relationships. I was in control of the meters and cables on my desk. Another reason is that electronics to me seemed like magic or alchemy. Really what lay behind it was a facination with the occult. That might sound odd but its nothing new. Newton, Tesla and others had more that a little interest in these things. I agree with Jung that if life is not unfolding quite as nature intended then we take a different ,but no less valuable, path in which our energy becomes blocked like a lake and starts to seep through the strata of the mind to energize older and still older principles. This process is manifested in people in different ways. For some its a facination with physics, with others depth psychology, for others witchcraft and magic. But for all its a driven questing which at first is deeply powerful, maybe the only thing in our life. Later as understanding is aquired then the primative thing that holds us to this quest relents its grip and we see this process relativised by the development of other aspects of who we are which now are having a chance to come into the sunlight. We slowly become a rounded person with the ability to spend our energy on projects we partly choose rather than projects insistently thrust on us by wise and powerful subteranian aspects of ourself. In the end what we ,and the community around us, gain is a person who has been to this other land. Makes me think of Gullivers Travels. david

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#31
In reply to #28

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/17/2010 2:28 PM

Hi David

There is a certain poetry to your writing that I find intriguing. There is also an insight to selp processes that I am connecting with.

Thank you.

Chris

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#26

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/17/2010 9:26 AM

Curiosity is the human need to know the who, how, what, when and where, of everything in the universe.

The physical and the spiritual.

The tangible and the intangible.

The good, the bad and the ugly.

It has led to virtually everything we know as a species, and drives us to know more.

It appears to be reward driven, with the reward being the answer to a particular question, but the reward is short lived. It is the chase that consumes us, not the end game.

Curiosity is far more than an emotion..........it lies at the very center of human existence.

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#30
In reply to #26

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/17/2010 2:26 PM

"Curiosity is far more than an emotion..........it lies at the very center of human existence"

I agree very much with this... the more we become aware of the process inside, the more we attribute significance to it. and thus it becomes more..

but in a child... the natural simple wonder... works just as well... and I think the process operates, but gets a halo of significance as one grows older.. and more time has been spent thinking about the process and its results.. self awareness I guess.

but I want to know...subjectively, what is actually happening at the moments of curiosity.. do you see pictures? do you have an expectation of results? does this expectation make a difference to the results? (ie, less expecation produces less results)

Also, at what point do you start to have answers in your dreams, or just after waking, etc. What other components are there to curiosity.

There is a book called "The Magic Of Believing. and in that the author Claude M. Bristol describes the power of expectation in producing results to beliefs, curiosity, prayer, etc...

Chris

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#36
In reply to #30

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/17/2010 3:20 PM

I can only speak for myself, but I think this would apply to most engineers and many others as well.

I have never lost the childlike wonder of how everything works.....there is no moment of curiosity....it's perpetual and applies to everything around me.

When I plant seeds in the vegetable garden, I know what the results will be. I can read books and have an understanding of how everything happens the way it does. But on some primitive level, it blows me away year after year, that those tiny seeds, combined with some dirt and water, grow into food. And on that level, I still can't really understand how that can be.

To understand what curiosity is, we would have to understand what thought is. Just like the seeds in the garden, we can place electrodes and map what is happening during thought. One day, scientifically we may figure out the exact processes of thought. But what exactly thought is, we will never know.

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#38
In reply to #36

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/17/2010 3:26 PM

Well guess then!

(okay just kidding.)

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#27

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/17/2010 12:34 PM

Perhaps curiosity is linked to survival.

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#32
In reply to #27

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/17/2010 2:39 PM

Yes, our guest david I think was on that track. The notion that all behaviors and mechanisms within have evolved and been retained due to their functional usefulness is not one I had thought of in posing my question, but I must give credence to that... because I believe in evolution as a fundamental shaping force. I don't take it for granted, and certainly there are some substantial controversial opinions out there that scientifically challenge the authority of evolution (eg; sharks, coelecanth and crocs, etc. (not crocks) have remained unchanged for many millions of years.

At any rate, operating environment for both genetic and neurological conditioning is basically the same, and I can see that it can affect both hardware and software.. can't see why it wouldn't. so yes.. I would say evolution rather than survival, but agree to the forces of change involved.

One might cast the situation of curiosity in terms of threat recognition (caveman), although to us, it is much more than that. It might extend to food recognition (hunter-gatherer) and Trust, in mates, friends and allies, and curiosity is a skill that grows with experience... (fool me once... etc) Distrust might be directly related to the growing interrogation (curiosity) of new acquaintainces, and so curiosity is a core function.

I agree with all this.

but what is exactly happening when one is engaged in the activity of curiosity?

Chris

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#33
In reply to #32

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/17/2010 2:50 PM

Notice that a physical indication of curiosity is a tilting of the head, not only humans, but other animals as well (ask my dog). What is that about?

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#35
In reply to #33

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/17/2010 3:16 PM

I was just reading about Paul Broca who discovered an area of the brain that had to do with Speech. Of course that leads me directly to ask if there is an area of the brain that has to do with Curiosity?

Even before that there was the theory that the shape of the skull determined neurological attributes.... (phrenology) thus leading to the common expression "He has a large curiosity bump on his head"

I would suspect that the tilting of the head is due to an awareness that the the brain controller (Reticular Activing System) is accessing a particular part of the brain where curiosity occurs. (up to the left?)

good un

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#37
In reply to #35

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/17/2010 3:25 PM

As visual and auditory inputs use phase shift to determine direction and distance, maybe there is some relation to curiosity buried deep somewhere.

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#121
In reply to #37

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 3:25 PM

This seems pretty vague, so if I am allowed to elaborate, the difference in the amount of time it takes for a sound originating from one point, to arrive at both ears at a given position is very small, yet our brains can perceive this small amount as a direction, in a likewise very small amount of time.

Is there some comparator working to process what is stored (memory) against what is being inputted? I guess what I am trying to say is our thought processes might require a certain amount of abstract in order to run at these speeds and that this abstract is curiosity.

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#142
In reply to #121

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 4:22 PM

"This seems pretty vague"

understatement... lol

thank you for the clarificaiton. Abstraction is fundamental to humans.. as we learned elsewhere. I think it is curious that you would bring abstraction into this.. but must agree. there is no getting away from abstraction.

so if we can figure out the abstractions, separate the feelings, we can perhaps get closer to the algorithm?

chris

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#45
In reply to #32

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/17/2010 8:53 PM

"but what is exactly happening when one is engaged in the activity of curiosity?"

I think that we do not engage in the activity, I think we live it, even when asleep, our subconscious seems to process, to examine the happenings of the day. I know that I and many other engineers go to bed after struggling with an intractable problem during the day, only to find we have a solution in mind, when we wake in the morning. Our eyes and our ears are gathering information constantly, admittedly that is subconscious and not a deliberate attempt to assuage curiosity. And yet, our bodies learn to do things without conscious thought, some are hard wired, breathing for one, but when we learn to drive, particularly stick shift, we have to find a way to use three pedals and three handles simultaneously, but after a while, we do it automatically, we even decide when to change gear without conscious thought. If there is something different, a steep hill perhaps, or snow covered road, we revert to controlling when and how we change gears. I think that the way we become deliberately curios is similar.

As to "Evolution", I prefer to use, "Natural Selection", that permits long lasting species. Evolution implies that change must occur. The coelecanth can continue to occupy it's niche until something with a better fit takes over.

I've been thinking about the mechanics for fulfilling curiosity, for machines. I find myself to be not very curious about this, it looks like a dead end.

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#47
In reply to #45

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/17/2010 9:44 PM

I find myself to be not very curious about this...

splarf again... or maybe it was an lol...

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#34

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/17/2010 3:14 PM

As others have stated" It's a need to know"

And that is the key word need. All true needs (not mom I need a new phone), stem from survival instincts, and therefore are genetically based, not environmentally based.

Is there a reward mechanism? Yes, continued/better survival. And your brain will chemically reward you for the effort.

Generally speaking curious kids live with parents who are curious. But that does not tell us whether it is genetic, or environmental (learned). Non curious kids live with parents who are not curious, so the same holds true. Where you can see the genetic portion is a non curious kid with curious parents, or a curious kid with non curious parents. In both cases the environment sets the stage for the kid to be like the parent, so when they are different, that indicates that it is genetically based.

Most of all I would have to say that curiosity is insatiable!

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#39
In reply to #34

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/17/2010 3:59 PM

very interesting stuff.

one could put that parent/child stuff in a truth table, and conduct research. that would be interesting.

Another article I was reading was saying that there are different electronic wave frequencies and patterns for different modes (sleep, awake, alert, creative, etc.)

Do you think that there is a frequency for curious?

Perhaps the reason that curiosity is insatiable is that the brian also acts like a battery, and that curiosity is so fundamental an operation, that as long as there is power, that this operating system level function is there...?

Chris

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#44
In reply to #39

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/17/2010 7:47 PM

Got a link to the article?

I have no evidence that it is a frequency, but I do know that the brain moves through different frequencies for different phases of sleep (alpha, beta waves...). I have often had the answer to a programming problem burst into my brain during that twilight area between awake and asleep. Enough so that I usually keep a pencil and paper handy. Is that simply suppression of the conscious mind, so that ideas flow more easily? Or is it a frequency that enables a different set of neurons fire?

Damn! Now you got that insatiable curiosity of mine going again!

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#46
In reply to #44

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/17/2010 9:42 PM

"Got a link to the article?"

its a book I have. sorry. I'll look around.

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#64
In reply to #39

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 2:58 AM

so this is an aspect of curiousity that deserves some analysis. and analysis is curiousity. this curiousity is a tool of motivation. its strength is yours. the exsistance of a person is part curiousity because as the physical forces of nature combine to create our world curiousity and i guess other attributes of living creatures in addition to the posture of curiousity create our living world.

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#99
In reply to #64

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 2:03 PM

"and analysis is curiousity"

I'm not sure about that, but it is very closely related. I can certainly see your point. I think there is a mechanism or programming loop structure than analyzes, but also a mechanism for getting data from the subconscious (supercomputer?)... which at this point is just magic to us.

Chris

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#40

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/17/2010 4:29 PM

Chris,

Great topic!!! You are quite good at coming up with them.

The abstract concept of curiosity may well be the manifestation of random synaptic activity during normal thought distracting focus on the task at hand. Our brain attempts to make sense out of the random information much in the same way we dream (making sense out of stuff going on in our brain). We attach meaning (whether it's there or not) to what enters our consciousness.

Perhaps curious people have more random stuff going on in their head than those less curious.

I am not saying I believe what I've written to be true. I have no research to support my idea.....it's just something that randomly popped into my thought process as I pondered your questions.

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#41
In reply to #40

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/17/2010 4:33 PM

"I am not saying I believe what I've written to be true. I have no research to support my idea.....it's just something that randomly popped into my thought process as I pondered your questions."

splarf... I just randomly spewed coffee on my keyboard.

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#42
In reply to #41

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/17/2010 4:36 PM

Oops, sorry, send me the bill for the new keyboard.

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#43
In reply to #42

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/17/2010 4:42 PM

as to your ideas.. I agree... there is some random stuff going on.. but I think that I would just call this my 'list' of possible answers. that is kind of what I was saying earlier.

there is an old BASIC algorithm for bot search routines.. that is pure trial and error

do
test
If yes then ____
If no, then
loop

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#48

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/17/2010 10:42 PM

Hi Chris,

Maybe someone already commented thus, but I haven't taken the time to read the entirety of the many responses.

WHY we are curious, I cannot say, but curiosity does seem to be "hard wired" into human beings (and others???), based on some child behavior documentaries I have seen. I'm a nut for documentaries, but I can't recall when or where I saw this (probably PBS years ago) ... maybe someone knows for sure.

In this study, they would present to very young children (months old) an object which drew their attention, then placed it behind a barrier, then revealed it again. For the very young, there was no 'curiosity' when the object did not re-appear, or if a different object appeared. But, when the same experiment was done on slightly older children (maybe 6 months???), there was a definite reaction when things were not "as they should be" ... clearly there was 'curiosity'.

In similar experiments, the object of attention was moving, from one side of the 'stage' to the next, and the child's eyes followed. When a barrier was placed center-stage, the very young did not 'anticipate' the re-appearance of the object, so once it was out of sight, there attention was no longer on the object. Similarly, with slightly older children, there clearly was the anticipation of the re-appearance of the object, and again, it things were not as they 'should be', there was clear evidence of 'curiosity'.

Again, I cannot say WHY curiosity exists, but it does seem to be something 'hard wired' into us.

Kind regards ...

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#51
In reply to #48

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/17/2010 11:04 PM

ah yes.. out of sight, out of mind... true.

good points. thank you

Chris

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#69
In reply to #51

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 5:49 AM

Hello Chris,

Nice intellectual poke you produced.

With all due respect, boiling curiosity down to such simplistic ideas as survival, human progress or something that develops as our brains mature misses the greater, more intrinsically beautiful point. This forum is populated by men and women from many disciplines and cultures, but I would bet that most of us can identify with something I will refer to as a "life force" for lack of a better, more general term. It is this life force that connects matter and time and thus moves the universal ball forward.

Curiosity is a manifestation of this life force just as are play and compassion. These manifestations are not unique to humans. Ever watch a cat, eh Del! I believe that play, compassion, curiosity, love and action in general are all manifestations of Spirit seeking Form.

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#107
In reply to #69

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 2:44 PM

"Curiosity is a manifestation of this life force just as are play and compassion."

I think that whatever we develop as 'answers' must include all the evidence. What I see is a complex system of electronics and neurochemicals that interact in highly specific ways. I do not dispute that there is a ghost in the machine, but I do think there is a specific mechanism. There is evidence for this type of idea, as I referred to earlier, like Broca discovering the speech center in the brain, and the fact that there are electrical wave forms in the brain... This all tells us that there is different parts that perform different functions.

So what I want to know for this discussion is not how the spirit-brain interface works, but how the thought process works, and how is it interacting with the unconscious part of the brain..

A similar question would be... suppose prayer, or creative visualization is an effective mechanism for producing change in one's life... what exactly does the thought process work like... so I'm not focusing on the man behind the curtain.. if you catch my meaning. I want to know what my part is.

I've met people who were mean bastards, controlling, manipulative, greedy, arrogant.. etc.. but have to acknowledge that in some cases, like figuring out how things work, they were masters. It suggests to me that there are ways to do it better, and that i can learn how to do it better... It isn't just more training in technical subjects... it is some sort of creative process, simulating things in the mind...and 'figuring it out'.

I'm a pretty philosophical life loving person... I can learn to juggle, and just by practice... my brain and body can become a master of juggling. my brain also is curious, analytical, and figures things out. I want to know what to practice to improve this skill... I've seen it done.. I've stood beside people, taking apart a machine they've never seen, and could almost feel the electricity crackling in their brain as they probed the alien device...

There is a sense of traction that one can get in the world.. confidence, by being able to use these skills in real time, at will... I think it is a solid skill found largely in engineering types...

so you all have it... I want more of it... tell me how it works!

Chris

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#78
In reply to #48

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 9:15 AM

I would submit that curiosity begins with birth. Early on we are curious about ourselves -hands and feet and touch. Visually we are curious about all we see. It just happens that our feet and hands are our first monumental tasks to understand who we are. Our tongues are our first touch exploring device. Every baby is constantly putting things they see into their mouths. First it's the hands and feet. Then, of course, everything else we can touch. This tells me that curiosity is a hard wired basic survival tool. However, it is a tool that can be unlearned or deprogrammed. "Curiosity Killed the Cat" is an example of an attempt at deprogramming. The slap of the hand can be a parental cue to save us the pain of touching a hot surface. But it can also be the first of a series of deprogramming steps to modify our interest in a way to make us more manageable.

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#80
In reply to #78

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 9:43 AM

I'd probably be thrown in jail for this, but I allowed my daughter, at her request, to touch the wood stove at about 18 months old, with me sitting right there. I told her it was hot and to touch it fast. She wasn't quite fast enough and ended up crying and got a small welt on her hand, (nothing serious). But, she learned from the experience and hasn't touched it again. The alternative was, that my wife wanted me to build some kind of fence around it.........inside the house.......I don't think so.

Unless there is imminent danger of serious injury, I still allow her, (with me watching), to poke around and explore, (she's 3 now), and sometimes she does get hurt, but she's gaining a true understanding of the world around her, which I think is healthy.

She won't go within 20 feet of a mound of fire ants.

Her curiosity is tempered with caution, just as it should be.

One of my biggest concerns is black widows, they're all over the place. When I find one I show it to her and where they like to live. Because she understands what pain is, she understands that when I tell her something will hurt her bad...it will. i.e....don't go sticking your hand in dark holes out in the yard.

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#120
In reply to #80

Re: What is Curiosity?

11/18/2010 3:23 PM

ouch!

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