Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Colorblind II

I did a little more internet research this week, and it turns out that I am not colorblind. On the contrary, I am a deuteranomalous trichromat.

Let's start with some vsauce:



As you may know, the human eyes contains three types of cones (high, medium, and low), which are used to perceive color. Each type of cone is tuned to receive light of certain wavelengths (high, medium, and low--go figure). We do not need a separate receptor for every color that we see because 3 receptors are enough to triangulate the color of the light entering our eyes.

But what if you have only two receptors?

This is how I used to understand all colorblindness. I thought that either we (the colorblind) had only two types of cones or the third type was weak or inoperable. This does happen and it is called dichromacy.

You might be able to guess that different varieties of colorblindness result from the impairment of different types of cones.


Cone Impaired
 Colorblindness
  High
  Medium
  Low

(Note: monochromacy results from only one working cone; this is when someone truly sees in only grayscale. Guess what? There are actually three types of monochromacy, and three corresponding grayscales. I don't think much research has been done on distinguishing these.) 


If you remember the picture from the video, the medium and high sensors actually detect relatively close-to-the-same wavelengths of light. A lack of either results in the inability to distinguish RED from GREEN. That's right, two completely different defects can result in red-green colorblindness. Deuteranopia happens to be the most common.


Nevertheless, Protanopia and Deuteranopia are subtly different, as indicated by the following two images from color-blindness.com.


Protanopia Confusion Lines
Deuteranopia Confusion Lines




Here's the neat part. I (like many "colorblind" people) have three types of perfectly working cones. I am a trichromat. So why can I not see all the colors that most of you can see? Colorblind people such as I have an anomaly in the relative sensitives of our cone types.
Essentially, one or more of the bell curves on the graph up there is shifted to the left or the right. Our eyes triangulate light waves differently and as a result, we cannot distinguish all of the colors/hues that normal trichromats can.

According to a slew of tests that I found online, I have determined that I likely have a certain (common) anomaly in which I more or less have two high-frequency-sensitive cones. The sensitivities are enough different that I can distinguish more colors than a deuteranope, but I still cannot see many of the "normal" colors.

Here's the REALLY neat part. Because of the difference in cone sensitivities, I may actually see colors that normal-vision people cannot see. How cool is that?



Some other neat stuff:
TED Talks: Beau Lotto
Radiolab: Why Isn't the Sky Blue?
Describing Colors to Blind People
Vsauce: perception and qualia

Friday, August 30, 2013

Controlling Parents and Mormon History

A Common Parenting/teaching Strategy for the pious has traditionally been to control the flow of information to the children.  The basic tenet is logical: if a kid has never heard of an activity, how can he/she participate? (this refers to intellectual activity as well as physical).


For those who believe that a strict code of morality is key to fulfilling our full potential for happiness (which I do), this method may seem very attractive.

This method, however, is only effective in training a certain type of person.


The Supposed-to's:

I was once a supposed-to. Success was in doing exactly what I was supposed to do. I had a healthy respect for authority and little-to-no desire for rebellion.

The controlling-style of parenting worked on me...sort of. I always considered myself a moral person, even when I was purposefully a dishonest, salacious, and condescending person.

As it turned out, my sense of morality was so tied to what others' expected of me that I began to believe that if I did not get caught, then it did not count.

Because of people like me, the method of control may actually appear to work much more effectively than it actually does. In any case, it does not work for the most inquisitive, deep thinkers among us (see Galileo).


The Information Age:

What used to work only for many, works for even fewer now.

Information is ubiquitous (it's everywhere). You can hide yourself from it if you are careful, but you cannot hide others from it for long. If an idea exists and someone wants to find out about it, all they have to do is ask.

At best, we can control only the most submissive people into happiness.


Mormon History:

Here is an example of the intent to lead others to happiness by in part limiting their understanding.

Many of the actual events of Mormon history are a big problem (read: obstacle to faith) for those in or seeking to know about the LDS Church. Those who have been given the charge to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ (those moral rules leading to happiness that I mentioned) and to keep the LDS Church organized know how hard the truth can be. The desire to control information is compelling, and such control may appear effective for a time.

But we can't hush it anymore. In many cases, it has become the elephant in the room. And it is becoming evident that dishonesty (even in the form of over-sheltering those we love) is not an effective tool for teaching truth.


What Now?

In the past, those who do not respond cordially to the traditional regulation approach were criticized as rebellious and unruly. Many of these people may find that they do not fit in and decide to disassociate themselves with the religion. Little saddens me more. I have come to believe that the LDS Church is suffering from a kind of genetic disease. While the core of the church (read: the Gospel of Jesus Christ) is still strong and true, many of the members are being blinded from a great potential leap in understanding and happiness. Many members are going through the motions of morality, but they still do not really understand how to be happy. Morality is not the end, but a means to the end.

Fortunately, there is a cure. As in the Book of Mormon parable of the Olive Tree (Jacob 5), the grafting in of wild branches may be enough to save the tree and bring forth good fruit. As a church community, we NEED those people that we have unintentionally pushed away. Those on whom the controlling method is least likely to work (the wild branches) are those that we in our culture need the most.

I believe that we are in possession of the process for obtaining true happiness, but we cannot TEACH the process until we understand it better ourselves.

All parents/teachers must become more capable and more knowledgeable.  We cannot avoid taboo topics anymore and hope for the best. We need to be able to ask hard questions (at home and in Sunday school), and we need to be okay if the answers do not really exist. A lack of answer is much better than a wrong answer. And if we do not involve ourselves in the discussion, then I am sure there are plenty of wrong answers out there ready to be accepted.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

To Be(lieve) or Not To Be(lieve)

In a recent post, I ask you to consider a statement that you accept as true.

Do it again; think of anything.

I claimed earlier that you cannot prove it to be true. Why do you believe it?


As far as I know, no one is born with a knowledge of truth or a clear understanding of reality. For example, it takes months for a baby to apparently believe in object permanence. Before then, as far as we are concerned, if we can't see it then it doesn't exist.

Reality is something that we must learn to piece together along the way.

But once we think we have it figured out, how can we really check our answers ...until maybe when we are dead?



In the same previous post about proof, I mention cogent/convincing arguments. What type of things make an argument convincing for you?

Generally, I think most of us will choose to believe an argument if we find it convincing--but there are plenty of exceptions. The most interesting case may be that in which two equally convincing ideas are mutually exclusive. If both cannot be true, then you cannot believe both ideas (and be counted sane). Then how do you choose what to believe?

         Here are some options:

Option 1: You came across idea #1 first and have already chosen to believe it, so you reject the second one. (conservativism?)

Option 2: You reject the first one, and cleave to the new idea. (fad following?)

Option 3: You remain agnostic; you choose not to fully believe either idea. (I try to rely on this one as often as I can, but this is not always possible. How do you make decisions when the better choice depends on what you choose to believe? Do you flip a coin?)

Option 4: You accept the idea that is the most convenient for you. (As we tend to find and demonize this trait in others, it is important to recognize that we all fall into this trap more than we would care to admit. At least I do, and I suspect that I'm not alone.)

Option 5: You carefully and regularly evaluate all ideas, testing different combinations for cohesion. You hold strong to your current, carefully tested belief system, but you allow your beliefs to be flexible to new experiences and new ideas. (I am--hopefully obviously--a fan of Option 5).

Most of us probably follow some combination of these things, yes?

What other options have you discovered?

Friday, August 2, 2013

"Did You Get Your Answer?"

Prayer is an important part of Mormonism. Mormons are encouraged to have personal prayer every morning and night, before meals, etc., and we pretty much say a prayer before we start (or finish) any Mormon gathering.

I believe strongly in the power of prayer, and that mortal people can develop a genuine relationship with the Divine through prayer and quiet meditation. I worry, however, that Mormons and other religious people tend to give too much credit (or blame) to God because we expect too much intervention from Him.



Prayer for Intervention:

I think that we tend to look at God the way that my two-year-old son currently looks at me: as an All-Powerful, Perfect Being who has our best interests at heart. As such, it makes sense to expect Him to give us good things when we ask for them. Further, a natural consequence of religion is often a belief that every event--good or bad, monumental or mundane, to us or to others--happens because God made it happen.

Granted, I am neither perfect nor omnipotent by any measure. That does not stop my son from asking me to make impossible things happen. For example, he likes to see this monument whenever we are in downtown Pullman.


He knows when we get close, and often asks for it. Whether I want to oblige or not, he usually gets to see it as we drive by.

The potential problem arises when we are downtown, but not in Pullman (downtown Seattle, for example). As much as he thinks we are near the monument, and as fervently and sincerely and repeatedly as he asks, I cannot drive by the Cougar when we are 4-5 hours away.

I believe that 1) even God is bound by Eternal Laws of some sort, and
                   2) if God does intervene, it is not to give us what we want but what we need.



Prayer for Knowledge:

Contrary to Mormon tradition, before getting married I never prayed to know if my then-girlfriend, now-wife Kira was the right one for me.

     I liked her.
         I wanted to be with her forever.
               I wanted to take care of her and protect her.
                    I wanted to share a family with her.
                         I was willing to do whatever is necessary to make our relationship work.
  So I proposed.

I believe that we have the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which gives us instructions for what type of decisions will bring us the most happiness. We should be grateful for that, yes?

But I also believe that God wants us (at least many of us) to take more responsibility for our own lives.

We do not need direction or confirmation for every decision that we make (even the big ones). Part of learning to be a productive, happy person is learning how to make decisions that will ultimately generate the outcomes that we want. That is, part of being happy is having and accepting control over our own life.

I now turn the time over to Soul Pancake:


Wednesday, July 31, 2013