Deviate by Beau Lotto

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Summary

Our brain evolved to accomplish mainly one task: reduce uncertainty. That is why it constantly seeks patterns by associating raw information. The brain thrives on difference, on contrast, since only by comparing things is it able to create meaning.

To reduce uncertainty, the brain is constantly predicting the future by creating expectations. Because this is so critical to our survival, when the expectations are met the brain rewards you with good-feeling chemicals, when they are not it releases negative-feeling chemicals.

The brain constructs meaning out of the only other piece of information it does have access to: past experience. But in its nature, the brain is delusional. In fact, our internal context is as determinative as the external one.

The implication of the brain’s delusional nature is this: the past that determines how you see isn’t just constituted by your lived perceptions but by your imagined one as well. As such, you can influence what you see in the future just by thinking.

We can shape our future by intentionally manufacturing in our brain “past experiences".

Book Notes

The brain does not search to live, but not to die. Our brain is a physical embodiment of our ancestors’ perceptual reflexes shaped through the process of natural selection, combined with our own reflexes as well as those of our culture in which we are embedded. This results in seeing only what helped us to survive in the past-and nothing else. We carry all of this empirical history with us and project it out into the world around us.

Our brains evolved to solve the problem of uncertainty. They take what is inherently uncertain and make it certain. The biological motivation of many of our social and cultural habits and reflexes is to diminish uncertainty through imposed rules and rigid environments.

At the core of living is the courage to move, to step with doubt..but step nonetheless.

⇾ The brain thrives on difference..on contrast, since only by comparing things is it able to build relationships, which is a key step in creating perceptions.

Context is everything. The brain deals in relationships. It doesn’t do absolutes. Meaning can’t be made in vacuum. Detecting differences (or contrasts) is integral to the functioning of our brains.

⇾ What makes the brain beautiful is that it is delusional. We are beautifully delusional because internal context is as determinative as our external one.

⇾ We don’t see reality - we only see what was useful to see in the past. But the implication of the brain’s delusional nature is this: the past that determines how you see isn’t just constituted by your lived perceptions but by your imagined one as well. As such, you can influence what you see in the future just by thinking. Imagined perceptions shape your future much like lived ones, as both physically change your neural architecture (thought to differing degrees, since lived experiences generally have a stronger statistical impact).

⇾ The reality that our perception see is the meaning of the meaningless information that your brain receives.. the meaning your ecology gives it. It is critical to understand that the meaning of the thing is not the same as the thing itself. In other words, perception is similar to reading poetry: you are interpreting what it means, because it could mean anything.

⇾ When we go in any given situation we have expectations. The reason why we have expectation is because predicting the future means survival. So the brain rewards met expectations with good-feeling chemicals and releases negative-feeling chemicals when they are not.

⇾ Crazy people who go into the unknown and come back having learned the dangers and benefits on the other side of the hill, open up new spaces of possibilities that the group hadn’t known existed.

Overcoming uncertainty and predicting usefully from seemingly useless data is arguably the fundamental task that the human brain evolved to solve. Hence why existing in uncertainty is exactly what our brains evolved to avoid.

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