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Evolution and hypnosis

by Upisoft
Tags: evolution, hypnosis
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Upisoft
#1
Mar29-11, 05:23 AM
P: 349
Hello everybody,

I was wondering how on Earth the hypnosis evolved as an ability in humans. I see how this can be helpful to a non-omnipotent designer who is willing to violate the free will, so this argument cannot be used by most theists as evidence that omnipotent being created us. But then this looks very similar as a debug interface that will help a creator to get more reliable feedback and control on the test subjects. Anyway I have no proof this is the case and I can only point out the resemblance between hypnosis and debug interface. That's why I'm in search of natural explanation of this phenomenon, but I couldn't find any.

All help and ideas will be appreciated.
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jim mcnamara
#2
Mar29-11, 08:02 AM
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Consider it as a by-product of the evolution of the human brain.

By example, there are a lot of naturally ocurring chemicals that humans did not evolve to use, e.g. salicylic acid, apsirin. Early humans did not run around gobbling willow bark. AFAIK there are very few plants in African savannah that have it. So we cannot make inferences about the direct adaptive effect of salicylic acid as a pain killer on human evolution.

The same point of view with hypnosis is valid. Bottom line: do not try to make too much of it.
Upisoft
#3
Mar29-11, 08:55 AM
P: 349
Well, I'm not trying to make anything of it. I'm just asking a question. I'm not ready to believe that this is actually a debugging interface unless evidence is present. I'm only pointing out the resemblance. Also I'm not going to take on faith it is a by-product unless evidence is presented. I hope you'll understand my position.

Also your example about the salicylic acid is not valid in this case. We don't know much about when our ancestors started to use it as a painkiller. It may be long before there were actually humans or even apes. So you don't know where and when this happened and what was the flora at that place/time.

Ryan_m_b
#4
Mar29-11, 09:23 AM
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Evolution and hypnosis

Firstly can you define hypnosis? A hell of a lot of tv hypnosis is staged. Unless we can actually understand it we can't make too many conclusions as to its evolution. Hypnotic states are not just "at the sound of the click you will be a chicken".

A very short pubmed search gave me this;
- Evolutionary approaches to understanding the hypnotic experience.
Ray WJ, Tucker DM.

I've only skimmed it but you may be interested to read it.
Upisoft
#5
Mar29-11, 10:52 AM
P: 349
Google "hypnosis skeptics" for Skeptic's Dictionary definition and lots of relevant information. I'm after the real effect, not the image made up by the media.

I'll try to find the paper, but it seems it is not freely available.
Pythagorean
#6
Mar29-11, 03:25 PM
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Th real effect, to me, would seem more apropriately named "assisted meditation".
Another God
#7
Mar29-11, 06:28 PM
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Quote Quote by Upisoft View Post
this looks very similar as a debug interface that will help a creator to get more reliable feedback and control on the test subjects.
The first thing you should know about Hynosis is that you can't make anyone do something they don't want. Hypnosis is really a state of relaxed receptiveness - in order to be hypnotised, people need to allow themselves to relax, and be willing to follow the commands of 'the hypnotist'.

It seems likely to me, that this sort of thing is related to the history of humans as a social species. Think of tribal dancing and mob mentality. These sorts of things are related to the human brains susceptability of 'just following everyone else' or simply following someone in a perceived role of authority. This willingness of people to follow one another may be the foundation of our ability to survive so successfully as a social species.
Ryan_m_b
#8
Mar30-11, 03:43 AM
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Quote Quote by Upisoft View Post
I see how this can be helpful to a non-omnipotent designer who is willing to violate the free will
If you want to make a hypothesis you should first use what we already know i.e. work from evolutionary neuroscience/psychology. Jumping to extraordinary claims is not a good way of answering unknowns
Upisoft
#9
Mar30-11, 07:26 AM
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Quote Quote by Another God View Post
The first thing you should know about Hynosis is that you can't make anyone do something they don't want. Hypnosis is really a state of relaxed receptiveness - in order to be hypnotised, people need to allow themselves to relax, and be willing to follow the commands of 'the hypnotist'.
It depends how you look at it. Let's say there is an election for a president. You favor president A. After you have been hypnotized you will not vote for president B (following hypnotic command) while still wanting to vote for president A. However false memories can be planted in you that will make you believe that president B is much better candidate. Then you may willingly vote for president B as he was suggested as better option. The effect is the same, you vote for president B, however you did it willingly. The question is if it was free choice and I doubt it.

Quote Quote by Another God View Post
It seems likely to me, that this sort of thing is related to the history of humans as a social species. Think of tribal dancing and mob mentality. These sorts of things are related to the human brains susceptability of 'just following everyone else' or simply following someone in a perceived role of authority. This willingness of people to follow one another may be the foundation of our ability to survive so successfully as a social species.
And also it caused 2 world wars, so potentially it also could destroy us.
Upisoft
#10
Mar30-11, 07:44 AM
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Quote Quote by ryan_m_b View Post
If you want to make a hypothesis you should first use what we already know i.e. work from evolutionary neuroscience/psychology. Jumping to extraordinary claims is not a good way of answering unknowns
There is nothing extraordinary in the claim I and probably others can imagine such thing. I'm not claiming it as fact or even as hypothesis. I'm just showing that a particular extraordinary explanation is much easier to conceive, while I'm unable to think of anything that will explain the phenomenon naturally.

I've read a study that test hypnosis on several groups of subjects. The group that was told they will be hypnotized were much more susceptible to the test suggestions than the group told they will experience relaxation(without mentioning hypnosis in any way). This suggests the hypnosis is more self-controlled than outside controlled. People that do not believe in hypnosis are most likely unable to be hypnotized much like people not willing to be hypnotized.

I think the key is to find out what is the benefit for one to hypnotize oneself.
Ryan_m_b
#11
Mar30-11, 08:32 AM
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Quote Quote by Upisoft View Post
There is nothing extraordinary in the claim I and probably others can imagine such thing. I'm not claiming it as fact or even as hypothesis.
I think you need a new definition of extraordinary, you proposed the human race was artificially created by an unevidenced creator who left hypnosis in as a debug program. I know you yourself are not claiming it as a hypothesis but im trying to show how A) it is a hypothesis whether or not you claim it and B) the hypothesis relies on their being a multitude of unevidenced phenomenon to work i.e. creation, non-human intelligences etc which makes it less valid than one based on previous knowledge.

I'm just showing that a particular extraordinary explanation is much easier to conceive, while I'm unable to think of anything that will explain the phenomenon naturally.
Before coming up with a hypothesis one must first study as much current literature on the subject as possible. The fact that many people would accept such a hypothesis as an explanation (which we should never do without proper testing of said hypothesis) does not validate it.

Hypnosis and meditative states are not one characteristic of the brain, they are interlinked with many of the brains functions. I'm inclined to accept that hypnosis is just a by product of the brain however at the moment I accept that we do not have a thorough understanding of the neurological mechanisms of hypnosis and so an evolutionary explanation remains purely speculatory at this time. One interesting thing to remember is that human beings are not the only creatures to become hypnotised (ever drawn a line in front of a chicken?).

I think the key is to find out what is the benefit for one to hypnotize oneself.
Not everything in evolution is about conferring a benefit, that is quite a simplistic view of evolution. The proper approach to understanding the evolutionary history of hypnosis is to advance neuroscience to the point we can adequately explain hynotic phenomenon through biochemistry and neural network behaviour. From that point we could attempt to research the evolution of these traits
mishrashubham
#12
Mar30-11, 09:41 AM
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Quote Quote by ryan_m_b View Post
Not everything in evolution is about conferring a benefit, that is quite a simplistic view of evolution. The proper approach to understanding the evolutionary history of hypnosis is to advance neuroscience to the point we can adequately explain hynotic phenomenon through biochemistry and neural network behaviour. From that point we could attempt to research the evolution of these traits
I totally agree. Human social behaviour is very complex and as such not very clearly understood. Thought we have areas such as evolutionary psychology, which attempt to understand psychological traits as opposed to physiological traits, as products of evolution. However much of it largely speculation and it is harder to find evidence for such hypotheses. However studying it enough to have a clear idea of the mechanism, as ryan said, will make it much easier to trace such things in the evolutionary line. You can usually pinpoint a gene for a specific protein but never do that for hypnotic susceptibility for example.
mishrashubham
#13
Mar30-11, 09:42 AM
P: 605
Quote Quote by Upisoft View Post
And also it caused 2 world wars, so potentially it also could destroy us.
Could you elaborate? Or is it yet another conspiracy theory?
Upisoft
#14
Mar30-11, 01:05 PM
P: 349
Quote Quote by ryan_m_b View Post
I think you need a new definition of extraordinary, you proposed the human race was artificially created by an unevidenced creator who left hypnosis in as a debug program.
I did no such thing. I only have shown that I can imagine such thing. There is nothing extraordinary of my capability to imagine it. Clearly you were able to imagine it too, evidence that such imagination is normal.


Quote Quote by ryan_m_b View Post
I know you yourself are not claiming it as a hypothesis but im trying to show how A) it is a hypothesis whether or not you claim it and B) the hypothesis relies on their being a multitude of unevidenced phenomenon to work i.e. creation, non-human intelligences etc which makes it less valid than one based on previous knowledge.
Well, if you define sci-fi works as hypotheses, then I surely have to agree with you. Say Arthur Clark who had similar idea (non-human object tweaking our intelligence).

The whole purpose of giving the idea was to show how it is possible to easily find an explanation, probably totally sci-fi, but the real explanation is very hard to find out and verify.


Quote Quote by ryan_m_b View Post
Hypnosis and meditative states are not one characteristic of the brain, they are interlinked with many of the brains functions. I'm inclined to accept that hypnosis is just a by product of the brain however at the moment I accept that we do not have a thorough understanding of the neurological mechanisms of hypnosis and so an evolutionary explanation remains purely speculatory at this time. One interesting thing to remember is that human beings are not the only creatures to become hypnotised (ever drawn a line in front of a chicken?).
I'm not sure that there is any evidence that the catatonic state of the chicken is anything like hypnosis in humans. Aren't you now making a hypothesis? :)

Quote Quote by ryan_m_b View Post
Not everything in evolution is about conferring a benefit, that is quite a simplistic view of evolution.
Are you sure? Then how (natural) selection is going to work if there is no measurement of benefit for some things?

Quote Quote by ryan_m_b View Post
The proper approach to understanding the evolutionary history of hypnosis is to advance neuroscience to the point we can adequately explain hynotic phenomenon through biochemistry and neural network behaviour. From that point we could attempt to research the evolution of these traits
Yeah. OK, so no explanation for now. That's ok though, one of the expected answers.
Upisoft
#15
Mar30-11, 01:11 PM
P: 349
Quote Quote by mishrashubham View Post
Could you elaborate? Or is it yet another conspiracy theory?
Yeah, it is conspiracy theory. Hitler suggested to his fellow countrymen that they are better than everybody else and should control them and they started a war. Didin't happen that way though. Suggesting ideas and following the leader will only work for the benefit of the society, as you say.
Ryan_m_b
#16
Mar30-11, 02:31 PM
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Quote Quote by Upisoft View Post
I did no such thing. I only have shown that I can imagine such thing. There is nothing extraordinary of my capability to imagine it. Clearly you were able to imagine it too, evidence that such imagination is normal.
Again you need to look up extraordinary. The fact that one can imagine something is not a measure for what is ordinary else we would never know what extraordinary is. Something is extraordinary if it does not fit what has been observed before, species-creating entities fit this bill. I will agree that there is nothing extraordinary about imagination but my original point was referring to what a hypothesis is, not what imagination is.

The whole purpose of giving the idea was to show how it is possible to easily find an explanation, probably totally sci-fi, but the real explanation is very hard to find out and verify.
Well I will admit that I totally didn't get that from what you wrote. I did however say that myself which you seem to have ignored. An explanation is not an answer that fits the bill, an explanation is a verified hypothesis. Explanations can be hard or easy to discover, it really depends on what you are doing and what tests you must do to verify it.

I'm not sure that there is any evidence that the catatonic state of the chicken is anything like hypnosis in humans. Aren't you now making a hypothesis? :)
I would not propose that as a hypothesis at all, I was mocking the debug idea by suggesting you can do the same to a chicken.

Are you sure? Then how (natural) selection is going to work if there is no measurement of benefit for some things?
Natural selection is one mechanism by which evolution works, less fit individuals reproduce less. However fitness is contingent on the environment. A collection of traits that allow a group of organisms in a population to reproduce more by avoiding some of the attrition faced by their fellows could have negative effects in other situations. To further answer your question I'd advise you look up genetic drift and migration. These two have a massive effect on a species evolution and are not contingent on an organisms fitness.

Yeah, it is conspiracy theory. Hitler suggested to his fellow countrymen that they are better than everybody else and should control them and they started a war. Didin't happen that way though. Suggesting ideas and following the leader will only work for the benefit of the society, as you say.
It should have been clear to you (before you went off on a rude outburst) that mishrashubham interpreted what you said to mean that two world wars were started due to hypnosis. I would also suggest you read a history book because hitler had no part to play in the first world war other than a German runner in the trenches. You are also simplistically reducing politics to "leader says it = people agree", whilst I'm sure you don't really believe that I fail to see why you think that the two world wars (or any war for that matter) were started purely because people blindly followed? People follow other people for a multitude of reasons but aside from hypnotic suggestion (which we have now agreed there is no explanation for) people follow others because something persuades them. This persuasion could either be because they agree with what the leader is saying (for rational/emotional/religious reasons amongst many others) or because even though they disagree the repercussions of openly disagreeing persuade them to do it anyway. Those repercussions could be as simple as avoiding getting involved in politics because it bores you or being shot by secret police.
Upisoft
#17
Mar30-11, 04:50 PM
P: 349
Quote Quote by ryan_m_b View Post
I would not propose that as a hypothesis at all, I was mocking the debug idea by suggesting you can do the same to a chicken.
I would like to see a chicken with hypnotically induced amnesia.. then I may believe you that you can do it with chicken.


Quote Quote by ryan_m_b View Post
Natural selection is one mechanism by which evolution works, less fit individuals reproduce less. However fitness is contingent on the environment. A collection of traits that allow a group of organisms in a population to reproduce more by avoiding some of the attrition faced by their fellows could have negative effects in other situations. To further answer your question I'd advise you look up genetic drift and migration. These two have a massive effect on a species evolution and are not contingent on an organisms fitness.
You have a point here. Anyway it is only possibility. The ability to be hypnotized still could be a product of evolutionary process. I'm reading some interesting stuff. People have been hypnotized and not being told they will be hypnotized. Their suggestibility was worse than the other group who have been told they would be hypnotized. As if they actively assisted the process when they knew about it.

Amazing.

Quote Quote by ryan_m_b View Post
It should have been clear to you (before you went off on a rude outburst) that mishrashubham interpreted what you said to mean that two world wars were started due to hypnosis. I would also suggest you read a history book because hitler had no part to play in the first world war other than a German runner in the trenches. You are also simplistically reducing politics to "leader says it = people agree"
It was (rude? or perhaps sarcastic) counterexample to the idea that tribal moto "follow the leader" could be beneficial over long enough time, so it becomes factor in natural selection. Yes I am oversimplifying it, but guess what, people oversimplify most of the time.
Ryan_m_b
#18
Mar30-11, 05:21 PM
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Quote Quote by Upisoft View Post
I'm reading some interesting stuff. People have been hypnotized and not being told they will be hypnotized. Their suggestibility was worse than the other group who have been told they would be hypnotized. As if they actively assisted the process when they knew about it.
An interesting phenomenon which also brings the placebo affect into consideration, have any of the studies included a group that is told they will be hypnotised who then undergo a sham ritual? I would appreciate a link to what you a reading if possible :)

"follow the leader" could be beneficial over long enough time, so it becomes factor in natural selection. Yes I am oversimplifying it, but guess what, people oversimplify most of the time.
People do indeed oversimplify things often to detriment. As this forum is generally for exploring and explaining issues to the best of capability I find oversimplification unsatisfying. As for the development of social behaviour in animals (specifically dominant/hierarchical behaviour) there is an interesting and as yet poorly understood interplay between genetics, phenomics and memetics, how all three tie to a species evolution is even more fascinating.


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