Recipe for answering questions and enjoy life

Recipe Answering Questions

 

Today, my friends, I would like to give you the recipe I use to answer your questions. Feel free to use it as you please.

When you ask about a topic that is well researched, it’s easy. I check the relevant literature, weight arguments, come up with a conclusion and answer you.

On the other hand, when your question is about a subject-matter not so extensively studied, I have to think more carefully. Your question may be difficult to answer for different reasons. Maybe it depends too much on definitions that are unclear. Perhaps, a plausible answer builds upon how we measure evidence. Sometimes, your question is too broad.

Whenever I face questions like those, I stick to my home-made recipe, the one I give you here, one inspired to me by the great masters.

Composing my answer, I have to be overly prudent, for disagreement and controversy befall so readily—the nemesis of the writer sitting on my shoulder—no matter which words one chooses, someone can and will misinterpret them.

Finally, allow me to remind you, we do not always have bullet-proof explanations to everything, in which case suspending judgement seems to me the wisest approach.

Then again, we don’t need to have all answers in order to be able to contemplate life with wonder and to enjoy it fully.

 

ChildAndDog

Nós queremos protegê-los, que precisam mais, as nossas crianças e os nossos animais. nós queremos continuar a oferecer o "conhecimento para todos, em qualquer lugar", com cursos grátis e blogs. Junte-se a nós, compre "Cães e crianças" pelo preço de um café e um bolo. Ajude-nos a ajudar.

Do We Understand What Behavior Is?

 

Behavior is like the spectrum of light.

Behavior is like the spectrum of light. It is a continuum of quantity, perceptible throughout its duration, describable only when quantity turns into quality (© Illustration by Roger Abrantes with drawings from Alice Rasmussen).

 

The conundrum of the behavioral sciences is that they are not exact sciences in the same sense as physics or mathematics. Behavior is like the spectrum of light: it is as difficult to say when yellow turns into orange as when one behavior turns into another. It is a continuum of quantity, perceptible throughout its duration, describable only when quantity turns into quality.

Friendly, insecure, pacifying, submissive and fearful behaviors are a continuum of quantity, as are content, self-confident, assertive, dominant and aggressive behaviors. The distinction between any two behaviors is a matter of function; the borderline separating one category from the other is a matter of observational skill, contextual parameters and convention; the way we understand it all is a matter of definition.

Our brain likes to tidy up its stored information in small boxes, but once in a while, I like to turn them upside down. It’s good mental exercise, I find, and helps me keeping a good sense of perspectives.

 

"Ethology" by Roger Abrantes

If animal behavior fascinates you, you will enjoy "Ethology—The Study of Animal Behavior in the Natural Environment," the book and course by ethologist Roger Abrantes.
Enrolling for this course puts you in direct contact with the author to whom you can pose any question while you complete your coursework. Click here to read more and enroll.

“Life of Pi” — Read the Book, Watch the Movie

I read Yann Martel’s “Life of Pi” many years ago. I took the book to bed, my intention being to read 10-12 pages before falling asleep. This was one of the few books I’ve read from one end to the other in one go. I went to sleep at five in the morning.

The other day, I revisited “Life of Pi,” not the book from 2001, but the movie from 2012 directed by Ang Lee with screenplay by David Magee.

The movie gets my five stars. It’s a near perfect screenplay adaptation of a book. It misses a bit of the first part of the book that would be too cumbersome to render in pictures anyway, but it presents the second part magnificently. It’s a beautiful 3D movie, a thrilling adventure, an experience for afterthought—you can take it as you wish.

“Life of Pi,” book and movie, is not intrusive, does not force you to think or accept anything in particular. It leaves you with your freedom to draw your conclusions, or ask your questions, as the case may be.

Take a break, read the book and savor it. Yann Martel succeeded in writing a book that you want to read word by word, not by paragraphs.

Life Of Pi Movie

The following quotations indicate “Part.Chapter.Paragraph.”

“Just beyond the ticket booth Father had painted on a wall in bright red letters the question: DO YOU KNOW WHICH IS THE MOST DANGEROUS ANIMAL IN THE ZOO? An arrow pointed to a small curtain. There were so many eager, curious hands that pulled at the curtain that we had to replace it regularly. Behind it was a mirror.” (1.8.4)

The most dangerous animal in the zoo is the human being maybe because of the relationship of danger with unpredictable evil.

“Rank determines whom it can associate with and how; where and when it can eat; where it can rest; where it can drink; and so on. Until it knows its rank for certain, the animal lives a life of unbearable anarchy. It remains nervous, jumpy, dangerous. Luckily for the circus trainer, decisions about social rank among higher animals are not always based on brute force.” (1.13.3)

Here, Pi is (between lines) talking more about human relationships than human-animal relationships, one suspects. He’s also thinking about how to train Richard Parker.  Throughout his misery, Pi comes to see cleverness and willpower as two remarkable human skills, but the question is, do not these skills also bring about evil?

“There are many examples of animals coming to surprising living arrangements. All are instances of that animal equivalent of anthropomorphism: zoomorphism, where an animal takes a human being, or another animal, to be one of its kind.” (1.32.1)

Zoomorphism (in a way, the opposite of anthropomorphism) means that animals treat another species (almost) like their own. Our dogs are great zoomorphists.  This is more philosophical that it may seem and definitely more obscure in the movie than in the book, which, as I’ve mentioned, is more elaborated in its first pre-boat part. One suspects that Pi is talking about his own struggle: Pi the Hindu, Pi the Muslim, and Pi the Christian all in one and the same Pi, not only tolerating one another but living in harmony.

I leave you with one last quote without any comment. Read the book, watch the movie.

“I had to tame him. It was at that moment that I realized this necessity. It was not a question of him or me, but of him and me.” (2.57.8)

As always, I wish you a great day.

 

"Ethology" by Roger Abrantes

If animal behavior fascinates you, you will enjoy "Ethology—The Study of Animal Behavior in the Natural Environment," the book and course by ethologist Roger Abrantes.
Enrolling for this course puts you in direct contact with the author to whom you can pose any question while you complete your coursework. Click here to read more and enroll.

 

Time for Those You Love

My blog, today, is short, just to share with you some questions that appear to me the more pertinent, the older I get.

We spend one third of our lives turning in our sleep, one third dwelling on the past, and one third worrying about the future. Think about it: you are probably worrying right now about something that you can’t do anything about or that you can resolve in due time, crying about something that can’t cry back.

Life is a countdown, every moment counts, don’t waste it. Take time off and spend it with those you love—no worries, no schedules, no deadlines. All the rest can wait, the world will continue spinning round and the sun will rise again, I assure you. Do it now, for time is what you never have enough of when you realize how much you have wasted.

And so, as ways to setting a good example, I took a day off and went sailing with my wife Parichart, my sister Nor and my son Daniel. It wasn’t really planned. It was more a “let’s go and sail.” We grabbed some supplies and to the sea we went—and we spent a delightful day as four spoiled and naughty kids cutting class and giggling the day away—and that, my friends, it what life is all about.

Sailing into the sunset.

Time is what we never have enough of when we realize how much we have wasted (Picture by Elias Vidal).

I’m Alive and I Have Only One Option

It dawned on me the other day at sea, one of those days with scattered clouds on the horizon and a fair wind barely sufficient to keep the boat sailing. Simplicity, that’s what it makes it so soothing and scaringly beautiful. The sea invites you to dream, but does not make promises, it is what it is, no more and no less, be wise and it will reward you, be foolish and it will punish you. You can’t hide st sea, you’ll meet yourself whether you want it or not, the only viable strategy being honesty and integrity. It’s all so simple. The sea has this power, I discovered—the pertinent appears suddenly as frivolous, and the complex reveals itself in all its simple parts.

A few clouds on the horizon and a fair wind, barely enough to keep the boat sailing.

A few clouds on the horizon and a fair wind, barely enough to keep the boat sailing.

I felt absolutely ecstatic like something major was happening, and yet there was nothing particularly noticeable. As far as the eye could see, the world was an endless blue, only slightly interrupted by a thin line, far, far away. Sea and sky, a few clouds on the horizon, the sun to the west, no birds, no fish, no sounds bar the slight, rhythmic splashes of the boat gracefully cutting thru the water, almost as silently as the flight of the owl.

Simplicity—I guess, is what fascinates me most in Darwin’s brilliant concept, evolution by means of natural selection. The algorithm the survival of the fittest is the simplest idea one can conceive, and yet so powerful that it cuts thru everything our understanding touches.

I come to think of the principle of simplicity as a good old friend, standing by me as long as I remember. From my young student days to the times of book writing or when on practical commissions, my friend Simplicity has been there, unobtrusively muttering, “seek the simple…”

The principle of simplicity, as such, was first propounded by the English philosopher, William of Occam (1300-1349). We know it also as Occam’s Razor: “Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem,” which is Latin for “Entities should not be multiplied more than necessary,” or “If two assumptions seem to be equally valid, the simpler one should be preferred.”

Simple is beautiful and simpler is beautifuller—and the sea has this influence on you. Thus, I took the liberty to apply the principle of simplicity to the definition of the principle—and the three following corollaries emerged.

Thus, my principle of simplicity reads:

If you have more than one option, choose the simplest.

  • First corollary: “If you have only one option, you don’t have a problem; don’t waste your time complaining, just take it and keep smiling!”
  • Second corollary: “If you don’t like to have only one option, work to create more; then you’ll have the problem of choosing one.”
  • Third corollary: “If you don’t like to have a problem, don’t create options.” Return, then, to the first corollary, don’t complain and keep smiling!

And so it is that I keep sailing this immense sea of blue, my heart beating for every, ever-so-slight splash of the hull in the water. I am but a ripple in the vast ocean. I’m alive. I’m alive and I have only one option, to enjoy life fully—and I wouldn’t want it any differently.

 

Animal Learning by Roger Abrantes

If animal behavior and learning fascinates you, you will enjoy "Animal Learning," the book and course by ethologist Roger Abrantes. This is an indispensable course for all animal trainers as well as responsible pet owners.
Study online at your own pace. Follow your passion and earn a certificate.

Click here to read more and enroll.

Life is a rainbow

MimiEunice_11

We tend to classify everything promptly as ‘like,’ ‘don’t like.’ Peculiar habit this one for it limits us tremendously. We consort with the ‘like,’ inebriating us with its shallow compliment; and repudiate the ‘don’t,’ rejecting its challenge, missing the boat that for once might have taken us to undiscovered shores.

In our times, I’d call it the Facebook fallacy. Facebook makes us believe that everything must either be liked or not liked (or rather ignored). This is an informal fallacy, an error in reasoning that does not originate in improper logical form. Arguments committing informal fallacies may be formally valid, yet fallacious.

The real name for my Facebook fallacy is the false dichotomy, but it is also known as the false dilemma, black-and/or-white thinking, the either-or fallacy, the fallacy of false choice, the fallacy of exhaustive hypotheses, the fallacy of the false alternative or the fallacy of the excluded middle. It is an informal fallacy in which we only consider limited alternatives when there is at least one additional option.

The options we consider, or give as a choice to our opponent, may be two extremes or completely different alternatives. We can also have a false trilemma (if we reduce the options to three, instead of two).

A false dilemma can be constructed intentionally when we attempt to force a choice. The fallacy can also happen by accidental omission of alternatives or by ignorance. In situations where we are emotionally involved, it is not rare that we only see two (or a few) options to solve a problem when there are several.

As it is, life is not black and white, neither are your options in the vast majority of the situations when you feel cornered.

Life is a rainbow!

 

"Think Out Of The Box by Roger Abrantes

Think Out Of The Box—A Guide To An Open And Critical Mind by Roger Abrantes
Sound and logical reasoning—you learn to analyze arguments rationally, to distinguish valid from invalid, and sound from unsound, to conduct rational discussions, to become a clearer and more persuasive debater.
IN PRINT—COMING SOON

 

Why do we keep pets?

Dog People

We all have pets because having them pleases us. One way or another, pet ownership satisfies one or more of our needs. Photo: “Dog People” by Scott Witter at http://blog.wonderfulmachine.com/2011/09/dog-people/.

We all have pets (dogs, cats, horses, guinea pigs, parrots, etc…) because it pleases us. We just feel good about having pets. One way or another, pet ownership satisfies some need of ours. There’s nothing wrong with that, in principle. All harmonious relationships are “give and take” and if we give in the same measure as we take, everyone should be happy. Species are not important in this context. We have many examples in nature of animals of different species forming harmonious relationships with benefits for all parties.

That being the case, it seems to me, each of us (pet owners) should ask, “what do I give back to my pet?”

I’m not thinking about a place to sleep, food and medical care for those are the obvious duties most (if not all) pet owners do observe. I’m thinking about allowing our pets to be the animals they were (and are) before they became our pets.

As I said, there’s nothing wrong with our selfish motives for pet ownership, but we may have a problem if we don’t realize it, or don’t want to accept it, for we may fall into a series of pseudo explanations, easy interpretations and knee-jerk solutions—and that’s abuse in my book.

I have a deep respect for all life independently of species and race. It appears to me that the pet/owner relationship, in this one aspect, should not be much different from any other relationship, be it with a spouse, a lover, a friend, a parent, a child. We should be content with what they can give us and not ask for what they can’t give. We should give them plenty of room to be themselves. We should never take any relationship for granted. Every new day should be one more day we should feel privileged to share with that particular living being—independently of species.

Think about it. Am I totally wrong?

Have a fabulous day!

 

Animal Training My Way

Animal Training My Way—The Merging of Ethology and Behaviorism by Roger Abrantes.
This book is about making simple things simpler but not simpler than necessary. It’s about knowing what you want and what you need to get it. It’s about training animals, changing their behavior and creating harmonious relationships, but it’s foremost about training ourselves and changing our behavior.

The single most damaging belief of ours

Wolf Muzzle Grab

The single most damaging belief of ours is that everything is one-sidedly good or bad, right or wrong. (Photo by Monty Sloan).

The single most damaging belief of ours is that everything is one-sidedly good or bad, right or wrong.

Good or bad, right or wrong depend on the conditions. A strategy is only good at a certain time, under particular circumstances. Behavior is dynamic and changeable. An individual displays one behavior at one given moment and another a while later. It is the ability to adopt the most beneficial strategy in the prevailing conditions that ultimately sorts the fittest from the less fit—moral strategies included—and decides whose genes will prevail in the next generation; and which memes will play the following round.

Opposing strategies, e.g. honest/dishonest, dominant/submissive, aggressive/fearful, hold one another at bay (in all groups, including humans). Whether it pays off to play one role or the other is ultimately a function of cost and benefits and the number of individuals adopting each particular strategy.

Life is fascinating, isn’t it?

 

Animal Training My Way

Animal Training My Way—The Merging of Ethology and Behaviorism by Roger Abrantes.
This book is about making simple things simpler but not simpler than necessary. It’s about knowing what you want and what you need to get it. It’s about training animals, changing their behavior and creating harmonious relationships, but it’s foremost about training ourselves and changing our behavior.

The spectrum of behavior

Behavior Spectrum

Behavior is like the spectrum of light: it is as difficult to say when yellow turns into orange as when one behavior turns into another. © Illustration by Roger Abrantes with drawings from Alice Rasmussen.

The conundrum of the behavioral sciences is that they are not exact sciences in the same sense as physics or mathematics. Behavior is like the spectrum of light: it is as difficult to say when yellow turns into orange as when one behavior turns into another. It is a continuum of quantity, perceptible throughout its duration, describable only when quantity turns into quality.

Friendly, insecure, pacifying, submissive and fearful behaviors are a continuum of quantity, as are content, self-confident, assertive, dominant and aggressive behaviors. The distinction between any two behaviors is a matter of function; the borderline separating one category from the other is a matter of observational skill, contextual parameters, and convention; the way we understand it all is a matter of definition.

Our brain likes to tidy up its stored information in small boxes, but once in a while, I like to turn them upside down. It’s good mental exercise.

© Illustration by Roger Abrantes with drawings from Alice Rasmussen.

"Ethology" by Roger Abrantes

If animal behavior fascinates you, you will enjoy "Ethology—The Study of Animal Behavior in the Natural Environment," the book and course by ethologist Roger Abrantes.
Enrolling for this course puts you in direct contact with the author to whom you can pose any question while you complete your coursework. Click here to read more and enroll.

Be open-minded and healthily skeptical

Baby skeptical

Be open-minded and healthily skeptical

“Be open-minded and healthily skeptical,” I recommend my students in their pursuit of knowledge. “Open-mindedness and critical reasoning are your map and compass on your journey to knowledge, but without desire, as without a canteen, you won’t get anywhere,” I say to them.

ChildAndDog

Nós queremos protegê-los, que precisam mais, as nossas crianças e os nossos animais. nós queremos continuar a oferecer o "conhecimento para todos, em qualquer lugar", com cursos grátis e blogs. Junte-se a nós, compre "Cães e crianças" pelo preço de um café e um bolo. Ajude-nos a ajudar.