PHILOMADRID

PhiloMadrid - Pub Philosophy Meetings in Madrid

Thursday, February 28, 2008

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: The function of doubt in our life + NEWS (week 2)

Dear friends,


This Sunday we will continue discussing: the function of doubt in our
life. I was not able to confirm if there is going to be a football match
this Sunday as well. I'll try to find out by Sunday morning; if you want
to know what the situation is send me an email or sms.


However, thanks to some excellent initiative spirit by Miguel last
Sunday we were able to organise a discussion at the IBIS hotel opposite
the pub. This seems to be a good backup for the future; assuming they
will continue to have us. Jair, who runs the bar downstairs, was
thinking of opening the bar downstairs for us, but I still don't know if
he doing so this Sunday. It might be a good idea if we can support him
and make it worth his while.


In the meantime I have one new news item plus those from last week:


0) AMADA: would like to let you know that she organises a French
tertulia on Thursdays; she also gives classes in French for those who
are interested: Hello dear friend Lawrence: Thank you for your
greetings. It's very kind of you. My french tertulia : every thursday,
C/Melendez Valdés, 24 (metro Quevedo) 19h30 a 21h. Welcome everybody....
also give private classes of course. call me at: (I have Amada's
telephone number please let me know if you are interested: see note
below) . Thank you very much. Be happy.... regards. Marie-Aimée, french
friend....

1) ALFONSO has an exhibition of some of his painting at the Sala De
Exposiciones del Distrito de Retiro, Avda. Ciudad de Barcelona, 162. The
metro station is probably the closest according the Madrid Yellow Pages
street plan. The exhibition is open until the 14 March and is open
Monday – Friday from 10.30 – 14.00 and 16.30 – 20.00. I have put a scan
of the leaflet at the Philomadrid photos album:

http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/photosphilo (ALFONSO-Exhibition Feb 2008)


2) MONICA and SONIA are going to do the CAMINO DE SANTIAGO and would be
happy to go with people from the group. These are the details: El Camino
de Santiago en Semana Santa:

We´ll begin in Astorga on 20th March. It should take us 11 day to arrive
to Santiago. (270 km). We´ll sleep in Albergues of Pilgrims where we
will be able to cook or to have a menu del dia in a Restaurant. I can
explain more details for those who are interested. (Monica is an expert
in the Camino; Lawrence) You can contact Monica at
monicapelegrin11@hotmail.com or usually Sunday at the meeting.


3) URGENT MESSAGE from OLGA:
New Meeting Place for Saturday Tertulia (Olga and Puri Saturday
Tertulia).We've changed place again as we didn't have a choice .Our
Saturday Tertulia, at 22:00 hrs, will be held from now on,in O'Neill's
c/Príncipe 12, Ground floor, at the back, Metro Sevilla and Sol.

Sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused you all. Looking
forward to seeing you. Olga and Puri.


4) From: YASEER...who is looking for accommodation for a few months:
Dear Isabel

I hope you will be fine and doing well. I am coming to Madrid for my
thesis exam. I am looking for place to live for few months. Can you help
me? I am asking other people also.

I will be grateful.
durrani@hotmail.com

Finally, note about telephone, as you know my emails are also posted on
the blog and the yahoo.group but because they are in the public domain I
was thinking of not including telephone numbers in my emails for
security reasons.

Take care and see you Sunday,

Lawrence

IF YOU DON'T GET AN EMAIL BY FRIDAY PLEASE LET ME KNOW

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

TINA Flat http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/photosphilo/TINAFLAT

**********HOLIDAY FLATS**********
Mayte; Almería (Villa de Níjar);

http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo/HOLIDAY_FLAT_mayte_AlmerAVillaDeNJar

Paloma; Marbella (near Elviria);

http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo/HOLIDAYFLAT_Paloma_MarbellaNearElviria
*************************************

+++++++++MEETING DETAILS+++++++++
SUNDAY 6.00pm – 8.30pm at Molly Malone's Pub, probably downstairs----
-Email: philomadrid@yahoo.co.uk
-Yahoo group >> philomadridgroup-subscribe@yahoogroups.co.uk <
-Old essays: www.geocities.com/philomadrid
- Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com/
-Group photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo
-My tel 606081813
-metro: Bilbao : buses: 21, 149, 147
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: The function of
doubt in our life + NEWS (week 2)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: The function of doubt in our life + NEWS

4 News items including Urgent Message from Olga
Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: The function of doubt in our life.
Unfortunately, I have not been able to finish the essay this week; my
apologies. However, my conclusion of the investigation so far is that
Descartes did not do it. In the meantime I have these news items for you.
1) ALFONSO has an exhibition of some of his painting at the Sala De
Exposiciones del Distrito de Retiro, Avda. Ciudad de Barcelona, 162. The
metro station is probably the closest according the Madrid Yellow Pages
street plan. The exhibition is open until the 14 March and is open
Monday – Friday from 10.30 – 14.00 and 16.30 – 20.00. I have put a scan
of the leaflet at the Philomadrid photos album:
http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/photosphilo (ALFONSO-Exhibition Feb 2008)

2) MONICA and SONIA are going to do the CAMINO DE SANTIAGO and would be
happy to go with people from the group. These are the details: El Camino
de Santiago en Semana Santa:
We´ll begin in Astorga on 20th March. It should take us 11 day to arrive
to Santiago. (270 km). We´ll sleep in Albergues of Pilgrims where we
will be able to cook or to have a menu del dia in a Restaurant. I can
explain more details for those who are interested. (Monica is an expert
in the Camino; Lawrence) You can contact Monica at
monicapelegrin11@hotmail.com or usually Sunday at the meeting.

3) URGENT MESSAGE from OLGA:
New Meeting Place for Saturday Tertulia (Olga and Puri Saturday
Tertulia).We've changed place again as we didn't have a choice .Our
Saturday Tertulia, at 22:00 hrs, will be held from now on,in O'Neill's
c/Príncipe 12, Ground floor, at the back, Metro Sevilla and Sol.
Sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused you all. Looking
forward to seeing you. Olga and Puri.

4) From: YASEER...who is looking for accommodation for a few months:
Dear Isabel
I hope you will be fine and doing well. I am coming to Madrid for my
thesis exam. I am looking for place to live for few months. Can you help
me? I am asking other people also.
I will be grateful.
durrani@hotmail.com

5) MARIA would like to get in touch with someone who knows anything
about Summer Camps for children in Spain or abroad. Please get in touch
with me or talk to Maria on Sunday after the meeting.

Take care and see you Sunday
Lawrence

IF YOU DON'T GET AN EMAIL BY FRIDAY PLEASE LET ME KNOW
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
TINA Flat http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/photosphilo/TINAFLAT
**********HOLIDAY FLATS**********
Mayte; Almería (Villa de Níjar);
http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo/HOLIDAY_FLAT_mayte_AlmerAVillaDeNJar
Paloma; Marbella (near Elviria);
http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo/HOLIDAYFLAT_Paloma_MarbellaNearElviria
*************************************
+++++++++MEETING DETAILS+++++++++
SUNDAY 6.00pm – 8.30pm at Molly Malone's Pub, probably downstairs----
-Email: philomadrid@yahoo.co.uk
-Yahoo group >> philomadridgroup-subscribe@yahoogroups.co.uk <
-Old essays: www.geocities.com/philomadrid
- Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com/
-Group photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo
-My tel 606081813
-metro: Bilbao : buses: 21, 149, 147
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: The function of
doubt in our life + NEWS

Thursday, February 14, 2008

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Can we go beyond first impressions? + AVILA

Avila – Job Offers - Essay


Dear friends,


The train to Avila leaves from Chamartin station at 11.00am. This is a
regional train, no T.R.D. 08903 , and you can get the tickets in advance
from any major Renfe station. I was under the impression that there was
a train to Avila that went through N Ministerios. Some people are taking
the bus from M Alvaro.


I guess it all depends on the weather whether to buy a picnic or go for
a menu del dia. I also suggest we stop for a coffee at the square in
front of the gates so we can meet up with those coming by bus. See you
there.

WORK OFFERS

LUIS write: I have one friend who is currently living in Madrid who
would be Interested in private English lessons in her house. She lives
near Colon Sq. Do you know any native teacher who might be available to
keep in touch with? Please write to Luis at: luistejadal@gmail.com


MONICA: NATIVE ENGLISH TEACHER NEEDED. One hour twice a week. Metro
Avda. América. Euros 24 to 30 per hour. From 14.00 to 15.00.
m.medina@teleline.es


MILTON - ENGLISH TEACHER – NON NATIVE or NATIVE speaker
Could you announce that I have a vacancy for an English teacher in the
North of Madrid.
It would be in school (no travelling), 10 hours per week, teenagers in
small (max. 4) groups.
Native not necessary
Sylvan
Milton 628 941 502


IAN - SOFTWARE SUPPORT TECHNICIAN
At my company that I work for we are looking to hire another permanent
software support technician. I don't have a full job specification just
yet, but basically we are looking for an IT capable person who speaks
(and writes) good to fluent English at the very least, with any other
languages being a welcome bonus.


The job offer is for a technical support person to answer customer calls
and emails regarding our software package and Windows printer driver. We
want someone who is technically minded with a good understanding of
programming and have at least some basic programming experience either
in the work place or study. It is a job with good prospects for further
development within the company. The office is centrally located next to
the Retiro park. Full training will be provided.


The offer is between 19-21k depending on the quality of the candidate.


If anyone is interested, or knows someone who might be interested please
get in touch. Candidates can send their CVs to my work email at:
icummings@seagullscientific.com


The curious can see what we do by looking at our website:

www.seagullscientific.com


Thanks hombre!

Ian.

Olaga – CHANGE OF VENUE FOR TERTULIA
From tomorrow, from 22 hrs, our Saturday's English/Spanish exchange
will be held in Café Isadora,C/Divino Pastor nº 14.Metro Station: Bilbao.

I am sorry I do not have a map, so that, you may check the address in
Internet.


Take care

Lawrence


IF YOU DON'T GET AN EMAIL BY FRIDAY PLEASE LET ME KNOWIF YOU DON'T GET
AN EMAIL BY FRIDAY PLEASE LET ME KNOW

++TINA HAS A FLAT IN USERA SHE WOULD LIKE TO RENT:
The flat is in Usera near the underground , totally furnished and 60 m2,
3º floor.
matutina.gonzalez@fnmt.es

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
**********HOLIDAY FLATS**********
Mayte; Almería (Villa de Níjar);

http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo/HOLIDAY_FLAT_mayte_AlmerAVillaDeNJar

Paloma; Marbella (near Elviria);

http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo/HOLIDAYFLAT_Paloma_MarbellaNearElviria
*************************************

+++++++++MEETING DETAILS+++++++++
SUNDAY 6.00pm – 8.30pm at Molly Malone's Pub, probably downstairs----
-Email: philomadrid@yahoo.co.uk
-Yahoo group >> philomadridgroup-subscribe@yahoogroups.co.uk <
-Old essays: www.geocities.com/philomadrid
- Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com/
-Group photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo
-My tel 606081813
-metro: Bilbao : buses: 21, 149, 147
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++



CORRECTED: 20 May 2008

Can we go beyond first impressions?

It is well established that first impressions influence our decisions enormously. What is at issue is how much do they influence our actions and how accurate are they? By and large this is the concern of psychologists, neurologists and psychiatrists. And I'm sure that evolutionary biologists can enlighten us even more about the history and mechanics of first impressions.*

Does this leave any room for philosophy to say anything relevant on the subject?

A very relevant area for philosophy would be to look at the consequences, both positive and negative, and how we should deal with the negative consequences. How should this class of consequences be interpreted, for example, when compared with other negatives consequences we experience?

First impressions are first and foremost an information processing activity. And as many studies have suggested, this activity is more linked to the way information is transmitted to us than it is about our ability to interpret information. Given that perceptual information reaches us very fast in normal life we need to react to situations just as fast. The classical example is the curled up snake in our pathway. Our ability to see the snake and take evasive action is more important for us (especially our ancestors) than being able to identify the snake as being poisonous, aggressive or what ever. That can be done later after we've neutralized the snake.

Inevitably there is a survival struggle between our ability to recognize a harmful creature, be it man or beast, and our survival adversary being capable of preventing or delaying our discovery of this adversary. The snake wants us not to see it, but we want to see it and do something about it as soon as possible. This, of course, is nature and evolution at their best. From our part we have very little to argue about this point. Today the balance has more than shifted in our favour to the fatal detriment of the snake. Although some snakes are still dangerous.

This survival game also applies with human beings, not just snakes. There has always been an equal struggle to survive between groups and individual human beings. Being able to recognise those who wish us harm would immediately give us an advantage in the same way we would have an advantage against the snake. As an evolutionary instinct, first impressions have played a useful and, on the whole, advantageous part. After all we are still here, aren't we?

So where is the philosophical issue? It is one thing to evolve strategies and adaptations to survive against an equally able adversary. For example, two people from different tribes camouflaging themselves to capture a gazelle would be fair play in most circumstances. But quite an other if we ask: would it be fair play to adopt strategies to exploit an adversary? We can adopt a strategy to be more efficient at catching gazelle or we can adopt a strategy to take away from our adversary a gazelle they have efficiently caught? Most people would say (never mind what they actually do for now) that taking away from others is not fair play.

You will remember that the idea of fair play does not carry with it strong moral implications of words like steal or rob, exploit or cheat. Moral labels are not that relevant for us compared to understanding the balance or equilibrium that has to exist if we are not to end up in oblivion. To put it in an other way, given the capacity and the force this survival strategy can have on us, how can we stop it from going into a super critical evolution; i.e. go out of control?

I intentionally borrow concepts from physics here, since nuclear physics has give us the very excellent concepts of, sub critical, critical mass and super critical. (Google the respective concepts) For our purposes, a critical mass is reached when a reaction (human evolution) has reached a sustainable level (human survival) over time. But we do not want that such a reaction to go super critical and thus out of control and unpredictable; in our example it would mean the distraction of the species: in physics, at the very least, we expect something like the China Syndrome.

What does all this have to do with first impressions? That first impressions have served a purpose is not in doubt. But what if we were to turn this strength in humans into a weakness in our competitors or adversaries?

The use of the words adversary and competitor are used differently in every day life from the specialised context of survival strategies. My competitor in life would be another English teacher, and since I do not aspire to make a living from philosophy I am not really a competitor to professional philosophers. By the same token, the manufacturer of my pc is probably a competitor of the manufacturer of your pc. Adversary follows the same logic. Someone who does not want to compete with my services, but wants to cheat to prevent me from having work would be an adversary. Someone who wants to take your pc because they couldn't be bothered to save for one would be your adversary.

In the case of the survival struggle a competitor would be someone or some creature who is seeking the same resources as us. Therefore, as long as both the lion and us are chasing the same gazelle for lunch we are competitors, as soon as we catch the gazelle and the lioness starts chasing us the lioness becomes our adversary; lions do not usually get involved with the cooking unless it's a desperate situation.

Thus on the more technical interpretation my competitor need not be another fellow teacher, but maybe a post graduate college which is also competing for the learning motivation of a prospective student. And an aggressor would probably be someone who introduces an employment policy in a company who now requires employees to have a master's degree rather than being proficient users of English. Of course one does not exclude the other, but the student needs to accommodate both activities with all the economic choice implication this has. To take another example, a competitor of a pc manufacturer might not be another pc manufacturer but maybe a car manufacturer. Today most people have access to a pc at work with a connection to the internet, but not a customised car.

This is where first impressions come into their own. If first impressions can lead us to making certain decision, if not cause us to make certain decisions, wouldn’t it be an unfair advantage if a manufacturer could attract customers in such a way that would make them abandon other purchases that might be more useful for them? Think about it, how many times have you bought something on an impulse (impulse purchase) because you liked the wrapping or because of the positioning of the product which you might have regretted later on? Maybe a bar of chocolate that you knew that it was not really good for your cholesterol level?

Of course, knowing that something is a gazelle in a fraction of a second can help a great deal in our hunt for the animal. However, someone can easily use this fact to exploit our instinct for example by making the wrapping of a bar of chocolate attractive or eye catching. Maybe, you might argue, this is no more sinister than brightly red coloured mushrooms in the forest. But could not this situation be described as one is attracting our attention whilst the other is exploiting our attention? It is certainly hard to answer.

Consider what Prof Olson is reported to have said and quoted in the Science Daily article (First Impressions Of Beauty), “"Attractive people are paid more, are judged more intelligent and will receive more attention in most facets of life. "This favoritism, while poorly understood, seems to be innate and cross-cultural. Studies suggest that even infants prefer pretty faces,"” Olson said.

Should we treat this as the news item of the century or as a taboo we would rather not talk about? Whilst accepting the opinion of sceptics and non-believers, what are the implications of this situation? It would be reasonable to assume that if any situation needed to go beyond first impressions this would be it.

If physical attraction does result into favouritism, would this be at par with say racial discrimination, sex discrimination and would it be in the same class of discrimination as discrimination against handicapped people? Maybe not as severe as being handicapped, but certainly as severe as discriminating because of race.

Although we have no doubt to trust the veracity of Prof. Olson’s conclusion I don’t think we need to worry that mush because we’re going to be over run by attractive and pretty people. In the same way that not all governments are fascists or communists. This is not, however, an invitation to be complacent, but a warning to be on guard for such things as discrimination or racism; or simply frivolous policies.

However, the implications of first impressions in today’s everyday life are worth considering. These negative aspects do not only apply to buying chocolates or looking for a mate. I would venture and ask how do first impressions affect people in such areas as employment (at interviews), medical care, in courts of law, restaurants an so on?

Before going beyond first impressions, there is a detail which I have been intentionally holding back. When scientists say that first impressions can be an accurate representation of reality, what they mean is that the aggregate results of a study point in the right direction. But just because a group of people can agree who is attractive at a fraction of a second or recognise a snake on the path way, it does not follow that all the individuals, including you and me, can accurately identify something or a situation from first impressions.

But while first impressions are useful collectively, exploiting this instinct in others is, in my opinion, an individualistic event. Although you might not be right about the true worth of a bar of chocolate, the producers wants you as an individual to have an erroneous first impression in their favour. Maybe this difference between aggregate results and individual experience plays an important part in evolutionary stability; not everyone gets it right nor gets things wrong, but enough to keep a steady dynamic process going.

As I said earlier, information is the key; be it expert type of information or self awareness type of information. With the right information, I suggest we might be able to activate the cognitive part of the brain that gets by passed when we instinctively react to a first impression. (see First impressions: Computer model....). It is believed that in normal day to day first impressions we instantaneously (sometimes even as quick as 50 milliseconds) can categorise an image and take the appropriate action without activating the cognitive part of the brain. Once we categorise something as being a snake we get out of the way; and once we categorise something as a good bar of chocolate we reach out for it.

It is probably this by-passing of the cognitive activity of the brain that is the weak spot of first impressions. The article Selling Customers The Short End..... suggests that people might trust someone who they think is more "savvy" than they are, but not if they think they are there equal. We know this from adverts with people wearing white coats, successful sports people and of course attractive people. But in a way even these savvy or attractive people are being used by others to further their own fortunes. So although attractive people are favoured it is not a completely free ride. Not only do first impressions fail to activate the thinking part of our brain, but this process can be high jacked by implanting irrelevant or even erroneous information.

When we know less about a product than the seller, economists call this asymmetric information. I'm sure we can extend this theory to survival strategies. For example, we do not know how a famous person uses a product they endorse. Nor do we know whether an attractive person is also a competent person. It might be too late when we discover the true answer to these questions.

Having more of the right type of information can reduce the asymmetry gap between the actors. Which is precisely one of the most important things we can do to minimise the drawbacks of first impressions. Consider the study reported in the article, The Eyes Have it:... In an eye tracking experiment of consumers looking at adverts, the results supported the theory (Yarbus thesis) that advert information is goal-contingent; “..the eyes are a reflection of consumer goals.” Of course, this is very simplistic version of a rather complex process. but the lesson is not lost. If we know what we are looking for we are not fooled or distracted by irrelevant information. And in such situations as employment, courts of law or medical treatment, this is not only desirable but also an imperative.

Even still, with the right sort of information (our goals) together with any information that might reduce any advantage our adversary might have over us we can stand a good chance of going beyond first impressions. It would still be a question of chance and maybe random events, but it’s a start. The irony, of course, is that the best way we have of going beyond first impressions is to employ the very same strategy and resources that make first impressions such a complex issue: information gathering.

Take care

Lawrence

* some recent articles on the subject.

First impressions: Computer model behaves like humans on visual categorization task

Published: 17:28 EST, April 02, 2007

* PhysOrg.com

http://www.physorg.com/news94753689.html

University of Pennsylvania (2006, January 25). First Impressions Of Beauty May Demonstrate Why The Pretty Prosper. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 13, 2008, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2006/01/060124223317.htm#

The Association for Psychological Science

July 2006

Volume 19, Number 7

How Many Seconds to a First Impression?

http://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/19/7/first_impression

'Thin slices' of life

Psychologists are finding that our first impressions of others can be remarkably accurate--but also can fail us.

BY LEA WINERMAN

Monitor Staff

Volume 36, No. 3 March 2005

http://www.apa.org/monitor/mar05/slices.html

Duke University (2007, March 30). Selling Customers The Short End Of The Stick. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 14, 2008, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070329161807.htm

University of Chicago Press Journals (2007, August 10). The Eyes Have It: What Do We See When We Look At Ads?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 14, 2008, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070807135659.htm



Can we go beyond first impressions?


It is well established that first impression influence our decisions
enormously. What is at issue is how much do they influence our actions
and how accurate are they. By and large this is the concern of
psychologist, neurologists and psychiatrists. And I'm sure that
evolutionary biologists can enlighten us even more about the history and
mechanics of first impressions.*


Does this leave any room for philosophy to say anything relevant on the
subject?


A very relevant area for philosophy would be to look at the
consequences, both positive and negative, and how we should deal with
the negative consequences. How should this class of consequences be
interpreted, for example, when compared with other negatives
consequences we experience?


First impressions are first and foremost an information processing
activity. And as many studies have suggested, it is more linked to the
way information is transmitted to us than it is about our ability to
interpret information. Given that perceptual information reaches us very
fast in normal life we need to react to situations just as fast. The
classical example is the curled up snake in our pathway. Our ability to
see the snake and take evasive action is more important for us
/especially our ancestors/ than being able to identify the snake as
being poisonous, aggressive or what ever. That can be done later after
we've neutralized the snake.


Inevitably there is a survival struggle between our ability to recognize
a harmful creature, be it man or beast, and our survival adversary being
capable of preventing or delaying our discovery of this adversary. The
snake wants us not to see it, but we want to see it and do something
about it as soon as possible. This, of course, is nature and evolution
at their best. From our part we have very little to argue about this
point. Today the balance has more than shifted in our favour to the
fatal detriment of the snake. Although some snakes are still dangerous.


This survival game also applies with human beings, not just snakes,
there has always been an equal struggle to survive between groups and
individual human beings. Being able to recognise those who wish us harm
immediately would give us an advantage in the same way we would have an
advantage against the snake. As an evolutionary instinct, first
impressions have played a useful and, on the whole, advantageous part.
After all we are still here, aren't we?


So where is the philosophical issue? It is one thing to evolve
strategies and adaptations to survive against an equally able adversary.
For example, two people from different tribes camouflaging themselves to
capture a gazelle would be fair play in most circumstances. But would it
be fair play to adopt strategies to exploit an adversary? We can adopt a
strategy to be more efficient at catching gazelle or we can adopt a
strategy to take away from our adversary a gazelle they have efficiently
caught? Most people would say (never mind what they actually do for now)
that taking away from others is not fair play.


You will remember that the idea of fair play does not carry with it
strong moral implications of words like steal or rob, exploit or cheat.
Moral labels are not that relevant for us compared to understanding the
balance or equilibrium that has to exist if we are not to end up in
oblivion. To put it in an other way, given the capacity and the force
this survival strategy can have on, how can we stop it from going into a
super critical evolution; i.e. go out of control?


I intentionally borrow concepts from physics here, since nuclear physics
have give us the very excellent concepts of, sub critical, critical mass
and super critical. (Google the respective concepts) For our purposes, a
critical mass is reached when a reaction (human evolution) has reached a
sustainable level (human survival) over time. But we do not want that
such a reaction goes super critical and thus out of control and
unpredictable; in our example it would mean the distraction of the
species: in physics, at the very least, we expect something like the
China Syndrome.


What does all this have to do with first impressions? That first
impressions have served a purpose is not in doubt. But what if we were
to turn this strength in humans into a weakness in our competitors or
adversaries?


The use of the words adversary and competitor are used differently in
every day life from the specialised context of survival strategies. My
competitor in life would be another English teacher, and since I do not
aspire to make a living from philosophy I am not really a competitor to
professional philosophers. By the same token, the manufacturer of my pc
is probably a competitor of the manufacturer of your pc. Adversary
follows the same logic. Someone who does not want to compete with my
services, but wants to cheat to prevent me from having work would be an
adversary. Someone who wants to take your pc because they couldn't be
bothered to save for one would be your adversary.


In the case of the survival struggle a competitor would be someone or
some creature who is seeking the same resources as us. Therefore, as
long as both the lion and us are chasing the same gazelle for lunch we
are competitors, as soon as we catch the gazelle and the lioness starts
chasing us the lioness becomes our adversary; lions do not usually get
involved with the cooking unless it's a desperate situation.


Thus on the more technical interpretation my competitor need not be
another fellow teacher, but maybe a post graduate college which is also
competing for the learning motivation of a prospective student. And an
aggressor would probably be someone who introduces an employment policy
in a company who now requires employees to have a master's degree rather
than being proficient users of English. Of course one does not exclude
the other, but the student needs to accommodate both activities with all
the economic choice implication that has. To take another example, a
competitor of a pc mf might not be another pc manufacturer but maybe a
car manufacturer. Today most people have access to a pc at work with a
connection to the internet, but not a customised car.


This is where first impressions come into their own. If first
impressions can lead us to making certain decision, if not cause us to
make certain decisions, wouldn't it be an unfair advantage if a
manufacturer could attract customers in such a way that would make them
abandon other purchases that might be more useful for them? Think about
it, how many times have you bought something on an impulse (impulse
purchase) because you liked the wrapping or because of the positioning
of the product which you might have regretted later on? Maybe a bar of
chocolate that you knew what it was not really good for your cholesterol
level?


Of course, knowing that something is a gazelle in a fraction of a second
can help a great deal in our hunt for the animal. However, someone can
easily use this fact to exploit our instinct for example by making the
wrapping of a bar of chocolate attractive or eye catching. Maybe, you
might argue, this no more sinister than a brightly red coloured
mushrooms in the forest. But could not this situation be described as
one is attracting our attention whilst the other is exploiting our
attention? It is certainly hard to answer.


Consider what Prof Olson is reported to have said and quoted in the
Science Daily article (First Impressions Of Beauty), ""Attractive people
are paid more, are judged more intelligent and will receive more
attention in most facets of life. "This favoritism, while poorly
understood, seems to be innate and cross-cultural. Studies suggest that
even infants prefer pretty faces," Olson said.


Should we treat this as the news item of the century or as a taboo we
would rather not talk about? Whilst accepting the opinion of sceptics
and non-believers, what are the implications of this situation? It would
be reasonable to assume that if any situation needed to go beyond first
impressions this would be it?


If physical attraction does result into favouritism, would this be at
par with say racial discrimination, sex discrimination and would it be
in the same class of discrimination as discrimination against
handicapped people? Maybe not as severe as being handicapped, but
certainly as severe as discriminating because of race.


Although we have no doubt to trust the veracity of Prof. Olson's
conclusion I don't think we need to worry that mush because we're going
to be over run by attractive and pretty people. In the same way that not
all governments are fascists or communists. This is not, however, an
invitation to be complacent, but a warning to be on guard for such
things as discrimination or racism; or simply frivolous policies.


However, the implications of first impressions in today's everyday life
are worth considering. These negative aspects do not only apply to
buying chocolates or looking for a mate. I would venture and ask how do
first impressions affect people in such areas as employment (at
interviews), medical care, in courts of law, restaurants an so on?


Before going beyond first impressions, there is a detail which I have
been intentionally holding back. When scientists say that first
impressions can be an accurate representation of reality, what they mean
is that the aggregate results of a study point in the right direction.
But just because a group of people can agree who is attractive at a
fraction of a second or recognise a snake in on the path way, it does
not follow that all the individuals, including you and me, can
accurately identify something or a situation from first impressions.


But while first impressions are useful collectively, exploiting this
instinct in others is, in my opinion, an individualistic event. Although
you might not be right about the true worth of a bar of chocolate, the
producers wants you as an individual to have an erroneous first
impression in their favour. Maybe this difference between aggregate
results and individual experience plays an important part in
evolutionary stability; not everyone gets it right nor gets things
wrong, but enough to keep a steady dynamic process going.


As I said earlier, information is the key; be it expert type of
information or self awareness type of information. With the right
information, I suggest we might be able to activate the cognitive part
of the brain that gets by passed when we instinctively react to a first
impression. (see First impressions: Computer model....). It is believed
that in normal day to day first impressions we instantaneously
(sometimes even as quick as 50 milliseconds) can categorise an image and
take the appropriate action without activating the cognitive part of the
brain. Once we categorise something some thing as being a snake we get
out of the way; and once we categorise something as a good bar of
chocolate we reach out for it.


It is probably the by passing of the cognitive activity of the brain
that is the weak spot of first impressions. The article Selling
Customers The Short End..... suggests that people might trust someone
who they think is more "savvy" than they are, but not if they think they
are there equal. We know this from adverts with people wearing white
coats, successful sports people and of course attractive people. But in
a way even these savvy or attractive people are being used by others to
further their own fortunes. So although attractive people are favoured
it is not a completely free ride. Not only do first impressions fail to
activate the thinking part of our brain, but this process can be high
jacked by implanting irrelevant or even erroneous information.


When we know less about a product than the seller, economists call this
asymmetric information. I'm sure we can extend this theory to survival
strategies. For example, we do not know how a famous person uses a
product they endorse. Nor do we know whether an attractive person is
also a competent person. It might be too late when we discover the true
answer to these questions.


Having more of the right type of information can reduce the asymmetry
gap between the actors. Which is precisely one of the most important
things we can do minimise the drawbacks of first impressions. Consider
the study reported in the article, The Eyes Have it:... In an eye
tracking experiment of consumers looking at adverts, the results
supported the theory (Yarbus thesis) that advert information is
goal-contingent; "..the eyes are a reflection of consumer goals." Of
course, this is very simplistic version of a rather complex process. but
the lesson is not lost. If we know what we are looking for we are not
fooled or distracted by irrelevant information. And in such situations
as employment, courts of law or medical treatment, this is not only
desirable but also an imperative.


Even still, with the right sort of information (our goals) together with
any information that might reduce any advantage our adversary might have
over us we can stand a good chance of going beyond first impressions. It
would still be a question of chance and maybe random events, but it's a
start. The irony, of course, is that the best way we have of going
beyond first impressions is to employ the very same strategy and
resources that make first impressions such a complex issue: information
gathering.


Take care


Lawrence


* some recent articles on the subject.
First impressions: Computer model behaves like humans on visual
categorization task
Published: 17:28 EST, April 02, 2007
* PhysOrg.com
http://www.physorg.com/news94753689.html


University of Pennsylvania (2006, January 25). First Impressions Of
Beauty May Demonstrate Why The Pretty Prosper. ScienceDaily. Retrieved
February 13, 2008, from http://www.sciencedaily.com

/releases/2006/01/060124223317.htm#


The Association for Psychological Science
July 2006
Volume 19, Number 7
How Many Seconds to a First Impression?
http://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/19/7/first_impression


'Thin slices' of life
Psychologists are finding that our first impressions of others can be
remarkably accurate--but also can fail us.
BY LEA WINERMAN
Monitor Staff
Volume 36, No. 3 March 2005
http://www.apa.org/monitor/mar05/slices.html


Duke University (2007, March 30). Selling Customers The Short End Of The
Stick. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 14, 2008, from

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070329161807.htm


University of Chicago Press Journals (2007, August 10). The Eyes Have
It: What Do We See When We Look At Ads?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved
February 14, 2008, from

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070807135659.htm

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Can we go beyond
first impressions? + AVILA







Can we go beyond first impressions?

Can we go beyond first impressions?


 


 

It is well established that first impression influence our decisions enormously. What is at issue is how much do they influence our actions and how accurate are they. By and large this is the concern of psychologist, neurologists and psychiatrists. And I'm sure that evolutionary biologists can enlighten us even more about the history and mechanics of first impressions.*


 


 

Does this leave any room for philosophy to say anything relevant on the subject?


 


 

A very relevant area for philosophy would be to look at the consequences, both positive and negative, and how we should deal with the negative consequences. How should this class of consequences be interpreted, for example, when compared with other negatives consequences we experience?


 


 

First impressions are first and foremost an information processing activity. And as many studies have suggested, it is more linked to the way information is transmitted to us than it is about our ability to interpret information. Given that perceptual information reaches us very fast in normal life we need to react to situations just as fast. The classical example is the curled up snake in our pathway. Our ability to see the snake and take evasive action is more important for us /especially our ancestors/ than being able to identify the snake as being poisonous, aggressive or what ever. That can be done later after we've neutralized the snake.


 


 

Inevitably there is a survival struggle between our ability to recognize a harmful creature, be it man or beast, and our survival adversary being capable of preventing or delaying our discovery of this adversary. The snake wants us not to see it, but we want to see it and do something about it as soon as possible. This, of course, is nature and evolution at their best. From our part we have very little to argue about this point. Today the balance has more than shifted in our favour to the fatal detriment of the snake. Although some snakes are still dangerous.


 


 

This survival game also applies with human beings, not just snakes, there has always been an equal struggle to survive between groups and individual human beings. Being able to recognise those who wish us harm immediately would give us an advantage in the same way we would have an advantage against the snake. As an evolutionary instinct, first impressions have played a useful and, on the whole, advantageous part. After all we are still here, aren't we?


 


 

So where is the philosophical issue? It is one thing to evolve strategies and adaptations to survive against an equally able adversary. For example, two people from different tribes camouflaging themselves to capture a gazelle would be fair play in most circumstances. But would it be fair play to adopt strategies to exploit an adversary? We can adopt a strategy to be more efficient at catching gazelle or we can adopt a strategy to take away from our adversary a gazelle they have efficiently caught? Most people would say (never mind what they actually do for now) that taking away from others is not fair play.


 


 

You will remember that the idea of fair play does not carry with it strong moral implications of words like steal or rob, exploit or cheat. Moral labels are not that relevant for us compared to understanding the balance or equilibrium that has to exist if we are not to end up in oblivion. To put it in an other way, given the capacity and the force this survival strategy can have on, how can we stop it from going into a super critical evolution; i.e. go out of control?


 


 

I intentionally borrow concepts from physics here, since nuclear physics have give us the very excellent concepts of, sub critical, critical mass and super critical. (Google the respective concepts) For our purposes, a critical mass is reached when a reaction (human evolution) has reached a sustainable level (human survival) over time. But we do not want that such a reaction goes super critical and thus out of control and unpredictable; in our example it would mean the distraction of the species: in physics, at the very least, we expect something like the China Syndrome.


 


 

What does all this have to do with first impressions? That first impressions have served a purpose is not in doubt. But what if we were to turn this strength in humans into a weakness in our competitors or adversaries?


 


 

The use of the words adversary and competitor are used differently in every day life from the specialised context of survival strategies. My competitor in life would be another English teacher, and since I do not aspire to make a living from philosophy I am not really a competitor to professional philosophers. By the same token, the manufacturer of my pc is probably a competitor of the manufacturer of your pc. Adversary follows the same logic. Someone who does not want to compete with my services, but wants to cheat to prevent me from having work would be an adversary. Someone who wants to take your pc because they couldn't be bothered to save for one would be your adversary.


 


 

In the case of the survival struggle a competitor would be someone or some creature who is seeking the same resources as us. Therefore, as long as both the lion and us are chasing the same gazelle for lunch we are competitors, as soon as we catch the gazelle and the lioness starts chasing us the lioness becomes our adversary; lions do not usually get involved with the cooking unless it's a desperate situation.


 


 

Thus on the more technical interpretation my competitor need not be another fellow teacher, but maybe a post graduate college which is also competing for the learning motivation of a prospective student. And an aggressor would probably be someone who introduces an employment policy in a company who now requires employees to have a master's degree rather than being proficient users of English. Of course one does not exclude the other, but the student needs to accommodate both activities with all the economic choice implication that has. To take another example, a competitor of a pc mf might not be another pc manufacturer but maybe a car manufacturer. Today most people have access to a pc at work with a connection to the internet, but not a customised car.


 


 

This is where first impressions come into their own. If first impressions can lead us to making certain decision, if not cause us to make certain decisions, wouldn't it be an unfair advantage if a manufacturer could attract customers in such a way that would make them abandon other purchases that might be more useful for them? Think about it, how many times have you bought something on an impulse (impulse purchase) because you liked the wrapping or because of the positioning of the product which you might have regretted later on? Maybe a bar of chocolate that you knew what it was not really good for your cholesterol level?


 


 

Of course, knowing that something is a gazelle in a fraction of a second can help a great deal in our hunt for the animal. However, someone can easily use this fact to exploit our instinct for example by making the wrapping of a bar of chocolate attractive or eye catching. Maybe, you might argue, this no more sinister than a brightly red coloured mushrooms in the forest. But could not this situation be described as one is attracting our attention whilst the other is exploiting our attention? It is certainly hard to answer.


 


 

Consider what Prof Olson is reported to have said and quoted in the Science Daily article (First Impressions Of Beauty), ""Attractive people are paid more, are judged more intelligent and will receive more attention in most facets of life. "This favoritism, while poorly understood, seems to be innate and cross-cultural. Studies suggest that even infants prefer pretty faces," Olson said.


 


 

Should we treat this as the news item of the century or as a taboo we would rather not talk about? Whilst accepting the opinion of sceptics and non-believers, what are the implications of this situation? It would be reasonable to assume that if any situation needed to go beyond first impressions this would be it?


 


 

If physical attraction does result into favouritism, would this be at par with say racial discrimination, sex discrimination and would it be in the same class of discrimination as discrimination against handicapped people? Maybe not as severe as being handicapped, but certainly as severe as discriminating because of race.


 


 

Although we have no doubt to trust the veracity of Prof. Olson's conclusion I don't think we need to worry that mush because we're going to be over run by attractive and pretty people. In the same way that not all governments are fascists or communists. This is not, however, an invitation to be complacent, but a warning to be on guard for such things as discrimination or racism; or simply frivolous policies.


 


 

However, the implications of first impressions in today's everyday life are worth considering. These negative aspects do not only apply to buying chocolates or looking for a mate. I would venture and ask how do first impressions affect people in such areas as employment (at interviews), medical care, in courts of law, restaurants an so on?


 


 

Before going beyond first impressions, there is a detail which I have been intentionally holding back. When scientists say that first impressions can be an accurate representation of reality, what they mean is that the aggregate results of a study point in the right direction. But just because a group of people can agree who is attractive at a fraction of a second or recognise a snake in on the path way, it does not follow that all the individuals, including you and me, can accurately identify something or a situation from first impressions.


 


 

But while first impressions are useful collectively, exploiting this instinct in others is, in my opinion, an individualistic event. Although you might not be right about the true worth of a bar of chocolate, the producers wants you as an individual to have an erroneous first impression in their favour. Maybe this difference between aggregate results and individual experience plays an important part in evolutionary stability; not everyone gets it right nor gets things wrong, but enough to keep a steady dynamic process going.


 


 

As I said earlier, information is the key; be it expert type of information or self awareness type of information. With the right information, I suggest we might be able to activate the cognitive part of the brain that gets by passed when we instinctively react to a first impression. (see First impressions: Computer model....). It is believed that in normal day to day first impressions we instantaneously (sometimes even as quick as 50 milliseconds) can categorise an image and take the appropriate action without activating the cognitive part of the brain. Once we categorise something some thing as being a snake we get out of the way; and once we categorise something as a good bar of chocolate we reach out for it.


 


 

It is probably the by passing of the cognitive activity of the brain that is the weak spot of first impressions. The article Selling Customers The Short End..... suggests that people might trust someone who they think is more "savvy" than they are, but not if they think they are there equal. We know this from adverts with people wearing white coats, successful sports people and of course attractive people. But in a way even these savvy or attractive people are being used by others to further their own fortunes. So although attractive people are favoured it is not a completely free ride. Not only do first impressions fail to activate the thinking part of our brain, but this process can be high jacked by implanting irrelevant or even erroneous information.


 


 

When we know less about a product than the seller, economists call this asymmetric information. I'm sure we can extend this theory to survival strategies. For example, we do not know how a famous person uses a product they endorse. Nor do we know whether an attractive person is also a competent person. It might be too late when we discover the true answer to these questions.


 


 

Having more of the right type of information can reduce the asymmetry gap between the actors. Which is precisely one of the most important things we can do minimise the drawbacks of first impressions. Consider the study reported in the article, The Eyes Have it:... In an eye tracking experiment of consumers looking at adverts, the results supported the theory (Yarbus thesis) that advert information is goal-contingent; "..the eyes are a reflection of consumer goals." Of course, this is very simplistic version of a rather complex process. but the lesson is not lost. If we know what we are looking for we are not fooled or distracted by irrelevant information. And in such situations as employment, courts of law or medical treatment, this is not only desirable but also an imperative.


 


 

Even still, with the right sort of information (our goals) together with any information that might reduce any advantage our adversary might have over us we can stand a good chance of going beyond first impressions. It would still be a question of chance and maybe random events, but it's a start. The irony, of course, is that the best way we have of going beyond first impressions is to employ the very same strategy and resources that make first impressions such a complex issue: information gathering.


 


 

Take care


 


 

Lawrence


 


 

* some recent articles on the subject.

First impressions: Computer model behaves like humans on visual categorization task

Published: 17:28 EST, April 02, 2007

* PhysOrg.com

http://www.physorg.com/news94753689.html


 


 

University of Pennsylvania (2006, January 25). First Impressions Of Beauty May Demonstrate Why The Pretty Prosper. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 13, 2008, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2006/01/060124223317.htm#


 


 

The Association for Psychological Science

July 2006

Volume 19, Number 7

How Many Seconds to a First Impression?

http://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/19/7/first_impression


 


 

'Thin slices' of life

Psychologists are finding that our first impressions of others can be remarkably accurate--but also can fail us.

BY LEA WINERMAN

Monitor Staff

Volume 36, No. 3 March 2005

http://www.apa.org/monitor/mar05/slices.html


 


 

Duke University (2007, March 30). Selling Customers The Short End Of The Stick. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 14, 2008, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070329161807.htm


 


 

University of Chicago Press Journals (2007, August 10). The Eyes Have It: What Do We See When We Look At Ads?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 14, 2008, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070807135659.htm

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group: AVILA this Saturday + Work Offers

Avila + Work offers

Dear friends,


I checked the Avila bus time table again with the Larrea ticket office
and I discovered that it takes 1.45min to Avila and not the one hour I
was given the impression to believe. This makes the journey about 20
minutes longer than the train. However, it is slightly cheaper by bus.


In view of this if you let me know your preference before Thursday
afternoon I'll be able to get in touch to let you know what the
consensus is. I don't mind which way I go. In any case there is nothing
to stop people from making their own arrangements; as long as the first
ones in Avila will find a decent bar and collar a table for the rest.


BUS: leaves Mendes Alvaro 11.00am arrive 12.45pm
Return: 20.30pm arrives Madrid 20.30pm. We probably have to book our
return very early.
Price: 11.35 euros return


TRAIN: from Nuevos Ministerios approx 11.00am arrives Avila 12.21pm
RETURN: 20.15pm and arrives Madrid 22.20pm
Price: as far as I can make out 16.80 euros (might be a bit less)

Please let me know so I can send out the result on Thursday.

WORK OFFERS

LUIS write: I have one friend who is currently living in Madrid who
would be Interested in private English lessons in her house. She lives
near Colon Sq. Do you know any native teacher who might be available to
keep in touch with? Please write to Luis at: luistejadal@gmail.com


MONICA: NATIVE ENGLISH TEACHER NEEDED. One hour twice a week. Metro
Avda. América. Euros 24 to 30 per hour. From 14.00 to 15.00.
m.medina@teleline.es


MILTON - ENGLISH TEACHER – NON NATIVE or NATIVE speaker
Could you announce that I have a vacancy for an English teacher in the
North of Madrid.
It would be in school (no travelling), 10 hours per week, teenagers in
small (max. 4) groups.
Native not necessary
Sylvan
Milton 628 941 502


IAN - SOFTWARE SUPPORT TECHNICIAN
At my company that I work for we are looking to hire another permanent
software support technician. I don't have a full job specification just
yet, but basically we are looking for an IT capable person who speaks
(and writes) good to fluent English at the very least, with any other
languages being a welcome bonus.


The job offer is for a technical support person to answer customer calls
and emails regarding our software package and Windows printer driver. We
want someone who is technically minded with a good understanding of
programming and have at least some basic programming experience either
in the work place or study. It is a job with good prospects for further
development within the company. The office is centrally located next to
the Retiro park. Full training will be provided.


The offer is between 19-21k depending on the quality of the candidate.


If anyone is interested, or knows someone who might be interested please
get in touch. Candidates can send their CVs to my work email at:
icummings@seagullscientific.com


The curious can see what we do by looking at our website:

www.seagullscientific.com


Thanks hombre!

Ian.

Finally, next Sunday we're discussing: Can we go beyond first impressions?


See you soon

Lawrence

IF YOU DON'T GET AN EMAIL BY FRIDAY PLEASE LET ME KNOW

++TINA HAS A FLAT IN USERA SHE WOULD LIKE TO RENT:
The flat is in Usera near the underground , totally furnished and 60 m2,
3º floor.
matutina.gonzalez@fnmt.es

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
**********HOLIDAY FLATS**********
Mayte; Almería (Villa de Níjar);

http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo/HOLIDAY_FLAT_mayte_AlmerAVillaDeNJar

Paloma; Marbella (near Elviria);

http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo/HOLIDAYFLAT_Paloma_MarbellaNearElviria
*************************************

+++++++++MEETING DETAILS+++++++++
SUNDAY 6.00pm – 8.30pm at Molly Malone's Pub, probably downstairs----
-Email: philomadrid@yahoo.co.uk
-Yahoo group >> philomadridgroup-subscribe@yahoogroups.co.uk <
-Old essays: www.geocities.com/philomadrid
- Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com/
-Group photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo
-My tel 606081813
-metro: Bilbao : buses: 21, 149, 147
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group: AVILA this Saturday + Work Offers

Saturday, February 09, 2008

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: News: Olga Tertulia tonight – Petri needs CAP – 2 Job Offers – Avila

News: Olga Tertulia tonight – Petri needs CAP – 2 Job Offers – Avila

Tomorrow's meeting: Is the world a friendly place?

1) Olaga – CHANGE OF VENUE FOR TERTULIA
From tomorrow, from 22 hrs, our Saturday's English/Spanish exchange
will be held in Café Isadora,C/Divino Pastor nº 14.Metro Station: Bilbao.

I am sorry I do not have a map, so that, you may check the address in
Internet.


2) Petri – MEMORIA DEL CAP
Petri would be most grateful if anyone can help her with a MEMORIA DEL
CAP (Certificado de Adaptacion Pedagogica)

EMAIL: petra.cuerta@yahoo.es


3) Milton - ENGLISH TEACHER – NON NATIVE or NATIVE speaker
Could you announce that I have a vacancy for an English teacher in the
North of Madrid.
It would be in school (no travelling), 10 hours per week, teenagers in
small (max. 4) groups.
Native not necessary
Sylvan
Milton 628 941 502


4) Ian - SOFTWARE SUPPORT TECHNICIAN
At my company that I work for we are looking to hire another permanent
software support technician. I don't have a full job specification just
yet, but basically we are looking for an IT capable person who speaks
(and writes) good to fluent English at the very least, with any other
languages being a welcome bonus.

The job offer is for a technical support person to answer customer calls
and emails regarding our software package and Windows printer driver.
We want someone who is technically minded with a good understanding of
programming and have at least some basic programming experience either
in the work place or study. It is a job with good prospects for further
development within the company. The office is centrally located next to
the Retiro park. Full training will be provided.

The offer is between 19-21k depending on the quality of the candidate.

If anyone is interested, or knows someone who might be interested please
get in touch. Candidates can send their CVs to my work email at:
icummings@seagullscientific.com

The curious can see what we do by looking at our website:

www.seagullscientific.com

Thanks hombre!

Ian.


5) AVILA – DAY TRIP 16 FEBRUARY 2008, SATURDAY
We are planning another day trip this time to Avila. We'll agree the
details this Sunday but this is the information I have so far about
transport. If you have any information please let me or us know.

BUS: Avanza Larrea – Estación Sur – Mendes Alvaro
Bus from Madrid : 9.30am and 11.00am and it takes about 1 hour to get to
Avila
Bus from Avila: 18.00 or last bus 20.30pm
Return ticket: 11.34 euros


TRAIN: (the Renfe website is a bit confusing)
Madrid: 8.45am and 11.00am and the journey takes about 1.30min
Avila: 20.15m, 20.37 and 20.58 (this is the confusing part)
Price: about 8.40 euros each way (ergo 16.40 return); but I think there
is a discount for day return.

Thanks

Lawrence

IF YOU DON'T GET AN EMAIL BY FRIDAY PLEASE LET ME KNOW


++TINA HAS A FLAT IN USERA SHE WOULD LIKE TO RENT:
The flat is in Usera near the underground , totally furnished and 60 m2,
3º floor.
matutina.gonzalez@fnmt.es

IF YOU DON'T GET AN EMAIL BY FRIDAY PLEASE LET ME KNOW


+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
**********HOLIDAY FLATS**********
Mayte; Almería (Villa de Níjar);

http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo/HOLIDAY_FLAT_mayte_AlmerAVillaDeNJar

Paloma; Marbella (near Elviria);

http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo/HOLIDAYFLAT_Paloma_MarbellaNearElviria
*************************************

+++++++++MEETING DETAILS+++++++++
SUNDAY 6.00pm – 8.30pm at Molly Malone's Pub, probably downstairs----
-Email: philomadrid@yahoo.co.uk
-Yahoo group >> philomadridgroup-subscribe@yahoogroups.co.uk <
-Old essays: www.geocities.com/philomadrid
- Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com/
-Group photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo
-My tel 606081813
-metro: Bilbao : buses: 21, 149, 147
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: News: Olga Tertulia
tonight – Petri needs CAP – 2 Job Offers – Avila

Thursday, February 07, 2008

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Is the world a friendly place? + 2 job offers + Avila

2 job offers – Avila day trip - Essay


Dear friends,


Is the world a friendly place? This is the topic we are discussing this
Sunday, and although the impression is that it is not, there are
exceptions. These are two of them:


Please pass the details to others, please.

Milton - ENGLISH TEACHER – NON NATIVE or NATIVE speaker
Could you announce that I have a vacancy for an English teacher in the
North of Madrid.
It would be in school (no travelling), 10 hours per week, teenagers in
small (max. 4) groups.
Native not necessary
Sylvan
Milton 628 941 502


Ian - SOFTWARE SUPPORT TECHNICIAN
At my company that I work for we are looking to hire another permanent
software support technician. I don't have a full job specification just
yet, but basically we are looking for an IT capable person who speaks
(and writes) good to fluent English at the very least, with any other
languages being a welcome bonus.

The job offer is for a technical support person to answer customer calls
and emails regarding our software package and Windows printer driver. We
want someone who is technically minded with a good understanding of
programming and have at least some basic programming experience either
in the work place or study. It is a job with good prospects for further
development within the company. The office is centrally located next to
the Retiro park. Full training will be provided.

The offer is between 19-21k depending on the quality of the candidate.

If anyone is interested, or knows someone who might be interested please
get in touch. Candidates can send their CVs to my work email at:
icummings@seagullscientific.com

The curious can see what we do by looking at our website:

www.seagullscientific.com

Thanks hombre!

Ian.


AVILA – DAY TRIP 16 FEBRUARY 2008, SATURDAY
We are planning another day trip this time to Avila. We'll agree the
details this Sunday but this is the information I have so far about
transport. If you have any information please let me or us know.

BUS: Avanza Larrea – Estación Sur – Mendes Alvaro
Bus from Madrid : 9.30am and 11.00am and it takes about 1 hour to get to
Avila
Bus from Avila: 18.00 or last bus 20.30pm
Return ticket: 11.34 euros


TRAIN: (the Renfe website is a bit confusing)
Madrid: 8.45am and 11.00am and the journey takes about 1.30min
Avila: 20.15m, 20.37 and 20.58 (this is the confusing part)
Price: about 8.40 euros each way (ergo 16.40 return); but I think there
is a discount for day return.


See you Sunday

Take care

Lawrence

IF YOU DON'T GET AN EMAIL BY FRIDAY PLEASE LET ME KNOW

++TINA HAS A FLAT IN USERA SHE WOULD LIKE TO RENT:
The flat is in Usera near the underground , totally furnished and 60 m2,
3º floor.
matutina.gonzalez@fnmt.es


+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
**********HOLIDAY FLATS**********
Mayte; Almería (Villa de Níjar);

http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo/HOLIDAY_FLAT_mayte_AlmerAVillaDeNJar

Paloma; Marbella (near Elviria);

http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo/HOLIDAYFLAT_Paloma_MarbellaNearElviria
*************************************

+++++++++MEETING DETAILS+++++++++
SUNDAY 6.00pm – 8.30pm at Molly Malone's Pub, probably downstairs----
-Email: philomadrid@yahoo.co.uk
-Yahoo group >> philomadridgroup-subscribe@yahoogroups.co.uk <
-Old essays: www.geocities.com/philomadrid
- Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com/
-Group photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo
-My tel 606081813
-metro: Bilbao : buses: 21, 149, 147
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Is the world a friendly place?


No. But we have ways and means of making it cooperate. Which brings me
to ask two questions, how serious is the problem and what have we done
about it?

Consider the following. Water is vital for life as we know it on Earth.
About 70% of the world's surface is covered with water. And as we know
water freezes at 0 degrees C (or rather the melting point of water is 0
degrees C) and the boiling point of water is of course 100 degrees C. In
the human body water makes up between 45 and 75% of body weight; by
mass, human cells consist of 65-90% water (H2O).*


The normal temperature of the human body is 37C. Stage 3 hypothermal is
fatal for human beings which is when the body temperature falls below
32C. Hyperthermia is life threatening and this happens when the body
temperature goes above 40C. There are very few places on Earth where
humans can live without the need of elaborate protection against the
elements. *


Of course our problems do not stop with temperatures. As far as we are
concerned there are basically two ways of coming into existence: natural
conception or artificial insemination. But when it comes to dying there
are so many ways of dying that it is beyond the imagination of all crime
writers. For example, Dr Charles Bryan MD starts his chapter on Clinical
infectious Disease, in the on-line book Microbiology and Immunology**
with the following words: "Infections still cause about one-third of all
deaths worldwide and are the leading cause of death, mainly because of
disease in developing countries." Needless to say, this is something
that preoccupies everyone; in Britain there are twenty-nine notifiable
diseases according to the entry in Wikipedia.


Given the state of the world and the universe around us, we live,
according to Richard Dawkins, in what he calls the Middle World. He
compares the Middle World to a narrow band of the electromagnetic
spectrum. (Google: Dawkins Middle Earth) any deviation from this narrow
band width and we end up dead physically, hence my background about
water, and metaphorically, we are just unable to understand what happens
beyond these boundaries.


But even within our narrow spectrum of the world we survive in, we have
to contend with anther range of hostile and unfriendly circumstances and
conditions. Around the time Darwin wrote On the Origin of Species in
1859 the world population was estimated to be around 1.2 billion, today
it is estimated to be 6.6 billion. In 2006, USA Today published an
article with the following headline: Study: 25% of Americans have no one
to confide in. The article, quoting from the study, said that in 1985
the average American had three people "in whom to confide matters that
were important to them." In 2004 that figure fell to two persons. But a
more interesting figure is that the number of people who depended
totally on a spouse increased from 5% to 9% in 2004.*** Unfortunately,
more people does not equate to more friends or friendlier neighbours.


Life itself is not immune from an unfriendly environment. Not only do
living systems have to compete against each other to survive, but most
important of all survival at the biological level does means living for
an other day and passing on one's genetic material on to the next
generation. Natural selection depends very much on having heritable
traits that are helpful for survival and reproduction.* But genes
themselves are equally battered around with both determinism and
randomness; they are not incompatible. Today we know enough about
evolution and genes to understand that the process of life is not plain
sailing. And whether you believe in creationism or in a natural process
one thing is sure, life couldn't be more complicated. And if the mission
statement of life is: survive and reproduce, the management have
certainly made it very difficult to accomplish. And when it is
accomplished it does not necessarily mean, mission accomplished.


A look at the Fertility rate world map # will make it absolutely clear
that today the highest population growths are also in developing
countries. On this map, Africa is covered in various shades of red
(representing high population growth) and places such as Europe, US and
Australia are shades of blue. It is an accepted fact that population
stability is a necessary condition for prosperity. The bulk of today's
6.6 billion live in unacceptable conditions be they health, economic,
political, human rights, work conditions, personal freedom. What we, in
developed countries, take for granted some of these people in developing
countries do not know they exist.


That the world is not friendly is not in doubt, but we can go one step
further and conclude that it was not brought into existence to be user
friendly anyway. Other life forms have it as tough as we do even if
natural selection enables each species to become adept at exploiting its
environment. In a way this confirms that the world is not friendly and
on the other hand it might be seen as being equally fair in a perverse
way. The world is unfriendly and hostile to anything that pretends to be
a living system: even viruses are not exempt.


If you think that the foregoing is pessimistic, the words of Douglas
Adams, writing in the introduction of his sci-fi book Hitchhiker's Guide
to the Galaxy (Balantine Books, originally published 1979) might have a
better ring to them: "Orbiting this [yellow sun] at a distance of
roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little
blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly
primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea."
But is it really that bad on the real Earth?


Our next question is how did we arrive to the digital watch, or the
mobile phone to keep things up to date. In fact those Ape-descended life
forms did something 200,000 years ago (more or less) that would change a
few things in the world (not many, but enough). As a note in passing,
some believe that these Ape like creatures came down from the trees to
conquer the world. Bill Bryson in his books A Short History of Nearly
Everything, suggest that the trees were probably taken away from
underneath the apes by climatic changes. Thus making the quest for
better living locations more urgent. Of course, the Apes of the trees
and the ape like creatures that went on to become us today, are not the
same creatures; the difference is measured in million of years.


Maybe this exodus from Africa might be see as the first causal step
towards that digital watch, but it came at a price. Adams again: "This
planet has ... a problem which was this: most of the people living on it
were unhappy for pretty much of the time. ..... And so the problem
remained; lots of the people were mean, and most of them were miserable,
even the ones with the digital watches." Adams was writing a science
fiction book, but we know what he meant.


The first change that took place between the common ancestor of Homo and
Pan (Wikipedia: Human) was for the sub tribe Hominina to evolve biped
locomotion which freed the arms and hands, for more productive
activities. This ability to walk and stand upright must have been such a
fundamental change that it seems to have truly been truly ingrained in
the depths of our genes. We now see this conversion manifest itself in
its pure and primitive form on the parade ground of those armies that
have ever existed. Walking straight and standing up right are the two
skills a new soldier must learn and learn without fault. Maybe the war
instinct, if not gene, might also be a throw back to those early
transforming times.


The next most important milestone must surely be the development of a
bigger brain. If walking up right gave us an advantage against our
competitors and predators, having a larger brain must have sealed the
fate of all other living creatures whether they were competitors or
predators. This evolutionary process, we are told, is continuing but in
my opinion the brain was the last big event in our physical evolution.
In effect, walking up right and developing our brain are the two most
important means we have had to make the world cooperate with us.


We can go on exploring the other important milestones in human
development and evolution. However, from our perspective we are
interested in two major developments both of which are a direct
consequence of our brain. I use developments in a rather loose way.


The major developments I was thinking of in the previous paragraph are
language and ethical systems. This is why I am using the word
development in a loose way. Strictly speaking, both these skills are
found in some animals especially the skill of transferring information
to other members of the group. Even the ideas of good and bad are found
in very primitive and crude forms in some creatures.


Language, and I include mathematics, scientific language and artistic
expression, enables us to transfer information between. Information that
would otherwise be too expensive or impossible to gather on our own. And
an ethical system, including culture, tradition, religion, legal
systems, gives us an important sense of stability amongst ourselves;
something which we are not by nature. This, in my opinion is the real
importance and value of ethics and not the ideas of good and bad.


What we have done, however, is to develop these skills into very
sophisticated tools and abilities which enable us to tame and control
parts of our environment and other fellow human beings. In other words,
what we have achieved these past 200,000 years is that a relatively
small number of human beings are able to get the rest of the physical
and human world to cooperate with them.


Amongst all this vortex of evolution we find a very strong pull to
socialise. Of course, there is always a need to socialise for the very
act of procreation. But an equally import form of socialising is in
societies, be they groups of friends, companies, religions, political
parties or nation. What all these do is to help us exploit our
environment more efficiently, either in a direct way such as division of
labour or indirectly such as education institutions. Getting others to
cooperate with us is no less a form of getting the world to cooperate,
hence be friendly, than managing the destructive powers of a river or a
tornado.


But is there anything new in this? At face value it seems to me that
most of what we do today, to make the world friendly, is but innovation
on a grand scale. Sure, we've progressed much from a grunt or a punch,
but more sophisticated does not mean conceptually different. But if we
accept this premise, does this mean that we have achieved nothing unique
or different other than simply fulfil our mission statement?


Take care

Lawrence

* (data from Wikipedia)
**
(http://pathmicro.med.sc.edu/Infectious%20Disease/Infectious%20Disease%20Introduction.htm)
*** (http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-06-22-friendship_x.htm)
# (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Fertility_rate_world_map_2.png)

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Is the world a
friendly place? + 2 job offers + Avila

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Philosophy, Social Issues, Classical Philosophy, Citizen Philosophy, Applied Philosophy, Non-Political Meeting, Non-Religious Meeting,